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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperPlaytestingDeadbeat Simulator - fight card-based memory battles for motivation
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Author Topic: Deadbeat Simulator - fight card-based memory battles for motivation  (Read 230 times)
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« on: December 18, 2020, 07:54:55 PM »

A demo for a game about not having the energy to do things. Gameplay is based around the notion of working up the motivation to complete tasks of varying importance, from the daily chores to running into people from your past, to weirdly supernatural attempts at disrupting the world order - at least, there will be in the actual game.

Mini-tasks and main 'fights' of matching and beating enemy cards comprise the majority of gameplay, so they are the focus of this demo rather than story, although I couldn't help myself with some dialogue. Though it might not reflect the exact narrative it does capture the approximate tone I'm going for - what I'm really not sure about is the gameplay.

Basic Gameplay:
  • walk around Lewis' home, the street he lives on and his go-to corner store
  • mini-tasks include ordering cards in a memorised sequence, stopping a roulette wheel and a guitar-hero-esque matching game
  • in main tasks, you choose cards from your hand to beat the opponent's selected card
  • all cards begin face-down. your cards remain face-up once selected, but your opponents' won't
  • winning cards have their value decreased by 1, and ties result in both cards being redrawn - in every other incident, cards remain on the field
  • ties also grant Lewis one Support point that can be used on Tool cards he has at his disposal - Reveal an enemy card, Redraw one of your own, and Boost the value of one of your cards by 2
  • The third Tool must be unlocked somewhere in the city
  • There are several Goals that can be achieved and Coins to collect throughout the city, which contribute to a completion report at the end of the 'chapter'

This chunk of 10-15min playtime was  put together to be critiqued and messed with to make the actual foundation good before I continue with the rest of the project. Any feedback regarding the "card game" mechanics (of mini- and main tasks) and beyond would be greatly appreciated, I'd really like to continue this project but only with a foundation that actually has potential since whether or not the gameplay itself is fun/boring/rewarding/annoying/bad is obviously more important than what comes next.

Hosted on itch.io: https://pseudofanboy.itch.io/deadbeat-sim

Known issues:
  • speeding through dialogue may make it behave weirdly
  • gui plays cursor and confirmation sounds simultaneously
  • sizing and placement of cards is a bit off due to a last-minute sprite edit
  • the random number choices for some tasks should probably be less random
  • foostep sounds are a bit too prevalent
  • confirmation/win sound plays again after main task completes
  • interactor sprites don't always behave normally
  • sub-goals aren't notified upon completion
« Last Edit: December 19, 2020, 05:24:07 AM by PseudoFanboy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2020, 07:26:06 AM »

Spent a while playing this, unfortunately I couldn't reach the end of the demo since I kept getting hit by a particular bug in the supermarket - whenever I won the roulette wheel for the first person in the queue the game froze and crashed, it seemed to happen twice in the same way. So a lot of this is just based on playing essentially the tutorial room a few times over until I felt like I had a feel for the four main minigame types! Some notes:

- Breaking everything up into different levels of motivation required was funny and quite satisfying, it did feel like something that played on the way that everyday tasks can hit a state of gridlock if left alone for too long. I didn't have much of a sense of what the individual tasks actually were or why some were higher motivation than others but this is probably just a matter of framing text etc.

- Of the three motivation minigames my favourite was the one where you turn the wheel to match the dropping numbers, it felt like it could theoretically get difficult depending on how complicated the combinations were but remained fair. The roulette wheel was kind of trivial after I got a sense of it the first time but imagine this could get harder if more numbers, different combinations etc were added.
The card ordering game was the most difficult, maybe it's just me but it took me a while to internalise what it was asking me to do. It says "memorize and recreate the sequence" but this implies the sequence to memorize and the one to recreate are one and the same, when actually the task is to memorize the first sequence and recreate the second one. Maybe it's me but this tended to confuse me - especially when the bottom row disappeared and slid onscreen again with the faces down, implying that they weren't the same cards or that they'd been shuffled.
So if I was given match-ups like the below:
[Top row] 3, 2, 2
[Bottom row] 2, 3, 2
I know now that the right way to play would be to pick the cards of the bottom row in the order of the top row. But the first few times I thought it was the other way around and that I was trying to reorder the top deck to get them into the original sequence. Again maybe it was just me though.

- I am no good with card games so take with a grain of salt, but I also had a hard time getting the rhythm of the battling game. When I had a higher or equal card it felt trivial , when I had a lower card it felt unfair. The strategy layer of remembering the opponent's deck as well as your own didn't seem to kick in until you'd "lost" a few turns. I think that maybe emphasising the optional powers (like revealing or improving a card) and perhaps giving the player a free support point to spend at the start of the match would help by emphasising the ability to make decisions at the start, rather than only allowing them after certain conditions of randomised play.

Some more minor stuff:
- The motivation counter just doesn't appear for me sometimes when I start a new game. But it was intuitive enough without it for the beginning places at least.
- Think the card-ordering minigame would be clearer if there was maybe more emphasis on which card you were selecting - an arrow or something rather than an increase in size. When there were only two cards left I felt a bit unsure whether the slightly larger or smaller card was the one I had "selected".
- It's possible to win the tutorial battle game in a totally trivial sense just by randomly starting with a deck like, 5, 4, 4, while your opponent has 1s and 2s - this happened the first time I played so I had the slightly hunted feeling of being progressed to the next section before I'd actually figured out how to play.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2020, 07:32:56 AM by garmentdistrict » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2020, 12:07:55 AM »

This critique is absolutely delicious, thank you for this Christmas miracle. Apologies for the supermarket bug, it evidently wasn't bugtested enough before uploading.

You're right, reasoning behind tasks requiring higher levels is abstract at best and arbitrary at worst, it does need something to make it (at least SEAM) less so in-universe. For card selection I'll definitely add a hand sprite or something of the kind for clarity.

Your advice on the tasks are EXACTLY what I wanted.
You're absolutely right that I botched the explanation of the ordering game and that the main battles are at the mercy of randomness regarding their difficulty/fairness. I'll give the 'deck construction' a tweak, and I think the idea of a free support point is good - possibly even more as the game goes on depending on enemy power creep. Maybe as a reward of some kind?

As far as the actual gameplay of the main task, I hear that the 'fights' take too long to get to the stage where playing it feels fair due to the complete blindness at the start and the game, and only 'feeling' better to play once a few cards are revealed. I might try having at least 1 card each side be revealed at the start of the fight, or possibly some kind of 'clue' system - I saw one used in the game High Stakes I looked at while looking for ideas, I wasn't sure about the exact same mechanics but the idea might be worth thinking about for this.

Thank you VERY much for playing, and for this feedback - it's extremely useful and I'm excited to get back to working on making it better. Have a great holiday season!

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