So I have to admit, I was depressed for a week or so there. I was watching some up and coming indie trailers on a few popular youtube shows, and I noticed that a few of them had magic spells or items that allowed you to create vines you could climb. And then another one, Spelunky 2, which had the ability to fire an arrow and create a new platform by standing on that arrow. At first, I was like, "what am I going to do? I thought these things were unique to my game. I had ideas for these objects and how they interact with the world for over a decade now, or more! And now people are going to think I'm a copy cat"
But after a few days, I realized that it didn't matter. These aren't the reasons people are going to play my game. They're not going to be like, "hey this is an awesome game because of X". No, the gameplay itself, the controls, and how it all works should be what keep them coming back for more. It's not that it has these items and these abilities, it's all about how I use them. And I think for a metriodvania, the way I'm using them will be super unique and interesting, and a lot of fun to play. That's the key, I think, that they're fun to play.
So after a week of "woe is me!!!!!" and a suspicious "they must've seen my videos and copied me!" (which, yeah, come on dude, that's so not the case), I went right back into making maps. Even if they have similar functionality to my game, their games are not my game, and my game is something else entirely different. The secret sauce isn't just "oh hey look cool stuff", it's more, this is the world, this is the art, and here are lateral puzzles that are exploration based and require unique ways of thought to unpuzzle their solutions.
In fact, I guess they're not even puzzles exactly, but rather goals or challenges, and there are multiple ways to solve these challenges and achieve these goals. Something out of reach? There are several different ways to go about getting that door or item, all depending on what you have found in the game already and how you want to approach it. Create a vine, create a platform with an arrow, find a way to go around the map and approach it from a different way.
It will all be about discovery, exploration, goals, and challenges. There will also be an implied story happening in the background, something that is there for you to puzzle out if you want, or ignore completely. The world design is unique and interesting, and the monster behaviors are pretty much story-based and in world based. You'll see what I mean when you meet the lamptrolls in game, and especially if you find a way to get to their (optional) hidden level of their home.
What it boils down to is the emotional experience of the game, and that is unique to the game itself.
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