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Seeders Puzzle Reboot

It's been 4 years since I released my first Steam game: Seeders. I took a hard look at it and from this point of view, I was able to see all the shortcomings and problems it had. There was no character animation, and graphics lacked detail. Although the puzzles are good, the visual looks were poor. But even some puzzles, although they had good ideas behind them, were executed poorly. Players had to spend too much time actually doing the thing once they figured it out.

I decided to give a major revamp to the game. Big enough to set it up as a separate product. This time, it would be the game I really wish I made in the first place, but I just didn't have enough experience at the time. The new version is called Seeders Puzzle Reboot. Here are all the changes compared to the original Seeders Classic game:

Improved graphics. Some of the graphics used to look really plain and boring. If you played on a 1080p screen or larger, you could even see the textures repeat. At the time I made the original game, I was impressed by simple graphics of games like VVVVVV and Thomas Was Alone. What I learned since is that although consistency is more important than graphics fidelity, the original Seeders had consistently poor looking graphics. It actually took less effort than I anticipated to bring the graphics into good shape. Too bad I didn't see this as a problem in the original game.

Character animation. The old game had almost no character animation. Our main hero would look stiff and it would make the gameplay look stiff and boring as well. As I gained a lot of experience animating Son of a Witch, I put that to use. The gameplay now feels fluid and the main protagonist feels alive. There was a lot of work to be done, because there are 16 wearable hats in the game, and each one was drawn separately, so I had to make that work with animations.

No ambiguous puzzles anymore. For some of the puzzles seemed hard or impossible to execute, because the puzzle setup would lead the player into thinking that some of the solutions is possible because you might barely be there. It seemed like you could solve it in some trivial way only if you were precise down to the pixel. Based on discussion I had with some players on Steam, there were even some puzzles that could be cheesed that way. I redesigned all those puzzles to make sure it's obvious that the easy/wrong way is not possible, and players have to think of something else.

Hardest puzzles are optional. Some of the puzzles were really hard to solve (for example, the machine that moves parts of the level in level 3) or execute (falling through the laser-protected hole while a beryillium pipe is falling at the same time protecting you). And for some, it took a lot of time to repeat if you made an error (like those 4 alien robots at the start of level 5). All those puzzles are now optional, you can do them to get more wearable hats. Because of these changes I had to draw more hats, so there are 17 in the game now (default + Jason's + 15 to collect).

More Co-op puzzles. While the co-op mode in the original game is fully playable, it felt like some of the puzzles were really lacking co-op support. Now, many of the puzzles are still the same as in single player, but you have to solve them in different ways to enable two players to go through. This is especially visible with lasers in level 5, where you have to pass the vehicles to each other, or carry the other player on top of the spaceship, etc. But I also added more co-op only puzzles (i.e. you won't get to see those in single player) and some of the existing puzzles were redesigned for co-op by removing some pieces which made them trivially easy or adding some pieces that made them more interesting. I also left some of the tricky puzzles from the original mode to be available only in co-op mode, as I expect two players to be smarter collectively.

Music improvements. The main menu music was just too intense. It's a catchy tune, but I really started to cringe every time I launched the game - and I had to do that hundreds of times during testing. I replaced it with a nice, relaxing tune that sets a nice atmosphere, but never gets boring nor annoying. I also migrated my audio mixer code from Son of a Witch, so now all the songs have normalized volume. It was all over the place in the original game and you usually had to adjust the music volume between levels.

Added missing sound effects. One of the reasons the game felt stiff and boring was because there were next to zero sound effects. You would push a rock or a metal piece and they would feel like paper cutouts instead. You would jump on top of a spaceship and there was no sound. I have added over a dozen missing sound effects and coupled with music volume fixes I wrote about above, playing the game now feels like you are really there and your actions have an impact.

General polish. There are a lot of small things that make the game look and feel nice. Simplest things like menu transitions, subtle animations when you select menu items, etc. I built these systems for Son of a Witch and now I migrated them back to the Seeders engine as well.

Seeders Puzzle Reboot is that great puzzle adventure game that the original Seeders was supposed to be from the very start. I just wasn't experienced enough at the time to make it this good. Seeders Puzzle Reboot will be exclusive to Nintendo Switch for now.

read more...   Bigosaur, 2019-07-02

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