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Member Since 21 Feb 2003
Offline Last Active Feb 04 2015 08:59 PM

#5199966 In game tutorials for puzzle games

Posted by boolean on 25 December 2014 - 10:08 AM

Hi all


I've been entering a few game jams lately and there's been a consistent problem I've run into - explaining to the player how the heck to play my game.


As noted in the great Tutorials 101 from extra credits, the best tutorials are usually integrated invisibly into the gameplay and text based tutorials are usually boring, ruin immersion and most of the time are skipped by players anyway. 

While I think that's a fair enough point, I think this applies better to games with already familiar actions (eg. platformers, shooters). What I'm finding this very difficult to apply to is puzzle games. Usually you are dealing with a unique user interface that needs explaining before the player gets started (consisting of buttons, labels, win/lose conditions), so it's very hard not to front load everything at the start. Making it doubly difficult is that game jam entries tend to only be a few minutes in length, so you can't slowly drip feed the player over hours of gameplay.
I just finished a puzzle game for a game jam and I'm not sure how to explain without text. I currently have the trifector of evil - front loaded, multiple, text based windows of text. Blech.
So I'm curious - how do you all deal with tutorials in (usually short) puzzle games? How do you explain to the player how the game works without boring text? Is there any good examples anyone knows of?

#5199957 When is it okay for a player to get "stuck"?

Posted by boolean on 25 December 2014 - 09:22 AM

IMO it's fine for the player to get stuck, as long as the game communicates it clearly. I don't mind resetting the puzzle all day as the game tells me I have no moves left the moment it happens. I think the only way I get frustrated with these styles of games is when I'm stuck but I'm not sure if there are still moves left I'm not noticing. Worse yet is when the game is adding a new mechanic to a level and I get stuck and I'm not sure if its because I'm not using the new mechanic properly or if I'm legitimately out of moves.  


Some games like Puzzle Quest don't even wait for the player to reset if there are no moves left - they just explode the board and reset everything right away.

#4927340 Physics Question - How does thrust and mph work?

Posted by boolean on 01 April 2012 - 07:22 PM

If this is the page you've been reading, you have the units wrong. It doesn't say a pound of thrust is 32 feet per second, but 32 feet per second per second. It is an acceleration and not a speed, which makes sense since it is a force acting on a mass and thus accelerating it. The page also describes thrust fairly well: A pound of thrust is the amount of thrust it would take to keep a 1-pound object stationary against the force of gravity on Earth.

Ahhh, that might be the cause of the issue. I actually thought it was a typo at first :)

I just noticed Net Gnome updated his post which explains this really well. I think I'm getting confused with the acceleration and the final speed something is travelling at. I'm guessing then something could have a million pounds of thrust behind it, but without actually knowing when your taking the measurement you might as well be saying "This tree is as tall as a long piece of string" Posted Image

Cheers lads!

#4893314 I just realized MS's way of pointing out bad code.

Posted by boolean on 12 December 2011 - 05:57 PM

Maybe by grand they mean a fancy crown? Or gold coins to the grand total of a grand?

#4890336 A different perspective on the racing genre.

Posted by boolean on 04 December 2011 - 01:03 AM

There was a game called FUEL that tried to do an open world racing game. Unfortunately it didn't work out very well.

The actual idea I still think has merit, but it depends on how you handle it. I think the most important thing to remember is that when players can go anywhere, everywhere has to be interesting. That itself is a hell of a challenge.

I think the best example of this working is the grand theft auto games - they allow some stupidly fun open world racing with all sorts of vehicles in a world where all the routes are interesting. I think using something proven like that scaled down to it's most bare essentials could be very interesting. I heard a story on a podcast about GTA IV (not having played multiplayer myself) where there is a mode where everyone has to make it to a checkpoint on the other side of the city and all the players start on super high powered sports bikes. Right out of the gate most people go flying into the first car they see and start a huge wreck. The trick is every time you crash your bike gets downgraded, so as people make their way to the finish line their bikes are getting worse and worse each time. The podcaster said he was nearly dying with laughter when the final dash for the finish line came down to everyone on vespers desperately trying to knock each other off at 20 km/h :D

#4872043 I've been "cowboy coding" on the job most of the time. How do I g...

Posted by boolean on 12 October 2011 - 05:52 PM

It's simple:

1) Hire someone who is useless
2) Try and maintain their mess as bug reports roll in
3) Swear to never name a variable "string1" or "frstNme" or "private int _GlobalRate" ever again
4) Lead by example.

I used to worry for the longest time that being self taught I would struggle in the real world, it's why I actually avoided the industry for a few years. Now that I'm in it all I can say is I've learned more in the last few years maintaining other peoples code than I ever did working on my own. Someone can explain until their blue in the face why an empty try catch statement is worse than not having one at all, but until you are tasked with looking through someone else's code for a magical hidden exception that is being thrown for 3 HOURS you will very quickly understand what "best practices" really are.

If you do not have someone else on the team, and I may be wrong saying this, but with nobody else around to require good code it's a bit of a lost cause. I'm quite proud of the code I write at work, but on my own projects at home it's a struggle to do things the 'right way' when I know I'll be the only one seeing it. I would recommend joining an open source project or starting your own, or do tutorials for GDnet, or blog posts with code snippets you are proud of. Something to get other peoples eyes on. Trust me, once you get those people looking at your code, you'll learn more about best practices than you ever wanted to.

#4870681 How do I animate my sprites?

Posted by boolean on 08 October 2011 - 10:54 PM

It's also important to know what format you are going to export your animation into.

Exporting to a GIF? A series of images that will be read by an XML file? A spritemap with all the frames? Your answer will very much determine your options.

#4868832 So who is still around these days?

Posted by boolean on 03 October 2011 - 09:20 PM

I still don't know my way around the new site.

Every time I go into my account settings I feel like I've never used the internet before.

#4865935 Browser games - The nightmare of UI design

Posted by boolean on 25 September 2011 - 08:24 PM

'Alo chaps!

I'm working on a browser game and being a developer I know very little about UI design. I know my way around Photoshop but when it comes time to doing wire frames it's always trial and error. With that in mind I've been looking around at a lot of browser games currently on the market to take notes from. What I've noticed is that very few actually look decent and even less have good UI design.

The main issue I have with a lot of browser games is in how they completely overdo the designs in order to look more 'game' like. This means you tend to end up with browser games that look like:

1) http://3.bp.blogspot...1600/image3.jpg
2) http://www.gamoplay....creenshot_3.jpg
3) http://www.digitalfi...eens/s600_1.jpg
4) http://nm.gameforge....ogame_de_05.jpg
5) http://www.kostenlos...lory-kings4.jpg
6) http://i460.photobuc...uild-leader.jpg

There's something about the overly airbrushed, in your face graphics I always find off-putting. It's almost always style over function, making the actual use of the website confusing. I think the same reason I dislike these overly designed browser games is the same reason 99% of the winamp skins around are completely useless.

I was reading this article the other day and while I think the author has a good point, it didn't come across very well. The key message seems to be 'stay consistent', echoed on this site as well. The application he is focusing on failed because it's not consistent with other apps. I think that key message got lost in the replies of the article :)

Taking that into account, I think the biggest issue when designing a website for a browser game is that it needs to be two things at once. It needs to be consistent with the rest of the web, which means looking like a clean, well made website. On the other hand, it's a game so it needs to look more flashy, have more graphics, set a stronger theme on the website, more animations. The problem is this is completely opposed to the way you would design a post-1999 website, so the rest of the internet that are not games (as in, websites you interact with as a game) clash against your website and it immediately comes off as an inconsistent.

Another issue I see with a lot of browser games is that in setting a tone/theme for the website, they tend to focus on one color, for example, deepolis:

1) http://mmogamesvs.co...hot-300x258.jpg
2 http://images.bbgsit...8/26/1_0826.jpg

In an attempt to set an underwater theme, everything is one color. Trying to find what items are buttons or which areas are more important than others fly in the face of the most basic UI design rules I've come across. For example, even GDnet uses a mix of blue green and white for its navigation buttons.

This all being said, Duels is probably the best design I've come across:

1) http://image.xygames...creenshot-2.jpg

It's nothing fancy, but all the trappings are there. Good artwork for each page (eg. the armory) to set the scene, very obvious uses of color for page layout, a design that doesn't rule the UIX (I learnt that one the other day, "user interface experience" eh?) and a layout that is consistent with other websites.

Now it was around here I was going to post some concepts I have so far, but just writing this post I've realized mine could do with some work. SO, while I work out the problems does anyone else here know of any browser games that have good UI? Any websites that break all design conventions that need to be burnt to the ground? Anything to add to my theory above on why browser games have such a hard time being usable and looking like a game?

#4864513 So who is still around these days?

Posted by boolean on 21 September 2011 - 09:17 PM

This is the first time I've signed into this account in...years. Any of the old timers still around? Cold Acid, Evolutional, Avatar God, Trapper Zoid, Zero Wolf?

Things are different now! The site looks all fancy and new!

It seems the avatars are being pulled from Gravatar now? Anyone know if they let you set site specific avatars? I miss my old one:)

#3032951 Bad Jokes

Posted by boolean on 02 May 2005 - 12:01 AM

BA HA HA HA!!! I like that one [lol]

#2790288 things you should and shouldn't do when writing stories

Posted by boolean on 27 November 2004 - 12:39 AM

Dang, I wish I had another sticky I could add this too [wink]

#2633707 Going to post your game idea? Read this first

Posted by boolean on 25 August 2004 - 02:24 AM

Thanks for the tip Ra. I have added it near the end of the guide, and have put a little note to make sure you get the credit for it.


#2591607 Going to post your game idea? Read this first

Posted by boolean on 31 July 2004 - 12:04 PM

Theres some really good pointers there Evo.

I do agree on the 'posting in the first hour' syndrome, and I cant see much of a way to stop people from doing that.

You made some really good points in your post. I am hoping that if enough people reply with tips of thier own, I can edit my post and do a....well....a version upgrade of the post. [smile]

#264375 The definitive guide to game writing inspiration

Posted by boolean on 16 August 2004 - 01:18 AM

Over the last few months I have noticed that there seems to of been a number of posts asking for help on a similar theme: “Im a coder, not a writer. Please help me write a story” This is a pretty common occurrence. A programmer designs an engine, but has no world or plot to place upon it. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that a post asking for a story that you could create will lead to anything substantial. This is because unless you design it yourself, you wont have a passion for the world you are creating, and invariably end up continually asking people for more and more help on what comes next (In a similar way, its like asking someone to write the first 10 pages of a book for you). So, to combat this problem, I have come up the list below. The following is what will (hopefully) be an ever-growing list of sites and guides that can help you get over that writing block. They are links to sites that may spark ideas and get you thinking of possible plot ideas. Some will be galleries with lots of different art, and some will be guides on how to get started when creating a story.
++ How to submit ++
UPDATE: This thread has been retired automatically, so to submit new content please just send me a PM I am hoping that this list will continue to grow as more and more people submit links. To submit your part to the guide, please follow the format below. Once I have verified that the site fits this guide I will add it to the list below. I will put your username with your link as well so you get sufficient credit. Site name: Type the name of the site or page title that the link is connecting to. Site Address: Don’t worry about it being a clicky or not if you don’t want to. It will be formatted correctly when I add it to the list. Description: A quick description of what the site contains. Best way to use(optional): A small guide on how you use the site for inspiration (not needed if the site you are linking to is a tutorial/guide) You can copy and past this if you find it quicker: Site name: Site Address: Description: Best way to use:
++ THE LIST ++
++ Websites ++

  • Elwood Science fiction and fantasy art
  • A collection of user submitted art containing both Sci-fi and Fantasy Best way to use: Just go through random pages looking at the art. Find one picture you like and try to imagine that as being part of a story. You will be surprised the plots you come up with
  • Concept art
  • A small collection of user submitted art containing people from both Sci-fi and Fantasy Best way to use: Just go through random pages looking at the art. Find one picture you like and try to imagine the character as part of a story.
  • The big list of RPG plots
  • A huge list of plot starters that can be used to move to bigger story lines. It is designed for Pen&Paper games, but its still useful. Best way to use: Read some of the plot starters and try to think of them being a level in a game. You may find that the setting and characters come naturally after this.
  • Dictionary of Inspiration Credit: orionx103
  • A dictionary of stuff that inspired me Best way to use: Base your own characters or items off those presented here
  • FanFiction.net Credit: orionx103
  • A collection of fan-submitted fanfics Best way to use: Shows you how characters can be taken in directions you might not've thought about
  • Vladimir Propp's "Elements of the Folktale" Credit: sunandshadow
  • Propp breaks down plot/folktale elements into 31 basic forms. Very interesting reading
  • Chris Crawford's library of articles Credit: sunandshadow
  • A library of articles about mimetics, the structure and function of fiction, and the design of the Erazmatron and some games made for it.
  • The TV Tropes Wiki Credit: sunandshadow
  • A lighthearted but intelligent wiki exploring common cliches and tropes in not just TV, but also anime, games, movies, and novels. Lots of stuff about heroes, villains, types of love interests, types of plots, and much more. ++ Books ++

  • Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: David Keirsey. Received 4.5/5 on Amazon.com
  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Linda N. Edelstein Ph.D.
  • 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Victoria Schmidt. Received 4/5 on Amazon.com
  • The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Tami D. owden. Received 4.5/5 on Amazon.com
  • Characters Make Your Story Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Maren Elwood. Received 5/5 on Amazon.com!
  • Fiction Is Folks Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Robert Newton Peck. Received 5/5 on Amazon.com!
  • Interactive Storytelling: Techniques for 21st Century Fiction Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Andrew Glassner
  • A list of his books including The "Masks of God" series, as well as "The Hero With A Thousand Faces". Credit: stimarco
    A study on mythologies and how to use them when writing a story
  • Author: Joseph Campbell. Received 5/5 on Amazon.com (average from 3 books) ++ Forum Links ++

  • The Creative Process Credit: CoffeeMug
  • A post by CoffeeMug
  • Works to get inspiration from? Credit: various
  • Excellent post started by Origin2052, continued on by many others.
  • Writing – Reply by adventuredesign Credit: adventuredesign (includes other various members)
  • The post originally asked for help with writing, and adventuredesign went on to post a gigantic tutorial like post ++ Gamedev.net links ++

  • More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Worldbuilding sunandshadows developer journal
  • An in depth look into worldbuilding. Touches on aspects such as Physics, Geography, Ecology and Culture.
  • Designing Characters sunandshadows developer journal
  • A guide on creating believable and in-depth characters.
  • Plot Part I sunandshadows developer journal
  • Breaks down the key points of a plot and analysis its progression from start to end.
  • Plot Part II sunandshadows developer journal
  • Fleshes out some of the milestons discussed in 'Plot Part I'.
  • Naming sunandshadows developer journal
  • A look at 5 different varieties of names, and discusses how to use them to name your characters. ++ Other useful tools ++

  • Universalis Credit: onyxflame
  • A collaborative storytelling game, with mechanics to resolve disagreements between players, as well as the ability to semi-randomly resolve story conflicts so even the players can be surprised by what happens.
  • Roget's Thesaurus online, free and searchable! Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Storybase Software for Writers Credit: diceymatters
  • Storybase is the world's only dictionary of essential human situations. The situations in Storybase make no reference to culture or gender specific conventions, so in a sense they are 'archetypal' and can be applied to any type of story. The software enables the writer to insert the names of their characters into the situtuations in Storybase. It is a great resourse for game developers who are having trouble with a specific story or who need to generate a lot of story threads in a short amount of time. Storybase does not write the story for you, however, it offers suggestions that spark the imagination. Storybase is a PC based software program that costs $99 (but it can be found on eBay for as little as $69.95). [Edited by - sunandshadow on August 27, 2008 3:33:51 PM]