Buzz Grid postmortem

2011-03-07

My latest game, Buzz Grid, went online on Friday. I spent Saturday coding improvements, and there's one still on my list. But I forced myself to take a break, not just in order to avoid burnout, but also in order to summarize how it went. Funny how such a small project can teach you so much.

What went bad: 8 months in the drawer.

I actually had the base mechanic implemented in the summer of 2010, but then a combination of real life and not knowing where to take it from there conspired to keep the project in suspension. And when I finally figured out how to continue, worked kicked up again, sapping my creative energy.

I could also mention my initial attempt at writing the game in Java, which failed miserably, and the friend who uses IE8. It was hard to explain why she couldn't play my game with her browser of choice...

What went well: emergent gameplay.

I love it when things fall into place on their own. But when you have to learn how to play your own game, you know you're doing something right. Not that there was much of a learning curve, but zig-zagging desperately between a bunch of roamers is still exhilarating.

And speaking of roamers (the lightning bolts that chase you around), the plan was to give them a bit of AI, so they'll chase you for real. The random movement they have now was intended as a temporary measure, just so they'll move around at all. But it turns out they are dangerous enough as they are. Plus, you get to trepidate over whether they'll turn around at the last moment and let you live... or the opposite. Fun!

Come to think of if, there is also a bug whereas prizes sometimes end up underneath a trap. It wasn't supposed to happen, but since it's so rare, doesn't impact the gameplay and it makes for nice Easter eggs, I decided not to fix it.

What went great:* friends with good ideas.

It is said that good beta-testers are worth their weight in gold. It's even better when they give you ideas for improving the game way beyond what you imagined. I said "no" to most of their suggestions, but the few I did keep made the game you see now. Thank you all.

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