On Player Feedback

I released beta 0.9.12 a few days ago and I want to briefly talk about two of the changes present in that. First up, bombs.

The change made to bombs is an animation that plays right before a bomb explodes (seen as a brief, quick flashing). Previously bombs would explode immediately once it was their turn to do so, which worked fine, but it confused most (maybe all?) people playing the beta version. I haven't heard back from anyone about this newest change yet, but I'm hopeful that it's going to help the confusion issue since it's a very clear indicator of when a bomb will explode.

The second change was potions requiring an action to work. In older versions they would immediately kick in when you were frozen or slimed (two status effects that can cause you to lose your turn), so you wouldn't even really know what had happened. I didn't want to force the player to press a specific button to use it (especially not at the cost of a turn), but being able to know that you've been affected and then seeing the potion work when you press a button is a big help, visually.

These two issues were part of a larger problem, which happens when you build and design a game without much outside feedback. The systems made perfect sense to me because I wrote them. So while the way they work hasn't changed at all (bombs and potions still work the same way), the player is given more meaningful feedback now as to what's going on. On its face it sounds like a really simple thing, but it's definitely something that caught me by surprise. It's almost as fundamental as having enemies (or the player) animate when they move to a new space. Imagine if they just jumped to their new spot? You could figure out what was happening, but it's still somewhat jarring.

Whenever I wrap this thing up and start on another game this will be at the forefront of my mind for sure. Designing a bunch of systems that interact and make up a game is fun and rewarding, but making those systems intuitive is what really makes a game enjoyable for others to play. That's an important goal, I think.