Getting from this first prototype to final game was a process of following what worked, and not being attached to elements that weren’t panning out. An important part of this process was showing my work to colleagues that weren’t afraid to be critical, as I lose objectivity quickly when working alone. It takes a certain kind of grit to ask for feedback at the very beginning of a project but it’s invaluable. In my case with Campfire Cooking the early feedback highlighted that I’d missed the mark with the visual style. I scrapped the darkness and slowly injected more colour into the game.
People are sometimes surprised at the games I create solo when they only see the final product. In reality each game I make is the product of many, many, many incremental improvements on repeated failures. It’s pretty much impossible to get something right the first time, or the second, third or fourth time. You have to be mercilessly objective about your own work and be willing to throw away ideas that aren’t working, or pick apart ones that have potential but also have problems. Re-engineer them, use different parts, try a different coat of paint… is the idea working now?