I have been trying to decide what to do as my next project. As tempted as I am to use libgdx or Haxe I have found that when looking at my CV rather than saying 'wow, this guys has lots of finished projects in multiple different engines/languages' potential employers say 'bah, I want someone with lots of experience in the one I am using'. Unfortunately apart from Flash that's not something I have and I am not comfortable with blagging. It seems Unity is a good way forward so I have decided to do another Unity project. I want it to be a small project so I will just port another of my old Flash games that I think will work well on mobile.
The game that I have decided on is Presents Panics, a game I created about 10 years ago as a mash up of Tetris, Super puzzle fighter and Same Game. At the time I really liked the game - it has depth and multiple ways you can play and win.
Of course the game has issues and it didn't set the world alight when I originally released it. I am hoping that I can keep what I view as the original game's strengths but fix or at least smooth over the problems it had. In my view the two main problems it had were the controls and the progression.
The controls: In the original version the game used both the keyboards and the mouse. The keyboard to move and rotate the pieces and the mouse to remove them once they had settled in blocks. Obviously as the creator I had gotten used to this and had no problems with them but new players often didn't understand or like them. Since I don't have access to a keyboard on a mobile I couldn't keep the old controls even if I wanted to. I will experiment once I have something running but I think it will work well with swipe to move, tap to rotate or explode. It will be simpler and more intuitive, I hope. Of course until I have a version up and running it's hard to say for sure.
The progression: The original game goes for a very Tetris style progression. You play until you lose with the game gradually getting faster and harder, whilst the score multiplier increases. It's pretty basic and unsatisfying. There are no concrete challenges and it ends up feeling like a slog. It's not just of it's time, it's of 10 years earlier and when you compare it to the scientifically engineered addictiveness of something like Candy Crush it feel positively stone age. I am not sure what I will do here, I just know that I need to do something. Some ideas I have:
- Have discreet levels with a score players need to reach and a limit on the number of presents they get to reach the score. Maybe predefined starting presents already present.
- Change the number of blocks sent down from 4 in an L shape to just 2. This would mean that if I could make sure that you always get on colours present the level should always be clearable. this might make it too easy though. This would open up the types of game mode available - I haven't player Dr Mario in 15 years but I think this is close to what they do.
- Bombs and other power ups that destroy rows and columns. Spawned when you destroy larger presents.
- Still have a 'rush' mode that is like the old one.
- I could go full candy and have a currency that you collect in games that you can spend on boosts/power ups.
- Make it less Tetris twitchy and more of a strategy game. This would mean that instead of speeding it up I would give the players less blocks to achieve the objectives so you feel like it's about planning rather than just being fast.
The only other question I'm asking myself is, should I bother? I have no illusions on whether this will be popular or successful. It won't be no matter what I do unless I am willing to spend some serious time/effort on both the polish and on marketing/pr and even then I don't think it has enough to it for it to be successful. I have to look at it as being 90% a portfolio piece so maybe I should just bog a fairly bog standard version with limited additions.
The other remaining questions is how much effort I am going to expend in trying to monetise the game. I feel like if it's going to be a portfolio piece it needs to look and feel like a real pro game and that will mean extras, though probably not iaps. In the end I will probably just stick some ads and maybe if I do boosts I will offer them for reward ads. It has to be easy and quick.
I have all the assets, though they will need some work to export them for unity. I will need to redo the ui as the aspect ratio has changed and I want it to look more sparkly. I am hoping to complete the project working part time in 4-5 weeks. If it takes longer I won't mind too much if it genuinely improves it.