Author Topic: Stuck in Stantonsburg  (Read 5651 times)

Offline Bluddy

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2013, 09:38:44 PM »
Here it is.

Offline x4000

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2013, 12:23:48 PM »
Sorry it took me so long to respond... here's the odd thing.  I went straight out of the level you were in, went over to Arlene and talked to her, and she gave me the purple key just like she was supposed to.  She says the whole thing about "well, I don't really know you" and so forth, but then says the lines about "oh you helped willis get here?"  Once you have the purple key, you're off to the races.

If you need me to provide a save with the purple key already gotten I can, but it should work the same for you as it just did for me...
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Offline Bluddy

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2013, 01:03:28 PM »
Nope, didn't work. She still says the same thing about needing somebody to vouch for me. All I can think of is that a. the Mac version has some tiny difference or b. the Steam version has some difference. I'll try to re-download and copy the save over and see if it helps. In the meantime, please post the savegame with the key if you can.

While I have your attention, there are 2 things that stood out right away when I started playing SH:

1. No scaling in full screen mode. I usually switch to windowed mode for playing games anyway, but having a small view window in full screen mode is really underwhelming. Just scale the game up, either with filtering or just let the pixels show in their full glory. I think it'll make a big difference in the presentation of the game.

2. Now that you have your own in-house artist, I really think the sprite for the main character needs to be changed. The sprites for the Grays are great, but the main character looks too much like a stick-figure. You're constantly looking at the main character and you're supposed to identify with him. Make him stylized. Make him as cool looking as the Grays.

Anyway, I'm finding SH to be a fun little game.

EDIT: having just looked through the image dictionaries for the game, I'm convinced that the lack of scaling is hurting this game tremendously. This can't be overstated. The Grays have so much more personality in their sprites than is visible in-game, simply because the pixels in the game are too tiny. It also strengthens my opinion that Darrell's sprites completely lack the sophistication that's present in the other sprites, as if he was a tangential NPC. For example, compare Darrell's sprites even to NPCPercy, who is a lot more stylized and professional-looking.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2013, 01:14:29 PM by Bluddy »

Offline x4000

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2013, 01:25:08 PM »
That's... super odd.  I checked the OSX version windows version, and they are the same code dll properly.  I also exported the Stantonsburg level data from my working copy (where things worked fine for me) to the Steam build, and it found zero diffs.  So that's... super odd.

Anyhow, I've attached the save with this fixed.

Regarding no scaling in fullscreen mode, that is expected: http://www.arcengames.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Tidalis_-_Common_Technical_Support_Questions#I_set_the_screen_resolution_higher_than_1280x768.2C_and_now_I_have_black_bars  The suggested is to play this in fullscreen at a resolution appropriate to the size of the game (ie, not using a higher resolution so that things look bad).

Unity 4 I think supports doing scaling of the output in some fashions, or at least a future version will shortly.  So that would be an answer in the future to being able to do things like that for Shattered Haven, Tidalis, and similar.  But right now we can't use Unity 4 because of some asset loading bugs that make things that normally take under a second take 30+ seconds... but only on some machines.  So that's something we've not been able to pin down, and it's prevented us from upgrading to Unity 4, though we bought licenses for it already.

Regarding the main character graphics, bear in mind that graphics styles differ heavily.  Our on-staff artist isn't a pixel artist at all.

In terms of the game in general, we're in basically "extended support" mode for this already.  Same as Tidalis, really.  We'll fix material defects, but beyond that there's not much we're doing with it.  This has been our worst-selling game by far, even compared to Tidalis, and unfortunately that means there's only so much we can do with it post-launch.  We had planned lots of free content updates as well as an expansion, and were fully prepared to go right into all that -- we all think it's a really cool game, too.  Unfortunately, the market apparently didn't agree.  Which really stinks all around.  But as you said, it's a fun game for those who get into it, so we're trying to still make sure it's supported properly in terms of bugfixes, etc.
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Offline Bluddy

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2013, 02:24:12 PM »
It's a real shame that Unity doesn't scale up. The size of the pixel images is way too small as it is to show off how great they are (IMO of course).

Regarding the Darrell art, I understand that each artist is different, but one sprite is not going to be too hard (I think).

I do understand that the game flopped. In a way, it's similar to Tidalis in the sense that this game is also fairly casual. It's somewhere between casual and non-casual, and it's not clear how to find the audience to try this kind of game.

From a marketing point of view, I think using the word 'puzzle' in a game description is a game killer. I know that when I read the word puzzle in a game description I feel an allergy coming on, probably because there are SO many puzzle games and they're so very similar (and boring). The one exception to this has been puzzle quest, though I initially pooh-poohed that as well. To gamers such as myself, puzzles suggest the narrowing down of choices and possibilities. If I were to market this game, I'd invent some other term like 'environmental management' or something and completely avoid using the term puzzle. I'd also dial up the JRPG factor to 11. This game is almost there, but it's not quite stylized enough to fully feel like a JRPG. A cutesy JRPG with horror (except for the cutscenes, which are great as they are) is just what could get people to bite. Finally, this game would probably need a web-based demo to succeed -- something like what Defender's Quest did (which is absolutely brilliant). I think this can only be done with Unity 4, right? Another reason to upgrade. In fact, a web-based demo should be your guys' standard practice.

Offline x4000

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2013, 03:50:44 PM »
We have a web-based demo with Tidalis, and it really didn't lead to... well, anything.  We can do web-based upgrades with the current (or even past) versions of Unity just fine.  And believe me, we want to upgrade to Unity 4 -- that also adds Linux support.  But the loading screen on Valley 2 was literally taking around 5 minutes on some machines on that version.  Same code on our end.  Individual calls to load an asset from the disk would get something like 10-30 seconds added to them at random, and that adds up fast when you're talking hundreds of images.

In terms of web-based demos in general, those are something that are very tricky because there's only so much you can pack into them size-wise before they become a really pain for the player, and they also have to be built completely differently in terms of how assets are loaded, etc.  So we basically have to completely fork the product at that point.  We've never really seen a need to do that, mainly because our games that do sell well sell really well without a web-based demo.  And with Tidalis, selling poorly was unaffected by getting a web based demo.  So the data isn't suggesting we should do web-based demos, though naturally we have very little of it.

Anyhow, we've also reevaluated how we approach what games we're making and when, which I think is the bigger issue with some of them that didn't go as well as hoped.
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Offline Bluddy

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2013, 02:38:20 PM »
I tried the demo of Tidalis back in the day. My impression back then was that the backgrounds were really pretty, but there were too many options available, especially for a casual gamer. I also didn't feel like the mechanics of the game within the first 5 minutes that I tried it captured my attention more than the countless puzzle games on Kongregate. I did eventually pick up Tidalis on a sale, but I haven't really gotten into it, possibly because I'm not a pure puzzle gamer -- I need some non-abstract context in my puzzles. Also, I don't know how it was back when Tidalis was released, but the genre is completely saturated nowadays given all the iPhone apps. Tidalis most likely belongs on the iPhone, but the chances of success are slim.

In general though, I think minimizing the effort of trying out a game (via a web version) is a huge win. This is especially important for a game that doesn't seem so compelling from screenshots, like Shattered Haven. I think the gameplay is very enjoyable, but when I first heard about SH, I thought it wasn't for me. Only after trying it out did I get to like it. It's essential to get people to try out a game like SH -- I think that's the only way to really get sales. Even for SC though, which is a game with several very strong concepts, giving people a way to try the demo without the barrier of first having to download and install it (ie just click and you can play) is a huge plus. If you have the ability, it's a shame not to use it.

In general, my opinion is that indie games can only really thrive if they offer a twist that you can't get anywhere else ie. they really excel at some unique aspects, or if they serve a severely under-served niche. There are too many games available (especially nowadays, when all digital games ever made are competing at ever decreasing prices) for indie games to stand out unless they truly do something special. While SH is a very fun game, I don't feel that it does anything that stands out from the crowd -- it does a whole bunch of things quite well, which is enough to make it a very enjoyable game, but it doesn't stand out in my mind as being 'mind-blowing', and that makes it a hard sell. The game will certainly gather its group of fans (myself included), but it'll be very hard for it to thrive.

I think the evidence from AI War and SC suggests that Arcen has the best chance of coming up with truly innovative, exceptional titles around the strategy genre. Other genres, including 2d platformers, are not only crowded, the standard has been set so very high in terms of animation, art (even by small indie teams), and gameplay twists, that it's very hard for you guys to compete there. BTW in retrospect, I think Valley2 should have used easy-to-make, pixellated graphics, which would have been easier to animate well (and would have required fewer frames). I think this is why companies stick with the genres they've done well with before -- it's where they have the competitive advantage in terms of infrastructure, knowledge, ideas etc.

BTW I managed to get past the problem with Arlene. I kept talking to her with 'use', which brought up the same conversation. Bumping into her, though, led to her giving me the key. Really enjoying this game as well as SC!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2013, 02:40:31 PM by Bluddy »

Offline x4000

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2013, 08:10:29 AM »
Glad you're enjoying the games, at any rate. :)

When it comes to super pixelate graphics, that's only easy to do if you have an artist to do it. Picasso is not easier to do than Michelangelo if all you know is the patters style. We'll be working with a variety of new artists in the future, though, so we'll see.

In terms of web based demos I understand your point, but bear in mind that we have to choose the activities that give us the greatest return. We might build a web demo for shattered have just because that would make great sense, but for the others... Skyward and so on are always evolving, and a web demo is unpleasantly static. And we seem to have other methods of generating much more money, which was my original point.
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Offline TechSY730

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2013, 11:17:40 AM »
Yea, demos are good. What got me into AI War in the first place was the fact you had a demo. The "meh" metacritic score of 80ish was sort of scaring me from just buying it without any knowledge of the game other than the description and screenshots. However, after the demo, I "fell in love" with it, unhesitatingly bought it and the expansion (only Zenith Remnant at the time), and look at me now. :)

EDIT: It doesn't have to be a web based demo, but having some sort of demo/trial version is good is what I was trying to get at.

Offline x4000

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2013, 11:20:00 AM »
The "meh" metacritic score of 80ish

Hahahaha -- that's a "meh" metascore?  Dude, that's a phenomenal score.  It made the game the 40th best reviewed PC game of 2009, even compared to all the AAA games.  Out of the thousand-plus AAA and indie games that came out that year, that put us at #40.  Also, there were only maybe 5 indies, period, higher than us on the list.  That's in no way "meh," although I'm sorry it's perceived that way.
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Offline TechSY730

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2013, 11:22:34 AM »
The "meh" metacritic score of 80ish

Hahahaha -- that's a "meh" metascore?  Dude, that's a phenomenal score.  It made the game the 40th best reviewed PC game of 2009, even compared to all the AAA games.  Out of the thousand-plus AAA and indie games that came out that year, that put us at #40.  Also, there were only maybe 5 indies, period, higher than us on the list.  That's in no way "meh," although I'm sorry it's perceived that way.

Or was it 75ish?

Anyways, that had more to do with my absurdly high standards for "good" I had back in the day than any real reflection of what the "normal gamer" looks for. ;)

Offline x4000

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2013, 11:24:46 AM »
The "meh" metacritic score of 80ish

Hahahaha -- that's a "meh" metascore?  Dude, that's a phenomenal score.  It made the game the 40th best reviewed PC game of 2009, even compared to all the AAA games.  Out of the thousand-plus AAA and indie games that came out that year, that put us at #40.  Also, there were only maybe 5 indies, period, higher than us on the list.  That's in no way "meh," although I'm sorry it's perceived that way.

Or was it 75ish?

82.

Anyways, that had more to do with my absurdly high standards for "good" I had back in the day than any real reflection of what the "normal gamer" looks for. ;)

Or more to do with your trust in metacritic. ;)
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Offline TechSY730

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2013, 11:31:50 AM »
The "meh" metacritic score of 80ish

Hahahaha -- that's a "meh" metascore?  Dude, that's a phenomenal score.  It made the game the 40th best reviewed PC game of 2009, even compared to all the AAA games.  Out of the thousand-plus AAA and indie games that came out that year, that put us at #40.  Also, there were only maybe 5 indies, period, higher than us on the list.  That's in no way "meh," although I'm sorry it's perceived that way.

Or was it 75ish?

82.

Ah, thanks. :)
Shows how good my memory is. ;)

Anyways, that had more to do with my absurdly high standards for "good" I had back in the day than any real reflection of what the "normal gamer" looks for. ;)

Or more to do with your trust in metacritic. ;)

That too. I have since then realized how badly this sort of "electoral college" style rating works for something as capricious as review scores on the already capricious internet, especially when the ratings from each source are given equal weight to the total average rather than weighting it based on "credibility" or something. (except for the very extremes, like a 10 or so on metacritic is almost certainly bad, and a 98 or so on metacritic is almost certainly a magnificent game; anything in-between is just too unreliable, like magnificent games only getting an 82 or something ;))



...OK, I'll stop trying to get the last word in now. ;)
« Last Edit: May 30, 2013, 11:42:38 AM by TechSY730 »

Offline x4000

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2013, 11:40:03 AM »
I'll let you have the last word. ;)
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Offline wizzahd

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Re: Stuck in Stantonsburg
« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2013, 06:20:20 AM »
hey guys! I also ran into this problem of arlene not giving the key and I ran around for quite some time before finally getting it. what triggered the event was me smashing stuff in her house with the axe. it may have been that, in my smashing, I stepped over some point in the room to trigger her to give the key, or it may have been that I broke the table under her.

previously I had been entering from the north side and walking down to speak to her. the event triggered when I was, I think, one square southwest of arlene.

x4000, I think this could be improved by having the event come simply from talking to arlene instead of from the existing trigger. if not that, then expanding the region of the trigger to all around the npc.

cheers :)