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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperPlaytestingEmptiness
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aeveis
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« on: April 02, 2012, 05:23:47 PM »

Hi, this is my first post here (there seems to be a lot of first posters!). I'm currently in a school project where me and two other students are trying to prototype meaningful games. This is a pretty loaded term and we've been experimenting here and there. So this past two weeks we've decided how it would work if we tried developing our own games (does more personal = more meaningful?) and seeing how that works out.

So Emptiness is a puzzle/dungeon game where you play a square who has lost your center (any reference to Adventure on Atari 2600 is purely coincidental). You need to make friends to help you out.

http://www.kongregate.com/games/mindfulxp/emptiness

This game was built in Flixel and I did all the programming, art, sounds and music.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated! I want to know if the game is engaging and if it means anything to you, or if it's just boring and really sucks. Thanks!
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Noyb
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2012, 07:35:04 PM »

Stopped playing near the end where it appeared the player needed to repetitively exploit a large number of "friends" in order to cross the gap to what I guess is the ending. Between the protagonist's ease at controlling others and the vacuous dialogue and interchangeable nature of the "friends", I read this as a sociopath simulator.
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Morroque
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2012, 07:44:58 PM »

I did not beat it outright, but I explored enough of the game where I could begin to see how victory could be possible.

This is a very interesting puzzle game and procedural rhetoric. It's... almost painful how poetic it is. I mean, it is so simple and blunt in presentation and design, but what it implies feels so... I'm not quite sure how to say it, really.

Sometimes we hurt people. Sometimes we use people, maybe to the point of tiring them out. We need others to make ourselves whole, but that also makes us greedy and we only use others for an exact utilitarian purpose. I mean... is that all there is to it? Are our own social interactions purely economic and "problem solving" in nature?

Yet, even if that is kind of the way it really is, this game seems so malicious in that the "use" of friendship is entirely one-sided. Is it not true at the same time that the other cubes are also trying to use you to make themselves whole? If so, why do they follow you around? Would they not only be out there to use you as well? There is a level of complexity to this theme that the unsettlingly innocent tone of the game just doesn't cover.

But maybe that was your intent? The rigid and blocky environment, combined with the fact that the rules of play assumes that the main character is apparently a powerful or exceedingly charismatic individual over the said space, promotes me, as the player, to think as if I was a business leader or corporate economist in valuing people as resources to be handled and directed as I wished. (If only life were really that simple, ar?) But at the same time that these "friends" grow tired and get hurt by my own command, and emote demotivational stimuli at me when such occurs, evokes this... dissonant feeling. Is it really the "emptiness" you are after?
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tnr
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2012, 08:33:43 PM »

My computer can't play this game for some reason. It doesn't say anything, I just can't play. Strange, since other Flash games play just fine for me. I use Google Chrome as my browser, and Windows XP 32-bit as my operating system.
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jsepia
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2012, 10:40:04 PM »

I reached the end once after using several of my friends and leaving them behind. However, I think using some careful strategy (I don't want to give it away but you can easily figure it out yourselves), it should be possible to reach the end without completely using up any of your friends.
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jsepia
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2012, 11:15:18 PM »

Okay I failed. I wasted too much of my friends' "energy" with careless tunneling. However, I didn't throw any of them in the gaps though, and I can confirm that reaching the end with all your friends alive and non-depressed is theoretically possible. I just couldn't do it myself.

Due to my excessive tunneling, I made a lot of my friends tired, jaded and center-less like me. One of those centerless friends was dragging behind me when I got to the end. It was my fault he had lost his center, so I did the right thing and pushed him towards my own, but he wouldn't take it. He had given up on life. Cry

It would be really nice if giving your center to a center-less friend was a valid ending. A redemption of sorts.
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PompiPompi
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2012, 11:28:22 PM »

Err, is there a way to pull your friends? because without pulling them it seems impossible to finish the game with tunneling.
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2012, 11:51:00 PM »

When I realised I was using a friend to fill a hole, it made me take a step back  Embarrassed

I am definitely a TLDP kinda player, so i would have loved to experience this in a more concise fashion. But I understand that the sparseness of the world and the distance between contributes to the mood. So take my feedback with a grain of salt!

But yeah, interesting new mechanics meshed with an impactful narrative told subtly. NICE WORK! XD
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aeveis
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 12:34:55 PM »

@Noyb It is possible to get through the game without pushing any of your friends in a hole. But yeah, there is always a feeling of exploitation that is intentional. "Sociopath simulator" could be a good way to describe it... though I feel what it simulates could change a bit depending on the player's perspective of the situation.

@MW Yes, so this game is restricted to the square's viewpoint, not necessarily the world's view or the objective truth. The game makes it easy for the player to be malicious, and the friends make it clear. It is up to the player how to use their friends.

@TheNineRings Ah, I don't know what would be wrong. Perhaps it is still loading? I didn't add a loading screen. I also use Google Chrome but I have Windows 7 64-bit.

@jsepia Yep. Hmm, that is a good idea. Right now there are subtly different endings but this could be another possible one.

@PompiPompi Sorry if the controls were not clear. WASD moves you and your friends (so they follow you). Unless you mean something else?

@AgentSimon Ahh yeah, I actually had the player start over if he or she fell down a hole, but that was already way too punishing. Thank you!
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tnr
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2012, 02:15:48 PM »

The page was completely loaded. I'll try to verify what the problem may be later tonight.
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Garthy
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2012, 08:23:54 PM »

One thing I can say is that once I understood the mechanics of the game, and what was required of me at the end, I wanted to instead tell my friends: "You know what? I don't need my core that much, let's all go out and do something fun together instead".

I had written a bit more on my thoughts on aspects of the gameplay, but on thinking about it, I'll just leave my feedback at the above for now.

I didn't "win" the game, but I suspect part of the message of the game is that even if you win, it may not be worth the price you pay.
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PompiPompi
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2012, 07:07:44 AM »

You can't have fun when you don't have a core, nothing feels fun when you don't have your core.
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Garthy
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2012, 04:06:23 PM »

You can't have fun when you don't have a core, nothing feels fun when you don't have your core.

I choose to live vicariously through my core-complete friends then! Wink

For some reason, the dilemma in the final part of the game brings this quote from Wargames to mind: "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."
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Andrio
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2012, 09:05:18 PM »

I didn't finish either but I liked the concept. Although it was a little awkward trying to move my friends in tight spaces. Having to retreat back and get my other friends got a bit dull and that's where I lost interest. I'm not very patient.
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mihai
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2012, 07:09:48 AM »

How about giving those "friends" stereotypes, and make them mean more to you than simple cubes. Then the ability that each type of friend fill different hole patterns, related to their stereotype. Also, you would not have to sacrifice all of them in order to finish the game, so you would have to decide which you sacrifice and which you don't. If you put enough stereotypes in there, I guess the way a person finishes the game could tell a lot about his tolerances, what kind of people the player hates and which they don't. The end result of the game could be like one of those quiz in which you find out what kind of person you are Smiley How about a "hidden" option that you could sacrifice yourself too together with some and let other finish the game instead of you (cross the gap)?

Just my ramblings, maybe some are useful to you, others just junk.
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adam a
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« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2012, 01:50:18 PM »

I just wanted to say I liked this game, very interesting. I found the controls a little odd to get used to but did in the end. I'm not sure how intentional it was but the mechanics only slowly became clear to me and it wasn't till right at the end for example that I realised the friendly blocks were getting harmed by tunneling. I finished it just, and it did make me feel a little sad. The speech bubbles help bring the blocks alive a lot. I liked the puzzles, only because the movement control of other blocks is a little fuzzy, sometimes it was a little frustrating, but not too much.

The emotional side to it was successful I think, like I said it did evoke some sadness when I realised what I was doing and what it would take to win. The ending text 'you have found your centre..." was a little unnecessary I thought, I felt I had come away with that myself and to spell it out made it a little less meaningful perhaps. I would say it's quite abstract, obviously with the graphics, which I like, I don't mind their simplicity, but the message, or whatever you are trying to convey. Though perhaps a more explicit moral would have been too preachy or hammy?

Good stuff though, I think it was really successful for what it was.
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LiquidAsh
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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2012, 02:14:59 PM »

I found the game a bit tedious: didn't find the dialog engaging, and didn't enjoy walking long expanses avoiding holes (repeatedly after falling in).  I like the idea of controlling the cubes, and would like to see either tighter more puzzle-ish rooms and/or more development on the dialog/personalities.  In fact, it would be great if the two played off of eachother.  Best, Gary.
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