Recent #Gamedev Lessons

My mind is almost always on games in some way. Thoughts about games keep me up at night, and wake me up in the morning. I recently had two big-ish thoughts concerning Approaching Infinity, and both were at least somewhat related to a game called v v v v v v v.

Perma-Death vs. Content

A.I. is a rogue-like, and it has perma-death. When you die, your progress is lost, and you start over. But this month, I’m working on all the different quests. There is a LOT of content in this game, and a big commitment of time and effort to seeing some of the larger game-winning quests through to the end. So it makes me kind of hesitate on the whole perma-death thing. I want people to see the content and experience the victories, as well as the defeats.

How will I reconcile this? Well, I won’t entirely revoke perma-death across the board, that’s for sure! There are already 3 difficulty settings in the game, one of them being “easy”. I’m going to make easy be EASY. Maybe ‘casual’ would be a better word. If you just want to explore the world of Approaching Infinity, this is the mode for you. Want to familiarize yourself with the controls and items and monsters, without the constant threat of death looming around every turn? Try ‘easy’. You will also receive a much lower “score” for a victory. Many achievements will even be disabled in easy mode. But not all.

Winning

On Friday, I watched @mightbegiantYT play Terry Cavanagh’s “VVVVVV” (6 v’s) for two hours, until he beat it. (To be fair (and productive) I also worked on quests during this time.) It’s a crazy innovative platformer. And relating to my statements above, vvvvvv doesn’t care how many times you die. You just respawn until you win or quit. It allows you to see the whole game. It is also very challenging, and if I played it I would die hundreds of times. But you can keep going until you win.

The second lesson I learned was from this game, and it’s about winning. Or more precisely, the victory pay-off. When you win the game, you get a bunch of stats. Traditional roguelikes present you with pages of stats to look at, detailing your adventures on your road to victory. And I’ve been thinking for a while about what victory would actually be like in Approaching Infinity. I don’t want it to be a let-down; I want it to be AWESOME!

At the end of vvvvvv, there were the usual stats about your game, but there were also some cool visuals and awesome music. Then the credits rolled. I definitely want this kind of big finish for A.I. Something that captivates the player, and also relieves the tension that built up on the road to victory. So I don’t know what it will look like yet, but I know what I want. And that’s a good start.

I’ve set the release for the end of April. That’s not very far away, and there’s still a lot to do. But I can see it. It’s there, and it’s achievable! I’m planning for it. I’m considering what’s best. And I’m listening to you!

As always, you can get a good look at the game, or even try the demo, right here.

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