Midnight Flash Game Design #5: Perfect Coding Can’t Fix A Bad Game Design

Well, I completely blew my quest to finish Fireworks Blast Challenege in one month.  Part if it was time, but of it was, honestly, a bit of depression that set-in as I was trying to build the game. 

It’s a difficult situation when you realize that the game you are designing might not be fun at all.  This is the reason why making games is different from making any other type of application.   You can implement a game perfectly, right down to the exacting details of the design, and the game can still, honestly, massively suck.   If this was some type of database application, there would be less of a chance of complete failure if you followed the details of the design doc.  If you are programming an application to calculate the check book balances, for example, you know it will be a successful application if it can, indeed, calculate checkbook balances.  End of story.  However, a game is much different.  You can program the exact game as you planned, with all the nuances, graphics, controls, etc., and at the end, it might still be a massive chore to play.  

My fear, is that “Fireworks Blast Challenge” has become a “massive chore” instead of a fun game.  I set-out to make a game that was like “Guitar Hero”, or “DDR”, but you exploded the correct color firworks in the correct location.   You get points for hor how close to the center of the target you hit, and the size of the firework explosion is determined by this accuracy.  I have finished that portion of the game, and well, it just does not seem enjoyable to play at all.   You can test this version here to see what I mean:  Fireworks Blast Challenge Pre-Alpha.   Use the [Z][X][C] keys to launch Red/White/Blue fireworks, using the mouse to aim.

It seems to me that the “fun” of the fireworks simulation has been stripped away.  Exploding massive amounts of fireworks and watching their colorful particles drift through thr sky is fun.  Mundanely hitting keys to to launch shells at  colored circles in the sky does not translate at all.  This is why I have been in a state of depression.  I think there is a fun game in there, but what is it?

To get out of my depressing funk, I have though of a few ways that might save the game before I scrap it completely.  Here are some of those ideas:

1. Create a “Grand finale” section at the end of the the round that rewards you for launching as many fireworks as possible.

2. Allow you to earn “bonus” fireworks (the orange shells) that can be used for any color gtarget, and will get bigger bonuses in the grand finale section.

3. Add a “show” element in the background that launches fireworks depending on how you are doing in the game.  If you hit many targets in row it responds with massive background displays, missing makes them go away.

What do you think?  Is it worth finishing the game?  What would you add to the game if you had a chance? I’m not going to sell it or anything. the game is just for my own enjoyment and to build my own skills.   Email me here: mailto:info@8bitrocket.com or tell me in the forums: http://www.8bitrocket.com/forums/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=23

I’m working a 3 other game ideas right now.  If I can’t find a away to salavage this one, I’ll take the lessons I learned and move onto something else.  Not a great loss, but still, honestly, a bit depressing.

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