Abduction Action! Post Mortem
Abduction Action! is the follow-up game to my first release Nasty. It became available for purchase through Xbox Live Indie Games on 4/8/2010. The basic concept is that you are a UFO pilot and must use the tractor beam of your UFO in order to accomplish tasks and defeat enemies.
"As a UFO pilot in training, you have been tasked with the overwhelming mission of invading Earth, terrorizing the locals, and returning home in one piece. Use your tractor beam to abduct helpless Earthlings and defeat aggressive foes. It will take all your skills, wits, and intellect to prove your alien worth and triumph over humanity."
Abduction Action! was intended to be completed in 3 to 4 months, thus releasing in the tale end of 2009. The initial concept would have you just abducting helpless Earthlings while avoiding gunfire from hostile ones. After a few months in development, it became clear that this concept didn't give the player enough to do in order to fill five levels with interesting content (and fun!). At this point the decision was between dropping some levels and making this a very basic game or keeping the levels and adding more to do. I felt the later option would make for a much more enjoyable game and I really hated to waste what I felt was an interesting concept on a very small game that could be quickly dismissed. The scope increase lead to development of Abduction Action! to take double the initial estimate but in doing so it became a far better game.
What Went Right
Extra Time Spent Polishing
Gameplaywise and conceptwise, Abduction Action! was complete in early February. Upon asking for critics on my near-release from some savvy veteran Indie developers, I got some rash harsh comments about the look of the game (among other lesser points about the concept itself). Despite being in month 6 of a 3-4 month project, I opted to take extra time to improve the graphics, gameplay, and fun factor of the game.
One huge bonus of having the game in basically a "done" state was that all my updates / tweaks to the game were now improvements to the game itself, there was no time spent implementing core features or fixing handfuls of bugs. Anyone that played my playtest versions of Abduction Action! during this time likely saw (as did I) the game grow by leaps and bounds (or bounds and leaps if that's what you prefer).
I can't stress enough how much this extra time in development really improved Abduction Action!. The released game in April was significantly better than the one in February (and also much better than the one I submitted for Dream Build Play).
The moon tutorial level in Abduction Action! was something I added last minute to the game after hearing from playtesters that they didn't like repeating the easier tasks in the Farm level (the first level at that time) if they lost all their lives at the more difficult tasks. These easy tasks involved things like flying through some rings, using your Turbo, and dropping a few flash bombs. There is no way someone should fail at any of these tasks.
I moved all these really basic tasks into their own level and thus the moon level (effectively a tutorial) was born. In the moon level, there are no enemies, so you're free to learn the ropes of UFO flight without fear of death and you'll never have to repeat boring tutorial tasks unless you want to.
Adding the extra tutorial level also helped the player realize what the main concept of the game was. A few earlier playtesters<
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