This is a question I have been asking myself a lot of lately. Is the game any fun? It can be a very difficult question to answer yourself, elbow deep in the guts, a tweak here, a kick there. I have been building the campaign scenarios, and in play testing them, I have started to get very nervous. Is it too complicated to make sense of?
That is a funny question to have, as the game is much less complex than the original plan, which included a global morale mechanic in addition to upgrade-able settlements. There is one major mechanic that sets Shattered Throne apart from similar games, the combo star system, in which every attack against the same unit in a row becomes more powerful. This idea was born a long time ago when I wanted to make a formation based war game that modeled units losing coherency as they engaged in battle, while at the same time being enamored of how playfully fun and engaging of a game Peggle was. It seemed a perfect solution, and it has come to define Shattered Throne.
I think the Combo system as a whole is solid, what I am worrying about is all the other structures I built up around it. Specifically the various unit traits and leader powers. Each unit in Shattered Throne has 2 traits that make it unique. A lot of these traits interact with the combo system and each other in significant ways. It may be that the traits have grown too big, and will cloud the player's ability to make meaningful choices. I must admit, that even as the game's designer, I sometimes cannot easily know how much damage a unit will take in an attack. Now that is a rather large red flag.
So what am I to do, rip everything apart and find a better way to put it back together? I really should, but I would lose a lot of momentum and risk the project never getting done. Though I also do not want to release something I am not really proud of. Again I might just be over reacting, being too close to the project. But I do not feel as proud of the game as it currently stands as I did when dreaming it up.
What I have decided to do, is to finish up with the first pass of the campaign game, a task that has been very difficult. Then get it some play testing, see what other people think. I need some serious brutal honesty. I think that I also need to play Advance Wars again, with a more analytic eye, pick out why exactly makes me love that game so much, and whether I am missing a key ingredient.