Pitching “Treasure Monkeys” #1: After the gameplay prototype

First things first: Review and Rework.

Now that I have the gameplay prototype developed far enough to see what works and which parts of the game will need more refinement, I gained a good feeling about the scope. So I reduced the bunch of ideas from my initial game overview document to the core that I feel the game must have to be simple and appealing.

The 3 main features:

The core mechanics (dig up treasures while using geometry) would already make a good game – but I want to make a great game! And I think, the customizable player character (buy cool pirate outfits with the treasures you find) will make a great complement for the treasure hunt. And, to spice up the game, I plan to add secret messages in bottles which lead to hidden treasure islands.

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Playtests showed that the gameplay prototype alone already is a lot of fun

(c) Photo: Julian Dasgupta

Features which were planned (or suggested by players), but will not be part of the game:

– customizable ship
– sailing map
– small story line with several characters
– several different mini games and/or puzzles
– care for a monkey (tamagotchi like)
– some sort of social component
– a level editor

ship_01

Initially, I planned a customizable ship.

Some words of wisdom: Less is More

Less features, more quality

Perhaps some of you think, that I should keep those features, because they sound like a lot of fun. But if I stuffed too many features into the game, it would lose focus. The game would become more complex – and with this, more costly. Less features means more quality for the features which actually are in the game.

Less features, more levels

While working on the levels for the gameplay prototype, I noticed that finding content for the “math problems” is very easy. Initially, I planned to create 30 levels (the prototype already contains 10), but since the content can be easily created and varied, I think I can provide 100 – 150 levels. This even will be necessary, because the children played faster than I would have expected.

“Less features” means that there were many features in the first place

It is definetly right and very important to collect all ideas at first. Do not push them away too early, because you try to follow the “less is more” wisdom. The more ideas you collect and think about, the more you have to choose from. Also, do not push away ideas from other people too rude, even if you already had the ideas yourself or if the ideas seem stupid. It may be that the idea later becomes an important inspiration. And even if this is not the case, you may show some respect to the person who spent some time on talking about your game or playing your prototype, by writing their idea down.

some ideas from the children

I never go out without a pen and some paper.

 

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