Towards the end of May, I published a new update to the Other Minds demo build (feel free to try it out and let me know what you think). It now features an overhauled difficulty system and I’ve added the musical gauntlet level I was working on throughout the month. I’ve also been working on Other Minds just over one year now, so I’ll talk a bit about where I was when I started.
Difficulty was initially restricted to how much health the player had. The very easiest difficulty also had regenerating health.
I’ve now done a little extra work on how the difficulty settings work. Easier difficulty has less enemies, some obstacles are removed and things like moving platforms are slower to give you more time to react. I’ve also added bonus checkpoints for easy difficulty. Hard difficulties have more obstacles, more enemies and everything moves faster. And some of it really is difficult.
A more interesting change I’ve made is to the jump height; the easier the difficulty, the higher your jump height. This actually made some ledges not possible to reach on hard mode, at least not in the intended way. As such I’ve added alternative ways to reach the harder to reach platforms, such as having to bounce off a cannon ball to get a small jump boost.
I also finished up my rhymthm gauntlet level this month, it took an exhausting amount of work and I spent a lot of time play testing it to make sure things matched up. It’s also the largest room in the game so far, so I had my first ever issues with frame drops and had to spend a good while rooting through and doing some optimisation work. The end result is something I’m really pleased with! It’s a style of level that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never felt too confident about it.
It’s now been just over a year since I started working on Other Minds, my first post on Twitter about it was on the 23rd of May. It showed black blocks on a grey screen with the player as a black block with a smiley face. At that point, I had not even implemented gravity; you can see that the player is actually floating above the ground. Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to show how games start out, and I’m glad I did because now I can look back on it!
Back when I started this game, my 7 year old laptop had died and I was forced to have a long break from my previous project. I was working on a platformer inspired by Tombi, where you would be able to explore a world, complete various tasks and collect items. The whole thing wasn’t great and due to my lack of programming experience, the code behind it was a disaster zone. I never came up with a name for it either, it’s still called “game 1”.
It was actually quite interesting revisiting “game 1”. It was way too ambitious for my ability, but it taught me a lot about how to make a larger-scope project.
I would consider the point I’m at now with Other Minds to be around the 1/3 point of completion in terms of gameplay. Hopefully it won’t take me another 2 years to get this game actually finished. A lot of my time initially was spent developing organised and modular code (and menus, so much time spent on menus) and the initial investment has certainly paid off!
I’m planning on taking a short break to do the “I can’t draw but want to make a game” game jam over the next couple of weeks then will get back to work on some new levels.