Y'know, I was just thinking about all the features I didn't have time to add because of the deadline. But I realized, if it weren't for this same deadline, I probably wouldn't have made any of this at all. I'm actually slightly surprised I was able to tie together the elements I DID complete to a remotely coherent state; as less than a week before the deadline I was staring at a game with no menu, a single enemy type, and powerups that had to be manually assigned in the inspector by enabling components. The last week I focused on filling these blanks by adding a menu scene, creating a new enemy, as well as focusing on balance and fun for probably the first time all month.
I'm still worried about the balance bit. I originally approached this game as the type of brutally unforgiving game that makes you scream into the deaf ears of your monitor every time you died (a.k.a. my favorite kind of game). Now of course due to time constraints, I didn't get to add the punishing features that would induce this behavior so much. But certain elements of it were inherent in the design. What I ended up with is only the very core of that gameplay that still had some brutal tendencies.
When I showed the game (near the deadline) to my brother, he actually got really frustrated playing it. This was kinda discouraging because I realized I had been tweaking the game balance and focusing on the mid-to-high level player while neglecting the newcomer. Some of his frustrations were simply due to the controls being difficult. Others were due to enemies being very hard to hit. Others were due to ground impacts being almost irrecoverable. I thought to myself "well its supposed to be hard" or whatever, but this was the wrong way to think.
The thing is I can't put myself in the mind of a new player, I simply have too much experience playing my own game. So I let him play more and listened to his advice, ultimately making many aspects of early gameplay more accessible. From then on, the player took less damage overall, enemy hitboxes became bigger, the player bounced further off the ground after impact, and I took away the penalties associated with shooting the machine gun. I also made the game start with more enemies because they are actually harder to hit when there are too few on screen for a variety of reasons. After these tweaks he tried it again and I saw him crack a smile while playing, so that's gotta count for something.
Despite all the changes, I still have my doubts and I know exactly what types of things people will complain about after only playing the game one or two rounds. There is a bit of a learning curve, but not always in a good way. This, more so than cut features, is what I regret not having time to address. Though I think anyone who sticks with it will soon get the hang of the strategies required to score big, and they will have a blast doing it. So yeah, before you give up because it's too hard to _____, just check out the video of me playing (up top) as a reminder that it's indeed possible to have fun in this game :P
Over and out!