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Beta test my game (Mage Tower).

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Hi, Mage Tower is a game in Flash. It's a bit inspired by Chip's Challenge. There are almost 50 levels. I won't say much about it for the rest, the game should speak for itself! Would you like to beta test it? That could help finding some bugs, problematic level design, whether the puzzles are too hard or too easy, etc... It's in Flash, so just follow the link and you're immediately able to play it! All (constructive) comments are welcome. Thanks a lot! http://members.gamedev.net/lode/games/magetower/tower.swf

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The game plays well, and reminds me of Chip's Challenge a lot ;)
I didn't get too far, but it seems like a game that could glue me to the screen for quite a while if it wasn't for the fact that I don't have the time for it.

The only thing I found that could be improved, is the movements, it's way too slow to respond, and seems to queue up if you press fast.

Good luck getting it out of beta, it seems to be very close to done =)

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Quote:
Original post by wildex999
The only thing I found that could be improved, is the movements, it's way too slow to respond, and seems to queue up if you press fast.


Hmm, some other guy who playtested it earlier, asked for the queueing of the keys, and so I implemented that with an array that remembers the last 4 short "taps" you do on the keys. E.g. if you press 2 times right, 2 times up, in a short succession, your guy will really go 2 times right and 2 times up. Only, it responds slow because the game works with "ticks", you can only move during the same ticks where the rest of the world (such as monsters) moves. I admit it responds a bit in an annoying way sometimes, but it's hard to find something that works well.

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Well done. I always loved Chip's Challenge. This game reminds of those days.

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Excellent, excellent, excellent!

I played through the whole game, from start to finish. I didn't have the time to complete the puzzle on level 46 without the second hint, although it would have been more fun to stick with it. I tried not to focus on what the solution looked like, so I might be able to come back to it on a later date.

What I liked about your game is that had resemblances to Chu Chu Rocket, Zelda, and a slew of other puzzle-oriented games. What made it even better was that the puzzles types weren't repeated more than once, and the second version always had a twist.

I wanted to point out that I did find a couple of minor bugs, although they didn't detract from gameplay:

1. If timed right, when a monster walked toward the player, the player could pass through the monster, unharmed.
2. On one occasion, when I tossed a brown block across the ice into the water, it sat on top without converting to a floor tile. (See the attached photo).
3. On the "monster factory" level, it was much easier to let the monsters build up than to direct them toward the mines.

Overall, it was a great way to chill out for a little bit, and I'm impressed by the complexity and variety of the puzzles. The only other thing that I would add is a breakdown at the end of the game of the total time, steps, and pushes that were taken. I don't know how much it would reward the player, but it'd at least be helpful for you. (I.E. I might have sent you my stats for analysis).

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

EDIT: As a matter of fact, I don't think this is a bug. I think there was a floor tile below the brown block, so it didn't slide further.

[Edited by - anothrguitarist on January 23, 2009 10:57:29 PM]

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Thanks for the thorough testing!

1. Is indeed a bug. As a matter of fact, I had only noticed this bug while carrying the sword, I didn't know it could also happen at a moment where you should in fact die.
2. Is indeed not a bug, there was a floor tile, probably from a previous block =)
3. Monster Factory is a bit a weird level, but when I tried it, it could go faster with the help of blocks, because when not using them, monsters get stuck in the gaps in the hallways. Though since I've heard complaints about the monster factory from other too, I might revise it for a next version...

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The only problem I see is the performance, there seems to be 1/3 second or something like that lag between me pushing an arrow key and the hero moving. The command queue helps but if you're not careful it can also kill you. There must be something you can do to remove this lag. Do you need any more information?

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Quote:
Original post by LockeCole
The only problem I see is the performance, there seems to be 1/3 second or something like that lag between me pushing an arrow key and the hero moving. The command queue helps but if you're not careful it can also kill you. There must be something you can do to remove this lag. Do you need any more information?


There is a clock ticking in the game. Every tick, everything moves (the monsters, things on ice, ...). The ticks have the speed of something moving on ice, on land it moves every two ticks.

Since everything can only move once per tick, and your character moves at the same time as the monsters, if you press an arrow key, your character will only move once the tick is there.

A tick is 40ms (that's what I set the timer to in Flash, but in practice it turns out to be slower, even when it's using less than 10% CPU).

Any ideas how I can make this game feel less laggy, and still have the ticks?

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Yeah, Instead of the character and monsters teleporting, make them move from one tile to the next, and make it use about one tick to do so, this way it looks like everything is moving, yet it actually only moves once per second. For example:
I'm standing on a tile, and press left, the character starts to slowly move to the left(if he can), and by the next tick, he is at the next tile. This way you also know that no matter how fast you press left, it won't move faster. The method you use now it might seems like there is input lag, and that you might move faster if you press faster.

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You could using a tweening library. At each tick, you tween objects to their new positions. What it would do is give a visual cue of movement, and you can implement this with queueing.

I recommend TweenLite
http://blog.greensock.com/tweenliteas3/

Very easy to use

:)

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Quote:
Original post by Lode
1. Is indeed a bug. As a matter of fact, I had only noticed this bug while carrying the sword, I didn't know it could also happen at a moment where you should in fact die.


As a matter of fact, I think I only encountered the bug when I had a sword on the spider level. It's possible that the problem occurs during normal movement as well, but I don't recall observing it at any other time.

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The music sounds compressed.

Some point in level 4, it seems you intentionally set a trap to kill the player with monsters. It's annoying that you wait half the level to do this.

I like that some things, you teach the player without a text box. However, there are some things you can let the player figure out, but don't. (Like how different enemies behave differently. This is already expected.)

Level 7 was very short compared to any earlier level. 8 too.

Many of the level 9 lessons have already been learned, but weren't given much attention. Still, I haven't forgotten. You could just let the player learn through experimentation since the solutions are obvious even without knowing why they work.

That's about where I stopped. You did a good job. Lessons are learned at a good pace, there's a good amount of complexity.

Quote:
Original post by Lode
Any ideas how I can make this game feel less laggy, and still have the ticks?


In old Tetris games, blocks went slowly down in increments, kind of like your "ticks" thing. So, how do I rotate and move the block, keep the increment, and not feel like it's lagging? The tick can be truncated on different events! Either timed, or on valid input.

That's how they seemed to do it there. You might be able to see that technique if you can find a Tetris that does this. It really is unacceptable this kind of lag.

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very interesting game, played through level 10. is it safe to assume you are targetting the iphone here? considering the screen size.

as someone said before, simply tween your animations (at least for the player). for instance, lets assume your game is running at 24fps, with 1 tick happening every 12 frames. the player presses left at tick 6, that gives you 6 frames to interpolate the position of the player to the next frame. that should at least lower the effect of the lag.

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always liked this type of games.

Now the (constructive) suggestion: from programmer to programmer, work on better graphics, animations, that would make a even better game.

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Quote:
Original post by PaulCesar
very interesting game, played through level 10. is it safe to assume you are targetting the iphone here? considering the screen size.


I didn't target it actually, it must be a coincidence :) Can the iPhone run any .swf file?

Anything on which it works is great. I moved from C++ to Flash (for my spare-time small game projects I mean) because for a player it's much easier to just click a link in the browser and start playing, than to have to install something first, that is tied to one platform too.

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Yea, AS3 has become a very very good language/platform for inde development. you should consider taking a few looks at using adobe air aswell. this works as a really nice cross platform projector, and can even allow you to build games/apps that have a reasonable amount of communication with the host file-system. basically making it a java replacement that seems a bit more geared towards games and rich apps.

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Quote:
Original post by Splinter of Chaos
The music sounds compressed.


It's encoded at 32 or 40kb/s. And yet still, in the flash, something like 100k is the game, and all the rest of the 2MB is taken up by the music! Without the 32 kb/s compression, it'd be 8 MB! I know it sounds choppy, but I can't justify such a large filesize just for the music, I mean, it's a game, not an MP3 library. Maybe if I found a way to play MOD music in Flash as well as find good tracks that I can use in the game for free, there could be much more, and high quality tracks in the game!

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Quote:
Original post by Lode
Quote:
Original post by Splinter of Chaos
The music sounds compressed.


It's encoded at 32 or 40kb/s. And yet still, in the flash, something like 100k is the game, and all the rest of the 2MB is taken up by the music! Without the 32 kb/s compression, it'd be 8 MB!


Yeah, I made some music in FL Studio and used it in a game and people on the forums (a WIP forum; not here) complained about the file size being to large. I converted the music from mp3 to ogg which did great things to the size (from 14MB to 3), but altered the quality of the music. Not horribly, though. It might be a good alternative. Does Flash play ogg format? (You'll need a converter. PM me if you can't find one.)

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Plays really good. I would really like to join you if you are going to make something like this again. I'm looking for a team to do such a project with, to gain experience etc.

Btw: Are you from the Dutch part of Belgium or the French part? I am Dutch myself.

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The game is very nice, I liked it. But you seriously have to do something about the input lag, as already discussed. That is the thing that now really breaks this otherwise nice game.

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Hi,

I'm working on a new version, and the first thing I'm trying to fix, is the input lag, because that was the biggest show stopper :)

Here's the attempt to fix the input lag:

http://members.gamedev.net/lode/games/magetower/tower2.swf

If you compare this, with the link to the first version in the original post, in which one do you like the input the best?

Note: tower.swf in the original post is "finished", but tower2.swf in this post may be broken in some areas, it's just to test the user input. Also, there is no smooth scrolling yet, if I include that later, it might feel even better, but now there is also already a difference using other techniques.

Personally, I think in the second version, it responds quicker to the keyboard (no laggy feeling), but sometimes actually the old version can have its advantages, because in the old version you moved exactly at the same time as the monsters (and in the new version not, the player's timer is independent), and also, in the old version you could buffer keys with short taps and in the new version not (but I might be able to add that feature in the new version again, thought it might feel as "laggy" again if you press right multiple times in a fast succession and the character executes it slower than you pressed).

Secondly, do you think it's noticable that in the second version the graphics are rendered faster? Because the first version uses "sprite pooling" as drawing technique, while the second version uses BitmapData and copyPixels, which would be faster, but I think that depends on the computer (it uses less than 10% CPU in both versions on my PC).

Any input on which version has the "best" user input response, and how it can be even better, is very welcome!

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I like the input method in the new version much better. It changes the game somewhat towards the action side of the spectrum but I think that's ok. The puzzles are still what's important.

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