First Round Closed Alpha Postmortem
It's been a while since I've written a longform post but the time is right as a couple weeks back Deadwind went through its first round of closed testing! I wanted to make a postmortem to discuss what went right, the issues, and the changes and additions on the radar.
Seeing as this is the first time I've done a closed release of a game, things went really smoothly. No major technical problems such as crashing on startup or memory leaks were reported. So the game runs - this is good. Distributing keys through itch.io was simpler than I expected and 20 keys were sent out which garnered 14 downloads and 6 feedback form responses. The feedback form turned out to be a great way to organize and separate different areas of the game experience; showing areas that were done well, and areas that need improvement. This post will include the feedback regarding gameplay/design. Andrew has written his own post to address the dialogue/writing side of things.
The combat system was received relatively well in terms of "feel" but there's definite room for improvement. From the feedback, it seems I'm on the right track in terms of making the clunky roguelike combat of old feel punchier and more satisfying. One tester suggested flashier deaths which I'm all for.
The response to the control scheme was much more varied with some users disliking the control scheme, and others somewhat liking it but recognizing the room for improvement. The most glaring area that needs improvement is the menu controls. It's been an issue I've been meaning to change for some time but wanted to wait until I get feedback to see if it was really necessary. Another presumption that was confirmed during testing is the need for customizability in the control scheme itself. As a result, I will be working on a key remapping system, as well as remaking the menu controls to operate closer to that of a traditional roguelike.
- Rain effect slows down some devices.
- Text formatting/typos in some areas
- Grebbold quest bugged if chalice is received before speaking to the chieftain.
- Impassable areas unclear on world map
What I'm doing about it
- Optimizing the rain code to be less resource intensive. I experienced the slowdown from the rain once myself but was never able to recreate it. Its good to know it wasn't a fluke.
- Have already finished work on an automatic text formatter, just finishing the implementation. Typos other than the ones spotted will have to be manually searched for however.
- Grebbold quest bug fix
- All impassable tiles on the overworld map will be much more clearer.
The demo serves as a great sandbox to test features and mechanics that will be ported over to the main game. I will certainly be using it for this purpose and I'm open to the idea of releasing another demo version if these new features require testing. In the meanwhile, there's a LOT of backend development that needs to be done and tools to be made in order to make the rest of the process as painless as possible.
The overworld map system needs to be overhauled to allow the player to enter any tile on the map and move across the world without being booted out to the fast travel screen again. This will result in the world being more explorable, connected, and open.
A dialogue tool would be IMMENSELY helpful and would speed up development a lot. At the moment, dialogue is written in flowcharts and I need to hardcode the dialogue trees in. I'm going to attempt to develop a tool where you can create flowcharts and export them in a way that the game can understand. I've never done anything like this before so it's a little daunting but the end result will be worth the development time I think.
Saving/loading is something that's been in the back of my mind for a long time but has never been an imminent necessity. Now that development is towards the main game, it's finally something to look into. I don't have a lot of experience with file management in GameMaker so it will be interesting to learn the best methods of going about it.
An options menu including remappable keys is currently being worked on to address the control scheme problems. The menu will also feature separate controls for the volume of music and sound effects.
Overall, I'm really happy with how the testing has gone. Big thanks to all the testers, the feedback is greatly appreciated.
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