A Look Back on Black Holes

Tough technically, you can’t actually look at a black hole…
Black Holes
Okay, before you ask, the answer is no, there isn’t anything new on Black Holes (which is my January entry for OneGameAMonth, read more about it here). This is merely a reflection about the game after one month has passed. And no, I don’t think I’ll be doing a reflection post for every game that I made, it’s just that I found Black Holes’ case to be quite interesting.

So, how did Black Holes fare? Well, quantitatively, as of now it only has garnered around 200 downloads. That’s to be expected since I only promoted it on Reddit and some game development communities. What really interesting is the qualitative part.

The game seems to leave quite a strong impression on people. I got a friend who keeps nagging me about the game and even promoted it to his friends. I just checked my OneGameAMonth profile page and apparently I got a stranger commenting about how much he liked the game. Even my main game, Project Claw, doesn’t have this kind of following even though it’s much more developed and polished.

If people liked it, what’s the problem then?

Tutorial screen

Problem is, I don’t.

It may seems weird (even I myself think it’s weird), how could I not like my own game? Well, to be perfectly clear, I do like the game, it’s just that I can’t see myself keep playing it for hours. I can’t imagine a situation where I would be so deeply engrossed with the game that I wouldn’t notice the passage of time.

The way I see it, people are fascinated by the idea, by how the game works. After all, it’s quite pleasing to wield the power of god and bend bullets at your will. But that’s all there is to it. It doesn’t have any variety or any kind of depth that makes people want to play over and over again. It doesn’t have any longevity. It’s a one trick pony.

Wait, if people gets bored quickly by the gameplay, couldn’t we just add new variations and contents to keep them entertained?

Okay, what kind of variations or contents? New type of bullets? The current control is already difficult enough that adding new bullets will be such a mess. Upgrades or levelling system? Other than the ship’s health, I can’t seem to think anything that can be upgraded. Power ups? Adding a system where the ship could collect power ups is just another pain point.

In short, the game is just not scalable.

Contrast this with my other game Project Claw where there is practically no limit to what could be added in the game. I could easily put in new orbs with some insane effects, I could change the theme of the game at my whim, or I could quickly add some crazy power ups for the character. That game is a true playground for game design, new contents can be easily added without introducing any new mechanism or system.

Fortunately, all is not lost. If the current mechanism isn’t scalable, then all we need to do is to add a much more scalable secondary mechanism. It’s just like those match-three games where there is a bigger game behind the simple match-three mechanism. That said, I never liked the idea of having secondary gameplay mechanism since managing two systems at once is a pain in the ass.

Now we’ve reached the end of this post, let’s be clear about one thing. I may have written a lot about the game in this post, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to do anything about it. Like I’ve stated earlier, this is just a reflection post where I write my personal opinions and observations about the game. After all, I still have another 10 games I need to make this 2013 =D

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