I wrote an article that might be of interest to the community.
It's mainly about depth and breadth in game design, how they differ in my understanding, and how depth can be achieved in small PICO-8 games in order to make them engaging despite their small size.
Enjoy and do let me know if you liked it! :)
It's a good write up that I agree with whole heartedly. I personally prefer the "deep" games, where complexity emerges from simple rules and interactions. The board game Go is a perfect embodiment of this, as is the game play in your game The Lair.
Also, your Dank Tomb example illustrates what I have also encountered before, that some of the best ideas in a game happen by accident. I strongly believe in incremental development, and even more so for games, where you need to find the right mix of ingredients to get an engaging experience. You need to quickly try out an idea, see if it works and how it can be improved, adapt your plans, try out new ideas, etc. In my last game, Bumble Bots, the game physics and level design evolved hand in hand, and the end result was not something I could have envisaged beforehand.
Finally, I agree that the constraints of the PICO-8 environment encourages the creative design process required to make a good games. In the end, it's not the awesome hi-res graphics or breadth of a game that makes it interesting...
I think breadth can make a game interesting, but it's a totally different approach and a different set of challenges. The article focuses on the depth side, but one of these days, I might write a follow-up on doing "breadth" in the small, about games like Reigns - the "potato chips" of the game industry.
As for graphics... well, they'll help sell the game if you can afford them. For the indies, the best thing the graphics can do for you is give your game a distinct, unique style (e.g. Superhot).
I read your great article about 2 months ago and had never heard of Pico before. It convinced and inspired me immediately to take on the challenge of the restricted environment.
It led me to making an actual finished game for the first time and I am extremely happy that I found your article!
I tried to take full advantage of combinatoric complexity.
Thank you so much!!
I'm humbled by the fact that it was my article that pushed you to make a game. This is my dream as a writer - seeing my writings help someone and inspire them into creating. Thanks for letting me now it actually happened, and inspiring me in turn!
PICO-8's restrictions are great at forcing games into completion, so I'm glad they helped you as well - it's not like I haven't had trouble with unfinished, overscoped projects in the past :)
The game is pretty fun! I'm going to write more in the game's thread once I have time to properly sit down and play it.
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