Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

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scott_the_phd
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Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by scott_the_phd » Sat Dec 14, 2019 4:19 pm

A puzzle game based on that phenomenon where you're walking down a hallway and encounter somebody else in front of you, and you both step to the same side, and keep impeding each other repeatedly. You may get frustrated at the other party, but isn't it also equally your fault?

I don't yet have a title, and I have a few other plans for interesting twists, but I wanted to post it here early to hear opinions. I'd like to leave out screenshots and descriptions of how it works at least initially, because I think part of the appeal is figuring it out gradually without any instruction.

I have several deadlines, with versions in different levels of completion planned. The first is Magfest the first week of January where I want to have some music tracks finished, at least 32 levels, and saving of best scores per level. The second is a version for the homebrew competition without saving, so I have to consider whether it would be worthwhile to have a password that stores level completion (not best scores), figure out a name for it, and make a pretty title screen with the name. Then the final version after the competition will take it from a demo to a full game, I'd like to have 100 levels, and some twists like hidden alternate goals and bonus levels. Saving will store best (lowest) scores, with an indicator on the level select screen for perfect scores.

It'll still be under heavy development, so let me know what you think, and I'll update the file regularly. I just finished a level editor that allows immediate testing, and outputs to JSON, and an EXE that builds a new ROM with a JSON level file. If you're interested in making levels, I would be very grateful!

Thanks for playing,
Scott
blockage-0.3.2.nes
(40.02 KiB) Downloaded 50 times
Updates:
  • v0.3.2
    • Fixed bug where help toggle incremented move counter
  • v0.3.1
    • Added music (my first two song attempts, and I still hope to improve em)
    • Game over screen when beating every level
    • New title card with final name + credits screen
    • Switched to NROM
  • v0.2.1
    • Two full pages of levels (32 total)
    • Fixed bug where worse scores saved
  • v0.2
    • Non-flash-saving version for multi-cart
    • More levels (29 total)
    • Best scores preserved only until reset, icons for played/pro score/perfect score on level select
slide_008.png
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slide_009.png
slide_009.png (1.84 KiB) Viewed 5310 times
slide_010.png
slide_010.png (2 KiB) Viewed 5310 times
slide_011.png
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Last edited by scott_the_phd on Mon May 25, 2020 7:22 pm, edited 7 times in total.

lidnariq
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Re: Progress Thread - Slide Game (Working Title)

Post by lidnariq » Sat Dec 14, 2019 4:40 pm

Cool! I made it through the first 13 levels before I got puzzled out.

scott_the_phd
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Re: Progress Thread - Slide Game (Working Title)

Post by scott_the_phd » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:31 pm

Thanks! I'm trying to balance out the difficulty in the level progression to make sure folks don't get bored quickly, but don't get completely blocked by tough ones early on. I shifted some around, and pushed that 5x5 back a bit because my coworkers were getting mad at me for it :(

lidnariq
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Re: Progress Thread - Slide Game (Working Title)

Post by lidnariq » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:42 pm

Really? I didn't think levels 7, 11, 14, or 15 were bad at all...
I guess 19 and 24 are kinda brainmelty.

scott_the_phd
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by scott_the_phd » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:59 am

lidnariq, I've taken your comment as proof that extremely tough levels are desirable, to the dismay of all my friends that I bothered with testing duties :D

I just posted the latest build that I believe will be the final revision for entry. Still maxing out at 32 levels for the competition, but there are some in there near the end that I still find challenging. Some have failstates that require restarting the level after getting stuck in certain configurations, due to possible irreversible moves like in Sokoban, as opposed to other PSPACE-complete games like Rush Hour or Klotski.

I mentioned in the first post I planned to have another bonus game mode in between batches of levels, but life has annoyingly got in the way in the form of a new game dev job. I still have plans for more flair, music, etc. but that will have to wait til after the competition. I'm still thrilled to have a submission though, and it's my first NES project so it should definitely facilitate the next project. It started off as a simpler game to prompt writing a modular background updating library, as my other demos were too ambitious. It is also the first game I made using my libraries to compile C# to generate NES ROMs (which I open-sourced recently for hireability).

I'm excited to try out all the other submissions, they're looking super impressive.

Thanks for playing!

Scott

lidnariq
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by lidnariq » Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:58 am

scott_the_phd wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:59 am
lidnariq, I've taken your comment as proof that extremely tough levels are desirable, to the dismay of all my friends that I bothered with testing duties :D
I suppose it's too late to warn that the only game I ever purchased for the original Game Boy was a copy of Kwirk :)

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mitch3a
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by mitch3a » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:03 pm

Hey, got through most of it. First of all, it was great! Lots of nostalgia for that physical traffic puzzle game, but this lots more variety which added some nice layers to it. A couple suggestions, that I personally think would make it better (but I'm not complaining cos I thought it was great!):
1. Maybe don't just rely on color for which tiles move in what way. On my crt, the purple and blue looked the same, plus it was a little tough to remember which color did what... but I'm guessing it could easily be solved by adding some texture to the tiles. Whether its arrows or stripes or some sort of icon. This would also make it more accessible for folks who are color blind and I'm assuming you have plenty of graphical space left
2. It would be helpful to know what level you're on. After resetting, it took me quite a bit to figure out which level I left off on.
3. Some sort of password system and remove the ability to just cycle through levels. While it worked great for demo purposes, I think it'd be too tempting to just skip a level that gave me trouble.

Anyway, thanks for the game and GL in the voting!

Erockbrox
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by Erockbrox » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:30 pm

This is an interesting game mechanic and can be very engaging to sit down and fiddle with. I sometimes just spammed the D-pad until I won. You need to have some patients though with this one. Over all nice job.

dink
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by dink » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:22 am

Thanks for this nice puzzler, I really like the mechanic and nice laid-back music :)

BdR
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by BdR » Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:03 am

That's a pretty cool puzzle game. It is very similar to my webgame called Blox Slider
https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/682089

The levels are a good challenge and the sliding animation looks great, even on the really large blocks, nicely done.

Two things though. Is it possible to display the current level number at the top? So you know which level you are currently playing. And for the green and purple blocks that can only slide vertically/horizontally, is it possible to also display them with a pattern like vertical/horizontal stripes, instead of just a different solid color? (though I can imagine that's not possible due to lmited memory space)

Btw a minor thing but the controls I would have SELECT return to the level select screen, and then B+left/right to skip levels or something, idk seems more intuitive imho.

If you want you can copy some of the levels from my game. For extra gameplay elements you could have a level with 2 balls at the same time, or display the minimum steps per level for extra challenge.

scott_the_phd
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by scott_the_phd » Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:02 pm

Thanks for all the feedback folks! Sorry for the silence, I'm terrible at keeping up with async communication. This response is long-winded and full of design questions/comments, no pressure to humor me, but I definitely welcome any additional insight.

mitch3a, I'm a big fan of Chicken of the Farm btw. Thanks for reviewing! Regarding the color-only block differences, I totally agree. After finishing the demo, I bought a 5" NTSC/PAL CRT with a B/W toggle, and I was sad to see all of the palette options of the same brightness look identical. Whether or not it is unlikely to be played in B/W, I still feel compelled to make it work to account for color similarities and any visual accessibility reasons. The level number is a good idea too, especially as I continue to add more content. The demo is built for NROM, but I've also been working with INL's UNROM512 to enable saving best scores, so sometime in the future that will be in the final game.
Your comments about cycling through levels brings up a conundrum I had. I didn't originally want to have all levels skippable, especially earlier ones where they are simpler or just used as a means of introducing a new concept, whether a new block or a new latch type mechanism etc. I wanted a progress requirement, but I didn't want to hold people back if one particular level was too difficult. While watching testers, I noticed puzzles some folks found very easy, and others found extremely hard. One idea was to possibly group the levels, so one page of 16 could have a minimum amount to complete to proceed to the next page, maybe 12-14/16. If I were to add several pages of levels, does that seem like a decent means of encouraging level completion without being too lenient?

Erockbrox & dink, thanks for the kind words. I'm glad the music was acceptable, those were my first two tracks on Famitracker, two takes on the same concept in D dorian.

BdR -- This is very cool to see. I notice yours was also from 2016, that's actually when I made the Javascript prototype that turned into this game. I spent quite a while googling to make sure it wasn't out there already, but hadn't really looked around since. I'm kinda glad I didn't find it though, because I probably would have abandoned the project out of fear of being unoriginal.
I really like the additional types of pieces, and I see you also have no qualms about introducing irreversible moves, especially with the sticky blocks :D I also like that you were able to build non-rectangular shapes--something that I don't think I can do on the NES, as I have to move one piece at a time to animate the background tiles, and concave pieces create a problem there.
The quantum blocks are especially compelling--I hadn't considered that idea when trying to add new mechanics. Before the fixed-axis blocks, I had only considered some sort of top-down Gyromite style pillars that can be raised from the ground to temporarily impede blocks. Or a lock-and-key type mechanic, but I worried that would only engender backtracking.
Although I like the idea of adding new mechanics, I would like to spend some more months with just the four to see if there's anything else out there though. Some sorts of mechanisms that can be built with them, or other personal goals I may have, like an attempt to have a very small level requiring a very large number of moves. I created a level editor for quickly building and testing levels that outputs to the format for my builds, and I have far more in my "incomplete/impossible" list than my "complete" list.

Thanks again for all the valuable feedback folks. Despite many prototypes on many platforms over the years, this is the first game I've submitted to the public, hence my many design questions and rambling thoughts. I hope to take all the insight and advice into account on what I would consider a full version of Blockage, and I'll bear it all in mind when working on subsequent projects.

Scott

zzo38
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by zzo38 » Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:40 pm

scott_the_phd wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:02 pm
I didn't originally want to have all levels skippable, especially earlier ones where they are simpler or just used as a means of introducing a new concept, whether a new block or a new latch type mechanism etc. I wanted a progress requirement, but I didn't want to hold people back if one particular level was too difficult. While watching testers, I noticed puzzles some folks found very easy, and others found extremely hard. One idea was to possibly group the levels, so one page of 16 could have a minimum amount to complete to proceed to the next page, maybe 12-14/16. If I were to add several pages of levels, does that seem like a decent means of encouraging level completion without being too lenient?
I personally do want all levels skippable; it keeps track of which ones are solved, so that is OK. I like to solve the levels in whatever order I want and go back to ones I have already solved. One possibility is to have a secret command to unlock all levels, e.g. if you push SELECT+A together then all levels will be unlocked.

One bug report, is that pushing A will count against the move number even though it does not affect the state of the game; I think that it should not affect the move number.
[url=gopher://zzo38computer.org/].[/url]

BdR
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Re: Progress Thread - Blockage (formerly "Slide Game")

Post by BdR » Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:10 pm

About skipping levels, instead of making the first levels unskippable I would do it the other way around; make all levels skippable except one final level which only unlocks after completing all other levels. Because I agree with zzo38 in a puzzle game like this it's frustrating to get stuck on a level, and with a final level the real dedicated players still also have a goal to play towards.

As for originality, Blox Slider was based on the maze game in my other game Triple Dutch, which in turn was a copy of Tilt Maze by Math Is Fun. So finishing a game, getting it out there for people to actually play and give feedback, that is far more important than originality imho. Even if you make a pacman or space invaders clone, you can still put an original spin on it. ;)

Btw maybe a tip for creating solvable levels. In one of my games I had a debug function that just ran random moves, like 10000 moves/minute in the prototype. And then I created levels that just look nice or interesting, and let it run the random moves to check if they are at all solvable. If it ran for 2 minutes without stumbling onto a solution then it was probably unsolvable.

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