After my most recent iteration on the game, I did my usual mass pestering of friends, acquaintances and unfortunate passer-by’s to play my game. There were of course the mention of some bugs, some feature ideas and “I don’t know you, please I’m just trying to eat this meal before my lunch break is up.” But the bulk of the comments came down to the player’s interaction with time. While weeks do pass in the game, they have no meaning. While the battle does happen, the results are instantaneous. Both of these instances cause a disconnect between the player and the game.
On the note of weeks, passing time does improve the gladiator’s stats, and it does heal them. However the unless they happen to check a particular’s gladiators stats each week AND that gladiator’s stat (or current state) cross a threshold, the player has no way of knowing this. They also have no reason to check the gladiators each week, the only thing a week does is gate them from being able to fight.
The battle happening instantaneously is an easier fix, now the battles happen through time. If the game ever gets to the point where I am adding art then it will be even more obvious fix, show the battle. But we aren’t there yet. Having the battle happen through time does highlight some AI issues, such as when they combatants decide that they don’t want to fight and instead just circle each other for 30 rounds, that’s exciting.
My ideas on solutions to this is to give the player something to do during the week. This will take the form of a large new (and shiny) system which allows players to assign the gladiator training. This should allow the player to modify which stats are strong for each gladiator, define fighting preference (get in close, retreat when wounded, etc), gain and improve skills. The code for this doesn’t seem to be anything outside of what has been done prior for this game. However it comes back to my messaging issue. This will still mean nothing if the effects of it never get back to the player. I need to find a clean, and easily accessible way for the player to feel that their gladiator is training, and improving. Most games would do this by having the player be able to see the stat block. However as I never want to have the player see any numbers (except cost, and weight) this is much harder. It’s my current conundrum.