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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperPlaytestingThe Experiment - Lemmings style with portals and physics
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Author Topic: The Experiment - Lemmings style with portals and physics  (Read 715 times)
AlanGD
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« on: April 20, 2017, 11:46:41 AM »

Hello guys.

This is a game I'm working on, it's inspired by Lemmings and Portal, there are a few playable levels already, in the final game there will be much more features like switches to activate moving platforms and cannons shooting balls so you have to create portals to direct them.

Link to Download (150MB, 250MB decompressed):
Win32: https://drive.google.com/uc?id=0B-p2kjBJdzAhajdwLXdJaENFYm8&export=download
Mac: (read below) https://drive.google.com/uc?id=0B-p2kjBJdzAhTmRsejdxd2ZLTlk&export=download
Lin version coming soon.

There's a WIP in-game help that could be of some use, but most stuff should be self-explanatory.

Any input is appreciated. Thank you.

PS: Here are the solutions to the non-obvious levels:
http://imgur.com/qsaFKYQ
(link because there are no spoiler tags)

EDIT: Just to clarify that the buttons on the top of screen disable spawning and explode all robots at once. The other buttons are explained in the in-game help (first page).

EDIT2:
Mac Users:
I just tested the game on OSX and it could be a bit tricky to run it depending on your system settings. Keka and other extractors for some reason break the app, you have to extract the zip with the default "Archive Utility", and to run the extracted game you may have to Ctrl+Click, and select "Open" to allow the game to run.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 11:23:49 AM by AlanGD » Logged
Photon
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 03:23:31 PM »

Hey there! Lemmings is one of my FAVORITE games from the DOS era and one that I think still holds up well today.

I played through the first four levels but got stuck after that. Couldn't figure out what the chute (?) with the "2" on it was or what the key was for. Its an interesting concept for sure, though I feel like it plays more like a Rube-Goldberg "Portal" than classic Lemmings. That's not necessarily a bad thing depending on what you want the game to be, but since we've evoked the comparison I feel its worth exploring:

One of the key traits of Lemmings is how you go about problem-solving, and this has to do with the lemmings themselves. Lemmings are not only the resource by which you fulfill the success condition (x-lemmings make it to the exit,) but are themselves resources for solving the problem (digging, climbing, stair-building, etc.) It makes their existence important beyond the simple "I'm important" label the game's endgoal puts on them, and makes crowd-control and positioning of Lemmings that much more important. Do you let the little buggers charge forward en masse, or do you block them off while a select few try to trailblaze a path? Can you set up a successful solution before they wander aimlessly into a deathtrap? Even when the solution is relatively obvious, this moment-to-moment management of your resources keep the game engaging.

While the concept you've set up is interesting, it doesn't feel particularly exciting to me. It feels like its relying too much on the novelty of the portal mechanic, and solutions can essentially be set up ahead of time if you know the physics of the game well enough. You sort of flip the switch and then wait to see if it works. That being said, you could still take this in the Rube Goldberg direction where you build and experiment with crazy setups (look up "Incredible Machine" for a good example of this;) you might want to speed it up and add some more interesting "gadgets" for the player to use, but I could definitely see this evolving into a cool puzzler.

If you're going for the Lemmings-style gameplay though, I think you've got to find a way to make the minion bots less expendable and more interesting to work with. Hope that helps. Smiley
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AlanGD
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 04:29:00 PM »

Hi!

Thank you for your detailed reply! I really appreciate it! Smiley

You're absolutely right when you say it plays more like a Rube Goldberg portal puzzle game, it definitely doesn't offer a classical Lemmings experience, but as you kindly put it, that per se shouldn't be a drawback in my opinion.

When the cursor gets black it means you've selected something to build, when you're building normal portals, the cursor will show a number '2' when you've built 2 portals so you know you can't build more of them. When you're not building, the cursor gets white and you can click on some objects to interact with them, clicking on robots will explode them but that's the only direct interaction at the moment (exploding robots is part of some complex mechanics and is used throughout the game), to avoid fall impacts there's a special object that slow downs objects passing through it.

I agree with what you pointed out about managing the Lemmings under the pressure to save them, which certainly is part of the fun, but this game is only 'inspired' by Lemmings, I'm not really planning to go that route, but I'm flexible about that if the acceptance of the current gameplay style isn't great. It's funny you mentioned the "I'm important" label, because in that regard this game really is the opposite, you don't have to care about the robots as they are expandable, the idea is to use them to help you figure the solutions for the levels, without caring about them at all. This game is more about the level and less about the robots/lemmings. The very name of the game was chosen to suggest that fact.

I'm sorry to hear the game mechanics didn't appeal to you, if you were expecting a more classical Lemmings experience, it certainly wouldn't feel right, I myself enjoyed lemming a great deal, but this game is supposed to have a different approach.

Thank you for your honest input Smiley
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rodlaiz
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2017, 01:09:16 AM »

Hello Alan, I've tried the game for a few levels and I really loved the concept! Pretty good idea and well executed!
I've got stuck on level 3 (even though I confess I didn't put too much effort on it) I think you've a pretty cool core gameplay but there's a few things that need improving:

  • Level design - You need a less steep learning curve. Add some dumb levels so the player get the feels and hang of the game.
  • UI - there's a lot of improvement on the UX (user interface experience
  • Graphics - I think that with the proper graphics you have a winner here
  • Game design - It goes along with the levels design, the UI and the game mechanics, try to dumb it down all the mechanics and features of the game, so the player will need to do the fewer clicks possible to make an action

If you need any pointers regarding the graphics and you need some help with that maybe I can do something for you. If you're interested PM me and we can make a Skype call.

Congratulations again for the prototype, looks pretty promising Wink
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rodlaiz
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2017, 01:13:22 AM »

I've got stuck on level 3

UPDATE: I've just passed to level 4 :p
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rodlaiz
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2017, 01:19:29 AM »

... also

You need to try to avoid this:

https://gyazo.com/a82e9be469bcf6612ead485803731f80
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AlanGD
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2017, 05:33:54 AM »

Hello Alan, I've tried the game for a few levels and I really loved the concept! Pretty good idea and well executed!
I've got stuck on level 3 (even though I confess I didn't put too much effort on it) I think you've a pretty cool core gameplay but there's a few things that need improving:

  • Level design - You need a less steep learning curve. Add some dumb levels so the player get the feels and hang of the game.
  • UI - there's a lot of improvement on the UX (user interface experience
  • Graphics - I think that with the proper graphics you have a winner here
  • Game design - It goes along with the levels design, the UI and the game mechanics, try to dumb it down all the mechanics and features of the game, so the player will need to do the fewer clicks possible to make an action

If you need any pointers regarding the graphics and you need some help with that maybe I can do something for you. If you're interested PM me and we can make a Skype call.

Congratulations again for the prototype, looks pretty promising Wink

Hi! Thank you for your kind words!

I agree with all your points. The current level progression is NOT final by any means, there are many more easier levels with tutorials to come! Smiley

The UX surely needs improvement. I tried to keep the in-game UI simple and clean, and honestly, I think I've achieved something decent so far at least in the bottom toolbar, but some icons could be more intuitive and the top part of the UI also needs a revamp imho. Also, I'm thinking that instead of disabling the buttons you can't use, I could just remove them and decrease the bar size altogether, so in the first levels you'll only have a very minimal bar with very few buttons which should be way less intimidating.

The graphics are a specially good point that surely hits home. I'm not satisfied with the graphics at all, although I really put some efforts on it. They are depressing to say the least and don't fit the mood of the game at all.

Regarding the game design, I didn't want it to be too 'casual', but I agree that relatively simple actions could take an unjustified amount of effort to perform, that's why I added for example the 'move' button so you rarely if ever need to remove portals, you just hold that button and move them around, but there's certainly much more to improve.

I'm kinda on the move right now so real time communication is a bit complicated, also, bear in mind that I don't have budget for arts so unfortunately the farthest I can go in 'paid' lands is stock arts but I'm trying to avoid them.

... also

You need to try to avoid this:

https://gyazo.com/a82e9be469bcf6612ead485803731f80
Yeah, I'm aware of that, but I didn't think it would cause big troubles, after all that's inappropriate use of portals Tongue. I'd like to address that but I couldn't think of something that makes sense while still maintaining the physics sane because in the end that's the 'correct' behavior at least from a game mechanics standpoint. Some things I could think of are just destroying the robot if it enters the same portal too much in a short time span, or just limiting the numbers a robot can be teleported, but both have problems and are limiting, and are yet another complexity to explain to the players. Another possibility that's even more complex is adding a 'overheat' mechanics on the portals, so each time a robot passes through it gets a bit hot and takes some time to cool down, so if a portal is being used to much it eventually overheats and explodes, but then again, it's extra complexity that I don't know if justifies the problem. Sounds like killing a fly with a cannon to me.

If the player places two portals like that I don't think that behavior is a big deal, while surely it's not an ideal situation. I don't think any player will have problems 'fixing' that scenario though. Ideas on how to deal with that are very welcome in any case.

Thank you for your input! Smiley
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 07:33:36 AM by AlanGD » Logged
MrPotatostealer
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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2017, 07:33:08 PM »

Hi AlanGD,

Thanks for sharing! I found the core idea of the game very interesting. It has potential to be a lot of fun. However there are some technical and design issues I had an issue with currently.

1. The robots themselves are not a resource since they are infinite. So it does not matter in this case if you can get 1 or 20 into the goal. So it don't feel like this adds anything to the game in the current state. Instead, making them into a resource like Lemmings will provide a lot more interesting puzzles.

2. Robots feels unpredictable in the way they can crash into each other and change directions. I would rather see they don't interact with each other to make them more predictable. If I adjust a portal while playing most of the time I need to destroy all of the robots anyway and start over to see the proper changes I made.

3. The design doesn't require me to think ahead since I will adjust the portals until the problem is solved. There is not much for the player to actually do except wait to see if the portals are in the proper place. Adding in more portals doesn't make things more interesting, just more tedious. I would try and use fewer portals but in more interesting ways instead.

4. The slow down mechanic feels like it only has one purpose at the moment - make sure the robots don't die when they get too much speed. Instead, this could be more interesting if it would affect environment things as well.

Thanks again for letting us try it out. (My (co-founder) "boss"  Roll Eyes tried out most of the levels as well and really enjoyed it.)

Keep up the good work, looking forward to seeing an update !


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AlanGD
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2017, 08:10:03 PM »

Hi MrPotatostealer. Thank you for your input Smiley.

1. The robots themselves are not a resource since they are infinite. So it does not matter in this case if you can get 1 or 20 into the goal. So it don't feel like this adds anything to the game in the current state. Instead, making them into a resource like Lemmings will provide a lot more interesting puzzles.
This is probably the point I'm receiving more criticism for. I agree that getting 20 or 1 to the goal doesn't make a difference, in fact in some very rare cases, for example collisions between two robots flying, there's a chance one could reach the exit 'by accident', but the idea was to keep the number under 8. The problem with making them a resource is that the game is intended to be played in real-time, so you build the levels while the robots are flying around, and presumably getting destroyed in the process... making the robots 'valuable' would limit that and I suppose the effect would be players pausing or playing at very slow speeds in order to spare as many robots as possible, what's definitely going to get boring fast.

Quote
2. Robots feels unpredictable in the way they can crash into each other and change directions. I would rather see they don't interact with each other to make them more predictable. If I adjust a portal while playing most of the time I need to destroy all of the robots anyway and start over to see the proper changes I made.
Very good point. In fact, originally the game had a 'blueprint mode' in which some blueish 'ghosty' robots would spawn and not interact with each other until you build the level, only then you would allow the 'real' robots to spawn, but that ended up being quite boring and unnecessary in the new 'build-as-they-go' gameplay mechanics, however, interactions between the robots could surely become a problem. I'll definitely consider changing that.

Quote
3. The design doesn't require me to think ahead since I will adjust the portals until the problem is solved. There is not much for the player to actually do except wait to see if the portals are in the proper place. Adding in more portals doesn't make things more interesting, just more tedious. I would try and use fewer portals but in more interesting ways instead.
Yes, but thinking ahead in this case isn't precise anyway, you can never know exactly where the portals should be, but you can take a look on the level and think of the overall layout, but you can't just pause the game, place all the portals and expect them to be precisely correct. I agree that just adding more portals makes it more tedious and in fact for the final game I'm even thinking about removing a couple of portals from the menu bar altogether because I don't know if I'm going to ship the levels that require them all. There are however different ways to interact with the environment, including (as said) other objects that you have to build portals for, like cannon balls, that can activate switches and stuff like that.

Quote
4. The slow down mechanic feels like it only has one purpose at the moment - make sure the robots don't die when they get too much speed. Instead, this could be more interesting if it would affect environment things as well.

Thanks again for letting us try it out. (My (co-founder) "boss"  Roll Eyes tried out most of the levels as well and really enjoyed it.)

Keep up the good work, looking forward to seeing an update !
I definitely agree on the slowdown mechanics. It does however affect other elements that can be teleported via portals but the usage in the demo is really limited. Overall, I feel like there are some low-hanging fruits I'm not aware of Tongue.

Thank you very much for the feedback! I'll surely take the time to give all of the points presented in this thread a careful thought. I'm glad to hear you guys enjoyed the game! Gentleman
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 08:18:19 PM by AlanGD » Logged
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