On Subtleties and Nuance
As The Bounty: Deluxe Edition (TBDX from here, ok?) hurtles towards completion and I find myself forced to explain things to publishing folk; I've begun to get a bit reflective.
One of my favorite things about TBDX, and admittedly a bit to it's detriment, is that it works subtly on several levels. Let's look at a player taking an early play at the game. The theme (not calling it a story exactly) is the game-within-a-game premise, in which the player is trying to clear the game and save Walter Day- whose conciousness has been absorbed by the rampant AI, and creating this situation to begin with. Does Mr. Day need saving? The man essentially created competitive gaming. Is it possible that he is simply playing along with a far-removed brainchild, for the benefit of the player to find herself through competition?
Now, let's move to gameplay. The player selects Story Mode, and for the sake of simplicity (for now), Practice Mode. This makes things much easier, and removes the core scoring mechanic, leaving the strategizing of score in the realm of consideration. Our player enters the game. Within ten minutes, they've died. In the process, they've fought several battles, and completed their first rock puzzle. They've figured out how to change equipment, how to use flint kits to light torches, and even solved a switch-flip riddle which led them to a secret treasure trove earlier in the room. Our player has learned that sometimes you can get a prize for clearing all of the monsters in a room, leveled up a stat and healed with a Soul Orb for the first time; before ultimately learning that big boulders are not to be trifled with, and ended up flattened.
Obviously, this is the very beginning, and only a smidgeon of what's to come; but what has our dear player missed? They've missed wall secrets, secret passages, and the first pieces for the crystal forging system. Throughout the rest of the episode, they will encounter several new experiences(including bonus stages, special items, a "behind the scenes" zone, etc), and much more of the same core elements. That's just the beginning, though. Each episode moving forward will not only differ thematically- but level flow changes drastically. New concepts are added slowly while the old ones are expanded upon.
What does that mean for the player, and TBDX in general? For the player, it means something that they can enjoy at first; but the game and possibilities grow with their desire to learn more and try new things.
For the game? Well, it makes it really hard to sum up in a blurb, that's for sure! What it means to me is a game that will provide you with enjoyment and challenge for years to come. In the event that people max the score (good luck on that one, there are at-least-hundreds of small things and secrets to pull off just right), we might start seeing some cool 100% speedruns. Maybe in 10 years, eh?
All in all, I'm tremendously proud of this game. I hope you enjoy it too, player. I created it for you, and out of respect to your intelligence and your perserverence, even in play. It's a weird one, but I think you'll continue to enjoy it for years to come.