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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsWilly and Mathilda's Houseboat Adventure: The Game (Win/Linux/Mac)
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Author Topic: Willy and Mathilda's Houseboat Adventure: The Game (Win/Linux/Mac)  (Read 7293 times)
IBwWG
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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2016, 12:14:49 AM »

Another design question I have is about Under the Spell of Shiny Shimmering Sunbeam Sparkles.

The concept of the game is a bit complicated for some people to understand (although, Mathilda herself, and one other tester, understood almost right away.)

Basically:
---
You have a current letter.

You are trying to spell a word, left to right.

To spell the word, you transform your current letter into the next letter in the word.

To transform your current letter, you move it around the board.

Each time you move, the current letter gets added to its neighbour to come up with the new current letter.  If that matches the next letter in the word you're spelling, you get that letter and move on to the next letter.

The adding mechanic is, the alphabet has a number code (A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc.) and the two letters' point values get added together.  E.g. B + C = E because 2 + 3 = 5.

It wraps around, with Z = 26 = 0.  So Y + C = B because 25 + 3 = 28, and 28 - 26 = 2.  (Go 3 letters past Y: Z, A, B.)
---

For some people this is easier to grasp than others.  My current challenge is finding a succinct way to convey all this to folks for whom this is more difficult to understand.

I don't find my current way satisfactory.  On the Easy Peasy difficulty, you get a tutorial, but it plays out on every move, making the game very slow to play.  On Normal, it plays out a bit too fast to be instructive, perhaps, and still slows you down once you get it.  Above Normal, it's fast enough to play but then for added challenge I've removed the numbers from the tokens, so unless you already really understand it well already, it just seems random.

The tutorial you get looks like this:

The announcer announces the word, and points out which letter it starts with.

Mathilda wonders, "How can I get there from the letter $CURRENTLETTER?"

OK, so far so good, it should be intuitive that you are trying to get from $CURRENTLETTER to whatever the word starts with, IMO.

The slow part is when you move (this example shows adding past Z, with the wraparound) (you can't hear it, but when the smaller letter goes up into a cloud, there's the sound of bees; as each point goes to the result, Mathilda is counting out loud):



It really spells it out for you, pardon the pun, but for most people who saw it, they still don't understand the mechanic until at least 3-4 moves in.  I guess it doesn't spell it out for you very well, then.

So first of all, I want to make the tutorial easy to switch on and off no matter the difficulty level.

But the real thing is the tutorial.  I had an idea for it, to make the alphabet appear on screen, centred on the current letter.  The letter being added would then form a chunk of alphabet (say if you were adding E, the chunk ABCDE would appear) above the full alphabet, so A would be above the current letter, and then E, which we're adding, would be above the result, i.e. what you current letter will become.

This should make it much faster to grasp, I would think.  It gets rid of the smaller-vs-bigger thing (which for very manual addition calculations--for kids learning to add, too--does make it so you don't have to count as high) but maybe the trade-off is worth it and maybe the small-vs-big thing is a confusing stepping stone rather than an instructive one, the way I've presented it and in the context of a few other things you're needing to grasp here to play the game.

I have maybe an even better idea, though, and one that better incorporates the wrap-around mod function we have going on here; the smaller-vs-bigger thing is still lost for better or worse:  Instead of the alphabet in a row, it's in a circle: the current letter would have the alphabet all around it, with the current letter at 12 o'clock.  Then the letter being added has an arc of the alphabet, from A (at 12 o'clock) to whatever letter it is.  The arc then moves over to superimpose on the current letter's wheel, and you can see what the result will be.

This I think would make a much clearer visual than we currently have.  What do you think?  I'm open to other tutorial visuals if anyone has any ideas.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 05:45:33 AM by IBwWG » Logged

IBwWG
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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2016, 05:44:50 AM »

To visualize the proposed solution: https://twitter.com/wastheWordGame/status/740177150175760385

Although, with one slight change: the letter being added shouldn't have its alphabet arc's A start at 12 o'clock, but actually at the very next position clockwise, since adding A means going one point past the current letter (which on the current letter's alphabet wheel, *is*, and should be, actually at 12 o'clock.)
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IBwWG
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« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2016, 12:02:56 PM »

Making progress through the boring stuff!  Fixing hard-to-diagnose bugs.  Rewrote the book narration state (oh yeah, BTW, Michael reads you the original book in between minigames Smiley ) so that instead of using chains of callbacks, which leveraged the system I use everywhere else for voice clips, it just tracks the current one and kills it if you press any buttons that change which clip you're currently on.  I found this to be WAY more robust / less glitchy in the end, perfectly so.

Getting a bit more organized too.  I have a clear list of getting the boring stuff out of the way (plus some fun announcer voice recording, if I can find a moment that I feel like doing that when the baby isn't sleeping!) for Beta 7.  After that I will focus on one or two minigames per beta, and then hopefully we'll be looking at a release candidate!  I aim to crank these out every few days, if possible.
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IBwWG
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« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2016, 01:44:24 PM »

More generic stuff done today.  I'm happy with the code cleanup and so on.

Our music composition team is set to expand!  More details to follow once we work them out.

Map is looking even cooler than when I posted this animation on twitter, thanks to a tweaked sparkler class I had made for elsewhere in the game.

Just want to finish the map "pick your difficulty" buttons because they look terrible, and then that should be it for the map state todo list Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2016, 01:18:43 AM »

It's interesting to see how my Haxe coding style has evolved since I started the game.  The map state was one of the earliest to go in, as soon as I had started on the second minigame.  It was good to fix things up a bit and make use of reusable components from elsewhere in the game, which also improved them as I went.

So, the buttons are finally fixed up.  Before:



And now:


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IBwWG
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« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2016, 10:07:47 AM »

This afternoon was Audio Afternoon.

Lots of new clips came in from Michael, Willy, and Maria; and with a fresh set of ears on, I requested even more!   Tears of Joy   Beer! Coffee  Smiley  This is going to sound great, but I have a bunch of editing to do yet.  Fortunately I discovered Audacity's "Sound Finder", which cuts the work about in half.

And an important announcement!  Officially joining the team are composers Ashton Mills and Dustin van Wyk, who will work on filling out more of the game's musical content, which previously I had planned to sort of make up myself by remixing what was already there.  Instead, Ashton and Dustin adding to what Jennifer Field already completed for the project will make #mathildagame end up a musically unstoppable triple-awesome-composer POWERHOUSE!  (You have to imagine this in my pompous announcer voice which the game is full of, and which has not been made public yet as of this posting.  Smiley )

So...look forward to more Really Good Music being added to the Really Good Music You Haven't Yet Heard, and then you can hear it all.  Or maybe you can hear it beforehand too, because I'm hoping to do the paid-beta thing via itch.io in the nearish future.
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IBwWG
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« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2016, 01:05:01 AM »

It occurred to me yesterday, that all this time I had fallen victim to a classical blunder, of not considering the implications of grammar.  Right in the title!

"Willy and Mathilda's Houseboat Adventure Game", while a bit cheekily unoriginal in its structure, does not convey the intended meaning, because Adventure Game is already a phrase with its own meaning.  (Had the book been titled "Houseboat Stuff," then "Houseboat Stuff Game" would not suffer from this error, because there is no such thing as a "Stuff Game.")

According to Wikipedia, "An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving."  (Citation given, shazam!)  This does not describe #mathildagame.  First of all, there are multiple protagonists.  Second of all, the story is not driven by exploration.  Puzzle-solving applies only to certain specific minigames, and even the meta-game of picking the right statups to be able to beat minigames on harder difficulties is individual and more strategic than puzzle-ish.

So, #mathildagame, it's time to unlabel you as an Adventure Game, 'cause y'aren't one.

Mathilda suggested simply "The Book Game" because of the meta-game (books are the statup currency, so you collect books by playing the minigames.)  That's already in use.

I think we just need a quick grammatical fix, and all is well.

Therefore, allow me to reintroduce you to...Willy and Mathilda's Houseboat Adventure: The Game!  (Maintaining cheeky unoriginality since 2016.)
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IBwWG
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« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2016, 08:15:32 AM »

https://twitter.com/wastheWordGame/status/741664347152351232

This part was a bit easier to add: now you know exactly how many books you're at while playing a Play What You Can minigame.

Also, finished off my post-minigame improvements, so there's a bit more sparkle, sound effects, a background, etc.; and fixed a skip-button bug while I was at it.  Getting there...after this and a bunch more audio processing, it will be Beta 7 Release Time!  After that, I'll start focusing on each minigame in turn.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2016, 12:51:29 PM by IBwWG » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2016, 01:00:55 PM »

Sadly, it wasn't until after 7pm today that I realized it was Saturday.  Put up a screenshot saturday twitter post immediately!  Except, they seem to not have updated since May 21.  Hmm...

Anyway, I finished the touchups I wanted to make to the pause screen, so that now it shows any stat upgrades you have (once you've beat the whole game and are able to get them) that apply to the current minigame, and what effect they are having.  That concludes my list of priority items of things that affect the whole game.

So...the next posts should be more interesting, since they'll deal with the actual minigames!  Stay tuned...
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« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2016, 04:06:23 AM »

Just getting things set up for a paid-beta run on itch.io, which looks like an amazing platform.

Here's the marketing blurb I wrote up:

Follow Willy and Mathilda on their houseboat adventure!  Through a series of minigames interwoven with the original book narrated by its author, discover the imaginative world of the two travelling neighbours and the friends they meet along the way.

Featuring:

- 10 minigames covering 6 genres (educational, side-scroller, multiple-choice-quiz disguised as a fighter, trampoline simulator, puzzle, and hidden object)
- Beautiful and unique artwork derived from the book by Michael Torreiter
- A gorgeous soundtrack of original compositions by Jennifer Field, Ashton Mills, and Dustin van Wyk
- The charming original story narrated (with subtitles) by Michael Torreiter
- Willy and Mathilda as their own voices
- Replayability through each minigame having either pre-set difficulty levels or a Play What You Can mode, where you play as long as you feel like for points
- Even more replayability from a meta-game of strategic character stat improvements and a celebratory stickerbook, unlocked when you finish the game
- A delightfully quirky announcer who reads all on-screen instructions and buttons for you

Oh, and we're on facebook now too.  Why not, eh?  And if you want to throw a Like our way there, apparently if I get 25, I can get an @username for us too.  Smiley
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IBwWG
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« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2016, 12:23:55 PM »

Had a bit of an unmotivated day today, but slogged away at a few things...

Got a crash server running (thanks to Fortress of Doors for open-sourcing it!) so now, if the game crashes, lots of helpful data is sent to a place where I can easily organize and analyze it.  Wikkid!

Getting nervous...not too much is left on my list of things that I wanted to do before allowing paid beta previews!

One of them, though, was a fairly large one: the aforementioned Under the Spell... tutorial / instructive mechanic.  I would really like to not confuse first-time players, but this will be a fair size code change on that minigame.  I guess I have to suck up the fact that the code I put in, even if it took a long time to get it to where it was, is not what needs to be there in the end.

That and a tonne of audio editing that I am really not feeling like doing lately, I should just do, so I can move on to things I do feel like doing, while people actually get to try out the game.  Smiley
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IBwWG
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« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2016, 09:28:59 PM »

For those of you who are into wikis, we could use some help populating our nice new short URL http://mathildagame.wikia.com/ (thanks Eva at Wikia for helpiing with the rename!) with preview information and screenshots (available from this thread and Twitter (#mathildagame))...
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IBwWG
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« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2016, 02:20:35 AM »

More delays!  I broke everything!

https://github.com/itchio/itch/issues/698 describes how my narration/announcement system broke when I tried to test a deployment to my own machine, because I ran into a filesystem path size limit.  My filenames were too long!  It's too bad, because the system I had come up with made it easy to track files without having to make a map (file 1 is me saying long_paragraph_here, file 2 is..., etc.).  I just put what was said into the format speakernameEverythingtheysaidallmushedtogetherwithoutspaces.wav.  Well, it won't fly.

This is OK, though.  I think I found a workaround that does not involve me having to make a map from scratch, nor does it involve me translating all these .wav files back to their space-filled equivalents!

https://github.com/IBwWG/mathildagame-bugs/issues/21

Hooray.  But one more thing delaying the beta coming out, unfortunately.  But we'll get there!  And soon!
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« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2016, 12:28:57 PM »

OK, got that filename issue squared away, and all the audio clips from Michael and Willy and Maria (as Princess Balapoo) processed, and also most of the Treasure Hunting improvements done that I wanted to do before going live with a public beta.  Good progress, I think.  Almost had The Announcer Voice ready to record today, but then the baby was sleeping near by.  C'est la vie.  Smiley

Soon I'll be looking for beta testers!  We'll need help.

Things you can (soon, if not already) help with, if you so desire!
- like us on facebook (we need at least 25 likes to reserve our name)
- follow us on twitter
- help us build the fan wiki at wikia
- during testing, if you encounter the "swoosh" sound instead of a sound that should be there, exit the game the normal way (via the main menu, NOT killing it with Alt+F4) to report missing assets to us automatically
- take lots of screenshots and share them on facebook and twitter and the wiki
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IBwWG
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« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2016, 09:12:00 PM »

So, here are my thoughts for Under the Spell of Shiny Shimmering Sunbeam Sparkles:

a) The adding mechanic animation is optional, full stop, on any difficulty.  Once you know what you're doing, you disable it, and it's no longer in your way.

b) The alphabet arcs and numbers show, depending on your difficulty level:

Easy Peasy: on all letters
Normal: only on the current letter and its neighbours
Tricky: only on the current letter, and, if enabled, during the animation too
Super Tricky: only during the animation if enabled

And then, there could be a stat-up that makes it two levels easier only in terms of what is showing.  (There are other aspects that make it more difficult on higher levels: more holes in the board, no replacement board if you use up the whole board, longer word to spell, etc.)

I think I'll go with this.
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IBwWG
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« Reply #35 on: June 15, 2016, 12:49:56 PM »

Just wanted to throw this animation online before I went to bed, now that I'm blurry-eyed.

It's more or less done!  I find this much clearer / easier to catch onto...hopefully new players will too.  What do you think?


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« Reply #36 on: June 15, 2016, 04:32:20 PM »

this looks sick as and i want to play  Beer!
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IBwWG
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« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2016, 09:17:33 PM »

this looks sick as and i want to play  Beer!

Thanks dweedes!!  I appreciate the beer and the encouragement!  Hopefully we'll have a beta preorder tier up on itch.io soon Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: June 16, 2016, 07:53:25 AM »

OK, we're getting really close!

Here's UtSSSSS, finally with the different amounts of arc + number help depending on the difficulty level:






After that, a bit of audio work, and it's public paid beta time, I hope! Who, Me?
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« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2016, 08:20:17 AM »

Nice, lovely style. I wish you would push it further though, using the same style for the buttons, fonts, shapes, etc. It would make the  game look way more cohesive and help with the overall "hand drawn" feel you're going for.
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