It's ok to write as much as you want!
I read and consider everything people say.
All the testing and opinions about the game are very important to me!
And I thank you, and all the other buddies that helped! =)
Overall I'm really, really impressed by the game. The art, sound, writing, character, story and gameplay all come together to make one of the most intriguing game-worlds I've visited in some time. Reaching the garden and entering the blue rooms for the first time are both "wow" moments when I realised that the game is much bigger than I'd expected.
Wow! Thanks! It's very rewarding to hear it!
And I'm glad you got this feel, since this opening feel is what we wanted to convey with the hubs (we consider the central garden as a hub and the blue place has one too).
I'm really looking forward to seeing how the story ends. Unfortunately I've hit a show-stopping bug that means the game freezes whenever I try to solve one of the "dial rotation" puzzles. (I can send you the MySavedGame file if that's any help in debugging.) I'll play the game again from the start, but it probably makes sense for me to wait until there's a new version to test.
Sorry about that... We have just designed and worked over the first dial puzzle.
The only reason I haven't posted a new build is that in order to complete the alchemic puzzle (another mini-game beside the dial rotation one) we end up with things messed on the way, so I can't make an stable build (and when we have all the puzzles built I'll make a separate build to test them apart from the rest of the game).
- At the risk of sounding xenophobic, I don't think "Qasir al-Wasat" is a good title for a game. I don't know what it means, I don't know how to pronounce it, if someone asks me if I've played any good games recently I can't give a sensible answer, and most importantly it doesn't give me any sense of what the gameplay is going to be like. On the other hand I do like "A Night in-Between" as a title. It immediately makes me think "atmospheric indie adventure game". I'm not suggesting changing the game's title, but it may be worth making the English part more prominent in any marketing material.
It's ok. We're aware of that.
And this is the reason we came up with "A Night in-Between" (also because it carries poetically some concepts of the game).
From now on we'll try to emphasize more on this title over "Qasir al-Wasat" and hope for the best.
- I think I spotted a few typos in the game's text. Nothing major, just things like "its" instead of "it's" during the intro text, but I'm afraid I wasn't taking notes. (If there's a file with all the game text in, I can give it a proper look through if you're short of proof-readers.)
I told our content designer about this issue.
Also I talked to her about your offer and she said she could send you the source txts on approximately two weeks (that's how long she said it would take to have the most of all texts written).
- I was going to say that the game really needs a map, but reading this thread I discovered it already has one! Even knowing that I had a lot of difficulty finding it (the "Esc" key does nothing for me, I have to use "Enter" instead, and even then I almost missed the map screen). At some point in the game, you really need to make the existence of the map clear to the player.
This was one of the interface problems we faced. Now we considered the "Esc" function only to cancel things (everything can be remapped by the user on the Unity launcher) and the pause is accessed by "Enter". Maybe we could add some text with the main character saying something about his mindmap (the concept behind all the in-game menus is that it's all a mindmap of the relevant things the character pays attention to). Also you'll be able to summon the map by pressing "M" and this will be a toggle funcion and you'll be able to walk with the map on.
- Cleaning powder/blood off your character is surprisingly difficult. If I hadn't read that you can wash it off I probably wouldn't have guessed. You have to walk through the water for a very long time to get clean -- I would've expected it to be almost instantaneous. It might also be worth letting the character get clean slowly just by walking around. If you get enough blood on your character it becomes very difficult to get through some rooms, which isn't much fun if there isn't a water pool nearby.
We had it very quick before, then I doubled the time it takes to clean one level.
I think I'll try to discover a midpoint where you don't get cleaned too fast nor too slow, so that it feels balanced (because water is noisy, so it has the drawback of attracting guards) and intuitive. Adding a real slow cleaning by walking on the water is also a possibility...
- I found the text boxes (speech bubbles) seemed to stay on the screen too long. They could probably disappear after a second if you start walking. A few times I found myself running away from guards with the text "A censer. It smells good" still on the screen.
You mean the main character's speech bubbles? If it's his, all of the main character's text has to be advanced by pressing space, and this is also the way of closing them. This way the player has control over the text of his avatar (this is also why you don't have control over the npc's text, except for the cutscenes).
- The examine hints ("..."/"?") seemed quite slow to appear and disappear. Sometimes I didn't know which object they referred to. Also, it might be better if you could only examine objects that are important to the game or the story. Being able to examine objects that are just scenery (censers, plants, pots) is distracting, especially when they just repeat the same text over and over.
That's a good point, we have to work on the fade times...
Considering things that have some variation (maybe there could be more) like the white vases, do you still think it's bad?
- It's not something I'm suggesting you should change at this stage, but having one button for "activate" and another button for "investigate" seems like one button too many. It took me a while to learn which button to press to open doors!
Perhaps changing the name of the "investigate" (Space) could help identifying its usage and making it more distinct from the "activate" (A) mechanic?
Also we'd like to have a screen in-game that shows the controls (we had it beforte, but since we've got the whole controls remappable we had to remove this screen since we still don't have the code to recognize the changes and display them).
- As I've said, I eventually got stuck because of a bug. After killing the first target, the game overall started to get very glitchy. I wasn't sure whether I was solving puzzles accidentally, discovering bugs, or simply playing part of the game that's not finished yet. I don't envy the amount of QA work you've got ahead of you...
The game after the first target is still into pieces and I'm afraid of it, considering that it would have to be tested thoroughly and the release deadline is getting closer...
- Logic puzzles. These are things that work as puzzles even when taken out of the context of the game, and they could even be traditional puzzles that are transplanted into the game. For example, the "dial rotation" puzzle, the block-pushing (Sokoban) puzzles in Zelda games, or something like completing a jigsaw or a Rubik's cube or moving Tetris-style pieces into place or following a convoluted maze. The "dial rotation" puzzle takes the player out of the game to some degree, but puzzles like block-pushing in Zelda are built around the central game mechanics.
We wanted add puzzles more connected to the central mechanics, and looong ago on the original design, we had a push/pull mechanic but we discarded it to simplify programming (we only have one programmer [and five designers]). But later we found some problems on gameplay related to the part more connected to investigation and stuff like this. So we came up with the idea of making puzzles that would help enhancing the investigation aspect of the game, and we thought about the dial rotating and the alchemic puzzle. Unfortunately they work on a mini-game basis and it would be nice to have something more connected to gameplay (even though I believe we can, and are working to achieve it, connect to it by other means like investigating stuff and having to bring items to assemble the puzzles). But... this is something to learn, since it's our very first game to achieve this point of development (also the first that's going to be commercialized), so we won't be able to avoid so many mistakes.
- Pattern puzzles. In these cases the player realises that something is un-symmetric or out-of-place, or that the appearance of the room is a clue to a puzzle that needs solving. For example, four torches in a room but only one of them is lit (so blow it out or light the other three); boxes that are almost arranged in a pattern (the last one needs pushing into place); coloured pictures on one wall and coloured switches on another (the switches need to match the colours of the pictures); a room that's almost perfectly symmetric except for a gap along one wall (a hidden door); a trail of footprints on the floor (follow them to avoid setting off a trap); numbers "3", "1" and "2" written next to three switches (hit the switches in that order).
Good! This gave me the idea of implementing a matching color puzzle on a Warp Zone (WA_3), or maybe in one of the blue rooms. Also, last week, our programmer came up with the idea of a "password switch puzzle" like the 3,1,2 you said. We could also work with that.
- Clues and riddles. These are puzzles you're unlikely to solve by accident, but someone's helpfully written down a clue nearby. For example, a note that reads "Run around the tree clockwise five times" (the only other things in the room are a tree and a locked door), or a sign "The emerald fire leads the way" (a flame keeps changing colour; the switch to open the door only works when the flame is green). Pictures can be clues instead of text (as can sounds).
We'll have a riddle for each puzzle that opens a passage to the blue rooms.
- Standing still. For example, you might have to stand motionless at a certain spot for five seconds to solve a puzzle; or you have to stand on the coloured tiles in the order shown by a coloured flame.
Actually there is a puzzle that's kinda of a standing still puzzle. We're working with the possibility of not killing anyone, so the civilian holding a key before the first target can open the locked door for you if you listen to the whole dialogue (he leaves and opens the door on the previous room). But I could use this idea combined with the color puzzle...
- Walking. For example, follow a special path marked on the floor; or maybe the floor tiles change colours as you walk on them and you need to colour them so they make a certain pattern.
This could be interesting, but I think we hardly would be able to implement...
- Sounds. For example, a hidden item that you can hear but not see; or a different sound to your footsteps that tells you you are walking along a secret path.
I, personally, would love to have sound related puzzles. But we're still having major mastering problems and other sound issues that I think a sound puzzle would be out of reach for us =/
- Censers. Different colours of smoke could provide clues to puzzles. Maybe you could hit the censers to change their colours, or to turn them on or off. Maybe the smoke from special censers could have an effect on the guards.
This is the color puzzle I thought about when I read all that you said! =)
It's quite bugged actually, but the last target is supposed to be very high on hash, and there is a censer with tons of smoke, only for the aesthetic feel, though...
- Pressure pads (tiles that act as switches when you stand on them). Maybe you need to activate two pressure pads simultaneously: you can stand on one, but you need to put an item on the other. Or maybe you need a guard to stand on one.
We've done a puzzle like this last friday =)
It's in the room that have two girls and a dude (all civilians) and a door that leads to a teleport pad to the blue rooms. You'll have to make four pressure pads activated altogether on each corner (actually there's one that's not on the corner, but it's "yours" to activate). Also if you want to kill them, the dead bodies still makes the pads pressed.
- Keys. The keys you pick up could be used for purposes other than unlocking doors. Maybe a puzzle requires a key to be placed at a certain point on the floor, or you could use a key to hold down a pressure pad (as above). (I'm assuming that keys are the only items you're able to carry around.)
Keys are the only items you carry that affect your visibility. We'll have some mini-objects that you carry via menu (like Zelda trading items) to make things available via (automatic) assemblage of the missing parts, and the alchemic puzzles will provide solutions that will open some doors.
And the idea of keys pressing the pads is nice! I still can't see where I could use it, but it's a good food for thought...
- Guards/other characters. A puzzle may require you to lead guards to certain places in the room (for example to stand on pressure pads, as above). Or perhaps you could be required to kill a guard so that his blood covers a certain tile on the floor (or so that his blood colours the water in a pool red).
This gave me the hint of changing a puzzle that involved sacrifice of a civilian to activate a teleporter... It first you were supposed to lead the civilian to a set of spikes (there were one at each corner) and manage to have the guard to step on the pressure pad on the center of the room (where the civilian starts). It was just not good, counter-intuitive and hard (on a bad way) to do. I'll try another approach, like just killing the victim over the teleporter (so it will start pouring red water on the teleporter) and have more guards on the room so it's risky to do the killing.
- Darts (that are shot out of holes in the wall). Maybe these could hit things other than you, such as guards or distant switches.
Having a dart to hit a switch could make a puzzle, right after the color one I'm planning to do, much more interesting! I'll see if we'd be able to do it!
- Powder sprays. What effect do these have on the guards? Can they come in different colours? Maybe for one puzzle you need to be completely covered in powder (or blood).
One of the blue rooms is an eternal prison, and you could free the trapped souls there by killing them and you do so by activating traps. One of them is a green poison gas. This one is more of an aesthetic sensation, but actually affects the next room there...
- Stealth mode. Am I right that at one point a secret path through some pressure pads only becomes visible when you're walking stealthily? Maybe other things (clues? a key?) should only become visible when in stealth mode.
Yeah, there are two rooms where you have a set of traps with some pads that do nothing and can be revealed by stealth mode.
I sure have to use it more often after the first target...
Again, thank you for all of it! =)