Nothing gets fun by itself. In the end, you have to play your game and make sure it’s fun. When you’re done playing your game, you tweak it, tune it, polish it, and then do the whole process over and over and over. This is where game developers find out just how much they actually LOVE games. Those that just thought they loved playing games fall by the wayside pretty quickly.
The programming team built and maintained a beautiful iterative process where the Tile Studio output could be put directly into a PC emulator and played. The output could even be hot-swapped into the game while it was running so there was no need to re-start the game to test a tweak made to the levels. This cut a lot of time out of the final, painful process.
Tuning can’t happen properly without a very important set of people… friends, family and random strangers who you can convince to play your game. These people are needed because by the time a game is getting ready to be tuned, every member of the team has played it for literally hundreds of hours. If we tune the game to our own skill level, no player on earth, no matter how talented they may be, can hope to play the game and have fun. To find that perfect center of difficult enough, but not too difficult, design teams must watch “fresh meat” players, see what they understand, what they struggle with and what they like. One of the most enjoyable moments in the process this time was when a 7-year-old neighbor of mine turned to me and said, “If I die here I’m going to be furious.” The kid didn’t even crack a smile, he was deadly serious and I took his point to heart and adjusted the level.
Now that the tuning is done, I hope everyone who’s so inclined will laugh, swear and scream their way through this irreverent homage to the art of stick man murder.
Howard Lehr, Director of Game Design