Design crossroads

So in Boobie Teeth 0.15, I created a surface for my ocean. The way I designed it, if you breach the surface of the water, gravity takes hold of you and you fall back into the ocean. Beneath the surface, no gravity.

I didn’t realize it until I played for a while, but if you breach the surface and wiggle the controls, the input seems to give you extra momentum, which can keep you above the water indefinitely. This wasn’t what I desired, but I wondered whether I should do anything about it. Should I consider it a glitch? Should I leave it in, and let the player discover it? Gamers like to discover things like this, and it’s kindof fun, if useless, to fly about over the waves. But if I leave it in, I should give it some purpose.

I have to think about it for 0.16. Maybe something will come to me. Maybe if you fly about enough, you can get someplace secret.

I don’t like when I design something and it doesn’t work the way I conceived it in the beginning, but sometimes I like the surprise. Even when I do like the surprise, I like to figure out what went wrong and figure out how to make it work the way I originally intended. Maybe I’ll keep it in mind for later.

So I figured out a way to fix the problem, it was easy enough: just set the controls to be disabled when you’re above the water. This causes your above-surface trajectory to become purely ballistic, but at the expense of not being able to control your direction at all. Conceivably this could cause you to leap out of the water, only to be doomed by your trajectory to land right on a big fish that will eat you when you plunge back into the water.

That seems so much less fun than being able to fly out of the water for as long as you care to wiggle the stick. On the other hand, I don’t want there to be a cheap, easy way of avoiding danger indefinitely.

There may be another way. I might just need to find a way of making the simulated gravity increase each step of the game engine until it can’t be resisted. Then you could still wiggle, and might be able to gain a little bit of extra effort air while out of the water, and affect where you will splash down somewhat, likely enough to evade big fish near the surface. I’ll have to play with it and see. Sometimes this experimentation ends up being fruitless, other times I can figure out something useful and understand the tool or the model better than I did. Usually the experimentation is time consuming. But generally, it’s worthwhile.

Any time I run into a design crossroads like this, I think the solution is easy: it’s like Yogi Berra said: “When you hit a fork in the road, take it.” Keep all interesting variants, and make them configurable options. Play through the different options and keep them for as long as they make for interesting play. Some options may make it into the final game as official options, some may be used as hidden easter eggs, others may end up disabled. But keeping the options around as long as possible makes for a more agile course through the development process.

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