Linkin Park 2007, live in Prague
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This has been an incredible week, mostly because I learned more about game design than during the entire past year of fiddling around with Game Maker and RMXP. How? Building lighting effects.
It starts with one thing, to echo Linkin Park: my unsatisfaction with the Maze. I built some incredible menus. I designed some befuddling mazes. However, when I played the game . . . it still wasn’t creepy enough.
Thinking it to be a mere technical issue, I fixated on a completely wrong directi0n: the lighting. I spent hours tweaking the lighting, trying to achieve the exact balance of light and shade. I tweaked and hemmed and hawed at a non-existent problem, and after 48 hours of work, I achieved an effect that I could have managed in 30 minutes, had I been more focused. In a frenzy of work, I added even more visual touches, until the game [in the editor] looked seriously cool[er].
Then I took a step back from the whole thing, and had a good lone look at what I had created – and a playthrough: dissappointment ensued. I had created awesome menus from which you soul select any one of the 40 mazes to drop into; the player had a submachine gun with infinite ammo, which, while cool, was a complete disaster, because it turned all the scary creepy enemies into practical swiss cheese. I wanted the player to run from the darkness and the monster. Here, the player didn’t have to run; with the submachine gun and a long press on the fire button, nothing could get in his way. Plus, the mazes were all there from the start. There was no sense of progression; no achievement.
Long story short, it wasn’t a game; it was a toy.
So I returned to the task. I gave the guy a shotgun with a long reload time ; it took some nerve and footwork to slay a monster; easier to run. One task down. I decided to turn the game into a roguelike, with you wandering from maze to maze trying to find the one Exit; that gave it gameplay – and, unexpectedly, a sense of discovery. I discovered a small thing, but the most important thing of all: programming, art,  and sound make a game more appealing, but WITHOUT GAMEPLAY, IT’S NOT A GAME.
All in all, 48 hours well spent.