We heard more from our game developer, Scott, who’s been refining the protoype as he goes. What I found cool about this is that he was already getting feedback from his peers about how fun the game is and trying to balance fun vs frustration. It’s cool how it mirrors my own experience building software, where I’ve definitely learned the value of early insights before I get too far down the wrong path.

Hi folks, I’ve having a lot of fun with the prototype. I currently have the following mechanics in place: A basic “dunning cannon” that can shoot at payments and attempt to recover them. Payments have a “recovery chance” that is a random number between 0 and 1, for example: “0.35”. Your dunning projectile has an effectiveness, the current cannon can shoot a 0.5 effectiveness. When the projectile hits a payment, it rolls a number between 0 and 0.5, and if it is higher than the recovery chance, the payment is flagged as paid, and saved from the field. If it is found out the never be recoverable, it stays red, if it could be recovered, but failed, it is flagged as orange with some flavor text to encourage the player to try again. The payments start red and unknown, after they’re hit, the player learns if they will eventually be recoverable or not.

Myself and a few peers found it really frustrating in testing to not know if you were wasting your effort prioritizing payments that will never recover (this is probably sadly also true in real life). It makes it also very sad when the churn beast eats a payment you know was recoverable.

It kind of leads to a nice “discovery phase” right as the game starts where you have to juggle between testing if payments can be recovered and shooing away the churn beast.I added a system to the payments where they can have little chat bubbles. Right now I’m using it to hint at how recoverable the payments are, but I think it would be adorable if they screamed “aaaaaah” and “oh no!” as the beast chased them. It really livens up the game and injects tons of personality.

The churn beast eats payments and grows. They can also be “stunned” if  they are directly hit with a dunning effect. There is probably no real metaphor for this in real life, but it is a fun thing to do in the game and is very rewarding to knock them out right before they get your payment. If the beast intersects a payment, it begins “inhaling” and the payment is drawn to them, but they flee before the beast touches them. Also, if the beast is stunned, this reverses, and the payments will flee from the beast double time if they are touching.

Here’s how that prototype looked:

In response, I said:

this is all really cool!

i get what you mean when you say that it’s frustrating to not know if you’re wasting your time on payments that you’ll never recover. that is definitely very realistic ,but i get how it wouldn’t be very fun

i think that giving the payments some personality is hilarious and a great idea.

i also like that the beast can be “Stunned”, haha

thinking about this now, it might a cool mechanic to have some of the projectiles (the email ones specifically) literally bounce off of the unrecoverable payments, because some emails that you send will bounce because the person has left the company etc.

And Scott replied:

Hmm, I’ll mess around with reflected projectiles and “follow the fun” and see if it makes things interesting. Might be amusing to see a projectile reflect 2 or 3 times off payments that wont recover.

We’ll see how that goes! Meanwhile, I started talking to a composer friend of mine to see if he’d have some time to make some music for the game. He’s one of the composers of Mass Effect, so it would be really cool and sort of hilarious if I could get him involved with this.

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