This is going to be quite long. It goes into some rather drastic changes for DT3's later content.
It seems a lot of you have dabbled in game design before on some level, be that through your own original works, stuff like DT, rom hacking, or tabletop games. Not even limited to games, but the creative process itself is laid with challenges and tough decisions for any media. DT3 has been coming along really nice and I'm super happy with how it's turning out. I'm most happy with how the ability sets work well together. It's seeing these abilities work so well together that I've seen many other design flaws and issues that just don't mesh well together. I've had this thought for some time that I've been uncomfortable with, yet feel is necessary to maintain a core balance with the game. These are one of those tough decisions that I really don't want to make.
If we take Claire out of the game and leave Jerry with his first 2 ability sets, Zelda and Megaman. We're left with a close range attack supplimented by a limited use arrow and quirky bomb. This set alone works well, but falls short at various times against the challenges presented in the game. The Megaman one is a set focusing on 3 different ranged attacks with somewhat limited energy bursts. Again, this set alone doesn't hold up against what DT3 wants the player to do. Putting them together though, they work together really well and compliment one another. If we take Jerry out and focus on just Claire's first 2 sets, Castlevania and Metroid. (Which you all have already seen the signs for.) It's the same as Jerry's first 2 sets. Her Castlevania set focuses on her melee attack which is supported by 2 weapons with different quirks. The Metroid sets gives her access to similar abilities Jerry has, but with a different approach. Claire's weapons (cannon and missiles) can be fired up or down, while Jerry's cannot. However, Jerry's special weapons allow for things like stun locking and can linger.
Focusing on just the 2 character's first sets, Zelda and Castlevania. Jerry's melee has shorter range and is faster, while Claire has much better reach, less arc, and a bit slower. Things that don't work with Jerry's melee, Claire at times, can handle better, and this works the other way around as well. The game doesn't forces you to play with any one set nor does it force the player to constantly switch characters, but it does point out these differences. These 4 sets between the 2 characters with their mobility differences is the core gameplay. If one set can't do something, another one will take over and help the player trump whatever obstacle is in their way. Even further into these sets, Jerry's Megaman set gives you a hookshot, which adds to Jerry's mobility options and lets him get to places that Claire can't. Claire's Metroid set gives her the morph ball, doing the same as Jerry's hookshot, but again, taking a different approach.
As you know, the game has 1 more set per character to add to this mix. Each one being fairly quirky in nature, yet trying to fall in line with how the existing abilities work. Herein lies the problems that I've been seeing as I test content working with all 6 abilites together. DT1 made the mistake of being overly complex (and wasn't clever with it) and lets be honest, had useless abilities. There were a lot of mid to late game abilities in DT1 that were entirely situational and had extremely limited practical uses. Who used Inferno or Zephyr? Wildfire had maybe 1 or 2 places where it could come in handy over something like Fireball, but any other time, it was an MP waste. The 3rd set for both characters doesn't add anything to the core gameplay that the first 2 sets do, and further, it adds an unnecessary layer of complexity. It breaks the flow of the other set's melee/range priorities. It creates the problem that DT1 had with too many button presses to get to what you want. The abilities themselves are too quirky to be useful in comparison to what's there with the first 2 sets. Making them closer to the DT3 core makes them useless. They feel tacked on as well.
So what does this mean for DT3's later chapters? Gameplay wise, it's going to be completely changed from the initial plan. Story-wise, the Gates have side stories which feed into the main story. These 2 final Gates can be condensed, as some of the story content feels like filler. (Another prompt for me to have a look at these on the gameplay side as well.) This means some content that I had planned will be cut, which I feel is very necessary to keep the game's core set going as well as keep it from going stale. I had only planned for DT3 to be about an 18-20 hour game, which is all ready pretty large for the type of game it is. At the end of my playthrough of chapters 1-9, I have 11 (almost 12) hours of gameplay time. This is gameplay time not consisting of bug finding, this is just a straight shot through the content. (100% of the items available) That's only 42% of the chapters, this is getting to be a bit much. Something needs to be condensed, and I've found useless content that doesn't mesh well or add anything to the game.
I've been keeping Gates 6 and 7 a secret and will continue to do so for now. The details on the changes will be kept the same. But of what I will say is those 2 ability sets will no longer be there as previously mentioned. Something else will be replacing them, that I feel, is better. This also means that the game will have 19 chapters as 2 of them will be condensed into another. Each chapter is always a turning point in both the story and gameplay and I'd like to keep that consistent. This doesn't change the 7 McGuffins. Nor the 8 instrument quest as that is essential to what happens later.
To the testers; As it says in the channel, I'll be away till probably the week after Thanksgiving. Got some changes and happenings going on in the real life as well. I'll be getting another build to you guys somewhere between then and now. I'll still be working on the game, but internet is going to be a thing the next 2 weeks for this computer. (I'd go wireless, but this laptop refuses wireless.) You might be able to catch me on steam when my roommate forces me to play games with him. (That's a different machine.) To everyone else; My response time will be very slow to questions/bugs till that time. I'll also be out of town for a few days.
So has anyone else ever worked on a game and had to either make the decision, or seen decisions that made major changes to the game? If so, what did it feel like to have to do/see that?