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Somedays it’s the little things that stump ya, the next side project, etc

I’m still prepping for the next Trajectory Zone test release for the team. I keep making little tweaks to the gameplay here and there – it’s definitely development by trial and error. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad… I mean, should a game developer be able to look at a design decision and understand all the possible meanings behind it? Here’s a good example:
In TZ, there are a couple of levels with water on ’em. Since most of the game is done using ‘static bases’ (IE – player doesn’t move), but impulse from exposions will move you, it’s entirely possible to end up in the water. Once in the water, you are at a serious disadvantage – you can’t see very well through water. No problem, the team and I discuss some options, and the easiest solution is to just make the players ‘float’ on water (it’s not too realistic) Now something new becomes a gameplay issue – it’s now an advantage to get thrown into the water, since splash damage only occurs on the terrain block, not the waterblock surface. Just do a ‘rocket jump’ (taking the damage that occurs – you don’t get to actually JUMP, but the impulse will throw you a pretty good distance with some of the weapons) into a deep section of water, and from there on you have to be hit directly for damage to occur. So, the new gameplay tweak is that if ya get thrown in water, you drown. Which creates a totally different tactic – now you want to force your opponent into the water.
No wonder so many games have had problems with gameplay ballance. It’s pretty hard to see all the possible problems a single decision causes when you implement something new. I’m sure ya’ get better with experience, but man it’s annoying to change the same thing multiple times 🙂 There’s already been a number of nagging little bits like this, and I’m sure there’s a whole lot more before we’re done.
Midnight Ryder Technologies must really be starting to get it’s name out there or something. I’ve gotten a couple of RPF’s over the last year (4 – all of them flopped for one reason or another) and the most recent thing is that I’ve been getting lots and lots of spam / applications from people looking to get hired or be a contractor. Anyone else having the same experience now, getting tons of people applying for non-existent positions?
I’m still figuring out what the next ‘filler project’ is. It COULD turn out to be a lot more exciting than I expected – I figured for another solo game project, but, I’ve been chatting with Justin and Dave about possibly doing a collaborative effort between MRT and 21-6. It sounds like a lot of fun – I’ve never worked with another set of game developers before, just the art & sound people (and only on TZ so far). However, 21-6 has a lot on thier plate at the moment, and I’ve got TZ to finish, so I’m not sure how long it would take before some sort of result was had from a collaboration. 
After releasing Flip Panic! 1.0, it’s now time to do Marketing. UG. This is the area that I’ve never done a lot of good with. However, I think I may have a product worth marketing after all. I posted it up on Dexterity’s forums, and it was ripped up pretty hard, but, the first reviews of the game on some of the download sites are coming back – it’s getting things like 5 stars, etc. Not bad. The question is… what the heck to do with it. I’m thinking of bundling all three of the current Panic! games together after a little bit of modification, and selling them as a single pack for $20 (which is over a 50% discount – each game is normally $15.00), and doing some advertising for it all. Ads are expensive, unluckly. Anyone got any really good ideas how to sell a pack of puzzle games like this online? I could really use some help 🙂
Justin “Justorama” Snell   (Aug 11, 2003 at 18:19)
I’m not too current with how your game works, but it sounds similar to worms/scorched earth. Will there be utility items. If so then you could make a ‘inflatable life raft’ style item. or maybe make them drown slowly over a few rounds of combat giving themselves time to ‘rocket-jump’ themselves out of the water.
-Justorama
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Aug 11, 2003 at 23:19)  
Justin: They have just a little bit of time to rocket jump out. Not long, but long enough to hopefully switch to an appropriate weapon, and jump out.
Phil Carlisle   (Aug 16, 2003 at 14:35)
Haha, Davey! welcome to my nightmare!!!
With the worms series, we go through that kind of things endlessly. Right now with Worms 3D I think we’ve pretty much seen/had/done it all with stupid little issues like this.
Trying to create a game that looks great, has the same core gameplay as a 2D game and actually WORKS is a pretty hardcore challenge. Certainly more hardcore than most people would realise.
Ive lost count of the amount of stupid idea’s, good idea’s that cant be implemented very well, or just bad implementations that weve iterated over.
At least we had a template to work to though, I think without the original 2D game it would have been almost impossible to write. I’m not sure “design” would have helped here either, because its all a matter of trying stuff and iterating until it works or is dropped.
Of course, we dont have unlimited time unfortunately, thats the indie advantage, if something bites, just redo it, and redo it, and redo it until it doesnt. If it REALLY bites, just drop it.
Ah, indie here I come!
Phil.

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