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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperPlaytestingCountry Connect! (1.11, open source)
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Author Topic: Country Connect! (1.11, open source)  (Read 6413 times)
Jordan
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« on: April 05, 2010, 01:44:10 am »

Country Connect!
A Game of World Travel


Update 7/15/2010:
Country Connect was selected by Intel as the best educational app for the Atom Developer Challenge! Thanks to everybody who helped me improve it!


Country Connect! is sort of my attempt to marry some of the casual-style gameplay of games like Bejeweled with a more... I don't know... "educational", "interesting," "thoughtful," theme -- i.e. geography / world travel.

Basically, the idea is to swap cards to make a connecting journey through whatever continent you've selected (Africa, Europe, Asia, USA), with different game modes for variety.









I'd love any feedback you'd be kind enough to provide, including but not limited to the questions below. One thing to note is that the game is being developed specifically with netbooks in mind -- in other words, the resolution of 1024x600 is fixed.

Specific questions for feedback:

  • Is the in-game help adequate?
  • Is the game too overwhelming when dealing with continents you're not familiar with?
  • Would the game benefit from dividing the continents into subcontinents, and using an unlocking system, so that you don't have to deal with too many countries you don't know?
  • Do the "time challenge" and "plan ahead" modes make sense, and do they seem to "work" in terms of difficulty, etc? Do they need adjustment?
  • How high of a priority should a soundtrack, and basic sound effects be?
  • Would you be interested in a global high score table? (in addition to local high scores)


Game's Home Page:
http://www.necessarygames.com/my-games/country-connect-windows-free-download-game

Download Latest Build (1.11 - Windows exe):
SetupCountryConnect.exe


Changes in 1.10:
  • Improved performance on slower computers (i.e. netbooks)
  • Improved help
  • Added options screen with various options
  • Added basic sounds, and intro music
  • Fixed game crashing on 16-bit color displays


Thank you very much for taking the time!

« Last Edit: June 18, 2010, 11:02:43 pm by Jordan » Logged

Toeofdoom
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2010, 06:18:35 am »

It took me a while to catch on to various things like the way planes worked (connecting 2 countries of the same colour as the plane). I'd say an introduction level would be a good thing.

Personally I found the continents thing okay... just start by choosing the one you think you know best.

A soundtrack would be great if you can get it right, especially with music corresponding to location... on the other hand that is a fair bit of work if you want something that won't get too repetitive. Sound effects telling you when you made a path wouldn't be a bad idea.

I haven't played enough yet to really answer other questions, but it seems like an interesting and entertaining game once you get the hang of it.

And on a slightly odd note, it may be difficult for some colour blind people to tell the difference between linked (green) cards and disabled (grey) cards. In fact, you're relying on colour for a few things...
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Jordan
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2010, 03:38:17 pm »

Thanks a lot for the feedback Toeofdoom. You make a good point about the color blind... something I have in fact thought about: I am in the process of making the colors user-definable, which should hopefully "solve" that issue.

I'd love any further thoughts, if you keep playing the game.
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starsrift
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2010, 04:11:28 pm »

   * Is the in-game help adequate?

No. There are obviously rules governing which countries can connect to which ones, but these aren't immediately apparent. This results in just a game of "find the random number" which isn't really all that interesting, IMHO, instead of a more graphical sudoku-type puzzle - which would be pretty cool. You do have the country cards colored...?

   * Is the game too overwhelming when dealing with continents you're not familiar with?

Nope.

   * Would the game benefit from dividing the continents into subcontinents, and using an unlocking system, so that you don't have to deal with too many countries you don't know?

This would result in more game regions? Cool, yes. Go for it. :D

   * Do the "time challenge" and "plan ahead" modes make sense, and do they seem to "work" in terms of difficulty, etc? Do they need adjustment?

They both suffer in relation to the first answer I gave above.

   * How high of a priority should a soundtrack, and basic sound effects be?

That's the first thing I noticed, I was kind of expecting some kind of sound when I was mousing over the menu options. Smiley A soundscape does a lot for a game, though I don't know how you're going to pull off a soundtrack unless you get one for each region?

   * Would you be interested in a global high score table? (in addition to local high scores)
I wouldn't, but they are popular.

Final notes: I typically have my desktop in 16-bit mode, rather than 32, which results in an error. The average user isn't gonna head over to the logfile and note the errors - if you aren't going to support 16bit color displays, I recommend at least putting in an error message for the user to read. Smiley

I like your concept. It's simple and effective and, if you address the first point, could be quite fun!
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Toeofdoom
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2010, 10:31:19 pm »

I've thought about it a bit and one thing that would work very well is if you "lit up" all the countries a card could connect to, as well as the cards location. For example the red plane "lights up" all the red countries, but the same could go for regular countries or oceans.

Superstar mode doesn't entirely make it clear that you don't have to match all of them, I didn't really inspect the "connections" bar closely. There is also room for another difficulty level above it, where you have to connect all 36 cards Tongue

I am also disappointed about the lack of my own country's presence (Australia), I was probably best at the east Asia and Europe areas thanks to local knowledge and the Total War series respectively.

I'm not entirely sure how long it will remain interesting, though... the game modes add some variety to how you play, but not what you actually do. Any ideas for other mechanics?
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Jordan
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2010, 08:43:20 pm »

Thanks very much for the thoughtful feedback!

@starsrift:
Quote
No. There are obviously rules governing which countries can connect to which ones, but these aren't immediately apparent. This results in just a game of "find the random number" which isn't really all that interesting, IMHO, instead of a more graphical sudoku-type puzzle - which would be pretty cool. You do have the country cards colored...?
Sorry, I'm not 100% sure what you mean here... countries can connect to countries they are adjacent to, oceans they are adjacent to, and airplanes of the same color... is that what you are saying is not immediately apparent?

Quote
I typically have my desktop in 16-bit mode, rather than 32, which results in an error. The average user isn't gonna head over to the logfile and note the errors - if you aren't going to support 16bit color displays, I recommend at least putting in an error message for the user to read.
Thanks for pointing out that limitation... I had no idea. I absolutely intend to support 16-bit displays.

@Toeofdoom:
Quote
I've thought about it a bit and one thing that would work very well is if you "lit up" all the countries a card could connect to, as well as the cards location. For example the red plane "lights up" all the red countries, but the same could go for regular countries or oceans.
I like this idea a lot! When you say "light up countries that a card can connect to", are you referring to lighting them up on the map, or lighting the cards up on the board?

Quote
Superstar mode doesn't entirely make it clear that you don't have to match all of them, I didn't really inspect the "connections" bar closely. There is also room for another difficulty level above it, where you have to connect all 36 cards
Good point. How serious are you about connecting all 36 cards? Smiley

Quote
I am also disappointed about the lack of my own country's presence (Australia), I was probably best at the east Asia and Europe areas thanks to local knowledge and the Total War series respectively.
Very sorry about that  Cry. I definitely want to get everybody's countries in... it's just tricky when trying to fit everything on a tiny map. I'm planning on implementing sub-continents, and will definitely make Australia a priority there!

Quote
I'm not entirely sure how long it will remain interesting, though... the game modes add some variety to how you play, but not what you actually do. Any ideas for other mechanics?
Good point. Please let me know how long you personally find it remains interesting, or if you have any ideas for expanding the mechanics Smiley.


I'll be working on getting a new build up soon, in response to this feedback.

Thanks again!

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starsrift
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2010, 10:25:28 pm »

IMHO, light them up on the map, not on the board! Too easy to ignore the map atm.
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Jordan
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2010, 12:50:09 am »

Thanks for the input Starsrift (and others). Just wanted to let you know that I'm working on the game, and will try to get a new build up as soon as possible. The feedback is extremely helpful Smiley.

Starsrift, would you mind replying to my previous inquiry?
Quote
Quote
There are obviously rules governing which countries can connect to which ones, but these aren't immediately apparent. This results in just a game of "find the random number" which isn't really all that interesting, IMHO, instead of a more graphical sudoku-type puzzle - which would be pretty cool. You do have the country cards colored...?
Sorry, I'm not 100% sure what you mean here... countries can connect to countries they are adjacent to, oceans they are adjacent to, and airplanes of the same color... is that what you are saying is not immediately apparent?
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starsrift
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2010, 06:28:23 pm »

Thanks for the input Starsrift (and others). Just wanted to let you know that I'm working on the game, and will try to get a new build up as soon as possible. The feedback is extremely helpful Smiley.

Starsrift, would you mind replying to my previous inquiry?

Ahhh, sorry. Yeah, you bet. No, it's not immediately apparent, especially when some of the countries/states are really tiny and you're in the time challenge mode. Smiley
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"Vigorous writing is concise." - William Strunk, Jr.
As is coding.

I take life with a grain of salt.
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Jordan
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2010, 10:52:09 pm »

Just wanted to post an update to say that I've released version 1.10 of Country Connect, which features a number of improvements based on the helpful feedback I received here, including:

  • Improved performance on slower computers (i.e. netbooks)
  • Improved help
  • Added options screen with various options
  • Added basic sounds, and intro music
  • Fixed game crashing on 16-bit color displays


Also, I just recently found out that the game was selected by Intel as the "best educational app" for their Atom Developer Challenge! Thanks so much to everyone who supplied feedback and helped me improve it!
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Hat Galleon
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2010, 07:34:35 pm »

If I may be so bold, might I suggest a whole-world mode? Small sub-sections is fine, but a larger area would be enjoyable. It could be implemented in any way that you'd like, but I think it would give a greater sense of context and thus be a better learning tool.
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Jordan
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2010, 04:49:22 pm »

Great idea Empyreal. I've really got a lot of things I'd like to do with the game yet (this was just the first implementation, and rushed); unfortunately I'm pretty plastered with work at the moment, so I'm not sure when I'll get around to improving this Sad
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sc_q_jayce
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2010, 08:56:15 pm »

Just thought that I'd let you know that I get a bug whenever I complete a board.

The game crashes to desktop with the following error whenever I complete a board for any difficulty:



Just to let you know, I was using a Toshiba NB205-N325BL.

Otherwise, it really is a fun game!  More thoughts later.
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Jordan
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2010, 10:55:28 pm »

Thanks a lot for reporting the bug. I just recently discovered that actually: it was a problem with Windows 7 and increased security/permissions issues (versus XP).

I've fixed the issue and uploaded a new build, which you can get at the same download link.

Cheers!
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sc_q_jayce
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2010, 09:25:28 pm »

I've been playing the game on and off with the new version (crash-free!) and I think I've discovered something that really takes away from the fun of the game.

I've finally beaten superstar mode several times and I really want to be able to look at the accomplishment I've done.  Once I completed it without really realizing I did but before I had a chance to think about it, the board had already been reset.  Another time, I completed the board and wanted to be able to trace how everything travels, but the lack of time made it frustrating, as if I could not enjoy the work I had put into it.  I definitely think that we should be prompted to click or something to advance to the next board.

That's my thought for the day.
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Jordan
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2010, 08:15:26 pm »

Thanks a lot for the feedback SC: I really appreciate it. And I think you've got a very good point there. I'll look to remedy this in my next build of the game.

If you have any further thoughts, keep them coming!
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