I've made a bunch of changes to make the game polished and to actually feel like a full, finished game. The game is now essentially "done". This is exciting, because this is the first time I've actually felt like i completed a project :D
Here's a rundown of the changes:
1. Available on STEAM
I've finally published a game on Steam! YAY! (it's still free)
It's also available on itch.io, and google play for android.
When I first started the project, the game had a working title of DOT. Turns out, that name is really hard to search up, so I added a subtitle to the previous version, "DOT Debug". I've now changed it again, to DOT Debugger, as I find it rolls of the tongue more easily. This is probably the last name change. But no promises!
3. Length Change
The game was always meant to be short. In the world of live games that go on forever, I quite appreciate it when a game doesn't overstay it's welcome. The previous version had 3 acts, each with 6 levels each and each act took place in a different part of the moon.
It could probably be completed in less than an hour, but oddly I still found the second act to feel a little meandering. And the different locations didn't feel like they were fleshed out at all, it made the act based structure feel pointless. And honestly, it was pointless.
I decided to chop down to 12 levels. It still takes the basic act structure, the first 6 levels are about evacuating the Binary Engine, and serve as an introduction to the mechanics. The last 6 levels are about finding someone in the Engine's CPU, these levels is where the difficulty ramps up and types of enemies is expanded quite a bit.
The game probably takes from 30m to 1h to finish if you know what you're doing. But extra modes are there for some "postgame fun"
4. Finished the Story
Cutscenes have a bad reputation in games, but honestly, I enjoy getting context to what I'm doing. I don't need all games to have a story, but it often helps make a game feel more complete, to me. I don't have the time to do fully animated scenes, but I really enjoy making pixel art, so I think even the sideshow approach that DOT uses is effective enough.
Previous versions of the game had a few cutscenes, namely at the start and end of acts. This update now revamps the cutscenes, by adding opening cutscenes to every level. The story has also been re-written to something a bit more interesting, but still pretty basic.
So, basically, the story is complete. And there is an ending.
5. Powerups have Cooldowns
The game has powerups, or "functions". They are neat to use, but cost bit energy to use.
Energy cost of powerups was very hard to balance. Players could just stock up on energy, and just use them all at once, often making the game trivial. It was kinda hard to tell what powerups you could use at any given time as you had to do some quick maths to calculate costd. And worst of all, players would just stick to one or two powerups because there was no use varying it up if they had a similar cost. It was simply not a smooth or intuitive experience.
I didn't want to do cooldowns, because every game has them... but then I added them, and yeah... it's way better. Cooldowns cause you to think twice about whether to use a powerup or not, do you use it now, or just sneak around and use the powerup when you really need it.
The best side effect of it was that it caused players to actually use different powerups. Goes to show you that just because a game mechanic is overused, doesn't mean it's a bad thing.
Powerups were also purchased inside shops, but that has now changed. You can unlock powerups inside specific levels as you progress though the story. This fixes the problem of players missing the powers. You can still purchase upgrades of powerups in the store.
6. Bit are only Currency
In the previous version of the game, the Bits were used for 2 things. Energy, which is used for powerups, and as Currency, which is used to buy upgrades and new powerups. I thought it would be a cool mechanic, but again, it was needlessly confusing.
You'd enter every level with a bit count of 0, and wouldn't know how that converts to the menu's bit count.
Due to removing the Powerup cost factor, bits now ONLY serve as currency, and the total amount is always displayed in the level.
7. Musical Changes
For the music of the game, i'm using a bunch of public domain tracks from an artist named Komiku. It's quite hard to retrofit existing songs into a game which wasn't designed for it, but I think it works well.
I've changed volumes across the board to be less ear grating, and replaced some of the less interesting tracks with more interesting ones. This includes changing the title theme.
There are also a bunch of minor and major changes which I don't have time to talk about.
I was thinking about the possibility of adding ads and microtransactions, or to make the game cost money, as it does cost me a substantial amount of time to make games....
But I instead decided to make this a fully free game. Because honestly, as a hobbyist developer, i just want as much people to play my games as possible. I consider this game "Freeware".
This is my first "complete" game, it's really exciting for me, as i've been developing games for 10+ years and never actually managed to finish one. I'm very much looking forward to move back on to SPEE and now complete that one with all the lessons i've learned finishing up DOT Debugger.
Please try the the game, and I hope you enjoy it.