Right away the most important lesson we learned is how much of a time crunch a deadline such as a game convention could be. Initially we planned for this demo to include 3-4 different types of enemies (not including the boss), special abilities, punch combos, and the ability to throw items (such as trashcans) at enemies. However with time running low we decided to scrap all of these concepts and instead focus on polishing the base that we already had. That resulted in the final demo only featuring basic punching, dodging, healing, and one enemy type (the zombies). A big focus for us was making sure that the world looked visually appealing, and so a lot of effort when into small details such as the buildings, streets, cars, and other world features.
Switching gears, an area where we feel can definitely be improved is the controls. Certain people did not enjoy the right-trigger as a punching button, and so we will be investigating the best option for this going forward. Another point was that the analog sticks favored the diagonal directions too heavily, and so we actually made changes to these values after day 1 of the convention to correct this, and will continue to look at it in the future. Overall some people also noticed that some of the animations are a bit clunky and/or lacking, and we completely agree. Due to the time crunch, things such as rolling and healing animations did not make the cut, but we plan to include them in the future. We are also considering re-hauling the punching system, perhaps making it fully 360 degrees.
In the end one area that we decided to focus on before the convention in particular was the boss fight, something which we feel paid off as many people have praised his design, both visually and mechanically. The difficulty level kept people playing the demo repeatedly, however after watching the majority of people struggle against him we will most likely adjust some of his values. We think that his "yellow" mode is a bit too unforgiving as it stands, with him swinging almost nonstop if close enough to the player. We also plan to add more to this fight in general, for example a 2nd phase with unique fight mechanics.
With all of this in mind, we are going forward working on the full demo with the confidence that people will be willing to play our game once it is released. We'll continue to catalog the decisions that we make in this blog and also on our Twitter accounts, so be sure to keep following us and don't hesitate to reach out with questions or comments. We are always happy to receive feedback and improve from it. Finally to end, here is a photo of the PseudoZap team with the banner we made specifically for PlayNYC.