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Offer your opinions on this early build of puzzle game

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I''ve never done a puzzle game before but I am starting off with this one: Its in very early design stages, but is (kinda)playable. Its a game based on sliding crates around in a warehouse. trucks turn up and drop off crates at your warehouse, and other trucks turn up periodically and want filling up with particular combinations of crates. You get points when you laod the trucks, lsoe points if they leave without a full load. At the moment Im also costing the player 1 point every time he moves a crate. Im not really sure how to balance the gameplay here, or whether it should be a time base arcade puzzle, or a logic puzzle (where time isnt a factor). basically I''m floundering around with this game design and asking for help! The file is a zip (no installer yet) and theres no menu or anything, it just starts playing. I''d really appreciate some feedback from the guys on this forum, even if its "that idea sucks" or "its cool" Heres the zip http://www.positech.co.uk/WarehouseGame.zip Thanks in advance http://www.positech.co.uk

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When I first started working on my puzzle game concept I worked on a simmilar design. Mine was called Veggie Slides, it included cute little vegggies hopping down a line towards some slides. The more of the same type of veggies you could organize in a line to go down the slide togther the more points you got. Veggies would enter at the top of the screen randomly and move towards the slides at the bottom. Like tetris you could only move veggies to the left,right, or down to organize them into lines. The concept was resonably fun to play. ( i made some prototypes)

Much like your game it was a "organize under pressure" type game, like tetris. The biggest issues I ran into with this game was how to answer the following question. What am I going to offer users who upgrade from the shareware version to the full version? The gameplay was so simple that there really wasn''t anything to add that would be a compelling reason for them to upgrade. The level design did not change enough that different looking slides/levels would be enough. Users expect to get more gameplay options when they register but the gameplay was so simple I really couldn''t add anything to make it better without seeming like "fluff". I also couldn''t take away anthing from the gamplay for the shareware version and have it still be fun to play.

In the end I decided that this style of game was better suited to the "bejewled" type of web game then the shareware model.

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I went home and played it on my faster machine. Here are a couple of my thoughts.

I want to be able to click a crate and then use the arrow keys to move it.

I never thought I had enough time to know where the crates were supposed to go. You''ve got a loading dock that, if I knew ahead of time what was supposed to go there, I could preload it, but with the speed of the trucks, I can barely get one box to the dock. Maybe just a slightly better control system would help here.

I''d like to be able to organize my warehouse, but I found with the way it is currently, I could barely get the crates off the truck and into the warehouse and then out a door. Personally, I''d prefer there be a bit more strategy to it, I guess.

Like I said before, I like the idea, and I had a good bit of fun playing with it, even in this early stage.

Mark Fassett
Laughing Dragon Entertainment
http://www.laughing-dragon.com

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The graphics are nice. The idea - crates coming in balanced against crates going out- is ok.

The interface needs a lot of work, but that''s an implementation issue rather than a design issue.

Placement of the exit ramps is a problem. Boxes enter from the left and exit the center ofthe top and bottom edges. This means that the right half of the warehouse is unused. Suggestion: reposition the exit areas at the rightmost edges of the top and bottom faces.

A more funamental problem is that there seems to be very little strategy involved. The path from entrance to exit is constant and unobstructed. When the player fails at his task, the only penalty seems to be the points in the upper right corner, feedback that is out the main area a player watches. A player that needs more time can simply refuse incoming shipments and the warehouse does not get cluttered.

Some suggestions for adding gameplay depth (some are mutually exclusive):

1) Add pattern matching. Require that the outgoing boxes are loaded into the correct order/slots. To do this, change the outgoing platforms to 4 boxes long. Require the player to put the correct box in the correct spot for it to load on the truck.

Alternately, change the outgoing platforms to 1 box wide, and require the outgoing boxes to be loaded in the correct order. Otherwise the player doesn''t get many points. This was successfuly done with the arcade game Burger Time.


2) Variable travel path for the boxes. Have 2 or more loading docks for incoming boxes. this increases the number of routes for boxes to travel, forcing the player to make more decisions.

Perhaps decrease the number of boxes at each source too, so the player spends more tie routing boxes through the warehouse than simple unloading.

With more source points, you could also vary the pace that boxes arrive. Sometimes boxes arrive quickly, sometimes more slowly.


3) Change the game from a twitch puzzle to a turn-based thinking puzzle. Perhaps offer a limited set of places to stack boxes not immediately outbound. Use stacks or queues (or both). Instead of relying on fast reflexes, the player must carefully plan out how to order the storage spaces so that they don''t end up with boxes stuck and unmoving stacks.


4) Add timing problems; slide the boxes. Instead of dictating each move for the boxes, have the player slide them by indicating a direction. Boxes travel on their own until they reach another object. You don''t need to make the setup some sort of difficult maze, but instead have a few well defined and criss-crossing paths.

Then have the player move more than one box at once. If the boxes crash into each other, then they stop, and the player has to manually get them started again, costing time.


HTH,
JSwing

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Make the package entry docks on the left side of the screen..with all out going docks on the right...most facilities use such a structure and it still would allow for some stratigy as there could be 2 incomeing docks and 4 outgoing...or some other mix to keep the player occupied

Another thing...and this is from working at such a facility...it to allow the truck drivers to actually place the packages in the truck as well as remove them.

so here is what I would do:

A truck arrives at one of the left side "recieveing" docks...put a graphic over the truck indicateing the number of packages to be removes as well as a timer indicateing how long the truck is suppost to remain at the location (say 4 packages in 40 seconds)....let the truck remain there untill the packages are taken...but for ''X'' amount of seconds past the deadline subtract points from the player...let the truck driver actually retrieve the packages...all the player would need to do is take the package from where the driver drops it (at the back of the truck) and place it somewhere in the warehouse. as soon as the player moves the last package from where the driver drops it, the truck can leave (stopping the timer)

On the other "out going" side...as each truck arrives...put a timer on it as well as a number indicateing how many packages are left to be loaded (the driver actually loads them...while that player only has to place them at the back of the truck)...now then sense there are, say, four outgoing docks (numbered one to four)...randomly select the appropiate number of packages and place the dock number on them...so the player can tell that such and such a package must go to dock 3, for example...the truck wont leave untill it gets all it''s packages...and any time past that allowed by the timer costs the player points...

so far pretty simple...now add two seperate package types (but make them visably different)...one type is normal...the other is "fragile"...if a fragile and normal type of package are bumpped together then the fragile package breaks, costing the player points in the process...

You can add more depth by createing a number of different package types...you wouldn''t need many (maybe five at most)...purhapse "red" packages cannot be placed right next to "green" ones (red are magnetic...and green are VHS tapes of new films)...placeing them next to each other ruins one (costing points).

then you can add some gameplay "modes"...one could be a realistic version of a distribution warehouse...in which each truck drops off packages of the same type (all red...all fragile)...but the out going trucks require a mix of packages....another mode could be pure randomness...random package types come in...random types go out....or random packages come in and each truck (pulls in at different "outgoing" docks however) requires a number of packages that are all of the same type.

This way you could release a shareware title that only has 2 or 3 of the total package types...and the full version has all 4 or 5 types and different modes...allowing for deeper gameplay.

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I like the idea, but it is simply unplayable right now. The UI and timing is really bad. There are simply too many things to concentrate on, and its not laid out very well. First - don''t start with so many boxes. Maybe 4 in the middle or something. It''s too crowded. Also - its too fast and there are too many things to think about. Make the trucks wait a little longer when dropping off and picking up, not just disappear in 3 seconds. Also, I couldn''t figure out how to get the boxes on the trucks. Any help there?

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why not have some sort of crane system where its point an click.. but u gotta make sure that the tracks for the crane are layed out properly (either by the user or preset/generated).

"The human mind is limited only by the bounds which we impose upon ourselves." -iNfuSeD

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Well I have been playing around with it, and swapped the delivery trucks for one big boat that comes along and unloads lots of stuff. Also the crates now slide until they hit something. I reckon this plays better than it did before, but I''d like to know what others think.
Yes the interface is crap (not really done yet), the graphics are also pants, trust me, it will look fab, I just need to know if this design will work better, layout-wise and gameplay wise.
Thanks!
New version is here:
http://www.positech.co.uk/NewPuzzleGame.zip

http://www.positech.co.uk

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I think the gameplay is improved. I liked being able to fling the crates around the wearhouse, however it interface was a little auckward. It might be more intuative if i could just grab it with the mouse and fling it at any direction i wanted with a large or a small velocity depending on how long i dragged the mouse while i was clicking the box? Just an Idea. However, i''m still not sure how your going to sell this game?
The other thing that wasn''t quite clear to me is what the goal of the game was? i thought I was supposed to empty the wear house, but upon doing so i realized that the "level" wasn''t over so i started unloading the boat like a mad man. There didn''t seem to be clear what I was actually trying to accomplish.

Once you clear a wearhouse you sould get a new one (maby bigger?) with a different layout, kind of like going up a level in tetris. Someting that give the player good intermediate goals. Hope my feedback helps.



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