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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 1:28 pm 
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Location: Seattle
tepples wrote:
So the short description of each phase isn't enough, I take it.
Well, it's certainly partway. I understood "play with the store" and "place furniture", although I found the UI a little difficult—I kept on accidentally leaving the menu instead of whatever I meant to do.
There's very minimal feedback in the store as to when you've bought something; the inventory number increments and things you no longer can afford just disappear.
Placing blocks and doors was fine, although for no good reason I didn't understand that it also pruned unwanted blocks for a while.
Walking over and stealing things was more-or-less a non-starter without knowing that the rockets blow up walls.

I think the big problem with the rocket launcher was that, unlike everything else, I never saw a name for it (because you don't buy it, it's just always in your inventory

Oh, a very minor thing: both players' rocket launchers are right-handed, so it's very slightly in favor of blue (since the rocket launchers seem to be indestructable and unstealable)
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Should I make it so that either player can pause the game and view this mode's help? That'd be possible (as the screen can always be redrawn from scratch in my rendering architecture) but time-consuming.
Time consuming for you? Time consuming for the game?
I don't think it's worth using your remaining temporal budget, but I wouldn't mind the online help taking a second or two to start or stop.

Tangentially related, is there any way to pause? Like maybe both players pressing start or something?
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Any idea how to do this without taking huge amounts of time and memory for full PC RTS style pathing? The idea was supposed to be that you'd move onto one doorway and switch to the other unit until he gets there.
The more I played, the better I got at using it. I just flailed until I had an adequate mental model.
In any case, I don't think you need full pathing; just being able to say "Go to the door, then go to this other point."
Or maybe just having the roamers be a different color when they're busy vs. idle...
Quote:
But suggestions of how to design a single-player sandbox/training mode are welcome.
For a training mode, perhaps a series of optional tiny scenarios? Like-
* Here's you, your rocket, and the opponent's building? Launch the rocket to knock a hole in the wall
* Here's two roamers, get them to the other side of the screen at approximately the same time
* Here's a piece of furniture, pick it up and bring it back

Not certain whether I like that...

Maybe instead a "stupid AI" mode that just builds houses and furnishes them, without bothering to make an AI for combat?
Maybe a little pop-up message during combat mode if a player is standing adjacent to an opponent's door "They've locked the door, I have to use the rocket launcher"?


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 5:48 pm 
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Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
lidnariq wrote:
Well, it's certainly partway. I understood "play with the store" and "place furniture", although I found the UI a little difficult—I kept on accidentally leaving the menu instead of whatever I meant to do.

In Stock, pressing Up goes to "pickup" mode, where you can pick up and move items. How should I make this clearer?

Quote:
There's very minimal feedback in the store as to when you've bought something; the inventory number increments and things you no longer can afford just disappear.

What feedback did you expect?

Quote:
I think the big problem with the rocket launcher was that, unlike everything else, I never saw a name for it (because you don't buy it, it's just always in your inventory

It's called a "silo", and you can buy more once you save up Ҹ120.

Quote:
Oh, a very minor thing: both players' rocket launchers are right-handed

A silo can be used from any of the eight cells surrounding it. What did you mean by "right handed"?

Quote:
Quote:
Should I make it so that either player can pause the game and view this mode's help? That'd be possible (as the screen can always be redrawn from scratch in my rendering architecture) but time-consuming.

Time consuming for you? Time consuming for the game?

Time consuming for the other player. I could just call the title function again and then set all VRAM dirty, but the other player wants to get back to the game.

Quote:
Tangentially related, is there any way to pause? Like maybe both players pressing start or something?

There's currently no pause. And there's no start button on the second hardwired controller of a Famicom, which is why I used B+A instead of Select (and B+A instead of Start for join in another NES project five years ago).

Quote:
Quote:
But suggestions of how to design a single-player sandbox/training mode are welcome.

For a training mode, perhaps a series of optional tiny scenarios? Like-
* Here's you, your rocket, and the opponent's building? Launch the rocket to knock a hole in the wall
* Here's two roamers, get them to the other side of the screen at approximately the same time
* Here's a piece of furniture, pick it up and bring it back

Gԙat idea. I think I figured it out how to teach your first and third steps. Start with a bed in player 1's house, a silo in stock, and enough money to buy a chair. Computer-controlled player 2 has a bed and table in the house.

In the first tutorial, something like this appears in player 2's window:
Code:
Go to Shop
and buy a
chair.


Once the number of chairs that player 1 owns is nonzero, switch the message:
Code:
Go to Stock
and put it
in your house.
Then put the
missile silo
outside.


Once inventory is empty, combat begins:
Code:
Face your silo
and blow holes
in the other
house's wall.


After three missiles connect:
Code:
Go steal the
table and
bring it back.


Teaching the player how to patch a wall might be tricky. I've noticed that a few players can't see where the gap is in the wall that they're building. I'll have to find some way to "instrument" the flood fill to find where outside-ness is leaking in.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 7:32 pm 
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Posts: 5319
Location: Seattle
tepples wrote:
In Stock, pressing Up goes to "pickup" mode, where you can pick up and move items. How should I make this clearer?
Maybe adding a little card in the corner? "PICK UP" or such?
It's not that the functionality was particularly non-obvious... it's just that, before I had an adequate model for what was going on, I hit some buttons and went "Wait, what happened to my menu? <bang on some more buttons>"
Quote:
What feedback did you expect?
An animation? The stereotypical cash register sound? Something less subtle than a number incrementing.
Quote:
A silo can be used from any of the eight cells surrounding it. What did you mean by "right handed"?
I mean "I'm an idiot and I only successfully tried to get it to work from the two lower-right corners."
Quote:
which is why I used B+A instead of Select
Well, there's no harm in having select or start mean the same thing as A+B.


Another possibility is just that the timer is keeping people from having the chance to play around and figure out the UI.
Having three separate interleaved games means I can't just sit down and play until I figure out what's going on, because my train of thought keeps on getting derailed.

It's plausible—but don't hold me to this, it might completely ruin the game—that changing the timer to not be a fixed "you get N seconds" for each phase, but instead have people choose when to start the timer:
* Shopping: you get 10 seconds after the other player has said they're done, but a minimum of 30 to prevent griefing.
* Doors: This is probably fine as is; maybe you get 5 seconds after the last time either player places a door/removes a block
* Building: You get N pieces, or 10-20 seconds after the other player has finished playing all of their pieces
* Stealing: You get N rockets, and 30 seconds after the first chunk of wall is destroyed
Quote:
I've noticed that a few players can't see where the gap is in the wall that they're building.
Oddly, that hasn't thrown me at all.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 10:47 am 
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Posts: 17824
Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
I've made these changes in my tree:
  • Hand truck cursor in pickup (instead of the normal dot/square)
  • Battle: Select also switches units (yes, I know it advantages player 1 on an original Famicom)
  • Play page turn sound (the one played for switching between Stock and Shop pages) when switching units
  • Beep (as if something had been scanned at a supermarket) after buying and when silo has cooled

And I plan to make these changes tonight at the coin laundry:
  • After buying, slide furniture sprite up toward the word "Stock". This would also lock out accidental multiple purchases for a quarter second as the animation completes.
  • Show lock icon when facing an opponent's team-pass tile (door or fence)

About the timer: I'd probably disable the timer in some of the tutorial missions, just as there's no real timer in the tutorial missions of Animal Crossing.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 5:30 pm 
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Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
I've updated it and released source code.

Day 278 (2014-05-15)
  • Randomized starting location
  • Shop: Beeps and slides item up after buying
  • Shop: B leaves
  • Pickup: Hand truck cursor
  • Battle: Select switches units
  • Plays page turn sound when switching units
  • Beeps when silo has cooled
  • Tolerates vertical mirroring
  • Manual is HTML
  • Source code is available

Does this improve things?


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 3:23 pm 
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I know I didn't say this before, but it still fells odd that during the build phase I have to press Up to pick up a item already placed, I keep on wanting to press B to exit the menu.

Also in the manual: "a tower defense video game", really? I do agree it's a Real-time strategy game, but the entire element of building/having towers to snipe at swarms of enemies is distinctly missing.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 3:48 pm 
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I guess the TD elements were more in the single-player mode of the game that inspired this game. I'll update things given that neither RHDE nor the 2-player mode of Rampart is very TD.

In any case, my mental model of the furnish phase is that Stock is "home". This is why the player presses B to return from pickup or Shop to Stock. In addition, most of what's available to be picked up is drawn higher on the screen than the Stock window, so Up kind of makes sense at least to me. Here's my conceptual map of the modes of the furnish phase:
Code:
[ Pickup/Place ]
    ^
    v
[ Stock ] < > [ Shop ]

How should I better get across that Stock is "home"? Or should I change this mode map entirely?


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 5:50 pm 
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I'm not too certain that Pickup/Place is cleanly above Stock. For one thing attempting to move the cursor past the bottom of the screen doesn't return to the Stock (first thing I tried after I pressed up as instructed). That would be *very* cumbersome, thus overloading the rotation button was justifiable (it works out). Left and right worked OK for between Stock and Shop because the Shop is a vertically ordered list, and the Stock layout had an acceptable number of columns (4).

For both the Placement and Stock modes all 4 directional buttons are use for cursor movement, so you would first try to use another button to switch modes. We know that at Stock pressing A selects the item and goes to Placement, so I think using B for selecting nothing and going to Placement might be a good counterpart.

As for reimaging the mode map. I would think of Stock/Shop being one cursor and Pickup/Place being another, and B switches between the two.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:30 pm 
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Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
While working on pick up and drop outside the house, I made some sketches, scanned them in, and came up with this.


Attachments:
rhdetitle.jpg
rhdetitle.jpg [ 32.71 KiB | Viewed 1287 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:31 pm 
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I don't mean to be rude, but that MSPaint-like title screen is a big turn off. The text part looks good, but the picture is very uninspired. I think you should go for a more minimalist approach, composed mainly by the bottom half of this picture (i.e. the text). Maybe include some graphical elements, but this scene, as is, is very unrepresentative of what NES games are about. Besides the execution, there's the fact that title screen art usually includes characters posing, not interacting with each other and oblivious to the camera. This looks weird.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:46 pm 
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Is box art more likely to include characters not posing than a title screen? Is it just that I suck at drawing? Or both?

It was drawn on paper, then scanned and digitally inked and painted. Perhaps the NES's inability to handle colorful scenes without a lot of 16x16 alignment is what's causing the "M$ Paint effect" here.


Attachments:
File comment: original sketch on paper
drawjob.png
drawjob.png [ 34.89 KiB | Viewed 1264 times ]
File comment: inked, painted, background added
paintjob.png
paintjob.png [ 20.52 KiB | Viewed 1264 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:18 pm 
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If the remaining space in PRG ROM isn't enough for all the remaining content, I propose changing the settings for RHDE in the builder to give RHDE CHR ROM and put the title screen in there. Since mapper 28 doesn't have any way to protect CHR, you could just write over it as usual and treat it like RAM after the title screen. If the cart uses a CHR RAM size bigger than 8kb you could use mapper 28's CHR bank switching to preserve the title screen but I think it wouldn't matter if it could only be shown at the start, and even then you could probably do something hackish to relaunch the game and load the CHR ROM again.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:32 pm 
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I think it's not a bad title screen at all. It gives a better sense of what the game represents.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE title screen
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:35 pm 
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I feel that the picture would look better if the vanishing point was about 1/3 the way from the top instead of out of the frame.


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 Post subject: Re: RHDE
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:18 pm 
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tepples wrote:
Is box art more likely to include characters not posing than a title screen?

I think title screens and box art are the same in this regard. Characters don't necessarily have to be posing as if they were taking a picture, a lot of times they are in the middle of an action scene, but they are prominently drawn in the first plane, like someone was trying to get a shot of their faces while the characters themselves didn't care.

Your scene looks kinda like a child's drawing, all the characters are drawn from the side with little to no volume, the perspective on the road and houses is awkward, and the houses can barely be perceived as such. Perhaps you could make the perspective more interesting if you showed both the ground and the sky, with the ground slightly (or even not so slightly) suggesting earth's curvature. Some foliage would help too, everything is too flat. Characters could still be fighting, but they could be more tridimensionally distributed in the scene.

Of course these are just suggestions, if you don't agree with them feel free to ignore them! :mrgreen:

RT-55J wrote:
I feel that the picture would look better if the vanishing point was about 1/3 the way from the top instead of out of the frame.

Exactly, I miss the sky. This is a very awkward point of view for a title screen.


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