Lyceum [Codename:Ghosts] Dev Blog #4

So around the end of working on “Flow Deformation” (“Make a Playable Thing”, Step 1 from the post 2 weeks ago), I realized that I had a way bigger problem: Solving my puzzles isn’t fun.

Making the slideshow for dev blog #1 involved solving a puzzle and taking screenshots as I did it. I took a mental note at the time that it was super tedious. For each of the sources, you had to do a double tap, then select the ‘Source’ icon from the arc menu that popped up. More or less the same for the sinks.

On a puzzle with 4 input and 4 output (current limits), that means 3*8=24 taps just to start actually solving the problem. That’s terrible, and that was completely OK, because it was just placeholder gestures. I used double taps because, at the time, single taps meant something else.

After that, though, was a more insidious problem. At that point, Techniques did not have an inherent cost to them. (They don’t right this minute either, but will soon.)

The consequence of free techniques is that every puzzle is solved fairly easily like so:

  1. Create source/sink techniques
  2. Use Merge technique to combine all sources. (Possible because there are only 4 sources.)
  3. Use Split technique to separate this massive energy flow into 4 separate elemental flows.
  4. Use as many divide techniques as are necessary to get the proper quantities for each Output.
  5. Create one or more Merge techniques for each output and guide all the necessary energy to them
  6. Connect merges to the final Outputs

That’s boring. It’s tedious, it’s a bunch of mediocre and uninteresting mental math, and there’s nothing particularly interesting about doing it. And worse: It was not something that was necessarily a placeholder mechanic.

To some extent, techniques having a tax on them (so that energy going through is reduced) will fix that, but now I’m seeing that making anything other than the above the easy/straightforward solution will take relatively unintuitive mechanics. Which means: I really need feedback ASAP.

So most of the past two weeks have been devoted to designing an absolutely minimal playable demo. I’ve backburnered every significant graphical task and I’ve streamlined the new design.

I don’t think I’ll be done in time for this week’s Feedback Friday, but that’s OK. It’s been a good lesson.

Honestly, I should have produced this months ago. Considering how much I’ve used agile processes, read about lean this and lean that, gamejammed, and invested in the idea of “little bets”, I totally missed the boat on this one. Hopefully I do better with it in the future. 🙂

* Apologies for the lack of screenshots this week!

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