Gonna Catcha v.0.8 Post-Mortem (Oh no, somebody catch its spirit!)

Gonna Catcha is gonna be shown in the Arcade at the Bit Bazaar Winter Market on December 7 (the day after this post was originally published). Being an arcade-style game played in an arcade-style environment; Gonna Catcha will be put to the ultimate test in its own element. I’ve been working hard to get it polished up for public playing. Here’s a list of changes and improvements I made between v.0.7.4 and v.0.8.2:

High Score Tables and Name Entry

Your name registrated

This is no doubt the biggest change to the game since the latest update.  Instead of only keep track of one high score value, Gonna Catcha now keeps track of twenty high score values: the top ten for single-player and the top ten for co-op.  Not only that, it also keeps track of the highest round reached for that playthrough and, of course, the player’s initials, so that your valiant efforts will be remembered forever for future generations to admire, until someone bumps you off the list. Hmm, better stock up on quarters and snacks.

AAA – the undisputed champion

Instructions Screen

Crash course in spirit catching

As I mentioned earlier, Gonna Catcha will played in an arcade-style environment at the Bit Bazaar. As such, players won’t be able to read the manual to figure out how to play the game. Heck, they won’t even get the luxury of instructions printed on a cabinet. Sure, I’ll be there to help people out if needed, but frankly, after explaining the rules to the many new players to the game in previous playtesting sessions, I’m getting tired of it.
To minimize confusion and delay, I added the above instructions screen, which is shown just before the first round starts. This explains the basic rules and goal of the game: what you can touch, what you can shoot and what the heck is going on. The game’s “hidden” rules can be learned through experience. Hey, at least I’m not charging anyone multiple payments of 25¢ to learn the game by trial-and-error.

The Fourth Maze and Endless Play

How high far can you get?
After much procrastinating, I finally added a fourth and final maze to Gonna Catcha. This also means the game can finally be played endlessly, as it was intended to. Rounds 1 to 16 have a fixed distribution of spirits and pretas. Beyond Round 17, however, the distribution of spirits is randomized for each round, likewise with which pretas decided to show up in a round. In addition to that, spirit and preta movement gradually speeds up each time the maze changes after Round 17. Speaking of rounds, next we have…

Rearranged Rounds

I’ve probably played Gonna Catcha more than anyone else in the world, and because of that, I’m probably the most likely person to get bored of it. One problem I’ve noticed in my playtests is the round progression. Originally, you needed to play four straight “regular” rounds of spirit catching before you hit the bonus round, and then afterwards the maze changes and the cycle repeats. In all my playtest sessions, I was playing co-op with another player, and I felt fatigued at the fact that I had to endure four rounds of pretty much the same gameplay before two major gameplay changes happen one after the other. It’s not as bad in single-player because the character you control, and therefore the gameplay, alternates between rounds. Still, I knew something had to be changed for the sake of co-op mode.

The solution was simple: in each existing set of five rounds:

4 regular rounds → bonus round → (maze change) → rinse and repeat

I just moved the bonus round into the middle, i.e.

2 regular rounds → bonus round → 2 more regular rounds → (maze change) → rinse and repeat

This way, instead of having two major changes to gameplay every four regular rounds, now there is one major change for every two regular rounds. Hopefully by spreading out the changes, it will make the game more interesting to play for longer.

Pause Function

One minor annoyance I had with Gonna Catcha while playtesting it was that I couldn’t pause the game when the other player had to attend to something else for a moment. After all, why would I need to put a pause function in an arcade game? There’s no time for pausing in the arcade business, time is money. However, since I’m not really interested in extorting quarters and attention from people in exchange for making it on the high score list, and the fact that I’ve already violated a few limitations and conventions of early-1980s arcade games, I decided to put a pause function in the game for the sake of convenience. Actually it was more like taking he pause code from Rise & Fall (shader and all) and plopping it into Gonna Catcha, hence the black-and-white blurry effect.

*ZA WARUDO! Toki yo tomare!

(Yes, it’s actually “Toki yo…” not “Toki wo…”.)
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

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