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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:39 am 
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Hey all - this community has been so incredibly supportive in helping this project get off the ground...it owes its existence to all of you and your constant and patient help. We are truly proud of what we've been able to create and it far surpasses our initial expectations, and it's 100% due to the tutelage and guidance we received here. We hope that The New 8-bit Heroes film helps to really demonstrate the passion of this as a legitimate creative pursuit, and that it exposes a whole new demographic to post market NES development and your games!

Here is the first beta for Mystic Searches...it is a prequel quest called Mystic Origins. It represents approximately a 1/10th vertical slice of the game without dipping into the actual game's narrative. So...it's almost a *bonus* game. Big thanks to Shiru and Derek Andrews for developing tools that have allowed us to bring this to a modern platform in addition to being hardware playable.

Here's the link: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/f ... =880758073

If you guys are on Steam and dig what you see, an upvote and positive comment will help stave off the impending trolls! haha.

Would love your feedback!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:06 am 
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BTW, the NES ROM can be found inside the .jar if you want to play it on an emulator instead of the GGVm thing, or if you don't have Java installed. (You can rename .jar to .zip to get inside. They're just a ZIP with a different extension and containing a Java program.)

After playing it a bit, some random thoughts:
  • I found it amusing that the "farm" seems to be the most effective place to farm for coins. (Conveniently adjacent to the store, too.)
  • Despite the existence of that farm, I find it takes a long time to gather coins. Since I seem to need to "stock up on Ruka leaves" to get through the swamp, I haven't actually been able to gather enough coins to do this yet. (I wasted my first 8 coins on some song paper, hoping it would teach me a song.)
  • I can waste all my song points, but can't play any songs yet? I think the guitar playing mode is pretty cool, though I accidentally enter it looking for pause a lot. (I guess looking at old NES games, a lot of them uses select for pause but I don't tend to expect it, myself.)
  • The song list page is confusing. Are these songs I can learn eventually? What does the note next to each of them mean? Can I interact with this screen at all?
  • What does the "charge" thing do? I figured out how it seems to be limited by my life metre (aura turns from blue dots to hearts?) but I'm not sure how/where to use it.
  • There's a sign telling me to stomp on a wooden platform, but I can't figure out how to stomp. I can jump on it, but it doesn't work. Is this an ability learned later? (Very confused by this.)
  • Diagonal input against walls causes the player to "stick". If I walk into a wall horizontally, I can't move vertically along it until I release the horizontal direction entirely.
  • The slug enemies remind me a lot of Slurms McKenzie from Futurama. (I like the way they look.) Their disappearing and reappearing at random makes them difficult to avoid in time, though.
  • Do you use masking background sprites to cut sprites off in the water/grass? I'm kinda curious how this is implemented.
  • When standing in the water atacking downward with the staff, part of the staff "sticks out". (Shouldn't the whole thing be above or below the water level?)
  • Can't cut grass that's on land while standing in the water, not sure if this is intentional.
  • Haven't figured out the guy's "secret" outside the city yet.
  • Got killed by the tough monsters in the swamp where it locks you into the room. Will try again next time I play.
  • Probably a report that should go to GG instead, but trying to go to windowed mode just immediately closes (crashes?) the program instead. Can't play windowed.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:49 pm 
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Okay, played a bit more. At this point I guess I'm stuck. (Can't see any way to proceed.) I went to the swamp and talked to the green guy, so now the shopkeep in town sells fireflies. Other than that I don't think I've managed to change any of the world's "state", and I can't see any other way to progress. How to "stomp" on those planks seems like the most conspicuous thing, but I couldn't figure out how to do that. (Or lighting the lanterns... I was hoping the fireflies would help with that, but they didn't seem to do anything anywhere I could go.)

  • Jumping on and bouncing across boulders wasn't something I expected I could do. Kept me from getting to the swamp for a while.
  • Whacking an enemy on the right side of the screen it didn't seem to take damage, despite flashing/stunning. (Hit it like 30 times before I moved, and could hurt it.)
  • After playing with the guitar, a lot of weird things happened. (I had a lot of notes and was just playing them rapidly/randomly.) My coin/note counters currently say BCA and C64; I guess they're "very high" values? I turned pink, and lost my staff. After dying I'm stuck on endless screens that is a page of 1010101010 tiles alternating with rows of curved lines (the two tiles above 01 in the CHR), and my EXP is now: A9B8CA. Had to reset the game to get out of this. (Couldn't seem to reproduce the problem after resetting-- maybe I'd need to collect a lot of notes again though.)
  • If you press B during a conversation with a shopkeep, unless they are completely finish talking they will not let you shop, it will cancel the conversation instead. This led to a feedback loop of frustration trying to "skip" the dialog to get to the shop and actually just cancelling it every time.
  • When leaving the farmhouse, an enemy spawned right on top of me and bumped me back inside the door.
  • I notice the guitar only plays a whole-tone scale; presuming you need to learn melodies, it might help if the scale had a perfect 4th/5th in it? (I was hoping to try and play a tune and all that came out was Debussy...)
  • There's a day/night cycle, but I guess I never sleep? A quick way to pass the time and wake up would be nice in some places, especially in town where buildings are open at different times.
  • You can initiate a jump with A while talking to someone. The sound plays, but you don't start to jump until after the conversation (if still holding A).

Anyhow, I like what I see overall, and was really glad to try this. I'm just trying to make any comments you might be interested in, they're not a list of likes/dislikes.

Edit: oop! I just noticed holding select raises the guitar a half step. I guess it's chromatic then.

Edit: AAAAAA just accidentally discovered how to stomp . Was bouncing on some rocks cause I was bored and accidentally smashed one of them! Anyhow, for anyone that needs to know: Jump with A, and then release and tap A in midair.

Edit: Okay I've finished it now. Two more comments:
  • At night-time getting out of the infirmary is hard, i often get knocked right back in by the monsters immediately outside the hole (also provokes suicide to refill life).
  • In the mine cave with the glowing wall before the boss, without playing the song I could go up to the glowing wall and talk to it. (It says what the sign that told you to jump on the planks said.) Probably was intended to say something else, maybe?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:48 pm 
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Wow! I just got back from a weekend away at the film festival and got this great break down...thanks Rainwarrior!!! :-)

It looks like *most* of the things you managed to muscle through on your own. We have a sort of manual that explains things a bit better in a few cases (like the being able to play the chromatic notes using the select button). 6 notes + 6 raised notes with select = 12 notes...an entire chromatic octave. So any melody that can be played within an octave should be playable, and there will be a few fun easter eggs in that regard in the finished game!

There are a few things that concern me.

1) The one where you ended up on the *blank* screen with the weird values in EXP and coin/note counters. THAT is game breaking, so that really has me concerned. I've never seen that. Out of curiosity, did you by chance navigate away from the window of the game and return at any time? I did that once from ggvm a while back and got some anomalous behavior from one of the monsters...i wonder if it was a related scenario. Other than that, without being able to repeat it or know exactly when/where it happened, that is an odd one! Any more info you could give me would be awesome!

2) Some of the things that are not *bugs*, but more design decisions where we were between a rock and hard place the way parts of the engine works:
- b/shop keep...that is as intended, so you can *exit* an npc. But yes, it sucks when it's a shop keep and you have to wait...but we made the text strings load as fast as possible. Sort of a compromise.
- enemies spawning on exit points and whatnot...this is an edge case that we'll be working on. I have several methods to fix this, just probably didn't catch all the places it could possibly happen.
- Day/night - we have Inns, just didn't put any in this quest. There are also relics/songs that can change day/night or preserve day/night, which are part of some puzzles.
- not initiating jump while talking to someone is an easy fix (another user found out you can also charge...same thing...That's easy).
- Ooops - I totally forgot to change the index of the *glowing wall*'s text box after i'd modified it! It's supposed simply say, "The forcefield emits a terrible hum" or some such thing. Right now it's just reading zero, which is the text string you just saw.
- Swamp/cutting grass...yes, i have to fix the lute being above ground completely, as right now it always returns a negative hit. Thanks for reminding me to do that!
- We do have the occasional sticking, especially against jumpable objects. it's not quite game breaking, because you can jump to get unstuck, but it is definitely something we'll be fixing.
- Slug monsters are *supposed* to be NES hard bastards (trick - bounce on jumpable tiles while they're underground...they can't come up in those spots). But you're not the first person to mention them. Worth thinking out if they're unfair. But...i have a few sadist moments.


3) As for the swamp - yep...when in *shallow water* it draws the player with an offset and uses the sprite priority trick to hide the feet (of any monster that gets in the shallow water). I was quite proud of how this little effect turned out!

Really, the main thing that concerns me is that REALLY anomalous thing in point 1. THAT scares me that you experienced that, and that you couldn't repeat it. The rest are things a quick manual glance (or further play through) would have revealed, creative decisions, or things we're already tracking. I really, sincerely appreciate the thorough play and notes!

Did you eventually see the win-screen? If so, you might have been the first outside of the product team to do so! :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:41 pm 
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I have two minor suggestions:

In my opinion, the movement feels a bit slippery. I think speeding up and a braking distance should only be used in side scrollers. A top-down action adventure works better with instant full speed and instant stop in my opinion.

Talking to people and advancing the text should be done with A instead of B. In almost all games that have dialog boxes, A stands for "continue with text" while B means "cancel". It feels a bit unnatural to go through dialogs with B.
Also, the character still makes the attack motion when talking to someone.


A little hint about detecting errors that are difficult to recreate:
Always tell your testers to play the game on fceux while recording it as a movie. (With movie, I mean the input log that can be played on the ROM, I'm not talking about the AVI function.)
This way, you can not only see the error for yourself if your tester sends you the input file. You even know whether your fixed code actually eliminates the error by playing the new ROM over the old input. (The emulator will warn you that the file hash doesn't match, but it will still work.)

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Website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Trailer: https://youtu.be/IYXpP59qSxA
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:58 pm 
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Thanks for the tips! And yeah, we have both rather *official* testers and more general testers. The official folks are digging deep and documenting...others, i just want to get perspective on their play experience overall. :-)

There are platforming elements in this game, which is why we instituted the acc/dec, even though it is top down, but the critique is noted. If it becomes a common one, maybe we can tighten it a bit. That's an easy enough fix.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:25 pm 
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JoeGtake2 wrote:
Out of curiosity, did you by chance navigate away from the window of the game and return at any time?

No. Windowed mode in your build of GGVM crashes immediately for me, so I just played it in fullscreen. Trying again today, though, I managed to reproduce it reliably in FCEUX, so you can rule out GGVM.

I wrote $FF to $73D to give myself "lots" of notes. (Curiously it seems to count as 999, but maybe there's some decimal overflow conversion going on, I dunno.) After doing this, it seems I can randomly spam notes for a while (a few hundred rapidly played notes) and eventually "weird" stuff happens. I think the first time it happened to me I only had about 50 notes but I got "lucky".

Take a look at the attached FM2 file for FCEUX (used with game.nes from the .jar). The player palette changes and loses the staff, I think at frame 1496 of the movie. From there you can walk to the next room and you'll see that counters for notes, coins, and EXP are all corrupted. If I keep spamming for a while, I've also managed to make the colour of the world change and dying after that took me to the "10101010" zone again.

You can use the debugger around frame 1495/6 in that movie to inspect what's going on.


Another bug I mentioned earlier that I whacked a monster a bunch of times on the right side of the screen. I think the right side is a red herring here, later I was fighting a different monster and they seemed to get stuck in the "taking damage" state (different palette, couldn't be hit by it again). Eventually it came out of this state though. Maybe the timer on that state can sometimes get decremented twice to -1 by accident or something?


JoeGtake2 wrote:
We do have the occasional sticking, especially against jumpable objects. it's not quite game breaking, because you can jump to get unstuck, but it is definitely something we'll be fixing.

I think you misunderstood what I meant about sticky walls. This isn't occasional, it's systemic. If you walk left into any wall, you can't move up or down until you release left. (Same is true for any direction of motion.) The initial collision prevents valid motion on the other axis.

If you need a better illustration of what I mean, try playing Link to the Past (SNES) and walk diagonally into any wall, and compare that to doing the same in your game.


JoeGtake2 wrote:
shop keep...that is as intended, so you can *exit* an npc.

It's actually a big problem for critical events that are tied to the end of a dialog.

For example, the wizard at the end has 6 pages of dialog. If I press B even slightly before the end of any of these 6 pages, the whole dialog is cancelled, and the "ending" is not triggered.

There's no feedback to indicate there is more dialog. Unless you know that dialog doesn't continue unless you wait, it's very easy to end a dialog early (by pressing slightly before the end of a page) and think you've seen all of it. I could easily end up thinking "I talked to that guy and nothing happened", and being stuck because there's a critical event tied to finishing that dialog.

I'd highly recommend putting dialog cancel on a different button than dialog advance. The way it is now, pressing B slightly before the end of a page displays, or slightly after, has the opposite effect!!! Kind of a strong difference to hang on such a subtle timing difference!

I had a lot of problems with the cancelling because I was confused by it. I ended up trying to press B to make dialog go faster, but it just kept cancelling things, and I didn't understand what was going on. I think impatient people will try to press the "advance" button rapidly like I did, so I'd really recommend it speed up the text instead (and put cancel on a separate input), or if speeding up the text is impossible it would be fine even to just do nothing until the page is finished and you are allowed to advance.


JoeGtake2 wrote:
Did you eventually see the win-screen?

Yes, if you mean the "coming soon" screen, looking out from the mouth of a cave.


Attachments:
mystic_origins_beta_jar-0.fm2 [86.79 KiB]
Downloaded 29 times
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:25 pm 
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Huh. So strange! Curious - were you bashing notes then hitting the Start button? Did it happen on a Start button press? That would at least make sense...that maybe it tried to read the pattern and did something anomalous.

Alternatively, possibly I don't reset after 8 values...I thought I did, but maybe it keeps advancing and putting a new value into the consecutive RAM spots....essentially it's an 8 byte pattern...so maybe as you write more than 8 bytes it kept writing to further address (beyond that spot). THAT would certainly make sense to cause that issue, and would explain why I've never seen it (always play the 8 note pattern, since I know to do it). Obviously, I SHOULD be doing that, and I thought that I was (only writing to those 8 values), but it stands to reason based on your description that maybe i'm not capping it at 8. Huh...great find! Let's hope that's it...that's an easy fix.

Yes, there is a current bug with the hurt state very very rarely doesn't reset when it should. I've been mining for it for a while...and since it happens so rarely, I always think, "I fixed it". Until I find it again. haha. It's one we know about though and are working on. Thanks for confirming.

As for the sticky walls...yeah, that's likely going to be the way our collision is going to work with backgrounds, based on the way it's evaluating potential position. It might be possible to add in a strafe. I'll have to play with it. I'm aware of this, but had accepted it as just how the game functions, so long as it was reliably happening. Might be possible to fix, though.

It's interesting to hear the NPC issue. You're now the second person who has said it. It'd be pretty easy for me to remove the ability to exit NPC dialog until the line is done. I tend to think of *b* as the action button in this game. Even though it's contrary to DRW's suggestion, maybe i'd have A be the *cancel* button. That should also be a pretty easy fix.


So far, other than the money/crazy screen bug, everything else seems fairly easy to diagnose and alter. And just to confirm...all that crazy nonsense happened after bashing music notes for a while, right? If so...I think I know right where to look :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:48 pm 
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I did not press start at all while playing notes. This can be triggered entirely by pressing direction / A / B / select. If you watch the FM2 movie you can see exactly what I pressed (and debug the frame where it happens). (FCEUX's config > display menu can show you the exact input state every frame, current movie frame, etc.)

I put a breakpoint on the coins counter at $73A and noticed it gets corrupted earlier than the player's palette, not at the same time. (Happens at frame 1384.)

In particular, this instruction seems to be a problem:
Code:
$FECD: 99 2A 07  STA $072A,Y


I don't know what array is at $72A, but if coins are at $73A it seems like Y is supposed to be less than 16? If I put a breakpoint there on larger Y values, it goes as high as $41 in the FM2. i.e. this breakpoint seems to catch the moments of corruption:
Attachment:
conditional_breakpoint.png
conditional_breakpoint.png [ 16.66 KiB | Viewed 991 times ]


It seems to happen really easily if I just rapidly tap all the buttons (except start) and occasionally hold select. (Pressing select a bit seems to be required to trigger the bug. I have a very easy time reproducing it now, especially with that breakpoint to tell me when the bad effects have begun.)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:25 pm 
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Helps a ton. I'm going to investigate. I will check out the file in the morning from my computer with FCEUX on it. This ALWAYS happens from music playing mode, though, correct? If so, I believe it is what I described and I'll certainly look into this one tomorrow!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:39 am 
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I may check this out in a little bit. I'm good at beta testing and have tested other games as well. Also looking forward big time to seeing the development tools that you will release after the game. There will probably be several big games made with your software and tools.

You might inspire others to make new NES games as well with your movie.

Also I think that Nintendo is possibly missing out on these post NES games. What I mean by this is that Nintendo could recognize some of these games and allow you to sell them on their e-shop or something. They could also make money by doing something where they officially recognize your game as part of the official NES licensed library and give you a certificate. You know, something small but meaningful.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:48 am 
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The homebrew market is too small for Nintendo to care... There's hardly any profit to be made from games that sell only a few hundred copies at best to justify them spending any effort legitimizing them. Homebrew games would definitely be able to reach a broader audience with a little backing from Nintendo though, but would the profits increase significantly? I don't know.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:49 am 
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Thanks Erockbrox! And we'd love to have your feedback. We've started a thread in the discussion group there with some of the known bugs that we'll be patching this week. That feedback is invaluable, but also love to know about your experience with the game overall rather than having folks dive in looking to break it. Those are two entirely different mindsets. The latter is necessary, but I'm even more interested in the former from the NESdev folks that I know appreciate this sort of stuff.

And we're hoping all the things you just mentioned are the exact outcome. We're hoping to remove the years' long access point to getting to the level of knowledge of being able to make things happen on screen, which then whets the appetite for people to know it IS possible and compels them to dive into the ASM to start modifying and creating, etc.

And as for the doc - it is really a project intended to show what goes in to these projects. We're hoping for that exact sort of sway with the big N. Though we're not holding our breath. haha. We are, though, working with the International Museum of Play to get a small installation for NES homebrews. We're doing what we can with the means we have :-)

Thanks for the support, dude.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:50 am 
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Tokumaru - it's completely true. They have nothing financially to gain. But what they're going to lose with the next generation is that connection they had with the 8 year old kids who are now 30, showing those games to their kids. The thing that opening this up might do is create brand identification with a whole new demographic. It's the same reason they took a chance on the NES Classic. Here's to hoping its success compels them to dip their toes in the water.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:23 am 
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Erockbrox wrote:
Also I think that Nintendo is possibly missing out on these post NES games. What I mean by this is that Nintendo could recognize some of these games and allow you to sell them on their e-shop or something. They could also make money by doing something where they officially recognize your game as part of the official NES licensed library and give you a certificate. You know, something small but meaningful.

I honestly think what Nintendo is actually "missing out" is real applications from NES homebrewers. My NES game isn't finished yet so I haven't applied specifically for a VC NES release yet (though I intend to investigate when it's done), but I have been involved with Nintendo's submission process at commercial game companies in the past. It's generally not terribly complicated to do, but expensive ($$$$), and there's no payout below a certain sales threshold. (There's also some huge bullshit about Wii, Wii U, 3DS, each requiring their own separate VC submission/release.) Basically under the rules they've had in place, most of these things would probably be expected to be a financial loss if they did go through with it.

Not even considering homebrew, take a look at the actual list of NES games on VC on any of the 3 platforms. None of them even have a hundred games. This has a lot to do with how expensive Nintendo makes it to publish with them. If commercial license owners aren't considering it worthwhile, it's probably even less worthwhile for a homebrew.

It'd be nice if they had some sort of easy-to-publish service, like Microsoft did with XBLA for the 360, though I think after testing this out with the 360 they decided not to allow something similar for the XBox One. I don't know what this suggest about the profitability of services like that, but it doesn't really fill me with hope for the future.


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