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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMastery - Ability based overhead action-puzzle game
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Author Topic: Mastery - Ability based overhead action-puzzle game  (Read 10938 times)
Udderdude
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« on: July 05, 2012, 07:44:06 AM »

Demo: http://rydia.net/udder/!crap/masteryTest/

Mastery is an overhead action-puzzle game with a focus on using the player's various abilities to evade, outmaneuver or destroy the enemies.

3 player abilities are available in each level.  Abilities are pre-selected; player cannot pick and choose which abilities to use.  Player must rescue spacemans and reach exit to win.

« Last Edit: November 11, 2012, 10:09:14 AM by Udderdude » Logged

Udderdude
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 06:51:55 AM »

Been working on this a bit.  Got all of the abilities and enemies implemented.  Going to make some of the beginner levels for it.

I want to get this project in decent shape before I start working on Perspective again.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 08:14:06 PM by Udderdude » Logged

Udderdude
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2012, 11:27:25 AM »

Got the noob levels done and some music in there, most stuff ironed out.  May put up a demo version at some point, or maybe not .. lol
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Pixelulsar
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 01:34:59 PM »

Looks kinda cool, I might play the demo if there is one.  Background is cool, and I like how most of the enemies look.

This might just be me, but when I hear "maze game" I think of really bad first games that are just a circle moving through a maze.  For me actual mazes in games are usually only fun in moderation. I think something like "top down action" or "overhead action puzzler" sounds way more appealing.  Just my opinion, might just be me.
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Udderdude
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2012, 02:39:19 PM »

You're right, "Maze game" doesn't really do it justice.

Here's a demo with the first 10 levels!

http://rydia.net/udder/!crap/masteryTest/
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eyeliner
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 08:13:17 AM »

I like this one better than Perspective. Any reason you chose keys so close to each other?
It's quite straining, navigating and using abilities with a single hand.
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 08:37:31 AM »

Good point, I may set the ability keys to something else.

Edit: Changed ability keys to J,K,L, added a new larger player sprite, and enlarged the size of enemy sprites.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 02:08:50 PM by Udderdude » Logged

Udderdude
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2012, 11:16:09 AM »

Finally got some more progress done on this game.

I added a new offensive ability, Pulse.  When used, it causes a shockwave to be released from the player, which destroys all nearby enemies.  This has some strategic use, as you can potentially take out more than one enemy with one shot if you position yourself right.

This evens up the number of ability types.  3 offensive, 3 defense and 3 escape abilities.

I hope to have some more levels finished for this one soon also.
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Graham-
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2012, 12:16:41 PM »

I liked it, the music, the kinds of puzzles.

Top crits:
  . delay between controls and movement
  . lots of text. my introduction to a lot of concepts felt sudden. I could beat levels without really understanding all of its new mechanics, then have to trial/error their function later on
  . trial/error is frustrating because the music starts over when you die.

Positives:
  . original style
  . interesting puzzles, varied
  . good blend of "action" and puzzles

I would like a much smoother introduction into the more complex play. I like it but I feel like I'm being assaulted with a collage of ideas, then punished for not grasping them.
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Udderdude
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2012, 01:21:27 PM »

delay between controls and movement

That's as good as you're going to get with Flash. Sad

lots of text. my introduction to a lot of concepts felt sudden. I could beat levels without really understanding all of its new mechanics, then have to trial/error their function later on

Maybe I'll add more text to the help screen that shows each ability, or add some mouse-over text for the abilities in case the player forget what it does. 

I would like a much smoother introduction into the more complex play. I like it but I feel like I'm being assaulted with a collage of ideas, then punished for not grasping them.

Are you saying level 9 and 10 should be easier?  Or have less game elements all at once?
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Graham-
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« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2012, 01:38:57 PM »

Nah, don't add more text. I mean I'm already having to read too much already. I just want to play the game, and let the mechanics absorb into me by doing that.

For example, the average player will skip all those text boxes at the beginning of the levels. I think most players would. That's what I did then had to learn what the robots were and everything w/ trial/error. Sometimes I'd miss a mechanic and die b/c of it later.

Also, I learn one mechanic then before I'm comfortable using it I'm already learning another one. So maybe I know what they are but in my head I can't puzzle through them because I'm not familiar enough with them. So I have to die randomly to realize what's going on.

This started happening by the 2nd-3rd levels. I stopped maybe at 6.

I'd recommend keeping a log of what a player does then playing it back in the actual game for yourself to see how cumbersome it is to us. Nailing an action-puzzler's challenge curve, introduction of mechanics etc. is really important.

I got the feeling that I'd like to play this game because the potential deeply-complex scenarios feel intriguing, but the rote work I need to do doesn't make learning the system worth it. I already have enough rote work to do irl.

... yeah, I guess flash is flash.
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Son of Bryce
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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2012, 01:53:58 PM »

This is a good game! You should post a couple screenshots in the first post to lure curious lurkers.

I've got a few suggestions/nitpicks. I only played the first 9 stages! So keep that in mind.

- Allow to press spacebar to skip dialogue boxes, if you're not using it for something else.
- Holding enter for the end screen would skip the text boxes for the next stage
- The stage info boxes usually refer to an item in that stage, if you could show the icon in the box that might make it a bit more clear.
- As toast_trip mentioned, each stage has a new gameplay element. For like 8 stages in a row, maybe you should space them out a bit. Like maybe 2 or 3 stages focusing on that element before introducing another. But I'm not sure what the pacing is for the later stages, maybe you start using multiple abilities in stages right off the bat so it might be better the way you have it. Something to think about!

Anyway, the presentation is great. It's got auto-save, that's great! Maybe you should show a "saving" icon in the corner between stages so people won't be afraid to close the browser window. Also in the "Are you sure you want to quit?" screen, maybe you can mention your progress is saved.

I like the music as well, reminds me of Sega Genesis top-down shooters.

What do you plan on adding to the game?
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SolarLune
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2012, 02:06:52 PM »

Okay, so the idea seems pretty good. Here's my crits.

1. Never make the player take his hands off of the keyboard to click something unless it's part of the game (the dialogue windows). I think you should change that to be trigger-able with a keyboard key. Same thing with the opening GUI - if I'm going to be using the keyboard to play the game, I think it feels a little more professional if I use the keyboard to select things in the menu.

2. In the second room (?) I placed a block over a gem - maybe you should disallow that? Maybe not, since the blocks disappear after a few seconds - just something to be aware of.

3. I agree a bit with toast_trip - a lot of the text is unnecessary. Generally the enemy's behaviors could be in the help menu or manual, or not present at all - the player should be smart enough to keep a look out for their behaviors. You probably don't even need to explain a lot of the basic mechanics (i.e. red switches activate red doors). Do it the old-school way of forcing the player to run into a switch and thereby trigger a door - the player'll figure it out.

4. The progression of levels is generally a little steep - you seem to be adding a new mechanic or character every level. It think you should generally try to make one or two 'buffer' rooms per mechanic, where nothing new is presented, but you get a little more familiar with the current one.

5. I think you could change the player's movement to be more 'acceleration / friction'-based, rather than being instant. It might not mesh well with the laggy controls that toast_trip experienced, though. That's more of a style thing than a bug or suggestion, anyway.

6. The boost ability could leave behind a trail, or a more visible indicator that you're boosting.

Anyway, good job so far. It feels pretty tight.
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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2012, 02:10:16 PM »

I think acceleration would be cool too.

Though it may make you rework all of your puzzles.
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Udderdude
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2012, 06:05:44 AM »

Quote from: Son of Bryce
- Allow to press spacebar to skip dialogue boxes, if you're not using it for something else.

You can already press enter to do this.

Quote from: Son of Bryce
- Holding enter for the end screen would skip the text boxes for the next stage

Will see if I can fix this.

Quote from: Son of Bryce
- The stage info boxes usually refer to an item in that stage, if you could show the icon in the box that might make it a bit more clear.

Probably a good idea, may have to look into doing that.

Quote from: Son of Bryce
- As toast_trip mentioned, each stage has a new gameplay element. For like 8 stages in a row, maybe you should space them out a bit. Like maybe 2 or 3 stages focusing on that element before introducing another.

I like the progression as it is now, which is one gameplay element, ability and enemy per stage.  To me, it would get boring otherwise.

Quote from: Son of Bryce
Maybe you should show a "saving" icon in the corner between stages so people won't be afraid to close the browser window. Also in the "Are you sure you want to quit?" screen, maybe you can mention your progress is saved.

It should say "Progress saved" in the dialogue box when the level ends.  If it doesn't, I'll fix it.

Quote from: Son of Bryce
I like the music as well, reminds me of Sega Genesis top-down shooters.

Thanks, the music in Perspective is even more Genesis-y.

Quote from: Son of Bryce
What do you plan on adding to the game?

At the moment I don't plan on adding anything, as there's already plenty in there already.  If anything I'll add a few more different enemy types/behaviors.

I think acceleration would be cool too.

I don't do acceleration or inertia in any of my games, haha.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 08:06:58 AM by Udderdude » Logged

Udderdude
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2012, 07:46:29 AM »

Quote from: SolarLune
1. Never make the player take his hands off of the keyboard to click something unless it's part of the game (the dialogue windows). I think you should change that to be trigger-able with a keyboard key. Same thing with the opening GUI - if I'm going to be using the keyboard to play the game, I think it feels a little more professional if I use the keyboard to select things in the menu.

You can use the enter key to clear those dialogue boxes.  As for the UI, not too sure about that yet.  I haven't had to do that in my other games.

Quote from: SolarLune
2. In the second room (?) I placed a block over a gem - maybe you should disallow that? Maybe not, since the blocks disappear after a few seconds - just something to be aware of.

I think that would cause more confusion if your barrier was being blocked by a passable object.  I'll make the barrier slightly transparent so you can see an object under it.

Quote from: SolarLune
3. I agree a bit with toast_trip - a lot of the text is unnecessary. Generally the enemy's behaviors could be in the help menu or manual, or not present at all - the player should be smart enough to keep a look out for their behaviors.

Not describing the enemy beforehand is too trial-and-error for me.  As for game elements, I still like describing those.  I may simplify it a bit though.

Quote from: SolarLune
4. The progression of levels is generally a little steep - you seem to be adding a new mechanic or character every level. It think you should generally try to make one or two 'buffer' rooms per mechanic, where nothing new is presented, but you get a little more familiar with the current one.

I've played games with these buffer levels, and they bore me because they're generally still easy and I'm not being given anything new to play with.  When it comes to learning a game, I'm like a spoiled kid that consantly wants new toys.  The vast majority of games progress too slowly for my tastes.

Quote from: SolarLune
6. The boost ability could leave behind a trail, or a more visible indicator that you're boosting.

I'll make the boost effect a little brighter.
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Graham-
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2012, 12:29:46 PM »

Quote from: SolarLune
3. I agree a bit with toast_trip - a lot of the text is unnecessary. Generally the enemy's behaviors could be in the help menu or manual, or not present at all - the player should be smart enough to keep a look out for their behaviors.

Not describing the enemy beforehand is too trial-and-error for me.  As for game elements, I still like describing those.  I may simplify it a bit though.

Doesn't matter. Most users won't read it. Users hate text.

I gave this to Solar Lune the other day. EC is an incredible resource. http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/tutorials-101

The best way to teach a player is through play. You are designing a game after all, not a book.


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I don't do acceleration or inertia in any of my games, haha.

How come?


Quote
I like the progression as it is now, which is one gameplay element, ability and enemy per stage.  To me, it would get boring otherwise.

There are other ways to keep it challenging. Challenge means nothing if your players are confused.
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Udderdude
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2012, 01:06:14 PM »

The best way to teach a player is through play. You are designing a game after all, not a book.

Yeah, but if I got rid of the text (or most of it), it'd be way too trial-and-error with too many elements thrown at the player at once.  I'd have to go back and re-design the entire beginner level set to introduce only two things per level, which would add 4 more beginner levels total.  Or just keep introducing new stuff into the yellow levels.

I'll have to consider doing this if it's that big of an issue, but I actually had some other players tell me it took too long to get going as it is.

Quote from: Udderdude
I don't do acceleration or inertia in any of my games, haha.

How come?

I prefer precise movement, as precise as possible.  It allows the player to demonstrate more skill and gives the game a higher skill cap.  If you're sliding around, it's harder to deal with.  Not the kind of difficulty I want to add.
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2012, 01:35:51 PM »

Quote
Yeah, but if I got rid of the text (or most of it), it'd be way too trial-and-error with too many elements thrown at the player at once.  I'd have to go back and re-design the entire beginner level set to introduce only two things per level, which would add 4 more beginner levels total.  Or just keep introducing new stuff into the yellow levels.

I'll have to consider doing this if it's that big of an issue, but I actually had some other players tell me it took too long to get going as it is.

Yes. I felt that way too. It was simultaneously confusing and slow to start. A universal problem....

The general solution here is to allow a player to control the speed with which he progresses. Mario does this beautifully by giving complex levels early on, at least in the old side-scrolling days. The player could go quickly or slowly, altering difficulty by doing so.

Your levels are designed in such a way so that the player is "pushed" through segments, generally by particular robots. So he has to go at the speed defined for him. There's nothing to do when he's idling either so going slow is no fun.

An easy fix is to give several different levels of "completion." Angry Birds has the 3-star system. Maybe there are special conditions the player could meet, that are interesting, and raise the difficulty a solid degree, and that if reached offered a worthy reward. Then players could grind early levels to get better with mechanics, or blast through at the max "star level" to get the hardest difficulty. You'd need to add a hub stage though, or menu, like a ship flying to particular levels. You'd effectively be making an easier mode and a harder mode together, and the game would be more replay-able.

Quote
I prefer precise movement, as precise as possible.  It allows the player to demonstrate more skill and gives the game a higher skill cap.  If you're sliding around, it's harder to deal with.  Not the kind of difficulty I want to add.

Mmm. But it's more fun? It gives more variety to the player, and it speeds up your game. What about giving the player a "boost" button that allows them to accelerate, at least up to a little bit. Then the skill cap would be even higher. Players could rely on precision when they needed it and be bad-ass when they didn't.


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Udderdude
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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2012, 04:31:35 PM »

An easy fix is to give several different levels of "completion."

Adding secondary objectives is one way to make things more interesting for players looking for a challenge, while players who don't want to deal with the secondary objectives can just skip them.  I actually did do that in Strat Tech. However, Mastery already has easier skill levels if you want the game to be less punishing.

And I definitely disagree that it's an easy fix!  It takes some work on the level design to add bonuses the player can go out of their way to get, while keeping a main part of the level that's a seperate level of difficulty.  It's especially difficult when you've got a single screen puzzle game to work with .. D:

What about giving the player a "boost" button that allows them to accelerate, at least up to a little bit. Then the skill cap would be even higher. Players could rely on precision when they needed it and be bad-ass when they didn't.

One of the abilities you get is boost, so that's already in the game.
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