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GLTCH Devblog: Week 20

So many bugs have been fixed. Our massive list of “Gameplay Refinement” and “Art Refinement” bugs has grown from 60 to 150, and we’ve already checked most of those off. Stability improvements across the board has enabled us to comfortably upload our most recent build to the Google Play beta development channel. Yup, we’re in beta. Albeit a closed beta for now while we come closer to the impossible dream of ‘bug free’, but thanks to the microtransaction store and Google Play plugins finally playing nice, the game finally offers a complete package.

Less and less people have found parts of the game they didn’t like, and more and more people have asked us when they can get it! This month’s Beer and Pixels gave us another great burst of feedback, but probably the most important observation was how difficult and uninteresting players found the tutorial. Text-based interludes really don’t suit GLTCH’s frantic pace, and assailing first-time players with 7 different fragments, 3 different enemies and 5 other things they have to look out for within the first few minutes is too steep of a learning curve for most. Even then, half of the players wished to boycott the tutorial and jump straight into Infinite Mode to figure out how it works, and often with much more enjoyment from much more spectacular deaths.

This feedback echoes consistently with feedback we’ve gathered in the past: GLTCH is too complex, or at the very least its’ complexity needs to be introduced much more slowly. This wasn’t a game you could give to your friend and say “here, you try”. This wasn’t a game that your mum could play, as Luke Muscat of Fruit Ninja so famously aspired to. This game NEEDED a heavy-handed tutorial because some of the elements were not obvious, despite how much work we had put into visual indicators and animated affordances.

We ran an experiment: let’s set the spawn chance of 3 non-essential fragments (Chaos, Defrag, and Halt) to 0 and play Infinite Mode with that configuration. It was just as fun, and half as complex. Fuck. All that you had to focus on now was blowing up enemies with Destroy fragments and blasting through them with Overclock fragments, easily the two best feeling fragments in the game. Which made us wonder why we’d kept the Hide fragment in there too… After we set that spawn chance to 0 and reduced the fragment types from 7 to 3, we realized where we had been going wrong for so long. We didn’t need more content, but less. We didn’t need more complex and interwoven strategy, we needed a clearer beginning-to-end path that everyone could see.

It was disheartening to realize that so many dozens of hours of work that were put into implementing these fragments were going to have be tossed, but both of us could immediately see that it was a much better game because of it. But we decided that instead of them being tossed, that these discarded fragments would make their appearance in the scripted levels of Iteration mode instead. There was no way we were going to be able to come up with 32 unique levels using only 3 fragment types, so instead of introducing them all at the beginning to fresh players, it is only the more experienced players wanting more from the game who will find them awaiting in the challenging depths of later levels.

About James
I’m deeply passionate about the promoting and developing the social, educational, and creative potential of games. Through my work at Chaos Theory, I have only just started a journey to doing exactly that.
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