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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsSeeking genius design suggestions
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Bennett
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« on: February 20, 2008, 06:35:40 PM »

Hello everyone,

I've been stalled on this prototype for a while. I think there's a spark of fun here, but maybe I'm wrong because I can't get the spark to catch fire. I'm hoping someone can tell me how I can change the rules, control, or AI, so that it will be better.



It's a basic prototype - it doesn't have a hi-score table, instructions, or even an ending. It only has 6 levels. It has a few glaring bugs. It would look nicer with some extra animations. But I don't want to do that unless I can increase the addictiveness first.

My only design goals are: simplicity and addiction. I want the rules to be as simple as possible, but I want the game to be a challenging, strategic score-attack.

Try it out here
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Melly
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2008, 08:08:03 PM »

I find it a simple, but pretty fun little divertion so far. It's notably cool that you don't have to wait for the enemies' death animations to end to continue with your moves. If you're fast enough it can really look like you're cutting them all down faster than the eye can see.

As you said the mechanics are simple, and I like that. The game as a whole is on the easy side, though. Even if there are as many enemies on the board as you can place without making the level impossible I feel it wouldn't take much skill to beat it.

If you really don't want to add more gameplay elements, maybe you could play more with what's there. I like how the bodies of the enemies are actual barriers. Anotehr thing you could play with is enemy movement patterns. Create levels in which enemies move in more specific patterns so the players treat them like complex puzzles that need sorting out. Create ways in which the bodies HAVE to be exploited unless you wanna be ganged up.

I'll post more if I think about anything else.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 08:09:42 PM by Melly » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2008, 08:27:33 PM »

Cool!
Moveable tiles need to stand out a little more.
Enemies should be able to move around corpses, IMO.

Also, you could have more enemies, though I'm not sure how you would denote squares they can attack. Say, a spear man who can attack 2 spaces forward, or an archer (in the really late levels) who you have to jump someone to get through their attack radius.
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real art looks like the mona lisa or a halo poster and is about being old or having your wife die and sometimes the level goes in reverse
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2008, 08:36:20 PM »

I think the general premise behind the game doesn't make for a great puzzle game. Call me stupid but after figuring out how to play the game, I just randomly clicked around and got to the last level and died somewhere in there and I have little motivation to go back. Obviously strategy can be used but i think you can more or less get away with just randomly clicking which is a big no no for a game like this. At the same time, I think actually using strategy on this specific gameplay mechanic may require too much "thinking in advance" to be plausible to ask the player to do unless he or she is some super chess genius or something. It's really the combination of these two facts that kinda make me not think when I play this game. I admit I didn't play the game much and those are very premature impressions but I think you'll find most of your audience will share the same sentiments as me as they wont have any more reason to dig deeply into the game than I do.

On a lighter note. I love the graphics. Just one suggestion, you should center the game though and finish drawing the edges of the wall and stuff so the game looks like it's kinda "floating" in the middle of the screen with no well defined edges that is unless you plan on this game being delivered on something other than a flat color blank background like it is right now. Anyways, you're very talented with the 2d black and white art. It looks gorgeous and feel very genuinely retro. The graphics pair up nicely with the kinda "what the hell do I do" type atmosphere in the beginning of the game. Graphically, I think the game is near perfect.

I would really suggest some total overhaul in the mechanics. Right now the game feels kinda like throwing darts blindfolded. Whilst it can take skill to hit the bullseye, it's probably easier just to throw randomly and sooner or later something will hit.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 08:40:54 PM by chippermonky » Logged
Xion
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2008, 08:45:32 PM »

Agreed on the point of moveable-to tiles. They could do with some more standin' out.
I like the simplicity of the enemies, though. It's sort of like checkers or something where the difficulty doesn't change as a result of enemies getting another square to attack, but due to your own ability to foresee and predict your opponent. The enemies could use with a little smartening though. I mean, they can't even move 'round a fallen comrade? Sometimes they just stand still for no reason. Especially when I just walk straight at them. Actually, any time I'm on line with them and they're just staring straight at me but with a dead guy near them.
If you want some sort of element to add as the game goes on, I'd say let it be to the environment, not to the enemies. Have some tiles which are holes or tiles which are walls. Some training dummies which act as enemies except for the causing game over part (you can attack them once [multiple times?]). Maybe even have some traps which you can lure enemies into, or be lured into. That sort of thing.
What is the game over image?

My highest score so far is 32.
Actually, I've only beat it once.
Oh wait, I didn't notice your score doesn't reset when you beat it.
'kay, beat it a second time through to 56, but it didn't reset.

Wait a minute! I'm giving you feedback, aren't I. You're looking for art and design, aren't you. Sorry for the feedback, then.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 08:53:29 PM by Xion » Logged

Bennett
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2008, 09:09:46 PM »

No - thanks for the feedback! I am taking this all on board. But yes, I also would love some ideas on how I can change the rules - the underlying design. I'm really not locked into the basic foundation at this point.

Having said that, I'm reluctant to add more enemy types since this would mean that the game is requiring some explanation, and as some indie developer somewhere recently said (I forget who), 'If you're explaining, you're losing'. I could imagine adding boulders on the ground in some levels, since it's immediately obvious what they are for.

More importantly, I'm a little reluctant to add AI which would tell an enemy how to move around a corpse. I'd like them to move by understandable and predictable rules, so the player can plan ahead.

Ideally, the player isn't forced to plan ahead to clear the early levels, and can just enjoy quickly clicking the mouse. But to get a higher combo, and to survive later levels, you need to think two or three steps ahead.

Maybe the combo multiplier should gradually decrease the longer you wait, so there's time pressure?

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Melly
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2008, 09:13:38 PM »

Quote
Wait a minute! I'm giving you feedback, aren't I. You're looking for art and design, aren't you. Sorry for the feedback, then.

That's kinda mean.  Tongue

But yeah, maybe you should have posted this on Feedback. A topic motion might be in order.

I agree with an improvement on enemy AI (while possibly keeping them predictable and non-random) and on both obstacle tiles and other elements you can slash through in order to reach farther, like the aforementioned training dummies.

Quote
Maybe the combo multiplier should gradually decrease the longer you wait, so there's time pressure?

I don't really like that idea, unless you add it as a separate game mode. Since this is a purely turn-based game, I think you should limit your design to what happens in each turn and not outside them. Some people like to actually think ahead when playing games like these.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 09:15:32 PM by Melly » Logged

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Bennett
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2008, 09:22:26 PM »

Yeah, I wasn't sure where it should go. I thought it might seem like I was presenting a finished design if I put it in feedback, when this is just a prototype. I don't mind if it gets moved, though.

I can certainly try to implement rocks and maybe training dummies (if it turns out I can draw a good dummy)

Do people think it feels fun to zip past your enemies and invisi-slash them?

Initially I had it so that the enemies would advance on you all the time. But that required too much planning ahead to be able to win. Now if you run away from them, they give you some breathing space. This lets you bumble through the first few levels, but maybe it's too easy.

I don't know... I'm still not convinced I shouldn't take the graphics and start again with a 'Fairlight' or 'Last Ninja' type design.
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Xion
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2008, 10:07:02 PM »

Do people think it feels fun to zip past your enemies and invisi-slash them?
Hell yeah.
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2008, 08:02:34 PM »

I thought it was fun, too, once I figured out what I was doing.

Quote
Initially I had it so that the enemies would advance on you all the time.

I think something to make it a little more frantic would be good. I kind of did that myself (pretended) and it was fun. You could make it based a little more on speed and a little less on planning... That will obviously mess up the strategy a little, but I, personally, would have more fun with it that way.

But I don't know that it's necessary. It's a lot cooler than I had expected it to be as-is.

EDIT: let me rephrase that a bit.

The quick combos, I had the most fun when I did those intentionally. I didn't check, but I assume the "combo" thing it said had something to do with that. I'd suggest making it where doing that is the goal of the game.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 10:42:54 PM by StephenAnthony » Logged

Bennett
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« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2008, 08:36:20 AM »

The quick combos, I had the most fun when I did those intentionally. I didn't check, but I assume the "combo" thing it said had something to do with that. I'd suggest making it where doing that is the goal of the game.

Ok thanks. I think what I'll try is making it an 'active turn based' system where the enemies advance every two seconds or something. I think it would be cool if they deliberately moved into positions which were vulnerable to 5-hit combos.

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Bennett
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« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2008, 07:05:21 PM »

I changed it to an active turn battle system, and it's more frantic now, but I'm not sure if it's more or less fun. If only I had a fungineering degree.
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« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2008, 08:05:24 PM »

I'm not sure either. It's certainly different - more action, less strategy* -, and I think it's also easier, but I don't know if it's better.

The mouse control feels pretty bad in real time, though. Maybe you should add a keyboard-based alternative.

Either way, very nice game Wink

* ...obviously.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2008, 07:16:49 AM by Akhel » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2008, 07:53:06 AM »

Definitely add a keyboard move function. Double tab is slash kill. (Optional: pause the action for the time frame in which I can input the second tap.)
Somehow (maybe a bug, maybe not) I played the game with enemies moving in real time, and it wasn't any fun at all. At least with the mouse alone, could be a different ball game with keyboard movement.

Let me plan my course: As fun as it feels to slash one enemy at a time, strategy becomes relevant when I can think some moves ahead. Let me plan a route across the board with the mouse. Then I also have to take into account the enemies' movement while I'm walking, and consider what the enemies' movements will be based on my position 5 moves from now. Hardcore stuff. (Pause the action and allow me to plan ahead only for a couple of seconds or so)

As for your game losing it's strategy identity, don't fret. Chess masters prevail in blitz chess because of non conscious pattern employment. If you allow for complex patterns in your design, people will find them and use them, even in a close to real time environment. And it's much more interesting to play close to real time when still learning the basics of strategy.
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Bennett
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2008, 09:25:44 AM »

Thanks for these ideas!

How about if you can move any number of squares at once in a straight line (like a castle in chess)... if your move passes by an enemy square, he gets slashed, and you are rewarded by being able to move again, like in snooker. If you move without slashing an enemy, they get to move. The goal is to try and clear the board in one go.

That would allow planning, and it may maximise the entertainment factor which comes from slashing multiple enemies. I'll try to implement it and see how it feels.
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2008, 11:06:36 PM »

Once i figured out what to do it was reasonably enjoyable, but the real time combat with mouse movement isnt very fluid.

What would be cool is to have moving environmental obstacles like those horizontal sliding spike things from zelda or have turrets that shoot projectiles that fly across the board. Alternately you could have archers or gun ninjas on the outskrts of the scene, off the playing board going up and down the x and y axis shooting arrows and bullets at you, which you can dodge by hiding behind ninjas or boulders or whatever.

As it is at the moment you have way too much space to move in. I think the fun could be maximized if your in much tighter situations.

I do like the concept though and i think you could do more with it.
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