This week I was invited on the Escapist Magazine Twitch stream to talk about Bleed 1 and 2! John Markley played through the original, and a demo of the sequel. Here’s the link if you want to check it out, it was a whole bunch of fun!
Anyways — two and a half weeks until the game comes out, yay! Also: yikes!!
I’ve been busy with bugfixing and playtests this week, which is an invaluable but high-pressure (to me) part of the process. Playtest feedback is almost always useful, but fixing problems also tends to create more problems — Bleed 2 is such a giant interconnected machine at this point, it’s hard to fully appreciate the impact of even small changes (until someone tells me I broke something.)
That’s all fine, but to me the pressure comes from when the feedback concerns more than bugs. What if players aren’t sure how to dodge a specific attack, or they don’t find an unlockable character fun to play? That’s when I have to start weighing my own perspective against fresh ones — sometimes many fresh ones! I feel strongly about the design decisions I’ve made, but I also recognize that I’m not objective on this game any more. I have to decide what to stand firm on, and what to change to make the game as fun as possible!
So, to use the examples above — this week I re-did an unlockable character that really wasn’t working for anyone. I had a cool idea for a high-risk, high-reward playstyle, but the execution was janky and held back by making it an obvious homage to another game. Now it still embodies the core of my idea, but is more its own thing and (according to feedback so far) much more fun to play! On the flip side, there’s a boss attack that (on Very Hard) might not be immediately obvious how to avoid. It’s totally avoidable and there are clues how to do it, but I can see how players might not get it right away. I thought about it, but left it alone — it’s Very Hard. Players can figure it out!
Other than that, it’s probably just pre-release jitters coming on. Will people like it, won’t they? Is it too easy, too hard?! Will people like the story, or have I Flanderized my own characters?!! There’s so many things I could go back and forth on! I think I just need to remain open to feedback and change what matters most, but otherwise stay confident in my vision. I’m not writing this to be “woe is me” or “look how sensitive I am” (or however else this may come across, I have no idea, haha) — it’s just the reality of where I’m at in the process of making and releasing the game. I’m not sure if it’s a universal feeling before finalizing a creative work… but I imagine it is!
So, two and a half weeks left to make sure this is the tightest, most badass-est game possible!! Wish me luck!