20. New Mechanics Ahoy!

This week, I’ve finally finished up the replacement interface enough to get back into designing puzzles. At first, I returned to a mechanic that I was in the middle of prototyping when I took a break from working on the game, but after some thinking, I realized there are some issues with it that I don’t know how to resolve yet.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post about the mechanic, it’s a good mechanic as far as orthogonality goes, but the issue is that it just doesn’t stand on its own very well. It only really gets interesting when it’s combined with the other mechanics. This might be fine if it was a purely augmentative mechanic, but it isn’t.

Additionally, it’s a big goal for the design of this game to have the player solve puzzles without requiring verbal hints, and unfortunately this mechanic is non-trivial to teach the player this way. Essentially, it’s a difficult concept to grasp that doesn’t actually go very deep once you do grasp it. So, it doesn’t feel very rewarding. Until I come up with some changes to the way it works that make it deeper, or at least much easier to teach, I have decided to shelve it in favor of trying something else.

(By the way, As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been live-streaming some design/programming work on the game on twitch, so you can see some of this new mechanic being prototyped in the archives here.)

That New Mechanic

So as for the new mechanic, I’m not going to go in-depth about how it works, as I want to maintain a bit of mystery about the game. A big part of the game is the sense of discovery, coming upon some inscrutable thing and poking and prodding at it in order to figure out what’s going on.

But, the important thing to note is that so far this mechanic is working out much better than the last one. It creates interesting and subtle puzzles which are just as good as the others in the game. I am still in the process of seeing how deep it goes and how well it interacts with the other mechanics in the game, but in the meantime I will let you look at some of these new puzzles in an unsolved form and speculate on their meaning.

Let’s just call it “the dot mechanic”

The only thing that I will say about the mechanic is that it primarily came to mind when I stopped being so worried about whether or not I was cribbing ideas from The Witness. In my mind, it’s pretty similar to one of the mechanics in that game, but due to the fact that the interaction method of the puzzles in my game is quite different, the way in which it manifests is actually pretty unique.

Day Job and Productivity

So, the other big thing that’s happened this week is that I’ve gone back to my day job. This poses a bit of a problem as it’s usually quite difficult for me to maintain a good work momentum when I’m also working 8 hours a day. Thankfully (or perhaps not, if you ask my wallet), I haven’t been working a lot of hours this week, so I’ve still been pretty productive.

I just hope that I can keep up some level of momentum on the game as my hours pick up at the job. Part of my issue is that when I put the game down for a day or two, I start to over-analyze everything and worry too much about whether or not I’m taking the right steps.

By now I should have realized that it’s more important to just keep moving than it is to be certain that I’m not making a mistake. I can always course-correct later, and I even if I think about it all day before making a decision, I only have so much information. Scrapping and redoing thing is just part of the process, even if it is still pretty uncomfortable for me.

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