The Fairy's Throne: a postmortem


It's the end of a brief but exhausting journey. I just released The Fairy's Throne, exactly two months after writing the first line of code on January 3. After running myself ragged, and nearly despairing several times, the game came out better than I had any right to hope. So much for avoiding crunch though. At least breaks did happen. No ruining my health, even for such an important project!

What went well

  • Getting a very quick head start by reusing most game logic from Tomb of the Snake. What I did to it afterwards is another story.
  • To my surprise, getting still more mileage out of my venerable level generator based on BSP trees.
  • The new room-based visibility system also worked great on first try, giving the game a distinctive feel.
  • My XP gain calculations proved correct in the end as well.
  • Between the new refinements to the (otherwise simplified) combat system and the depth added by magic, including elemental effects, the game requires some serious strategy.
  • I correctly predicted not only how long it would take me to make the game, but also how big it would end up.

What went wrong

  • Balancing the game proved exceedingly difficult. It almost caused me a nervous breakdown twice, and only worked at all after a code overhaul.
  • In the end, it came out too hard. Still winnable by skill as opposed to luck, but if I wasn't terrified of touching the balance again, it could use more work.
  • Spells should have used their own separate inventory, but by the time that became obvious, it would have been too much work, considering the bigger issues.

Lessons learned

  • Don't make another roguelike. :P Seriously, next time I'd better start out with fine control of how much of everything gets generated, also taking level progression into account. Procedurally generating monsters and items would help as well.

Speaking of which, in order to keep the scope under control, I had to trim down many features from Tomb of the Snake, this game's direct ancestor. It would be nice for a future title to bring back everything: time tracking, ranged combat, intelligent enemies that flank and chase you, and maybe add new things like potions you have to identify. But it would be a huge effort.

In the mean time, have fun with The Fairy's Throne, such as it is.

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