This short game has sort of been an accelerated view of what my development cycle always ends up looking like, and what I need to fix.
First, I decide to make a simple game.
In the first few days, I finish a huge amount of work. I'm doing everything involving the player, so I'm doing what I enjoy the most, and I can do it all without unforeseen problems. In the following day or two, I ride the enthusiasm and animate a bunch of enemies (not H animations) and other stuff, and implement almost all of the basic gameplay functions.
Then, I decide that the simple game isn't good enough. In this case, it went from an arcade style game with single screen levels to a simple metroidvania.
Still enthusiastic, I continue to work on enemies, and other graphics. I implement a bunch of necessary elements, running into a problem here and there and trying new things, but eventually the core of the game comes together. I can play through a fleshed out area within a week. This is where the problems start,
The same thought always occurs to me, "Something is missing"
It usually comes down to a lack of enemies. I can make a new enemy in half an hour to an hour, but I always feel like if I add an enemy, I'll need to do an H-animation for it otherwise people would be disappointed. So I have this running through my mind,
-The gameplay doesn't feel deep enough, because there aren't enough enemies with different patterns.
-But this is supposed to be a short game and I have 3 enemies with H animations per area, if I do any more it will take too long to do animations.
-How can I make this work?
That last question is what gets me. I think too hard about how I can make the game work without more enemies. This slows down level design because I feel like I can't design levels until I have everything to work with, and yet I put off adding those new elements, because I know it will entail a ton of work in the form of H animations, which are tedious to animate well.
This essentially slows down everything, because it also tanks my enthusiasm. I've already gotten passed this point in the short game, and have regained my enthusiasm, but it has showed me exactly how I can avoid this next time.
1. Just add enemies when I need them, and don't hinder progress.
2. Either make enemies that won't have animations, or hire someone to do H animations.
20 H-animations at 3 hours each and $20 per hour would only be around $1200. For something that would speed up development to such a degree, that much is nothing.
So, that's what I'm going to do next time, probably. I may hire an artist to do some other stuff, but priority #1 is making H animations a non-issue. As for now, I'm grinding through them as we speak -__-
Now to go find something good to listen to while I animate. Stand up comedy or something.