Author Topic: General Feedback  (Read 6589 times)

Offline Doddler

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General Feedback
« on: April 16, 2010, 08:50:01 PM »
There isn't any place to just leave general feedback, so I guess I get to create a new thread.

I've played a bit with the Tidalis Demo, I must admit it was quite a bit of fun.  I will likely end up picking the game up as there isn't a whole lot of play time in the demo.  So my opinion is a bit biased, more or less because I played the game for all of the 20-30 minutes the demo allows, but knowing how they respond to the demo might also be important.

So some thoughts:

1) Switching the tiles is uh, sometimes really finicky.  Maybe I'm just not used to it, but while you have your mouse over a tile and right mouse is held, moving a mouse in one direction at all will turn the block that facing.  Maybe it's just me, but when I draw lines with my mouse I have a tendency to draw back a tiny bit at the end, which the game interprets as rotating a block in a random facing. I'm probably just too shaky or have the DPI up too high for this game, but at times I would literally change a row of 5 blocks and even ones in the middle might be the wrong facing.  I dunno what can be done, it's hard to get used to it.  It doesn't really feel good.

2) When you start a new game, the game asks you if you want to take the tutorial, which I elected to do.  After I finished the basic tutorial, it asked me if I wanted to play story mode, which I also elected to do.  I did this because I thought I was done all the tutorials, but apparently I wasn't!  Edit: It kind of does it after the second tutorial, it just ends, and you have to escape back to the main menu.

3) When I started story mode, it took me all of like 30 seconds to figure out what I should be clicking on.  It really isn't clear, maybe the stage icons should glow?  Also while it's story mode, there's not much story.  Like bam, you're in a game, no transition or anything, was unexpected anyways.  I guess it's just cause its demo that there isn't at least any exposition?

4) I have serious difficulties tabbing back into Tidalis while the game is running in full screen mode.  The game tries to restore, the music comes back on, and then it plops back to desktop.  Windows suggests that Tidalis is the active window, but doesn't like going back to the game.  I got back in once, but the second time had to use task manager to close the game because I couldn't get back into the game. Edit: Sometimes it does it for first launch too.

5) The basic tutorials was pretty informative I thought.  The more complex ones are sometimes a bit confusing, especially in the wording.  For example, the tutorial with the mid combo rotation, it literally states 'You can clear this in one move by rotating the blue block on the red row after it drops', which is misleading, because you have to change a lot of things, like change all of the reds, as well as the blue block before the chain starts, and find out the starting point in order to complete the  puzzle.  It does this quite a bit, suggesting that a puzzle can be solved by making a simple change, when it usually required more.  You also have to find a starting point, which contradicts the 'this is all you have to do' style of the tutorial.

6) The short circuit tutorial uh, can be completed without changing any blocks just by clicking the top green block.  I'm uh, not sure that even uses short circuiting, because I wasn't completely familiar with what that meant.  (Edit: Looking back, the block that the tutorial asks you to point to the bottom of the board is already pointing that direction, solving the puzzle for you).

7) I'm really just nitpicking now, the second story stage asks you to clear 25 blue blocks, but it took literally over half of my tutorial time because no blue blocks were dropping. :(

8) Serious nitpick mode, confirmation boxes for restarting the level after you've already been presented with a failure screen. :P

It sounds like I have a lot of negative things to say, but don't take it personally!  If I didn't like the core game I wouldn't bring it up, I will probably purchase a key whenever I get some free time to waste with a game. :)
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 09:13:09 PM by Doddler »

Offline x4000

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2010, 09:06:09 PM »
Thanks for all the thoughts!  Regarding the length of the demo, please bear in mind that is just per-session (as it says in game).  You can play for another 20 minutes by starting the program over again if you want.  You can do it as many times as you want that way with the demo (it never expires completely), but that's our way of preventing some people from just picking up the demo and playing and enjoying that indefinitely, then never buying the game.  It was either that or majorly restrict out features, which we didn't want to do because then it's hard for people to actually figure out if they like it.

To your various points:

1) That's something that a couple of advanced computer users have mentioned, but oddly the really casual computer users have had no problems.  Very odd.  Generally if you make fast sweeps and go too far, then it won't do that.  We experimented with some things for having thresholds of movement before it would turn, but that just made it laggy.  This is something we expect to polish more during the beta in general, I think, but like you I don't see a simple solution.  I imagine this is going to be a big topic for refinement based on player ideas, etc.

2) Whoops -- sounds like a bug to me.

3) Yeah, making them animated slightly or glowing may be the ticket.  And, there is literally no story right now.  Please see the beta roadmap, that's still on the TBD list.  A lot of the story is planned, and the character art and intro cutscene art is even done, but we haven't had time to program it in yet.  And more writing still needs to be done, too, but that's far enough ahead of the programming that I'm not focusing on it overmuch.  Just a factor of the early beta!

4) That is... seriously odd.  Unfortunately, most likely this would be another of those "Unity 3D problems" that we can't do anything about.  We don't get much access to the bare metal here.  That was what I really liked about my platform for AI War, is that there was almost nothing between me and the bare metal aside from .NET itself and SlimDX (which is very slim, har har).  But that has the downsides of all those prerequisites that are a pain, and not being cross platform.  So we picked our poison, I guess.  Unity is an awesome platform, but it's not without its quirks -- and we can't always affect those quirks, is the one frustrating part.

5) Ah -- thanks for that.  We definitely need feedback on that sort of thing, and I'm sure Lars (the author of the advanced tutorials) will take that into account.  I suspect they do need some tweaking, as in general more tutorials (outside the basic realm) are needed.

6) I'll let Lars speak to that.

7) Yeah, Keith is working on an update for the level editor that will let us weight block ratios better.  That did turn out more frustrating than we thought (someone else mentioned that same thing here already).  It's a really valid point.

8) Someone else also mentioned the confirmation boxes for restarting, too. :)  Great minds think alike!


Don't sweat the criticism, we don't take it personally and those were all really great thoughts.  We wouldn't have released this in beta form if we didn't want feedback.  What would have stunk is if we released this "officially" and then had a flood of user problems, etc.  This way with the beta, we can test the waters, get lots of varying feedback from varying styles of players on various styles of hardware, and make sure the official game is as close to perfect as we can make it.  We obviously don't have a staff of hundreds of testers working for us like the big companies do, so we rely on just this sort of thing to make sure we stay on the straight and narrow with polish.

Glad you enjoyed it!  And if you want to take more sessions with the demo, all you have to do is start it up again and you'll have another 20 minutes. :)
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Offline Doddler

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2010, 09:14:50 PM »
Thanks for the response! I did go back and play a bit more, it was of course still fun. :)

The alt tab thing isn't always just when alt tabbing... it happens when launching sometimes too.  The game goes full screen... then back to desktop, the start menu/task bar does a little happy dance for a minute, and then I get to try again.  Sometimes the task bar never comes back and requires closing explorer to fix it.  I'm fairly certain it's just my computer being really messed up, and you know, Vista, but it's strange enough that I decided to actually show what it does.  Watch out, there's rainbows and unicorns, no lie.

http://doddlercon.com/files/video.php?f=http://doddlercon.com/files/tidalis_alttab.mp4&w=720&h=450

Offline x4000

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2010, 09:33:46 PM »
Hahaha -- that's a great desktop background, I still need to pick that book up.  I have all the prior ones (and several shirts, as you can see in my Arcen photo, even), but not that one yet.

That is very strange with the alt-tabbing, and not something we have seen before.  I don't know if it's just something really odd on your machine or what, but we'll keep an eye out for it and see what we can do about it...
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Offline Doddler

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2010, 09:38:36 PM »
I've actually had one other game do that kind of thing on me before (ragnarok online), but that's a pretty old game using DX7 so it's kind of odd.  Don't get too worked up over it, my computer does really strange things sometimes, so it's probably not your fault. :)

Offline x4000

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2010, 09:43:11 PM »
Well, I know it's not my fault, and that's the worst part. My code doesn't even start getting executed until well after the game is initialized DirectX or OpenGL or whatever mode it is deciding on, etc, and it's having some difficulties well before then.  That's the frustrating part, is if this is a Unity thing I can't do much about it except complain to them.  But hopefully it's just something wacky on your one computer there -- Windows is just like that sometimes, as we all know. :)
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Offline Fiskbit

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2010, 10:25:49 PM »
Hey, Doddler. Thanks for the feedback! This forum works just fine for general feedback. :)

1) I run into the same control problem sometimes. As Chris said, we tried a solution during development of requiring a decent amount of movement before the block will turn, but it turned out to be pretty awful in practice because things got unresponsive. I think the solution to this problem lies in averaging out the player's recent movement, and I'll put some thought into how to make that work well. We'll do what we can to get this problem ironed out, though, since play control is really important and I still find myself making mistakes because the game isn't doing what I tried to make it do. :P

2) Chris: Perhaps we should have the end of the basic tutorial let players know about the advanced tutorials, but still try to usher them off toward adventure mode? Or we could simply provide an option. The advanced tutorials are a lot less casual-friendly, so I'm sure a lot of people would rather play the normal game before getting to things about scoring, short-circuiting, rotating blocks mid-combo, and so on. Then there are also special block tutorials... I see the special block tutorials as more reference than anything else. What are your thoughts on this?

3) I definitely think a little bit of animation will solve that problem. There are a lot of these icons on the map, though, so it'd be ideal to only have it on the icon for levels that haven't been beaten (which will include that first level when you start), to try to attract attention moreso.

5) Thanks, I've really been wanting feedback on these tutorials and wouldn't consider them polished at the moment (I might change the puzzles in some spots, and for some I need to think more about how to have puzzles effectively illustrate the topic). I'll give these another look over now that I'm not as busy as I was when putting them together. :)

6) Good catch. That arrow was supposed to be pointing to the right. ;) I tried to make this tutorial really easy because it's a hard mechanic and I didn't want them trying to figure out how to use it the first time they see it (super hard puzzles that require these is what puzzle mode is for), but I didn't mean to make it that easy! Anyway, this is fixed now. I'd love to get more feedback on the tutorials if you have more to say about them.

7) It's definitely too random right now. We totally agree!

Thanks!
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2010, 10:46:09 PM »
Doddler, as Chris and Lars said we will address the usability issues with the mouse-redirection-drag, but I wanted to see if you'd tried using the keyboard (arrow keys to move the secondary cursor, F+arrow-keys to direction-drag; rebindable in the new keybinding UI in 0.401) as while it has some tradeoffs vs. the mouse is more consistent about actually redirecting all blocks you traverse when dragging.
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Offline PLivesey

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2010, 04:29:55 AM »
Tutorial 4 in advanced topics (Picking Start and End Points) had me stuck for a while.  I started from the left side, and tried once, but failed.   However, if you fail this it says "Hint: Try getting the reaction to END on the right side."  I tried for ages.  The only solution I could come up with STARTED on the right side.  Perhaps I missed something, but I think this may be a very naughty hint!

Aside from issues raised by Doddler, I am really enjoying this game and will look out for any issues as I play further.

Offline Fiskbit

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2010, 05:13:08 AM »
Ah, the hint wasn't telling you to end on the right, but rather asking what happens if you try to end on that side. My intent was to try to get the player to figure out that ending on that side isn't possible by pointing out that side in particular, but it seems I was less than successful. I'll have to think about changing how I direct attention there, or change the hint altogether. My reason for doing it as I did is that one of the key parts of pathfinding in the game is that things sometimes only work in one direction, which I'm wanting to get players to understand from this puzzle. It's something that I feel works best from a realization rather than just being told, but I might change my approach.

Thanks so much for letting me know. I'll see what I can do and appreciate any other suggestions or criticisms people have! :)
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Offline PLivesey

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2010, 05:35:20 AM »
Ah, the hint wasn't telling you to end on the right, but rather asking what happens if you try to end on that side. My intent was to try to get the player to figure out that ending on that side isn't possible by pointing out that side in particular, but it seems I was less than successful. I'll have to think about changing how I direct attention there, or change the hint altogether. My reason for doing it as I did is that one of the key parts of pathfinding in the game is that things sometimes only work in one direction, which I'm wanting to get players to understand from this puzzle. It's something that I feel works best from a realization rather than just being told, but I might change my approach.

Thanks so much for letting me know. I'll see what I can do and appreciate any other suggestions or criticisms people have! :)

Ah, perhaps you should leave it as it is!  After trying a few times I did go through, in my head, the possible ways to finish the right hand side, and saw that doing it was impossible - thus leading me to start there.  Maybe have "Hint: Is it possible to end at the right-hand side?"  Or somesuch, rather than telling people to end there?

Offline Fiskbit

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2010, 05:55:52 AM »
Well, the current text is "HINT: What happens if you try to end the reaction on the right side?". I'm thinking of changing it to: "HINT: Look closely at whether it's possible to end the reaction on the right side."

Sound good? :)
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Offline PLivesey

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2010, 06:28:24 AM »
Well, the current text is "HINT: What happens if you try to end the reaction on the right side?". I'm thinking of changing it to: "HINT: Look closely at whether it's possible to end the reaction on the right side."

Sound good? :)

Sounds good to me.  Also - in the Bubble tutorial, is it simply there to show taking the greens makes the bubbles disappear?  I positioned my blues to nicely combo, but the blue landing when the bubbles pops doesn't start off a chain - why even have the blues in this tutorial?

Offline Fiskbit

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2010, 06:37:29 AM »
For the text, I think I've decided to go with a slightly more subtle "HINT: Look closely at what happens if you try to end the reaction on the right side." to make it less obvious, though if the other is more popular, I'll go with that one. The success text also stresses much more that direction matters. "You may have noticed that you need to start on the right side to clear these all as a single reaction; it can't be done by starting on the left side. Realizing that direction matters is vital."

I put the blues in the bubble tutorial to make it clear that clearing special blocks currently doesn't set off a combo. That may change in the future if someone can come up with a good argument for it, but right now I have some worries related to that functionality. In particular, it's strange in context of blocks that fall off the bottom of the screen (rocks and metal grilles) and doesn't mesh well with new functionality I have in mind for glass blocks. I'm open to the possibility of this change because the current functionality is a bit counter-intuitive.

Edit: The tutorial itself was mainly to show off that adjacent blocks clear bubbles, and that they take up space. I should have positioned the blocks such that a stream would pass through the bubble and will change the puzzle around a bit so that happens. When water is in the game at a future time, you can expect this to be a more interesting tutorial.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 06:39:35 AM by Fiskbit »
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Offline PLivesey

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Re: General Feedback
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2010, 06:40:57 AM »
For the text, I think I've decided to go with a slightly more subtle "HINT: Look closely at what happens if you try to end the reaction on the right side." to make it less obvious, though if the other is more popular, I'll go with that one. The success text also stresses much more that direction matters. "You may have noticed that you need to start on the right side to clear these all as a single reaction; it can't be done by starting on the left side. Realizing that direction matters is vital."

I put the blues in the bubble tutorial to make it clear that clearing special blocks currently doesn't set off a combo. That may change in the future if someone can come up with a good argument for it, but right now I have some worries related to that functionality. In particular, it's strange in context of blocks that fall off the bottom of the screen (rocks and metal grilles) and doesn't mesh well with new functionality I have in mind for glass blocks. I'm open to the possibility of this change because the current functionality is a bit counter-intuitive.

Edit: The tutorial itself was mainly to show off that adjacent blocks clear bubbles, and that they take up space. I should have positioned the blocks such that a stream would pass through the bubble and will change the puzzle around a bit so that happens. When water is in the game at a future time, you can expect this to be a more interesting tutorial.

Ah, perhaps you should also mention in the text that "As seen after removing the green blocks, the blue tile dropping doesn't start off a reaction." or something like that?

And thanks for mentioning the glass and the metal grille - I did wonder why they were different as I wasn't sure about what the difference of smashing and falling through was.