Something that I’ve always agreed with is the sentiment that if you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody. Perhaps this applies to many things but specifically within games it something I often hear and read, mostly voiced by developers and enthusiasts.
Those are mostly opinions but I would like to share how I came to find it applies to Backworlds.
We recently had a round of gameplay testing where it finally felt like things were coming together with our level design. We’ve had our mechanics more or less nailed for some time but after restructuring how the levels are connected into something that is fairly unusual for a puzzle game, we had to iterate on that layout to come to this point.
Now I could really see how people will be playing this game. It turns out half of the players just didn’t enjoy it, while half really did. It appears to be somewhat polarizing in other words. One round of tests is perhaps not enough to draw this conclusion, but mostly it has reaffirmed what I perceived from previous tests.
Now it feels like we can make a conscious choice about which players we will cater to. I find this very liberating as we can now focus on fine-tuning this game for our audience rather than trying to please everyone.
With that said I think it is very important that it is indeed a conscious decision for us to choose the path of being a polarizing game. Based on the tests there are certainly things we could do to please more people, but we believe it would diminish the experience for the players that are already enjoying it.
That’s not to say we will ignore negative feedback, there is plenty of that from players who otherwise like playing, because some of the most valuable feedback is about understanding the game as opposed to actually enjoying it. Some people will simply not like our game and that’s ok!