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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackPlaytestingManufactoria: A Game About Putting Robots In Their Place
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Author Topic: Manufactoria: A Game About Putting Robots In Their Place  (Read 114386 times)
PleasingFungus
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« on: April 10, 2010, 06:51:27 pm »

We, INDUSTRIAL ROBOTICS, have contracted you, ROBOTICS ENGINEER, to help us with a problem.

You see...




Manufactoria is a puzzle game about putting robots in their proper place. Use conveyor-belts, 'pullers' and 'pushers' to build a machine that will work no matter what gets thrown at it!



(It's strongly inspired by the Zachtronics "Games for Engineers", especially Alchemy and KOHCTPYKTOP.)

Reviews:
 Jayisgames.com!
 Gamin.ru! (Russian)
 Tigsource!

Archived for posterity:
Requested Feedback:
 - Are things confusing? The UI, the goals/level descriptions?
 - How's the difficulty? Too hard, too easy, too uneven...?
 - Any suggested features?
 - Any bugs?
 - And, of course: is it fun?


 For up-to-the-minute development updates, my devlog is here; post questions / requests in this thread, or, if you don't have an account, send them to my formspring. Thanks for reading, and I hope you like the game!
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 01:37:47 pm by Cavalcadeofcats » Logged

Draknek
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2010, 03:30:23 am »

Although the intro text does tell you, in-game it wasn't clear whether I should be sending good robots to the exit or bad. I was kinda expecting two exits. Possibly the first level could do with more detailed onscreen instructions/icons to make these things clear.

The introduction could probably do with some music.

My first assumption was that the numbers next to the components were a count of how many times I could use that object, not a hotkey. Not sure how to clarify this though.

I didn't initially like the use of keyboard controls to control the orientation of the components, but I got used to it fairly quickly. The arrow keys should work as well as wasd.

The testing speed should default to what you last chose. And maybe if you fail a test it should run that test first the next time you test?

The writer components need an introduction. They make the levels completely different because the aim is now to manipulate the symbols rather than pass/fail the input state.

It took a very long time to work out what to do in the Chauffeurs level, just because the instructions weren't clear enough. An example of the correct output for a simple input would go a long way. Also it should be explicitly stated that the input symbols will only be red or blue.

The music stopped playing after a while.

The red/blue symbols could be different shapes so that colour-blind people can distinguish them. You would also need to

I really like it, but I suspect for anyone who's not taken an automata class it'll be ridiculously difficult. It's pretty difficult for me even though I have, though fortunately that makes it fairly satisfying to solve a level.
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fraxcell
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2010, 05:57:11 am »

Very interesting idea. Personally, I thought it was rather hard. It took me about twenty minutes to get past the second level.
The UI is nice; the only thing I would suggest is being able to press Ctrl+LMB to decrease the testing speed, so you don't have to click through a few speeds to get to slow it down if you get to a specific item you want to see.
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easynam
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2010, 06:31:27 am »

I love playing games like this Smiley

So far I've beaten Dogs, Fish, Flies, Cats, Mine-sweepers and Soldiers. I'm not completely sure what Chauffeurs wants me to do though :/
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Xecutor
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2010, 08:29:58 am »

I love playing games like this Smiley

So far I've beaten Dogs, Fish, Flies, Cats, Mine-sweepers and Soldiers. I'm not completely sure what Chauffeurs wants me to do though :/
Yeah, yeah. I was confused by this 'insert' too.
You need to replicate input with given modifications.
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Jefftronic
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2010, 09:34:43 am »

This game is great!  I started playing and before I knew it, it was an hour later.  I have to agree with another poster, some of the objectives aren't clearly described.  I am having difficulty with the chauffuer level, for instance.  I have no idea what it means to "insert green below red and blue" and there isn't enough feedback in the game to easily figure it out.

I also think some of the levels dealing with binary are going to be difficult for those without computer science backgrounds.  But then again, you may not be targeting this audience.  I do really like how you work your way from doing seemingly arbitrary tasks to actually accomplishing real computing problems, though.  I could see this being used in an educational context.

I am not exactly sure how to do it, but if you could give more feedback on why a given machine doesn't work and if you could give more detailed instructions for people that may not be as familiar with some of the concepts, you would improve it quite a bit.  It is already excellent as it stands, though.

Thanks for sharing!  I think I am going to get back to playing. Smiley
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Draknek
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2010, 09:59:39 am »

For those having difficulty with Chauffeurs, it means that if the input has a red and a blue next to one another, the output should have red green blue.

E.g. RBRR => RGBGRRY

I'm currently stuck on Androids and Sailors. It's going to bug me if I can't work them out without looking something up.
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PleasingFungus
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2010, 10:18:40 am »

Although the intro text does tell you, in-game it wasn't clear whether I should be sending good robots to the exit or bad. I was kinda expecting two exits. Possibly the first level could do with more detailed onscreen instructions/icons to make these things clear.
I could definitely do that. I'll add it to the list.

The introduction could probably do with some music.
Probably!

My first assumption was that the numbers next to the components were a count of how many times I could use that object, not a hotkey. Not sure how to clarify this though.
Heh, Gate did the exact same thing, and I reacted the exact same way. Not sure there's anything to be done.

I didn't initially like the use of keyboard controls to control the orientation of the components, but I got used to it fairly quickly. The arrow keys should work as well as wasd.
Easily done!

The testing speed should default to what you last chose. And maybe if you fail a test it should run that test first the next time you test?
In earlier versions of the game (unreleased), the speed defaulted in that way, but I removed it for technical reasons. Shouldn't take too much work to add back in...

The writer components need an introduction. They make the levels completely different because the aim is now to manipulate the symbols rather than pass/fail the input state.
Absolutely. It's planned.

It took a very long time to work out what to do in the Chauffeurs level, just because the instructions weren't clear enough. An example of the correct output for a simple input would go a long way. Also it should be explicitly stated that the input symbols will only be red or blue.
Literally everyone who's gotten to Chauffeurs has complained about it, and with good reason. It's getting changed.

The music stopped playing after a while.
I've heard that from others as well. Not sure what's going on there... I'll poke at it a bit and see what I can find out.

The red/blue symbols could be different shapes so that colour-blind people can distinguish them. You would also need to
Facepalm
I... should really have thought of that.

I really like it, but I suspect for anyone who's not taken an automata class it'll be ridiculously difficult. It's pretty difficult for me even though I have, though fortunately that makes it fairly satisfying to solve a level.
By some freak chance, most of my playtesters had taken automata classes. Some hadn't, though, and they didn't seem to have as much trouble as you'd think. It's an educational tool!


-


Very interesting idea. Personally, I thought it was rather hard. It took me about twenty minutes to get past the second level.
The UI is nice; the only thing I would suggest is being able to press Ctrl+LMB to decrease the testing speed, so you don't have to click through a few speeds to get to slow it down if you get to a specific item you want to see.
I agree that there should probably be a way to slow it down without clicking through; I don't like the idea of adding the ctrl-modifier as another arbitary hotkey to memorize, though. I'll have to think about it. (The simplest solution might be to remove a speed; that would make things much simpler...)


-


I also think some of the levels dealing with binary are going to be difficult for those without computer science backgrounds.  But then again, you may not be targeting this audience.  I do really like how you work your way from doing seemingly arbitrary tasks to actually accomplishing real computing problems, though.  I could see this being used in an educational context.
I would say that I'm targeting people with a computer science background first, and then people without, once I polish enough. ...if that made any sense? I'm not sure.

The educational idea has come to mind; I consider Manufactoria to be a sort of 'stealth-education', teaching you about useful things without even telling you! That is the best sort of education. (Education isn't the primary design goal, but it's a nice bonus.)

I am not exactly sure how to do it, but if you could give more feedback on why a given machine doesn't work and if you could give more detailed instructions for people that may not be as familiar with some of the concepts, you would improve it quite a bit.
I think you're right, and that's something I'll try to work on. For level feedback, perhaps I could make the correct destination flash when a robot entered the level, and make it flash again if you fail...? With something more sophisticated for output levels, naturally...

-

Anyway! Thanks to everyone for playing; I feed, vampire-like, upon your struggles. Even more thanks to everyone who offered feedback: my chitinous frame grows strong and terrible as I suck the marrow from your suggestions. Throughout development, I've had a pretty quick turnaround time on suggestions, so don't be surprised if you load up the game later today and see some of them implemented; others will take longer, naturally. Thank you again!
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PleasingFungus
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2010, 10:23:41 am »

For those having difficulty with Chauffeurs, it means that if the input has a red and a blue next to one another, the output should have red green blue.

E.g. RBRR => RGBGRRY

I'm currently stuck on Androids and Sailors. It's going to bug me if I can't work them out without looking something up.
Androids and Sailors are based on the same core principle. (It's a principle that you have to use for pretty much all of the later levels.) I probably should have made Sailors require Androids; that might've just made you more stuck, though...

Here's a hint: Think about how you would go about reversing the string.

(Was that even helpful? I don't know!)

((also, what sort of self-respecting BBcode-forum doesn't have [spoiler] tags, grumble grumble))
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Falmil
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2010, 11:08:18 am »

I don't get how to solve chauffeurs. I'm mainly stuck on how I can write to the robot's code without reading what I just wrote out. Also, the text for the level doesn't specify putting green between blue and red AND red and blue.
Other than that, I love the game. Programming and logic games like this are probably my favorite. For the binary levels, I would suggest using the blue/1 and the red/0 images like in the tutorial presentation. Also, I was kinda sad that I kept seeing the same sprites over and over after seeing the dog and fish robots.
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fraxcell
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2010, 11:19:59 am »

Quote
I agree that there should probably be a way to slow it down without clicking through; I don't like the idea of adding the ctrl-modifier as another arbitary hotkey to memorize, though. I'll have to think about it. (The simplest solution might be to remove a speed; that would make things much simpler...)
I don't think it would be too unintuitive, since you already have the option to hold ctrl to delete things. However, I agree that a slow down button would probably work better.
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mjau
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2010, 11:23:56 am »

This is great. I love this sort of thing Smiley

A bug: Robots don't disappear if they go outside the grid.

Also think there's a bug in Academics? Level says to accept X blue, X red, X blue, but then there's a 3 blue 3 red 2 blue you have to accept. It fails when my machine trashes it.

Also, you should probably mention somewhere that you can deselect the current thing by clicking outside the grid, and also deselect if clicking at an object's vacant square (tried that first, but that didn't work).  Also mention the bridges somewhere (though they've been unnecessary so far..)

Copy/paste and/or moving around selections around would've been helpful.
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PleasingFungus
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2010, 11:54:50 am »

I don't get how to solve chauffeurs. I'm mainly stuck on how I can write to the robot's code without reading what I just wrote out. Also, the text for the level doesn't specify putting green between blue and red AND red and blue.
Chauffeurs is a terrible mess. I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I am working as hard as I can to make amends.

Other than that, I love the game. Programming and logic games like this are probably my favorite. For the binary levels, I would suggest using the blue/1 and the red/0 images like in the tutorial presentation.
The binary-images are an excellent idea; there are some technical problems with it (the way I make the symbols scroll off the end of the tape is insanely hackish), but it's something I've been fiddling with. I'll put it on the to-do list. (Out of curiosity: would also re-labeling the branches for those levels (with 1s and 0s) be helpful?)

Also, I was kinda sad that I kept seeing the same sprites over and over after seeing the dog and fish robots.
This is a one-man production, and I'm more of a programmer than an artist (does it show?  Wink ), so art's a bit of a bottleneck for me. More robot-types are planned, but they take a very long time for me to draw, so I've been putting my efforts elsewhere. I'll try to sneak more robots in between other items, though...

Quote
I agree that there should probably be a way to slow it down without clicking through; I don't like the idea of adding the ctrl-modifier as another arbitary hotkey to memorize, though. I'll have to think about it. (The simplest solution might be to remove a speed; that would make things much simpler...)
I don't think it would be too unintuitive, since you already have the option to hold ctrl to delete things. However, I agree that a slow down button would probably work better.
...you can hold ctrl to delete things?

I can't hold ctrl to delete things.

Tell me more!

A bug: Robots don't disappear if they go outside the grid.
Could you send me a level code for that? I'm having difficulty replicating it.

Also think there's a bug in Academics? Level says to accept X blue, X red, X blue, but then there's a 3 blue 3 red 2 blue you have to accept. It fails when my machine trashes it.
Completely right! I've uploaded a hotfix for it; it should be working now.

Also, you should probably mention somewhere that you can deselect the current thing by clicking outside the grid, and also deselect if clicking at an object's vacant square (tried that first, but that didn't work).
You're the second person here who's had trouble figuring out how to deselect things, so I probably should!

Also mention the bridges somewhere (though they've been unnecessary so far..)
They're in the help screen! (Have you found the help screen?)

Copy/paste and/or moving around selections around would've been helpful.
Interesting! What sort of UI would you suggest for that?
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fraxcell
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« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2010, 12:24:34 pm »

Oops, never mind about that holding ctrl to delete things. I just happened to be holding ctrl while nothing was selected, and assumed it was from ctrl Embarrassed
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PleasingFungus
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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2010, 12:34:59 pm »

Oops, never mind about that holding ctrl to delete things. I just happened to be holding ctrl while nothing was selected, and assumed it was from ctrl Embarrassed
Quite all right!

(Bonus trivia: in the earliest versions of the game, ctrl-click rotated pieces clockwise, and shift-click rotated them CCW. To delete components, you had to select a special 'delete' tool and use that. It was pretty dang awful!)

Also, I've managed to get a new release up. (Had some difficulty with the uploader; had to switch browsers to get it to work.) Cursor-key support is in (per Draknek's request), as is a new 'clear' button that wipes the current machine. It's bright red: for danger! (I may want to consider adding an 'undo' button.)
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2010, 12:49:05 pm »

Copy and paste would be useful. There have been a few times where I was building a solution and found that I only needed to add one more object but found I had no room for it, so I had to remake my whole "machine" a few rows down.
Copy and paste might take a little work though. Due to possible mistakes in pasting, you might have to include an undo option in case a player screws up their copying, or maybe a ghost image of where your cells are going to be pasted. I would suggest a simple click and drag to select a rectangle of cells and then click and drag to move the selected cells, but I haven't fully thought of if it would work well enough.
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2010, 01:12:55 pm »

Fun game, about the difficulty I haven't found any of the puzzles too difficult, with the exception of androids and sailors, both of which I have absolutely no idea how to even approach doing yet.
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PleasingFungus
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« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2010, 01:52:14 pm »

Copy and paste would be useful. There have been a few times where I was building a solution and found that I only needed to add one more object but found I had no room for it, so I had to remake my whole "machine" a few rows down.
Copy and paste might take a little work though. Due to possible mistakes in pasting, you might have to include an undo option in case a player screws up their copying, or maybe a ghost image of where your cells are going to be pasted. I would suggest a simple click and drag to select a rectangle of cells and then click and drag to move the selected cells, but I haven't fully thought of if it would work well enough.
The problem is that click and drag is already in use. Perhaps shift->drag...? Or, instead of a box-based system, you could specifically designate components to copy.

It's not going to be my first priority, but I'll keep thinking about it!

Fun game, about the difficulty I haven't found any of the puzzles too difficult, with the exception of androids and sailors, both of which I have absolutely no idea how to even approach doing yet.
There's a big sort of a conceptual leap you have to make; once you get that, it's not too tricky!

A tip - do "Androids" first. Once you get that one, Sailors should be much easier.
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Draknek
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« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2010, 03:44:44 pm »

Gynoids was to me easier than Androids. Should the dependency be the other way round perhaps?

Have just now completed Sailors, but it wasn't exactly easy. I'm wondering if I'm missing the conceptual leap or if there's just no particularly elegant and compact way of doing it.

For reference:
My Androids solution
My Sailors solution
(no peeking!)

As well as a "slow down" button, a "pause" button would be nice during testing. Also, some way of providing an input state you want to test?

I agree that some way of moving groups of components would be nice.
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PleasingFungus
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« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2010, 04:58:47 pm »

New version is up! Loads of new levels, new main menu, stealthy level names. (That last one isn't a feature, as such, but I thought I'd toss it in.)

-

Gynoids was to me easier than Androids. Should the dependency be the other way round perhaps?
Sure, why not? Out of curiosity, could I see your Gynoids solution?

Have just now completed Sailors, but it wasn't exactly easy. I'm wondering if I'm missing the conceptual leap or if there's just no particularly elegant and compact way of doing it.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

...and then I spent the last 15 minutes (half-hour?) trying to come up with a cleaner solution, and only getting this.

I guess that's your answer!

As well as a "slow down" button, a "pause" button would be nice during testing. Also, some way of providing an input state you want to test?
Is the 'slow down' button still as needed now that there are only three speeds? (I was hoping it wouldn't be.)

A pause button is now in! It's... slightly visually glitchy, but that's not too big a deal.

The input-string idea is a solid one. Maybe another button next to 'play', gives you a UI to add / remove symbols of various colours (could cover up the grid), then runs normally...? Could be do-able!
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