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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsoQo - Soothing puzzle game (browser playable prototype)
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Grhyll
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« on: March 22, 2017, 10:21:11 am »





Make waves sing

oQo is a soothing puzzle platformer.
Create various waves and ride them, move from one to another as they blossom and vanish.
Draw ephemeral and hypnotic paths and let the world's appeasing music carry you along your spiritual quest.













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Hi everyone!

This is my latest project, oQo Smiley I'm working on it with two friends, and we finally feel ready to begin spreading the word about it!

So what do you do in oQo? Generators spread in the levels will spawn waves, and you can ride on their edges in order to reach the end of each level. Most generators are to be triggered with the mouse, and with the right timing, you can create yourself a way out.

We have a prototype that you can play in your browser (link at the top of this thread), and it would be a great help if some people could try it and give honest opinions. Depending on your ability to be patient and solve puzzles, it might take between 10 and 30 minutes to complete. If you take the time to try it, feel free to give any feedback that crosses your mind, about the difficulty, the controls, etc...
Of course nothing is final, we still have a LOT to experiment, be it with the music, the gameplay, the graphics, and we even aim to give the player a kind of emergent story to live.

I'm gonna keep this thread up to date with all our dev news, but it will probably move quite slowly, since it is a side project, and well, it only gets the time we have for it! Yet we're confident it should see the light of the day, let's say, within a year or so Smiley

Don't be shy if you have anything to say, we are avidly looking for feedback  Hand Metal Right

« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 01:27:51 pm by Grhyll » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2017, 10:51:44 am »

The link to the prototype seems to be broken--it seems that you have the URL between inverted commas, and after an additional "http://".

The prototype seemed to take a moment to load--some sort of indicator (even if it's just a line of text reading "loading") might help to indicate to potential testers that it's actually doing something. (Unless I missed the presence of such an indicator, of course.)

I like the way that the title is revealed in the prototype--unexpected, and somewhat fitting, I think. ^_^

It seems that the game won't allow one to rotate the "surfer" off the top of the screen (or, I imagine, off of the bottom). This is fair enough. However, it seems that if one persists, one can move the "surfer" past this boundary, which results in the effect being reversed: the surfer is confined near the top of the screen, instead of being kept away from it.

On the levels that place within the starting ring an interactive emitter that has the destination ring within its range, it seems to be possible (often, at least) to brute-force one's way through the obstacles by generating a rapid string of waves: if a wave from another emitter takes the "surfer", a following one from the starting emitter should simply pick it up a moment later. Perhaps it might be worth limiting the number of waves per emitter, or the rate at which each may generate waves?

After a certain point, the "surfer" seemed to be restricted from rotating below the half-way point, which was somewhat annoying. :/

A suggestion, if I may: perhaps support control via WASD as well the arrow keys--this might be more comfortable for some players.

Overall, I like the idea, and enjoy the various tones played by the emitters. It's a neat prototype thus far, I find! ^_^

Have you considered generating random puzzles, perhaps forming an "endless" mode?
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2017, 11:22:03 am »

Thanks for this detailed feedback, I appreciate it a lot!

I fixed all the links, thanks for noticing Smiley

You are totally right about the loading screen, we overlooked to put it in this version... It should be added very soon.

I don't see your point about the surfer confined near the top of the screen, it might be a bug we have never seen, I'm gonna investigate about it.
Not sure either about what you mean by being "restricted from rotating below the half-way point", but I may have an idea: if for example you started from the bottom-right of the wave, did you only keep the right arrow pressed, and then got annoyed when the surfer was stuck on the right? If that's so, it may be that something is missing in our tutorials, the character only goes in the pressed direction, so if you want to continue your rotation, you'd have to press the up arrow. If you meant something else, then it may be a bug, but it would be curious that we've never seen it.

Regarding the levels that can be skipped by spamming the generator, there are some indeed. We are aware of that, and it has been a great debate between us to know if we should restrict the click rate. For now we haven't, because we think it feels good to spam, and it's ok if the player does that, those levels aren't the toughest anyway. Yet for the complete game we may have to reconsider that Smiley

WASD support is a good idea, I'll have to check if the keyboard layout can be accessed in WebGL builds (we are french, so for us it's ZQSD!). Duly noted.

As for an endless mode, it's currently not an objective for us; in fact, we would like to go a lot deeper in the story side (still without a word though), and for now I think we will concentrate on that. We are hoping to provide a maybe 2h long content, which is somehow short, but will require a lot of work in order to keep each level unique in its way.

Anyway, I said it already, but I really appreciate your comments, so thanks!
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2017, 10:53:51 am »

It's my pleasure--I'm glad if I've helped. ^_^

I fixed all the links, thanks for noticing Smiley

You are totally right about the loading screen, we overlooked to put it in this version... It should be added very soon.

Good good! ^_^

I don't see your point about the surfer confined near the top of the screen, it might be a bug we have never seen, I'm gonna investigate about it.

Fair enough--good luck in hunting it down!

Not sure either about what you mean by being "restricted from rotating below the half-way point", but I may have an idea: if for example you started from the bottom-right of the wave, did you only keep the right arrow pressed, and then got annoyed when the surfer was stuck on the right? ...

No, I was near the right-most part of the wave, as I recall, attempting to rotate "downwards". Attempting to do so, I seemed to meet a wall--much like the one near the top of the screen. If I attempted to rotate "upwards", however, I was able to do so freely.

It's possible that I had misunderstood the controls, but I don't think so.

I'm not sure that I encountered this on every level, and I'm afraid that I don't recall offhand on what level I did encounter it. Sorry! :/

Regarding the levels that can be skipped by spamming the generator, there are some indeed. We are aware of that, and it has been a great debate between us to know if we should restrict the click rate. For now we haven't, because we think it feels good to spam, and it's ok if the player does that, those levels aren't the toughest anyway. Yet for the complete game we may have to reconsider that Smiley

Ah, fair enough--if it fits in with your intentions for the game, then well and good. ^_^

Hmm... That said, one potential issue comes to mind: you indicate that you want the game to be "soothing", but a spammed emitter can be a little cacophonic, I think.

WASD support is a good idea, I'll have to check if the keyboard layout can be accessed in WebGL builds (we are french, so for us it's ZQSD!). Duly noted.

If you don't have access to the keyboard layout--and indeed, perhaps even if you do, as long as it's not too great a problem--it might be worth allowing players to bind keys to their liking. That might allow for unexpected preferences or keyboard layouts.

As for an endless mode, it's currently not an objective for us; in fact, we would like to go a lot deeper in the story side (still without a word though), and for now I think we will concentrate on that. We are hoping to provide a maybe 2h long content, which is somehow short, but will require a lot of work in order to keep each level unique in its way.

Ah, fair enough!
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 01:34:02 pm »

Those bugs you seem to have are weird! Just to be clear, you can get to the border of the screen, it just make you respawn on the starting wave of the level (except if you're on a start/end wave), there is nothing to prevent or block you from reaching the border. If I understand correctly, you seem to experience something else, where for some reason you suddenly can keep going along the wave (which is normal on the blue waves, but absolutely not on the others - there's not even physics involved, just some code to make you stay on the edge of your current wave and rotate around it). I have tried to reproduce something like that, with no success until now :/
To be sure, the controls are as follow: while you press the right arrow, the character will move until it reaches the right end of the current wave, then stop. To move again from the right side, you'll have to press another direction (in which the character will move until it reaches the further possible point in that direction).

About those generator spamming, it may not be as soothing as we see the game indeed ^^' That's a good argument in favor of restriction (although "the player is king" is a pretty good counter-argument!).
Regarding custom key binding... noooo  Beg  We hope to keep the UI at its bare minimum, of course some will be needed, but the simpler the better! However, if the keyboard layout can't be accessed, I guess it would be the best option :/

(Btw I've looked at your project earlied today, I love the setup! I couldn't read the whole thread yet, gonna give a try to the lockpicking demo this week-end.)
« Last Edit: March 24, 2017, 12:32:26 am by Grhyll » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2017, 01:46:49 pm »

This is an exciting, relaxing game. Even, I would use it to calm down a child. I had a good time with it.
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2017, 02:02:26 pm »

"exciting, relaxing" Isn't that an oxymoron? Thanks :D
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 08:17:10 pm »

What would it link to, bubba
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2017, 11:36:53 pm »

I don't know, just thought it looked like a teaser for a project of yours, and I was curious to see it Smiley
« Last Edit: March 24, 2017, 12:32:53 am by Grhyll » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2017, 05:06:38 am »

Soothing games is all the rage (at least for me!).

Ever since ABZU, I really love when games have relaxation as part of its design.
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2017, 09:06:44 am »

Thanks amanfr01! Did you have the opportunity to try the prototype? Some players didn't find it that relaxing because of the difficulty, I'm trying to know if it's an isolated opinion or if we should tune the difficulty down.
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2017, 11:25:59 am »

Just to be clear, you can get to the border of the screen, it just make you respawn on the starting wave of the level (except if you're on a start/end wave), there is nothing to prevent or block you from reaching the border.
...

That is weird. o_0

Hmm... Trying the prototype again, I'm not seeing the bug--perhaps I really did just forget how the controls worked? o_0 (My apologies for any frustrating bug-hunting if this is the case! ^^; )

I do think that, playing again after the posts above, I was a bit more aware of how the controls worked--and found that they were a little counter-intuitive. Perhaps a more intuitive control scheme would be just two buttons, which move the "surfer" clockwise or counter-clockwise?

(I see that you have a loading screen now, which I'm glad of; it's pretty, too. ^_^)

About those generator spamming, it may not be as soothing as we see the game indeed ^^' That's a good argument in favor of restriction (although "the player is king" is a pretty good counter-argument!).

Hmm... I'm inclined to suggest caution that you don't allow the player to be "king" to the extent that it becomes a significant detriment to the intended experience. Imagine a first-person shooter, intended to be challenging, that provided a weapon with a very high rate of fire, hit-scan shots that killed in one hit, and infinite ammunition.

That said, I don't claim to know whether this is the case here--that decision I feel that I should I leave to you, and your goals for the game.

Regarding custom key binding... noooo  Beg  We hope to keep the UI at its bare minimum, of course some will be needed, but the simpler the better! However, if the keyboard layout can't be accessed, I guess it would be the best option :/

While a minimalistic UI has some distinct advantages, I'm inclined to argue against taking it so far that it impacts usability overmuch. For example, what if the player wants to play without sound or music?

(Btw I've looked at your project earlied today, I love the setup! I couldn't read the whole thread yet, gonna give a try to the lockpicking demo this week-end.)

Thank you! I really appreciate both your looking at the thread, and trying out the lockpicking demo! ^_^

I've had at least one indication that the instructions given in the demo aren't as clear as they might be; if you have trouble, take a look at my longer--and hopefully clearer--description in this post.

PS: A number of the posts will be missing images, due to Dropbox changing the functionality of the "Public" folder. The first post and the most recent should be fine, however, and YouTube videos should be unaffected.
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2017, 11:20:06 pm »

Hmm... Trying the prototype again, I'm not seeing the bug--perhaps I really did just forget how the controls worked? o_0 (My apologies for any frustrating bug-hunting if this is the case! ^^; )

I do think that, playing again after the posts above, I was a bit more aware of how the controls worked--and found that they were a little counter-intuitive. Perhaps a more intuitive control scheme would be just two buttons, which move the "surfer" clockwise or counter-clockwise?
Well, good thing if there is no bug (even if that means that we're gonna have to rethink our tuto!). We initially tried the control method you're mentioning, but it made it very hard to control correctly in some cases (each wave change could mean that the player went on the opposite way they was heading, and for example in the level with one auto generator on top and on bottom, it was very difficult to reach the other side of the level, whereas with the actual control you just have to keep the right arrow down).


Hmm... I'm inclined to suggest caution that you don't allow the player to be "king" to the extent that it becomes a significant detriment to the intended experience. Imagine a first-person shooter, intended to be challenging, that provided a weapon with a very high rate of fire, hit-scan shots that killed in one hit, and infinite ammunition.

That said, I don't claim to know whether this is the case here--that decision I feel that I should I leave to you, and your goals for the game.
Yup, of course we have to set limit to the player Smiley However, since we try to make the game a relaxing experience, we'll try to avoid frustration as much as possible (without ruining it ^^), for now we're more focused on offering a smooth ride than a real challenge. It's not totally clear yet how we're gonna do that, but we will try to give challenge for the player who wants one only, through optional, self-defined secondary goals, rather than as steps in the main path.


While a minimalistic UI has some distinct advantages, I'm inclined to argue against taking it so far that it impacts usability overmuch. For example, what if the player wants to play without sound or music?

Yes, we won't be able to totally get rid of UI :/ But if we can do without any text in it, it will already be a small victory Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2017, 09:01:30 am »

Devlog entry





We tweaked some elements in the browser-playable prototype, and are still avidly looking for feedbacks!
Is it too hard, too easy?
Did you get bored before the end?
Tell us  Beer!

Play the prototype!

We will be at the Toulouse Game Show Springbreak in Toulouse, France, on April 22nd and 23rd! It should be a nice opportunity to get a lot of feedback from players in front of us, but we hope we can improve and polish our prototype before that.
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2017, 11:03:08 am »

Well, good thing if there is no bug (even if that means that we're gonna have to rethink our tuto!). We initially tried the control method you're mentioning, but it made it very hard to control correctly in some cases (each wave change could mean that the player went on the opposite way they was heading, and for example in the level with one auto generator on top and on bottom, it was very difficult to reach the other side of the level, whereas with the actual control you just have to keep the right arrow down).

Hmm... Tricky.

I don't think that I misunderstood the tutorial--I think that I understood it well enough, but forgot the controls because I found them unintuitive. It's quite possible, of course, that most others wouldn't find them so--it may well be worth testing further before acting on my responses.

This might become confusing, but you could have clockwise-anticlockwise controls adapt: when transferring between waves, the controls note the direction in which the "surfer" is moving, and if the controls would result in the "surfer" switching directions on the new wave, they reverse themselves. That way the player keeps going in the direction in which they were going, only switching when they switch keys.

Yup, of course we have to set limit to the player Smiley However, since we try to make the game a relaxing experience, we'll try to avoid frustration as much as possible (without ruining it ^^), for now we're more focused on offering a smooth ride than a real challenge. It's not totally clear yet how we're gonna do that, but we will try to give challenge for the player who wants one only, through optional, self-defined secondary goals, rather than as steps in the main path.

Hmm... In that case, perhaps a different approach: instead of limiting the rate at which waves may be spawned, alter the sounds produced by emitters when waves are rapidly spawned, such that they flow into something more pleasing. Thus you might end up with a single, flowing sound, rather than many sounds stepping over each other.

Yes, we won't be able to totally get rid of UI :/ But if we can do without any text in it, it will already be a small victory Smiley

In that case, I do suggest trying to detect keyboard layouts (as you mentioned previously), and perhaps on top of that offering multiple sets of controls within the keyboard--for example, having all three of "WASD", "IJKL" (or whatever suits a given layout for the preceding two), and the arrow keys control the "surfer". I think that I'd still prefer to have key-rebinding available, from my perspective, but if it's an important point to you, and your controls are sufficiently simple, perhaps it will be fine.
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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2017, 10:52:44 pm »

Tricky indeed! Interesting to have your opinion on the controls, it's probably the field we have changed the most until now, and you're not the only one to be a bit puzzled about how they work. We did try something similar to what you propose, and it spawned other issues, mainly regarding coherence (for example, if the player releases the key then press it again, the character changes direction). Not sure there's a perfect solution, but we'll keep looking for one!

Good suggestion for the "wave spam sounds", I didn't think about that (I deal with the sound on this project, and I have a LOT of ideas for the complete game, but this one didn't cross my mind!).

The keys sets could be a good compromise in simplicity. Thinking about it again though, it may be possible to offer custom rebinding AND keeping a very simple, clear UI, since there are few keys. We're gonna be thinking about it very soon, I think we'll want our first UI setup in the build we'll send to the press, at least for the sound options.

Thanks for challenging our design, it makes us think :D
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« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2017, 11:21:34 pm »

Looks Lovely!
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2017, 04:03:30 am »

Thanks Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2017, 10:44:12 am »

We did try something similar to what you propose, and it spawned other issues, mainly regarding coherence (for example, if the player releases the key then press it again, the character changes direction).

Hmm... That issue shouldn't occur with the system that I have in mind, I would think.

Specifically, what I envisage is that when the controls switch, the stay switched until another wave switches them again. Releasing or pressing the keys has no effect. Thus they stay consistent within a given wave, and--I imagine--remain effectively consistent across waves.

Good suggestion for the "wave spam sounds", I didn't think about that (I deal with the sound on this project, and I have a LOT of ideas for the complete game, but this one didn't cross my mind!).

Thank you! I hope that it works out. ^_^

The keys sets could be a good compromise in simplicity. Thinking about it again though, it may be possible to offer custom rebinding AND keeping a very simple, clear UI, since there are few keys. We're gonna be thinking about it very soon, I think we'll want our first UI setup in the build we'll send to the press, at least for the sound options.

Fair enough! I leave it to your decision, then.

Thanks for challenging our design, it makes us think :D

It's my pleasure--I'm glad if I've helped. ^_^

I feel strongly that critique--including having a design be challenged, as you put it--can be very effective in helping us to improve our work, and our skills.
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« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2017, 10:47:22 am »

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