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November 22, 2014, 04:58:27 PM
TIGSource ForumsFeedbackPlaytestingHack'n'Slash Platformer Playable Prototype - Feedback Wanted
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Author Topic: Hack'n'Slash Platformer Playable Prototype - Feedback Wanted  (Read 2368 times)
speng31b
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« on: April 30, 2013, 05:54:42 AM »

Hi everyone,

I've been working on a prototype for an as-of-yet untitled hack-and-slash platformer. Although my background is in programming, I've been using GameMaker for its quick iteration ability.

So far, I've only got a few example levels put together. I've been focusing on getting really solid core combat mechanics, which consist primarily of attacking, dodging, and blocking enemy attacks. I'm looking for some feedback on the core mechanics -- movement, attacks, etc., but really any feedback or ideas are appreciated, harsh commentary included, and even welcomed. I'm trying to decide where to move next with this prototype and really take it to the next step, pushing forward the parts that work and moving past the ones that don't.

Keep in mind this is a very early stage prototype, not a full playable game -- meant to be more of a solid, working demo of core combat mechanics and general ideas. I certainly have ideas about how I want to further develop this game, but I'd prefer not to mention those here because I'm afraid they might "pollute" responses I get. I want fresh commentary since I've been tunnel visioning this thing for long enough to start losing perspective! So with that said, here are some visuals, an older video (apologize for poor quality), and a download link to the current playable build:

High res versions of some assets: (Click for big version)


The player reflecting a fireball back at a ranged enemy with a well-timed attack: (Click for big version)


Funny gif of testing out moving blocks:


Video link:
Latest with updated AI (YouTube, do 1080p or it looks awful)

Download link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/b4y140c6cmmricw/Casey-HackJumpSlash-Final.exe (Windows only, standalone executable)

Controls:
  • WAD to move and jump
  • ENTER to attack
  • E to block
  • F to toggle fullscreen
  • ESC to pause
  • F5 to restart from main menu

Other things to keep in mind:
  • Starts up straight into playable game, no "menu"
  • Jump on enemy heads to stun them briefly and get a free attack
  • Blocking an enemy attack with 'E' with precise timing will also stun an enemy
  • Longpress jump for a full jump, tap to hop
  • Projectiles from ranged enemies can either be simply blocked with 'E' or reflected back with a well-timed attack
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 06:45:14 AM by speng31b » Logged
Darren_D_Daley
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2013, 06:13:33 AM »

First things first the art is pretty decent and the parralax scrolling is quite cool. It sets the tone of the game pretty well. 

But mother of god man why did you map the attack button to  enter and the e to enter levels  Shocked ? It makes no sense in context of control standards most games map actions to z and x and up to to enter places.

The second thing is that the attacks don't have enough feedback to the player it makes the entire thing feels flaccid and boring. You need to add more sounds, and character reactions to being hit.

Finally your game lacks the nuance a good game of the genre needs, specifically the player and the enemy can just hit each other with no consequence  so it makes the action feel boring as hell.

I would suggest going through some more action heavy games from the earlier periods like the original Castlevania on the NES or better yet Ninja Gaiden.
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speng31b
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2013, 06:22:41 AM »

I made enter attack out of convenience for being able to move/jump with WAD while attacking at the same time with the other side of the keyboard. You don't want to have to take your fingers off WAD and move down to ZX all the time. A lot of my personal experience comes from FPS engines where "E" is the standard "use" key, and it also happens to be easy to reach while WASD'ing, which is why it doubles as block.

Eventually of course I will implement control binding so the player can bind anything they want to any key. For now, leftclick also doubles as attack and the arrow keys work for movement, spacebar for jump just to give a little variety.

I've gotten the suggestion about more hit reactions before. Sound is definitely in the works, and I have considered adding a built-in "knockback" to attacks to provide more feedback. Is that the sort of thing you had in mind? I could also have more feedback in the form of facial animations, etc., but I'd prefer to put time into mechanical feedback rather than art polish since I am not an artist and consider most of what I have now placeholder-ish.

Thanks again for the feedback, it's really helpful! Smiley
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 06:36:49 AM by speng31b » Logged
Darren_D_Daley
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2013, 09:01:30 AM »

Ok the control binding will help out the control issue. Just for  future reference though the standard for 2D platformers control schemes are the X/Z buttons along with the directional keys, which is because you don't have to account for the distance between the mouse from directions like a FPS, but you still want a decent distance between the action buttons and movement.

Yeah a knock back animation for the enemies would help a great deal in terms of reaction, but think about adding affects to the weapons themselves. A really good example of this is Megaman Zero and the Bleach fighting games.

If you look at the some of the stronger attacks from the Ichigo spritesheet you'll notice that it has a flowing affect behind it to give the attacks more weight.
http://spritedatabase.net/file/604

But all of that stuff is minor in comparison to the problem I pointed out before.
 
Finally your game lacks the nuance a good game of the genre needs, specifically the player and the enemy can just hit each other with no consequence  so it makes the action feel boring as hell.

So in your game when an enemy gets hit or the player gets hit neither of them are actually stop which makes the game devolve down to a rush in tactic for both the player and the enemy which in turn kills the tension.
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speng31b
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2013, 09:16:59 AM »

So in your game when an enemy gets hit or the player gets hit neither of them are actually stop which makes the game devolve down to a rush in tactic for both the player and the enemy which in turn kills the tension.

Thanks, I wasn't quite getting you before, this explains it better. Yeah, currently I handle this by keeping attack animations slow enough that unless you are literally pressed up against an enemy, if you see an attack animation start you have time to dodge by either backing up, jumping out of the way, or blocking. It's not really a "rushdown" since the basic strategy is dodge-attack-dodge-attack and the player isn't intended to just stand in front of the enemy's face trading blows, they would ideally be blocking or dodging in some manner during enemy attacks.

I had considered causing attacks to be interrupted when you take damage, but then it really does devolve into a rushdown since the best strategy is to simply get the first hit then continue to hit the enemy repeatedly so they never get off a full attack without being interrupted. Does that make any sense?

Essentially, if you dodge or block an enemy attack this should give you enough time to counterattack safely. That's kind of the strategy I was going for. The video I posted in the original post kind of shows this.

I could certainly try adding attack interrupts and see how it feels, or do you just think the game needs to do a better job of explaining strategy?
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Darren_D_Daley
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2013, 09:44:00 AM »

Well if that is your strategy of game then yeah I would say you need to explain it better and incentivize it more as most players will just run right up to the player and attack. I would say give the game a playtest and see how it goes, you'll be surprised in what you pick up in those.
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speng31b
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2013, 10:02:55 AM »

Well if that is your strategy of game then yeah I would say you need to explain it better and incentivize it more as most players will just run right up to the player and attack. I would say give the game a playtest and see how it goes, you'll be surprised in what you pick up in those.

I completely agree. The fact that I have to explain it at all proves that it needs to be better-presented in the game; now I just have to think of a good way to do that. I'd prefer to explain the strategy of play without presenting a heavy-handed in-game tutorial and I'm just having trouble thinking of a good way to do that.

You're absolutely right that the first thing a new player does will be to just run up to an enemy and start attacking, that's basic stuff. I need to use that moment as a hook to teach the player how to play somehow.

Again, thanks for the feedback -- it really helps, posting it around forums is kind of my first attempt at playtesting. I'll probably try adding a knockback to attacks just to see how it feels and post a new build soon.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 10:10:25 AM by speng31b » Logged
speng31b
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2013, 11:23:05 AM »

Sorry for doublepost, but the executable in the original post now links to a new build. I added X and Z for attack and block respectively so you can play with directional keys and XZ, and also added a small knockback to all attacks to give a little bit more "feedback." Hopefully that feels a little bit better.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b4y140c6cmmricw/Casey-HackJumpSlash-Final.exe
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 11:29:52 AM by speng31b » Logged
dlan
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2013, 02:19:04 AM »

Really like the art, even if it's placeholder, the cartoony feeling is something to keep. The game play have some flaw, though. First, it take way too much time to make an attack, you could cut some animation frame to have a more responsive feeling, I understand you want a different gameplay from classical hack n slash where there it's not possible to block or dodge an attack, but it's just too slow for the moment, why not trying to emulate the feeling from fighting games ? it could give you a good result.

Also the smaller sword is almost useless because of the attack speed and the small attack radius, while it's not a problem with the spear. For example, you could make the attack speed depend of the weapon choice.

There is also a bug where the enemies AI don't move anymore when you're character is aligned with them on the y axis.

If you can make the attacks more reponsive, I think you could have a nice little game on your hand.
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speng31b
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2013, 05:22:36 AM »

Thanks for the continued feedback, it's really great -- I could try speeding up attacks, but you're right that I really don't want to lose the ability for players to block and dodge. Also, I want to keep attack speed dependent on weapons -- the longsword is intentionally very slow, for example.

And it's funny that you mention the short blade being useless, since in my own testing, knowing the game as well as I do, it actually seems to be the strongest weapon since you can attack more quickly and then get out of range. The video in the original post sort of demonstrates this. Either way, I plan on including a wide variety of weapons so that everyone will be able to choose one with the combination of speed/range that suits the way they want to play.

The AI thing is less of a bug and more of a limit of quickly prototyped AI -- enemy logic is very simple, and this is one of the things I am actively working to redo, it just takes some time since that's one of the more complex systems.

I'll try making all the weapons faster across the board and post a build later to see how it feels. Thanks!

---------------------

EDIT: New build with weapon attack speeds increased significantly across the board. Would be interested to know if this feels better: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b4y140c6cmmricw/Casey-HackJumpSlash-Final.exe (also updated in original post)
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 07:36:34 AM by speng31b » Logged
dlan
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2013, 12:31:00 PM »

I tried the last build after watching the gameplay video, this time abusing the jump on the opponents head to stun them (didn't use it much the first time Smiley), The short sword feel more responsive this time, but I noticed that it's easier to reflect fireball with the long sword. Because of the lengthy animation, even if you are at the beginning of the attack, you will reflect fireball nonetheless. perhaps it's intended ?

I start to grasp what kind of gameplay you want to have here, but as said earlier, you will have to convey it properly to players because it's quite different to what people are used to.
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speng31b
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2013, 12:46:53 PM »

Yes, I will definitely need some sort of integrated tutorial. I am thinking on how to accomplish this, I don't want to frustrate players the moment they try to play the way they naturally assume and things don't go as plannned Smiley

And yes, reflecting fireballs is indeed much easier with the longsword, and much harder with the spear! I may have a bit of polishing up to do with reflecting, it should only reflect during the downward arc of the attack, but currently any collision with the weapon during an attack seems to do the trick. But overall, it is intended that certain weapons will be easier to reflect with than others. It's part of the asymmetry that makes choosing a different weapon a more interesting choice than simply "more damage" vs "less damage", I hope. I would like weapons to feel and play differently.
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speng31b
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2013, 08:02:30 AM »

Made some updates with a new build, available for download here:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/b4y140c6cmmricw/Casey-HackJumpSlash-Final.exe

Summary of changes:
* Separated "outfit" graphic from base creature graphic, so now helmet/cloak/etc can be worn by any creature dynamically. Move right towards "instructions" arrow to choose an outfit (or cheat and use the wizard's staff for overpowered-ness)
* Added new graphics for a bunch of outfits
* Currently outfits/helmets are purely visual, but will have gameplay effects soon
* Added new weapons, axe and mace. Maces are super-effective against skeletons, but fairly slow. Axes are just really good all-around, maybe too good.
* Added facial animations for taking damage, blinking, getting stunned, etc.
* Attacks no longer slow your movement speed if you're in midair, which makes "leaping" attacks extremely powerful

Things coming soon:
* enemy AI overhaul
* more platforming elements (environmental hazards, moving blocks, and more)
* inventory & belt system for picking up usable items, swapping weapons and outfits, etc
* More interesting, procedural levels
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2013, 10:10:48 AM »

Just played the newest version and here is some feedback:

-Graphics look great, the style is consistent and it sets somewhat light tone for the game which isn't a bad thing, reminds me of Castle Crashers in that cute yet deadly way.

- Controls are smooth, but the combat seems a bit lacking so far. Perhaps some sort of dash, charge, or sprint could be added to be used in conjunction with combat as well. This could also help speed up movement around the levels as well as add more depth to combat.

-I found it a bit difficult to reflect attacks, but jumping on enemies seemed to work well to stun them. Its a bit hard to really time the combat with the small attack radius and limited feedback.

Good start so far and keep up the good work.  Smiley
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speng31b
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2013, 11:16:19 AM »

Thanks for the feedback!

I like the idea of adding a sprint or dash of some kind, I really want to incentivize jumping and midair movement too -- so I might integrate this sort of thing with enhanced "leap attacks," or maybe rebounding off walls/ceilings allows the player to move faster and deal more damage. I was also thinking of almost Mount&Blade/Chivalry sort of system where weapon damage scales with player momentum, so moving faster while attacking is very effective.

If you were trying to reflect attacks with the short sword or spear it's definitely a little difficult, especially more difficult since I sped up the attack speeds. With all the other weapons it's very easy, though, and I'm okay with some weapons being easier to reflect with than others. You still don't have to reflect, you can do a simple block which is an instant action and always avoids the damage. Trying to reflect should be a risk/reward tradeoff, since if you hit it's a bonus and if you miss you take damage.

I think the combat timing is something you warm up to as you familiarize yourself with the various weapons and their speeds. I've been trying to ramp up the feedback with facial animations, quicker attacks and knockback on hit. If you have more ideas about how combat might be more "feedbacky" I'd love to hear them, though -- this would be really helpful.

-----

Thanks again for the feedback everyone, this is really helpful. I don't really have any outlet for organized playtesting yet, so for any ideas or comments I get here, there's a good chance I'll have them implemented and ready to test out within a day or two. So if anyone wants to see their feedback made flesh, post it here and there's a pretty good chance it'll happen fast.
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2013, 08:16:12 PM »

I like the idea of adding a sprint or dash of some kind, I really want to incentivize jumping and midair movement too -- so I might integrate this sort of thing with enhanced "leap attacks," or maybe rebounding off walls/ceilings allows the player to move faster and deal more damage. I was also thinking of almost Mount&Blade/Chivalry sort of system where weapon damage scales with player momentum, so moving faster while attacking is very effective.

I think a short dash or sprint plus allowing the player to wall jump/rebound would be perfect and add lot of risk/reward for momentum if you can balance it right.

If you were trying to reflect attacks with the short sword or spear it's definitely a little difficult, especially more difficult since I sped up the attack speeds. With all the other weapons it's very easy, though, and I'm okay with some weapons being easier to reflect with than others.

Figures those were the weapons I actually tried using in my several playthroughs.  Cheesy
Will give it a go once you've gotten a new build with combat changes and try out some other combinations.
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speng31b
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« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2013, 09:23:58 PM »

I think I'm finished with the enemy AI overhaul for now. Enemies are... really, really deadly now. I've played this game more times than I can count and am really familiar with the controls, but I still have a really tough time with this latest build.

The better AI just makes the game a LOT more challenging. I'll probably have to tweak player HP or rate of health pickup drops to balance it out at some point, but at this point I'm just really proud of how the AI works. It does a lot of stuff like leap attacks, jump-dodges, etc., that make it a lot more interesting.

Here's the new build: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b4y140c6cmmricw/Casey-HackJumpSlash-Final.exe

And here's a video of it in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPqlZts7uzw (do 1080p if possible, otherwise it looks pretty crap)

And a bonus video of WIZARD MODE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWz6InMYV9M

Next I'll probably work on the dash/sprint system while it's fresh in my mind. But seriously, if anyone can beat this latest build with any weapon other than the wizard staff (which is technically "cheating") I'll be seriously impressed. It's tough.

edit: or maybe the mace wouldn't be too hard, that's pretty strong too.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 08:23:29 AM by speng31b » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2013, 10:16:46 PM »

Is it 64 bit only? I just tried to run it and it just tells me it's not a Win32 app.
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speng31b
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« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2013, 10:31:03 PM »

Yeah, unfortunately I think the standalone executables that GameMaker produces get locked to 64-bit. They're nice because I can just distribute one file and people don't have to do any extracting, but they do have a problem running on 32-bit Windows. Here's a link to a zipped version of the game:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ctlid6lhd2jy97z/HackJumpSlash-12.zip

Does this work on 32-bit? I haven't had a chance to try it out, but I think it should work around the problems with the standalone exe.

e: Looks like the zipped one will work on 32-bit Windows, but it runs kind of buggily. Something I'll have to look into later.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 10:42:31 AM by speng31b » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2013, 05:52:38 PM »

Just wanted to leave a quick reply on the game because every devs need feedbacks on their projects.  Beer!

-As of now, it feels as if the staff is the best weapon considering the combat mechanics. Is this intended?
-I think it isn't clear enough when the player is getting hit and when the enemy is being hit. It's quite confusing.
-I guess this could be a design choice, but I'm thinking with the current attack speed, player might not be able to handle more than one enemy at once. Maybe it's okay if you use the jumps often, but I think it will get harder as there are more enemies?
-This isn't related to combat at all, but I noticed that I can mostly outrun the enemies and reach the end of level. As in I can just not fight at all and finish the prototype. I do understand this is a prototype so I'm guessing you have plans for this.
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