Block Around – Beta 3
Third phase of the beta, focused on difficulties and some last fixes. The known-bugs list is now empty and some suggestions from the beta 2 were included.
An easier game
Regarding difficulties, the speed of the ball was globally reduced. Normal mode is now between the previous easy and normal modes, and the hardest one is almost a level below, which is fairly enough, considering the other changes.
Changing difficulty also changes the speed and action frequency of other objects. Even if the speed of the ball was mostly untouched in easy mode, the difficulty curve will be less steep the further the game progresses. On the contrary, in higher difficulties the curve will be more harsh, even with a slower ball.
The pink grid blocks are also less frustrating. The pad is disabled only when overlapping a larger section. No miss because of a single pixel overlap in a corner anymore, it activates only when clearly upon them.
Moreover, the inaccessible margin around the playfield was reduced to almost nothing. It will be easier to catch the ball at the very last moment, even near pink blocks. Anticipation is still better though.
When starting from world 2 or 3, the first extra lives are removed. The bonus of points granted in these levels gave them almost for free, while starting with all lives.
All difficulty modes should now be enjoyable and interesting, according to the desired challenge. Also the attraction of the ball is now relative to its speed. Thus the effect still remains on higher difficulties. And the intro level was redone to be simpler.
Some visual improvements
The game was becoming messy with all the effects, noticeably on the last levels. The trail of pink balls are now shorter and smaller. It is still a bit confusing with the number of elements but it is a bit clearer in crowds.
Also some reviews reported that using credits tended to take the satisfaction out of the game. In a way it's true, in an other they allow to adapt the difficulty to your liking. I haven't found an easy way to avoid making the game too easy by using way much credits and ball launches while keeping a strong variety of starts and risks. The answer was to add some messages to indicate that credits are not free, and incite to limit their use to fully enjoy the game. While still not forcing to do so and making the latest levels out of reach for a lot of players. Something about balancing frustration of finishing the game too easily and frustration of not progressing.
And for a smooth transition to the subject of fixes, the special trail when a 10 hit combo is reached now activates itself correctly instead of waiting the next bounce.
And some fixes
They will probably not be the latest fixes, but at least the last of known bug fixes. The collision with pink balls sometime resulted in strange behaviour, and even sometime making the balls stuck in one-another for a long distance. Impacts are now more intuitive, with a formulae closer to a physically compliant one.
That was the last important bug in the list, which fixed some issues about balls being stuck (and freezing the game too). Beside that the per-level score is not impacted by credits anymore and keeps track of the score obtained with the first ball. The score for the latest challenges were also adjusted not to unlock them by mistake.
This version could be the latest of the beta stage. Unless some important issues arise, there should be only minor fixes. This one is very close to the definitive one.