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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperPlaytestingRosetta - a short puzzle experiment v12 (minor update)
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Author Topic: Rosetta - a short puzzle experiment v12 (minor update)  (Read 7722 times)
Ninja Dodo
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« on: February 15, 2011, 01:59:32 am »

I originally made this for the Ludum Dare 19 Jam ("Discovery"). I've since done some more work on it.

Version 12




Windows: http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v12_win.zip

Linux: http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v12_ubuntu.zip

Itch.io: http://ninjadodo.itch.io/rosetta


It's a game about the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. I tried to capture the process that led to the translation, except without the player needing to know Greek and Coptic...


Controls:

LEFT-CLICK and DRAG to manipulate ideas (place them next to each other)

Combine them to find the key.

MOVE CURSOR TO SCREEN EDGE to scroll across page.

PAGEUP/PAGEDWN to flip through previously solved pages.


Previous versions:

http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/
« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 02:11:12 pm by Ninja Dodo » Logged

aDFP
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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2011, 04:26:02 am »

The idea is certainly intriguing, but the implementation is somewhat confusing. I wasn't sure what was happening on the second (royal names) screen at all, even though I managed to complete it.

The feedback on player actions needs to be much more obvious. Text was appearing and disappearing and I had no idea why. You could perhaps add some text explanations, and I'd suggest you add a clearer framing device. I know it's corny, but something like a DaVinci Code style series of puzzles could be told with fairly minimal exposition but still give a shape and purpose to the game.

It is a very interesting idea though, and very nicely presented. Well done.

Dan
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 12:58:56 am »

I'm glad you like the concept.

For the disappearing text maybe I should only hide text that is truly no longer relevant. Right now I'm also fading non-essential hints and other lines that can't themselves be manipulated if you place an active "idea" on top of them.

I'm curious what you mean by a framing device here... Perhaps an explanation before each puzzle what the goal is? I haven't played Da Vinci Code so I'm not sure how its approach compares.
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aDFP
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 04:57:48 am »

By 'framing device', I just meant a small story to frame the action. The Da Vinci Code (book, not game, sorry I didn't make that clear) uses the device of solving a murder to set the main character off running around and solving problems. The execution was dreadful, but the idea is sound: to give a clear reason for the player's actions, beyond the simple satisfaction of solving a problem.

You could cast the player as Jean-François Champollion, or set it in 2011 and cast the player as a detective who is left a series of clues, but no access to any advanced translation tools. The actual device doesn't really matter, but will give shape and motivation to the puzzling, which at the moment is, well, puzzling.

With the game itself, I think the problem I was having was that the possible actions were not clearly defined, so I was resorting to clicking around randomly until something happened. If you give the player some clear feedback (cursor changing to different icons, on-screen prompts, etc.) on what it is that they're doing/about to do, and spell out exactly what the possible actions are, then I feel the game will be much more enjoyable. I also felt that, with the fading text, I was not in control of what was happening. In a game like yours, everything that happens must be as a result of player action, and be clearly shown to be the result of player action.

Good luck with developing the game. I think it has a lot of potential, but just needs to be made more accessible.
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 06:07:06 am »

I see what you mean now.

Technically I do cast the player as Champollion. I just haven't made it very explicit. Hence the "but I will" line in the intro text and the January 1822 date [note: if you press any key, this is skipped], which apparently is when he got his hands on the obelisk inscription from Philae, though the deciphering wasn't done until September. Maybe I could put a "September" title-card before the last page...

The text on the page is my interpretation of what was going through his head as he solved it and the "I have it!" line at the end is a rough translation of "Je tiens l'affaire!" which he reportedly exclaimed before collapsing from fever and exhaustion.


I'll have to think about how to clarify the feedback and surrounding story... I want to avoid breaking the 4th wall as much as possible, but maybe more verbalized thoughts and some text that appears when compatible ideas are close could help. I did the fading mostly to avoid clutter, but I guess it might be hurting more than helping.


I was thinking also it would be fun at some point (after I get this version working) to do a version française for extra historical accuracy.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2011, 09:08:05 am by Ninja Dodo » Logged

Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2011, 07:50:48 am »

Thinking about it, I'm missing a step on the second (Philae/Rosetta) screen.

Right now there's no way other than trial and error (with the question marks) to figure out which cartouche is which name because the player lacks the information that Champollion had at this point, so I need to either spell it out or find a way to let the player connect those dots.

The trick if I'm not mistaken was that [puzzle spoilers]there was only one royal name (written in a few different ways) on the hieroglyphic part of the stone and based on the placement in the text (compared to the Greek) it could only be Ptolemy. Which gives you one of the two names on the obelisk.[/end spoilers] Not sure how to portray this efficiently though. Might have to create another page.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 12:23:59 am by Ninja Dodo » Logged

Falmil
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2011, 12:04:30 am »

I wasn't quite getting it either, but also found it interesting, even though I'm not familair with the subject matter. I think the main problem was that the handwriting was difficult to read, which made it difficult to follow the train of thought and the goal of each page.
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2011, 05:27:18 am »

Heh, I did deliberately avoid making it too neat as fictionally they are supposed to be personal notes, but I could maybe redo a few lines. I'll admit my handwriting is not super-readable. Smiley If I wanted to really go all out with the accuracy I could try to emulate Champollion's writing style, but I fear that would be less readable, not more...

Were there any specific parts that were difficult to read?

As for not knowing the subject matter: a passing familiarity with Egyptology might make this more amusing, but ideally the player should be able to enjoy and understand it with no prior-knowledge required.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 06:06:16 am by Ninja Dodo » Logged

Falmil
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2011, 09:50:17 am »

I don't think there was anything in particular, but I had no way of knowing if the hard to read part was important or not important for solving the puzzle.
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2011, 12:17:54 am »

New version:

http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v5.zip

I've done some more work on this. I added a new page between one and two where you take a look at the actual stone and go through some more steps before arriving at the obelisk puzzle. A few adjustments to the puzzles on the other pages, some visual tweaks... Also changed the resolution to 1024, now defaulting to full-screen.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 01:13:11 am by Ninja Dodo » Logged

farcodev
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2011, 09:10:11 am »

thank you for this original game Gentleman
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2011, 05:36:55 am »

New version:

http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v6_1.zip

Based on some player feedback I removed the optional R and PAGEUP/DWN keys from the instructions. They were making the interface confusing and since you don't need them to play it seemed better to leave them out.

I refined PT2A (the page with the stone print) and made feedback a little clearer and the solution more flexible. Also added a "scroll down" hint if you've found the names but haven't looked at the rest of the page yet.

Changed "the cartouche" on page 1 to the question "What is the significance of the cartouche?", which may make it slightly clearer what you're meant to be doing, without being so obvious as to hit you over the head with the solution... Also made a number of other minor adjustments including tweaks to the writing here and there to improve readability.
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sabajt
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« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2011, 09:08:34 am »

I LOVE this concept.  In college I took a class on reading Mayan hieroglyphics, which was quite a trip.  Unfortunately I had a hard time with the game.  My criticism would be similar to the others who commented:  while I really like the handwriting... it is hard to read!  Another simple thing that could improve the interface would be more highlighting when the the mouse is over an item.  I got frustrated on the "same name" screen with the three blocks and the 2 names when I was combining items, because at one point I couldn't drag them apart, and couldn't tell which one the game recognized as selected.  I eventually overcame the technical problems, but got stuck on that screen anyway.  The most important thing I think the game needs is a good story.  Like aDFP suggested, we need more motivation. I think that recreating an atmosphere of academic discovery would make for a rich and unique experience in a game.  I am reminded of Increpare's game Opera Omnia, which also focuses on abstract interaction, but has a compelling story which drives the player to complete strange and seemingly arbitrary tasks which out of context, would only be tedious.

I bet testing it on friends (in real life, not just over the internet) to see how they react would give you a good sense of what direction to take this.  Keep up the creative work, I'd love to see more games like this.
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2011, 05:03:52 am »

I think you're right I should do more in-person playtesting.

The handwriting is a problem. I don't want to use a font because that would ruin the effect, but I'm not sure how else to address this. My handwriting is not very readable at the best of times and filtered through a Wacom tablet... well. I could try doing the writing on paper and scanning it, but I don't know if that would make a huge difference. Maybe I should take a calligraphy class...

The items getting stuck together is a bug. I will be fixing that.

Not sure how to enhance the narrative framing without presenting the player with a wall of text, but maybe I could do some illustrations and still keep the exposition light.
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2011, 01:21:28 pm »

New version:

http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v7.zip

Fixed the multiple selection bug
, made the mouse-over effect bigger and adjusted victory conditions in PT2B (the page with the 3 cartouches) to be more flexible. This and a few other tweaks.
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farcodev
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« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2011, 08:45:23 am »

I'll try it after the work
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2011, 02:56:49 am »

Version 8

http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v8.zip

I think I've learned all I'm going to learn from this prototype so, barring any last-minute tweaks or fixes, I'm wrapping it up with this version.

I've made a number of changes based on player feedback and observations during playtests, notably replacing the hand-written text with a font for readability, and some paper sounds, plus various changes to puzzle structure. I was reluctant to use a font as evidenced by earlier posts, but managed to find one that kept the handwritten-style (with a little help from the Liquify tool). I'm pretty happy with how it looks now.

I may come back to this in the future.
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Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2011, 01:56:21 am »



http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v9_1.zip

After showing the last version to some friends I couldn't resist making a few more changes which I think should improve the overall accessibility of the puzzles. In particular page two should be less of an obstacle. I improved feedback and disabled some things that were leading to wrong assumptions.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2011, 05:01:05 am by Ninja Dodo » Logged

Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2012, 05:21:39 am »

Version 10:



Download: http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v10.zip

I wanted to try importing this old project into GM Studio as a test and while I was at it made a few more tweaks and additions, mainly to the second puzzle. I also uploaded the game to Steam Workshop, though I suspect - at 4 views and 1 subscriber (me) - people who use Game Maker on Steam don't overlap very much with people who are interested in Egyptology and linguistics...

I don't know that I would call it an entirely successful experiment as I think there are some design problems I didn't really solve, but I still think the concept has potential. Maybe I'll revisit it sometime.

Obviously though if anyone has any thoughts on how well it does or doesn't work at this point, would love to hear for future reference.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 08:52:54 am by Ninja Dodo » Logged

Ninja Dodo
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« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2012, 02:49:28 am »

One more update: http://www.ninjadodo.net/temp/LD19/rosetta_v11.zip

Revised the art and structure of the second puzzle a bit.
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