*heavily laboured breathing* The PAX Australian Indie Showcase deadline is tomorrow! We’ve been crunching the hardest we’ve ever crunched to get this build presentable for the Elder Council of judges, but in the process of doing so had an alarming realization. When deciding on what was most important to work on, we focused on improvements that made the game more fun to play rather than the usual patching of gaping performance problems or fatal crashes that would render the game unplayable. Not only has our solid fortnight of bug fixing and in-house QA given us a (touch wood) stable build, but we’re running out of big ‘missing’ features left to implement! It finally feels like we’re on the home stretch of development, dragging those few remaining Trello cards from Doing to Done.
Our major, revolutionary change this week was within the neglected confines of Iteration Mode. The badge-based system of level completion has been replaced with bronze, silver and gold score targets (read: stars). The original badge-based system was meant to encourage replayability of the different levels by focusing on the different playstyles required to get each badge, but it ended up that 3 of them were based on “being good at GLTCH” while the corruption badge required you to play in a completely different, conservative manner. GLTCH does not do conservative.
These badges were an abstract concept, and the massive design changes we’ve been making over the past fortnight have been about removing that layer of abstraction and making gameplay simple and comprehensive. GLTCH is a mobile game, after all, and we have to face the reality of a mobile gamer’s mean attention span and the 60% uninstall-on-first-use target base. The quicker the player ‘gets it’, the better. Asking them to pay attention to their multiplier, their corruption, their time and their score whilst playing an iteration level was difficult at best, distracting at worst.
So, we replaced badges with stars. Everyone gets stars! Although it may seem like a process of ‘dumbing down’ the mechanics for a generalized audience, we know that GLTCH is a frantic die-and-retry highscore-based game where zero shits are given to the nuances and subtleties of convoluted mechanics. GLTCH is intense, fast, and colourful: all the mechanics should be in support of getting that one feeling right. Collecting blue things and avoiding red things is GLTCH’s thing, and we’ve spent countless hours making sure that that simple process is as fun as possible.