The Production Blog of Sword 'N' Board
The May release date for the game is looming not that far away and there's still a lot left for me to do! Not only that, but I have even less of a timeline for the Beta if I expect enough people to be able to play it before the game is finally released, so time is of the essence!

I'm still trying to decide how much content the Beta will have. If it will be mainly the Overworld for players to explore, or if I want to include at least one of the dungeons as well. Or, do I want to include more than that? It's going to be a strange balancing act.

Not only do I have to pick a good balance of content for the Beta, but I'm also noticing that the game itself is going to be a bit of a strange balancing act as well.

I've seen a lot of games lately that really pad themselves with a lot of useless content. Usually to create a sense of artificial depth for the player.

You take a much loved series of mine for example, The Legend of Zelda. Especially for this example, lets use A Link to the Past.

In a Link to the past there comes a point where you get a wand that is able to set fire to things, including torches. When you first get the wand they introduce the mechanic of lighting torches to exit a room with 4 different torches and then from there on, you know that if you see an unlit torch, that you can light it! Sometimes, you can also use those torches to give you light in a dark room, or some times you may just choose to leave them alone.

The problem with this as a mechanic, is they then continue to beat you over the head with this for the next 8 dungeons at random points in the game... you see a block, and you move it but nothing happens! Oh, there's an unlit torch! And then you light it and the door opens, or a passage way is revealed.

The problem with this is that once this becomes a mechanic that you no longer have to think about, it basically becomes pointless. It's not longer rewarding in the sense that it gives you something to think about and thus gives you a sense of satisfaction for having figured it out yourself. Now, when you see an unlit torch you really don't have to think about it at all. Instead, you to go your menu, equip your item, and light the torch. Giving you one extra little thing that you have to do to get that door open, without any real reward.

Now, the torch lighting mechanic unless used in some new way to make the player really have to think about it again, becomes "padding" for the game. Something that creates some artificial complexity within the game. They did a great job with refreshing old mechanics within The Ocarina of Time, which was really great!

These are definitely things I'm going to have to keep in mind when designing my own mechanics. I want to make sure that each of the items can be used in multiple different ways in many different situations. In a game that's largely about exploration and puzzle solving, I need to always have people thinking about what they should do next!



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