Pivot and Polish: A New Plan


Over the past few weeks, I've seen some other people's games and I've received some feedback on Firefighter VR (yay for networking!). It's been humbling, it's been... honestly, kind of demotivating, it's been helpful and it's been revealing. 

I've always struggled with the last ten percent. I feel like I have some good ideas, and even a decent core, but making the last jump from amateurish prototype to polished game is something I've never been able to successfully do. My first thought with Firefighter VR was to embrace that, to make something that's so bad it's good. To ape, satirize, and parody asset flips and half-baked indie concoctions. But I keep hearing comments along the lines of, oh, this doesn't look very good. And I say, well, it's not supposed to. And they come back with, why not?

Clearly, this isn't working, and I've decided I'm not going to do it that way.

So I'm going to do my damnedest to make that last ten percent. Polish is going to be a much bigger focus for this game going forward. At this point, a lot of ugly bugs and quirks have been fixed. The quality of many of the textures and a few of the models has been increased. Significant changes have been made to the HUD and controls. Better fire, smarter NPCs, and nicer looking objects are all on the to-do list. All of that amounts to the polish part.

Another thing that hasn't really worked is presenting the game as a legitimate simulator, and then subverting that as the game goes on. Most of the testers are just hopelessly confused by this. Conversely, when I present it straight-up as "a firefighter game where you get to burn people", they're intrigued. So, from now on, that's what this is. It's an irreverent, politically incorrect firefighter game about moral choices or maybe just burning people for the hell of it. The page will soon be updated to reflect this, and the intro of the game will be reworked to make its intent clear. That's the pivot.

As a solo, student developer, I only have so much time I can set aside for this project. Which means that to make this shift and keep a reasonable timeline, I have to make some cuts. Five full levels, plus an intro/tutorial and ending of decent length, were originally planned. That has now been reduced to four, with the potential for the fifth to be added later. A simultaneous launch on Android and PC was planned, but now the focus will be on the Android version with a better PC version to come later.

There are some things I can't fix. I am not an artist, nor can I get one. Same goes for music. New voice acting is pretty much off the table. We're too far along to make radical changes to the storyline or level design. With all that being said, I'm trying to work around limitations as best I can and deliver a fun, polished experience.

tl;dr: Expect great things.

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