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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMable & The Wood - Please give me some advice on the villages!
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Author Topic: Mable & The Wood - Please give me some advice on the villages!  (Read 36942 times)
oldblood
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« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2015, 01:55:48 pm »

Sent you a verbose email of feedback, because I write too much...
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« Reply #41 on: May 03, 2015, 03:10:34 pm »

I will grab this and play through it on my next day off (probably Tuesday)!
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« Reply #42 on: May 04, 2015, 12:54:35 am »

I gave your game 15 minutes! Here's some of my impressions (raw&unedited from my head, so take it as you will):

First Impressions:

  • Nice intro ,music!
  • How do I start the game? Small detail: good way to introduce *all* controls is on the menu! Space to start, WSAD to navigate.
  • Minor: Oh man, I love the menu effects Smiley! Although it should be cut animation bit shorter.
  • Minor: Use positive statements to indicate status in the UI. Display "Music On" for when the music is on and "Music Off" to indicate its off.

In-game:
  • Landing a sword on an enemy is satisfying with the blood (juice?) splatter!
  • Noticing my FPS dips slightly when blood splatter occurs (from 30 to 20-ish). Running on a older laptop though
  • I didn't notice the fireflies were collectable. The sound for picking them up seems to blend in too well as ambience.
  • The bee thing sometimes flying enemies are too close to the top of the screen, putting the player in scenarios where he can't kill it.
  • I forgot to recall Marbel's(?) sword once, the clinking sound it makes really helps!
  • Calling the sword to return to Marble(?) seems to push you in a direction, spamming this lets you go fast :D! This is kinda fun.
  • I can't get past the one area with a flying thing, a rock, and two spiders dropping down
  • You've already mentioned it, but yeah the ground sometimes disappears when you respawn.



Thanks for playing through, that's really helpful! All of the menu stuff is just totally placeholder because I hate making menus (I'll get a pause menu in there this week too though). I'll need to detect pad or keys I think and add mouse control into the menu at some point. I'll fix all the menu stuff but perhaps just add a simple controls overview for now (and a 'press fire to start' thing) so I can focus on the gameplay.

RE the gameplay stuff.

  • I wasn't sure about the juice colour, red blood is so cliche haha
  • I coded in the slowdown on the kills - I'll add an option in menu to turn it off though I think. There may be some additional slowdown there too because of lazy gamejam code for collision/particles
  • I don't know why the fireflies are there. I thought maybe to unlock secret levels, or just for points or maybe they slow down the colour dieing
  • You can get them but you have to drop the sword just before them, swing under them and recall it straight away. It's near impossible so definitely needs fixing!
  • Yeah the spamming the sword to fly faster is pretty cool! It really helps with the spiders and will be needed to get through some levels
  • Level 1 should probably be a lot easier. As in, possible to finish!
  • Stupid ground code.

@oldblood - your email is amazing, thank you. Very good and very helpful points raised. I am redownloading Super Meat Boy as we speak!

I think shorter, more focused levels may be the way to go.

@TopherPirki - I'll try and have a new build ready for then!

Thanks again for helping me make this thing better!

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« Reply #43 on: May 05, 2015, 11:35:31 am »

New Windows build uploaded.

Download it here

The first level is now more of a learning level. Although there's still some challenge to it, it isn't quite as punishing and overwhelming.

I've also made a start on the 2nd stage:



I'm going to add a boatman who rows slowly through the flooded level. You can land on (and drop your sword on) the boat.

I'm at work now for the rest of the week (and the weekend) so this is probably the last update until next week now Sad

Please leave me feedback if you do get chance to play it.

Thanks
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« Reply #44 on: May 14, 2015, 09:11:16 am »

I haven't actually worked on Mable in the past 7 days due to that horrid, nagging life getting in the way.

This is very frustrating. I can't actually do any work on Mable until the weekend either, and even then I only have a few hours spare so I really have to make them count! I feel poo because she's sat there waiting to be judged by Indiecade and she's currently not in a very good state.

Let's not make this a depressing rant about nothing that I can particularly do anything about though, and instead let's make this a depressing rant about my Ludum Dare results!

#6      Graphics     4.63
#22    Mood          4.10
#26    Overall        4.10
#48    Audio          3.90
#80    Innovation  3.93
#103  Theme        3.97
#109  Fun             3.74
#581  Humor        2.66

This is the best I've ever done in Ludum Dare, although 1 place higher overall & in graphics to sneak into the top 25 and top 5 categories respectively would have been so much better hehe - to be fair, the entry was just a combat mechanic with randomly spawning enemies and the colour fading and it placed a lot higher than I had hoped.

I don't really know what to make of the result other than that they are broadly 'good' - I don't suppose there is a lot that you can read into them, is there?

Anyway - I really need to do a postmortem, so I'll be making time to do that at the weekend and I'll get some more pretty pictures for you all :D

Have a good week everyone!
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oldblood
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« Reply #45 on: May 14, 2015, 09:44:14 am »

Nice to see the results, and congrats. Not surprised at all it rated so highly. Always tough when life climbs in the way of your work and goals-- unfortunately that's unavoidable from time to time. Like you said, just look to maximize the hours you have... Looking forward to seeing where this game goes...
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« Reply #46 on: May 14, 2015, 01:49:59 pm »

Awesome to see that you're continuing this! I really enjoyed this game. Also, those are some good results for LD! You did better than me at least.
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« Reply #47 on: May 14, 2015, 03:51:45 pm »

This is quite late, but i can play test as well if you'd like, send me a mail at [email protected]
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« Reply #48 on: May 14, 2015, 11:17:22 pm »

Wow nice work! Tried to run the itch io build on my mac but it didn't open for some reason Sad  Anyway looking forward to see where you take this!
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« Reply #49 on: May 15, 2015, 01:30:57 am »

Nice! The game seems to have a great feel to it. The animations are nice, the partallax adds to it. I dig those environmental animations like sun beams and wind. Good job.
I must say I'm not a big fan of the interface. Those 2 icons on the upper left feel a bit bland.
Keep it up!
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« Reply #50 on: May 15, 2015, 03:54:10 am »

Thanks everyone Smiley

@RainWorldIsAwesome - I'll get an email to you after the weekend, always looking for testers!

@slarti88 - you may have to enable "Allow apps downloaded from: Anywhere" in Security & Privacy settings (i'm not an Apple Developer)

@Igor Sandman - the wind was surprisingly fun to try to animate. Eddies are not the easiest thing to research :|

Any ideas on how to add more interest to the UI? It's pretty basic, but I wanted something to show the health of the world, so the heart beats everytime the colour fades a gradient (and it also slowly unfills a pixel at a time). I also wanted something to show how many fireflies you'd captured, which is what the jar is there for.

Perhaps just something behind them to tie them together?
 
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« Reply #51 on: May 15, 2015, 04:51:19 am »

Wow nice work! Tried to run the itch io build on my mac but it didn't open for some reason Sad  Anyway looking forward to see where you take this!

Giving executable permission to the executable file ( from the terminal ) worked for me.
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« Reply #52 on: May 15, 2015, 05:36:02 pm »

I think the background is way too noisy and distracting so I'd tone that right back if possible. Good luck with the development, I love the blues. Smiley
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« Reply #53 on: May 16, 2015, 01:32:39 am »

I just test the game, it is fun to play and I really like the forest in the background.

I notice a bug when I get to the second level and then die, the game get croped and playable only on the top left quarter.
On my laptop the game run a little bit slow.

By the way this is a good little game.
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« Reply #54 on: May 16, 2015, 12:26:02 pm »

I think the background is way too noisy and distracting so I'd tone that right back if possible. Good luck with the development, I love the blues. Smiley

To be honest I'd not even looked at the background since I first drew it. I've been considering removing a couple of the tree layers and having some focal point that foreshadows future areas - I still want to keep it so each area is all in 1 colour though (for the backgrounds I mean).

I just test the game, it is fun to play and I really like the forest in the background.

I notice a bug when I get to the second level and then die, the game get croped and playable only on the top left quarter.
On my laptop the game run a little bit slow.

By the way this is a good little game.

Thanks for taking the time to play it! I still need to make finishing a level feel awesome (and make more levels, there's only really 1) but that bug sounds like it really needs fixing as a priority! A lot of the code was very much just hacked in & badly organised during the game jam, so increasing the game's performance is sure to be a fun task...

Thanks again. And just so you know, I'm very eager to play through Tikotep, so feel free to send me a build any time Wink
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« Reply #55 on: May 18, 2015, 07:19:00 am »

Mable: The Journey – Ludum Dare Compo Version Postmortem



Introduction

The Ludum Dare Compo entry version of Mable is a 2D side-scrolling action game, in which you control a girl who has a sword that is too heavy for her to swing. Fortunately, you can also shapeshift into a faerie and recall the sword to your hand, which then cuts through anything in the way. This is pretty handy, since there are monsters in the forest who are draining the world of colour. You must simply destroy the monsters to return the colour to the world. There is no win. There are no points. There is just not dying (or more likely: there is just lots of dying and playing again).

I really need to work on my elevator pitch.

Anyway, that's all there is to the game really - kill the things before the colour fades – but it did surprisingly well, finishing #26 overall in the compo, #21 for mood and #6 for graphics! I also got a great response from so many people that have played the game, with it having around 900 downloads on itch.io and getting mentioned on a few websites. It also got this awesome video-review kind of thing from thekillerbits on YouTube.

Even my Mum liked the look of it and she hates games! Well, except Spelltower and Solitaire, she's pretty addicted to those.


The Origins of Mable


I actually had no idea what to make for Ludum Dare. I knew I wanted to make something that I could enter into the compo, rather than the jam, so it would have to be something that I could make graphics, sound and the actual game for in 48 hours.

That 48 hours was actually going to be more like 24 hours, as we were having a little family outing to Manchester on the Saturday for the day. It was a lovely day, but there was no game related stuff going on at all – not even thinking about the game really (although we did have a discussion about what I could do with the theme on the way back, which I'm sure everyone in the car thoroughly enjoyed.

The development itself, when I actually got sat at my PC, didn't go well at all. I still had no idea what to make, but I had at least decided a few things I wanted to try out.

I'd not really done pixel-art for a while, so that was one thing decided. I'd just started to learn how to use shaders the week prior to Ludum Dare, so that was another thing I really wanted in there – but that was pretty much all I really had decided when I started work on the game.

So for the first day, all I had done was make a pretty scrolling forest:



I'd also drawn a few characters, but had totally misread the theme and basically drawn a bunch of different characters with giant swords – not really what you'd call an unconventional weapon. After a sleep-deprivation triggered outburst on Twitter, I was given a particularly good suggestion by Richard Goodness: why not use a conventional weapon in an unconventional way?

This seemed to be an awesome idea. So I decided to think about that for the rest of that sleepless Saturday night.

When I woke up - don't you hate that? When you can't get to sleep, but you somehow do just before you need to get up – the idea was pretty much just there, fully formed. You can't lift the sword, but you can turn into a faerie and recall it to your hand to kill any enemies (who are draining the forest of colour, obviously just an excuse to try out a shader) in the way.

So that was that. I cracked on and, while the game was far from as finished as I would have liked it to have been, I got my entry up with about 20 minutes to spare!

Monday I pretty much just slept for the day. Which was nice.


No, I don't know why I drew a random business guy either


What Went Right

GameMaker. I've been using GameMaker: Studio for maybe 18 months now, and I've made a lot of prototypes on it (prototypes are my favourite) in that time, alongside working on a big background project. I can do things quickly. If I have an idea, I can usually get it working pretty roughly in a few minutes to at most an hour (if it's something pretty drastic). This meant that I could focus more on the feel of the game, and make everything feel awesome. It also meant that I could feel confident to try out getting a shader in there to reduce the colour saturation as you play through the level, something I wouldn't have even attempted to learn over the weekend if I didn't already know my way around GameMaker so well – although I did learn quite a bit about compiling thanks to all the complaints about having to install it (who knew you could make a standalone executable so easily?)

Pixel-art. I find pixel-art, when done well, beautiful. I love it. It feels really good to create too, because I can tweak it to my heart's content. Animating in pixel-art is great too, because it really feels like you're giving life to these little characters. Creating the art for Mable was an absolute joy (hence why there's currently 20 enemies drawn and not coded in for the expanded version I'm working on). Another benefit of going with pixel-art was the online community around it. When tweeting my work in progress, I got more retweets than I think I've ever had for anything, and in the week from the Saturday when I started tweeting went from 585 followers to around 690 – which freaked me out a little bit! So yeah, it seems like a lot of people like pixel-art!

A focus on 1 mechanic. The actual turning into a faerie and recalling the sword thing took about 15 minutes to get working, and probably another 3 hours polishing it up to make it feel awesome. There's a whole bunch of tiny little juicy things that happen when you recall that sword, and a whole bunch more when it slices through an enemy. When I was just flying through the level as fast as I could until I ran out of colour, over and over again, I new I'd got the feel about right. I've made the mistake in many games before, not just jam games and prototypes but larger projects too, of trying to get too much in and make it a super deep experience. I don't really think that's the right way to go about it. I mean, depth is fantastic and it's certainly a good goal to aim for, but you've got to make sure you've got something enjoyable before you start making it deeper. Nobody wants to dive into a swimming pool filled with excrement, right? Please see my website for a collection of such swimming pools.

Not being in work on Monday. I didn't really get any sleep from Friday until Sunday, so being able to recover from the weekend was really important. In the past I'd always been in work on the Monday after Ludum Dare, and it had always added to the stress of trying to get the game done. It felt a lot better this time, and I really got to enjoy the whole experience of the weekend. Even if you have to plan to pull a sicky, I 100% recommend no work on the Monday.


What Went Wrong

Too little pre-planning. You can see how the voting has gone. You know that one of the top 5 voted entries are going to be, so at least start thinking about how you might use each of those themes. I had an idea for a couple of the final round of themes, but hadn't bothered to look at how they'd performed in the earlier rounds (badly, as it turned out). I started making something without an idea of what I was making. I mean, I didn't even get the theme right when I started drawing the characters! The stress that this caused was not good. It did not help me sleep. It did not help the game.

No testing. The collision on the sword doesn't work properly (it only draws a 1 pixel thick line from the centre of the sword to the centre of your avatar, so you've got to time it perfectly to hit something), the text appears behind the trees, you can't switch in and out of fullscreen on a Mac, the bulls can get stuck right underneath you and, worst of all, it's just ridiculously hard. Don't get me wrong, I love a difficult game, but it just got ridiculous after about 20 seconds. This is a lesson I should have learned before, but I keep getting it wrong! Maybe this time I'll learn (probably not).

No win condition. There is no point to the game. You just fly around and kill stuff to stop the game ending. The longer that you survive, the more stuff comes to try and kill you. I think I got the last enemy in with about an hour to go, but I'm pretty sure I had enough time to at least put a simple scoring system in there. I know I would definitely had time if I hadn't wasted time on adding in...

...The last minute tutorial (and the front layer in general). I'm pretty sure this lost me points and the game would have actually been a lot cleaner without it. As soon as the last enemy was in, I added a stupid little text thing to try to explain how to play. Sadly, it doesn't explain how to play. And worse than that the text is behind the front layer of trees so you can't even read it! You squint and move around trying to read it, then you realise it's a load of rubbish. This was a stupid tired mistake, but overall a pretty minor one. It just kind of takes the shine off the thing a little. Another thing that was pretty clear after a good sleep was how much of a problem the front layer is – it basically blocks a lot of the action, making things harder to see. Again, a bit minor and I'm sure a lot of people didn't a) notice or b) care.

Looking at the theme in the middle of the night when it is announced. I looked at the theme at around 2am UK time. I then tried to get back to sleep. That didn't happen, so I got up and started drawing. Then we drove to Manchester and I felt like hell. Then we came back and I tried to start work on the game and felt worse. I do this every time. I am an excitable man-child and the merest hint of Ludum Dare starting sends my brain into overdrive. I think I'll be asking someone to hide my phone next time so that I can't peek!



Conclusions

People seemed to love what, to me, felt like a handsome mess of a game. However, as a starting point I think it's pretty awesome. I really enjoyed making it and I'm definitely going to expand on it to make it a more focused experience that has a point to it. I'm really happy with the level of polish I managed to achieve and how cool it feels to fly around and slice through the enemies. I've already fixed many of the issues with the Ludum Dare version, and the community here on TIG has been pretty amazing.

I'll be doing a full update soon on what I've got planned for the game. I want to keep it simple and focused, but really give you a full world to play with. I've already had plenty of ideas of fun ways to play around with using the sword mechanic in different ways, so I guess really I just need to learn level design super quick and get everything in there. I've been even been playing around with a local versus mode – which is stupid (and therefore super fun).

I think the main takeaway has been: keep it simple and make sure that everything is awesome before you add more stuff in, and don't forget to get people to test the game for you!
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« Reply #56 on: May 20, 2015, 09:19:18 am »

Huh, so folks don't like super long boring posts with no real information in them?

OK - no more postmortems Smiley

On with the show!

I got feedback that the end of the level was a bit unclear that you were actually finishing a level. So I did this:



That's actually the end of the intro that you play through before the 1st level, but it's the same idea. There's a hint to the story there too, although I'm not going to spoiler that because I think it's going to be pretty interesting.

Anyway, the current plan is this:

1 - Make the first 8 levels super awesome. That covers the 1st 2 areas of the game: woodland and wouldn't you like to know somewhere else that I'm not revealing yet.

2 - Add in the bosses & mini bosses (separate rooms for these). I've got 3 bosses designed, but not sure whether to just keep 2 (1 for each area) or split up the 2nd area with a boss in the middle. Most likely the latter.

3 - Add co-op. Drop in drop out. If anyone has a character that might want a cameo, let me know!

4 - Polish it up and have that build available as a demo.

5 - Work on some kind of trailer and try to build up interest in the game.

6 - Re-evaluate.

I'll need money at some point. The work I've got on at the minute is only guaranteed until September, but I might be able to get more that will allow me to work on this alongside it. I'd prefer to not need money and still be able to work on this full time, but sadly real life just doesn't work like that. On the bright side, I got a tax rebate today that will pay a whole month of bills for me!

I suppose there's always crowdfunding, but I can't see myself stirring up enough interest to get it funded!

Anyway, for the next update I'll be showing off a bunch of new characters and enemies that you'll be seeing in the game and covering a little bit more about level structure and other such things.
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« Reply #57 on: May 20, 2015, 09:26:58 am »

I mean, those crystals look ok, but they're definitely first draft. I'll be making them look more pretty at some point - I find it helps if I leave things looking a bit average for a while and then go back to them to revise rather than just updating them straight away.
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oldblood
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« Reply #58 on: May 20, 2015, 11:26:18 am »

Regarding the crystal, I know its all still WIP but for whatever reason something feels off about it? This will sound odd but it almost feels "too detailed"? I know you want it to pop so that it stands out as an important marker so maybe that is just me... I can't quite put my finger on it. It looks nice, just stands out from the other assets.

As far as your pipeline, I think those are great milestones to target. What dates are you giving yourself on those? Is that the month of financed work or the work through September or some other time frame? I tend to be super aggressive with my dates so I'm always curious how others give themselves tasks.
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« Reply #59 on: May 20, 2015, 11:32:01 am »

Just dropping in to say that I've got a crazy workweek, so I haven't read it, but I absolutely love reading postmortems. As somebody who's usually only peripherally related to hard development, and still learning the ins and outs of making games, that kind of thing is invaluable. I'm sure I, at least, will get some good perspective out of it.
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