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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperPlaytestingThe Black Tome - [Alpha 1.5]
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JTR
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« on: March 25, 2014, 10:38:20 AM »

The Black Tome
Version: Alpha 1.5
Platform: Windows
Windowed/Fullscreen - No changes to resolution




The Black Tome is a dark and unforgiving top-down survival horror game that features an in-depth sanity system, puzzles with procedurally generated solutions, and a limited field of vision that keeps the player guessing what lurks behind every corner. In the game you play as a private investigator trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious case concerning the disappearance of a forbidden grimoire, once held in the vaults of the esteemed Miskatonic University. As reports of cult activity begin to increase, you gain a destination. But in those wretched depths, dark things are known to dwell, and the frailty of the human mind is inescapable.



"Mabi Vs The Black Tome (Everything Wants Me Dead)"




Download:
1. http://gamejolt.com/games/the-black-tome/24441
2. https://jtr.itch.io/the-black-tome
Size: 45 mb
File-type: Compressed Archive (.rar)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 03:57:25 AM by JTR » Logged

clewcat
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2014, 07:41:25 PM »

I really the like atmosphere you set up at the beginning (very dark and tense). I have to stay very close to my screen to see things until I got the flashlight.

I had been seeking things in the village for about 10 mins until I was killed by some shotgunner, but didn't find any powerful weapon. Before that I used up 2 medical kits, and it felt more and more despairing to walk on. I think the difficulty of the monsters is okay but maybe there should be some guide to the weapon depot, or restriction of the map, to ease the frustration?
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Starlink
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2014, 07:43:52 PM »

Well, my save file got corrupted so I gave up.

But I enjoyed that a lot, I can honestly say that this is one of the best horror games I've played. The only thing is that healing items like morphine and even the doctor's partial healing didn't seem to make much of a difference. Also my screen kept inverting and going upside-down and stuff; if this is intentional then I liked the effect and I thought that it added to the suspense in times of trouble but when I'm just walking around outside and there isn't much danger I found it to be pretty annoying (perhaps you could not flip the controls around, only the graphics, I think that would be cool). Aside from that stuff I thought everything was nicely balanced and I enjoyed the difficulty. The story is fun too.
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JTR
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2014, 02:30:30 AM »

clewcat
Thanks for giving it a try! It may be a bit too dark outside in the current version.
I have tweaked that a bit in 1.2.
I'll put in some guidance to the right direction in the next version. The map-item (1.2) should also help a little.

Starlink
-Sorry about your save file. I might have fixed that one already in the upcoming version.
-Nice to hear you're liking it so far.
-I've doubled the morphine's healing effect in 1.2.
-Small amounts of healing can be hard to notice on the health indicator. It can be one of four colors, Green > Yellow > Orange > Red, and it's rate of blinking changes with the amount of current health.
-The rotating screen is a consequence of the player character's deteriorating mental health.
I've made the system less confusing in 1.2 by making the character comment on his mental state now and then.
-I'll try making the controls pay attention to the current screen angle. Good idea.

Gentleman
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 07:43:44 AM by JTR » Logged

ReyFew
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014, 10:15:56 AM »

Your project is great! I see a way it could expand but there should be more IG tips of some sort, or atleast a guide, cause as far as i understand your game is story driven not survival game. (Am i right?) But overall the game was really good, i enjoyed it!
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JTR
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2014, 01:00:44 PM »


Re-uploaded v1.2 (Fixed: a room near the end of the demo was set to run at 60fps)
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 12:21:43 AM by JTR » Logged

ThisIsAvery
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2014, 05:29:58 PM »

Here's a video of me playing it for the first time for ~30 minutes before I gave up!





Important points:


Progress by aimless wandering

By far the biggest killjoy is that you have to wander aimlessly until you happen to find things that let you progress. Even worse, when you acquire a new key you have to backtrack through parts you've already explored, trying to remember where a door you once saw was.

Gameplay of this type just isn't okay for players in this era of gaming.

Remember that you, as the designer/implementer, know the town map like the back of your hand. You see it in your sleep. You know where all the doors you set up are. But the player has no idea, and won't even remember doors they saw a few minutes ago.

I would aim to create a much more guided experience. The design of, "let the player wander until he finds the next interesting thing" is a pretty bad dealbreaker.


Great Ambiance

On the plus side, the ambiance and feel of the game is great. The sound effects are super-good, feel appropriate, give good tells of what things are, and support the aesthetic of the game.

Combat is also fairly good, and for the most part doesn't feel cheap. There is a lack of access to appropriate weapons at points, but that's because of the aimless wandering, not because of the combat or weapon design.
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Tifu
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2014, 09:08:37 AM »

I really enjoy this, though two of the sanity effects were making it a struggle - the suicide one, and the rotating camera one. I liked the effect of the other sanity effects. I got to what I think is the end guy, I assume, and... I do not know how to defeat him. Give me a hint as to how to beat him and I'll try to continue onwards, if it just involves shooting him, I don't think I have enough bullets left.
Really good atmosphere, the lighting works well. Combat is fair for a horror experience Smiley (would not be fair for a more action game, but for a horror experience it works great that your guy keeps missing and occasionally wasting bullets on nothing)

A map would help a lot, any kind of map. Just a hand drawn one the character produces as he explores, or one you have to find. A crude "hand drawn" look would probably fit more than a metroid-style perfect scale representation. Like the early Thief games possibly, with markings made on it when you find a bronze lock or puzzle device or such.
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JamesPotku
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2014, 10:03:26 AM »

Tifu

Ah, yes. It's hard to tell how frequently suicides actually occur for players, so that's pretty useful to know. We'll be looking to adjust accordingly, if it's too unfair.

If the guy you're talking about is the guy I'm thinking of, then yes, it would probably be a matter of simply sinking a damn lot of hits into him. I understand this can be a struggle if you're low on ammo, but it can be done. If you've saved up any money, you should be able to buy ammo for the pocket pistol as well. Melee should work too, if you're out of options.

There are still some new areas after that guy.

You must have missed the map. It's located in a footlocker inside the first house you can enter. The guy selling the pocket pistol (and ammo) will also be here.

Thanks for the feedback, best of luck!
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Tifu
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2014, 10:38:19 AM »

To be fair, I didn't use any cigarettes until I was well into the area under the well... that probably didn't help my sanity. I guess they are more important than I assumed when I started.
Yep, I did miss the map Tongue At first I kind of assumed that searching the guys locker would have been met with disapproval, and possibly violence, so I didn't search it. I would think many players would miss this... unless the pistol guy mentioned the map and I missed that...

I found a gun that I forgot I had dropped somewhere to free up weight and managed to beat the guy I was stuck on Smiley
Demo Clear: Screenshot
My time is probably largely due to not finding the map Embarrassed


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JTR
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2014, 11:24:16 AM »

ThisIsAvery

Thanks for the indepth review!
You have lots of good suggestions, and I also understand your point about modern game design.
I'll be working on balancing the exploration/handholding tradeoff. Also, the story line isn't really done yet, so there's still room for helpful NPCs, notes, etc. Maybe I should let the player set waypoints that could be toggled on the hud / viewed on the map.
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JamesPotku
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2014, 12:01:11 PM »

Tifu

Great, our first 'Demo Cleared'-screen! You didn't do too bad actually, that's a pretty good time for a first playthrough.

You make a good point; it is rather counterintuitive to have to ransack some stranger's house in order to get important items. We'll be fixing this shortly.
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JTR
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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2017, 03:54:59 AM »

Alpha 1.5 is done! (Check first post for links.)
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