The long list of what got cut from the IGMC entry


Dream Devourer Blog 1:

As is the case with a lot of games created in game jams, I'm both proud of and disappointed in what I was able to accomplish over the course of the month. Many of the things I had wanted to include simply didn't make it into the current build of the game, and my failure to set aside enough time and resources for proper proofreading and bug-testing definitely hurt things. At the same time, the core gameplay holds up pretty well overall and I've gotten largely positive feedback from people who've managed to play through the whole demo. So I'm feeling encouraged that this game project is worth going back to and completing.

I took a month-long break from working on this game while thinking over the design process and collecting what feedback I was able to gather. Now, I would like to take some time to talk about some of the mistakes I've made, changes I'd like to make to the current content, and some of the cut features I plan to add back into the future versions of the game.


Mistakes and missteps with the initial version:

The infamous game crash bug: Unfortunately the initial release was plagued by a common game breaking bug affecting any user that does not have Japanese language packs installed on their OS. (My computer does, hence why the bug never came up from my own tests) That bug ruined several people's first impressions of the game. Note to self and all other game devs: ONLY use Alphanumeric characters for resource filenames. Lesson learned. 

A bad starting level: The 'Garden Graveyard' that makes up the first major part of the game was one of the first areas I made, and it was made before I had a truly solid idea of what I wanted the gameplay to be like. After plaything through the entire game, I find it to be the most boring level, personally. I focused too much on the visual aspect of how it would transform (which doesn't even show that well since the map could stand to look a lot better), without getting the core gameplay down first. The over-saturation of the turret flowers was definitely a mistake and their firing frequency was too high. Getting through the entire area without taking hits took patience and near pixel-perfect timing which was way too much trouble for the first area of the game.

And then one more little dumb thing I'd done was that the main save point was too easy to miss, so a good chunk of players missed the opportunity to do so.

The end result of those three errors were several people taking the time to play my game, enduring a sloggy first level, and then facing a game breaking crash before getting the opportunity to save, resulting in a poor enough experience that downloading the bug-fixed version of the game no longer feels worth the trouble. I can't say I blame them.

I would like to redesign that part of the game completely, but I've made a quick fix patch to address these issues in the newest build of the demo. (which is a mostly in-tact faithful version of my game jam entry aside from a few other bug fixes, no new content). 1. The game crash bug is fixed. 2. I've added a visual indicator to the journal on Ash's desk until the player interacts with it the first time so they'll more easily discover that it is a save point. 3. I moved a couple of the flower turrets into less obnoxious positions, and added some throw-able rocks to the area, which you can use to block the bullets and clear a completely safe path.

With those changes made, I think I can distribute the demo with some more confidence and collect some more feedback on ways I can improve the game moving forward as I add more content.

So on that note; time to talk about the cut features I wasn't able to include in the game jam entry demo:


List of cut features: 

Workplace events. After the first day of the IGMC build, you never see the protagonist go back to work, though you still get your Friday paychecks. I didn't have time to implement it, but the intention is that Monday-Friday you attend work, skip through the boring parts but have occasional opportunity to interact with coworkers and made decisions that might lead to pay bonuses, a shiny new promotion, or learning new things from your co-workers and friends. Persona fans should have a serious sense of deja vu right now thinking back to the schoolday events. Something like that.

Daytime activities: Right now, there isn't much at all to do during daytime freetime. I would like to add more places to go outside the apartment, and more ways to gain skills and stats during the daytime. By exploring and meeting new people during the day, I'd like to open up more missions in the dream realm.

Rougelike mode: Repeatable missions with randomized areas and challenges you can play to gain levels or for an additional challenge.

Spellchecks!: Yeah, you've no doubt noticed the typos. Proper editing was one of the 'cut features' with the contest deadline. I'll definitely hire an editor to properly go over the script for the future versions of the game.

Managing your mental health: There's two (currently hidden) stats in the game that don't do much; stress and hunger. They currently have no effects, though you'll see some in game references to increases and decreases in the stress stat in the current build. The intention is that both of them need to be managed or they will start to weaken you in the dream realm or affect your daytime activities and work life. Stress primarily increases from suffering deaths in the dream realm and has increasingly more detrimental effects the higher it goes, and it reduced by choosing more relaxing (but potentially less profitable) activities during daytime events. Hunger ticks up with time and is primarily reduced by picking up all those little energy pickups in the dream world. The key to managing both of these effects balancing your choice of daytime activities based on how frequently you explore the dream realm and how successful those excursions are.

Money matters: It currently does not matter. There isn't much to buy. At the very least there are going to be shops added that let you buy new books and movies to watch in the apartment. But there should be a wide variety of things to spend money on. Additionally, there is going to a marketplace within the dream world that sells items that you can use during your adventures, but they typically won't be accepting human currency.

Nightmare forms: One more major ability that I had yet to implement was transforming into various monster-forms. The first of which was a spider-form, and beating that spider queen boss was one of the steps to unlocking it. But I didn't even have time to finish the boss (Note the utter lack of multiple attack patterns) let alone finish the spider form's abilities.

More content!: Last but not least what the game really needs is more missions, more areas, more levels, more abilities, more enemies, more bosses... And of course for the currently under-done content that IS there to get expanded on and finished. The biggest example of witch being the witch hunt village which was slapped together hastily. That's another area that is getting a total redesign, and for the record, as someone who tends to hate forced stealth segments in non-stealth games, combat and diplomacy will be alternate options in the 2.0 version of that area if you get caught. Of course the story and characters will be expanded upon, and several of the dream worlds will have their own individual stories tied to NPCs in the daytime world. For example, you'll be able to get to know Ash's upstairs neighbor a little better, revisit his dreams and explore the haunted catacomb crypts underneath the starting area garden.


What's next? 

As for the judge feedback, most of it boils down to a lack of polish and a shortage of content, both of which will be addressed quite thoroughly, and I have to agree with just about all of it. But one comment I definitely will make sure to fix is the music. Again, I'll have to agree with the current assessment given that I didn't get to actually finish the music that went into the game, but for the final version of the game, I will settle for nothing less than “this game has an amazing soundtrack.”

So anyway, that's generally what I have in mind for future development of Dream Devourer. Everything in that 'cut features list' will be added back in.  Before I get heavily into adding features and content, I need to take some time to optimize and improve some of the code and systems that are currently in place, since some of the workarounds I pulled to make certain scripts and plugins work together for the demo while on a strict deadline form a pretty shaky foundation for a full length game. I will likely need to make some custom tweaks within the plugins themselves, so that might get messy.

Continued development of this game will continue in 2018. It's too early to pin down a release date for the actual final version, but know that I do plan on finishing it.

Thanks to everyone who's tried the game so far, and thank you for the feedback.

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Comments

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I look forward to see all those features in the game.
This was one of the games that made a big impression on me from all the IGMC entries I played for fun. I thought the game was hard but still it was so interesting that I kept playing ^^
Good luck with the development and thank you for keeping us updated!