A little over three years(!) have passed since I finished suteF in December of 2010. Many people consider it my most notable project, and I agree with them. I've wanted to do a post-mortem for a while, and here it is.
For the sake of brevity and at risk of being painted a pessimist, I'm only going to go over what I think I would change if I could travel back in time and assist myself. "Positives" are usually all boring and the same. Besides, what you enjoy in your gaming experience is wholly unique to your own preferences.
* If you haven't played the game yet, there are SPOILERS in this blog post. *
Perhaps my biggest mistake in this project was assuming that no one would find these levels. As a matter of fact, the most difficult puzzle in the game happened to be the easiest Void Rim to stumble upon; as a result, many people would be stuck in this level without being able to beat it. Which brings me to:
The Main Menu
I wish I would have put a "Level Select" into the game. I may sacrifice a bit of atmosphere or progression, but the problems caused by my Void Rim mistake and some saving and loading bugs would cause a large amount of players to just quit when they got to a level they couldn't beat.
Chapter D was very rushed in development and didn't have the same amount of flair as the previous three chapters. The dramatic twists in turns in the experience were more than absent from this chapter, but it did showcase some of the most ingenious levels that the Grappling-Hook mechanic had to offer.
If you've made it this far, I suppose you deserve to know about this: the truth in working on (and finishing) a game is that you'll reach this inevitable moment in time where you start working so hard on your game that you risk sacrificing a large portion of your physical and mental health. In all honesty, I shut myself off from my friends, family, and mentors, and no memory of the last two or three months of it. From what people say, though, I was very mean and cold.
I've talked before about games reflecting the developer's state of mind; more often than not, any game that is "dark" is assumed to be made by someone who's deeply depressed. Although I didn't know it at the time, suteF fit into that category. It's a double edged sword; the game oozed with atmosphere because of that depression. Granted, my worst bouts with it were going to appear a year later, but suteF was an omen of that future.
This time around, I'm making sure to take care of myself while working on Bulletromancer, so the "fix" to this problem is in the works!
I'm very aware that I dwell in the past; after suteF, I worry that I may have peaked in my ability or that there won't be another "indie classic" coming out of my brain. "I didn't sell it! I could have made so much money!"
But knowing the fact that they weren't good decisions, though, is the way to improve yourself. Take note of them, but don't let them destroy your love for what you do, because that would be the saddest mistake of all.