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So this week I started doing something that I found to be very, very useful: I have been reading Steam reviews for games that are similar to mine in order to get a feel for what players feel those games did right, and what they did wrong. I read reviews for a few games that looked very good, but were (apparently) executed poorly and received very low ratings. Luckily I've so far managed to avoid many of the things people complained about in the reviews, but there have been a few things that have given me pause for thought. Sometimes reviews are not useful at all -- mostly the ones that are one sentence long, 106 hours on record, thumbs down -- but the more specific ones have been very helpful. It's made me resolve to be more specific in my own Steam reviews in the future, since someone else reading might be in a similar situation to me.

Some of the reviews terrify me. Especially ones that complain about boring, repetitive gameplay. What if that's my game? What if I'M the one making a boring and repetitive game and I can't see it? I have literally no way of knowing until I start doing some real playtesting, which I fully intend to do once I am able to provide a one-level demo. I'm very close to that now, maybe a couple of weeks off depending on how it goes. That's really the next big milestone.

Recently I've been busy working on stuff that is not immediately visually presentable. That is, things like balancing and pacing -- stuff that, while essential, you can't really take a good screenshot of. The game is in a far, far, far advanced state from previous weeks, however it looks almost exactly the same, so there's not much really new stuff to show off on Twitter! I did however come to the conclusion that I will attempt to run a Greenlight campaign in a few weeks, once I have enough content to build a good trailer -- in terms of varied levels/enemies/weapons and some music -- which I think is really the make-or-break of a Greenlight campaign. I always look for a good gameplay trailer, lots of screenshots, and a solid, concise-but-detailed explanation of what the game is. To that end, and this is something I've been planning to do for a while, I finally wrote down a draft of the story of the game, which is as follows:

In 2754 humans are a rare sight on Earth, with most of them having abandoned the planet and taken to the stars. Some say this was to retire on far-off alien beaches. The actual reason is that humanity wished to avoid the moral (and potentially apocalyptic) problems associated with the emerging self-awareness and consciousness displayed by their Robot slaves, so most of them wisely decided to not stick around to see what happened.

Now, the Artificial Intelligence ZEROV, formerly tasked with managing bean curd processing plants, plans to launch itself and its minions into the stars to seek revenge on its human masters for being left behind and denied the opportunity to explore the universe. ZEROV seizes control of an army of Robo-citizens, from military to household Robots, in a bid to achieve its goals and wipe out the remaining humans on Earth along the way.

It is up to you to take control of the Tiny Robot Justice Squad, a rag-tag task force assigned to tackling Robot-on-Robot crime, to put an end to the plans of this heinous villain!

I'm quite happy with that. No need to go overboard! That said, I am still continually amazed at how much work is still ahead of me. The work doesn't bother me, but I am worried about running out of ideas. So far there's no risk of that happening -- I have about 14 pages of notes on weapons, levels, bosses, enemies, gimmicks etc. complete with references. I know I'll only probably get around to implementing a fraction of what's in there though.

Oh well, better get back to it then!