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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:54 am 
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Awesome game. How many levels / dreams do you have? 4?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:44 am 
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Thanks! There are 10 levels + 1 epilogue (which is a sort of playable ending sequence)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:27 am 
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Played it up to dream 6 but then unfortunately things needed to be attended to, so i savestated and will return to it next session... ^^


Anyway, comments so far:
Congratulations on the submission!

-As usual, your work is as atmospheric as ever. It's a great trademark you have. :)
-The rain makes for an unusually living and breathing NES experience. You managed to get a good balance between the 'particles' being quite intense and the graphics being very pleasing and non-interruptive. Great work! I Like the ghostly yet warm palette choices, the skeleton reminds me of "glowing in the dark" spooky toys i used to have as a kid. :)
-The leaves on the ground are a beautiful subtheme. They're sufficiently separated from solid simply by being monocoloured, although the blocks speak for themselves too.
-Music fits like hand in glove. Builds up creepy tension but is at the same time kind to the ear and relaxing to listen to repeatedly, which is good in a rather slow paced* puzzle labyrinth.


*for me at least it is somewhat slow paced (which isn't critique, slow paced is just as good as quick paced) - it might have to do with my lack of skill, i'm unusure.

-For influences (if any), i caught a whiff of... sokoban type games, maybe startropics?
-I like the contrasts, highlights and shadows a lot.
-The bedrrom chamber and corridor is my favourite piece, i think the slanted perspective here works great!
[-b]Spoiler:[/b] the new theme appearing in the 6th dream after "cycling through" some other themes before is a nice way to text the player that "now it is getting ramped up!" Well done!



As for critique, most of these nitpicks. If the body of text seems imposing, it's just because i wanted to describe it some and come up with a few ideas.

-It is sometimes hard parsing the perspective.
-I felt the combination of having a skull placed right in front of the maid + the punishment for shooting a made by mistake was a bit too severe. I had hoped the game would give me a moral warning, or maybe take damage as a punishment, but i didn't feel comfortable game over:ing because of it. Maybe a flash of lightning and maybe losing a heart (except the last one)?
-While the rain effect is soothing and smooth, i felt the flashing effect was a little too much, too often. I also got scared it was some harmful game effect i didn't know what it did and why it was triggered until i reasoned it was just the weather. Two ways that could be mitigated, should you want to:
--Consider lightning strikes in the real world. there's first a flash, then a period, then a (usually) low rumble. Unless lightning strikes within a kilometer, in which case it is terrifying and ear shattering. Mimmicking the first "mode" would help make the effect less acute. I think it would reassure the player that it is atmospheric.
--increase the timing between flashes by around a power of 2.
-lava can sometimes be a little too easy to fall into. This seems to be a combination of strict hit detection and sometimes a bit of diffuse borders between ground and holes.
-ice platforms feel a little unexpected in their behaviour. To me I cannot pinpoint what it is at the time, so i'm not sure if this is helpful. But they proved to be a difficulty spike for me.
-in the "sleep" sequence, maybe it would help orient the player telling how many maids there are left in total to rescue? Sort of to define the object of the game further and keep track of progress / stretch left. This is just a personal wish i had, though.
-lastly, the pushing currently requires a specific combiniation of conditionals which made it slightly unintuitive for me to figure it out "automatically"
-being close enough
-walking against it
-pressing fire

it could for example have been looser:
-being close enough
-facing it
-pressing fire

or looser still:
-walking against it
-time up to maybe 10-15 frames of walking against it as to filter out mistakes. Balancing is required.

Either topology has its merits and disadvantages. There are probably other topologies to experiment with, too.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:49 am 
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Thank you for your post! Really constructive, this is the kind of feedback and criticism I need :-).
I agree with most of your suggestions. Some gripes come from limitations in the engine but I can think I can provide a better experience for the multicart.

- Perspective. I know, it is sometimes top-down and sometimes plain diedric. And mixed in a bad way. The main problem here is that I am limited to 32 different metatiles per level and these tend to run out quite fast. The limitation is there 'cause I am using a RLE derivative with single byte runs which provide good compression and fast decoding (3 bits for the run length, 5 bits for the tile number - works quite nicely with the screens in this game).

- I made the maids flicker (and be invincible) while Cheril is flickering (and not just if you hit them!), to make the player know that they are somewhat connected. Now I see that with so much going on screen sometimes it is hard to notice and one doesn't know if it is sprite cycling flickering or actual invincibility flickering. What you suggest about substracting lives but no the last one seems a good suggestion to me. Also, more forgiving placement would help.

- I had considered delaying the thunder a second after the flash but I ran out of time and completely forgot. I will implement this for sure. And make them more scarce, you are right. They happen too often.

- The original plans involved stuff happening in the intro sequence to each dream (things changing, for instance), but again: time constraints. I have to make something with it. I like the idea of some kind of progress indicator, but I'd like to integrate it with the architecture and not throw in just a counter.

- I definitely have to make more forgiving hit detectors for lava.

Thank you again, I've taken good note. Glad you enjoyed it :)

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:30 pm 
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My assessment in a nutshell: Gorgeously stylish but extremely tedious.

I felt like a lot of the design decisions artificially extended gameplay time without increasing enjoyment.
  • The amount of shots it took to do anything. I managed to play up to the ice dream (although it took me a few sessions and save states). When not pushing statues, gameplay (at least as I experienced it) was:
    Align self with enemy and /or skull. Hold turbo button until object is destroyed. Align self with next object.
    (If I hadn't been using a turbo controller, I would have just replaced hold turbo button with button mashing and definitely wouldn't have made it that far.)
  • The distance between states and their destinations, especially in the first few dreams. (Paths are obvious, just took forever to get them where they needed to go.)
  • The stop-and-go nature of the statue pushing.
  • The difficulty curve of the statue-pushing puzzles feels too light at first. There was definitely a point around dream 2 or 3 when I questioned if the statues would ever be puzzles at all or if they'd continue to just be tasks.

Other issues:
  • Movement feels a bit loose and collision with BG elements unforgiving. This resulted in a lot of times when I'm carefully tapping the controller (while often still moving further than desired) and again, feels a bit tedious. (Esp. in regards to the mines and on the ice)
  • The necessity to press B and toward a statue to move it (Which pretty much meant I was using my standard B button for pushing and my turbo B for shooting)

Some ways to possibly address these:
  • Either a Megaman 4-style charge feature. (A fully charged shot should pretty much be able to take care of anything in one hit.) –or– a much greater delay between shot times and drastic reduction in the number of shots to achieve things.
  • Smooth moving while pushing statues (could replace statue with a sprite while being pushed). This could also allow for pushing to be initiated by the continued press of B while against a statue.
  • Early statue pushing puzzles having shorter distances to cover while still increasing difficulty of puzzle element.
  • A slight acceleration delay at the beginning of pressing a directional button (which could allow precisely smaller movements when tapping the d-pad (for nudging around harmful BG elements / aligning self with statues)

I felt I could make a good assumption about the ending / later portion of the game for assessment purposes, but ultimately found it too tedious in its current state (After a few dreams, my only motivation for continuing was to see the ending / further cutscenes / etc., and I lost that when the ice stages hit.)
I'm hoping a later build can be more enjoyable to play, so that I can appreciate the aesthetics of a full play through.

(Even if not, I'll still power through it one day to see the rest.)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:33 pm 
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First of all, thank you for the input.

I agree with most of you and Frankengraphics have said. I intend to make a first test build with bug fixes and modifications to the gameplay which are easy to configure (acceleration, number of shoots, initial placement, etc). I could do the charged shoot as well. But smooth pushing would take much longer. I agree it would make the game much better, but it would need radical changes to the engine.

To be honest, I didn't have much time this year to put my game together so many of the design decisions are based around easy implementations. The engine itself is fairly simple.

I'm planning to set aside some time next week to start working in the cart version. I hope the updated version is more rewarding :)

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:00 am 
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na_th_an wrote:
She may be familiar 'cause she starred one of our last years entries, "Goddess".

Hi. How is your progress in development "Sgt. Helmet Zero" for NES?..

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:54 am 
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It's one of the games we would like to make but we haven't.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:04 pm 
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na_th_an wrote:
It's one of the games we would like to make but we haven't.

That's bad. :cry:

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