One of Playful‘s core ideas is a steady powering-up over the course of the game. The longer the hide-and-seek goes on, the easier it is for the knight to capture the dragon, and the more the dragon can do to avoid the knight. Since the player needs a final powerup to win, she has to keep the match going even as the stakes rise.
I was aware of one challenge that structure demanded I confront:
1. What should the powerups be? They need to feel powerful and rewarding, be interesting to work with, and yet not unbalance the game.
Frank Lantz brought another one to my attention in testing this evening:
2. How does the game feel without the powerups? In order to make the first powerup–a dash move–impressive, I had made the player really slow without it. While this had the intended effect, it made the early game miserable. Players understood very quickly what they were meant to do, but making it happen took an unnecessarily long time.
I’m grateful for the feedback; this is an issue I hadn’t thought to consider, but it’s vital to players’ first impressions of the game. I’ve now changed the first powerup to a smoke screen rather than a dash, which enabled me to give the dragon more speed at the outset. Hopefully that will improve the experience; of course, only more testing will tell!