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Controlling difficulty in a randomly generated game.


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#1 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 11:45 PM

I will be brief to start, and add a longer version later for those who are still interested. 

Brief Version

I am developing an old fashioned space shooter with mutating aliens. Most play testers find it very difficult to play despite adding detailed, in game hints. I need to know why my clues aren't being picked up. I will return the favor if you have a PC demo available for a game that you need feedback for. 

 

You can download the game (It Never Ends) here:

 

http://www.misterdonovan.com/

Long Version

For nine months now, I have been working on a potential iOS shoot'em up game that features mutating aliens. It's called "It Never Ends." I was hoping to create a short game, with high replay value, by partially adapting the theory of Natural Selection. The core concept of the game is to modify your ship to meet the ever changing alien threat.

Even though it has place holder graphics, the basic game is playable. Unfortunately, unanimous play testing shows that the game can become so insanely difficult that it can discourage some people from continuing.

I have given the player two powerful tools to counter this: the nuke and a retreat option. Unfortunately, I seem to be doing a poor job of explaining how to use them despite complete access to "Intel Notes" and in game hints.

  1. The Nuke will completely destroy all incoming waves and forces the aliens to redesign their ships. It does, however, take away some of Earth's limited resources. 
  2. The retreat option allows you to save the resource value of your ship and redesign it to face them again. However, the remaining aliens will destroy more resources. 

Armed with this info, could you please test the game and offer feedback/suggestions concerning the game's difficulty? If you are currently designing a stand alone PC game, and have a demo, I will offer you feedback for your game in return. 



Sponsor:

#2 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5073

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 01:24 AM

Well, I downloaded this to try to troubleshoot the design, but I couldn't stay alive long enough to encounter the problems with evolution.

 

Edit:  I thought I'd add that I really like Space Invaders and Galaga, and moderately like Asteroids, which are all similar games to this.  But I don't like hard games which are also dexterity games because I know from experience that they aren't going to become satisfying to play because my natural dexterity isn't high enough for me to ever get really good at it.


Edited by sunandshadow, 12 March 2014 - 03:24 PM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#3 creatures-of-gaia.com   Members   -  Reputation: 377

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 04:15 AM

Downloaded it, tried it, but quit after less than a minute. Sorry to say that, but I found it boring.



#4 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8006

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:28 AM


Sorry to say that, but I found it boring.

Thanks for your constructive input... sad.png

 


I am developing an old fashioned space shooter with mutating aliens. Most play testers find it very difficult to play despite adding detailed, in game hints. I need to know why my clues aren't being picked up.

There are two issues.

 

First: Is my game too hard ?

Maybe, maybe not. Take a look at flappy bird ( or one of its 1000 clones) and you will see, that even hard games have an appeal to (casual) gamers. You need to consider the target audience. Once you start adding new features to 'streamline' your game, you will have issues with your target audience. Making it too complex will shy away casual gamers, whereas making it too easy will shy away gamers who seek a certain challenge.

 

Second: Are my game features not obvious enough ?

This might be an issue which will be hard to solve. The core problem is, that new features (instead of just making e.g. the enemies weaker) will introduce new level of complexity. At a certain threshold,  more players will have trouble to understand the  handling and benefits of certain features. Good tutorial might help, but eventually you must think about your target audience (again :) )

 

Ideas ?

Well, you have an space shooter, which should target more casual gamers, therefor this

 

  1. The Nuke will completely destroy all incoming waves and forces the aliens to redesign their ships. It does, however, take away some of Earth's limited resources. 
  2. The retreat option allows you to save the resource value of your ship and redesign it to face them again. However, the remaining aliens will destroy more resources.

is too complex in my opinion.

I would reduce the complexity by removing the retreat option and pimping the nuke. The nuke should be time-bound. Eg have a nuke symbol on your screen which reloads over time (maybe faster if you kill enemies). Once it is up, it starts to blink and a sound like 'Nuke Available' will tell the player, that something powerful is up to use. After using it, start the reload again. The player will automatically learn how to time and use the nuke after a few tries, there's no need to explain it.

 

I've really a hard time with the game complexity in my game too, and I'm fighting it by reducing its complexity a lot. Complexity should be only for gamers who rock your game and need new challenges. For the rest, you need to make your game easy enough to play through it without an deep understanding of the complexity of the game mechanisms. To smooth it out, try to introduce different difficulty levels, the player should win at least at easy, at mid with some practise and at hard if they truly understand the game (complexity).



#5 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 864

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 10:39 AM

I played until I got finished off. Here's my report.

 

Opinion: I am a hardcore player. Your game is hard. Flappy bird is deceptively easy.

 

Explanation:

The amount of time it took to play to the bitter end challenged my ability to stay interested. Reflex-intense games can be boring, while at the same time making them incredibly challenging. This was caused by the momentum controls present in going left and right

 

In the later levels when I had to really dodge things, the dominant strategy reveals itself, because whatever else I might try would end up getting me killed.  The downside is that there is little flexibility in the end-game.

 

I encountered one apparent bug.

At some point it did not allow me to repair any longer. I could tell it was wrong, because the thrusters were still too slow.

I think I was getting hit by E.M.P. as well, and those bombs that shoved me around raised the difficulty up a lot.

 

Brief personal analysis:

I devise strategies, and I follow them through. In this respect I kept playing until I found the challenge about 4 turns in when the aliens finally got smaller.

I couldn't bring myself to play it more than once so this is not a thorough analysis. If I did keep playing I'd just end up tuning my reflexes to match a strategy, which isn't going to be a common player trait.

 

The flappy bird phenomenon:

I wouldn't suggest using it as a reference other than to say, "there's always an exception, even for terrible games."

 

Flappy bird is a survival-endurance game. Eventually no matter how willing players are, their finger will get tired. Their next finger will get tired (if they ever bother to use it), their wrist, and eventually their elbow, until they cannot play and they admit it's really difficult to improve their score now.

 

It required zero brain-power to do the same thing repeatedly, and that is the only thing flappy bird offered. It's really a backward evolution from arcade games when people hurt their wrist holding the joystick. You can do better.


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#6 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 09:29 PM

Well, I downloaded this to try to troubleshoot the design, but I couldn't stay alive long enough to encounter the problems with evolution.

 

Edit:  I thought I'd add that I really like Space Invaders and Galaga, and moderately like Asteroids, which are all similar games to this.  But I don't like hard games which are also dexterity games because I know from experience that they aren't going to become satisfying to play because my natural dexterity isn't high enough for me to ever get really good at it.

 

Thanks for your time. I was initially going to ask if you liked games of this type. So your edited response is very useful. Unfortunately, this game is a hybrid, and I'm failing to communicate that to people. A large part of the game requires the player to analyze the alien design, and then create a counter strategy. I never really wanted it to be a full on twitch game, but I can't argue with the majority of testers: It still requires a lot of dexterity.

 

The earlier demos were actually harder! The player ship had a generator and battery which could become depleted during battle. The idea was to include power management during combat. Play testers told me that they hated it, so it was removed. My next step was to create a learning mode, but I think I need to tone down the difficulty of the entire game first.

 

Please let me know if I can test a game for you.



#7 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 10:27 PM

Downloaded it, tried it, but quit after less than a minute. Sorry to say that, but I found it boring.

 

Thanks for giving it a shot. Could you answer these questions?

 

Was it boring because it was too easy or hard?

 

Do you like games in this genre? If so, could you tell me their names?

 

I tried your game. I will send feedback soon.

 

Thanks.


Edited by Mister Donovan, 12 March 2014 - 10:32 PM.


#8 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 11:01 PM


First: Is my game too hard ?
Maybe, maybe not. Take a look at flappy bird ( or one of its 1000 clones) and you will see, that even hard games have an appeal to (casual) gamers. You need to consider the target audience. Once you start adding new features to 'streamline' your game, you will have issues with your target audience. Making it too complex will shy away casual gamers, whereas making it too easy will shy away gamers who seek a certain challenge.
 
Second: Are my game features not obvious enough ?
This might be an issue which will be hard to solve. The core problem is, that new features (instead of just making e.g. the enemies weaker) will introduce new level of complexity. At a certain threshold,  more players will have trouble to understand the  handling and benefits of certain features. Good tutorial might help, but eventually you must think about your target audience (again )

 

Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough feedback! It helped me get my goals in line.

 

I think a large problem with my approach is that I didn't intend to make a  casual game. So, people are expecting a casual game and getting something else. They probably feel betrayed as if it was a bait and switch. My game is a hybrid between a space shooter and a strategy game. In retrospect, it was probably a bad choice because I think people tend to like either reflex games or strategy games; not both at the same time.

 

My game is definitely complex. Unfortunately, it also seems to have a dexterity/reflex requirement. Again, these two elements are unlikely to appeal to fans of either genre. I think I'm going to scale down the dexterity element and emphasize the strategic element.

 

I will give some thought to a tutorial, but I was intrigued by your "Nuke Pimping" concept. Instead of making it optional for the player, I'm thinking about keeping track of how many aliens get by the player (damaging Earth).  When thirty get by, it's clear that the player is having difficulty, so Earth automatically sends a nuke up to protect itself. This makes sure that the player doesn't miss the nuclear option. It will also have its normally intended effect of scrambling the alien design; hopefully to something the player can handle.

 

Thanks again for helping me with my goals.

 

I will be sure to test Gnoblins and send you feedback.



#9 Durakken   Members   -  Reputation: 535

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 11:27 PM

You don't explain that your shot takes time to recharge well and there is no good indicator. I saw there is one of the ship but that's meh. I can barely see it

Same with the shields. I can barely see it.

 

The ships fly too fast to begin with

the laser weapon limits movement, lasts too long, and is far too powerful

The shots regular shots are too fast

 

The shots are too slow to recharge and too weak

There is no indicator for other things that can get damaged

 

The "waves" mean nothing because there is nothing that acts as a wave

The AI has no pattern what-so-ever

 

The game's difficulty starts at the second when you find yourself about to die in most of these games...which if I had to rank it is about an 8 or 9/10 in difficulty as most games purposely do this and it's the result of you messing up somewhere.and not a result of the design of the game.

 

You might want to consider instead of randomizing the AI of every ship, have waves have the same AI.

 

You should also the from the same base and then evolve from there rather than just making it randomly constructed rather than saying "here's a random challenge" try to beat it...and oh yeah it's far too fast. Start it slow and an easy pattern then let then  have the enemy have their stats slightly modified from that slow base, working to some ultimately random formulation of the enemy. 

 

This allows a beginner or anyone for that matter to ease into the game, figure out what's going on and then crank up the challenge over time.

 

 

Another thing you might want to do is consider a reward system for collecting resources where you can have extra lives, more shields, different type of weapons, etc...

 

Another thing you might want to consider is the idea of changing the firing mechanism from wait for it to charge to the player charging the weapon. That way they can release lots of smaller weaker shots or few large shots.

 

You might also want to mention that shots diminish in power further from the point of origin...which makes the charging of shops pointless as past half screen they seem to be too weak to matter...

 

That's all i can think of



#10 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 11:29 PM

I played until I got finished off. Here's my report.

 

Opinion: I am a hardcore player. Your game is hard. Flappy bird is deceptively easy.

 

Explanation:

The amount of time it took to play to the bitter end challenged my ability to stay interested. Reflex-intense games can be boring, while at the same time making them incredibly challenging. This was caused by the momentum controls present in going left and right

 

In the later levels when I had to really dodge things, the dominant strategy reveals itself, because whatever else I might try would end up getting me killed.  The downside is that there is little flexibility in the end-game.

 

I encountered one apparent bug.

At some point it did not allow me to repair any longer. I could tell it was wrong, because the thrusters were still too slow.

I think I was getting hit by E.M.P. as well, and those bombs that shoved me around raised the difficulty up a lot.

 

Brief personal analysis:

I devise strategies, and I follow them through. In this respect I kept playing until I found the challenge about 4 turns in when the aliens finally got smaller.

I couldn't bring myself to play it more than once so this is not a thorough analysis. If I did keep playing I'd just end up tuning my reflexes to match a strategy, which isn't going to be a common player trait.

 

Thanks for playing it to the bitter end. I hope that I can return the favor and test one of your games sometime. My e-mail address is donovan@misterdonovan.com

 

I wonder if you're aware that every game of INE is different? The aliens' mutations are random, so there is no generally dominant strategy except to use the Nuke when absolutely necessary. For example, some aliens are equipped with shield piercing blasts. In this case, it's pretty pointless to invest in player shields.

 

There are 20 different alien special abilities, and they carry two at a time. Aside from that, they also have different firing parameters, weapon types, and movement patterns. Even though the game is usually hard, there are times when it is laughably easy (like stealth ships on fire).

 

You didn't exactly encounter a bug regarding repair, but you did help me out with a flaw in game design. You may only repair your ship six times. After that, there are no more spare parts. I need to put in a notification to let the player know.

 

I was wondering if you used the Nuke player special, or the retreat ability?

 

Also, what was your final score?

 

Thanks again.



#11 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5073

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 12:23 AM

 

Well, I downloaded this to try to troubleshoot the design, but I couldn't stay alive long enough to encounter the problems with evolution.

 

Edit:  I thought I'd add that I really like Space Invaders and Galaga, and moderately like Asteroids, which are all similar games to this.  But I don't like hard games which are also dexterity games because I know from experience that they aren't going to become satisfying to play because my natural dexterity isn't high enough for me to ever get really good at it.

 

Thanks for your time. I was initially going to ask if you liked games of this type. So your edited response is very useful. Unfortunately, this game is a hybrid, and I'm failing to communicate that to people. A large part of the game requires the player to analyze the alien design, and then create a counter strategy. I never really wanted it to be a full on twitch game, but I can't argue with the majority of testers: It still requires a lot of dexterity.

 

The earlier demos were actually harder! The player ship had a generator and battery which could become depleted during battle. The idea was to include power management during combat. Play testers told me that they hated it, so it was removed. My next step was to create a learning mode, but I think I need to tone down the difficulty of the entire game first.

 

Please let me know if I can test a game for you.

 

One thing that would make the whole game much easier is if players bounced off the side of the screen without taking damage instead of flying off through the shield and taking damage unless they have the particular special power that prevents that.  If you were looking for a single change to make an easy mode vs a hard mode, that's what I'd go with.

 

I do like games that present me with a puzzle-like battle that I have to devise a strategic response to.  But in my opinion that belongs in a turn-based game or an RTS where missions can be repeated, it really doesn't belong in a high speed game which has no save points/checkpoints and isn't divided into short segments that can be repeated when failed.  If it was a game structured like Angry Birds or w/e, with numbered missions and the goal for each mission being to configure your ship and then play it such that no aliens can go through, that would be a way more friendly format for me, and maybe for phones as a platform.

 

As far as trading testing, I only do design work and writing; if I'm on a team that's actively doing testing I'm never the one in charge of that, I'm instead one of the ones doing the testing.  So the only thing vaguely like that which I ever need is design critique or proofreading.  But thank you for the offer. smile.png


Edited by sunandshadow, 13 March 2014 - 12:52 AM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#12 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3262

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:59 AM

I used to be an hardcore gamer but I'm fairly casual now. I cannot last more than a few seconds.

I'd say the game requires a very accurate estimation capability. The enemies are large in number since start (so I cannot even tell if they follow a pattern or not) and the size of their bullets are massive compared to player's.

Personally, I haven't noticed any strategic component at all, it's just a matter of converging functions. Each enemy appears to require a few shots to go. Your ship takes a few shots to go. There are more enemies, and their bullets are bigger so there's basically an order of magnitude divergence to overcome. I suppose letting the blast charge is key, this would require some tactics, it might be possible as the player is experienced, but with no chance at understanding the mechanics in 10-second bites, my determination rapidly declined.

 

The language used by the game does not say "it never ends", it says "it ends now".

 

I'm not sure but... do you get damage by hitting the borders of the game area?

How often are you adapting enemy ships?


Edited by Krohm, 13 March 2014 - 02:02 AM.


#13 Durakken   Members   -  Reputation: 535

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:23 AM

I used to be an hardcore gamer but I'm fairly casual now. I cannot last more than a few seconds.

I'd say the game requires a very accurate estimation capability. The enemies are large in number since start (so I cannot even tell if they follow a pattern or not) and the size of their bullets are massive compared to player's.

Personally, I haven't noticed any strategic component at all, it's just a matter of converging functions. Each enemy appears to require a few shots to go. Your ship takes a few shots to go. There are more enemies, and their bullets are bigger so there's basically an order of magnitude divergence to overcome. I suppose letting the blast charge is key, this would require some tactics, it might be possible as the player is experienced, but with no chance at understanding the mechanics in 10-second bites, my determination rapidly declined.

 

The language used by the game does not say "it never ends", it says "it ends now".

 

I'm not sure but... do you get damage by hitting the borders of the game area?

How often are you adapting enemy ships?

 

The thing is, in a game like that that is fast paced the strategy is to predict and take the ships out almost as soon as they get on the screen, however this is impossible due to your weapon not having enough strength to reach that far or kill even if it does and the enemy moving and firing too fast for you to charge and realign for the next time you'll be able to shot... and even if you could do that, by the time you do that there are 2 or 3 more enemies on the screen firing at you... all while you're expected to pick up drops from the enemy 

 

So it ends up that you have to dodge several ships, their weapons, try to hit them, all while trying to align for the drop that is also fast and is randomly dropped. 

 

Hypothetically you could survive and kill a few, but you're not going to score high no matter what you do. Made worse by there are weapons, and hazards that you have no idea are there or you don't know are hazard, or nullify you protection.

 

Everything is too fast, lasts too long, or too powerful... or all of them together. Even if you can pick up on a pattern of a ship all those other things prevent it from being any use and all you've done is spot one of the patterns of several on screen at that moment.



#14 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2247

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:14 AM

It sounds to me that significant player learning is required every game due to the random and learning elements, but the initial difficulty level is too hard for the player to get that chance to learn. If the game is more deterministic, a player can just try again and again until they figure out the patterns and tactics. If the game has an easier learning curve, the player can learn the patterns and tactics for this specific run-through. I'd suggest starting the game *much* easier and adding the complexities one at a time. Think of it like a tutorial, because it sounds like each game really *is* different.



#15 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3262

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 07:37 AM

Thinking a bit at it, it might be worth trying to make player bullets insta-hit. This way, a degree of complexity is removed, as well as the unknown factor of estimating future enemy position.



#16 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 864

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:01 AM


I wonder if you're aware that every game of INE is different? The aliens' mutations are random, so there is no generally dominant strategy except to use the Nuke when absolutely necessary. For example, some aliens are equipped with shield piercing blasts. In this case, it's pretty pointless to invest in player shields.

I read most of the dialogue. There was something I wasn't sure about, and that's if there was any alien intelligence gathering. When I started I ended up wondering after some time when the evolving comes into play.

 


I was wondering if you used the Nuke player special, or the retreat ability?

Also, what was your final score?

I retreated several times, I didn't get around to trying the nuke. When I finally collected some alien pods I probably made the mistake of focusing on the pod collector. That was all a first time impression.

 

Sorry I don't tend to pay attention to the score.


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#17 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1463

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:45 AM

Ok, went through it, and it is quite hard, different difficulty-settings or game-modes(focus arcade vs. focus on strategy) are some options to consider.

Another thing to note is that you have one type of "alien," and even though i read a bit in this thread about multiple skills, i have a hard time imagining a game with only one type of opponent keeping players interested for long.

 

 

 


Most play testers find it very difficult to play despite adding detailed, in game hints. I need to know why my clues aren't being picked up.

First of all, let's distinguish between "in mission" hints and "out mission"(mainly the design-screen) hints.

"in mission" -short shouts (shoot this, catch that) are needed, the player is busy firing at opponents, not reading a book.

"out mission" - full explanation of what something does, here should also be explained the strategic aspect of the game,

when i started i assumed i had X lives, now there seems to be a resource-system that buys ships and other things ?

I saw a "scanner"-option the design screen, btw, and for a game like this it makes sense to having it available on default, like you proposed with the nuke.

Say the scanner needs ~40-50 seconds to make a complete scan, from then on the player can retreat and adapt his ship.(and get full info on what the aliens are currently carrying)

 

 

edit:i just finished the game, it's not that hard when using cloak so you can easily catch e-pods.

I didn't realy adapt to the aliens though, just used the best available options.

 

The automatic e-pod-catcher only works once, maybe make it unlimited use but have it consume 1 (earth) resource upon usage ?

Repairing-specials didn't seem to work, but maybe i pressed the wrong button ?(i ve gotten the hint to use space and the hint to use shift iirc, though i m sure usage of specials was tied to up ? anyway, players should probably get to adjust their button-settings before finishing the game)

And the shield-key seemed to give me a bug(or was it intentional?) there was a lot of space in the shield and it was hard to figure out how far off my ship was,

i kinda expected to just appear on the other side of the screen so maybe it was my fault, but a range-indicator(how far from the battle is the ship) would be desirable.


Edited by powerneg, 13 March 2014 - 10:37 AM.


#18 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:38 AM

You don't explain that your shot takes time to recharge well and there is no good indicator. I saw there is one of the ship but that's meh. I can barely see it

Same with the shields. I can barely see it.

 

The ships fly too fast to begin with

the laser weapon limits movement, lasts too long, and is far too powerful

The shots regular shots are too fast

 

The shots are too slow to recharge and too weak

There is no indicator for other things that can get damaged

 

The "waves" mean nothing because there is nothing that acts as a wave

The AI has no pattern what-so-ever

 

The game's difficulty starts at the second when you find yourself about to die in most of these games...which if I had to rank it is about an 8 or 9/10 in difficulty as most games purposely do this and it's the result of you messing up somewhere.and not a result of the design of the game.

 

You might want to consider instead of randomizing the AI of every ship, have waves have the same AI.

 

You should also the from the same base and then evolve from there rather than just making it randomly constructed rather than saying "here's a random challenge" try to beat it...and oh yeah it's far too fast. Start it slow and an easy pattern then let then  have the enemy have their stats slightly modified from that slow base, working to some ultimately random formulation of the enemy. 

 

This allows a beginner or anyone for that matter to ease into the game, figure out what's going on and then crank up the challenge over time.

 

Another thing you might want to do is consider a reward system for collecting resources where you can have extra lives, more shields, different type of weapons, etc...

 

Another thing you might want to consider is the idea of changing the firing mechanism from wait for it to charge to the player charging the weapon. That way they can release lots of smaller weaker shots or few large shots.

 

You might also want to mention that shots diminish in power further from the point of origin...which makes the charging of shops pointless as past half screen they seem to be too weak to matter...

 

That's all i can think of

Thanks, Durakken. You made some good observations.

 

I will try to make it clear how the weapon recharge works, and improve the clarity of the shot indicator.

 

I will consider improving the weapon recharge speed, but only after I've made changes to the aliens' traits first.

 

I intend to reduce the speed of all ships by 25%.

 

I will reduce the amount of times that aliens can fire weapons; this will include the lasers. In the case of lasers, it will reduce their duration as well.

 

I'm confused about your comments concerning the waves and AI. The game starts with one wave. They all share the same traits. The next invasion has two waves, and they all have the same AI. The aliens only mutate when they are taking a beating. The more ships they lose, the more they mutate.

 

If the player is badly beaten by an invasion, the aliens won't change, and the player will be able to change his or her design to beat them. So, in a way, it is turn based.

 

I will consider having plain waves at first to allow the player to get used to the game.

 

Your concept for charging the weapon is interesting, but I don't see the difference between waiting for it to charge and building up a charge. It amounts to the same thing, I think, and holding the fire button may be difficult on the iPhone.

 

You make a good point about mentioning that the player's shots lose power with time. I will make a note of that. I'm glad that you noticed, but the loss in power isn't as severe as you think (-1).

 

Thanks again. If you want to me to help test a project that you're involved in, just let me know: donovan@misterdonovan.com



#19 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:43 AM

It sounds to me that significant player learning is required every game due to the random and learning elements, but the initial difficulty level is too hard for the player to get that chance to learn. If the game is more deterministic, a player can just try again and again until they figure out the patterns and tactics. If the game has an easier learning curve, the player can learn the patterns and tactics for this specific run-through. I'd suggest starting the game *much* easier and adding the complexities one at a time. Think of it like a tutorial, because it sounds like each game really *is* different.

 

I will definitely reduce the difficulty. I am also considering making the initial waves of aliens plain, and allowing them to mutate from there.

 

Thank you for your time. If you would like feedback on a project that you're working on, just e-mail me: donovan@misterdonovan.com



#20 Mister Donovan   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 01:03 AM

Ok, went through it, and it is quite hard, different difficulty-settings or game-modes(focus arcade vs. focus on strategy) are some options to consider.

Another thing to note is that you have one type of "alien," and even though i read a bit in this thread about multiple skills, i have a hard time imagining a game with only one type of opponent keeping players interested for long.

 

 

 


Most play testers find it very difficult to play despite adding detailed, in game hints. I need to know why my clues aren't being picked up.

First of all, let's distinguish between "in mission" hints and "out mission"(mainly the design-screen) hints.

"in mission" -short shouts (shoot this, catch that) are needed, the player is busy firing at opponents, not reading a book.

"out mission" - full explanation of what something does, here should also be explained the strategic aspect of the game,

when i started i assumed i had X lives, now there seems to be a resource-system that buys ships and other things ?

I saw a "scanner"-option the design screen, btw, and for a game like this it makes sense to having it available on default, like you proposed with the nuke.

Say the scanner needs ~40-50 seconds to make a complete scan, from then on the player can retreat and adapt his ship.(and get full info on what the aliens are currently carrying)

 

 

edit:i just finished the game, it's not that hard when using cloak so you can easily catch e-pods.

I didn't realy adapt to the aliens though, just used the best available options.

 

The automatic e-pod-catcher only works once, maybe make it unlimited use but have it consume 1 (earth) resource upon usage ?

Repairing-specials didn't seem to work, but maybe i pressed the wrong button ?(i ve gotten the hint to use space and the hint to use shift iirc, though i m sure usage of specials was tied to up ? anyway, players should probably get to adjust their button-settings before finishing the game)

And the shield-key seemed to give me a bug(or was it intentional?) there was a lot of space in the shield and it was hard to figure out how far off my ship was,

i kinda expected to just appear on the other side of the screen so maybe it was my fault, but a range-indicator(how far from the battle is the ship) would be desirable.

 

Thanks for your feedback.

 

I do plan to visually differentiate the aliens in the future. They will look different based on their traits. There will also be challenge stages.

 

You are right that people can't read the hints during combat. I put the Intel Notes in when I discovered this. I will keep the combat notes in, just in case, and I will consider adding audio warnings in addition to the visual notes.

 

I need to expand on the instructions so that they span several illustrated, and easy to read pages.

 

I think you may be right about the scanner. I will consider making it a standard tool.

 

I'm glad to see that you finished the game. I may need to weaken the player's stealth option (another player mentioned the same thing), but I'm not certain. The stealth option hasn't always been the best choice for me.

 

The Fetcher, which catches the alien escape pods, works more than once unless it is shot down, or the ship's special slot is damaged.

 

A range indicator is a great idea for the shield key! I will change the size of the indicator arrow depending on your ship's distance from the edge. Originally, it was going to warp you to the other side, but I wanted the game to be somewhat realistic, so I didn't want the player to be able to warp to the opposite side.

 

This may be foolish, but there's a story to the game, and I've tried to make the game elements match the story.

 

Thanks again. Feel free to contact me if you want feedback for a project: donovan@misterdonovan.com

 

I would also like to express my gratitude to the gamedev.net staff. You've created a very helpful and mature community here.






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