Jeff Bell
Our recent work on the game has begun to remind me of the law of diminishing returns. In this post I talk about where the game is and where we are looking to end up in the next few weeks.

The Game

This week is a transition between our Pre-Alpha and Alpha releases. As a personal goal, our group decided to make our weekly sprint about “Building a Complete Game”. This means that for our sprint review, we will have a game with four puzzles and when you complete the puzzles you beat the game. The other side of this sprint is trying to make the game feel complete. There may be gaps in functionality or in the world, but for the most part, it should feel like the game can be played from start to finish.

The key thing missing from our game was the gate.

The puzzle gate

In order to complete the game, the player must complete the four main puzzles. When the player completes a puzzle, the corresponding token on the gate lights up. Once all puzzles have been completed, the player can walk through the gate into a new scene showing the end of the game.

There has also been a lot of refinement to the individual puzzles in the game. Each one now has a glowing marker to signify where it is, and each one has been tested significantly. Overall, I am pretty happy with how the sprint ended up! I think if anything can be said, it feels like we have an actual game now which is very rewarding.

Diminishing Returns

As we have gotten further into the project, I have noticed something that reminds me a lot of “The Law of Diminishing Returns”. The law basically states there is a point where the amount of energy or money you put into something outweighs the benefit you receive from it.

I think this has come very clearly into perspective over the past few weeks while working on the game. As we have gotten nearer to the completion of the game, the same amount of works seem to make less of a difference in the way the game plays.

For example, early on, 3 hours of work on Zen Juice meant something like adding movement to the game. By working on the game for just 3 hours, the player could now move around. This is a major improvement to the game and was really satisfying to see implemented. While an update to the game could still take 3 hours, at this point in development, those three hours of work could be spent fine tuning colliders for an individual puzzle.

This isn’t to say that that work is not as important, it’s just to say that it doesn’t seem like a lot was accomplished comparatively. I think this has contributed to a little bit of a slump in the group the past few weeks.

This week was a great change of pace. I think dedicating our time towards finishing a complete line of the game was a good idea. Now that we are nearing the end of our time constraint, our team is feeling good about the scope of our game and our ability to finish it in time. Next week we have our Alpha release and should be shipping a pretty finished product, but until then, happy hacking!