With online multiplayer up and running, I've returned to the core of the game. Its always exciting when you get a new game up and running, but after that initial excitment wears off - just how fun is it? How long do friends and family hold onto the controller before setting it down? What parts of the game did they really enjoy and what was a turn-off? Finding the fun is the process of strengthening what feels best about playing a game while eliminating or steamlining everything else. Its a time to try new ideas and discard them. For my current game this has touched all the core game play mechanics - targeting, dodging, locomotion and controls.
A major goal of mine is to make the controls simple and intuitive. My bias is to give players full control of their game characters. Normally this is a good thing. However my current game, like Kick'n It is a timing-based challenge. For a casual game, it is enough that players dodge in time without expecting them to also select the proper dodge from a list of possible moves. Yet I found myself expecting the player to do both. Now when a player dodges an incomming object, the computer will automatically select the appropriate animation.
I've also streamlined attacks. My tendency to give players full control meant that players had to choose a target, pick an attack move and aim. It was simply too much for a fast-paced casual game. Now when a player chooses an attack, the computer will automatically select the nearest target and lead the target if its moving. The altitude of attacks is modified by a player's position, making locomotion a vital part of both attack and defense.
Simplifying the controls enabled me to speed up the game, and freed player to focus on locomotion, and the timing of attacks and dodges rather than the mechanics of them.