Author Topic: Possession: Considering shortening the game  (Read 131 times)

Rickton

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Possession: Considering shortening the game
« on: November 06, 2019, 10:48:42 PM »
Hopefully a few of you on here have played Possession, and might have an opinion on this.
(If you haven't played it, it's a game where you play as a ghost and try to make your way back to the surface while possessing monsters along the way. It, as well as a free demo, is available from https://weirdfellows.itch.io/possession and https://store.steampowered.com/app/629340/Possession/)

tl;dr:

Very few people have reached the halfway mark, let alone the end of Possession. The game is currently 10 levels plus the surface, and I'm considering shortening it to be only 5 levels plus the surface. The current level 5+ creatures and levels would be rebalanced and added to the earlier levels. Would anyone actually *dislike* that? Are there any major disadvantages to this that I'm missing?

Longer Explanation:

I'm looking into making more content for Possession, but I'm wondering about where to focus my energy.

Right now, the game has 10 levels plus the surface. 64% of people have made it to level 2. I'm mainly concerned with the experience of these players, since anyone who hasn't probably either decided they weren't interested in the game, or just hasn't played it much yet.

14% of the people who made it to level 2 made it to level 5. Fair enough.

3% of the people who made it to level 2 made it to the surface, and 22% of those who made it to level 5 made it to the surface.

Unfortunately, I don't know more specifically how far most people are getting, or how often people are making it to level 5 but no farther, etc. But for 86% of the players who've put any amount of time into the game, half the content might as well not even exist, and for 97% of players, they've never made it all the way through the game.

There are a couple of reasons this might be the case:

  • The later levels are too hard.
  • The game's too long.

My suspicion is that #2 is the issue. Although there's a lot of variety in creatures and levels, there's not really a ton of variety in the way you play the game as you get further on (besides maybe needing to be more conservative with bodyswapping), so it's very possible that the game outstays its welcome.

So, I'm considering shortening the game to be only 5 levels plus the surface. The current level 5+ creatures and levels would be rebalanced and added to the earlier levels. In addition to making the game shorter, this also has the advantage of adding more variety between playthroughs, by expanding the possible content you could see at any given level (I'd probably also make it so that the first level isn't *always* the Graveyard, to make the beginning less repetitive as well).

I guess the major question is, would anyone actually *dislike* that? Are there any major disadvantages here that I'm missing?

It's not as though it would make the game "too easy," since only 14% of players are making it to level 5 anyway. If you've beaten the game as is, maybe it'll cheapen your feeling of achievement, but there's not a ton of people who have done that (but if you have and dislike this change, please reach out and let me know your thoughts).

For what it's worth, the original 7-Day Roguelike version of Possession was only 5 levels, and didn't have nearly the variety of levels and creatures this one does. If you've played both, I'm very curious what your thoughts are comparing the two.
Creator of the 7DRL Possession: Escape from the Nether Regions
And its sequel, simply titled Possession

Tzan

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Re: Possession: Considering shortening the game
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2019, 02:12:51 AM »
I haven't played it but I do like the play idea.

Some questions:

1. How long does it take to get to level 5?

2. Is this a project you love, or a combo of love and want to make money from? Making money is OK :)

Since July you only have 6 reviews which indicate a low number of users, so not much money.
If you make more content, it will probably not boost sales significantly, so it would only be for the existing users.

You might be better served making a new game. Use existing code and apply a new original concept.

Of course the money might not be your primary focus. Which is fine too.





Krice

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Re: Possession: Considering shortening the game
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2019, 09:39:09 PM »
10 levels doesn't sound like a big game, how large is one level? If the difficulty of the game is anywhere near traditional roguelikes then I think only 10-20% players will win it. Making it easier (rather than shorter) could be a better option, but then you could alienate experienced players. How about adding difficulty levels in some form?

Also, another thing is that roguelikes are supposed to be difficult, that's one of the reasons some players like them. If the gameplay is enjoyable then winning is not that important or it may be a longer term task for the player to learn how to win the game.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 09:42:01 PM by Krice »

Tzan

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Re: Possession: Considering shortening the game
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2019, 03:45:30 AM »
Yeah, difficulty levels sounds like a good idea.

Rickton

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Re: Possession: Considering shortening the game
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2019, 12:29:58 AM »

1. How long does it take to get to level 5?

2. Is this a project you love, or a combo of love and want to make money from? Making money is OK :)
1. For me, who made the game and so don't have to deal with learning what new things do, it takes about 1-2 hours for a winning plathrough. I'd imagine for the people who have won it's taken longer since they probably play more conservatively since they're less experienced with it.
I haven't seen how long it takes me just to get to level 5. I'd guess slightly less than half of that, since the first few levels are easier.

10 levels doesn't sound like a big game, how large is one level? If the difficulty of the game is anywhere near traditional roguelikes then I think only 10-20% players will win it. Making it easier (rather than shorter) could be a better option, but then you could alienate experienced players. How about adding difficulty levels in some form?

Also, another thing is that roguelikes are supposed to be difficult, that's one of the reasons some players like them. If the gameplay is enjoyable then winning is not that important or it may be a longer term task for the player to learn how to win the game.
Levels are 75x75 tiles. I've had some feedback that they might be too big, so I'll probably be shrinking them.
I'm actually not too concerned about the win stats, my line of thinking is along the lines that there's a significant amount of content most players aren't seeing, and moving it to the part of the game that people are experiencing would increase the variety of that part of the game (basically doubling the content), which would would make it more enjoyable.

I do have some difficulty options available when players start a new game, although I have them in a menu called "cheats" which may stop some people from using them.
Creator of the 7DRL Possession: Escape from the Nether Regions
And its sequel, simply titled Possession

Tzan

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Re: Possession: Considering shortening the game
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2019, 05:03:36 PM »
Ah so its a very short play through.
Making the map smaller makes it play faster, how short do people want it to be.

Chopping off the last 5 levels does make the game easier.
When you say doubling the content I think you mean you are swapping out low level units with unit types from the higher levels and scale down the strength of them. But it doesn't make the game physically bigger or longer to play.

I was originally thinking that you were going to make the lower levels bigger to fit the items from the higher levels.

These are big changes from what you have.
I suppose you could have both modes available and the player can pick to play the original or shortened version.
If you make both versions available you can try anything you want in the new version, it frees you up to experiment.

Yeah you might want to rename "Cheats"  :)