Too Big can be a Fail
Nasty was a large, ambitious project (probably bigger than I should have tackled for my first game). There were 100 levels, 5 battle levels, 2 player co-op, 4 player battle mode, a dozen enemies, five bosses, high scores, a scripted intro and ending sequence, three levels of difficulty... that took a while just to write and I'm sure I'm missing several things.
Yes, it's really cool to have all this stuff but it takes a lot of effort to create a lot of stuff. My general impression from XBLIGs thus far has been that gamers don't care as much about quantity as they do quality (to steal the old Nintendo tagline). Nasty trumps most games on XBLIGs in terms of content and replayability but games like "I Mad3 A Gam3 W1th Z0mb13s" that are highly polished abet short affairs are cleaning up in sales.
Nasty suffered the most from being over ambitious in the level design department. I like the layout of the levels themselves but graphically I was unable really polish each level or really make any of them vibrant and alive. I opted to have 100 levels, but this also meant that each level could not get the attention it would have if there were 50 or fewer levels (unless I wanted to spend another half of a year on the game, which I did not). It was hard to think up ideas for 100 levels and thus some of the level designs themselves aren't as interesting gamers would have hoped.
I also think gameplay-wise Nasty didn't get tested and tweaked as well as it should have. With 100 levels to playtest, it was not possible to work out all the kinks. A smaller scope would have helped in this regard too.
I took a different approach with my upcoming release Abduction Action!. Single player game, four levels, a couple different enemies and one boss per level. By keeping the scope smaller, I have been able to concentrate on making each part of the game the best that it could be. It's my hope that this will equate to better level design, better gameplay, and more fun. We'll find out soon if the general public agrees.
I was originally going to do five levels in Abduction Action!... but having four mostly done, I came to realize that I didn't have enough good ideas left to make a quality fifth level. I could have hammered it out anyways (it would have been a big city level) but I would have ended up with a less fun level that could potentially cause the other four levels to be less fun too, in addition to significantly delaying Abduction Action!'s release. The game is better for not having this level and you'll be playing it a lot sooner too.
I'm done adding fluff just to fill out a game or game it seem longer. Gamers see through that, they want a good, fun experience more than anything else. Each aspect I add to my games will be worthwhile and carefully considered. Things that aren't necessary won't be included and thus won't take away from my ability to make the important parts of my game shine.
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