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Fiddleling

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2-Bit Explorer - A post mortem

Posted by Fiddleling - June 13th, 2024


2-Bit Explorer - A Post-mortem


In April I released the second installment of my Bit Saga, 2-Bit Explorer, and now I think it is time for a post-mortem for it. As I did for 1-Bit Explorer, this will be more to collect my thoughts on game reception, its development and conclusions on the experience, but if this can be helpful to anyone out there, great!


Development Mindset:

From the begining this project was focused on "Explore a huge maze and find items to solve its secrets", making a challenge for myself to hide secrets wherever I could in the game. This panned out very well in some areas and poorly on others...


As with 1-Bit Explorer, I didn't mind if most players wouldn't experience 100% of the game because I believe this makes finding secrets and mysteries more rewarding in the end, but I do believe I went a bit far with this idea.


Initially obtuse:

The initial version of the game was focused on making the players work HARD on solving mysteries and finding secrets, with subtle hints on what was hiding inside the maze. While some players appreciate this struggle, what I found out is that most don't, giving up before uncovering interesting bits of the game.


One example that was mentioned a lot in reviews is the waiting puzzle. While I thought the sound cues were enough to get people to try some stuff out, the reality is that most players simply zipped through and didn't actually engage. This was fixed in a quality of life patch that added warnings to the player.


Same goes for the hidden walls and direction puzzles, which used eyes on the ground to guide the player's exploration (something that was already present in other parts of the game).


The point is: As the creator of the game, most puzzles are (obviously) clear to me, but they were lacking in directions to alert the player. Although I didn't want to handhold at anytime, I could and SHOULD be less obtuse in providing players with hints.


Game breaking bug on release:

Because of my lack of experience, there was a game breaking bug right on release! To save time on plugin configurations, I duplicated the 1-Bit Explorer Project to create this game, making both games share an ID. This caused a bug that, if you played 1-Bit Explorer, the game wouldn't save or load files properly. After an ID change on both projects, the issue went away and a valuable lesson was learned. This was only present on the browser version of the game.


Great reception:

Although it had its issues on release, I felt the game had an amazing reception by the playerbase. Some reviews pointed out that there were clear improvements from the previous title, which is awesome! As a developer, sometimes it is hard to see the gradual improvements we make, but have players point that out is really heartwarming.


Improved initial accessibility:

This time I released a browser version on Newgrounds and Itch on day 1, making the game way more accessible to people willing to give it a chance. Numbers for the game after 2 months are better than the ones for 1-Bit Explorer after 1 year, proving that accessibility is key! The fact that it was quickly frontpaged on Newgrounds (and it stayed there for about a month) helped a lot too.


Conclusion:

I am very happy with the experience again! I learned a lot about game design and I got to make another game that people seem to enjoy, so its all good on my book.


Thanks for reading!


If you'd like to test out the game, you can find it here:


Itch: https://fiddleling.itch.io/2-bit-explorer

Newgrounds: https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/925518


You can also follow my other projects at: https://fiddleling.itch.io/


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Comments

Can't wait for your next project!