While I'm glad to get something playable out there for people to try out, publishing the demo did throw my conceptions of the structure of the game out of balance. Throughout testing and refining the demo to make it seem at least a little polished, I found that I was getting bored. Obviously for game this is a disaster. The problem was I had a strict formula for rolling out game mechanics, and it made the first world so dull after playing it a few times that I knew I needed to make a change. Here's how I originally planned out the worlds (without giving anything away):
World One: Jumping, double jumping, death objects.
World Two: Jumping, double jumping, death objects, new mechanic.
World Three: Jumping, double jumping, death objects, new mechanic, new mechanic.
World Four: Jumping, double jumping, death objects, new mechanic, new mechanic, new mechanic.World Five: Jumping, double jumping, death objects, new mechanic, new mechanic, new mechanic, new mechanic.
World Six: Jumping, double jumping, death objects, new mechanic, new mechanic, new mechanic, new mechanic, new mechanic.
Of course writing it out like this when I can't share what the new mechanics are is pretty silly, but you get what I mean. The first world would have just static platforming, nothing else. Later on more interesting elements would be added as the game went on, but even if in theory this method of exposing new mechanics is sound, it's also formulaic and boring. To combat this, I wrote up a new design document to get my thoughts in order.
The new plan kept the basic structure of the old, but with some significant changes. First of all, I reduced the number of worlds from six to five, and the number of levels in each world from twenty to eighteen. Second, I moved the mechanics from worlds two and three into the first world. Even though it is possible to make whole worlds based on those mechanics alone, they are simple at their core and it felt silly to separate them the way the old plan would have panned out.
Reducing the number of levels in each world was a decision to focus on quality over quantity. This still might change though, because while reworking the first world to follow the new design plan, I found myself wanting to add more levels past eighteen. It's likely that those designs will make their way to later worlds as development continues, so for now the number is staying at eighteen, but it wouldn't surprise me if I change my mind in the future.
For the moment, this is the plan:
Eighteen levels per world
Ninety levels total in the main game
One challenge world of eighteen levels unlocked after beating the game once
Considering the number of mechanics I've already made, I believe this is the appropriate length for the game. When I started this project, I was afraid of making something too short. My goal is for the game to take roughly an hour to complete, which I think is plenty long enough for the kind of game that it is.
Anyway, those where some thoughts I had as a result of putting out the demo. If you're interested, please go download it at the link above. While the demo doesn't reflect my new plan for the game, it will still give you a feel for the controls and movements of the main character.