Wednesday, 18 March 2015

HarvestRL Postmortem

With the challenge officially done, it's probably a good time to reflect on the game. It needs polish, and I'll have some fixes and adjustments done for those.

Rather than just growing crops for money or whatever, I wanted there to be an actual point to it. One aspect of this was growing food to keep a food-clock in check. Having the player be so hungry that they need to eat every second was just plain annoying, and it made far more sense to have the player grow food for the village. Initially I was going to have the option to sell food to a merchant (for money) or donate it to the village, and have that as a choice. The selling never made it into the game, so it's just an issue of donate it or keep it to eat. The overall clock is what I intended in the game; currently, it's too easy. There isn't enough pressure that the player needs to decide what to do about it since food is too readily available.

The combat is sufficient though tactically shallow. The player has very few hit points for several reasons. I wanted no randomness in the combat. I wanted each opportunity to be hit to be significant. I wanted damage reduction to be limited. As a result, the player should regularly get swarmed and then have to figure out where to go to avoid getting quickly killed. This becomes less of an issue near the end of the game (again like I wanted it), but the final boss is still exceptionally difficult. Unfortunately, it's difficult in a tedious rather than tactically interesting way. However, this is because of another issue.

There's no consumable combat-related items except healing and a weak ranged attack. The ranged attack is certainly useful (especially since it's the only non-renewable resource in the game), but even a few more special effects would have made a huge difference. Unfortunately, the framework I had in the game wasn't working with special effects yet, so I just hardcoded these two quickly (along with the seeds) and left it at that. Later versions will definitely need more, and a greater variety of enemies, to deepen the combat. That is definitely the weakest part of the game right now.

I also really dislike the village generation, but I spent a whole day on it and didn't want to lose any more time for the challenge. The underground levels are actually close to what I initially intended. They're not great, but I didn't want something fancy anyway. It is annoying that you can get an unwinnable game due to the RNG, but at the time I wasn't thinking about such an issue.

Overall, I'm content with my first successful 7DRL. There's a lot of room for growth with this game, but I'm torn between doing regular updates to HarvestRL and turning it into something more versus renaming it as a new game and pushing the boundaries on it. I'm leaning more towards the latter choice though.

I can also integrate this game with others I've started over the past few years but never finished or released. Since I now have something available, and have a means of updating and releasing new versions of things, you'll start seeing more games from me in the months and years to come. Hopefully, that will be a good thing.

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