Do Less Better
"You do too much... You're not Superman, you know.
What truly makes a game memorable? Is it a game that does many things well, or a few things great? I would argue the latter. I recently read a great article that presented just this notion but for the life of me, I cannot find it again, so I'm going to talk a bit about the concept myself and how it relates to Nasty and my upcoming games.
- Aunt May
Overall I think Nasty is a good game, but probably not a great game. I certainly think its fun to play and a number of people really, really seem to enjoy it (myself included). That said, there isn't a single thing that Nasty does better than any other game. There is also nothing uniquely new or different than anything that's been done before. When you talk about the great platform games (Mario, Sonic) or action games (Contra), you won't be talking about Nasty.
Nasty is a fairly straightforward action/platform game. It's got the prerequisite power-ups, weapons, and collectables you'd expect from such a game. It's got a decent selection of enemies. It's got a handful of giant bosses. It does have a huge set of levels though, 100 in total.
Because the game is so big (level-wise), this caused me to spend a significant amount of development time creating levels. Because there are so many levels, each one did not get a huge amount of play testing time nor did each one get a serious effort put into making them look good.
Imagine a world where Nasty had only 30 levels. That's still a lot of levels, but 70 less. That means that (assuming I didn't just skimp on level design/testing and just get the game out sooner) each level would get three times more attention. Would that lead to the level being three times better? Probably not, but somewhere between 1 to 2 times better isn't unheard of. Wouldn't Nasty have been a more fun, more memorable experience with 30 really good levels as opposed to 100 mediocre ones? My sales seem to tell me that if people didn't really enjoy the initial ten levels, they could care less if they had 90 more.
Some of the power-ups in Nasty really aren't that useful too. People grab them and then wonder "Why do I need this?" or "How does this help me?". Those power-ups bring nothing to the game but confusion. Perhaps not having those power-ups in the first place would have been a better idea... they don't add much (anything) to the game and in some ways distract from other stronger aspects of the game. Plus I spent a lot of time creating them, time that could have been spent elsewhere.
With Abduction!, I will be doing somewhere between 4 to 7 levels total (level one is already mostly done). There will be 3-4 items and each of them will be uniquely useful. This is going to leave me a lot of time to work with each level and item make them the best that they can be. I firmly believe that even though the number of levels and items in Abduction! will be less than Nasty, by spending that much more time on each one, it will be an overall more fun, more polished experience.
This largely comes down to correctly setting the scope of your project based on the resources you have. In hindsight, my scope on Nasty was simply bigger than it should have been and that prevented me in many ways from creating something that could have been much more memorable. This is a mistake I don't intend to repeat.
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