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Feedback Friday #74 - August 9-12, 2019

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by TonyLi, Aug 9, 2019.

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  1. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Feedback Friday is back!

    Want design feedback for your new game? Then you've found the right thread! Feedback Friday runs from Friday to Monday every week.

    What To Show
    • Minimally Viable Product (MVP) - Core game play > everything else
    • How To Scope Small (Unity tutorial)
    • Post a link to a playable game, preferably WebGL. If you don't have a playable game, post something substantial, not just text.
    How To Ask For Feedback
    • Be concise.
    • Specify what you want feedback on and what you don't.
    • Resist the urge to write an immediate defense to feedback. Take the time to understand their points. Remember that your friends here are taking time out of their busy schedules to help you for free.
    How To Give Feedback
    • Be positive. Every game has some redeeming quality.
    • Focus on the design, not the designer.
    • Be specific and constructive. Don't like something? Explain why.
    Let the feedback begin!
     
  2. Teila

    Teila

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    Thanks, Tony! :)
     
  3. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    OK, I'll go (since there's nothing sadder than a Feedback Friday with no submissions). I've been working on something that's not a game, exactly, though playing with it feels like a (sandbox) game to me. It's a neo-retro virtual home computer called Mini Micro. Currently when you launch it, you get a screen like this:

    upload_2019-8-9_6-54-27.png

    And there you are. At a command prompt, with a random tip ("Use parentheses..." in my example above) and a one-line instruction about how to get help. Of course it's on a web page that has a link to much better help if you scroll down, but many people don't bother to scroll, and anyway I'd like it to be discoverable on its own as much as possible.

    So this is what I'd like feedback on: is this a good initial experience, or should I instead have Mini Micro boot into some sort of menu interface, with options to list/run the built-in demos, browse help, manage files, and exit to the shell.

    I'm strongly considering just such a menu system, since I think many yoots today have little clue what to do with a command line. On the other hand the whole purpose of Mini Micro is to get people comfortable with using a REPL and working with MiniScript, so the faster we get them to the command line, the better.

    So, if you're willing to give it a try, please see if you're able to locate and run the demos. And with your feedback, while I wouldn't dare to ask your age, perhaps you could say whether you used a home computer like this in the 80s... as I suspect that colors your perception (and certainly colors mine).
     
  4. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    My formative game experiences were in the early DOS days. This is a nice throwback!

    It does feel like a game of discovery. It's more fun than booting into a menu interface. The colors are nice, too. Keep throwing them into the text interface like this and let them have fun discovering.

    Miscellaneous thoughts:
    • When there is no such topic, help "topic" prints no output. Maybe add something?
    • Can you add scrollback?
    • It's unusual to type cd "/usr" instead of cd /usr. Any way to make it more standard?
    • Similarly, since it looks like a POSIX-style file system, can you make ls an alias for dir?
    • cd /usr also throws an obscure Compiler Error that might throw people.
    • Edit mode: Is there a way to save or cancel using only the keyboard?
    What kind of input is available? Mini Micro reminds me a bit of PICO-8. It would be neat to be able to make an interactive game with it.

    BTW, I really like the ability to generate new sounds! It's super old school. I can imagine people playing around with that a lot.
     
    Ryiah, JoeStrout and Teila like this.
  5. Teila

    Teila

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    Oh I am old. I recognized WumpusTrap from my childhood on my dad's Altair computer! :)

    Really cool, Joe!
     
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  6. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    Thanks for the feedback! I'm absorbing it all, but I'll just reply here to specific questions:

    That's a tough one, because it's not really a stream-oriented display (like a terminal); it's a cell-oriented display (like home computers of yore). So once text scrolls off the top, it's gone. But as I type this, I begin to see ways we could offer scrollback anyway... and I certainly do see how that would be useful...
    This one is a conscious choice. Unlike home computers of yore, or even Unix/Linux machines of today, the shell language is not different from the programming language — it's all MiniScript. I'm aiming this (in part) at people who have never done any programming before, so I don't want them to have to learn a different syntax when doing things on the command line than they do when writing code. So that means, in this case, cd is just a MiniScript function, and its argument is just a string — and like any string literal, it needs quotes.

    I know that's a hiccup for people used to bash or DOS or similar; it even trips me up now and then. But on the flip side, it's nice that you can use all those same commands directly in your programs, or use variables for your arguments on the command line without special syntax.

    I certainly could, but probably won't, because in general I adhere to the principle of having "one best way" of doing things, rather than multiple equivalent ways. But you (the user) could certainly do that, just by doing:
    Code (MiniScript):
    1. ls = @dir
    You could even put that in /usr/startup.ms (once I add that feature) to make it a permanent addition to your environment.

    It supports the equivalent of Unity's Input.GetButton, GetKey, and GetAxis. So you can certainly make games (many of the demos are simple games already), and even local multiplayer games.

    To your other suggestions, assume no specific reply means "good idea, I'll look into that," with my thanks. :)
     
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  7. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Good points all of them.

    What about a function to open a URL? (If it doesn't already exist.) It might be a nice way to supplement the help command.
     
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  8. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Yes! I can't participate yet but should have time in a few weeks. Looking forward to seeing what everybody is working on.
     
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  9. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Are these going to be over the weekend only? I won't have anything to show until next weekend.
     
  10. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Yes. We're planning to run them every Friday - Monday, which is 2 weekdays and 2 weekend days.
     
  11. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    To keep this thread rolling, I'll put up something for discussion. I've been thinking about an ultra-casual idea with one game mechanic:

    Send heroes (from a limited roster) to handle events that span multiple turns. Heroes' stats determine their chances of success. It's a turn-based resource management game. If all of your heroes are assigned to events, no one's available to protect the ship or handle upcoming events.


    Play Here: Sci-fi Hero Allocation Concept


    The concept prototype looks like this:

    upload_2019-8-10_15-53-26.png

    To assign a hero (crew member) to an event, click on the event and then drag one or more heroes onto it:

    upload_2019-8-10_15-53-47.png


    I don't know where I'll go with this. (It's a casual project that I pretty much only touch during downtime, such as while assets are building and running unit tests.)


    What I'm Looking For Feedback On:
    • Core gameplay loop: Is it fun?

    What I'm Not Looking For Feedback On:
    • UI (the current is just functional for the concept prototype)
    • Writing of characters & events (the current are just stand-ins)

    Thanks in advance!

    And if anyone else wants to put up something for feedback, there's still plenty of time until this thread closes on Monday!
     
  12. JoeStrout

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    Interesting! I think the fun of this will depend entirely on the writing.

    Mechanically, it seems a little thin. But maybe not. Your heroes should have stats that are increased through experience. And presumably some sort of energy that is depleted, such that you need to give them some time off too. And, on rare occasions, I would guess somebody is lost when an event goes south.

    How then do you replace them? Maybe you have more junior officers, with weak stats, whom you can nurture with easy events or by having them go along with your stronger heroes? Successfully doing that would lead to a natural sense of accomplishment (thus fun).

    I would guess that a major part of the game is figuring out how much strength you need to spend to successfully conclude each event. When I've played games like that in the past, it can often be very hard to guess. You might want to consider calculating and displaying the odds of success in the mission assignment screen. That way, players can decide how much they want to gamble based on hard numbers, rather than trying to read the mission-writer's mind.
     
  13. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    @JoeStrout - Give it a play when you get a chance. Heroes gain a level with every 3 successes. Some events will also increase stats if successful. Many events are life-or-death: on failure, the hero(es) are lost. On success, some events add new heroes to the crew. The requirements of success are shown in each event, and the odds of success are shown for each hero and for the combined heroes assigned to the event.

    It's an experiment to find a minimalist mechanic that's fun. Kind of like how Canabalt is fun with just one ability (tap to jump), but a strategy version of that.

    EDIT: In case you missed the link to play: Click To Play
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  14. JoeStrout

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    I did miss the play link — thanks for pointing it out! However I couldn't see that the odds of success were changing, even when I assigned multiple crew to the event.

    Also, I'm sure this is on your to-do list, but the ability to drag a crew member back out of the assignment bar would be very welcome.

    But I can see what you're after here, and it is indeed pretty interesting for such a minimal mechanic. It might make a great casual game to play on your phone while waiting in line or whatever.
     
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  15. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    I quite like it as a sort of idle, atmospheric game. The most basic things about it, getting new missions and assigning crew, is definitely fun. I would suggest also making it more of a story progression rather than random missions, so it's almost as if you're reading a story where the way to turn the page is to assign crew to missions.

    A couple of things I noticed.

    You can assign multiple crew to some missions. Whats to prevent just stacking the entire crew all the time? Would it be a guarantee of success? I mean, if the entire crew can't do a mission, then any subset of the crew won't be able to either.

    I still don't really understand what the slider in the middle is for. It seems to progress left - right as you take on more missions in a single turn, but what does it mean? Why can I drag it and what does that do?

    Also, I think the ability to un-assign and reassign crew from a mission would be a good idea, unless I'm missing something that's not possible yet.

    I can also imagine having side quests specifically related to each crew member, like in Mass Effect 2.

    Overall I think it's very cool and a great way to provide just enough interaction with a story to make it feel interactive. It would be possible to interact with a quite complex branching story this way, simply by sending specific crew along different branches.
     
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  16. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    The red-green bars indicate odds of success. In the second screenshot above, each character has a red-green bar indicating its odds alone. If you add characters to an event, the event will also show a red-green bar. It could be made clearer, but I'm not focused on the UI right now. Same for the ability to drag a crew member out of the assignment bar. I agree it would be important in a final UI.

    That's what I was thinking. The idea actually came out of a local paper prototyping game jam a few weeks ago. The prototype was a fantasy-themed card game where you'd have a hand of hero cards that you could play to attack region cards and/or handle whatever event card was drawn each turn:

    upload_2019-8-10_21-54-50.png

    It used a gazillion beads to keep track of how many turns were left on each event or region attack. So it was an obvious candidate for automating the bead-counting electronically.

    That would take the entire crew out of commission for however many turns the event takes. A new event appears each turn. If you leave an event unhandled (e.g., because you don't have any crew available to handle it), it automatically fails. Most of the time this will result in your ship taking damage. Which leads to...

    It counts the turns elapsed in the current star system. (You have to complete 3 star systems to catch up to the final enemy.) The slider handle is your ship. It starts with 6 health bars. If you lose all 6 health bars (by allowing your ship to take damage), the game ends.

    Oops. :) It shouldn't be draggable. It's a UI issue, so I won't worry about it for now.

    Good ideas. Thanks!

    I don't envision this as something with save game functionality that you'd save and resume over multiple play sessions. Instead, it would be a casual diversion that you'd pull up on your mobile device and try to beat in a single session.

    I intended it to be randomized so you'd have a different playthrough each session. But I think some progressive story events could be thrown in there, too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  17. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Ah ok, I think the currently-in-progress vs incoming mission division could be made clearer, I just focused on the 'next' one.

    That makes sense. Also, having something happen e.g. 'You warped out of the star system!' when the bar reaches the end would make things clearer.

    I would suggest at least tying the missions together with a backstory of some kind. It would bring a greater sense of anticipation and immersion as you play through.

    The way I imagine playing this game is on the bus or the plane, not so much a short play session (2 minutes) but more like a medium one (10 minutes to an hour). That way it's casual in the sense you're not invested cognitively much at any point, but there's also a bit of immersion. That ties in with it being story-based. But maybe I'm seeing something different to what you're aiming for!
     
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  18. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Now that's exactly the kind of feedback I'm interested in.

    Initially, I didn't show upcoming events. Since you couldn't see further than the current event, the optimal strategy was to simply assign the best-fitting crew to the current event.

    I added upcoming events so you'd be able to plan ahead. For example, say the current event is a low-stakes, easy diplomatic mission. An upcoming event is a high-stakes, difficult diplomatic mission. If you only knew about the current event, you'd send your best diplomat to it. But since you know that a tougher diplomatic mission is coming up, you might choose to send a weaker character to the current event to save your best diplomat for the upcoming event.

    This doesn't appear to come through in playtesting, though. What would make this decision-making more interesting?
     
  19. Billy4184

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    That definitely sounds like a good idea! Adds significant depth with very little new mechanics.

    I think really it's just as simple as making it clear what it means for missions to be on the left and right. At the beginning, it looks like "here's your mission on the left, and just in case you're interested here's some coming on the right". Maybe a grid system or some kind of 'holder' images on the left would make it clearer that they can stack up for several turns, along with a label of some kind like "Current missions" in the plural.

    Also when you assign a crew member, maybe say "Tauz will be occupied for 3 turns" or whatever. Or maybe that's just my lack of experience with turn based games, and it's obvious to most people.

    I think it's really quite a cool concept, and can go far with very few explicit mechanics.
     
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  20. cryogee

    cryogee

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    Hello Guys,

    Can you review my game Pole Jumper.

    What I'm Looking For Feedback On:
    • Core gameplay: Is it fun?
    • Pacing: Speed between two attempts : reduce or increase
    • Satisfying: How can this be made more satisfying, especially when he lands on the pole

    App Store - https://apps.apple.com/us/app/pole-jumper/id1450707849

     
  21. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    A lot of people aren't going to want to go to the app store and download/install your app. The best way to get feedback is to put up a webplayer build like TonyLi did, since it's so easy to click and play, and doesn't involve installation.

    Also, I don't have any apple stuff.
     
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  22. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    @cryogee - Like Billy4184 wrote, can you put up a web build for feedback? I haven't played a lot of indie mobile action games recently, but it looks like a unique concept. The graphics are totally in line with indie mobile games, too.

    When he lands on the poles, maybe a more dramatic swinging animation would make it seem like he just barely avoided danger. Or maybe the danger (fire, spinning blade) could rise up, and he could tuck in his legs to avoid it. It would just be automatic animation, not anything the player controls, but it might give the feeling of more dangerous stakes while also getting the player to feel for the character more.
     
  23. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    Hi,

    Feedback threads are a really good idea!

    I don't have prototype to submit yet. All the feedback I'd like to get is:
    • how does this scene looks to you.
    • how does this scene feel to you,
    It's a 2D platformer game (is should be).

    I've uploaded images of my current game on another site. These images display the same scene during day time and night time. I'd rather put a link to the other site rather than uploading them (14) here:
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  24. cryogee

    cryogee

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    Thank you for the feedback. My project was targeted for iOS/Android and I'll have to update it for WEBGL. Ill upload the build once I have it ready.

    What did you mean by a 'more dramatic swinging animation'.
    Also do you think adding 'Awesome' 'Nice' popup text helps on landing?
     
  25. Billy4184

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    Both look good to me. There's really not enough going on there yet to get an idea of the setting though.

    But how does daylight get in? It just looks like they are both interiors lit with artificial light of different colors.
     
  26. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I think character animation would be more exciting than text. (Text is easier to add, though.) Instead of just hitting the poles and stopping, maybe the character's legs could swing in a wider arc. or he could briefly tuck them up closer to his chest to avoid the danger below him.

    Procedurally generated?

    It looks fine, but the true test will be actually navigating it with a controller. Some of the ideas look like they'd be fun to reach with a grappling hook or something similar. I'm not sure that they're all reachable with standard run-and-jump movement.

    I like the open background areas where the sky beyond is visible.
     
  27. cryogee

    cryogee

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    • Day time images look like its a night time in the game.
    • You have a hardcoded shadow on the character face. This might look odd when light source and shadow are both on the same side.
    • Unity 2019.2 has 2D lighting features. Those might really come in handy
    • Have you thought of adding a minimal parallax between platform tiles and the wall.
    • Day time shots you can scan the entire room quickly and get a feel for the strategy, night time it takes more attention to do the same.
     
  28. cryogee

    cryogee

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    :) I can actually visualize this and seems like that would be a natural impulsive human response to do in that scenario. Great Feedback. Thanks a lot.
     
  29. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    Thanks for the feedback all!
    No. :)
    The top third of the scene is above ground. :)
    Day time is very dark in the game because of some cataclysmic event. The shadow is not hard coded, it's drawn.
    I was wondering how to do that. :)
     
  30. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    It would also be fun to see more elaborate death animations when the player misses. Not gory -- just more exciting, with bigger animations.

    If you're using Cinemachine, you can set the camera to Perspective and set the layers closer or farther on the Z axis.

    Jeff Johnson has a free parallax asset on the Asset Store if you want to set up a quick parallax test to see if it's the right look for your game. It would save you time from writing your own. If you like the look, you can always replace the asset with your own code if you want.

    I hope you get a chance to post an update in a future Feedback Friday with a web build that we can all try out!
     
  31. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    Ah, thank you for the tip; I'm already using Cinemachine, I'll take a look. ;)
     
  32. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    Okay, I've done some tests; it all looks very interesting, now I must try several different depths for the background tilemaps.
     
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  33. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    THREAD CLOSED (Well, as closed as I can make it, not being a moderator.)

    Next Feedback Friday: August 16, 2019!
     
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