Pokémon: Homeward Bound™
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November 11th, 2011 (5:31 PM). Edited November 14th, 2011 by KitsuneKouta.
I imagine there's only 3 reasons this game doesn't get more attention: graphical quality (many users can't look past bad graphics), the name "Pink," which some of the male community (except us tough guys ;} ) may find threatening to their masculinity, and the restriction to only playing as a girl (see previous). These are just opinions though.
So, first, good job actually making it to the demo stage. Many game developers here never get that far (myself included :D). Since you actually have something working, you just need to refine it to get the proper attention. So, I'll lay out some recommendations that I feel will get your game more attention.
First, graphics. You have those who judge a game's quality by the graphics, and those who don't but find quality graphics a definite plus. In other words, everyone likes good graphics (though "good" is subjective. Just appeal to the mainstream and you'll do fine). Here's what I think you should do (and be aware that you may need to either practice or ask for help):
Create some new (quality) menus. The default menus went out of style when gen 4 came around in 2007. Besides, everyone (ok, maybe not everyone. Myself at least) likes to see interfaces that are original and attractive, rather than the same thing over and over. You will likely need to rearrange the layout of the information and images in the menus, but I can give you pointers on that if you need it.
Pick a tile style and stick with it. Design everything based on that style (custom tiles are perfectly fine, as long as they fit in well). If you plan to use the gen 4 character sprites, you may need to either switch to gen 4 tiles, or touch up the gen 3 tiles (how do those monstrous gen 4 characters fit through those tiny gen 3 doors?). And by touch-up, I basically mean make the gen 3 tiles bigger, and play with the pallets and lighting.
Spruce up the sprites. Some of them really need it. Referring to official sprites is a great way to check your quality. Just be careful when splicing or recoloring official sprites. Often times, it will show.
Second, plot. This is where the meat is (for those who look past the graphics, and appreciate a good story).
There's more detail in your written plot in this thread than what's actually in-game. I didn't know that the main character was wanting to go back to the orange islands (or that their hometown was there), since it was never mentioned in-game. Be sure to get those details into the game itself, since players generally don't want to have to read a back-story before playing. Anyone should be able to pick it up and understand what's going on.
Put some thought into the little things as well. Writing good scenarios adds some depth to the game (or alternatively, you could take the standard Pokemon approach and keep it short and simple, with minimal plot development. That doesn't appear to be your goal though). What I mean is, when you encounter other characters in a given scene, or a particular event of some kind happens, don't write the scenario (dialog, events, etc.) to cater exclusively to the overall story. Keep the overall story in mind, but follow the good story-telling practice of sub plots. The scenarios should be interesting on their own, rather than existing solely to advance the general plot. Well thought out character interactions and character development will make this a smoother process.
Third, features. See if any of the ones you have so far can be improved at all (if not, then it's probably good). Also consider coming up with additional features to help you game establish itself as being unique. Things to note:
Too many little things may distract the player. Pretend we all have ADHD. In other words, make sure each feature you add is meaningful.
You decided to remove the exp bar, which is fine and all, but I think it needs a little more to go with it. The easiest thing to do that would go along well with this is to remove any reference to exp in-game (otherwise players just check it in the menu). For consistency, you should also remove the message telling the player how much exp their Pokemon just got from killing something (and possibly even every reference to levels and levelling up). This does not mean get rid of exp/level gains, just the indicators of them. Just be aware that this feature in general will probably drive number-crunchers and level grinders nuts.
I like the inherent ability to use "HMs." I had that idea as well, so obviously I like it. I'm sure others have at least considered it as well.
It may be a good idea to give some specifics on what you meant by "evolution has changed considerably."
I already know about what you meant by changing gym battles. It can be very cool if you do it right. I didn't actually get to fight Brock because of the initial bugs that you've since worked out, so I don't know if you've implemented it or not.
When playing the demo, I never could get the 'S' and 'D' keys to do their special thing. It just did the same thing as the 'C' key.
I like the HYPE idea. It's similar to another idea I had.
I ordered those more or less by what I think should be a priority. Graphics, though superficial, will get your game more attention. Plot will make the game more interesting (but you have to attract the players first). Features will make the game more fun (but only if the first two are good enough to keep the player from losing interest).
Somewhere in between you should do some grammar-checking. Open up every Text command in every event and revise it (you can type everything in Microsoft Word before you put it in game if you have to, or copy/paste what you have already into Word. It'll check grammar and spelling for you). You can save this for later though.
You've already started. You just need to expand on what you have and tidy it up a bit. And remember, pretend we all have ADHD (I'm sure some here on PC legitimately do, so all the more). And scenarios are important and all, but 10 minutes of straight-up text will probably bore some people even if you have an interesting story.
As for bugs, you can encounter OW Pokemon as many times as you want even after they disappear, as long as you stand on the square they spawn from. You need to make it based on some condition to keep players from exploiting that. There's also the issue with the 'S' and 'D' keys I mentioned. Oh, and the game crashed when I opened the pokegear (I didn't notice it right off since I never even think about the pokegear. Let alone use it).
Now you can just throw in some eye candy and work on everything else afterwards. A cool logo, as khkramer suggested, would probably be a good start. Be picky though. You want something that will convey how your vision of this game. In all aspects of developing this game, you need to put in a lot of thought and effort to adequately express what's in your head to the players (since none of us have ESP, as far as I know).
And I know your preference for Pokemon is a bit different from the general male audience that will be (hopefully) playing this, but I'd suggest throwing them a bone and giving them the ability to choose starters that are more...manly? Cool? I don't know how to better express it. And if you want to keep with the all-pink starters thing, you could always recolor some "cool" Pokemon pink (like Charizard's evolution family) ;)
Also, I realize that it probably sounds a lot like I contradicted what I said above (and I would have had you not released a demo since). So, let me qualify what I've said. I suggested putting off graphics for the sake of progress, but you have enough progress now that you've released a demo (not a particularly long one, but you just need to go back and flesh things out once progress reaches the later part of the game. You'll see it with fresh eyes and the overall story in mind at that point), and I'm assuming you've kept working on it and probably have a little more than that even. Here I've implied that progress is not necessarily lots of content, just enough content to direct the player through a reasonable portion of the game. Now that you have a demo, there's no rush to jump into the next one. You can start working on making it look awesome so that the next demo will be more successful. This demo is mainly a proof of concept from my perspective, so you should aim to make the next one your hook. If it looks great, plays great, and is fun, you're likely to get some followers.
Even after I've said all that though, you are by no means obligated to follow my or anyone else's suggestions. They're just tips to point you in the right direction (right being subject to personal perspective). I don't want to make you change the game or features you've implemented (since it'd lose the personality you've given it), I just want to encourage you to improve what's already functional so that it may potentially become more successful. Measure any suggestions against the vision you already have for this game, and implement them in a way that complies with it.
EDIT: See? Even a pink Charizard is still more awesome than 90% of every other Pokemon that Sugimori created.
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