Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure
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Author:  M_Tee [ Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

I've been meaning to move this out of my graphics thread and into the projects thread for a while, but have been waiting until we had a demo ready, so we could get proper feedback.

This is a 2-player co-op, arcade style, all-ages platformer.

Łukasz Kur and I have been working on it for quite a number of months now, and the music and SFX are done in famitracker from Robert "Robi" Janota and Chip Jockey.

Received some great feedback from dustmop and others via email, and we've tried to take that into consideration before posting a demo online.

Would love more feedback regarding demo so we can improve as much as possible before releasing the full game.

Demo Download (zip containing ROM, readme, and cover art)

Author:  pubby [ Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

It's really good and the art is lovely, as always, but it has a few rough spots:

  • The first life I played I immediately walked to the right and died in player two's entrance. I thought that was the exit!
  • The second life I played I hit the jump button on the starting rope and died in my own entrance. It's kinda lousy to allow players, especially stupid ones, to die in the spawn points.
  • There's 3 frames of latency between pressing a button and having the character react. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but I don't like it.
  • I did not realize it was possible to duck and jump down platforms until late into the game. It would be a good idea to "teach" players how to do this in an early level by including a segment where the only way to progress is to jump down. Preferably a section without enemies.
  • I kept thinking the stalactites were part of the background and not sprites because of how dark they were. I died several times because of this. Brown may look good, but a lighter color would benefit players more.
  • It was not clear how much progress I was making and how close I was to beating the game. I ended up quitting about halfway through, I think. Ideally, there would be more feedback to players regarding their progress. For example, have a bonus section every 10 levels to act as a milestone and reward the player for their actions.
  • I wonder if the game is too hard for some children to play. Keep in mind that a lot of children, especially young ones, are flat-out terrible at video games. Even something as simple as grabbing a robe mid-air can be a challenge for them. Maybe you should include an "easy" mode that includes levels that don't require any skill to beat.

Keep up the good work :)

Author:  thefox [ Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Pretty cool game. I enjoyed playing through the demo.

I agree with pubby's critique though. I, too, died a few times by dropping down from the entrance rope by accident.

Also, I got this glitch in the Game Over screen (in the "Continue Used?" section):
continue-used.png [ 35.78 KiB | Viewed 6638 times ]

(I had used one continue at this point.)

Author:  Bavi_H [ Sun Apr 30, 2017 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Thanks for sharing the demo, I like it.

Here are some bugs and oddities:

    Like thefox, I often had the CONTINUE USED? item on the GAME OVER screen show three strange characters instead of a normal YES or NO.

    Sometimes the GAME OVER screen has strange changes to the music. I have encountered: 1. A few soft high-pitch beats before the normal music. 2. The normal music with weird pitches. 3. Very fast tempo.

    One time when I ran out of lives, the game froze on a black screen and didn't show the GAME OVER screen at all. I'm not sure what I did to trigger that.

    If you enter a valid password and press START, then back out to the main menu using B and choose NEW GAME, it will still skip the intro text and start on the level for the password you entered. (For example, on my first start up, I looked in the CONTINUE menu, entered password 0000 and pressed START, but then backed out using B and started a NEW GAME. I didn't get the intro text. At the GAME OVER screen, CONTINUE USED? was "YES", even though I chose NEW GAME.)

Author:  Myask [ Sun Apr 30, 2017 4:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

pubby wrote:
[*]I did not realize it was possible to duck and jump down platforms until late into the game. It would be a good idea to "teach" players how to do this in an early level by including a segment where the only way to progress is to jump down. Preferably a section without enemies.


Author:  M_Tee [ Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Thank you all for your feedback.

Continue Used Glitch
This error wasn't occurring in earlier builds. We'll fix that.

Dying in the Spawn Points
This is an issue we've struggled with. Currently, if the player is climbing, they will not die (only not be allowed to climb further down). In later stages, it will be important that the player die if they fall past the bottom of the screen. But, I also notice a lot of players starting the game by dying accidentally, and that's obviously something we should prevent.

Would having the players automatically grab their ropes if they're falling be the best solution?

Dropping from Platforms
There is an earlier stage where it can be forced upon the player in a safe location. Level design is something I'm particularly looking for feedback on, as this was my first time doing level design, and I did all 54 for the game. Similar responses of making something easier / more apparent the first time it is presented have already led to earlier revisions (making the diamond easier to trigger in the first stage and providing an area where the player can jump from rope-to-rope before needing to do so over spikes)

Displaying Progress to the Players
This is what we have so far, I don't know what more we could do:
  • The displayed "depth" begins at 384 m. and decreases by 16 m. each time the player ascends to a new screen. In this way, we're using depth to label the stages, and by having it decrease, I had imagined that reaching 0 m. would be seen as the goal.
  • Every 6 screens, there's a palette and BGM change.
  • There's a bonus stage triggered after collecting 8 diamonds. (One hidden on each stage, so could occur as frequently as every 8 stages)

In the full game:
After 24 stages, there's a mid-game cutscene (a fake ending, since the player has reached ground level), and then the location changes from mines to a tower, "depth" changes to "height" and the game continues (palette and BGM change every 6 screens as the player works toward the top of the tower, which is as exactly tall as the mines are deep.

Other Feedback and Bugs
Will pass them on to the programmer. Keep them coming. :)

Author:  rainwarrior [ Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Cool demo!

The music gave me some Atari ST nostalgia, especially since the game reminded me a lot of Rick Dangerous, and Yolanda.

I got stuck here, because the two spinners at the bottom left move in sync and I can't get past them to grab the last nugget:
File comment: stuck here
Cowlitz Gamers 2nd Adv (Demo)-0.png
Cowlitz Gamers 2nd Adv (Demo)-0.png [ 4.81 KiB | Viewed 6563 times ]

Edit: Oh, I got it. I can duck. I thought I'd tried that but I guess not! Onward!

Author:  lidnariq [ Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Just as a point of reference, when I played first time, completely naïve, I did discover crouching. Wasn't clear on why I was collecting diamonds or what made them appear, but the number that I collected by accident weren't enough to get to the bonus room. Didn't use up all the lives (about half? no continues).

Only thing I find a little odd is that you can jump to catch a rope that you can just barely reach, but you can't similarly jump to catch a platform at the same height.

Author:  M_Tee [ Tue May 02, 2017 11:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

We've now prevented players from being able to fall past spawn points, have corrected the error affecting the continue status of the game over screen, and have corrected what was causing the black screens on certain game overs.

Will update demo in near future.

Author:  M_Tee [ Wed May 03, 2017 7:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

More updates (not yet uploaded):

Have added new behavior and animation for yellow slug.

Some map edits: removed a location where yellow slug could land on a platform small enough that the player can't cause it to jump away. Also added an area where the player's forced to drop from a platform earlier in game, and in a safe location. I agree that each gameplay mechanic should be introduced in the safest way possible first, and didn't originally keep that in mind while designing stages.

As for difficulty differences, they are minimal now (score, lives, extra life renewal rate)... But I've been brainstorming some ways to make the "easy" setting on the full version of the game easier without too much extra effort.

We should have this build ready to upload this weekend, if there's any more feedback we can work into it, would love to hear it.

Quick Edit: also added some platforms to decrease difficult in tenth screen (the one with the two beetles in the chamber on the top of the screen).

Author:  M_Tee [ Sat May 06, 2017 10:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Sorry for the triple post, but new ROM release, download updated.

On top of addressing many of the issues brought up earlier, we also added notification of low time remaining. If you play ed the earlier version, be warned that the hwang komori (yellow leech enemies) have been given new behavior.

Author:  Bavi_H [ Sat May 06, 2017 4:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Thanks for the update.
New bug in Demo v 1.1: After a game over, if you go to the credits screen, some enemies/gold/objects from the last level you were on are loaded under the credits text.

Author:  rainwarrior [ Sun May 07, 2017 1:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

I gave the revised version another playthrough, this time getting every gem (though I didn't make it through in a single continue... not sure if that matters, the stats only seem to show when I die, not at the end of the demo). A couple of tiny points:
  • 256m once skeleton and yellow slime get together in that same groove at the top middle they seem extremely difficult to cross (need to wait a while until they overlap with good timing, but even then the yellow slime jumping makes that iffy.)
  • 224m if you just wait all the skeletons will destroy themselves on the spiked floor, is this intentional? The level seems very plain once they're all gone.
  • I notice you set the Y scroll (second $2005) to 255. I'm guessing you did this just because sprites are more convenient if you don't have to think about the Y+1? On NTSC TVs it shouldn't make a difference, but on systems where you can see the whole picture, there's one line of "garbage" at the top of the screen. (Not necessarily something that's worth changing, just wondering if that's the intent.)

Author:  tepples [ Sun May 07, 2017 2:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

On PAL TVs it shouldn't make a difference either. The PAL NES and Dendy PPU also blank the first line of picture and the first and last 2 pixels of the rest of the picture, with actual black instead of the backdrop color. Only (2, 1) through (253, 239) are visible.

Author:  rainwarrior [ Sun May 07, 2017 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cowlitz Gamers' 2nd Adventure

Hunh, I didn't realize the PAL PPU had additional blanking not in the NTSC one. Is hblank black or does it use the palette background on the PAL PPU? (This says "the border" is black, but doesn't seem to explicitly talk about stuff outside the 256x240 picture?)

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