Designing Slam Bolt Scrappers: Iteration 5 (of 5)

Eitan writes, "After the dam level we were very worried – the game wasn’t quite good enough to make a full version, and it wasn’t quite bad enough to warrant a new prototype. On top of that we were running low on money and were concerned that if we didn’t figure something out soon we’d run out of gas before finishing the game. However we knew something had to give, as we weren’t getting the traction we wanted that the core fun was lacking."

Lost? Parts 1
and 4

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Cat2609d ago

Eitan stopped by N4G the other week and partly in response to the discussion here decided to create this series. (This is the fifth and final, the earlier ones are linked above.)

In this grand finale Eitan talks about their "last ditch" design and deciding which prototype to run with.

He'll be by to respond to comments and questions, so post away!

Eitan, through all of these posts you've been extremely positive and upbeat - and you've got a game to show for it! - but there must have been some really harrowing moments in this process. What times were you considering burning everything to the ground? Or did you have a different auto-destruct plan? ;)

eitanglinert2609d ago

We never considered burning everything down to the ground because we never had that option. Our ship was sinking, and it was either we keep bailing and hope for the best (hint: we would have sunk) or get a new boat, going in a new direction, and hope for the best. Luckily the latter plan worked out, it could just have easily failed.

To keep going with the ocean analogy, when we started discussing going from iteration 4 to iteration 5 there was almost a mutiny. People were asking very hard questions like "when the hell is this game ever going to get done" and "what happens in another 4 months when we decide to change it again?" We're lucky in that the 5th iteration wound up being the correct one, but I'm the first to admit we could have crashed and burned with that one too.

Luckily we showed it off at PAX East in 2010 and got a good reception :)

Cat2609d ago

I have to think that that kind of perseverance in the face of (er, are we sticking with the ocean thing?) sharks and octopi is critical in this industry.

Kon2609d ago

The last one? I'll miss you Eitan.

eitanglinert2609d ago

Don't worry! I'll come back around and comment/troll/lurk now and then. Plus I'm sure I'll write some more posts for N4G down the line.

Jellzy2609d ago

Hi Eitan,

Having finished Slam Bolt Scrappers (in a single player sense), I can't help but feel that the game was perhaps a tad over priced and underwhelming.

Firstly the lack of any online multiplayer was a let down. I know you've previously mentioned that the goal was to create a more personal experience in terms of local multiplayer with bragging rights and what have ye, but the core gameplay is screaming out for online functionality. Not everyone is able to get a few friends round at will, have a few drinks and battle it out on our own couch.

The player controlled characters all lack any sort of individuality. I would have liked to have seen a bit more thought put into to their overall design proccess to seperate them from one another. The girl with the rocket boots in one of your earlier video's would have been a welcome addition. Another way to seperate them a bit more would have been through character specific taunts or special moves that could only be acquired through a special Ninja power up.

A bit of a story line for the campaign wouldn't have went a miss. Nothing fancy perhaps something silly and quirky, just something to give you reason to continue on, as other than the bosses (which I'll come to later), the gameplay is no different than the regular battle mode. I agree that this may not fit into the overall gameplay and may make no sense but something to break up the campaign a bit.

Overall lack of polish. More character specific sfx (voices, taunts etc.), improved menu's (the challenge section is in the 'how to play' sub menu), a slightly more detailed world map in the campaign (It's a tad bare with not much going on), tighten up the the way in which blocks are placed (hard to explain but sometimes it's impossible to place block's if their are inserting a piece under another). One last niggle is that there is no option to put the CPU AI on expert and keep the baddies on the easy/normal life.

Sorry for the few negative points but these to me made the purchase feel unjustfied. A better price point on the UK store would have been £7.99.

There are many positives though. The core gameplay is spot on and is highly addictive, unfortunately when I do have friends over they lose interest quickly due to how overwhelming the gameplay can be (There just stupid TBH). The bosses in the campaign are ace, can't tell you how many times I played Skyscraper on Expert (easily the hardest level/map in the game). A bit more variety on the final boss would have been good though. The weak spot is the same as the first boss and he also has a couple of similiar attacks (the falling snow/ash one).

The weapons are brilliant and theres a good mix of defensive and offensive weapons. Ping Pong paddles are easily my fav. The powerups are another plus and are well balanced and thought out.

Sorry for the novel but I've watched you dev videos - which are really beneficial and informative and just felt the need to comment a bit... too much. :)

eitanglinert2609d ago

Awesome feedback.

@ Price: We don't set the price in Europe. If it was up to us we would just do a straight conversion between $15 US and all other currencies. If you still think $15 US is too high then I'm sorry, but I personally think it's worth at least that much. Innovation isn't cheap!

@ Online Multiplayer: We've been getting that complaint a lot, I hear you. I'm rethinking my stance on couch play being the end all.

@ Other features you wanted: Yeah, they would have been nice to put in, but realistically we found we could only do so much and we decided to focus on the features we felt were most critical for the game (mechanics, balancing, game depth). We'd love to make Super Smash Bros Brawl for PSN but as a team of 8 indies it's hard for us to add in all that AND completely new mechanics.

Glad you're enjoying the game! TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Seriously, we needs the monies. Feedback greatly appreciated, hopefully we'll be able to incorporate a bunch of this down the road.

Jellzy2609d ago

Glad that some of what I wrote was worthwhile :).

It's a shame that you aren't able to set prices on the eu store. A $15 conversion would be roughly around the amount I believe desirable. So I'm with you on that.

Also glad too see that you are thinking about the possibility of online multiplayer.

The only additions I would really like would be for each character to have a unique ability earned through defeating a rare ninja. The rest were just ideas.

Like I said the overall gameplay is solid and you guys have got your overall core design down to a T imo. The art direction and resulting graphics fit the gameplay but I just felt the the presentation was lacking in places.

Anyhoo... well done on a solid game.

Syko2609d ago

I have really enjoyed these eitan. Thank you for taking the time to come to N4G and share this with the community.

Feel bad for the people that were too busy worrying about if the new 360 Disc format was Blu Ray, or whatever other poorly written broken English fanboy crap they were reading instead of this.

This was something interesting to look forward to for me personally. =)

Raider692609d ago (Edited 2609d ago )

Keep the good job!Its actually good to see that this kind of games are not lost in translation among the overcrowded FPS market.