Fellow Tough Growth Community and dear guests Sabooo here!
Welcome to another post about our adventures and progress developing Tough Growth.

Last month we participated for the first time in a game development competition. The monthly Kongregate competition. In this competition the 15 highest rated games can win a cash prize and extra recognition. I knew people liked Tough Growth from feedback at events and it even got frontpaged on newgrounds. So I was very excited whether we would win a prize in the competition. I felt like we really had a chance to finally earn money with a game and set another step towards becoming filthy rich animals. No, but a step closer towards making my hobby into a living.

At the very end of the month we entered Tough Growth and then the waiting game began. Each day I checked the website with full excitement to check whether the rating had increased.
The first days I checked and saw new comments. People liked the game and I felt more excited. However I couldn’t see the rating yet, because the game was still in “Under Judgement” . After TG left “Under Judgement” I can still remember vividly it had a rating of 2.8*. Now this wasn’t enough to get us a prize, but it was a start in the right direction.
The winning games usually get selected one week after the month. So we still had some days to at least achieve the final place. I didn’t want to feel any regrets about this competition, so I had to at least try everything I could to win. So I asked everyone who liked TG to rate it highly and we made it to 3.3*. We were closing in on the final place, but unfortunately we were too late, the winners had already been chosen and we were not in there.
I really wanted to make Tough Growth win and thought that losing would totally break my spirit. However after losing I actually felt really motivated to take a new look at Tough Growth and find out how we can do even better!
And so what do you do when you want to find a way to make something even better??? You compare with the games that did win and find out what they did better, right?

There was one game in particular which grabbed my attention “Unpuzzle”: https://www.kongregate.com/games/KekGames/unpuzzle

Unpuzzle is the predecessor of one of the winners in the competition and what I find most surprising is that people really loved the game although it had 50 levels! The difficulty curve of this game worked so well that it kept people challenged and yet didn’t get them frustrated. While at TG I noticed people got really frustrated at some levels, especially at the boss fight which lead them to quit the game. I had to take a new look at the difficulty curve of TG.
In a peak of inspiration I asked KekGames how they balanced their difficulty and to my surprise they responded and send me this difficulty curve (red is new mechanic):


While in the case of TG the difficulty curve seemed more like this:

Then it became completely clear to me that we had to make a decision about the boss fight. Either make it way easier or remove it. After some consideration I decided we had to take TG in a different direction and we removed the boss fight! No more frustrating boss fights! We planned to make 33 levels of which 3 boss fight,. No more we will now instead make 35 – 50 levels for the final release with 5 different enemies and make these and the levels created with them as fun as possible! The sharp reader will have noticed that the 5 represents the amount of red columns in the difficulty curve.

You can play our entry here:
https://www.kongregate.com/games/FeatherHatGames/tough-growth-demo

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