Odysseus Kosmos – Developer Diaries #15



Hey there, friends! Once again I’m glad to welcome you on board of “San Francisco”, a huge spacecraft travelling far, far away from planet Earth.

Today let’s focus on the game play complexity and rough play through time for an episode. The first thing we found out is that this time can be very different for different players. We try very hard to balance the game by alternating simple and more complex moments, but still the gaming experience is different for everyone and it the balance is not perfect.
I personally think it’s a good thing! If you are an experienced, attentive and “old school” fan of adventure genre, you will definitely solve everything faster. The result depends directly on your mind and playing style, and not on the previously scripted “hallway”.
We got some responds from players who solved the episode in two hours (oh, wow!) and feel that the game is too simple. At the same time, we get feedback from players (a lot more people) who get stuck at some point in the game and ask for a hint. I see that the total playing time for them is close to 10 hours. That’s also cool! So the average estimated time for an episode walkthrough is about three to four hours.
I myself have a soft spot for more complex, hardcore adventure games. I like to “get stuck” between three screens, when it feels like “Bah! There’s nothing else I can do!” But then you suddenly discover the solution and it feels great. But nowadays methods like pixel hunting for hidden objects or dumb going through all the options are considered poor design and even unacceptable. Nevertheless, I think it is wrong when the game consists of straightforward or too logical solutions. The entire game play turns into the search and application of obvious objects, whereas the whole point is to think outside the box and find non-standard and fun solutions.
Anyway, each decision should be explainable, and the player should not be engaged in pixel-hunting. That’s a thin line, and I still try to leave a couple of places in each episode where the player could potentially “get stuck”. Considering that an experienced adventure gamer can easily figure things out, and less experienced player will use a hint, I think this is OK.
In the third and later episodes we will have a more dynamic plot development. The events will start to pick up the pace, but we will still try to keep the “three hours per episode” minimum, thus summarizing the total play time of the game to 15 hours of pure gameplay.
By the way, we have successfully released the second episode – and we can already boast 6-7 hours of gameplay, although the main things are still yet to come!

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