Author Topic: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions  (Read 1059 times)

Offline mrhanman

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 764
[Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« on: November 19, 2015, 12:37:22 AM »
I took notes while I was playing, and here they are without much formatting, so please excuse the mess.

The game opens to my native desktop resolution, which I think is something all games should do by default.

I love the logo and title screen art.  Some motion would be nice at some point.

When selecting a new save, then hitting new run, a Fatal error occurs. If this is why 3 saves are included, then please ignore this. I didn't see anywhere this was stated,  though. A save actually gets created, but the same error happens when trying to load it.

The Tank looking ships' projectiles don't dissipate fast enough.  I also think they have too much health.  I starting practically giving up when I stumble on 4 of them at once.  I just can't seem to take more than 2 out before going down myself.

Rate of fire feels pretty good.  Power seems to be what I would expect from a basic weapon, at least on the basic blue, hotrod, and hotrod bomber.
Riot suppressor weapon is cool, but doesn't last long enough to be any use.
STG-4377 is pretty awesome.  Chews through ammo too fast, though.
Turbo blaster.  Solid weapon.  Can use it long enough to make a difference.
I also picked up some kind of freeze ray, but I wasn't able to make much use out of it.

I like the projectiles that fire, stop, and then smaller projectiles fire from them.  Other than a similar enemy, no particular pattern sticks out in my mind.
First boss I ran into has very interesting patterns, though the third form took me out.  It was the one that has four walls around it.  Just couldn't get out of the way of the V-wave fast enough.
Second boss I encountered started out easy, then quickly blew me up in the second form.  The boss was on the left side of the screen and had a bullet pattern that bounced off the walls as well as shots that came right for me.
Third boss was similar to the second one I encountered.  It has a cone pattern that starts facing up travelling right, then is followed by a cone facing down.  I don't think I made it past the first form.

Ship flying feels off.  I'm not sure how to describe it, and part of it might be from the gamepad controls being off.  I was thinking that since this is a space ship of some sort, shouldn't there be momentum?  I don't know if this is a good idea or not.  My recent Galak-Z playtime might be influencing my opinion on this.  Keyboard and mouse made the aiming a lot better, but the movement was too imprecise for me.  Also, I'm glad there is an afterburner, because I would have suggested one otherwise.
Kind of related to the ship flying, the enemy movements seem stiff.  Not the patterns of movement, but the way they move.  Everything starts and stops on a dime.  I'm not asking for Newtonian physics or anything, but I think they could be made to feel more natural and less brick-like.

Health seems a little on the low side.  It would be ok if there were more health packs laying around the level, but as it is, I'd give it a bump.
What are the First Aid kit looking things?  They aren't health packs as I first thought.  I haven't been able to pick one up yet.
Invincibility time feels about right, but there needs to be some indicator that you are invincible.  Flashing or ghosting, for example.

I Picked up Mysterious Circuits. I wonder what that does... Had a blue one and then found a red one.  I kept the blue one, but never learned what it did.

I Had to Alt-F4 in order to quit the game after I was done for the evening.  ESC didn't bring up the main menu as I was expecting.

Other than the tank I mentioned, the enemies seem to be fairly balanced and are fun to fight.  Some are easier than others to differentiate, but I can still pick them out.

I played about 15 runs in a couple hours.  I was actually doing pretty well on the last one.  Had a good weapon and full health.  Then I went into a room with those tanks.  Managed to take 2 of the 4 out before dying.  Again.

The game seems to be pretty intuitive for the most part.  I'm not sure what the keycards do, or what cash is for.  I assume there's a shop somewhere I haven't found or that will be implemented later.  Might be after level 1 that I haven't managed to beat.

Overall, I enjoyed it quite a lot.  "One more run" happened at least 5 times after I intented to stop.  First few runs were pretty quick deaths, but that's the love/hate bit with roguelikes.  It takes a while to learn what does what.  The more I played, the more familiar I got with the enemies and room layouts.  A few more rounds, and I think I can beat level 1!  Assuming I don't run into those damn tanks, anyway.

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,107
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 02:09:40 AM »
I took notes while I was playing, and here they are without much formatting, so please excuse the mess.

The game opens to my native desktop resolution, which I think is something all games should do by default.

I love the logo and title screen art.  Some motion would be nice at some point.

When selecting a new save, then hitting new run, a Fatal error occurs. If this is why 3 saves are included, then please ignore this. I didn't see anywhere this was stated,  though. A save actually gets created, but the same error happens when trying to load it.

The Tank looking ships' projectiles don't dissipate fast enough.  I also think they have too much health.  I starting practically giving up when I stumble on 4 of them at once.  I just can't seem to take more than 2 out before going down myself.

Rate of fire feels pretty good.  Power seems to be what I would expect from a basic weapon, at least on the basic blue, hotrod, and hotrod bomber.
Riot suppressor weapon is cool, but doesn't last long enough to be any use.
STG-4377 is pretty awesome.  Chews through ammo too fast, though.
Turbo blaster.  Solid weapon.  Can use it long enough to make a difference.
I also picked up some kind of freeze ray, but I wasn't able to make much use out of it.

I like the projectiles that fire, stop, and then smaller projectiles fire from them.  Other than a similar enemy, no particular pattern sticks out in my mind.
First boss I ran into has very interesting patterns, though the third form took me out.  It was the one that has four walls around it.  Just couldn't get out of the way of the V-wave fast enough.
Second boss I encountered started out easy, then quickly blew me up in the second form.  The boss was on the left side of the screen and had a bullet pattern that bounced off the walls as well as shots that came right for me.
Third boss was similar to the second one I encountered.  It has a cone pattern that starts facing up travelling right, then is followed by a cone facing down.  I don't think I made it past the first form.

Ship flying feels off.  I'm not sure how to describe it, and part of it might be from the gamepad controls being off.  I was thinking that since this is a space ship of some sort, shouldn't there be momentum?  I don't know if this is a good idea or not.  My recent Galak-Z playtime might be influencing my opinion on this.  Keyboard and mouse made the aiming a lot better, but the movement was too imprecise for me.  Also, I'm glad there is an afterburner, because I would have suggested one otherwise.
Kind of related to the ship flying, the enemy movements seem stiff.  Not the patterns of movement, but the way they move.  Everything starts and stops on a dime.  I'm not asking for Newtonian physics or anything, but I think they could be made to feel more natural and less brick-like.

Health seems a little on the low side.  It would be ok if there were more health packs laying around the level, but as it is, I'd give it a bump.
What are the First Aid kit looking things?  They aren't health packs as I first thought.  I haven't been able to pick one up yet.
Invincibility time feels about right, but there needs to be some indicator that you are invincible.  Flashing or ghosting, for example.

I Picked up Mysterious Circuits. I wonder what that does... Had a blue one and then found a red one.  I kept the blue one, but never learned what it did.

I Had to Alt-F4 in order to quit the game after I was done for the evening.  ESC didn't bring up the main menu as I was expecting.

Other than the tank I mentioned, the enemies seem to be fairly balanced and are fun to fight.  Some are easier than others to differentiate, but I can still pick them out.

I played about 15 runs in a couple hours.  I was actually doing pretty well on the last one.  Had a good weapon and full health.  Then I went into a room with those tanks.  Managed to take 2 of the 4 out before dying.  Again.

The game seems to be pretty intuitive for the most part.  I'm not sure what the keycards do, or what cash is for.  I assume there's a shop somewhere I haven't found or that will be implemented later.  Might be after level 1 that I haven't managed to beat.

Overall, I enjoyed it quite a lot.  "One more run" happened at least 5 times after I intented to stop.  First few runs were pretty quick deaths, but that's the love/hate bit with roguelikes.  It takes a while to learn what does what.  The more I played, the more familiar I got with the enemies and room layouts.  A few more rounds, and I think I can beat level 1!  Assuming I don't run into those damn tanks, anyway.

Glad to see you're enjoying it!

I'm not sure which ships you mean by these ones that look like tanks though...  I dont suppose you could get a quick screenshot?  I'm actually about to dive into this and make a big pile of changes to many of the different enemies (some definite balance issues to things right now, quite a bunch of them in fact, so my next task is dealing with some of that) but I'm not sure which one you're describing here.  What type of pattern exactly was it using?

Now, as for the medkit things, they are indeed health packs.  They dont refill the blue boxes, which are your shields, but instead the yellow boxes, which are your actual HP.  They wont be picked up if your HP is full.

Gamepad controls, yes, they are a little bit off.  Though it depends on what you mean by "off".  I've been using the dpad and face buttons on my controller for everything... as I've told Chris, I found the analog controls to be very screwy, not sure why, but I had a feeling it had to do with sensitivity (and I couldnt find settings for that anywhere).   For actual basic movement though, I've not really seen any problems.  Though, there IS a small bit of input delay; I've already pointed this out too.  Chances are, all of this will be dealt with quickly, as is pretty much always the case for Arcen here, heh.    Momentum isnt there and probably wont be there because it'd affect dodging negatively when things are more "congested" with bullets.  Particularly when I get around to making the more "nasty" boss patterns, very exact movement will be required to dodge the craziness they put out.

As for the bosses I have to go look at them to figure out which ones you mean.  Yes, I know this sounds stupid.  But my memory is *really* bad.  Even though I made the blasted things I cant remember which is which most of the time.  Except for the third boss, which I've named "Wallmaster".  It's a tough one, yes.  Chris actually decided it only needs just that one pattern, since that pattern is unique and difficult enough, so there is no second or third form.  It's definitely the sort of boss that will require some practice to beat, but it's working as intended.

Now, enemy HP is sorta all over the place right now; it's just not time to deal with balancing those yet because not enough of the different weapons and stuff are in the game, so they'd just require a ton of huge changes anyway later on.  If there's an enemy that takes too long to kill, or that is giving you alot of trouble, just launch a missile at it; those seem to kill most things in a single blast. 

Keycards are used to open locked chests and doors (which start out looking red).   Though, I agree that neither of these are actually obvious enough.  I've unlocked a few without entirely noticing that they were going to need a keycard to begin with.

Unless a change was made, the shop simply isnt active yet.  There's a room for it, but it just gives a small error if you enter it (wont damage anything though, you can just go right back out of the room).

But anyway, yeah, if you can give a quick pic of those tanks or a detailed description of what they do, I'll go and have a look at them in particular. 

But right now.... time for me to jump in and check out today's new stuff, and then do some balancing.

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,107
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 02:16:27 AM »
Er, just to add something here, if you do take a screenshot of the tank thing to show... or if anyone wants to use any screenshots to point something out... please send them via PM, not by posting in the topic here.   These arent supposed to be able to go public.

Sorry, almost forgot to mention that...

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 05:28:16 AM »
First impression: Wohoo! :D
Last impression: well, good, but enough redshirt pain for now.
Global impression: I can't wait to see it polished and finished! It's gonna be awesome!!!

Okay, now let's refine. I'll try to sort my notes out.

EDIT: should I post mantis "bugs" for these? Even if they are very minor little things?

Interface & controls

Item pickup on left click (fire button) is... not good.
Teleporters' activation too.
Maybe just pickup/activate when walking on it? Or having another button specifically for pickup/activate.

Displaying the map should be on tab by default, IMO. I immediately rebinded it to tab when I saw it on the menu. Also the map is really tiny, but I bet it's because of alpha UI.

As mrhanman said, player's ship's movement feels strangely off. And I can't explain exactly why neither.

The default "blue" ship sounds very slow. I tried the thingy-bomber; this is clearly a bit ahead in terms of speed and it's nice, but the "blue" ship, the dark knight and the paladin (I didn't tested them all; they are at "default" speed) feel a bit slow. Maybe increasing this a notch would be more fun to use. Yeah, I know, there is this afterburn thing, but I never use it in combat. I feel this default speed a very little bit lower than comfortable to avoid shots. But that's the not-bullet-hell player speaking. Also, a "slower than average" ship with more health/shield would be fine, I guess. (Magdalene? Anyone?)

Boss rooms are displayed on the minimap before entering them, but their door is common, and it's easy to enter a boss room without being aware of this in the first place.

While I'm talking of doors: one can stick to a wall with a door then slide toward the door and be "grabbed" by it and change room without pressing the movement button in the direction of that room. (Am I clear? Maybe not.) Anyway: putting each door one floor-cell back inside the wall would avoid this. Don't get me wrong: it's a really minor "problem".

Theme and eye-candy

"Coffers" deserve a better animation and an opening sound. This kind of micro-reward make things feel great, and I think it's important.
Also, when opening a chest and instantly picking its content, the player can't see what he just take. I think it would be good, maybe, if the chest would "slowly" open and reveal what's inside during half a second for the player to see it just before taking it. (The coffer might be an impassable block for the short duration of its opening... I don't know, I'm just wondering.)
After all, a chest is "cosmetic": items could be on the ground and the mechanism wouldn't change. But they are important because they convey a sense of mystery and of reward. Do it right or don't to it. No, wait, do it right; a game without chest is lame. ;)

Invincibility after hit should be displayed. I don't think it is, right now.

Death effect by acceleration is... strange. Maybe because it's faster than the default speed, and/or because it's in straight line. I think it would be ok to not have this death animation. Or maybe something more chaotic; something like spinning before crashing. But again, nothing would be good for me.

Medpack, dollar bills and battery... seriously? This is all you were able to come up with? Look, I know it must be visually recognizable but... We're at the end of the universe and "medpack are for health, bills for money and cells for energy" puts me off. Really. I'm sorry to say that, really; and even more sorry because I know it can't really be fixed because it needs to be that way, but... So sad... So so very very sad.
What would I suggest? Well. What about something that doesn't tell what it do by how it looks, but with some sort of mouseover text? Something like "Ya see this blue/green/shiny/pulsing/strange crystal/orb/piece/module/thingy? It's power/ammo/magic-repair/wealth/superpowerup, but Y'know, from the future." Yeah, I know, clear-design, affordance, blah-blah. Screw affordance! We're at the end of the universe! How can I accept to suspend my disbelief if you keep throwing cells and bills at me???
I'm sorry to linger on this, but it's really important to me. I hope you won't screw your own game by listening to me, but I had to say it. I feel better, now.

Combat and enemies

MIIIIISERY!
No, seriously, the bosses are way too hard for me. I bet you already know it, but I need to say it. Room's enemies are very good and fun and challenging and varied, and it's great. Even at this low polish level they're good. But bosses are off-chart. IMO, of course.

"jumpscare" ships (the ones that are invincible and immobile while the player didn't get close enough) are... odd. Maybe increasing the awaekning range, or making it awaken the first time it takes shots (on top of close range awakening) may solve this "problem".

What? Shots are blocked by shots? Or only by some enemies' shots? I can't tell. Anyway, it's a pain to kill these fast-firing little ships with a low fire-rate player-ship.
WHAT? Missiles too are blocked by these enemy shots???

Ray lasers should have a pre-fire animation. It's not because they're difficult; it's just because it may feel unfair to be hit by those. With an even very short pre-fire signal, being hit by those would feel much less unfair, I bet. Sort of "you've been warned, you can't complain".

That's not really combat, but...
Little destroyables take too long to destroy IMO. As they are often empty, it's more frustrating to take time to destroy them for nothing. Also, with low fire rate ships (bomber or dark knight, for instance), it's just a pain.
Wait -- always empty? No, some have things inside, and it seems it's hinted by their shape... Strange... And not really fun. How to improve it? Maybe just making them explode with less hits would be just fine.

Also, ut took me some times to realize that some destroyables are meant to be destroyed by missiles. Maybe adding a little "clink" sound with no red flash when they are hit would hint that they are destructible, but not with this poor firepower.

Misc
(Y'know, the things I don't know how to sort out)

Ow. Empty locked (treasure?) room. T_T
Strange.

The good things
(Good things for the end to cheers you up, because you deserve it: it's gona be great!)

Yeah! As mrhanman said, "One more run" really works!

Common ennemies are great, for the most. They are very varied and it's awesome. Now I feel all isaac's enemies are the same.

Arts are good! I can't wait to see the game fully polished and music'ed!

Gravity effetcs on shots are great! I hope to see more of them in the future (and on different places, like on enemy ships or so). "backfire turrets" are great too; y'know, the ones that are indestructible and fire when you fire at them. Awesome idea!

I love the shield/health system. It's two level of forgivability. I never saw something like that before, and I think it's a great design idea!
Why not adding a full-shield no-health ship type?

Closing Words
Wohoo! Keep it up! It'll be great!
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,107
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 06:16:51 AM »
First impression: Wohoo! :D
Last impression: well, good, but enough redshirt pain for now.
Global impression: I can't wait to see it polished and finished! It's gonna be awesome!!!

Okay, now let's refine. I'll try to sort my notes out.

EDIT: should I post mantis "bugs" for these? Even if they are very minor little things?

Interface & controls

Item pickup on left click (fire button) is... not good.
Teleporters' activation too.
Maybe just pickup/activate when walking on it? Or having another button specifically for pickup/activate.

Displaying the map should be on tab by default, IMO. I immediately rebinded it to tab when I saw it on the menu. Also the map is really tiny, but I bet it's because of alpha UI.

As mrhanman said, player's ship's movement feels strangely off. And I can't explain exactly why neither.

The default "blue" ship sounds very slow. I tried the thingy-bomber; this is clearly a bit ahead in terms of speed and it's nice, but the "blue" ship, the dark knight and the paladin (I didn't tested them all; they are at "default" speed) feel a bit slow. Maybe increasing this a notch would be more fun to use. Yeah, I know, there is this afterburn thing, but I never use it in combat. I feel this default speed a very little bit lower than comfortable to avoid shots. But that's the not-bullet-hell player speaking. Also, a "slower than average" ship with more health/shield would be fine, I guess. (Magdalene? Anyone?)

Boss rooms are displayed on the minimap before entering them, but their door is common, and it's easy to enter a boss room without being aware of this in the first place.

While I'm talking of doors: one can stick to a wall with a door then slide toward the door and be "grabbed" by it and change room without pressing the movement button in the direction of that room. (Am I clear? Maybe not.) Anyway: putting each door one floor-cell back inside the wall would avoid this. Don't get me wrong: it's a really minor "problem".

Theme and eye-candy

"Coffers" deserve a better animation and an opening sound. This kind of micro-reward make things feel great, and I think it's important.
Also, when opening a chest and instantly picking its content, the player can't see what he just take. I think it would be good, maybe, if the chest would "slowly" open and reveal what's inside during half a second for the player to see it just before taking it. (The coffer might be an impassable block for the short duration of its opening... I don't know, I'm just wondering.)
After all, a chest is "cosmetic": items could be on the ground and the mechanism wouldn't change. But they are important because they convey a sense of mystery and of reward. Do it right or don't to it. No, wait, do it right; a game without chest is lame. ;)

Invincibility after hit should be displayed. I don't think it is, right now.

Death effect by acceleration is... strange. Maybe because it's faster than the default speed, and/or because it's in straight line. I think it would be ok to not have this death animation. Or maybe something more chaotic; something like spinning before crashing. But again, nothing would be good for me.

Medpack, dollar bills and battery... seriously? This is all you were able to come up with? Look, I know it must be visually recognizable but... We're at the end of the universe and "medpack are for health, bills for money and cells for energy" puts me off. Really. I'm sorry to say that, really; and even more sorry because I know it can't really be fixed because it needs to be that way, but... So sad... So so very very sad.
What would I suggest? Well. What about something that doesn't tell what it do by how it looks, but with some sort of mouseover text? Something like "Ya see this blue/green/shiny/pulsing/strange crystal/orb/piece/module/thingy? It's power/ammo/magic-repair/wealth/superpowerup, but Y'know, from the future." Yeah, I know, clear-design, affordance, blah-blah. Screw affordance! We're at the end of the universe! How can I accept to suspend my disbelief if you keep throwing cells and bills at me???
I'm sorry to linger on this, but it's really important to me. I hope you won't screw your own game by listening to me, but I had to say it. I feel better, now.

Combat and enemies

MIIIIISERY!
No, seriously, the bosses are way too hard for me. I bet you already know it, but I need to say it. Room's enemies are very good and fun and challenging and varied, and it's great. Even at this low polish level they're good. But bosses are off-chart. IMO, of course.

"jumpscare" ships (the ones that are invincible and immobile while the player didn't get close enough) are... odd. Maybe increasing the awaekning range, or making it awaken the first time it takes shots (on top of close range awakening) may solve this "problem".

What? Shots are blocked by shots? Or only by some enemies' shots? I can't tell. Anyway, it's a pain to kill these fast-firing little ships with a low fire-rate player-ship.
WHAT? Missiles too are blocked by these enemy shots???

Ray lasers should have a pre-fire animation. It's not because they're difficult; it's just because it may feel unfair to be hit by those. With an even very short pre-fire signal, being hit by those would feel much less unfair, I bet. Sort of "you've been warned, you can't complain".

That's not really combat, but...
Little destroyables take too long to destroy IMO. As they are often empty, it's more frustrating to take time to destroy them for nothing. Also, with low fire rate ships (bomber or dark knight, for instance), it's just a pain.
Wait -- always empty? No, some have things inside, and it seems it's hinted by their shape... Strange... And not really fun. How to improve it? Maybe just making them explode with less hits would be just fine.

Also, ut took me some times to realize that some destroyables are meant to be destroyed by missiles. Maybe adding a little "clink" sound with no red flash when they are hit would hint that they are destructible, but not with this poor firepower.

Misc
(Y'know, the things I don't know how to sort out)

Ow. Empty locked (treasure?) room. T_T
Strange.

The good things
(Good things for the end to cheers you up, because you deserve it: it's gona be great!)

Yeah! As mrhanman said, "One more run" really works!

Common ennemies are great, for the most. They are very varied and it's awesome. Now I feel all isaac's enemies are the same.

Arts are good! I can't wait to see the game fully polished and music'ed!

Gravity effetcs on shots are great! I hope to see more of them in the future (and on different places, like on enemy ships or so). "backfire turrets" are great too; y'know, the ones that are indestructible and fire when you fire at them. Awesome idea!

I love the shield/health system. It's two level of forgivability. I never saw something like that before, and I think it's a great design idea!
Why not adding a full-shield no-health ship type?

Closing Words
Wohoo! Keep it up! It'll be great!

As the bosses go, well.... my entire job IS to make crazy screaming murder bots.

Though in all seriousness, I think I *did* warn that the bosses were going to be overboard right now.  Each one will eventually get "lesser" versions that'll appear on lower difficulties.  Eventually.  That being said, they're not as hard as they may appear. 

Though, the one with the zillions of purple lasers needs some work.  I appear to have made a couple of mistakes with that one that I didn't entirely notice.... pretend that guy isnt actually there.  Granted, that's hard to do if he rips your face off and beats you with it, but still.  That one's not in it's intended state.  I was going to fix it today once I'd noticed, but I ran into a problem preventing me from doing this, so that'll have to wait a day or two.

The trick with most of these bosses though is to stay calm; you're not actually meant to move around fast at all.  If you find yourself zooming alot, that's just hurting your chances against most things I might design.

Except for the guy that fires the huge green pointy wall things.  That's the "keep moving or die" boss.

If there's one you're finding harder than the others (that isnt the billions-of-purple-beams guy) let me know which one it is and what about it is wrecking you.  I do need to know exactly what players are running into that is causing trouble.  ....this doesnt necessarily mean I'll *change* it, mind you.   For some I might just let out an evil laugh.  But it'll help when making the "lesser" versions later.

One important tip though is to pay attention to which shots are aimed, and which shots are not aimed, when fighting a boss.  Basically, the two put together (and they're almost always going to be put together) mean that your positioning will, to some extent, determine the pattern's exact shape.  This can be used to create large safe spots.... if you can figure out how.

Of course, these first patterns are all a bit more crude than what I'll do later.  A couple of bullet mechanics werent in place yet, you see.  They'll get more... interesting.... as more get made.  Some of the normal enemies are already using the new mechanics.

Small destructible objects that take multiple hits:   Dont bother with these.  They will never have anything in them.

Small destructible objects that take one hit:  These have unique art, and have a chance of having an item under them.

Enemy bullets that cancel yours:  I've suggested to Chris that every single bullet of this type all use the exact same sprite, to appear very distinct from any other bullet in the game, so that the player always knows what they are.   So that might help.

As for the common enemies, yeah, Isaac's can be a bit too same-y.   Trying real hard to avoid that in this one.  Granted, there WILL often (very often) be palette-swap versions of different enemies, but that, I think, is a good thing.  Though, I'm trying not to make enemy patterns TOO weird.  Yet.


And finally, as for the empty locked treasure rooms:  Those are shops (or challenge rooms, I think?).   Which arent in the game yet.  If it's a door of that type and it's not a boss room, just ignore it for now.

Offline mrhanman

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 764
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 08:08:20 AM »
Er, just to add something here, if you do take a screenshot of the tank thing to show... or if anyone wants to use any screenshots to point something out... please send them via PM, not by posting in the topic here.   These arent supposed to be able to go public.

Sorry, almost forgot to mention that...

Yeah, I should have thought of that.  I didn't want to include a screenshot in the forum, but didn't think of PM.  I'll definitely grab one on my next play through.  It's a round-ish enemy that has high HP (two missiles didn't quite kill it), and it fires LOTS of homing bullets that chase you all over the screen.  Luring them to crash into destructible objects was the best strategy I found, but it still wasn't enough.

As the bosses go, well.... my entire job IS to make crazy screaming murder bots.

Though in all seriousness, I think I *did* warn that the bosses were going to be overboard right now.  Each one will eventually get "lesser" versions that'll appear on lower difficulties.  Eventually.  That being said, they're not as hard as they may appear.

I'm actually not sure the bosses are too hard.  I really feel like I just need more practice with them.  Of the 4 runs where I made it to a boss, I only saw the same boss twice.  So, I've not yet played enough to figure any of them out.

One thing that would help though is more clarity for the vulnerable part of your ship.  A lot of bullet hell games do this with a gem or similar glowy thing.  Part of the problem was me just being unaware of this.  Though it was mostly me not being comfortable with the controls.  The "Wall" boss is where I noticed this the most.

Momentum isnt there and probably wont be there because it'd affect dodging negatively when things are more "congested" with bullets.  Particularly when I get around to making the more "nasty" boss patterns, very exact movement will be required to dodge the craziness they put out.

Yeah, I really wish I could convey what I mean about that better.  Maybe more playthroughs will solidify in my own mind what the hell I'm talking about.

Anyway, I guess the important part is that I want there to be more playthroughs!

EDIT:  Went ahead and played a few this morning.  Discovered the Miniature Black Hole, but I couldn't get it to shoot.  Also, I killed a boss!  The one with the bullets that bounce off the walls.  Unfortunately, the bullets left over after it exploded exploded me.  :'(  Made a mantis suggestion to remove bullets from dead bosses.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 08:33:14 AM by mrhanman »

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,107
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 08:46:16 AM »
Ahhhh.... THAT enemy.  Okay, I see.

For the time being I've no intention of changing anything about it, at least not yet.  It's one of those enemies that's only difficult until you realize how to deal with it's attack.   Wether it's an open area or somewhere with walls around (destructible or not) the same tactic works on it pretty much always. 

Dont stray too far from it while fighting it unless you have to.  Try to move around in such a way that the bullets it fires get all clumped up into one big swarm, which can then just be avoided as if it's just one huge bullet. 

If you CAN get the thing into a big enough area, just keep circling it, and it really cant hit you.  In a more cramped area, try to stay at a distance much of the time, but when you need to cross to the other side of the swarm, get a bit closer to the tank dude, so they move towards that direction, and then when they're in the right position, AFTERBURNERS and zoom back, behind, and past them.   Rinse and repeat. 

Maybe not the best explanation, but when learned I've yet to see this not work.  Even against more than one, the tactic, in essence, is still the same.  Even from multiple tank things the bullets still tend to end up in one big swarm.  So it's all about positioning.

Offline Bluddy

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 433
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 08:48:55 AM »
OK I just played for about 40 minutes. Here are my impressions.

- The main thing you'll be fighting here IMO is expectations. My brain's first reaction was 'what is this thing?'. What really surprised me was that I was controlling a flying ship, but was able to stop and turn on a dime. It doesn't feel like flying, though once you cruise in a given direction, it sort of does.
- It really doesn't feel right that turning turns me in 45 degree angles without at least the animation in between. It feels ok for low res graphics to do that (I guess), but in a high res game, it doesn't seem right to me. I didn't notice it so much after a while, but once in a while it stuck out.
- I have a huge difficulty immersing myself in this environment. It's just so abstract. Is there some explanation of what's going on? Where am I? My brain needs to latch onto some narrative to try and fit it in. How does it connect with the 'end of the universe' theme?
- The space backgrounds are nice, but the tiles are too plain and repetitive. They make the game seem as if it has low quality art.
- I'm also not so fond of the look of the trash that you shoot everywhere.
- The art of the actual ships is very pretty and detailed. Same thing for some of the bosses, which are gorgeously detailed.
- Shots have no weight to them. Maybe this is a feature of shmups -- you can't have things getting pushed around all over the screen as they get hit by hundreds of bullets. When I hit enemies, it doesn't feel like there's momentum to the shots, and both Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne taught me to expect momentum.
- I almost missed the map. It's just so small.
- I don't like that you have the standard Arcen zoom-in/out controls. Decide on a zoom level and stick with it. I shouldn't have to manage that aspect of the game -- no other game of this sort makes me do that.
- The enemy patterns are really fun and interesting.
- I love the enemies that repeat your shots, or the ones that shoot when you shoot. They raise the stakes in a very cool way.
- The boss fights are epic. Maybe a little too crazy, though. Most rooms are fairly easy, but then I get to the boss and die. I've only beaten a boss once.
- The afterburner is really cool-looking, but I haven't found a real use for it yet (at least as far as I've gotten).
- I get that you want the icons to be easy to grasp, but I don't think it's a good ideas to use real images of 'batteries', 'money', etc. It makes the game feel cheap, like the old 'Chip's Challenge' game. It's ok to use those icons as part of the interface, but in the game world, they should look like something more true to the narrative of the game. We'll quickly learn the different resource types anyway. (Binding of Isaac gets away with it because it takes place in an imaginary world).
- You're a little bit trapped in a sort-of uncanny valley. With low-res games, you can do tiling and get away with it with minimum detail. With high-res games, the expectations are much higher -- otherwise our brains label it as a budget game. At the same time, with 2d graphics, I don't think you can easily add shadows and lighting, can you? If so, I feel like the game really needs it.
- I would like to have some enemies deaths be more meaty. Bigger explosions, or they could spin out of control and crash like you when you die. I think it would give it more of a feel of 'being there', in a place that's real. See Drox Operative for a game that did this really well.
- I understand the need to cancel out momentum for dodging, but there should still be some hovering effect going on (little waves of movement) or slowdown. Ships can't just stay exactly where they are -- they should be working hard to maintain their position in some way. Maybe also burners working in different directions to stabilize the ship in place. It feels like you're walking around with Flintstone-style feet under the ship.

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,107
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2015, 08:57:03 AM »
About the bit about shots having no weight:  It works in Isaac, and even moreso in Nuclear Throne, because of how simplistic they are in terms of their attack patterns.  NT most of all; half of the game isnt enemies that SHOOT, but instead, enemies that just run at you (one of the reasons why I recently just lost interest altogether, actually, is the boring attack patterns).  And when enemies DO fire, the attacks are very, very simple, and rarely involve all that many bullets. 

In most actual shmups.... as in, I cant think of one (well, a good one anyway) where this isnt the case.... there is no weight to shots whatsoever.  It distorts things if it is added, and can actually create further undodgeable situations.  A big no-no.


As for the momentum or direction changes, I agree that an animation of some sort would fix that up nicely. 

I can sorta agree on the "uncanny valley" bit too.  In all honesty, while I've liked the art in Arcen's games a whole, they do admittedly have this aspect to them at least a bit; I suspect this is one of the reasons why some people just really dont like how they look.  Even when it's quality art overall.    Hm, really is hard to explain.  Even still though I do really like the overall aesthetic alot here.

Offline mrhanman

  • Hero Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 764
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2015, 11:05:17 AM »
I was thinking that the motion of your ship feels like it's a person moving around instead of a ship flying around.  So, would it be ridiculous to suggest the player sprite be a humanoid of some sort running around?  It even looks like you're in a maze or dungeon or some enclosed area where you don't typically expect to find spaceships flying around.  That may be just because there is no story or lore establishing context at all at this point.

As for Bluddy's comments about the art and aesthetic, I kind of agree with much of it, but I was waiting for more of it to be complete before commenting on the art.  He also has a point about the shots having no weight, but I think sound effects can help alot with that.  If you want to see a similar game with weighty shots, check out Assault Android Cactus.  The bosses in particular get pretty hectic, but they still manage to make the weapons feel like weapons and not laser pointers.  Not as crazy as the patterns in this game, but still pretty fancy.

I think you've got a great game here that mostly just needs more content, balance, and polish.  All of which are in the works, I'm sure.

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,107
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2015, 11:11:40 AM »
I was thinking that the motion of your ship feels like it's a person moving around instead of a ship flying around.  So, would it be ridiculous to suggest the player sprite be a humanoid of some sort running around?  It even looks like you're in a maze or dungeon or some enclosed area where you don't typically expect to find spaceships flying around.  That may be just because there is no story or lore establishing context at all at this point.

As for Bluddy's comments about the art and aesthetic, I kind of agree with much of it, but I was waiting for more of it to be complete before commenting on the art.  He also has a point about the shots having no weight, but I think sound effects can help alot with that.  If you want to see a similar game with weighty shots, check out Assault Android Cactus.  The bosses in particular get pretty hectic, but they still manage to make the weapons feel like weapons and not laser pointers.  Not as crazy as the patterns in this game, but still pretty fancy.

I think you've got a great game here that mostly just needs more content, balance, and polish.  All of which are in the works, I'm sure.

I'll heartily agree on the sound; I think alot of it will tie together much nicer once that's in (and music). 

Isnt there story/lore behind this all though?  I'm pretty sure Chris has alot of that established and written up, even if I'm not so good at remembering what bits I'd seen/heard about.  I remember the absolute basics at least.  Though I also havent seen any tutorial bits or whatnot in the game (or am not remembering them) so I might not have noticed what might be missing.

Offline Pumpkin

  • Hero Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,195
  • Neinzul Gardener Enclave
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2015, 11:21:23 AM »
I didn't wanted to start a debate over bosses difficulties. I just wanted to state that in their current state, they are too hard for me. Just to let you know. Thanks for the advise, though.

Quote from: Misery
Small destructible objects that take multiple hits:   Dont bother with these.  They will never have anything in them.
Anyway, they tend to get in the way. I really think that at least low firerate player's ship should have a bonus against them. It's kinda tedious as they are right now.

Quote from: Misery
Small destructible objects that take one hit:  These have unique art, and have a chance of having an item under them.
Yep, I guessed they had a unique art, but I feel this special sprite must stand out more. Players may be lead to think that all destroyables have a chance to drop something (as I did).

Quote from: Misery
Enemy bullets that cancel yours:  I've suggested to Chris that every single bullet of this type all use the exact same sprite, to appear very distinct from any other bullet in the game, so that the player always knows what they are.   So that might help.
Hm. I'm not convinced. I really find this mechanism tedious. At least make the missiles immune to it.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline TheVampire100

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,380
  • Ordinary Vampire
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2015, 12:12:53 PM »
Okay, here are some of my first impressions.
The visual style is really good. It reminds me a lot of Bionic Dues.
I cannot say that much because I lost a lot of time from first trying to figure out what was wrong with my computer and why it didn't start the game.

The controls are very intuitive. I don't have to try out much but I had to look up how to shoot missiles. However, the game won't let me use my controller. I don't think this is a problem of the game but of my very old PC Controller. Nowadays you just have to accept that games os PS4 or XBOX Controllers.
Anyway, no problems with keyboard and mouse. The game uses as few keys as possible so you don't have to do finger acrobatics on your keyboard. Just an idea ( I know that you can rebind it anyway), maybe use the middle mouse button as standard for missiles so you have all attack buttons on the mouse.

The UI really need an overhaul but you said already yourself that it is incomplete. In my opinion the minimap should be bigger. You took the term "mini" to serious here. You can barely make out anything out of it. And using the map button is currently useless. Okay, the map gets int he center of the screen but it remains the same size. At least zoom it a little in.
It's also hard to understand what all the stats mean.
Okay, I eventually figured out that the left glowing squares represent your health (I thought it were your missles, lol, then I saw the missile text).
Reight next to FPS, there stands "Dr" and "Bat". This pretty much hasn't to do anything witht he game itself but I still would like to know what they show.

I suggest but I case that's what you want to do anyway, that you use icons for the different stats. That makes them stand out better and players can check out with a quick glimpse what they have left instead of searching first for the text.

Maybe you should also make the puck-ups also stand out better visually, I didn't get that were missiles that lied around there and I wondered why I couldn't pick it up (it turned out that I was full on missiles).
Difficulty seems fine for me. I played on standard. Even the boss seemed fair to me. Projectiles flyed slow enough so I could actually dodge them. However, I'm bad at dodging and because of this I died but I think a person who is slightly better than me can do it.

I noticed there are inactive enemies that attack you as soon that you come near them. I mistook them first for obstacles, lol. They seem to be indestructible until they start to react. I would rather not have it that way, at least let me destroy them with missiles if you insist on keeping that way. Than I have to sacrifice a precious resource in order to get away unharmed. Or let them take reduced damage so it takes longer time.

The only bug I encountered was that when I pressed Tutorial (Yeah I knew there wasn't anyone in it, still wanted to look what happens) the game gave me a "Boo!" message and after that I couldn't start a run or anything. The buttons didn't react anymore, so I had to restart the game.

Offline Misery

  • Arcen Volunteer
  • Core Member Mark V
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,107
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2015, 12:19:33 PM »
I didn't wanted to start a debate over bosses difficulties. I just wanted to state that in their current state, they are too hard for me. Just to let you know. Thanks for the advise, though.

Quote from: Misery
Small destructible objects that take multiple hits:   Dont bother with these.  They will never have anything in them.
Anyway, they tend to get in the way. I really think that at least low firerate player's ship should have a bonus against them. It's kinda tedious as they are right now.

Quote from: Misery
Small destructible objects that take one hit:  These have unique art, and have a chance of having an item under them.
Yep, I guessed they had a unique art, but I feel this special sprite must stand out more. Players may be lead to think that all destroyables have a chance to drop something (as I did).

Quote from: Misery
Enemy bullets that cancel yours:  I've suggested to Chris that every single bullet of this type all use the exact same sprite, to appear very distinct from any other bullet in the game, so that the player always knows what they are.   So that might help.
Hm. I'm not convinced. I really find this mechanism tedious. At least make the missiles immune to it.

Well, for the bosses, unless Chris decides otherwise, setting up the easy/normal versions of each of the current bosses, and fixing the exploded mess that is the purple beam guy (who I seem to have left a big mistake in and somehow didn't notice) will be the next thing I do, to get that all better for everyone ASAP.  Purple Beam Guy should now be inactive and not appearing until fixed.  That one's really a disaster at the moment.  Dunno how I didn't notice that problem, ugh.

For the other stuff, just plop it onto Mantis, probably.  The bit about the destructible sprite in particular I agree with.  Those could do with standing out alot more.

Offline TheVampire100

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,380
  • Ordinary Vampire
Re: [Alpha 0.135] First Impressions
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2015, 12:36:58 PM »
Quick question. Is there an enemy that teleports you to another room when you kill him?
So far I really like the game. It reminds me a lot of Isaac but with more complex rooms and without the nastyness of being trapped in a too small room with too many enemies.
I still coudln't defeat a single boss though but I stay determined!