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[Feedback Friday #18] - Mar 20, 2015

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Gigiwoo, Mar 20, 2015.

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  1. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Want design feedback for your new game? Then you've found the right thread! Post here to learn what others think. Discuss until next Friday, when we'll lock the old and start anew.

    How To Ask For Feedback?
    • Show - Be Interesting! Pics, videos, or best of all, a playable game!
    • Be Concise - Who's got time for Wall 'O Text? Less is more.
    • Read This - More great guidance in superpig's post.
    How To Give Feedback?
    • Be Positive - Finding redeeming qualities in the worst of games, is in itself a game.
    • Focus On The Design - Not the designer.
    • Be Specific - "Your game sucks!" is for nubs.
    What To Show?
    • Minimally Viable Product (MVP) - Core game play >>> everything else.
    • How To Scope Small (Unity tutorial)
    Gigi

    [PS - Feedback Friday #16 is here]
     
  2. Forest3

    Forest3

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    Defender Blender! - It is a 2D/side-view/tower-defense/platformer (I think)...


    Play it here: http://forestgameprojects.blogspot.mx/p/defender-blender.html
    (Use the SPACE bar to select the menu option)

    I just added a new how-to-play/introductory level and I'm looking for feedback about the overall playability and difficulty to learn the game mechanics.



    The "first level" (the one after how-to-play), has actually more mechanics than the how-to-play level. I didn't want to teach everything in the how-to-play level but just the basic player controls.



    Some additional notes:
    - I borrowed some (a lot of) MegaMan resources, consider them placeholders.
    - The game has a few bugs but nothing that prevents you to play normally (mostly visual bugs).
    - The story is terrible, I know, I just wanted to give a feeling of "complete game" (it has ending scene too ;)).
    - If you want you can read what was the intention of each part of the how-to-play level here: http://forestgameprojects.blogspot.mx/2015/03/game-progress-defender-blender-how-to.html, they are just 5 small parts.

    Was there anything in the game mechanics you had a hard time to realize?

    Please give it a shot!

    PS. If you are feeling charitable you can post your feedback in my blog too (copy/paste is fine :p), since I'm just starting it would be a good motivation to have a few comments there.
     
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  3. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    Elephant in the room - I certainly hope you intend to change that artwork before your final release. Sure, Capcom may not care about the Mega Man franchise (much), but not caring about Mega Man doesn't mean they still won't sue you for copyright infringement.
     
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  4. Forest3

    Forest3

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    Thanks, well that was what I meant when I said:
    "- I borrowed some (a lot of) MegaMan resources, consider them placeholders."

    Actually there is a reference for that in two places in the game (credits scene and ending scene).
    This is a single man project so far, that's why I said I'm looking for feedback on game mechanics, I hope you give it a try besides the problem with the graphics (and music).


    Edit.
    Not sure if my answer was clear enough so: Yes, I'm not planning to release this or any game using others' copyrighted material.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
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  5. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    @Forest3 - Good job! The gameplay, including the short intro sequences, has a very classic feel. I like that the controls are minimal - arrows, space, and Z. You make efficient re-use of them, such as down+space to drop a level, and hitting a POW to send it to the cannon. I also like that the second level adds more than just running and killing enemies.

    I think it's a good idea that you used placeholder graphics, so you could cut to the code and gameplay right away. I'd love to see a level with some of your own graphics.
     
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  6. Forest3

    Forest3

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    Hey thanks @TonyLi, as you said I'm using those resources in order to experiment the gameplay as soon as I can, so if I need to go and make a radical change in the game I'm not tied to my graphic/sound resources.

    It's nice to know you liked it, what do you think about the responsiveness of the character? some people find it kind of difficult to control, they have told me that the jump feels weird and that sometimes it's just difficult to make the character do what you want. I'm analyzing that right now and would be good to know your opinion.

    By the way, do you remember what % of the level you managed to complete? most people loses at about 30% - 35%, so I'm analyzing how to tune that section of the level, maybe it's just too difficult.

    - Forest
     
  7. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    So, I played your prototype, and died at about 45% completion. But, you need better feedback than that. So, here I go.

    What Worked
    The mix of platforming and tower defense mechanics is a good one - it took an otherwise 'done' idea and breathed new life into it. As this concept is the main conceit of your game, it says good things about your game, even as a prototype.

    The tutorials were useful (they could've been presented more expertly, but I'll get to that.) I was never in any question about what to do with any given artifact in the game. Further, I'm assuming you took some lessons from ExtraCreditz, particularly their design club on World 1-1; you used the concepts from Super Mario Brothers to start the tutorial level off effectively and efficiently. You kept those concepts in your prototype level, as well.

    What Didn't Work
    First things first - your opening still-image cutscene was wonky. I didn't know what to press to advance the dialogue. In the end, it partially turned out to be your webpage absorbing my pressing Space, and I had to re-click in the webplayer to get it to properly absorb inputs again. But, it was irritating. It would be a good idea to have an indicator on what to press to advance the dialogue; I actually considered giving up and griping right then and there, if I couldn't find a way to advance it. Luckily, I did.

    Next, your audio - I love Mega Man X as much as the next gamer, but the audio balance was off. Now, this gets a bit tricky - what you find pleasing, is what another gamer will find completely wrong. You really need some way to let the player modify their audio settings - master volume, music volume, and SFX volume are the mandatories. Let players set the volume to what they like, and audio balance will pretty much become a non-issue. It's a small thing that you can do to really help your players' experience.

    Next, your tutorials. While they were effective, I'm a seasoned gamer. Unlike World 1-1 in Super Mario Bros, you have an enemy that appears in a fixed location, no matter what, that if you take too long figuring out the controls, will be on top of you before you can do anything about it. To solve this, I would create a trigger that, when entered, spawns that first enemy, then self-destructs, to recreate the 'First Encounter with Goomba' experience - you want players to face their first enemy only when they're ready to.

    Still on the subject of tutorials, consider replacing the text that appears in the level, with a graphic that immediately conveys what the player has to do. Instead of "Press Space to Jump", have your three-block-tall wall, with some graffiti with a space bar and an up arrow. Simple pattern recognition will let players reason for themselves, "oh...I have to press Space to jump!" It will be easier to blend into the game environment, without breaking suspension of disbelief.

    Similarly on the subject of tutorials, when the cannon that must be defended is introduced, you've got two powerups that must be slammed towards the cannon - the POW bubble and the Heart bubble. Instead of having static text telling the player with words what to do, you really should leverage your mechanics and conventions. The cannon and the player will always be going from left to right; thus, a left-pointing arrow on the POW and Heart bubbles will naturally tell the player, "You need to make this go this direction to help the cannon survive/power up."

    Last thing on the subject of tutorials - when you do use text, do check your grammar. There was a message that read like it came out of Zero Wing or something. Nothing makes your game look inexpert like bad grammar, or lack of consistency of assets.

    The controls themselves to me felt a bit 'loose', and this was a problem, because it made the character hard to control. I'd consider slightly reducing the player's movement speed. Also, I had a hard time gauging the player's jump height relative to the tiles you're using, which is a problem - one of the benefits of using tiles in the first place is giving players a 'measuring stick' to plan solutions to movement problems (e.g. jumping.) Thus, it makes great sense for your player's jump height to correspond to a number of tiles. You can see how I did it in The Hero's Journey - while some of the jumps are a bit on the contrived side, you'll find yourself able to make them every time, if you can make them.

    Similarly, the player's melee attack range is far greater than that of the animation. This is a problem particularly in the tutorial level when you have to jump and attack in order to clear the increasing block towers. I wound up doing it, but it was very wonky and unsatisfying.

    The Space/Z to recover energy mechanic also does not work. When the character was recovering HP, I tried practically spamming Space/Z, but nothing appeared to happen beyond the automatic regeneration. You'll want to look into this, or nix it in favor of enemies dropping energy cells more frequently, and energy cells being a consideration in your level design (harder difficulty would just increase the gaps between energy cells.)

    The POW and Health bubbles in my opinion would benefit from just going to to the cannon on collision, as pickups, instead of having to hit them to the cannon; as the level got more frantic, I found myself having to skip pickups, because I had other concerns (smiting foes.)

    The flying enemies that carry wood in the 'primary' level of this prototype were a problem - they came in so high, even the ridiculous jump height on the character couldn't help me reach them, and were a main part of why I couldn't finish the stage.

    The TL;DR
    You've got a good concept for a refreshing take on the platformer, but you've got a lot of opportunities for improvement in both presentation and tuning.
     
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  8. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    The controls were fine for me, but I went in expecting old-school controls. The jump could be tweaked a bit, though.

    I don't remember how far I made it on the second level.

    I though the tutorial was fine.
     
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  9. Forest3

    Forest3

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    @Asvarduil, thanks for the detailed feedback. I will analyze the issues you noticed and look for a good way to address them. Just a few comments about some (most) of them:

    Actually I haven't seen that tutorial, I made the level as I thought would be useful, anyway I will look for the tutorial you mentioned, thanks.

    I'm really sorry about that, I will definitely address that ASAP. Thank you for not giving up.

    I was expecting someone to tell me that (actually for the texts in the starting scenes). I'm not native English speaker, I will try to figure out which one has these grammar errors, or if you have a chance (and you remember which one it was) please let me know.

    In previous versions some people told me that the attack was kind of small ranged, also I found necessary to expand the attack area in order to make the gameplay work because sometimes you need to attack enemies that are above you. I think I will address that fixing the animation, however I still need to analyze it, probably the fixes I'm planning to do in the jumping will help.

    I have seen a few persons playing this game and when they run out of energy they seem to be pretty clear about being speeding up the regeneration process by pressing those keys. I think that maybe the problem is that it's not quite clear how much regeneration comes from the automatic increment and how much from the player input, I will look into that.

    Well, I actually like that you need to hit the bubbles because it forces the player to take decisions: should I jeopardize the cannon's health in order to get some pow? should I let those enemies to continue walking or attack them and loose that health bubble? should I hit those enemies even when I will push the bubble in the opposite side? In other words, I think it is a fun factor I want to keep, anyway you're not the first person that expected the bubbles to be picked up automatically by the cannon. I will think about how to make clear that you actually need to hit them.

    I have found that some of my decisions about the enemies positions were supposed to be just difficult and I thought that the player was going to understand that s/he was doing something wrong. But people just think the game was unfair or unplayable. I'm aware that if people thinks the game itself is wrong I need to fix it (even if that means look for a way to inform the player that s/he is doing something wrong... in this case I think it is mostly a level design issue).

    Again, thanks for the detailed feedback.


    @TonyLi, thanks again for your feedback.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
  10. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    I liked how much attention you paid to the content, the graphics, and the little animations. I also thought the mix of sound and music went quite well with the graphical appearance. And, the grahpics look very reto, in an attractive way (though I realized later it's an IP issue).

    Not native English? Maybe consider minimizing text in favor of iconic pics. Like bouncing - !!! and ???. Even though english is my native language, I try to use pics and symbols to make my games international.

    I did not enjoy the regeneration process. Mobs did lots of damage and it took a long time to heal, particularly in that one place in the tutorial where you fall down on 10 mobs.

    I understood the mechanic enough to do it right the first time. By the 2nd time, things were flying over my head - I could barely see them - and the hit boxes were not quite right. The jump/swing behaviors weren't nearly as fluid as I wanted. So, then, I hit the little bubble the wrong way, and at that point, I quit in frustration. I don't remember seeing any actual 'tower defense' stuff.

    Heard of the curse of knowledge? As a developer, I can never see my games for the first time, the way my players do. So, I have to REALLY LISTEN. And, at the same time, I have to see THROUGH their feedback. Maybe they say the animation looks wrong, when what's really bothering them is that the jump/swing/movement control isn't responsive enough. It's a skill I never stop practicing.

    Consider playing DLC QUEST. It's got perfectly fluid jump mechanics.

    Gigi
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
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  11. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    I have to second this. I try to never critique the creator of something, but your "discussion" of my feedback sounded suspiciously like rebuttals. I understand why this is the case, I'm not faulting you - I did it before on previous projects, and I've done it on my current one once or twice. It's a bad habit, because I'm effectively shutting out the feedback that "[problem] is an issue for [person]." I'm trying to solve this bad habit of mine. (And, yes, diagonal movement will get in my game sometime before the end of the century.)

    My feedback to you - and, note that I'm working on solving this same problem myself - in this case, is not to refute feedback, but also not to roll over and take all feedback as an immediate problem, either. There's parts of your game, based on what you wrote back, that I "didn't get." It's OK that I didn't get it from both of our perspectives. In my case, there's only 1,000 other games out there for me to play. From your perspective, though, it's still OK; instead of explaining to me why it's wrong that I didn't "get it" on those points, those are golden opportunities for you to look at your game, and ask, "Why didn't [person] get [concept]?" One of the earmarks of a good project, is it immediately makes sense.

    An example is from a Weekly Feedback Thread long, long ago, when this forum had just started. What is now my JRPG project, back then was a sidescrolling puzzle-platformer based around summoning objects. Someone mentioned, "this would feel so much better if the character were shooting fireballs," or something to that effect. I wrote paragraphs of rebuttal, because, holy crap, they didn't get it! I want to make a game about a wizard, but not one who shoots lightning out of awkward orifices!

    Fast forward about a month. I changed the project to a JRPG. Why? Because the mechanics didn't fit the concept, and that is what that poster - who, is Gigiwoo, incidentally - was trying to tell me. I wasted quite a bit of time that I could've spent making a new prototype, on arguing about it, because I wasn't looking at what was in front of me: someone's reaction to my work telling me how to make it better. He didn't say, "You need to make Sara the Shieldmage a JRPG!" He just said, "The character would feel more satisfying shooting fireballs than summoning blocks out of hammerspace." The clue that my chosen genre and my concept weren't gelling was there all along.

    And, he was right. Don't be me three and a half months ago! Your problem isn't your use of platforming mechanics and tower defense ideas, it's the execution thereof. Go back and read my feedback not as "telling you your baby is ugly", but instead, "clues to make my game clearer and better." We're all here to help each other; trolls don't usually make it past a day or two (in fact, I think this board has only had a couple of serious, determined trolls. But, not a topic for this topic. And, it's a moot point because we have a Hippo(coder) armed with an unusually powerful ban-hammer.)

    TL;DR - Your baby isn't ugly, I can't see your baby because it's in a suit of plate mail, in a space suit, on the opposite end of the solar system. How are you going to make your baby shine?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
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  12. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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