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Selsesstissan

[4E4] #6: Operation Dog Tag

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We have received a few questions on how to get to the Tanks in the Necro, Inc level so I wanted to clear it up for anyone else who may be having issues. *SPOILER* The Tanks are located inside the chain-link fence area near the beginning of the level. There is a sidewalk beside the fence that slopes upward near one corner of the fence. If you make a running jump towards that corner you can leap the fence and reach the Tank inside. Just run up to the tank to get in, and don't worry about getting stuck inside the fenced area... the tanks can bust thru the chain-link fence by running it over:) Mowing Down Zombies with the Tank

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Oh, hey. That would make the game a bit more fun. I got tired of walking through the entire level, what with the high hitpoints of the zombies and all [smile]. I enjoyed the second level with the jeeps, so I'll try Necro again with the tanks.

Also, did I mention that the destroyed building texture is awesome?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
didnt it say something to the effect of "look for the tank" in the mission objectives? i though it did, maybe i just thought "hey there is a tank I wonder if I can do stuff with it?" Then I got in and was like, "cool". Running down zombies is fun it makes the level easier. making ninjas go flying in the air off the car/dunebuggy is cool too. Their ar some funny easter eggs in the game to, see if you can read the guys shirt and some of the signs. i think there is something silly in the ninja level to but im not sure i only heard/saw it once, so listen closely. i guess ill have to play again to see if i missed anything.
haven't played the other level yet, you can do them in any order.
overall its a cool game ran fine on my 3 year old machine which is cool cause shit craps out easy on it. thanks for makin it dude

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Thanks guys, I'm glad you liked at least part of the game:)

Yes we included a handful of Easter Eggs for players to find. Looking back we should have made the tank a bit more obvious as the Necro level would be really tough and long to walk thru the whole thing. Oops:)

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Original post by Anonymous Poster
didnt it say something to the effect of "look for the tank" in the mission objectives? i though it did, maybe i just thought "hey there is a tank I wonder if I can do stuff with it?" Then I got in and was like, "cool". Running down zombies is fun it makes the level easier. making ninjas go flying in the air off the car/dunebuggy is cool too. Their ar some funny easter eggs in the game to, see if you can read the guys shirt and some of the signs. i think there is something silly in the ninja level to but im not sure i only heard/saw it once, so listen closely. i guess ill have to play again to see if i missed anything.
haven't played the other level yet, you can do them in any order.
overall its a cool game ran fine on my 3 year old machine which is cool cause shit craps out easy on it. thanks for makin it dude


Thanks for the comments, we appreciate them! Although, it would be nice if you were logged in :)

Quote:
Original post by nes8bit
Isn't a tank overkill for those poor defenseless zombies? :(


Yes! But I think it's kinda fun ;-)

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Original post by AnonymousPosterChild
are there any cheat codes? Something along the lines of "make zombies not require 100 rounds to kill"?


If you right click, you have a grenade launcher... Also, if you find the rocket launcher, and you can use both bullets, and grenades, and press "r" to fire rockets. You can find ammo powerups for each placed around the levels. They should help with dispatching enemies.

There's the tank as well.

Good luck! [smile]

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I would also recommend remapping the rockets to a third mouse button if you have one. That was how it originally played, but then I thought some people may not have a third mouse button and the default was changed.

All keys can be remapped in the options, as well as the mouse sensitivity and a reverse mouse setting for those of you that play FPS's like it was a flight sim:)

Another thing I forgot to mention, the game's progress is saved by the player name you use when starting a server. If you beat a level and quit you can come back later, type in the same name for your player and continue with the beaten levels. The game only saves completed levels though and not progress mid level.

Also, to start a new game you can either delete the savefile in the games directory with your players name, OR just use a new name for your player.

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Really? Hmm, did you have the rocket launcher? The default weapon can't fire rockets, you have to find the rocket launcher (there are a few in each level, sometimes they are hidden). If you had the launcher and it still didnt work try remapping the key in the options screen. You just have to click on the action in the list you want to remap, then hit the key you want to remap it to. You can bring up this screen in-game by hitting escape.

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I was pleasantly suprised to get this running on my GF2MX based Duron750 system. I selected 640x480 and it was pretty fluid, and I didn't notice any jaggies which left me wondering how that is the case?
It slowed down quite a bit when close to an enemy but was still playable even when 8 pirates were hopping after me.
The polish was the main thing that impressed me - the well-done manual for instance, and an intro 'movie'. However I've no idea how it'll score- I don't know how much more the coding is than 'drop some animations into a 3D world in Ogre', and I don't know how much the judging cares about amount of coding done for the entry. But I'd expect this to make top-10.

Only complaint - no sound or music on my system, which has never had sound problems before. Perhaps it's an OpenAL issue?

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Wow man, actually I'm surprised you were able to run it ok on those specs. We tested on a 1.1 Athlon with a GF2MX and it was ok, but I figured anything lower would chug. Nice!

We have noticed sound issues with OpenAL on some older cards and in Win98. That's really too bad cause the music and sound was a good portion of our entry... o well.

The coding was actually a hell of a lot more than just dropping animations in, (not to mention having 2 programmers trying to learn how to model and animate in just a few months is a project in itself). We basically had to do an overhaul of many parts of Torque to get it to do what we wanted. Especially with the buggy and tank handling and the turret cam on the tank. We basically spent the first 2-3 months working in the engine and creating the scripts we would need, then spent the last month and a half creating the levels and finishing up the content.

To anyone interested in ramping up their coding skills I would definitely recommend grabbing an engine like Torque where you can get the source-code and get your hands dirty. It took awhile to get used to, especially how to make new objects and not break the client/server console object model they have. And I'm sure there are many other choices besides Torque for this too, I'm just recommending what I know.

Our biggest complaints about the engine were issues with physics and collision and the OpenAL implementation. There just wasnt enough time to rewrite either of these and still get a game out with just 2 of us coding. Our next goal now that the contest is over is a complete overhaul of the audio subsystem and implementing the newer OpenAL 1.1 specs.

Anyway, Thanks for the comments and hopefully you'll get the chance to play it with sounds eventually.

Just out of curiousity, what OS and soundcard are you running on?

And I'd like to mention a special thanks to Klora Jardi for the hard work on our manual. It makes the rest of our game look like programmer art:)

[Edited by - Selsesstissan on November 8, 2005 9:59:41 AM]

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Oh it wasn't meant to sound derogatory - just wasn't sure what the engine did already.

My system has Win2K, DX9.0c and I don't know what the soundcard is. It is a separate card, not onboard sound, but it is about 5 years old. However like I said I've not come across other games that didn't like it since sound cards are pretty simple compared to GPUs!

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I would say that out of the few entries that I have played, Operation Dog Tag has been my favorite. It actually had a substantial amount of gameplay, and had some nice little polishes, like the well done user manual. At some points it almost felt like serious sam, especially when mowing down a group of pirates.

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Original post by d000hg
I was pleasantly suprised to get this running on my GF2MX based Duron750 system. I selected 640x480 and it was pretty fluid, and I didn't notice any jaggies which left me wondering how that is the case?


Wow cool! That's definitely the lowest specs we've heard about our game running on!

Quote:
Original post by d000hg
However I've no idea how it'll score- I don't know how much more the coding is than 'drop some animations into a 3D world in Ogre', and I don't know how much the judging cares about amount of coding done for the entry. But I'd expect this to make top-10.


Oh if only it were that easy[smile]... We actually ended up doing alot more engine programming on this project than we had anticipated, most of it fixing Torque bugs, and adding features we needed the engine to have, like the camera code for the tank. I'd definitely recommend Torque for making games, but only to someone who has a strong background in programming and basic understanding of 3d math.

Quote:
Original post by d000hg
Only complaint - no sound or music on my system, which has never had sound problems before. Perhaps it's an OpenAL issue?


Yep, I think it's OpenAL. We've had some people report issues with certain sound cards. It's too bad, because we put alot of work and money(around $700 US) into the sounds in the game. Which sound card / driver do you have so we can check into it?

Anyway, thanks for playing, and thanks for the comments!

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Original post by d000hg
Oh it wasn't meant to sound derogatory - just wasn't sure what the engine did already.

My system has Win2K, DX9.0c and I don't know what the soundcard is. It is a separate card, not onboard sound, but it is about 5 years old. However like I said I've not come across other games that didn't like it since sound cards are pretty simple compared to GPUs!


Oh, sorry I misunderstood the comment. The engine does handle a ton of stuff out of the box, but in a generic way. And there were many bugs to fix.

The card wouldnt happen to be a Aureal vortex or vortex2 chip would it? I know there are issues with those chips for OpenAL. Other than that I'm not sure. Although to be honest, I've encountered many times that when a game crashes to desktop its actually an issue with the sound driver implementation.

It could also have to do with an existing OpenAL driver installed on your system that isnt compatible with the version we used... who knows. If I ever figure it out I'll let you know.

Quote:
Original post by Moe
I would say that out of the few entries that I have played, Operation Dog Tag has been my favorite. It actually had a substantial amount of gameplay, and had some nice little polishes, like the well done user manual. At some points it almost felt like serious sam, especially when mowing down a group of pirates.


Hey thanks Moe! We were striving to get the feel of mowing down tons of enemies. I actually would have put even more in but it would have been too much for the min specs of the contest with our current models.

Has anyone tried playing multiplayer yet?

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I've not been able to find what exactly my card is in the past -the drivers probably ahven't ever been updated because without a decent internet connection I can't let it go and look for one.
I'll try again to find the chipset - if I can find newer drivers that fix it then it's not your problem (although why OpenAL should have a problem I don't know)!
Does the game produce any kind of error log so we could see what exactly is failing - as long as I don't have to go through a 90Mb download again I could run a debug/special .exe that has some output...

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Original post by d000hg
I've not been able to find what exactly my card is in the past -the drivers probably ahven't ever been updated because without a decent internet connection I can't let it go and look for one.
I'll try again to find the chipset - if I can find newer drivers that fix it then it's not your problem (although why OpenAL should have a problem I don't know)!
Does the game produce any kind of error log so we could see what exactly is failing - as long as I don't have to go through a 90Mb download again I could run a debug/special .exe that has some output...


We did have Logging but I disabled it for the contest version. Although even the logs we did have wouldnt be helpful for openAL debugging, thats one of the big TODO's on our upcoming overhaul:) It seems in the current version of Torque there isnt much error checking in the audio framework going on, so I'm in the process of adding that.

If you do find out the chipset and let us know that would help a ton. What I can do if you're willing to help us out is add logging info to a new .exe build and send you the link to get it. It would just be the exe so would only be a few megs. I dont think I'll have time to mess with it much until the end of this week/beginning of next tho.

Anyway, thanks man!

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You know you guys should have won this contest. As soon as I saw screenshots I actually listed Dog Tag on top as far as direct competition with my project. So at the risk of sounding like a complete ass I'm going to tell you what I believe went wrong.

First I'd like to say that I really respect the fact that you guys were on time and met your milestones with no problem. You guys had been so far ahead that you were able to implement multiplayer. Your assets were decent, your engine was excellent, but for some reason your game was lacking. The reason I'm posting this is because I know your game could have been placed so much higher with some extremely minor adjustments.

The Theory
There is one thing about any sort of form of entertainment and that is, you must capture your audience in 5 minutes or less. Really they should be interested in about 2 minutes or you've probably lost your audience forever. Once you have their short term attention, you have to keep their long term attention. I'm telling you...people have such short attention spans its not even funny.

People on this site are far more generous than most crowds I've seen. I'm sure most of them played through just to see what the competition is like. However, I guarantee you that most people that don't know you and that don't have any sort of feel for development would have totally shut your game off in the first 5 minutes.

So lets just say you have 4 minutes and 45 seconds after loading time. Your intro was too long. On top of that, I didn't feel that the intro connected me with the story at all. Even if it did connect the game, it didn't feel like that. It was something you should have caught in focus group testing. If you did have a focus group, then your focus group was either the wrong people or you didn't listen to them.

Now lets say theoretically they immediately clicked through the intro. So now you have 4 minutes 45 seconds to catch their interest in game play. Well first of all the whole "connect to server" idea was really confusing and nearly intimidating to me at first. If I was a noob end user I would have had to look at the game manual at that point. You don't want that to happen because you've already broken suspension of disbelief. In other words...if your intro kicked ass and they got hyped to play the game, then their groove would have been ruined by a complicated interface. They should be able to get in the game with like 3 simple clicks without reading...

Other things I have to complain about is the fact that your rockin' rocker music was far too loud and distracting for menu music. The music should compliment the game, not overshadow it. If you wanted to go with that music then you would have needed a much more exciting and active menu screen. In other words no music would have been much more professional in this case.

Gameplay
Ok ok...so lets say they figured it out quickly and now they have 4 minutes flat. Consider 45 seconds for navigating the menu + optimistic loading times.

Consider this scenerio: You have 4 minutes to capture your audience in level 1. The environment is really cool looking! Lets investigate... Can't find any enemies...you already lost a minute just walking up to the first enemy. Then your first enemy takes forever to kill...now you lost 1.5 minutes. Now they have to walk around a lot more just to find the next few enemies. Thats 2 minutes...and already I'm losing interest because the enemies are so hard to kill. And it repeats... By now you need a miracle to gain interest and retain it.

I hope you can see where I'm going. These are things that your focus group should have caught. You should have observed the frustration in them not being able to kill the enemies easily. Someone mentioned a rocket launcher...you should have noted the fact that the players probably didn't use the rocket launcher.

Did you know you can literally run from start to finish without firing at anything? Thats exactly what I did. I finally shut it off because I got bored.


Proper Game Flow
Imagine this...

###### Frustrating ######

-----Game Flow--->

###### Boring ######

Game flow is what your player "feels". Now game flow goes up and down. So it gets hard and it gets easy. You should strive to keep it right in the middle. Its almost impossible to keep it in the middle for everyone. So really the game flow pattern fluctuates. You want the majority of your target market to stay in the middle somewhere. So in other words good game flow goes in between frustrating and boring. Once your game is too easy then it becomes boring. Once your game gets too hard then it becomes frustrating.

In dog tag, the game got furstrating right when it took 1000000 bullets to kill a zombie. So immediately I hit the ceiling. Then the game got really easy once I realized I can run away and not get hit. Then it got boring and hit the floor. See how this could have been avoided in polish?

Finally...
In short this is what you messed up on:
* Intro - Too long and not entertaining at all
* Menu - Complicated server/menu system
* Music - Out-of-place
* Game flow went from too boring to too frustrating too quickly. In other words it takes forever to kill a zombie (frustrating) and yet you can run away from them really quickly (boring)


I was gunning for you guys. I really wished you guys would have wiped the floor with the competition. You guys had something going, but probably slipped in the polish phase. Maybe you didn't hit a milestone, but I honestly think dog tag could have been 100x better than it is right now just from utilizing quality control a little more.

Anyway I'm being blunt while trying to be tactful at the same time. Thats pretty hard to do especially when you aren't sure of criticism is welcome. So I hope you guys don't take this in a negative way. I'm only posting this because I know you guys have potential. I know you guys could have done so much better. So hopefully you can use this information to build a much better game in the future.

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Hey nes, thanks for the reply. Thats actually the kind of comments I was looking for and I am REALLY PISSED OFF that the judges were not REQUIRED to give that kind of feedback instead of some number.

Anyway on to your comments:

Intro music: I guess this one goes more to personal taste, altho I can see how maybe the volume was too loud.

Confusing menu: I agree on this one, looking back we should have had a seperate button from single and multiplayer, that way the player trying single player for the first time could just jump right into the game.

Zombies taking too many shots: This was partially a design flaw and partially a bug that we didnt have time to go back and fix. Originally the idea was the zombies would take a few hits and fall down, then get back up after a few seconds. Due to some animation bugs in torque we could not get this to work right, sometimes it would and sometimes it wouldnt. We were discussing what to do about it when 2 huge crash to desktop bugs appeared and basically ate the last week and a half of development time. So much so that I took 2 days off of work and stayed up all weekend at the end until I finally found the issue.

We did discover that you could run away from the enemies but it was too late to implement some way to counter it. One method we thought about doing was adding a score, that would give the players another reason to kill stuff (to increase their score value). The biggest issue we discovered at the end was players never found the tank in the zombie level, not finding the tank really changed the dynamics of the level and made it far too long and boring. If we were to go back I would have made the tank much more obvious or maybe even required to open the next area or something.

Not sure why some people wouldnt use the rockets... in testing players fired grenades and rockets all the time. Personally I thought they were the fun part, but maybe the remapping to the R button was the problem? I did this because I wanted to make sure all players could fire rockets without requiring a 3 button mouse (the keys could be remapped but maybe that just wasnt obvious enough).

What I think some of our biggest issues:
1 - The AI, or lack thereof. We implemented enough AI to know where the player was but the enemies were stupid and had no pathfinding. This was mostly due to lack of time again.

2 - Levels were too big and empty. The funny thing about this is I should already know this because its something I complain about in other games:) I think it mostly boils down to the fact we didnt get started on level design until September, up until that point we were learning and trying to fix up Torque to the point we could use it.

3 - Zombies taking too many hits... We should have added another zombie type that was easy to kill and have more of them for at least the beginning of the level, then ramp up the difficulty as you play thru. Again the issue with this was we could only add a handful of enemies before the game started skipping animations (You can see this happen right before the first tunnel with the number of zombies spawned there).

4 - Scope. We were in way over our heads from the beginning with the scope we tried. We did a lot of things in the game but none of them were done really well. Its just something you can only learn from experience. For our next game we plan to start much smaller in scale. The scope of the game was just too huge for 2 guys to do.

But, in the end this is really a huge success for us. Our main goal for Operation Dog Tag was for us to learn the torque engine and complete our first real game. We have learned a ton about what we can and can't do on our own, the ins and outs of torque and where we want to add/fix the engine and a bunch on scope and game development. I am still really angry with the lack of feedback from the judges, but the rest of you guys have been great for feedback and comments... Thanks, and we'll keep you posted on our next game that we plan to start working on in January.

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Original post by Selsesstissan
Thats actually the kind of comments I was looking for and I am REALLY PISSED OFF that the judges were not REQUIRED to give that kind of feedback instead of some number.


I'm sorry you are upset that it is not a requirement, however, due to other obligations some of us judges could not devote the time to write up detailed comments on each and every entry. Hence, it is not a requirement. We may not have had the results for another 2 months, otherwise.

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Original post by Selsesstissan
I am REALLY PISSED OFF that the judges were not REQUIRED to give that kind of feedback instead of some number.
Chill. You think we're not going to give you any more in-depth feedback, that we don't want to help you improve your game? The priority was to get the numbers done so we could figure out who won. Detailed feedback comes after that; so far I've written 1,500 words in my 4E4 postmortem and I'm only about a third of the way through. You'll get your feedback, but I've got a lot of other things to do at the moment, including performing a play, taking a bungee jump harnessing exam, site development work, and - oh yeah - my university course. I appreciate that you've worked on this stuff for up to five months, but I'm going as fast as I can. Being REALLY PISSED OFF at me and my colleages isn't going to help anyone.

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Original post by Selsesstissan
Hey nes, thanks for the reply. Thats actually the kind of comments I was looking for and I am REALLY PISSED OFF that the judges were not REQUIRED to give that kind of feedback instead of some number.


Well I'm glad the comments were useful then. I was actually hoping the judges would post comments with the results too. But I guess as the staff has said in this thread, they'll post them soon enough.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
Intro music: I guess this one goes more to personal taste, altho I can see how maybe the volume was too loud.


Its not the volume that I was talking about actually. The song is too busy for the menu. The only way I can see the music working for the menu is to have the menu be more active. Maybe put some crazy AVI in the background or something. The audio and video should compliment each other. In this case it conflicts. Just imagine this...imagine putting rammstein to ballet. It won't work.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
Confusing menu: I agree on this one, looking back we should have had a seperate button from single and multiplayer, that way the player trying single player for the first time could just jump right into the game.


Yeah thats the solution I would have went with too. For future refrence, try to assume that the majority of your players will never even touch multiplayer. The reason I say this is because again, people have short attention spans. Most of them will skip through the intro and look for the "new game" button immediately. Its like the stereotype of the guy that doesn't like looking at the instruction manual before putting together his stereo system.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
Zombies taking too many shots: This was partially a design flaw and partially a bug that we didnt have time to go back and fix. Originally the idea was the zombies would take a few hits and fall down, then get back up after a few seconds. Due to some animation bugs in torque we could not get this to work right, sometimes it would and sometimes it wouldnt. We were discussing what to do about it when 2 huge crash to desktop bugs appeared and basically ate the last week and a half of development time. So much so that I took 2 days off of work and stayed up all weekend at the end until I finally found the issue.


Well you spent two weeks on it and if it took two weeks more to perfect it you should have. Above all this was the biggest complaint I saw among other people as well. You know what your solution could have been? Make the rocket launcher the primary weapon. ;)

This is roughly how I categorize the most important aspects of FPS gameplay
#1 - Player Look Movement
#2 - Player Keyboard Movement
#3 - Gun
#4 - Enemies
#5 - Enviornment
#6 - Enemy Graphics
#7 - Environment Graphics
#8 - Gun Graphics

You have your most important things being things that are "close" to the player on the top. Your movement has to be *perfect* and by perfect I mean it has to be what they expect to use. So basically you can't divert from UT/Q3. I digress. The gun has to have surrealistic movement and sounds to provide the player with proper feedback. So those are the elements on the top. I bet you'd agree that those are some of the most important feedback elements. Well I put enemies right at the top also. The reason I do this is because next so using the controls all the time, the player will be focusing all their attention at shooting enemies. So its pretty reasonable to assume that if your environment is cool and your enemies suck, then its unlikely that the player will like your game. The reason is that your environment won't give your players feedback, but your enemies will.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
We did discover that you could run away from the enemies but it was too late to implement some way to counter it. One method we thought about doing was adding a score, that would give the players another reason to kill stuff (to increase their score value).

Simple...slow down fast player movement. It was kind of hard to just run away from them when walking. But running was so fast that I could just breeze through the level. Also there were those shotgun zombies. You could have made those do more damage. The other thing I would have suggested is putting in way more enemies. For the size of the level, they were too few and to far apart. In an infested city I would expect to see swarms. Thats a matter of personal prefrence I guess though.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
The biggest issue we discovered at the end was players never found the tank in the zombie level, not finding the tank really changed the dynamics of the level and made it far too long and boring. If we were to go back I would have made the tank much more obvious or maybe even required to open the next area or something.


Yeah making that obvious would have really made your game so much cooler. You should have just stuck it in the middle of the street. Even though it wouldn't make much sense, the player wouldn't really care that it was random when they're too busy blowing stuff up. Its hard to break suspended disbelief with silly misplacements like that.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
Not sure why some people wouldnt use the rockets...


When I played it, I didn't even know it existed.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
What I think some of our biggest issues:
1 - The AI, or lack thereof. We implemented enough AI to know where the player was but the enemies were stupid and had no pathfinding. This was mostly due to lack of time again.


AI didn't need path finding. There just needed to be more of it. Pathfinding would be nice though.

Quote:
Original post by Selsesstissan
4 - Scope. We were in way over our heads from the beginning with the scope we tried. We did a lot of things in the game but none of them were done really well. Its just something you can only learn from experience. For our next game we plan to start much smaller in scale. The scope of the game was just too huge for 2 guys to do.


Hells naw! Thats why I have respect for your team. You guys, just like my team, went above and beyond. The only difference is that you delivered. Thats one of my peeves about this contest. Too many people went with the safe choice of making some 2d rts mmorpg game of some sort. I prefer to make something entertaining rather than "safe".

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