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Droopy

Browser Game: Is it Entertaining Enough?

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This may be in the wrong topic, but I didn't think it belonged in Announcements since the game is far from complete and I am just looking for feedback before I go too far into development. The game is here: http://www.heroesofearth.net/Balloons The concept is that there are "balloons" (read: circles) that are inflating and you have to keep them from touching. Clicking on a balloon greatly decreases its radius, but inflates the others even more. As I said, I didn't want to spend too much time on it if the idea is bogus, but if you think it could work, some of the things I was thinking of adding are: -Randomly colored balloons to create variety -Restart when the screen is filled, rather than having to refresh the page -Possibly balloons could "pop" is they get too big Anyway, any feedback is appreciated.

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I'll be honest: I didn't actually play your game because it appears to require java, and I detest java, so I don't have it installed on my machine, and the machine I had access to with java didn't like your site in either Firefox or IE, so I'm just going to use my imagination. I'll try to describe my thought process in detail so you can see what assumptions I've made that may be wrong. Of course, I may be so totally off-base that nothing I post here will help in the slightest.

It seems that the problem would be that total amount of... well I guess helium or air... in play would always be increasing. I can temporarily reduce a balloon's size at the cost of spreading out the lost air to the other balloons, increasing their size slightly and keeping the total amount of air the same (which then increases on its own). This system, obviously, will reach a point where it will be impossible to continue.

If you think about it, this isn't all that different from a game everyone is familiar with: Tetris. The field of play in Tetris is always gaining blocks, and you merely get to arrange them and delay the inevitable collapse of the system. Except of course that Tetris offers a way to continue indefinitely by removing blocks from the field when they form a complete horizontal line.

Like I said, not sure if that observation will help since I haven't actually played your game.

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Thanks for the feedback, I now realize I forgot to mention a few of the specifics about the deflation/inflation that could potentially make gameplay last longer than you imagine (though not indefinite by any means).

-Balloons deflate faster than the total inflation of the other balloons (slightly, though this should probably be increased)
-A balloon deflated to or past a radius of 0 will disappear
-Players are given incentive to keep large balloons as long as possible, as they increase the score by more


I'm sorry to hear that you are so gung-ho against Java, may I ask why specifically?

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I have java standard edition with the latest updates and I still can't play your game. Java SE loads up and then it just stays a blank white screen.

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Very strange.... It works on my Mac using Firefox, Camino, Opera, and Safari.......
I switched from using update() to paint(), but I'm not sure if that will make a difference. Can someone try it and get back to me?

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I get a white box as well when I use Firefox, but it seems to work fine with Internet Explorer (I have version 6.0).

Ok so about the game - pretty cool, its like a reflex game where you have to be quick on your feet (or in this case, finger). I found a gamebreaker however, and that is if you suppress any balloons from forming in the beginning (deflate the first one you see to 0, then the next to 0) you could worm your way to a high score and never get a game over, which wouldn't be much fun when played this way. However, if you don't use that gamebreaker at all and let a couple of balloons size up in the beginning and then start playing, it was a lot more entertaining. It became a lot more hectic as the balloons got pretty big and you have rush around the screen trying to keep everything under control. I found that by using your peripheral vision (locking your eyes to the center of the screen without moving them) you could play the game a lot more effectively, making the game a reflex exercise that you could play casually any time.

Quote:
-Randomly colored balloons to create variety

Colors could definitely help with the reflexes, as you could then distinguish balloons a little better.

Quote:
-Restart when the screen is filled, rather than having to refresh the page

Yes, that is definitely needed, restart when you get a game over condition.

Quote:
-Possibly balloons could "pop" is they get too big

If you make balloons pop when they get too big, then that would probably defeat the original goal of the game, which is to prevent them from getting too big that they touch each other. So I wouldn't make them pop at all, just continuously and infinitely get bigger and see how long the player can last, just like how in Tetris each level gets continuously harder in terms of the block's falling speed.

-

Here is an idea for you to mix things up a bit, you can take it or leave it: in addition to what you have, you could also add in other ways that air could be transferred from one balloon to the next, and show this on the screen so that the player will know. For instance, two balloons might be linked together with a tube, so that when you deflate one, only the other it was connected with will be inflated. You could do various connections like this involving varied numbers of balloons, in various connection patterns. In this way, you could allow your connections to be randomized each game, allowing greater replayability, as well as introduce levels that progress in difficulty (in their complexity of connections) if you want.

[Edited by - Tangireon on September 18, 2008 3:18:31 PM]

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I just don't like the java VM. Its always seemed kludgy and virtually useless to boot. Its not a big deal.

Anyways, with the new information you gave, it seems that it is a game of triage, basically. I'd guess that would be mildly amusing for a short time. The player would find the optimum priority queuing too quickly, I think, and then be bored. You could try things like having different colored balloons inflate at different rates, to give the player more options to explore in their internal priority queuing. Or have some balloons (obviously visually indicated to the player) that instead of merely popping and no longer giving the player points, could have really nasty effects, but also give mad points while inflating.

There are plenty of options for expanding the concept.

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Thanks for the replies!

Tangireon: Yeah, the popping idea is no good, I'm not sure why I thought it would be in the first place. Strangely enough, I was thinking of a "tubing" idea, though a bit different from what you described. I was thinking if a player needed to quickly decrease the size of a certain balloon (say a bunch of others were getting to close to it), he could draw a line from one balloon to another, and this would share the "air" between them, rapidly changing them to equal sizes, then the tube would disappear. Maybe this ability combined with your concept (with your permission, of course) would expand the playability substantially.

Majorlag: Different inflation speeds and "trap" balloons are a definite possibility as well, I will keep those in mind.

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OK everyone, I added a few things:

-Circles look more like bubbles
-Random colors generated for each new bubble
-Player can hold space to draw a pipe between 2 balloons to share the air between them
-When a player loses, any key can be pressed (except space) to restart

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Interesting game concept, though:

1, If you added double buffering and possibly active rendering you could get rid of the annoying flickering.

2, The best strategy seems to kill all the balloons except one in the corner and just let it keep expanding until it takes up the entire screen and other ballons can't spawn.

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Thanks for the post Kaze!

I always forget that flickering can be a problem as I've never noticed any on my Mac for some reason. I double buffered the applet, but like I said I can't see any difference, so is the flickering under control now?

Also, yes monopolizing the screen with one balloon could pose a problem. What if instead of popping if they get too big, there could be a maximum radius for them? Say, 1/3 or 1/4 of the screen size?

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Hi,

I just had a play (works fine for me using Firefox and didn't notice any flickering).

The tubing idea sounds like it's got some potential but I'm not sure about it's current implementation. I found that using it actually made life more difficult than just clicking to reduce a problem balloon's size, as I'd be forced to take my attention away from other balloons for a second or so. It just doesn't strike me as a very useful tool, so I'd be tempted not to use it at all as you can make plenty of points by just managing the size of balloons individually.

However, if you were to give a point score incentive for using the feature I'd find myself looking for ways to include it in my game-plan. Perhaps the score you gain could be relative to the amount of air transferred, causing a player to put themselves into situations where they're turning one dangerously big balloon and one tiny one into two more difficult to monitor medium sized balloons. All this would be happening while paying less attention to the rest of the play area.

The choice would be to either leave things as they are and just regulate the balloon sizes, slowly increasing your points, or increase the risk of losing but also the rate of point gain. It opens up the available strategies a little.

Anyway, it looks like you're on the way to making quite an addictive little game there, keep it up!

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Put happy faces on those balloons! Or some other type of pictures. It would make it comical!

-

Quote:
Original post by Droopy
Also, yes monopolizing the screen with one balloon could pose a problem. What if instead of popping if they get too big, there could be a maximum radius for them? Say, 1/3 or 1/4 of the screen size?

Yes, limit the sizes of the balloons so you won't be able to use that as a gamebreaker. I would say a lot smaller than 1/4 of the screen, probably as wide (diameter-wise) as three of your fingers.

You know what, the monopolizing problem is probably not due to the unlimited sizes of your balloons, it's probably because you're only spawning new balloons one after the other - if you were to spawn a cluster of them at once, then you wouldn't be able to monopolize with a single balloon in the first place, as then players wouldn't be able to suppress all of those balloons at the same time.

[Edited by - Tangireon on October 1, 2008 4:19:34 PM]

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Thanks guys! I liked the faces idea, so I drew up some expressions for the balloons, getting more and more distressed as they get bigger. I also set up the scoring system so that transferring air from one balloon to another greatly increases your score.

Something else I did was to start balloons at with a small radius instead of 0, to make it harder to get rid of each balloon as soon as they spawn. I also capped the balloons at a radius of 100 pixels and gave them a slight "bobbing" motion to make the scene look a little more interesting when the maximum radius is reached and it also makes it harder to just keep the cursor in the center of a balloon and click repeatedly.

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Quote:
Original post by Droopy
...so I drew up some expressions for the balloons, getting more and more distressed as they get bigger

LOL oh lord. That's cute, really really cute. I love it.

Maybe you could also buy special instruments once you get enough points on your score, like a needle (disposable 1-time use) to pop the balloons or a scissor (also one-time use) to cut the lines of the rope so to free up some space.

Quote:
Original post by Droopy
Maybe this ability combined with your concept (with your permission, of course) would expand the playability substantially.

Well you could try it out, I'm just throwing out some things you could do to vary the game (freely, without any attachments). The pre-connected tubes that I mentioned in that post could probably have a bunch of flags hanging along its length, like this:



[Edited by - Tangireon on October 1, 2008 11:35:24 PM]

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One more update before I head off to bed.....

I liked the idea of special tools and i worked in a toolbar on the left (show and hide with the 't' key) of a hand (the regular effect), a pair of scissors, and a needle. These will be added to eventually but for now they become available to use when the score reaches a certain limit.

The scissors cause the balloon to float up out of the screen, potentially hitting other ones on its way, and the needle simply removes the balloon.

Hopefully if I feel motivated enough the player will be able to spend their points to buy these things for one-time use, I'll add animation for the explosions and fly-away balloons, and maybe even a 'pop' sound effect.

Thanks again for the feedback and support!

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I played it and it worked great for me, until a balloon popped when the game just ended, I think. I think its pretty good for a very simple web game. As suggested above, a needle which instantly destroys a balloon might add a little variety (right click to pop?). You could also vary the rate at which the balloons inflate (if it isn't already).

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I don't know about actually spending points on the stuff.. maybe you just get to choose one of the power ups every n points. And you can accumulate that number. Say it is every 50,000 points, then once you hit 100,000 you could use any power up you wanted two times (not necessarily the same one). Otherwise what would be the point of ever using them? You finally get that score and it drops dramatically because you bought a power up... kinda makes the score and all the work you put into it pointless (no pun intended). Just a thought... but it was a fun few minutes game!

Cheers
-Scott

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My thoughts:
-interface and controls are unintuitive
-Goal/end game condition was not obvious
-Able to get an effectively infinite number of points easily once you get to the pin option (just let ~4 balloons fill up, and pop all others that show up). Maybe you should increase the rate of creation of balloons as game goes on?

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Just a quick thought that would improve the graphics quality by a ton, turn on antialiasing, it would help if you are drawing the balloons using the drawOval function in java.awt.Graphics. Do the following to turn on antialiasing in your paint method.

Graphics2D g2d = (Graphics2D)g;
g2d.setRenderingHint(RenderingHints.KEY_ANTIALIASING, RenderingHints.VALUE_ANTIALIAS_ON);

Then whenever you use the "g2d" object to draw primitives it performs antialiasing operations to give you smooth appearing primitives.

Other than that, I'm still playing around with it but it seems like an interesting concept so far.

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