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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperPlaytestingRoll Playing Game - Alpha Demo - a rhythm-driven puzzle platformer to marble at
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anteevy
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« on: April 17, 2015, 08:25:57 AM »

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New September Alpha Demo available: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=47496.msg1184977#msg1184977

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Hi!

I finally uploaded a free alpha demo for Roll Playing Game: http://felinefuelledgames.itch.io/roll-playing-game

Roll Playing Game is a rhythm-driven ball rolling game filled with traps, puzzles, treasures and insidious floor texts. Here is a little gameplay trailer for the first chapter:



A screenshot from Level 1-4, included in the alpha demo:


The demo contains the first 5 levels (i.e. the complete first chapter) in campaign mode. I have also prepared a small feedback form for those who have played through the demo: http://goo.gl/forms/9CceYoCpM9 Obviously you can also simply reply in this thread. Tongue

More details can be found in the DevLog thread for the game: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=47057.0
Or on the game's website: http://roll-playing-game.com/

Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 12:55:58 PM by anteevy » Logged

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ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2015, 09:13:28 AM »

Looks pretty awesome! Definitely going in my queue of games to playtest soon.
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anteevy
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« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2015, 05:20:15 AM »

Cool, thanks! Looking forward to the feedback. Smiley
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ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2015, 09:59:32 AM »

OK, I found some time to give this a try. I made a video:



Pretty cool game overall, but there were a few sore spots that I'd like to see changed.
  • I'm sure this is subjective, but the floor text humor fell totally flat for me - I'd have preferred it if the game took itself more seriously and played things straight.
  • The penalty of some yellow orbs being rendered useless after dying doesn't seem sensible. The way they're positioned in the level acts as the primary motivator for exploring fully. If I can't get 100%, the motivation is drastically weakened. Is the game about collecting yellow orbs, or just about navigating to the level exit? If it were me, I'd be inclined to remove the penalty for death, and require all orbs to be gathered to unlock the exit so that they're no longer optional. Your level designs would shine a lot more if such large portions of them weren't completely optional.
  • I'd prefer a quicker respawn. The game pauses a bit too long for my taste after dying.
  • The sound effect for picking up yellow orbs is very satisfying, because it pairs so nicely with the background music. Apart from that, though, the game's soundscape is pretty barren. The feel of pretty much any game feel can be greatly improved by giving as many things as possible distinct sound effects. Checkpoints should sound different from yellow orbs; pulsing red floors could make a subtle electric buzz or something when active near the player, and a sizzling noise when dealing damage; even some (very quiet) sounds for rolling and bumping against walls would probably feel nice.

Hope this helps!
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anteevy
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2015, 01:17:36 PM »

I've just watched the video, thanks for the extensive and on-the-point feedback! It's always so much more helpful for me if I can actually watch the tester play the game.

Many of the smaller points you mention are already planned or in the game but not quite ready, e.g. additional SFX (we're just getting started there), floor text control hints based on the current input method and additional music cues (the first 4 levels have unique tracks, level 5 currently uses level 2 music).

The respawn time will be replaced by a "press [key] to continue". Currently it's that long because often there are floor texts that appear only when the ball is destroyed and the player should have the chance to read them, even if they are just mocking his failure. Wink

I think you are right regarding the irritating floor texts in the first level. It should be clearer to the player that the texts that explain gameplay mechanics (yellow and white orbs) are not false information. The only lying text is actually the "red floor heals" one, but I saw you didn't trust any of the texts after that haha. That was certainly not the intention. Or was it?  Wink

Now, the big one: the Points System: (really extensive explanation incoming)
In the full game, the player earns 1-5 campaign points (CP) per level based on the % of collected yellow orbs (e.g. > 95% = 5CP, > 85% = 4CP), all shown/explained in the score screen after the level. These points are needed to unlock new levels.
When respawning, each yellow orb collected since the last checkpoint has a 30% chance to turn white. That is the penalty for dying, so depending on the amount of collected orbs since the last checkpoint, the maximum amount of collectable orbs gets reduced by maybe 2-5%. So, dying once should still maintain the possibility of getting >95% orbs and therefore 5CPs - which basically is still a perfect level score, because the % is not saved after completing a level, only the amount of CPs you got from that percentage.
Therefore I think the motivation to collect all yellow orbs is still fully intact after dying, because you should still try to get as many of them as possible. If you don't, you might just end up with 1CP at the end and maybe don't reach the unlock limit for the next level. In the alpha demo that motivation wasn't there obviously, so I agree with your criticism.
Also, one of the main reasons I chose this system: If you get stuck at a certain hard section, even if you have to respawn 20 times until you finally beat that section, you will still only lose the orbs that you collect in that section. You can then move on and maybe still get your 4CPs. Additionally, more motivation to collect optional yellow orbs at really hard locations because you can't lose more orbs than if you didn't even try, in which case you would "lose"/skip all of them.

Does it make more sense in the context of the full game now or do you still think it should be reworked? It's something I really struggled to get right for a long time, even if it seems to be such a quick and easy design decision at first.

Thanks again for the awesome feedback!
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ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2015, 04:17:13 PM »

Ah cool, that all makes sense. Multiple thresholds of reward (95%, 85%, etc.) sounds like it would work better with the system that's in place. I can imagine some frustration if I die relatively early, continue and play perfectly, and then end up with 94% after collecting all available orbs without being able to know ahead of time that 95% was no longer possible, but I'd have to play with the new system to know how it would really feel.
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anteevy
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2015, 03:18:52 AM »

I could additionally display the % of white orbs in the HUD so you can see how many orbs you have lost. Or use a progress bar to display orb progress instead of a sphere (yellow starting left, white starting right). I don't want to clutter the HUD with too much information though, so it's quite the balance act. I'll think about this - if you have additional ideas, I'm listening. Wink

That's a common problem I have in many games by the way. In the Trials series for example, you only know after completing a level how many medals you get for your respawns/time. Similar case with Rayman Origins/Legends.
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2015, 10:38:32 AM »

Maybe the misleading floor text concept would work better if it was always misleading, but sometimes in more obvious ways- For example instead of just saying at the beginning "hey some of this is false and some isn't" you could have the first blurb say "you can not collect these yellow orbs" but then immediately its clear that you actually can. That would introduce the idea to the player without beating them over the head with it but also without being frustratingly inconsistent.
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anteevy
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2015, 01:12:18 PM »

Thanks for the input!

Being misleading regarding gameplay explanations was actually only thought as a one-time joke with the "red floor heals" text and nothing more. And just like your example, it should be instantly clear to the player that the text is lying - and if not, just try it out and be rewarded with a snarky comment after death.

I see now that it was too early in the game for something like that and have removed/changed those texts in the tutorial level. There are still misleading texts in some of the later levels, but (just as you say) always with direct feedback on whether that floor text was lying or not. Also, you will never lose point orbs because of one of these texts lured you into your death, as they are always placed after checkpoints and before you are able to collect point orbs that you might lose. Instead of being unfair and frustrating, they should invite the player to explore and see what happens if they follow the narrator's directions, without negative consequences.
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2015, 02:40:48 PM »

This looks neat!
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Rarykos
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2015, 02:51:46 PM »

I love this aesthetic! Good job on pulling it off and not going over the top where it would hurt my eyes.
I only watched the video, and while I like the sound design, it's awesome, it's not really a rhythm game Shocked
I'd like to see where this goes.

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anteevy
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2015, 02:30:34 PM »

Thanks! I agree, it may not be a "rhythm game" in the classic sense. Nearly all gameplay elements move and behave with the rhythm of the music though: they all activate/deactivate/shoot/move/... in fixed rhythm intervals. In fact, their actions are triggered by a global interval system that makes sure everything is in sync. Each chapter has its own rhythm/speed. You just don't have to move with the rhythm 100% of the time as it is the case with pure rhythm games - it is still also a ball rolling game at its core. Smiley

It should get more obvious in later levels when there are more and more rhythmic traps/gameplay elements.
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2015, 08:09:49 AM »

Cool puzzle game. At first glance I liked the fuzzy, glowy look of it but after playing a couple levels I felt like I was going crosseyed a bit Smiley

By level 4 the length was already at a level that I wouldn't desire to play any further. But, that said I am not a big puzzle game fan so take that feedback w a grain of salt.

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anteevy
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2015, 03:20:41 PM »

Cool puzzle game. At first glance I liked the fuzzy, glowy look of it but after playing a couple levels I felt like I was going crosseyed a bit Smiley

By level 4 the length was already at a level that I wouldn't desire to play any further. But, that said I am not a big puzzle game fan so take that feedback w a grain of salt.
Thanks for the feedback!

Are there any concrete reasons (gameplay elements/design decisions) why you wouldn't continue playing, anything I could improve, or is it really only because you just don't like the genre?

In the full game, playing through the campaign (without maxing the levels or doing optional objectives or playing the bonus levels) should take about 3-4 hours. I feel that's the maximum amount of (core) length a game in this genre can have before feeling repetitive. Doing the extra stuff can easily double that length. I'm introducing 1-2 new gameplay elements in each level until the final level which I hope should keep the motivation and diversion up throughout the game.
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anteevy
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2015, 09:39:16 AM »

I've uploaded a new (heavily reworked) Alpha Demo! http://felinefuelledgames.itch.io/roll-playing-game



It still contains the first chapter of the game, but I've updated the levels to be even more diverse than before. Levels 1-3 and 1-5 are completely new, for example. 1-5 gets quite crazy already and shows what many of the later levels will play like.

A new level hub was added, where the player sees unlocked levels, highscores and the resources needed to unlock new levels. The score system was updated: White orbs are gone, the player can now earn 1-4 points depending on the % of collected yellow orbs and another 1-4 points depending on the number of respawns/deaths needed to complete the level.

For those who found the controls to be too slow and unresponsive, the ball physics were slightly adjusted and additionally, a boost button was added. Boosting has to be used carefully though, as the ball will explode after taking even the tiniest amount of damage while boosting.

Also, I've updated both visuals and music/SFX, though especially the latter is still far from finished.

---

I'd love to hear some feedback! So far it has been really helpful, thanks again! Smiley
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anteevy
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« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2015, 12:54:52 PM »

I've updated the Alpha Demo again. As usual, it's the first 5 levels, vastly improved. I'd really love to get new feedback on the game to get it as perfect as possible!

http://felinefuelledgames.itch.io/roll-playing-game

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« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2015, 05:38:58 PM »

Judging by the style, sound design and overall aesthetic being all pretty darn great, please take anything I write with a grain of salt as I'm sure I'll be pointing out stuff you've already got planned or know about. These also aren't in any particular order.

The good stuff
  • Looks like a marble madness and drum machine's love child.
  • I really like the way the music is interactive. The way the synth pads come in on densely redded areas is really nicely done. You can almost feel the heat coming off those things. I also love how the music gets intense on level 5 during the sections that I won't spoil.
  • The sound effects are all well made and fit the aesthetic very well and as ThemsAllTook said, they match the music perfectly
  • Level 5 is definitely the level I enjoyed the most because it let me progress at whatever pace I choose to and had very little wait time.
  • Particle effects for pretty much everything are very swish and cool to look at (not that I spent much time staring at them or anything Embarrassed). The snow-like and smoke particles in particular added a soft dreamy feel to the atmosphere which is also reinforced by the downtempo beats. You've really nailed the theming IMO, I love it.

The not so good stuff
  • Why a ball of fire? I'd imagine a ball of ice would fit better, it could even shrink or slowly turn to water as you lost health.
  • Pink "insta kill" squares could benefit from being slightly more differentiated to the regular red ones.
  • Squares that move, I believe should have some indication of where they'll be moving to next and/or a guide line/track which shows its full patrol route.
  • The camera snaps slightly too fast and is a little disorientating.
  • I would prefer a different effect on completing a level rather then the death one, also the completed screen should appear as soon as you touch the bottom of the goal with some kind of fanfare-esque sound.
  • The red squares having some indication of how long until they come on might be nice. Maybe a faint square growing inside the dark red "off state" square synced to the beat before the full intensity red-ness shows.
  • I felt the arrows on the pusher pads would read better if they had a more solid triangular shape as the lines from the angle bracket are difficult to read at a glance or when there's many close together.
  • I wasn't keen on waiting around a lot on the earlier levels. Level 3 in particular didn't have enough "freedom" sections to break up all the stop/start gameplay.
  • The lasers could benefit from having an indication of when they'll be turning back on. I noticed one section on Level 4 (I think) where the camera snapped and I lost view of the timer.
  • Ramps, steps and awesome UE4 reflective glass bridges please Tongue
  • I know you've already mentioned about unimplemented sound effects but a different, jinglier sound for collecting the final yellow orb would be cool and also a more checkpoint/health sounding sound for the white orbs.
  • I didn't play the version with green checkpoints but how come you changed them to white. Would a pale green work better?
  • Being trapped and forcing a suicide feels a bit wrong. Being forced to take damage kind of feels wrong but I see nothing wrong with it, although the ball should have a visual cue to a rough estimate of how much health remains

Like I said please feel totally free to ignore all the things I'm sure you already know about and/or disagree with. Other than that, proper well done on making this very polished game. I look forward to more and wish you the very best.

Cheers,
Marios
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 06:07:45 PM by MazK1985 » Logged
anteevy
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« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2015, 12:56:38 AM »

Thanks so much for the feedback! Glad you liked it. A lot of things that I agree on and will improve (or are already planned). Smiley

  • The ball skin is just a placeholder right now. There will be different colors, effects (fire/ice/...) etc. to unlock for ball customization. I've thought about displaying the ball's health on its skin, but I couldn't come up with something that looks good yet. Still trying to figure something out though!
  • Insta kill squares: differentiated in which way? color or shape? Also, they don't have routes, instead they move randomly to a floor tile next to them, but never back to the one they came from (unless in a dead end). Not sure if I should show where they will go next as that's part of what makes them so dangerous?
  • Green/White orb: I have a healing orb (that will be introduced in a later level) that is green, so I changed the checkpoint to white. Yeah, I'm running out of colors - I think white works because of the "cleaning/resetting/saving" of the level state. Grin
  • I thought forcing the player to suicide when inside certain (obvious) traps was fun. I could place a death trap there, but I like the "damn, I wasn't careful enough and now I'm stuck here with a floor text mocking me - guess I have to respawn" thinking. I maybe have around 5 such traps in the game and they are all placed directly after a checkpoint to prevent frustration.
  • "Ramps, steps and awesome UE4 reflective glass bridges please" Reflection doesn't go well with glowing material + the AA method sadly. I initially planned ramps but couldn't find a use for them - most of the gameplay is created for "2D" movement. If you have any specific gameplay ideas regarding ramps, I'd be happy to hear them though.  Wink The game does have jumppads by the way, allowing you to jump over lasers, from platform to platform etc.
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« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2015, 04:28:09 AM »

No problem, I'm a huge fan of the first Super Monkey Ball game and enjoy ball rolling games in general so thank you for making one Smiley
  • I didn't realise the ball skin was a placeholder because it looked pretty cool. Different ball skins sounds good. As for a visual cue, I can only think of the fire ball slowly being turned into rock or something but that doesn't really fit into the red "heat" squares theme I guess.
  • I was thinking more of a slight colour change but a shape change could work too so they stand out better against the red ones. I'm impatient so I like to know at a glance what the level is doing when trying to zoom around. Also, never realised they weren't on set paths lol.
  • That makes sense if you're having a separate healing orb.
  • It wasn't too bad tbh. It's probably just me feeling I should be able to complete levels without taking any damage or dying. Is there a level progressing switch on Level 4 where you must suicide after the long arrow pad bit? I probably remember incorrectly.
  • Steps could be another way to block the player from returning to an area and ramps a way to return back. They can also just be used to add further variety to level design or to allow the player to roll faster into the next section. Maybe the steps could be climbed back up if you're traveling at full speed like Super Monkey Ball. Jump pads sound like fun, should be cool hopping over stuff. That sucks that the reflections don't work well though. They would probably create unnecessary contrast on the floor anyway.
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« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2015, 08:13:39 AM »

I'm impatient so I like to know at a glance what the level is doing when trying to zoom around.
I'm with you on that and will see how I can make them stand out better.

Is there a level progressing switch on Level 4 where you must suicide after the long arrow pad bit?
This is the one place where you have to suicide, for tutorial purposes. It was optional before, but some testers just skipped it and didn't know about the respawn button later on. Not sure how to make sure that the player knows that a respawn button exists without making him use it to progress in the level. I'm open to suggestions here!
Completing a level without taking damage won't be possible in some levels. There is e.g. one called "Survival 101" that has whole sections where you continuously take damage and have to find the way of the least damage (and most health orbs) to survive.

I already have several "block the way back" elements, like the speedpads, teleporters, jumppads and more. I agree on the level variety though. It's just that stairs would require a completely new approach on how I create and load the levels, as I'd then need different floor heights etc. and I'm not sure if it's worth it.
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