Joy of joys! I am delighted to say that I got the playable prototype out only 1 day later than I wanted and in a pretty well functioning format! If you happen upon this post, then stop reading right now and go download the protoype of the debut game from TC Games: Aarenjizeus available to download free from https://tcgamesuk.itch.io/aarenjizeus right now!
Welcome back! See, told you it was in a functioning format! I'm quite pleased with it, even though it is terrible!
You might be sat there thinking "don't be so harsh, it's not that bad" or "yeah, it's not great" and I'm not upset either way because I made the first milestone and I genuinely feel a sense of accomplishment in doing so!
Why do you think it's terrible I hear you ask, here's the reasons:
Reason #1 it's not varied enough (yet), I playtested the game a lot to make sure everything I made was working as intended. Every slight variation, I jumped in and checked it and whilst I enjoyed doing it, I know that it's not the most intuitive game to play. Yes, there's a High Priest that shoves the story and main quest down your throat as soon as you appear and you then know to jump into the Temple Basement as soon as you arrive, but what do you do after that?
You're in a darkened basement with no clue as to what to do... and that sucks!
Yes, the spiders that descend from the ceiling look good, but what's the objective aside from killing lots of stuff? There's no path to follow, you just sort of wander around aimlessly until you eventually stumble on some stairs and then get to do it all again.
Two words: level design.
I knew I wanted to make something that was going to have random generation in it. I knew I wanted to set up an algorithm that would help generate new and different things each time the game was played. Whilst it does do that (yay), it doesn't do it in a hugely fun way.
I'm reading up a lot on level design now and I am going to introduce more linear levels with clearer purpose and focus the random generation creating fun on a room-by-room basis. I am genuinely excited by this!
Reason #2 it's not varied enough (yet), yes this is the same as Reason #1, but it holds true. What are your character abilities? 'Shoot' and 'move' that is it. In making attacks you have only 1 choice, do you shoot now or do you shoot later? Woo...
I am happy with the mechanics and the flow of the gameplay with the enemy fights, particularly the Mage setting things on fire and doing damage over time, but there's no alternative.
That's why my next release will have not only a secondary ability on the right mouse button, but you will also be able to click and charge the primary ability. This I am excited about. Watch the Archers power-shot tear through rows of enemies and the Mage cast fire shield to protect themselves and ignite others! Watch the Viking throw spinning axes dealing out whirling death! See the Gladiator perform a spinning attack with their Spear! It's gonna be so much better and again, I am excited by this!
Reason #3 it's not varied enough (yet), spotting a pattern? This time it's the loot and gear. There's just not enough of it!! I need to make many more types and expand the stats available so that there are hundreds of bits of gear. I myself am a self-confessed klepto (don't believe me? See here) who loves nothing more than grabbing every last sword, spear, trinket and shiny thing that exists in any game.
So what stopped me? Time. Genuinely. I actually have a spreadsheet I made trying to balance out the progression over the levels of gear I was looking at and should probably have focused more on getting extra actual levels in.
Speaking of which...
Reason #4 it's not varied enough (yet). Ok, even I'm fed up of reading that now, so I'd like to take a moment to genuinely apologise to you for my terrible humour, but please stick with me, I think I have a real point to make! This time, it's the enemies.
The enemies are few and the bosses aren't great. I thought if I put enough enemies in that would provide enough distraction to occupy the player, but I don't quite feel that way now. I want to have lots of different enemies in each level, but while still keeping some element of theme to it. Yes, the sewers should have rats, but that is not all they should have! A bat or two and a few other things wouldn't go amiss!
The one part with the enemies I am particularly pleased about is the Spiders. The two Temple Basement levels progress well with black spiders on the first floor and red ones that shoot venom on the second floor and the difficulty curve is nice! But... the sewers? Awful. Rats are all the same, even the bosses (aside from just being a little bigger).
All these reasons boil down to one thing and it's the exact same thing that's featured in all 4 reasons...
...this is my real point I was going to make...
...the key word was 'yet'...
Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was Aarenjizeus! In fact, looking at Game Maker on my Steam account, I can tell you I've racked up over 150 hours so far. Not 100% of that is on Aarenjizeus, but the majority is, and I'm looking forward to putting many more hours in too!