Edit: (July 8, 2011) I might actually post a video this weekend! It will be short, but hey, it's a video! :D
Meant to mention this two posts ago. I finally found that spider again! It was crawling along the side of my bed. You know what this means? IT COULD HAVE CRAWLED ON ME IN MY SLEEP! Anyway, I removed it from the premise, so that is no longer an issue, and my window spiders are safe!
The Claustrophobia Test, (but not really)
I periodically use random DT players (you guys) as guinea pigs in obscure tests. They're mostly oddball ideas that pop into my head, but some of them produce interesting results. For example:
These two shots are, gameplay wise, exactly the same. You could argue against that for some situational things in DT with its utility spells, but for 99.99% of the players and time, this will present the exact same gameplay. During the following examples, I didn't bring the above point up, I merely showed the shots and asked a question with no other context, so with that...
I showed these two shots to a number of people and asked which one they felt more threated in. That question left things somewhat mixed, 7/10 of them said they felt more threated in Shot B.
Then I asked which one they felt more likely to fall off the platforms in. And this was the surprising part, every person said Shot B.
I followed that question up with which one they felt safer in. I know it's sort of asking the opposite of question 1, but again, I was surprised to find that everyone said Shot A.
I derped a lot of things with this test though. I should have been documenting their responses and explanations for their answers. Though I do think the results explain themselves, I see it as inconclusive since I failed to record and document everything properly. The only accurate part of it are the tallies of what people chose.
There are some other little tests like this that I've done and will continue to do in the future. I'll be making them more public from now on though.
Design Decision with Gate 1
Gate 1 is the first major gameplay point in the game. It is reached within minutes of the game's beginning and is where the Mario levels take place. Since it's essentially the first level in the game, I wanted to keep things simple and straight forward. I thought about having a few branching paths, but I didn't want to add that sort of complexity for this part of the game, so went with a simple Mario approach. There is one spot where you'll backtrack through 2 maps, but that is all. These maps are set up to be a very different feel both ways and are designed with the backtrack path in mind. That aside, it's a simple stroll through various Mario themes mixed with some DT elements for the second half of it. I feel it's a good beginning level that will have the player seeing the Game Over screen only a small handful of times. For the optional pick ups like Heart Pieces, Chests, etc, all of them can be obtained on the first time through. Some, no, all of them are obviously easier on return visits. Some of them may look impossible to get, but with enough observation, you can get them. Most of them don't take a lot of finesse to get.
One thing which may disappoint people is the big major bosses at the end of the 7 gates do not offer a full heart container like Zelda bosses would give. I'll be designing the damage enemies deal to the player as if they collected 80% of the heart pieces up to that point. (That are reasonably obtainable.) But really, you shouldn't be getting hit. It's not like DT has difficult to dodge attacks or anything. :P