Some feedback on the 0.2.0 demo

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jsmith71
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Some feedback on the 0.2.0 demo

Post by jsmith71 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:48 pm

Alright, please let me know if I should've posted this somewhere else-- the sticky topic seems to be about the old demo and somewhat outdated, and I didn't really find any topics on the new one. That said, here are my thoughts on the demo, in chronological order:

The controls, I feel, are still somewhat awkward and overwhelming for an RPG, especially when presented to the player on a single screen immediately on startup. Even despite this, they're just odd-- I would never have guessed that F would be confirm, and it's a bit of a strange choice really. I would obviously get used to the setup, but over time it might be a good idea to somewhat streamline the controls if possible and/or make the defaults a bit more intuitive. I know it was mentioned that they can be changed, but having a relatively large list of the keys on startup is somewhat intimidating for the player. I might even suggest that you only show the basics (confirm, cancel, menu, quit... I'm sure it's obvious what the arrow keys do ;)), and hold off mentioning the battle controls until the player first encounters an enemy.

The opening animation with the sword looks and sounds great, as always.

I'm still somewhat disoriented that a 2d RPG uses such a high resolution (in comparison to what I'm used to for the genre that is), but I suppose I'm just not used to it.

There's something strange with Claudius' sprite's movement-- It's subtle, but it's like some kind of strange 'shaking' or blipping within the sprite... It's hard to describe, I can't really figure out how to put it into words. Maybe someone else knows what I mean and can describe it better. It doesn't happen to the NPCs.

The tempo increase in the town music is a bit weird. It was distracting for me at least, and it sort of sounds silly until you get used to the faster music. Just my opinion though.

Claudius moves too slowly in my opinion, and the NPCs move waaay too fast. From my experience, NPCs generally either move slower than the player (with some exceptions like hyper little children or something similar) or stop now and then so you can actually 'catch' them easily-- Or, in most cases, both. Also, in the demo they seemed to get stuck... a lot. They just end up walking against a solid object forever.

I really like the idea of the dialog balloons above people's heads to show that they have something new to say. It's a great way to get rid of the "Have I talked to this guy before...?" *Several pages of already-read and unwanted dialog* "Yeah, yeah I have. Damnit." ...problem. :p

The collision detection seems... rough. Just from playing I assume that it's either bound to the tiles or composed of tile-sized chunks-- This leads to 'invisible' collision on tiles that aren't completely boxy and/or square. I'm not suggesting pixel-perfect collision, but you might want to consider something like having smaller collision blocks (four or even sixteen per tile, though the latter may be pushing it a bit). It's also easy to get stuck on things, as there's nothing implemented that makes you slide around the very edges of tiles-- Look at pretty much any 2d RPG (or similar overhead game) with pixel by pixel movement and you'll see some implementation of this.

There are some grammar errors and oddities in the dialog, but since this is basically a glorified tech demo (well, maybe not the right way to put it), I assume it's not really final.

The starting point in maps seems unnecessarily far from the entrance you came in through, especially when coming back to town from the cave. I would expect Claudius to appear close to the right edge of the screen-- not on the very rightmost tile, but close-- but he appears at the left edge of the little row of rocks leading to the cave. Just found that a bit disorienting and strange, but it's not a major thing.

When the shop window opened, the music skipped for about a second... not a huge thing by any means but I figured I might as well mention it.

The enemies have the same problem as the NPCs (in my opinion, of course)-- they move around too fast. Of course, since they're enemies and are meant to be difficult to avoid, at least in most cases, their walking animations could be sped up instead.

Drums in the battle music would do well to be louder. ;)

It seems that when Claudius hits an enemy with what should be a one-hit kill (for example, if the enemy is almost dead), the victory screen comes up before it even shows him attacking. Same with enemies killing the player, which leads me into my next issue...

The enemies early on were pretty easy, but then suddenly I got into this insane battle:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v294/ ... battle.jpg
It was just past the first set of stairs, I think. Anyway, in addition to all the enemies doing far more damage than they had in previous battles (the ones I'd encountered, at least), they seemed to have much more health as well. Spiders took far longer to kill, as did skeletons, etc. If they were variants of those enemies, I didn't notice any color swaps or even differences in name. Needless to say, they, along with the two previously un-encountered enemies, completely raped me. I had three healing potions and I ended up using them all fairly quickly since my health bar was going down so far with each round of attacks against me. I can understand it if it's presented as some kind of mini-boss instead of such a huge jump in difficulty in a single battle, but even then it'd be odd so early on. Not really sure what's going on there.

That's as far as I played, since I was killed in that battle. I'll give it another shot soon, but those are my initial thoughts. I know there's a lot of criticism, but I did very much like what I saw-- It's really coming along, and most of it looks great on the surface, in addition to some cool additions like the dialog icons above people's heads and the player/enemy icons sliding up the ATB bar in battle.

Looks like great work by everyone.
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Post by Rain » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:14 pm

I think the music sounds terrible! :D

I also agree with Josiah that Claudius doesn't move nearly fast enough. It might be good to have a sprint option implemented at some point...or at least an accessory that allows you to run through towns, maps quickly.

The map for the towns and cave are fairly large in comparison to the character and there is no reason to assume they aren't going to be expansive as a general of thumb. Therefore, it would be good if we could find a way for Claudius to get around the map a bit more quickly.

Drums in the battle music would do well to be louder
I agree. I will also mention that the mix is fairly ineffectual. I will need to redo the entire thing at some point. The problem is that its a piece which wants to be both electronica and orchestral at the same time. (Its a crossdresser.)

There will be more continuity and more crispness and cohesion in a future version.

Other than that, this demo looks/plays even better/smoother than the preliminary demo.

Kudos!

Ryan
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Post by Roots » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:49 pm

Wow, too many points to address individually. :eyespin: For the most part though Josiah, I concur with all of the suggestions you made. In particular:


- The collision area is set to 4 quadrants per tile. Yeah, its a bit rough, but I don't think the collision granularity is good as it is right now (we just need to be designing our art with that granularity in mind)

- Claudius too slow: yes. In the future we're going to add the ability for Claudius to do short sprints in dungeons and constant running in town. It just didn't make it into this release

- The battle ending a bit prematurely is something we'll address next time. There are quite a few quirks that we would have liked to fix in battles, but this release was held up long enough.

- On the subject of enemy difficulty: yes, its too easy and then too hard. :heh: We spent about 4-5 hours constantly tweaking settings last night and finally got sick of it, and someone beat it through and said "I think its good enough" so that was that and we stopped trying to balance it. Next time we'll do a better job at making the game not too easy but also not too hard.
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Post by Jetryl » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:13 pm

It's also easy to get stuck on things, as there's nothing implemented that makes you slide around the very edges of tiles-- Look at pretty much any 2d RPG (or similar overhead game) with pixel by pixel movement and you'll see some implementation of this.


Bingo - this is something we need to fix, and this'll probably end up dealing with most of the issues you described above.


The controls, I feel, are still somewhat awkward and overwhelming for an RPG, especially when presented to the player on a single screen immediately on startup. Even despite this, they're just odd-- I would never have guessed that F would be confirm, and it's a bit of a strange choice really.


:eyebrow: Roots needs to let this one go.

So far, the following people disagree with the way roots wants to do it, and propose the standard "esc + enter/return/space" style of doing things:
- Gorzuate
- MindFlayer
- Jetryl
- Chopperdave (not sure)
- Rain (not sure)
- Drakkoon (not sure)
- Josiah Tobin

That's a near-unanimous vote against "not using enter and esc on the main page". Roots doesn't want to have that, because he thinks it would confuse new users, but I think precisely the reverse is happening. Let it go, man. At least give our solution a chance.

Also, in the demo they seemed to get stuck... a lot. They just end up walking against a solid object forever.


Yeah, this a feature we still need to implement.

Claudius too slow: yes. In the future we're going to add the ability for Claudius to do short sprints in dungeons and constant running in town. It just didn't make it into this release


S-K or I (preferably S-K) needs to work on a "running" animation for claudius to make this work well.
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Post by Drakkoon » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:54 pm

Btw, since I never really expressed myself on the controls matter, I want both "asdf" and "esc/enter" I'm used to playing 2D RPGs on emulators where I use "A S Z X" for the 4 SNES buttons + " Q W" for the L-R buttons, so the "A S D F" style Roots wants is ok with me.

Though we need to accept that NO ONE RTFM, so Enter/Escape is needed as an alternative to the confirm/cancel combo, the other buttons don't need them.
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Post by rujasu » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:20 pm

I think Drakkoon's idea may be the way to go here. That, or set the defaults to use enter and escape, and make sure options are actually saved, so that a user who prefers the ASDF, which I do now that I'm used to it, doesn't have to change it every time he/she loads the program.

Like Drak said, some users aren't going to RTFM. Users who want more comfortable controls will be able to set them in the options menu (or plug in a gamepad.)
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Post by prophile » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:47 am

I back the whole key combination thing along with everything else. Sorry Roots.
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Post by Rain » Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:13 am

I would prefer controller configuration as that is what I always game with. :angel:

I will be honest and say that I am not used to a universal gaming key standards as I don't generally play OS games which require a keyboard. Therefore I had little difficulty in getting used to the controls as they are written for the latest demo.

However, its easy to see that a 'gaming key universality' would be very helpful. I mean, the less the player thinks about the controls, the quicker they can get into the game and deal with what is really important. More intuitive controls would help us out I should think.
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Post by jamesu » Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:45 pm

Hey guy's,

Just thought i'd give you some feedback.

Firstly, like Josiah i thought the default control scheme was a bit whacky to say the least. When i saw the big list of key bindings at the start i almost thought i downloaded a touch type tutor.

The default resolution is great, unless of course like me you use a macbook and thus are subjected to a widescreen with insufficient height to fully encompass the window properly. It might be a good idea to set the default resolution a bit lower.

The sprite movement was in all seriousness quite dodgy. Numerous times i observed people humping houses, trees - practically anything in the way. I also almost thought i downloaded an RPG racing game as i often had to go chase after people to talk to.

One thing i did like though was the speech bubbles on top of the characters heads, which gave the game that web 2.0 feel.

With regard to enemies, i didn't find they were too hard - apart from the rather ridiculous battle at the end. The battle simulation however seemed a bit slow and i was often waiting for a rather snazzy transition effect to complete. I also noticed it was hard (if not, impossible) to select specific enemies when i was fighting large numbers of them.

Finally i didn't like the lack of mouse support. It didn't help that the i hadn't really got the hang of the key controls either. Whilst i appreciate that you guy's are trying to clone a the look and feel of a console RPG running in an emulator, it just doesn't work right. In a way, its like making a game for the Wii but completely ignoring the WiiMote.
(Of course, if i had a working gamepad, it might have just compensated for the lack of mouse support. Though keep in mind that you cannot guarantee that everyone will have a gamepad for their PC)

Note that i don't play rpg's on an emulator so i likely don't factor into your target market - but still, i think it would be wise to expand your thinking to consider people coming from different backgrounds in order to encourage more newcomers to play.

Good luck on finishing the rest of the game. :)
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Post by eleazar » Tue Jun 12, 2007 4:22 pm

Well, progress has certainly been made.

The #1 thing graphic issue that i noticed is there are no shadows, around buildings, but especially under the people. I believe shadows would greatly increase the believability and readability of the game world.

And i've previously raised my voice for the obvious keys "esc", "space", "return" to be included by default.
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Post by stenny » Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:51 pm

So far, the following people disagree with the way roots wants to do it, and propose the standard "esc + enter/return/space" style of doing things:


Add me. Roots, also don't forget not every keyboard is the same, and the keyboard they have in Zimbabwe, Russia or Chili may not have the same configuration as yours. The standard WASD, and ZX for accept/cancel are chosen because they are there on most keyboard. Also never used the numpad, since laptop's don't have 'em.
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Re: Some feedback on the 0.2.0 demo

Post by Linds » Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:08 pm

Josiah Tobin wrote:When the shop window opened, the music skipped for about a second... not a huge thing by any means but I figured I might as well mention it.
Do you have an ATI card by any chance?
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Post by MindFlayer » Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:12 pm

Here's some random feedback collected from the friends of mine :

-"Some had compiling problems but most of the problems had happened because of the luabind package."

-"Bruises Claudius gets in the battle are coloured wrong (in reality, they get blue only after a day or two :D )" <- (don't ask me how they notice things like that!)

-"Some kind of info screen about the monsters would help a lot on deciding which one to attack. Maybe after fighting the enemy, this screen could show more info. e.g. if an enemy attacks you, you'll get to know how much that specific enemy type deals damage. If you attack an enemy, you'll know how much it'll sustain damage. This *could* be implemented with an assessment skill that takes the turn of the character-> more strategic decisions to be made..."

-"Monsters are respawned too often; makes it difficult to escape the cave"

-"SP should be regenerated better; Maybe by SP potions or SP's should simply be fully regained after each battle"

-"When somebody misses attack in a battle, it should show 'MISS' with big red letters"

-"Critical hits? Claudius should drop his weapon if some enemy striked him hard or something..."

-"Music makes you feel happy"

-"Sometimes the final bosses aren't attacking"

-"A textual log about battle events, to help deciding the next move based on what has happened before"

-"A healer would be nice in the village"

-"Character development should be done Fallout-style"

-"Give different choices in the dialogues"

-"Voice actors!" <- (Unlikely to happen. but.. :heh:)

-"The player sprite's outfit should change depending on what the player is wearing" <- (again, very unlikely)

-"Mouse support" <- (sigh, I wonder if that's easily doable. So many people seems to be asking for it)
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Post by Jetryl » Wed Jun 13, 2007 6:09 pm

MindFlayer wrote:-"When somebody misses attack in a battle, it should show 'MISS' with big red letters"


:approve: Wow, I can't believe we all overlooked that - we should really add that in.

MindFlayer wrote:-"Voice actors!" <- (Unlikely to happen. but.. :heh:)


:disapprove: Unlikely to happen, and dangerous to do until after the whole game is 100% done and set in stone. This, because you become completely dependent on one specific person being available (times the number of different voice actors you have). If you change anything, you have to haul them back in and get it re-recorded.

Also, sometimes the voices of real people fall short of our imaginary ideals. I was a big fan of King's Quest V, and I remember being really disappointed when I played a later repackage of it, which included voiceovers. The characters sounded nothing like I'd imagined them to sound.

MindFlayer wrote:-"The player sprite's outfit should change depending on what the player is wearing" <- (again, very unlikely)


:disapprove: Absolutely not. Fine for a 3d game with very modular parts to character bodies, a terrible waste of effort for a sprite based game. Games like diablo were only able to do this because their sprites were made from 3d models, and when they designed a new piece of costuming, their program would automatically generate all the rotations and bending of it at the click of a button - whereas we'd have to do all of these by hand.

MindFlayer wrote:-"Mouse support" <- (sigh, I wonder if that's easily doable. So many people seems to be asking for it)


:huh: It might be more possible than we'd think; all we really need is the ability to get screenrects from gui elements - for them to say "I take up this rectangle on the screen". That, and being able to, when confronted with a visible list of items, jump to an arbitrary member, rather than only traversing it by a 1 to 1 iterator.
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Post by wayfarer » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:52 pm

Ok I played it too. The first impression is nice. Fine look nice graphics..
The NPC's move a bit fast but that is already known.

The shopping screen was a bit hard to view as a whole. I couldn't compare stuff I already had and what I wanted to buy oh and changing equippment wasn't possible too at least the sword didn't worked.

The spawn rate of the enemies was a little bit high but makeable.

The controls are confusing at least for me and the fighting screen wasn't that clear because I've never seen such a thing before.
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Re: Some feedback on the 0.2.0 demo

Post by jsmith71 » Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:26 pm

Linds wrote:
Josiah Tobin wrote:When the shop window opened, the music skipped for about a second... not a huge thing by any means but I figured I might as well mention it.
Do you have an ATI card by any chance?

Ah, yes I do. Radeon 9600.
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Post by prophile » Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:58 pm

Good card! (it's what I have, and I have no end of graphical glitches)
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Post by byaku » Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:43 am

I liked the demo a lot, and could do it until the end. Just should be careful to be provided with enough potions :D

I found a bug that reappeared:
in the entering screen, when the controls appear, if the user toggles fullscreen, the text is lost (appears as white quads).

Other things were already mentioned before.
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Re: Some feedback on the 0.2.0 demo

Post by Linds » Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:07 am

Josiah Tobin wrote:Ah, yes I do. Radeon 9600.

prophile wrote:Good card! (it's what I have, and I have no end of graphical glitches)
I've a fix for this in SVN now, revision 865. Hopefully this should very much alleviate the problem ;)

byaku wrote:I found a bug that reappeared:
in the entering screen, when the controls appear, if the user toggles fullscreen, the text is lost (appears as white quads).
Eheh yeah thats actually the still existing Bug #44 - its in the pipe ;)
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Re: Some feedback on the 0.2.0 demo

Post by gorzuate » Thu Jun 14, 2007 5:33 pm

Linds wrote:
Josiah Tobin wrote:Ah, yes I do. Radeon 9600.

prophile wrote:Good card! (it's what I have, and I have no end of graphical glitches)
I've a fix for this in SVN now, revision 865. Hopefully this should very much alleviate the problem ;)

byaku wrote:I found a bug that reappeared:
in the entering screen, when the controls appear, if the user toggles fullscreen, the text is lost (appears as white quads).
Eheh yeah thats actually the still existing Bug #44 - its in the pipe ;)


Well, one fix for that is to not show the 'switch to full-screen mode' command on that screen :heh: :angel:
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