This week, the DAM team completed their feature-locked version of Not Everything is Flammable.  There will still be some features that are changed around a bit and a few smaller things might be added if there is time, but big features will not change from here on out.  The final big rock that needed to be moved was our 4th and final scale (which I won’t talk about too much to save the surprise for people that get that far in the game.)  It is always a difficult moment to let go of some of the designs you have kept in your head so long, optimistically hoping that they will fit in with the deadlines necessary to complete a game.  As Jesse Schell puts it:  “Deadlines are magical.”  Deadlines are a necessary evil in actually completing anything worthwhile.  As long as you have prioritized appropriately, you won’t lose the important stuff anyway.

Pictured above is the talented Laura Weber, who recently won the Fall Not Everything is Flammable competition.  It was incredible to see a whole new batch of ETC students playing NEIF and competing against each other.  Laura destroyed her fellow classmates and all but one name in the NEIF pantheon.  That name of course is Lisa Elkin, who is still the all time world champion of the original NEIF.  The hi-score chase was one of the most important aspects of our original prototype, creating an exciting competition to see who could put up the best score.  It created an especially tense environment at the ETC where several project teams’ progress were halted for days due to excessive NEIF playing.  Originally we had wanted to make a separate developer’s hi score list and a non-developer’s list, but Lisa Elkin showed that wasn’t necessary.  We created a trophy for the top hi-score holder.

A brief Oral History of the trophy:

1) Lisa Elkin won the overall trophy with $82,250 before topping her own record with $89,779.
2) Mac Lotze would overtake Lisa’s record with $89,901 for an all-too-short reign atop the standings
3) Showing his fellow DAM developer how it is really done, Alex Hu burned past Mac with $90,073.
4) Ever the most tenacious of Canucks, Lisa Elkin would beat her Ursa teammate with a whopping $90,179 in flaming wreckage, a record which still stands today 8 months later.

A lot of our Let’s Play youtubers wrote about features they would like to see if the game expanded and a global leaderboard was amongst the biggest requests.  In creating NEIF 2.0, we wanted to make sure that we maintained the hi score chase as one of the primary motivations to keep people playing.  This can be very tricky in a procedurally generated game, but we have been careful to keep things as fair as possible to avoid losing that element of our prototype.

Sometimes this comes at the sacrifice of creating a better interest curve.  For example, if we want to have the game respond to players that have demonstrated competency by becoming more difficult, this might unfairly punish good players by affecting their ability to get a high score.  In order to maintain this balance while also still making it fun for great players, we have implemented other systems like the scaling up system in order to create varied interest curves.