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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 10:42 am 
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That is absolutely gorgeous - lovely spritework, a great mechanic, and really smooth to play. I love the ball jump!

The start menu is a bit confusing.

You should definitely carry on with this - it's going to make a completely awesome nes release.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:24 pm 
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Wow!! The controls are unique feeling and very tight - it will take me a while to master, but every time i mess up, it's my own fault. And then they expand when the wind comes in and you discover new usable features in your first seemingly basic set of moves. Congrats on making them feel so good. I also love how the control scheme fits perfectly thematically and seems to be derived from deductive thinking. "It's a game about lizards lizardy fantasy animals(?). What do "lizards" do? Being sneaky hungry little predators, it's plausible they suprise-eat unsuspecting prey. How do they do it? Maybe with a quick leap. How would that translate into a platforming experience? Like this:"

And is it fun? Yes, very much so! This is a top tier NES game as far as i'm concerned, should it be completed. Oh, and the sprites and bg graphics are lovely.

Agreed on the menu, though - for me, one thing that's confusing is how you go back from options. Since there's no 'back' item, my instinct is pressing start (same button that took me there, and because of its inherent confirm/enter/continue/start function), but instead it too increases or toggles the currently selected item.

The options "1 player", "new game", and "continue" are a bit cryptic. What's the difference between 1 player and new game? As a newcomer, you won't know until you have done empirical studies of the two. Menus are partly (in my opion: most importantly) there to guide newcomers.

Then maybe you try and confirm 1 player, because you're probably one player, not two, the first time you try it (i did). Hitting start, it switches to "2 player". Aha, it's an option switch.

I think my advice would be not to mix toggle switches and one-way confirms on the same menu. I would probably keep it to "1 player" and "2 players" confirming the game type and starting the game, but if you want to do something more non-standard, there's still more user friendly options to consider.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 8:36 am 
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team_disposable wrote:
That is absolutely gorgeous - lovely spritework, a great mechanic, and really smooth to play. I love the ball jump!

The start menu is a bit confusing.

You should definitely carry on with this - it's going to make a completely awesome nes release.

Thank you for your kind words and I assure you I will continue working on it until it is finished.
Also I'd like to ask what you found confusing about the start menu?


WheelInventor wrote:
Wow!! The controls are unique feeling and very tight - it will take me a while to master, but every time i mess up, it's my own fault. And then they expand when the wind comes in and you discover new usable features in your first seemingly basic set of moves. Congrats on making them feel so good. I also love how the control scheme fits perfectly thematically and seems to be derived from deductive thinking. "It's a game about lizards lizardy fantasy animals(?). What do "lizards" do? Being sneaky hungry little predators, it's plausible they suprise-eat unsuspecting prey. How do they do it? Maybe with a quick leap. How would that translate into a platforming experience? Like this:"

And is it fun? Yes, very much so! This is a top tier NES game as far as i'm concerned, should it be completed. Oh, and the sprites and bg graphics are lovely.

Agreed on the menu, though - for me, one thing that's confusing is how you go back from options. Since there's no 'back' item, my instinct is pressing start (same button that took me there, and because of its inherent confirm/enter/continue/start function), but instead it too increases or toggles the currently selected item.

The options "1 player", "new game", and "continue" are a bit cryptic. What's the difference between 1 player and new game? As a newcomer, you won't know until you have done empirical studies of the two. Menus are partly (in my opion: most importantly) there to guide newcomers.

Then maybe you try and confirm 1 player, because you're probably one player, not two, the first time you try it (i did). Hitting start, it switches to "2 player". Aha, it's an option switch.

I think my advice would be not to mix toggle switches and one-way confirms on the same menu. I would probably keep it to "1 player" and "2 players" confirming the game type and starting the game, but if you want to do something more non-standard, there's still more user friendly options to consider.

Thank you for such praise and I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed the demo. I really like the description you gave for Nim and Nom, "lizardy fantasy animals", hehe. I can't think of a better way to describe them myself.

With the way I've created the main menu I don't have the space to add a back option so I thought using the B button would be fine. In my mind the start and A button would be used for accepting/going forward, while the B button would be used for declining/going back. I wouldn't have thought about using the start button to go back a menu, I wonder what other peoples thoughts are about controls for the main menu.
You're right about the player toggle, there is no need for it to be there anymore. It was originally there because I didn't have enough room for the three game modes but now they have been removed I can change it back to something more standard. I guess I became too familiar with the way it is currently that it hadn't crossed my mind.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 9:22 am 
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Since the format isn't equipped with a designated cancel button, i think most titles try to stay away from menu diving. I have a hard time recalling a comprehensive collection of examples, but Castlevania III - Dracula's Curse has one such:

Sel+a+b and start brings the secret music menu. From there, B starts music, A stops. Start returns/exits. Select does nothing. Speaking of which, i remember always pressing on A first which does nothing since no music has started playing yet :x

One could argue SMB1 and many other games takes you back from demo to title screen by pressing start. I'd say it is the 'yes, go on' button.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:19 am 
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Now that you mention it the only game I can think of with something like an option menu is Over Horizon. While the controls for the menu are similar, it does have a 'back' item. I guess I should spend a little time examining the main menus of other games, seeing how they handle it, and what feels good. Hopefully, after that, I'll be able to make the menu for Nim & Nom a bit more user friendly.

I know it's ridiculous but something about having B start the music and A stop the music bothers me. I don't know why it just bothers me.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:36 am 
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Maybe all that it needs is a little help display at the bottom of the menu, something like: (B) Back --- (A) Select

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 8:28 am 
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Both Tetris (Nintendo) and Klax (Tengen) have options menus of some sort, and Tetris uses B for back.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:17 pm 
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Krill wrote:
Now that you mention it the only game I can think of with something like an option menu is Over Horizon. While the controls for the menu are similar, it does have a 'back' item. I guess I should spend a little time examining the main menus of other games, seeing how they handle it, and what feels good. Hopefully, after that, I'll be able to make the menu for Nim & Nom a bit more user friendly.

I know it's ridiculous but something about having B start the music and A stop the music bothers me. I don't know why it just bothers me.


Sounds like a solid strategy! I'll be looking forward to any updates on this project :beer:

I don't know if it's ridiculous to think so, rather i think konami messed up just a tiny bit there. A is the button you'd be likely to try first. If jumping is the key action of a platformer, to A it should go. Confirm a choice in a menu? A. Yet they chose B. B is somewhat more disputed territory. It could be a secondary action. It could be an opposite action of A. It could mirror A in some contexts. But i believe it should never take precedence over A for doing what's primary, if such a thing can be established.

I think what gets me that it's not only incoherent to common practice, it is also contradictory within the menu system of Dracula's Curse itself, because in name entry and password entry you confirm item choice with A. I also noticed A / B does nothing in the begin/password menu, where A easily could have mirrored Start, so it isn't really an example of good and coherent menu construction. Just an ...interesting one.


I think this is what i'd use as a rule of thumb for menus:

Code:
Options menu or menus where you'd edit a set of parameters listed as items:
-Up/Down - cycle currently selected item up/down
-Right/Left - decrease/increase item value (cycling or toggling, depending)
-B/Start - (confirm and) go back. Since there's no critical settings, there's no need for a confirm/cancel distinction.
-A - increase item value (cycling or toggling), like Left, since editing options is the primary purpose.
-Optionally, telegraph with < > arrows around the value being selected.

In all simpler menu levels:
-A + Start would confirm and go on.
-B would only go back if there was something to go back to (like if there is a separation between title screen and new game menu), otherwise either do nothing or also confirm.
-Down, right, select - cycle down
-Left, up - cycle up.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:03 am 
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I'll try and post updates a little more often, that shouldn't be hard, but seeing as the game isn't that big I don't want to show much more than what is in the demo so it doesn't give me much to say. It makes it difficult to justify posting an update when all I have to say is how much is completed and what remains to be done.

It is weird that the controls are different, perhaps each menu was made by different people. After looking at all the different menu configurations for commercial games makes me wonder how much time companies devoted to making the menu screens. I imagine it would be small due to time and budget constraints.

After reading through your rule of thumb for menus the only part I would disagree with would be having Left/Right cycle Up/Down. If your already using the d-pad why not use the corresponding direction. I know it doesn't take anything away by having them there but I feel it is unnecessary. Other than that, I agree completely with the rules you've suggested.


thefox wrote:
Maybe all that it needs is a little help display at the bottom of the menu, something like: (B) Back --- (A) Select

That would be the easiest way, though it seems a little tacky to have instructions on on the main menu screen but if enough people have difficulty with the menu I may do this. I say all that despite having Press Start flashing on the starting screen.


tepples wrote:
Both Tetris (Nintendo) and Klax (Tengen) have options menus of some sort, and Tetris uses B for back.

I'll be sure to have a look at both of these games next chance I get.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:45 am 
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It is weird that the controls are different, perhaps each menu was made by different people. After looking at all the different menu configurations for commercial games makes me wonder how much time companies devoted to making the menu screens. I imagine it would be small due to time and budget constraints.
This, and that an individual copy of the game has a very low interval of incoming new users so it isn't prioritized compared to what's valuable for recurrent users. It's very different to my field of work where almost every session is done by a new user (interfaces museums / visitor centers). It would be a slightly somewhat different story in an arcade, too, but you're still catering to a recurring group of customers there, and the menu would be designed to make you want to drop a coin in the slot more than anything. That would be why dropping a coin into the slot is the interface.

Quote:
After reading through your rule of thumb for menus the only part I would disagree with would be having Left/Right cycle Up/Down. If your already using the d-pad why not use the corresponding direction.
Yeah, could just aswell have them do nothing since Up/Down already does the job. It might even be clearer. My line of thought is based on the principle that whatever the user does, the interface sees to that s/he does gets what s/he wants - if so even by enabling less optimal modes of interfacing, as long as it doesn't interfere with the optimal one (down/up).

But then again, having left/right do nothing is a pretty clear signal to the 0.01% or something that would try that first that they should try up/down instead. :P That principle above is just an occupational injury. :lol: Another bonus is that you don't have to secure the menu against diagonal d-pad presses leading to 2 jumps.

Alternatively, in a very long list of selectable items, left/right could serve as a next/previous page function. Such a transition can be confusing at first to first-timers if not communicated clearly (by means of scroll, swipe, or other animation).

If there's such a function somewhere within the same app, it's pretty clear left/right should do nothing if there aren't multiple pages in one menu or another by comparison.

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Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 2:49 pm 
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This is really super fun! I especially dig the "hold down to wag tail" feature, it's a very nice touch.

One recommendation: I'd put the orange enemy, which can only be killed last, on a screen earlier than the rain and wind. Introducing both mechanics at once felt like a little too much.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:17 am 
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Thanks, I always enjoy it when developers add small details in games even if it is just an extra animation, it still adds some charm to the game.
And I'll be sure to avoid introducing two new challenges in a single stage so I don't overwhelm the player.


WheelInventor wrote:
Yeah, could just aswell have them do nothing since Up/Down already does the job. It might even be clearer. My line of thought is based on the principle that whatever the user does, the interface sees to that s/he does gets what s/he wants - if so even by enabling less optimal modes of interfacing, as long as it doesn't interfere with the optimal one (down/right).

But then again, having left/right do nothing is a pretty clear signal to the 0.01% or something that would try that first that they should try up/down instead. :P That principle above is just an occupational injury. :lol: Another bonus is that you don't have to secure the menu against diagonal d-pad presses leading to 2 jumps.

Alternatively, in a very long list of selectable items, left/right could serve as a next/previous page function. Such a transition can be confusing at first to first-timers if not communicated clearly (by means of scroll, swipe, or other animation).

If there's such a function somewhere within the same app, it's pretty clear left/right should do nothing if there aren't multiple pages in one menu or another by comparison.

I agree with the principle and you should do what you can to make it as easy as possible to navigate an interface but what about when such methods are really uncommon? The majority of NES games don't use left/right to cycle up/down so would it be better to encourage it or avoid it? Though, as you've said, as long as it is consistent with the rest there shouldn't be much of a problem even if it takes a moment for the player to comprehend.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:36 am 
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oops, detected an error there. down/up, not down/right (in the paragraph talking about optimal modes). Corrected it in the post above.

I need to go but i popped 5 cartridges in chosen at random to see for myself, because i honestly thought this was not always the case:

-Chip n Dale - does as you describe
-Guardian Legend - does as you describe
-Metroid - only via select, that's a little odd but i guess earlier games tended to do this*
-SMB1 - same as metroid
-Batman: Return of the Joker - does as you describe (except the items are in rows, not columns)

*I also encountered that the title music repeats a short sequence and then stops during the selection menu. MOST unexpected!

So out of this far too small sample, there seems to be two common practices. Select only (1st party/early games?), or select + in the angle that items are placed.

So, in conclusion, it is probably best to stick with that. Encouraging behaviour that won't work elsewhere would be bad practice.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:31 am 
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I checked a few games myself earlier as it's been a while since I've played them. None of them used any directional input, they only used select and start. I remember getting frustrated with this as a kid so I just started to press every button on the control when I was on a main menu. This still leaves me with a bit of experimenting with how should use the start button. Use it to jump back and forth between menus or have it work like the A button. I'm not sure what will be best but I'll see how both feel and then make my decision, it shouldn't take long to try.

That's interesting with Metroid, I would have assumed that would have been more work to stop the music instead of letting it loop. I wonder why they did that.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:14 am 
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Quote:
That's interesting with Metroid, I would have assumed that would have been more work to stop the music instead of letting it loop. I wonder why they did that.


I had the time to investigate and it seems like it is an unforseen bug. The japanese version has a different menu, and it seems the password based replacement doesn't seem to have a hook for repeating the music. Also i'm using PAL, where the jingle repeats off-beat in the title so that's maybe another thing. maybe NTSC users can falsi-/verify this.

Actually, metroid is quite ridden with glitches and bugs that are carefully hidden through means of level layout. Once you start tearing down that and do your own levels, stuff is bound to resurface. A bug permits you to unmorph through blocks under certain circumstances if not ironed out. A triggerable glitch may force a scroll-stop in a horizontal corridor; useful for hiding secret passageways. But this is getting terribly OT.

Anyways, i meant to be asking, what are your thoughts on level progression in this kind of game? (that is; one screen where you have to solve a problem through skill to get to the next)?

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