Development Interlude, 'Now What?!?' Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

It's one thing to avoid Feature Creep and decide to stick within the bounds of your rigorously-designed game framework. It's another thing to realize that having done so and coloring inside the lines has left your game with a severe case of redundancy and, figuratively, your dick in your hand. (For all you know, that could also be literally the case, but I can attest that I did type this with two hands.)

Fully two thirds - 66% - of the levels in my singleplayer campaign rely on Buttons. Specifically, bounding Critters or objects off of Buttons to either (a) toggle solid walls to be passable and vice versa, (b) turn death-dealing objects on or off, and (c) open Elevator doors so you can get your Critters to safety. The outcomes are different, but they're all handled the same way: bouncing some hapless object off of a Button.

If I'm lucky, the aforementioned different outcomes might be the real kicker here, and not the common triggering mechanism. And yet, I can't shake the feeling that, every time I crack open my level editor, my creative options are limited. Like, they all consist of, "How hard should this Button be to reach? What should it trigger?" That's like being a cook and constantly having to ask, "How much cheese do I have to put in this thing?" I mean, cheese goes great on everything, right? But you don't want to overdo it.

Indeed, I'd prefer if my players don't get sick of Buttons and/or cheese. So I'm gonna sit here for a little bit and try to figure out if I can permit myself a bit of Feature Creep and add a new gameplay feature that can shake things up a bit. The tricky part is that, as a physics-based game limited by my flick mechanic, it almost always comes down to what physical object can reach where. Hence the automatic importance of Buttons.

So, what can fit in that niche without being derivative of something I've already relied too much on?

Don't say "cheese." That doesn't count.