It's been nine months since I last said anything on here about Platypuzzler. Gosh time flies, doesn't it! Life got busy for a while (I now live in a different country!) and I also spent a long time thinking about the gameplay and my strengths and weaknesses on the project.
Most indie game projects are led by a developer. I've fiddled about enough with that to know that I'm not a developer. I'm not an artist either. I've come to the conclusion I can be a game designer, producer and project manager, but I'll always need a lot of help with the actual guts of it – the programming and the art. So I've been experimenting with various kinds of working relationships and positioning myself to do some collaboration. That's more a longer term thing, we'll see how it goes over the next couple of years.
Anyway, I certainly haven't forgotten about Platypuzzler, so here's a quick update on where things are up to.
With the help of animator Cataldo Leo, we developed some concept art for the two main characters, Platypus and Turtle, in a variety of poses. These are in the convincing but highly-stylised vein that I originally imagined, and I'm quite chuffed with how they've come out. What do you think?
After playing around with the early prototype for a while, I went back to basics with the gameplay and ended up redoing the game design documents from scratch, following Stone Librande's one-page design method. This turned out to be a great idea – everyone I've shown them to comments on how clear and accessible the new format is.
The redesigned gameplay itself keeps to the core premise of building a relationship with Platypus through an indirect control mechanic (this feature is what everyone says they love about the game idea) by introducing the concept of an 'active' and 'inactive' phase during which the player is doing different things. The balance between the two phases is mediated by the Trust system which forms the basis of the relationship with Platypus - players will have to explore how this works on their own.
You can see the updated game design docs below:
To test and validate the redesigned gameplay, I need to make a new playable prototype. The previous developer I worked with on this was unavailable, so I spent a while in search of a new developer with a view to forging a more substantive and ongoing collaborative relationship, rather than just building something to spec. I've been fortunate to find Ivan in Russia, who understands what I'm trying to do with the game and is similarly keen to experiment with making games for their emotional impact. We've been chipping away at it in our spare moments over the last few months (I've been moving countries and he's been getting married) and we're now getting to the point where we have a working prototype that will allow us to playtest further. I will post the new prototype for download in a separate post soon.