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Postmortem: Mommy's Best Games' Explosionade
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Postmortem: Mommy's Best Games' Explosionade

January 5, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

4. Incorporating Feedback

Explosionade was in XNA AppHub's playtest forums for several weeks before release and it benefited greatly from a wide swath of player feedback. It was difficult actually incorporating the feedback even though some things didn't always interest me.

It's always a challenge trying to balance responsive gameplay and character "feel" in a mech game. The original walk animation of the mech was very jerky and heavy feeling.

During the earliest playtest of the mech walk animation, while I liked the style, many testers hated it. One even went so far as explain it wasn't how a "real" mech would move.

The final speed of the mech still turns some people off, but I had to strike a balance somewhere as I didn't want the half-ton machine able to jump around like a normal human.

I tried to mitigate moving slower with the ability to "shield jump", which turned out to be one of the highlight mechanics of the game!

Getting closer to the final mech design.

5. Forced Delay

Explosionade was targeted to release on September 25th. I had everything in-line for that date, but when an edge-case crash bug was found, I pulled the game from peer review immediately.

This in turn added another eight days to development, in which time we added a new story ending (there's two endings total), a true final boss, a power-up (the Meganade Cascade), and the shield soldier type. Obviously this beefed the game up significantly. Even with a "small" game, extra time really helps.

What Went Wrong

1. Not Enough Variety

When you're trying to finish a game in a month, one of the first things that can go is variety. While we did manage two different soldier types (the shield Horronyms can bounce your lasers and are more aggressive), overall, people wanted more enemies and more levels. This was simply a matter of time, and not being able to fit in lots of variations or new types into the game. It was a calculated move to try to finish a whole game quickly. Many reviews and gamers weren't bothered as much by it but probably just as many were turned off by the lack of environmental variety.

Sketches for the SnakeBat, Horronym soldier faces, and the power core (the level exit).

2. Split Controls

There have been very few console, run-jump-and-shoot dual stick shooters (our own Weapon of Choice comes to mind as does Gastronaut's Small Arms). With Metal Slug and Cybernator firmly on my mind as some of Explosionade's influences, I wanted to cater to the older, arcade-savvy crowd.

Originally move and look was on the left stick and shoot was on the X button. But the more gamers playtested, the more they wanted a Right Stick fire option. I added this but now the jump dilemma surfaced. Where does jump go when you have a dual stick shooter?

I had several complaints for Weapon of Choice putting jump on the Left Trigger though that still seems the obvious choice for me. In the end, Explosionade defaulted to jump to the A button as an experiment, and the game provided full button remappability to make sure gamers could choose their preferred option..

Plenty of people still complained about jump on the face buttons, but then were happy with the remapping abilities. I think next time I'll try duplicating jump on the trigger and face buttons.

gamplay, zoomed in view of the later, electrified levels.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

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