Are we even making an iOS game?!?
One of the lingering things which has me somewhat perturbed as we rapidly approach final beta is the notion that our game isn’t the right fit for the platform. This was hammered home to an extent yesterday when discussing the difficulty level of See Through Studios’ game Unstoppabot at the iOS game’s launch drinks.
(Side note: everyone do make a point of checking out one of Sydney’s best indie developers’ latest works. It’s a unique game from designer Nick Kolan and is easy to pick up and play. And it’s free.)
Essentially, their game, which combines the frantic nature of an endless runner and the synapse-firing of a puzzler, has a tempestuous difficulty curve. Appearing distressingly easy at first, the game quickly ramps up. Not in speed, as you’d expect from an endless runner, but in the complexity of the puzzles. Truth be told, they’d be rather simple to get through if the screen weren’t constantly moving, and hence the challenge.
What Nick told me last night was that they found the game markedly too difficult when it came time to playtest. I, myself, am up to level 13. I’m told it’s level 14 where the game gets quite hard.
I actually found the game quite forgiving in spite of the challenge, with plentiful checkpoints and last minute moves often being just enough to get you over that next obstacle. I suppose the forgiveness is a result of the playtesting in question, but either way, it’s a fun game and worth playing.
This conversation got us talking about difficulty and iOS generally. The World of Goo team had a big success with their game on console, but had incessant cries of ‘too hard’ when they brought it across to iPad. Accordingly, they ended up adding a ‘skip level’ option, a concession I’d imagine they were surprised they’d had to make.
It’s slightly tangential, but it got me thinking about whether or not our game matched the platform well. In terms of difficulty, I think we’re fine, but there are other areas where I’m less certain.
There are several things I think we’ve got right with our game as far as that goes. Rohan has created a user interface with is just SO damn iPad friendly it’s not funny. It feel slick as hell and is custom-built for the platform – I’ve little doubt it’ll be something for which we receive praise come launch.
Moreover, since it’s neither an 8 hour home console epic nor a 2 minute arcade-fest, we’re kind of nailing the length of playtime each iPad user will tend to embrace.
The game may, however, not be quite so iPhone friendly. Indeed, if you go back to our original press release announcing our existence, we were somewhat boldly making the claim that we wanted to use the processing power of the new tablets and smartphones to recreate our personal golden age of 90s PC gaming. As such, the game we’ve created, while thoroughly coated in friendly iPhone simplicity (and it’s a game about exploring at your own pace rather than punishing you), is vastly more complex on a deeper level than the average game on Apple platforms.
We’re estimating an average Town will take players about an hour to get from beginning to ‘end’ (although I use the term loosely, as it ends up being a city-builder, and those generally tend to end only when you feel like starting anew).
This is a far cry from the 30 second jaunts one might normally enjoy in a few stolen moments while waiting for a latte (god, I’m a wanker), and has me slightly worried that we’ve created a game which, while suited to the longer play sessions of the iPad, might
Or perhaps, that’s one of our virtues. Perhaps that uniqueness is a good thing, and will help us stand out from the crowd.
I suppose anyone entering into an untested area must have the same butterflies in their stomach which are currently mating like there’s no tomorrow in mine.