One of the things we’ve been racking our brains on is on how to extend the core mechanic of the game.
We played tons of games and tried to map mechanics to our game to see if something would fit. The method to test an idea out is simple as always, dive into a whiteboard, pick an idea, draw it out, play. repeat. repeat repeat….
But after 15 days of this, we got pretty tired. We got a bunch of random ideas, and here they are.
Lightning mode: Similar to lightning chess, at some point the timer starts ticking and expects you to make a move within the next 10 seconds. If you don’t it opens a random tile. This puts pressure on the player to move fast and solve the board.
Either-or: Every once in a while, the game identifies a situation where one of two tiles are most likely the treasure and pops both of them, asking you to pick one. If you pick the right one, you get the treasure. Pick the wrong one, and the treasure blows up.
Blind-eye: The board randomly closes tiles which are previously open to make you lose track of a few things.
These are ideas which we thought were fun to add in the game, but they don’t give us much room to extend the gameplay. They are the equivalent of a bonus, small things that make the game fun, but don’t really add to the core mechanic.
Things went from bad to worse in the next 15 days. Honestly the only thing that kept us going was that there was some progress in the art front.
So I finally called another meet for the fifth time with friends and family to figure things out. And for no reason at all, this time, we came up with an idea!
After the player gets used to Xcavate, we’re going to add in a few special tiles. Each tile is etched with the shape of one of the chess pieces, either the bishop, the horse, the king or the rook. A tile with an etch cannot be opened directly. It has to be opened by opening a tile that pops a chess piece which can reach the tile in 1 move.
The special tiles will contain things like keys, dynamite and pickaxes which can be used to open tiles which are locked, buried under rocks or under ice. The player doesn’t have to open special tiles. Tools like keys and dynamite can be purchased with the money you earn from finding treasures. But frugal players who enjoy spending as little as they can won’t be disappointed either.
This brings us to the other things which are immediately going to be integrated into the game: scores, currency and leaderboards.
We went through a lot of tough days to get to this. Its great relief to be out of the “stuck” state.
I feel very good about the game, and the fast iterative development which literally stalled us for four whole weeks, can now safely continue.
I wonder if there are other ideas to extend the gameplay. I hope there are, because it makes the game more fun and exciting.
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