This is new post for the 1.1 update. Again, impressed by your quick reply and turnaround time on iteration! Nice work! Everything in the update was great. All good decisions, I think.
There's still of course always more to be done, however. Here are my suggestions if you still wish to expound upon this. Feel free to ignore any, and especially don't worry about crunching for the game jam itself. You can (and should!) continue working on your games after a jam ends, at least for a bit.
This time I've ordered my suggestions based on how much value they'd add to your game for the BTP game jam relative to how much work they'd be to implement. So value added divided by amount of work (VA/AoW). They're all pretty easy and quick changes though, assuming you're using GameMaker or something similar. Ordered from most VA/AoW to least:
- Movement controls feel sluggish and not great. Feels a bit like moving through molasses. I recommend increasing the player's movement speed and jumps. Make the player feel very in-control of the character. For a game like this you want responsive controls. Increase the movement acceleration as well, or even just remove it for one-to-one movement controls. Also remove the slow deceleration; makes the player feel like they're sliding on ice.
- Increase the player movement speed and jump speed.
- Increase the movement acceleration or remove it entirely.
- Increase the movement deceleration or remove it entirely.
- Shorten the length of time you need to hold 'R' to exit the game. 2 seconds should be fine. Right now it feels like it's about 4 or 5 seconds, and just feels slow and pointless.
- When the player exits the tutorial, make their cursor start on "Play", not back on "Tutorial". Simple quality-of-life change.
- There's still no fail state or proper reason to continue playing. When the player inevitably gets themselves stuck there's no automatic end state and they just have to exit manually with R, which feels really bad. This is a bit harder to implement quickly, but very impactful. There are a lot of ways to approach this, but here are some ideas:
- Make there be a crawling death inching towards the player from planet-to-planet. This encourages/demands the player to keep a move on and outpace it, while also serving as an automatic fail state once the player gets stuck. They'll just get swallowed whole by the encroaching darkness or what have you. Think of the ghost in Spelunky that comes after the player when they stay in a room too long, or for a perfect example from a similar 2D pixel game, the encroaching darkness in Starseed Pilgrim. That game is about doing a very similar thing to this game, moving between areas, and their initial starting block slowing gets infected by an ever marching darkness that consumes each square, eventually ending the level when they reach the player. This may be a bit tough to implement if you're a newbie dev, but this the perfect system for this game. Watch this video of Starseed to see it in action:
- Some kind of ever-draining resource system, perhaps what gems fuel, would also work. Also not my favorite. I really like the Starseed Pilgrim/Spelunky thing. But like an air or fuel gauge that's constantly going down, and when it reaches zero you die. Getting gems fills it up a bit, encouraging the player to not muck about and to play the game. Easy to implement, but not my favorite from a design standpoint. It would very much change the tone of your game.
- Even harder to implement and I think less fitting/worse game design would be some kind of patrolling enemies that will eventually reach the player and end the playthrough. This is not my favorite, but it's an option.
- A high score system to encourage player to keep playing (and reward them for doing so) would be great. Obviously some kind of network leaderboard would be cool, but that's way too much work and honestly not worth it even outside of a game jam relative to the amount of work it is. Just a local high score system is fine (and it's super easy to make), so people can keep trying to get better. Reminds them how far they got before.
- In settings, change the text from "+/- RESOLUTION" to "RESOLUTION" when the cursor is not over it, and the same for volume. Then, when the player is hovering over this menu option, the text should change from just the option name to "<- RESOLUTION +>", and again the same for volume. This shows which direction corresponds with increasing or lowering the option value. Right now it's very unintuitive what the options menu is trying to convey.
- In settings, show the resolution and volume values as text and/or bars.
- It would be super impactful but a lot of work (most likely, depends on how you do it) to include some kind of story or specific milestone objectives over the course of a game. This would serve as a good substitute or addition to a high score system. If the player just got a little further, then they could see what would happen next in the story or fulfill this objective, etc. Something with concrete milestone goals and a final end goal to finish the game. Would change the GD and experience quite a bit, but it'd be good. If you did do this, still keep the current version in some form as an endless survival game mode.