Monochrome Heights Devlog #4 – Decisions Decisions

I’m making an indie video game called Monochrome Heights. It’s a tough pixel art 2D platformer.

While making the game I’m faced with a lot of decisions. Everything from large scale decisions about features and gameplay elements to small decisions about how specific animations should look or which sound effect is better. While most of the larger decisions are locked at this point, there are still many small decisions to make.

Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon, and a tough one to combat in any aspect of life. Anyone who’s stared at 5 different types of shampoo in a grocery store can attest. But sometimes you just have to pick a shampoo and move on. At some point, extra research and analysis won’t help you but only drag you down further.

A GIF of Happy the Robot running while avoiding flames and obtaining an optional coin. IMAGE CREDIT: One Frog Games

When making Monochrome Heights, I come across some decisions where there’s a clear better answer, but that better answer would require more time or money or talent than I currently possess. When faced with such a tough decision, I may have to make a sacrifice, or I may have to come up with the resources needed.

Some decisions that come up in a creative project, however, are between two or more good options. While this situation can be paralyzing, it’s actually not really a problem. When you’re faced with two or more relatively equally good choices you may feel stuck, unsure which route to take. Ultimately the advice I try to remember is that if the choice I have to make is between two or more good options, then there’s not really a wrong decision. Just pick one and move on.

Over the course of the project, I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not the game should have color in the backgrounds and story segments, or be completely monochrome black and white. If it has color, do I need to change the name? What kind of color palettes would I want? While some of this is still up in the air, I made the decision (for now at least) that the five main robots in the story segments would be in grayscale.

The story focuses on flashbacks to a superhero-like team of robot rights activists. I want the team of robots to look balanced and cohesive, and I was pretty happy with the color choices for most of them. However, as I got to the last one, Layla, the antagonist of the game, I couldn’t decide exactly on what colors to use. 

To solve the problem, I put together some options and asked a few people close to me. Not too many, because too many opinions can make things murky, but enough to see what the general preference was. Everyone seemed to prefer the high contrast versions of Layla. And so ultimately I made a decision that wasn’t even one of the options I created originally, but informed by the preferences..

In my mind there wasn’t really a wrong choice for which way Layla looked. I liked the options I sent out, and of course the one I ultimately picked. The only wrong choice was getting stuck and not making a decision to move forward.

If you’re interested in following along in more detail, sign up for the Monochrome Heights mailing list here. You’ll get exclusive access to early demos and additional short updates. Until next time. Thanks for reading! 

Share any thoughts on the game in the comments below or come find me on the Boss Rush Discord.

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