When we came back to the Philippines, it was decided for the popular video game to be the theme. Martin has always been a fan of Mega Man! It’s an appealing art style, but maybe he was also looking all along for an excuse to use Mega Man in one of our games. Martin spent a week or two solidifying the concept. He prepared UI mockups and basic gameplay rules, with the Mega Man inspiration seeping into the visual design. He conceptualized the game’s initial mechanics, which are two actions happening at the same time, similar to that of a Nintendo DS’s screen. It consists of the top portion where the action is occurring and the bottom part where the player forms the words. Martin presented everything to the team and we agreed to start developing the game.
Some time after the conceptualization process, a prototype was made using Mega Man assets just to test and see if the concept is feasible. Technical requirements were roughly sketched out: a basic grid for the letter tiles, sprite placeholders for the characters, and a dictionary for the game to know which words are accepted in the Scrabble dictionary.
A timer was included in one of the earlier builds, where the enemy’s aggro bar would be constantly filling up, and the enemy would attack once it gets full. Successfully submitting words would slightly reduce (but not stop) the bar. When we tried playing the original design, we realized how stressful it was to have a time limit. It did not work out as well as we hoped — too hectic, and the words formed ended up being too short. Players have to think faster, hence shorter words are formed; they don’t get to maximize the whole seven-letter block. One of our interns at the time (James) suggested the turn-based approach, introducing the aggro meter for the concept. The aggro meter fills up only after the player submits a word, removing the time pressure encountered in the earlier game build. This was implemented after some deliberation. We came up with the decision to remove the timer and make the game purely turn-based, using the aggro meter instead.
After the test stage the studio created the initial playable build with all the assets and animations needed for Mighty Alpha Droid. A playtest was conducted during the Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) 2016, just November last year. The feedback from the first few players turned out to be very good, well-described even, considering how the game only has one level at that time. Everyone in the studio was surprised to witness a good majority of ESGS attendees playing Mighty Alpha Droid till the end of the level, going against expectations of trying the game for only a few minutes or even just totally ignoring MAD. To finish everything was around 10-15 minutes — people playing the game until the end was a good sign for us.
One thing we learned from ESGS was to take the time to omit dirty and offensive words from the game’s dictionary. The experience at the summit also taught us the value of having your game played by other people to get criticism. We allotted a good number of months to gather responses from different players. As the months went by, we found more confidence to further develop the game after all the initial feedback that we acquired.
Months later, Mighty Alpha Droid has been featured in Google Play’s Early Access section, giving us a flood of criticisms from Android users all around the globe. The feedback we got from a number of people of different nationalities inspired and pushed us to work on further game modifications. As mentioned in our previous blogs, look forward to some major changes on our game. Go ahead and play the fruit of our passion — download Mighty Alpha Droid now!