The future of dwelling

Post 2dCon Review

Ok so it has been almost a month since 2dCon. It was my first solo convention, and I swapped cards with some great people and had a lot of fun! I had been a little unsure about how Dwelling would be perceived -- the game by nature has a lot of shocking content in it, but I was not sure if it would come off as good fun or an offense. Until 2dCon I had only seen one person outside of my friend group play it, and they shed light on just one aspect of Dwelling's vulgarity that needed pulling back. The rest of it seemed kosher enough. This is his video:

For 2dCon I made that one change, plus a variety of bug fixes and (most importantly) player feedback fixes. I made the level tell you not just what part of it you were on, but how many were left. This seemed to give most people who played the game an expectation for how long the experience would be. Other people had played it within my friend group and assumed it would be a very very short demo, or that it would just keep going and they wouldn't have time to play it through.

Overall, everyone at 2dCon had very positive reactions to the game. The creepiness had the effect I desired, which was to kindle interest rather than gross them out into quitting. Up until that point, I had very little online feedback on Dwelling, and felt like the project was sinking in the mud a little. After seeing that it was potentially interesting, it brewed some motivation to keep working on it, and push it past Part 0. 

Now, because of the reasons I've explained, I decided to uncheck the "sensitive media" box.

Shoutouts to Leafo for giving me some notice when I first published the game -- but by pure coincidence they also posted a forum on changing the age rating system.

I vaguely remember making Dwelling NSFW in some setting. My reasoning was "horror game? cartoon blood? of course thats not safe for work." But thanks to that all of Dwelling's traffic now comes from the NSFW section which is just all porn games. Now it seems the box is labeled "Sensitive Content." It would be nice to know exactly what that box meant, as Dwelling isn't really "kid friendly" content, but not on the same level as porn games. (There was this really really young kid at 2dCon who played through the game, unfazed by it all, remarking about how the mom dieing was "just like a disney movie". He was so cute lol) I feel this may be a big reason why Dwelling seems to get no interaction, because I locked it behind an age restriction that I didn't fully understand. What would be nice is a description as to what kinds of content this entails -- I doubt other games like Dwelling ever used this setting.

So What now?

I'm unsure if I should make a new project for "Full Dwelling" or keep the same page. Part of me wonders how itch would handle a game that "randomly decided to not be nsfw anymore", and wants to move to a new page. Also, since it was labeled "NSFW" a lot of people who are looking at it were just looking for porn games and might not be interested. But also, I feel like the other people who know about the game are looking at that page for it, and they might not be notified of the new game if they have Dwelling Part 0 in their collection but not following me. 

But aside from all that red tape, what about the game itself? Dwelling Part 0 acts as a horror adventure-platformer. But it is thematically very close to games like Metroid or The Binding of Isaac. So the clear direction for the game is in the genre of MetroidVanias. I have some ideas of how to incorporate the themes of Dwelling into mechanics that play on ideas in the MetroidVania genre. 

Stylistically many things may have to change -- I have several options, I could go to simple pixel art, or stick with my first idea which was to replicate a genesis feel, or go all the way to more "painted" looking sprites. The current state is halfway realistic and shaded and halfway pixel art, and I think it'll have to go in one of those two directions.

Mechanically, some things may have to change. The platforming of Dwelling right now is a little weird, with one block requiring a jump and a walljump to get over. Cutscenes and dialogue are a little strange in how they behave and should probably be changed into something more traditional.

Code-wise the game's a mess. Several systems could use refactoring. A lot of things are hardcoded or just strangely built. Additionally, a full Dwelling would require a new control style to fit with the story I want to tell (the babby gets big!) and introducing a bigger world requires more intentional systems to make the pieces of it play nice together.

Because of all that, I am torn between sticking with this current project, embracing the suck, and using what messy components I've created to use as a building off point for the rest of the game, or refactor/start clean in a new project.

But for now... I'm still streaming Saturdays, usually 1-3 cst! (unless I can find a better time or a better gamedev streaming platform than Twitch). So I hope all of you reading this will stick with me on this journey and stay tuned for further developments!

Thanks for playing my game.

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