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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsLive on Steam - http://QuantumPilot.me -- Kill your Past Lives
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Author Topic: Live on Steam - http://QuantumPilot.me -- Kill your Past Lives  (Read 11777 times)
quantumpotato
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« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2017, 03:57:26 PM »

I have the same issue as mtarini. I tried to launch the .exe and nothing happens at all. I don't even see a new process spawned

Win10, on latest update. I have a X1 controller plugged in but nothing changes when I unplug it

Hello mtarini, Josh, thank you for this info!

[...]
I just now uploaded a new .zip with the .icns file included.
[...]
Please try this new file and let me know if it still doesn't work, then I will upload one without the .icns file as that has worked in the past.

Apologies for the late answer! Unfortunately, the just re-downloaded, most-recent version (v1.6.11, according to file "version") does just the same: no trace that anything is running when I try to exec it.
Win10, Intel i7, Geforce GTX 960M here.
Maybe it is because I've no USB controller of any kind?


 Angry

No USB Shouldn't matter! I thought the reason Windows wasn't working was because of the incorrect icon file path.. does the executable have an icon on your machine?
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« Reply #41 on: August 20, 2017, 02:53:42 PM »

My bad? I tried again today and it works beautifully...
Which means that I could not stop playing for like 1h straight, and heaven knows I couldn't afford the time!

Great concept. Interesting. Addictive + fun game-play. Go on!
It is amazing how alive a game can be without any "AI" going on.
A great feature of this concept is that it encourages the player to try out a multitude of different strategies.
I reached 30.0 skill (I think) and "rockets" stage.

Minor details follow...

* I didn't understand what triggered past selves turning red (just random?) and what is the effect of that exactly on their behavior (rotation toward current self?)

* I also wasn't sure about what happened exactly when I got hit (just go back one level, or anything else?).

* Sometimes I wished I could tell my many past selves apart (e.g. labeling them with a number, 0 to N-1, N being the label of the current self and 0 being the label of the 1st still enemy), both for curiosity to be able to better assess my strategies. I wonder if getting hit by one past self should make *that* one disappear in the replay of the previous stage (leaving the N-1 other ones), instead of just the last one as I think is done now.

* It was at times a bit frustrating to be unable to aim precisely from a distance. I wish I could use a vertical ruler to know whether or not I was aligned with my target.

* The shots-from-nowhere / cylindrical-left-right-wrapping-mechanism was also a bit more confusing than necessary, maybe.

* Music is so fitting. So is the graphic style, but it looks a bit poor, so I wonder if the look could be spiced up or even revamped completely (leaving the game-play unaffected). Maybe just explosions-death animations and the likes. The emerging behavior of the flock of past selves is super-cool and looks like could be made even better looking.

* I think it would look more "correct" and cool if the first enemy ship (the one standing still) faced toward you like any other enemy ship rather than face the same direction as you.

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quantumpotato
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« Reply #42 on: August 20, 2017, 08:01:42 PM »

My bad? I tried again today and it works beautifully...
Which means that I could not stop playing for like 1h straight, and heaven knows I couldn't afford the time!

Great concept. Interesting. Addictive + fun game-play. Go on!
It is amazing how alive a game can be without any "AI" going on.
A great feature of this concept is that it encourages the player to try out a multitude of different strategies.
I reached 30.0 skill (I think) and "rockets" stage.

Minor details follow...

* I didn't understand what triggered past selves turning red (just random?) and what is the effect of that exactly on their behavior (rotation toward current self?)

* I also wasn't sure about what happened exactly when I got hit (just go back one level, or anything else?).

* Sometimes I wished I could tell my many past selves apart (e.g. labeling them with a number, 0 to N-1, N being the label of the current self and 0 being the label of the 1st still enemy), both for curiosity to be able to better assess my strategies. I wonder if getting hit by one past self should make *that* one disappear in the replay of the previous stage (leaving the N-1 other ones), instead of just the last one as I think is done now.

* It was at times a bit frustrating to be unable to aim precisely from a distance. I wish I could use a vertical ruler to know whether or not I was aligned with my target.

* The shots-from-nowhere / cylindrical-left-right-wrapping-mechanism was also a bit more confusing than necessary, maybe.

* Music is so fitting. So is the graphic style, but it looks a bit poor, so I wonder if the look could be spiced up or even revamped completely (leaving the game-play unaffected). Maybe just explosions-death animations and the likes. The emerging behavior of the flock of past selves is super-cool and looks like could be made even better looking.

* I think it would look more "correct" and cool if the first enemy ship (the one standing still) faced toward you like any other enemy ship rather than face the same direction as you.

:D yay! 30 skills is impressive, damn. That's higher than my last 2 runs Shocked

1: Redness. This was a late addition to spice things up and make the Deadline more exciting. It's a random chance when Deadline crosses an enemy for the 1st time that it turns Red. Red means it locks onto you. It also reverses its playback direction (rewinding if it was playing forward).

This was originally to give the Deadline more gameplay effect than just a timer. What happened when all enemies were rotating was it's super easy to just hold one direction and screen-wrap around, the bullets will always be aiming where you were and dodging is trivial. I am testing right now with no-screen wrap and 100% red... 21 lives later: This feels a lot tighter! Makes you want to fight for center because it's easier to get walled off.

I dislike the wrapping because it's so easy to run.. it went in as an experiment and most players like it "woah cool!". I thought about speeding up the Deadline when you wrapped but that seemed very arbitrary.

I'll upload a new build with the wrap taken out (for you + enemy bullets). I played with 100% red rate but I want to try making them un-red when you push the Deadline back above them, I think that could be interesting and help with not getting walled when you kill an enemy near an edge.

Thanks so much for this feedback, I think this next version will be truer to the vision and way more fun. It's more challenging though so I will try extending the Deadline startup time a bit.

Getting hit: Yeah, it sets you back 1 level and removes your last clone so you still have to deal with whatever patterns you set. Most previous versions had instant-game-reset ... a few people found that too punishing, saying the first level was boring. I can see that; personally I liked the steady pace of good execution for many levels and tension when it gets tough but it's pretty overwhelming when it does get too tough. In experimenting with retry I found the tension still maintained - and maintained longer if you had time, so it felt like a good compromise.

Getting hit also speeds up the Deadline for a little bit. Consecutive losses will increase the time the Deadline speeds up. So eventually you have to do better than a stalemate to not lose.

Shots From Nowhere: I'm sorry you had trouble with that. Please try looking at it with this in mind and see if your experience improves: The battlefield is actually smaller than the width of the screen. (Maybe a frame would have helped here? I will try re-add the frame in the next version). You are the ship with the animations inside. When you approach an edge, a projection of you appaers from that edge. Keep moving, and you become where the projection is. Enemy bullets also project, but enemies do not because they will never crossover. They used to wrap but it got annoyingly tricky when an enemy was crossing rapidly + projections on them looked too hectic.

Correctness: Yeah, I'll change that back! They are like that to indicate they are the Imprint (recording your actions). I'll try making them face you for correctness + hollow for readability (so you don't confuse them with an active enemy). By the way there's some strategy in timing when you kill the Imprint, it's better if you can not shoot after you fire the killing shot so they shoot less.

Aiming Difficulty: The difficulty is intentional. Making the ships wider makes you easier to hit too. Adding a grid background would clutter (sticking to minimalist interface out of principle + preference). I've tweaked your movement speed, battlefield height + bullet speed a lot to make it possible to dodge & a little tricky to shoot. Faster bullets make it much easier to hit but dodging is a nightmare.

I have considered a calculator showing if your shot would hit or not and even tried extending a line in front of your ship.. it looked funny. I'm open to suggestions if you can think of something minimalist to try!

Graphics:

I'm not a visual artist Sad

Anything in these strike you as good? For clone paths.







I haven't tried marking ships with numbers or symbols out of minimalism. That might work out though.. maybe small black circles inside of the ship at 360/# degrees apart from each other.. 1 circle, 2 circles etc. Oddly enough this would be easier to implement than text, as Quantum Pilot is written in Javascript and filling text would, I think, be less performant without a custom text renderer. I'm making a note to try out the circles.

Graphics.. I agree with you the game could get upgraded ships, bullets, even a background and still maintain the gameplay. Partially the minimalism is due to my limitations and partly because I like quick reading of a game. As an example of a game that has pretty graphics but the bad color mixing + overwhelming effects sabotages the gameplay, see my First Impressions thread here: https://itch.io/t/128971/first-impressions - my experiences with that game is exactly what I'm afraid of "better" graphics in Quantum Pilot doing.

I know I'll sound asinine for saying this, but the graphics perform their function to communicate gameplay giving you a clear picture - what's on screen is what's on the "game board" and you can see it in your head clearly. That's why the explosions are so fast - I don't want to obstruct your gameplay.

If someone produced a good vision for how the ships could look, I'd try it. (Maybe QuantumPilot in 3D? Lol) But out of lack of art skills + minimalist joy I'll have to stick with it for now. I'm glad "The emerging behavior of the flock of past selves is super-cool" even with the constraints.

I did make a few compromises on the bullets. I know they're not too fancy but they were originally all lines! The circles does help when the enemy bullets are the same color as yours, as now you can differentiate from yours. Red enemies shoot lines, but their bullets are red so it's hopefully easier to read their trajectory at a glance.

Music: I'm glad you like the music! I have only heard positive comments on it which I'm thrilled about. If you want to try it without music, you can tap M (N to mute sfx). The composer is http://www.fracturesmusic.com/ who PMed me through Tigsource asking me to hire them after reading an older devlog! They had credits for other SHMUP games & I liked their style. Great working with them and I highly recommend them.

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quantumpotato
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« Reply #43 on: August 20, 2017, 08:31:36 PM »

I think I'll just remove the rotating clones + red mode entirely. Game feels fine without it.

Played up to the last level. Gameplay feels great. Only got Skill of 13.0455 Shocked . Hm, I think clearing a level should give you a permanent increase to your Skill score of 100 to show progress.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 08:40:01 PM by quantumpotato » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: August 21, 2017, 02:09:52 AM »

Thanks for all the interesting info.
I've only potentially very poor suggestions to offer, here they are!


Gameplay:

Getting hit: I wonder how it would play if, when you get hit, the Past Self who got you disappeared, instead of the last one. So, for example, if on Lvl 3 you have the 1st 2nd 3rd Past Selves and the 2nd one gets you, you play an "Again" Lvl 2 versus the 1st and 3rd, instead 1st and 2nd like now. Interesting strategic consequences.

Victims stage: A stupid idea. MAYBE, as a bonus or final stage of sorts, the player could get to battle against all the past versions of yourselves which got hit and failed, instead of "the set of winners" like normal. That could be for example a final stage after a sequence. It would normally be an easier stage, as the PS stop moving when they reach the moment when they got hit, but it depends on how often you got hit, and could even be a bit dangerous for the player as every failure in this stage leads to a  "Again" replay level where there is one more ship (the one which just died), not one less. If this is to be implemented, you need some way to tell the player what's going on. Eg all the Past Selves in this stage should look like exploding/dying ships.

Level Logic? There are so many variations of the rules possible! Just one example: No reds (as suggested above), occasional random reds (as now), all reds (as you mentioned). Many combinations are probably fun as hell, a pity to lose them in favor of just one. You probably need to explore and identify the best ones. Then, the full game should exploit some sort of stage system (a "stage" is a set of rules), and you get some exterior game logic (level select, beating previous stages unlocking next ones... the usual stuff), to let you expose the player to a rich and diversified experience. Don't underestimate how addictive a game is when it has checkpoints, points that you have to beat to progress, etc.


Graphics:

I'm not a graphic designer either, and I also love the minimalist style you implemented so far. Still a good designer could probably keep it minimal but enrich it a good deal. I can only think of a few potential avenues...

3D: I know it doesn't sound like a good idea at first, but the game-play "rectangle" could appear slightly tilted and be seen in perspective (as a road in typical driving games). Gameplay and even graphics would be still mostly flat, only drawn in a slightly tilted board. Apart from being a bit more dynamic, this opens a possibilities, including making the ship rotate around its vertical axis according to the left-right direction it is moving (a very natural effect, which would look cool during "flocking"), and, making ships "fall down" (or up) during the brief death animations.

Colors: they could be used a lot more to disambiguate things (e.g.: tell dying ships during the brief death animations apart from alive ones; your bullets from enemies', and, enemy ships one from another - using a gradient of colors; irrelevant background from foreground, etc)

Background: I know, it must be kept uncluttered, but still, so many possibilities just to add a bit of spice (in very dark unobtrusive colors). Same for the "deadline", many possible effects to make it a bit more interesting. I would try to make it paler (less contrast) but wider, with a trailing gradient going to nothingness behind (a bit like the stereotypical "radar" scanline).

Transitions: When a stage is over, a popular option in this kind of game is to use a brief fast scroll-up effect to clearly communicate to the player: "you have progressed". It can briefer than a sec, so to keep the fast pacing of this game.  Here, you could also scroll backward when you get hit to communicate the opposite. The effect can be slightly longer when you leave a "sector" (move to rockets stage).

Numbering and labels: one reason I (also) love the current minimalist style is that it feels mysterious and "not-intended-for-humans", which can be fascinating, so adding numbers anywhere on screen (stage level, labels on past selves...) is probably not a great idea. But here's one possible way out: use binary patterns instead of numbers! So for example ship OOX is the first one, ship OXO the second one, OXX the third, XOO the forth, XOX the 5th and so on. Likewise, the current level could be displayed as OOXXOX (13) and so on. Incidentally, that should bypass the technical problem with the library, which you mentioned. Given the theme of the game, you may want to (unjustifiedly) call these X-O symbols (however they are rendered) "q-bits" rather than just bits!


Storyline:

Yes, storyline, why not! Here's a possible one: a Ace space fighter pilot, in the heat of the fierce dog-fighting in a desperate, pivotal battle, accidentally maneuvers right into a black-hole / worm-hole / quantum singularity / whatever. He is never heard of again and given for dead, living on only as a legend. But here is the story of what really happened to him, from the moment of the accident on. Objective: get out of that quantum nightmare, in a way or another. So many possible endings!


« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 02:25:09 AM by mtarini » Logged

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quantumpotato
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« Reply #45 on: August 21, 2017, 06:27:50 AM »

Thanks for commenting & reading! Removing the wrapping & red feels so much tighter. Back to the basics.

--

I don't want to spoil it for you, but there is a Poem that plays after you beat the game. You are told how to skip the Poem at the end and you get a thank you from me too.

It was written unrelated to the game but has some common themes (survival in space) that it sort of ties in. When you complete it let me know what you think!

I saw another comment about how the game should have a character portrait + a storyline.. I prefer focusing on gameplay. I understand the story may feel missing but I'd rather have people just play for the gameplay. This also lets you project your own story if you want.. I admit this is lazy but I like the lack of definition here.

--

There is a "New Game +" that happens after you complete the game the first time. The only thing it does right now is make more clones on a level. This might be overwhelming with the tighter screen + no wrapping though.

(I shrank the screen width because without wrapping it takes longer to cross sides).

Previously I had brainstormed & tested having New Game + make your bullets + enemy bullets collide, or have your momentum affect the bullet or control the bullet as you moved. I didn't really like any of these too much.. I agree that there is potential here but I haven't found a combination I enjoy heaps. Red mode was ok I think - I need to play it more without and compare.

--

I agree with you on checkpoints, goals for addictiveness. I made a choice early on that the game wouldn't be about metagaming for a few reasons in increasing order of seriousness:

1) I don't want to trap the player.. if the gameplay isn't fun, I don't want artificial means keeping them.
2) Related, the Player risks a sense of permanent accomplishment. There are no leaderboards, no replays, no achievements, just a score when you lose. I want the Player's experience to be personal to them. If they persist - then it's only for love of playing the game (or a love of overcoming challenge).
3) I believe it's my job to design the gameplay. I enjoy the tension (see above about risking accomplishment) of fighting through the waves. If I let you start on Level 2 after beating Level 1 once, that tension's completely gone. If you could start on the last Level.. eh, you can say "I beat the game!" but you won't feel very accomplished. I think many players who did this wouldn't even bother trying to run through the game start-finish because "well I already beat the last level".

--

Transitions: I had transitions before; they were about 2 seconds. I saw players keep mashing fire during these so I removed them to streamline gameplay.. I'm not sure about this. Is the lack of transitions overwhelming? Confusing?

Background: Probably going to keep it solid color. The current minimalist approach is to (almost) only draw what affects gameplay. Drawing shapes or dots in the background would require more distinction of the ships + bullets (eg. Galaga) and require more visual processing from the player and, more importantly for development, more design work for me. I don't have these skills so it will stay as it is for now. Same for drawing 3D.

I tried "power up" collectibles previously that upgraded your weapon or gave you points for weapons. Players avoided them thinking they were enemy attacks. I would get annoyed if I had to just ignore certain things in the background. Maybe a grid pattern would work but I'm leaving it as is for now.

Numbers: I like the binary concept, makes sense! I'll try that if the circular arrangement doesn't look good.

--

Bonus Stage: There is a Bonus stage to the game, and I think it's the most fun and exciting part of the game Smiley

--

Thinking more about New Game + and what you said about modes + how I want to design as best as I can, I'm going to lower the clone count of New Game + and change the red mode: Deadline passes an enemy, they red. If you push the Deadline back past an enemy, they unred.

--

Explosions: what do you think of the explosions here? The ships scatter, each of their 4 lines flying away from their middle





There's also a (very slow) transition of the Deadline pulling the player back down. How do you feel about that (if it was faster)?
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quantumpotato
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« Reply #46 on: August 21, 2017, 06:30:18 AM »

Hm.. how would you feel about this as a transition when you got hit:

Pause the game for a few frames, delete an enemy then start the next round. Hm this would need more work if you got hit by a laser from an already killed clone. Maybe jump to the next round immediately then remove the clone. Spitballing here.
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« Reply #47 on: August 21, 2017, 06:37:43 AM »

How would you feel about a small 1-word story at a time? I know that violates the "minimalist" approach but maybe what it gains in story + feel is worth it?

An old idea. This word would appear before each level:

Decision (before you kill the first Imprint)
Prediction
Adaptation
Precision
Obliteration

..I'd need 1 more to fit all 6 weapons but you get the idea.
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quantumpotato
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« Reply #48 on: August 21, 2017, 03:54:41 PM »

Yours (& others) comments about transitions - I think I have a way to stick to the minimalist display + no gameplay interruption principles but do an actual transition:

Show the new weapon color overtake the old in your ship + the border + the new imprint + the deadline. That way you see transition instead of instantaneous.

Maybe coupled with a changing word at the bottom, this would improve the feel a lot.

Comments welcome^(* N posts!)

Comments welcome v Experimenting with Deadline animation to make it more lively. Tried adding a "center point".. does the tracking + center point make it easier to see where the ship is shooting? Is it distracting?

I know it's a few minutes long but I try out different things. At the end a border + single dot for Deadline line up is shown.




I hope it's not too much.
Quote
"I don't want to completely polish my games, that removes their texture"

After watching the video and playtesting more, I think the lack of tracking in the deadline but with the bubble circles is easier to look at.
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quantumpotato
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« Reply #49 on: August 21, 2017, 04:56:30 PM »

Pulling back from the Deadline - it's something you should do, it sucks to miss it (when you just needed to go back).. so here's an update to improve the framing + gameplay of the game, the Push & Squish Deadline:



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« Reply #50 on: August 22, 2017, 01:55:33 AM »

Music: I'm glad you like the music! I have only heard positive comments on it which I'm thrilled about. If you want to try it without music, you can tap M (N to mute sfx). The composer is http://www.fracturesmusic.com/ who PMed me through Tigsource asking me to hire them after reading an older devlog! They had credits for other SHMUP games & I liked their style. Great working with them and I highly recommend them.

 Aw-shucks, thanks Gentleman
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quantumpotato
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« Reply #51 on: August 22, 2017, 06:19:33 AM »

Music: I'm glad you like the music! I have only heard positive comments on it which I'm thrilled about. If you want to try it without music, you can tap M (N to mute sfx). The composer is http://www.fracturesmusic.com/ who PMed me through Tigsource asking me to hire them after reading an older devlog! They had credits for other SHMUP games & I liked their style. Great working with them and I highly recommend them.

 Aw-shucks, thanks Gentleman


Hey there! Thrilled to see you're still following the project. Hope work has been well for you.

Deadline squishes your ship when you get to the bottom. I think this is *much* clearer at communicating you're losing than before - it was so sudden.
The dragging effect + squishing makes it clear "you're losing ground!"



« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 06:24:34 AM by quantumpotato » Logged

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« Reply #52 on: August 22, 2017, 09:05:32 AM »

How do you  Tiger s like this? Each enemy has circles showing which # it was. They rotate clockwise when moving forward on their playback route and counterclockwise when moving backwards.

Hollow enemies:





Opaque enemies:




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« Reply #53 on: August 22, 2017, 02:41:58 PM »

I'm settling on opaque enemies for now. Even though the hollow ones look nicer to me in a picture, the opaque ones are easier to track and aim at.

Enemies now have 25% chance to red in New Game + when the Deadline crosses them. Main game has no red enemies.

Updating www.QuantumPilot.me with the latest build!
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« Reply #54 on: August 24, 2017, 04:00:18 AM »

* Moved border line in 1 px so the full border shows instead of half a px.

* Fixed collision code where bullets could hit from opposite side of screen from previous wrap-around logic

New build up on Itch: www.QuantumPilot.me
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« Reply #55 on: August 24, 2017, 04:51:57 AM »

Played more, I didn't like how the Deadline rush worked.

I like that when you shoot the Deadline slows down. What's really happening is a "rush" variable is set to +1 when not shooting, then the Deadline moves an additional time on its tick.

When you get hit by a bullet, you get +10 to this rush, adding (10 the first hit, 20 next etc).

The problem is - if you keep shooting, the Deadline is only advancing one at a time. After you get hit, a clone is subtracted. Which makes it easier to kill more clones + buy time for the extra Rush to burn out.

This wasn't the feeling I was going for. It's frustrating getting stuck in a loop on a level + it also feels a little cheap to get so many retries. I don't mind a few respawns in an emergent fashion (deadline squish instead of 3x stock) but I miss the intensity of the 1stock mode + earlier implementations of Deadline pouncing.

I increased the difficulty by making an extraRush variable, going up by 40 ticks each time you're hit. When there's extra rush the Deadline gets 3 extra movements.

It means you can still get hit, but only a few times.

Build uploaded: http://QuantumPilot.me
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« Reply #56 on: August 27, 2017, 05:14:54 PM »

I removed bullet instant kill in the bonus round.

It now works just like the main game - bullets rush the deadline.

Builds uploaded to www.QuantumPilot.me
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« Reply #57 on: August 28, 2017, 06:05:25 AM »

Small bug fix today!
Your Kills weren't showing if you got killed by the Deadline in the bonus round. I think I never saw this because I only got killed by bullets in the bonus round prior to yesterday's update.

Builds uploaded www.QuantumPilot.me

I removed the old screenshots + put a new one in, too.
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« Reply #58 on: August 28, 2017, 07:33:33 PM »

Major bug fix today!

When I removed the wallwrap, the clones were left in as bouncing at 100 or width-100 instead of reaching the edge wall.

My games over the last few days I found it easier to move out to the side and shoot.. which is a good strategy but hm, it was too easy, because clones weren't moving out to the sides too, duh!

Discovered after fixing clones moving down past the bottom of the screen.

Builds up: www.QuantumPilot.me
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« Reply #59 on: August 29, 2017, 05:43:27 AM »

 Cool

Going between levels was too boring.

Clones now stay on the screen when you advance weapons. This means you get to waste them with your better weapon Cheesy

A couple of surprises came out of this where sometimes the # of clones could exceed the expected by 1, or there could be multiple imprints showing, but I'll leave it in there for texture.

Multiple imprints helps give you more time and a slight difficulty increase is ok.

Gameplay is much more difficult overall though. I tend to spray more and more my later rounds and now when advancing waves, those clones are still present Shocked

Bonus round was still a blast.

Get the builds: www.QuantumPilot.me
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