Until I realised just how tight the time limit was, Gold Mining was set to be a massive sprawling Metroid-esque underground Dwarven city overrun by goblins, with the ability to mine out new passages all with the chance of collapsing and physics for collapsing bridges, rockslides, and so on.
Regardless, this is more a discussion about what failed - the level design. The basic graphics and dodgy looking menu screen I'm not bothered by - the time limit dictated that as much as anything. But the problem with the level is that I had no plan. I plonked down the start and end points, and then tried to fill in the middle section almost at random.
The original aim for the level was to create something which people would replay several times - to test out new routes and to try and get a better score (either by being faster, collecting more gold on the way, or both). It didn't work. There are multiple routes, but everyone ends up stuck on the bottom. And getting back up again requires two frustrating wall jumps and about 30 seconds off your time.
One day, I'm hoping to go back and fix up the level by replacing it entirely with something that works much better. It needs to be bigger in general, but it also needs to be much easier to move between levels of the mine. Internal lifts might be one way of doing this. There also needs to be a much clearer progression from start to finish.
Currently in beta for the software I used to make this game is the option to compile the code as a web-friendly Java applet. Once this is released I intend to update the game and put out an online version; given the simplicity of the game it seems much more suited to an online environment.
So this proposed list of changes, as I see it, would be:
- Replace the level with something properly planned out. The level needs to flow much better and be easier to navigate.
- Engine tweaks - Removing the midair slowdown would make jumping while at low speeds easier.
- More consistent graphics - Replace all counters and fonts; especially on the title screen.
- Original Music - I'd at least want to replace the Kirby tune with something less copyright-tastic. Possibly I need to learn how to make some 8bit/chiptune music.
If anyone is interested, the game was made in Multimedia Fusion 2 (www.clickteam.com). Rather than typing out code, the interface is mouse driven. It gets pretty complex, so I wouldn't say it's an easy alternative to a programming language. But you can certainly be doing fun and interesting stuff with it much faster than you could with most languages out there. Some big indie games have been made in it. Knytt, Within a Deep Forest, Tormishire, Noitu Love, The Underside, A Game With A Kitty. The list goes on, and that's only the platform games.
The next time I get the urge to make something, I fancy doing different things. Some sort of RPG based around procedurally generated content, perhaps...
And thus my brain is back to formulating impossibly large projects again.