The past month has been a flurry of ‘devil is in the details’ work.

There are a lot of features in a game that are easy to overlook as a player, but really critical to the experience. These are often simple things that give you a feeling of ‘completeness’ in the work itself.

For example, I almost always play phone games muted. As a result, I did not feel it a priority to port over the SFX/music and related code/UX until quite recently. The game does feel more real as a result. Surprising, I know.

Another simple tweak that is easy to forget as a developer is the addition of tutorials. After all, you wrote the game – you know how to play it. As a player, however, the friction from that lack of intuitiveness may be enough to get you to close the game. Everyone is looking for reasons not to invest their attention in a thing.

Beyond the actual craft of building the game, I’ve been trying to understand the challenges of meeting GDPR requirements, even though the game doesn’t presently collect any data whatsoever. Eventually I’ll want analytics, and as a small developer I will likely have to rely on some ad-serving service. Both of these can create interesting compliance complexities.

All that said, except for a flurry of new tickets created by recent playtesting, I’m definitely in the home stretch. Yay!

Since the last update, BAWD’s basic gameplay loop has finally closed, though it is yet untuned: Play yields credits, credits yield module upgrades, and module upgrades yield improved play and (in my opinion) enjoyment.

I’ve also re-introduced the “difficulty”/”block power” concept from the game’s previous life. At a certain depth, your blocks aren’t powerful enough to continue clearing, and you must invest in the power module to go further.

This isn’t a mechanic I love, but it feels necessary for the time being. What I don’t love about it is that it’s essentially an arbitrary gating mechanism for the sake of having some kind of thing to grow against. That’s not how I like to design things, but in the absence of a better-designed mechanic, something must still exist.

One aspect of it that is slightly redeeming is that deeper mining isn’t just “more mining”, but “significantly more profitable mining”. The tiles are worth more, there are more precious metal pips, and the pips are also worth more. In that sense it provides a gradual speeding-up of the gameplay loop, while also creating increased risk for failure: you’ll have to restart at the surface, meaning less profitability until you can get deeper into the mine.

The leveling up of abilities should help make those subsequent digs less punishing, but it’s still something you don’t want to do.

Beyond these gameplay changes, I’m working on a flurry of UI/UX changes to help polish the game in anticipation of a Q4 release. There are a lot of tasks that qualify as “polish”, but I think they’ll prove manageable.