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October 25, 2014, 04:40:13 AM
TIGSource ForumsFeedbackPlaytestingTogether Alone beta 2
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zwets
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« on: November 17, 2012, 04:11:53 AM »



Hi all,

About a year ago my friend and I took part in the Ludum Dare Jam and won 2nd place with our HTML5 game Together Alone. Since then, we've worked on a sequel, improving the game in many ways. It's a puzzle game; the 'hook' is that you can control multiple characters in a single puzzle. It also has a funny story about a couple in a love/hate relationship.

We've just released our second beta version. It's already fairly polished and pretty close to how we see the final game, although there's still a ton of little things left to do. I thought now would be a good time to ask for some feedback from you guys.



Specifically, I'm wondering about the following:
  • Do the first few levels and tooltips do a good job of teaching you the game?
  • Is the difficulty progression okay?
  • Is there enough variety in the game elements?
  • Do you think the story adds to the game, or is it more of an annoyance to you?
  • Any comments about the look of the game?
  • Do you have any other comments or tips?

Please try out our beta version (Flash). Even if you don't reply, you'll help us out just by playing (we collect and analyze metrics). Thanks!

Jan Niestadt.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2012, 08:57:57 AM by zwets » Logged
yuji
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2012, 08:39:45 AM »

Just played through your beta and enjoyed it a lot.

To answer your questions:

Do the first few levels and tooltips do a good job of teaching you the game?

Yeah, I felt like I always understood the game mechanics in time to use them, with just one exception. When I got to level 29 I was like "great, a Sokoban level" and then I stared at it for 20 minutes thinking it was impossible until I realized that you could push two adjacent blocks at once (unlike in Sokoban). Having a situation in a earlier level where you push two blocks at once might help here.

Is the difficulty progression okay?

Mostly felt just right to me, though it was a bit slow to ramp up in the beginning and I did notice a jump in difficulty in the last few levels. Also, the levels with the black clouds seemed a lot easier than the others. (I assume they become more interesting in future chapters, but as far as chapter 1 goes they're functionally equivalent to blank squares, which you've already learned how to deal with using jumps. Maybe they don't need as gentle an introduction?)

Is there enough variety in the game elements?

Yeah: between multiple characters, jumps, non-disintegrating squares, and the pushable blocks I felt like there was plenty going on in the first 30 levels.

Do you think the story adds to the game, or is it more of an annoyance to you?

Discovering more of the story was a great motivator for me to continue with the game. Even if I enjoy a puzzle game's core gamelpay, I often lose motivation after a while if all I'm doing is completing puzzle after puzzle. And I found the story here to be a much more compelling reward than, say, the imaginary points you get as a reward in puzzle games that use RPG mechanics for motivation.

Any comments about the look of the game?

Love the aesthetic. One tangential quibble: the character walking animation is nice, but sometimes when I wanted to make a bunch of moves quickly it was annoying having to wait for the animation. Maybe the animation could be sped up a bit if the player tries to do a bunch of moves in rapid succession?

EDIT: forgot to mention one bug. Sometimes when I click Play Game, the level select screen is skipped and some level immediately gets loaded (this only happens when I click Play Game instead of pressing enter). Looks like the mouse click is also getting sent to the level select screen. (This is on Chrome 23 on OS X MoLo)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2012, 09:27:14 AM by yuji » Logged
zwets
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 12:19:57 PM »

Hey, thanks for the feedback!

Sorry about not introducing the two-block pushing mechanic earlier. I agree, the (intentional) similarity to Soko Ban makes that very confusing. I'll work that property of blocks into an earlier level.

Yeah, in later levels you can 'neutralize' the black clouds. Maybe I'll tweak these first few black cloud levels if everyone's breezing through them. :-)

Cool to hear you enjoyed the story!

As for the animation speed: I test the game a lot, so I know what you mean. The first version of the game actually played faster, but that makes the walking animation look a little unnatural. It's a bit of a balancing act. But maybe we'll speed it back up a little bit.

Thanks for spotting the bug with the mouse click registering twice, will fix that!
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zwets
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 05:24:41 AM »

All right, I did a quick update to address some of the bugs/flaws you mentioned:

  • Added a "fast walk" option (in Settings) to speed up the walking animation. Maybe we'll make this the default in the final game, not sure yet. By the way: I thought about your suggestion for temporarily speeding up the animation if you're doing a lot of rapid moves, but I'm afraid this will defeat your "muscle memory timing", making it more of an annoyance than an improvement.
  • Fixed the "mouse click registering twice" bug.
  • I introduced two-block-pushing in level 20. I'll probably go back and make a different puzzle though, that actually 'uses' this mechanic in the puzzle itself other than just introducing it. But hopefully this will prevent further frustration for other testers.
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yuji
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 09:58:26 AM »

All right, I did a quick update to address some of the bugs/flaws you mentioned:

  • Fixed the "mouse click registering twice" bug.
  • I introduced two-block-pushing in level 20. I'll probably go back and make a different puzzle though, that actually 'uses' this mechanic in the puzzle itself other than just introducing it. But hopefully this will prevent further frustration for other testers.

Awesome! Yeah, these are definitely fixed now; and what you're saying about 20 makes sense.

Quote
  • Added a "fast walk" option (in Settings) to speed up the walking animation. Maybe we'll make this the default in the final game, not sure yet. By the way: I thought about your suggestion for temporarily speeding up the animation if you're doing a lot of rapid moves, but I'm afraid this will defeat your "muscle memory timing", making it more of an annoyance than an improvement.

Even with fast walk on, the movement was feeling a bit weird to me, and I'm still not 100% sure what it is, but a couple thoughts:

  • The game is stuttering a bit when the walking animation happens—I suspect it's because the tile-crumbling animation is pretty resource-intensive? I don't have a super-fast machine but it's pretty recent (Mid-2011 MacBook Air). I think this is affecting my confidence in the game when I try to do a long sequence of moves in succession.
  • I loaded up some NES ROMs to try and remember what discrete grid movement that doesn't weird me out feels like, and I realized what the big difference was: a lot games basically just only buffer one keypress's worth of input, so that if you tapped a direction 4 times quickly, you'd only end up moving 2 squares. That method has the advantage of letting people hold down keys to do movement. It also feels more like you're directly controlling a character, rather than sending it a bunch of commands to be batch-executed. Having said that, I do think having a bigger buffer might make more sense in this kind of puzzle game since you actually do want to execute a very specific set of moves. I've just personally never played a game that handled input that way and had animation, that also didn't feel a bit weird to me to control. That might be just me though.

Oh, a couple other minor things I noticed:

  • When I go to the page, the game "window" is always wider than my browser window (unless my browser is more than about 1250px wide). As soon as I resize my browser window even a bit though, the game window resizes itself to fit.
  • Sometimes when I alt-tab out of the browser or switch to another tab and come back, the game stops accepting keyboard input and I have to restart (I don't remember if going back to the menu is good enough or if I have to reload the page entirely).
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zwets
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2012, 06:14:11 AM »

Hi Yuji,

Hmm, if the animation isn't always smooth, I can see how that would mess with accuracy of movement. I'll go back and see what I can do to optimize it some more. The game really isn't that complex graphically, so it should be able to run smoothly on your machine.

As for buffering keystrokes: I'm not completely sure what you're saying here. The game buffers one keystroke, so you can press and release the up key while you're still moving to the right and the character will correctly turn the corner. Are you saying it would feel more natural to you if we buffered more keystrokes, so 1 keystroke always equals 1 step? Maybe I'll see how hard that would be to implement. The code is getting a bit unwieldy... :-)

The game should always resize to fit your browser window. Maybe I've done something non-standard that makes that trick not work on Safari when the page loads; I'll see if I can fix that.

As for the Flash focus issues, we're aware of those. I think there's a JS library out there that solves this problem, so I'll try integrating that into the page.

Thanks again for your help!
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yuji
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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2012, 11:29:34 AM »

As for buffering keystrokes: I'm not completely sure what you're saying here. The game buffers one keystroke, so you can press and release the up key while you're still moving to the right and the character will correctly turn the corner. Are you saying it would feel more natural to you if we buffered more keystrokes, so 1 keystroke always equals 1 step? Maybe I'll see how hard that would be to implement. The code is getting a bit unwieldy... :-)

Ah you're right, ignore what I said. I was under the impression that you were buffering more than one keystroke. While I do think there are some advantages to buffering multiple keys, I think buffering just one is better overall, and I think movement will feel very natural this way once the stuttering gets fixed.

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The game should always resize to fit your browser window. Maybe I've done something non-standard that makes that trick not work on Safari when the page loads; I'll see if I can fix that.

It was actually on Chrome that I was having the game size on startup issue, but I tried Safari and it's happening there too.

Quote
Thanks again for your help!

My pleasure! I hope this stuff isn't distracting you too much from making levels because I want to play MOAR LEVELS
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