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Almost finished game - needs fresh eyes

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Ok so, we are a team of 2 indie devs, I'm the graphics artist/designer wannabe and Alejandro is the programmer/designer.
 
And we made Blackstorm 2 - it's a modern take on a classic top-down shmup like Space Invaders.
 
It's technically complete from start to finish including a major boss battle.
However I have a few concerns:

  • The difficulty curve (seems way to hard especially in the beginning)
  • Making players understand the progression or the 'goal' of the game (i'd like to know once, you start playing what motivates you to keep playing?)
  • A more delicate problem for me is the conflict of interest between shooting and storing energy (ever feel like you would do both things and there is just not enough energy to go around? is that a good thing or a bad thing? )

I'd like to know your thoughts and first impression on the game as you see it anew. Now I know pointing out those 3 things may likely bias people a little since I'm drawing attention to specific things and if they'd worked properly they would have gone unnoticed. But I trust you guys can balance it out :)
 
Also, please let me know if I should provide more information, I feel like explaining how the game works beforehand would just put you guys in my shoes and won't do anyone any good in this case.
 
Thank you!

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I like that distortion effects you have going on. I think the screen shake needs to be toned down a little. At the start of the video the screens hake is fine but towards the end when the enemy ship is blown up it's quite extreme.

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I like that distortion effects you have going on. I think the screen shake needs to be toned down a little. At the start of the video the screens hake is fine but towards the end when the enemy ship is blown up it's quite extreme.

 Thanks! Yeah the screenshake is a bit on the strong side there, it's because the ship that explodes is a mini-boss and it takes a little bit of perseverance to kill him - you don't see that in the gif because it was cut short - however bosses like that don't spawn very often so I'm not sure if it really is too much while playing the game.

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To comment on your listed questions and concerns...

 

I was not bothered by the small screen movements, but when there was large amounts of black space at the end, it was too much movement to keep focused on. I couldn't get past the beginning because I was unsure what I was supposed to be doing. My second and third time playing I could do nothing as pressing 'z', holding it down, and repeatedly tapping it would not further the cannon progress bar. I do, however, like the shooting and storing energy. It provides infinite, yet limited, ammo and makes you choose between stopping an enemy now, or stopping one later.

 

My list of positives and negatives on the game...

 

Negatives:

1) Instructions Unclear- If you want people to play the game, they have to know how. Without knowing what buttons did what, I was left up to my own experiments with it. This would have been fine if my success didn't depend on me already having known the controls. The white instructions at the beginning went by too fast to be of use to me. This could be easily remedied with a single-screen instructions overlay.

2) Screen Shake- Like I said before, small amounts of shakes can be a useful tidbit when in battle, but if the screen shakes too much it can become unplayable.

3) Broken Z- After over a minute of fiddling with pressing 'z' and the bar not increasing, I restarted to try it again. The same thing happened. I don't know if it is broken or game mechanics. A clear way to increase the bar would be advised.

 

Positives:

1)Art Style- I quite enjoyed the art, and it seemed to fit the game well.

2)Unique Challenge- Having to catch enemy shots gives this a brick breaker invasion feel, and I love that. It is a challenge that isn't exactly cookie cutter, which will help draw in and keep players.

3)Player Choice- The charging of weapons, and the other abilities it looks like the player can have (still haven't gotten past the first wave for previously noted reasons), allows players to develop tactics that makes this more than a simple 'kill what is before you' game. A player must choose between killing an enemy or letting it get a shot off so that he/she can recharge her own weapon more.

 

 

Overall I think this is a decent game. As it stands right now, I cannot honestly say I would go out of my way to play it again. However, if I was able to understand what I needed to do, and the z worked, I can see myself and others I know playing it (my brother -loves- these games). I think you're on to something here, and you're very close!

 

Good luck!

~Oove

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Very nice. I somehow got stuck in LVL3 after the shields activated, it kept me asking to charge them. I charged the cannon instead. Run out of energy yet the game won't get forward.

 

I think the mechanics are solid but I would prefer everything to be slightly faster and levels to be much shorter. I will try again another time and see if I get the same vibe.

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@Oove 

 

Awesome! Thanks for the generous feedback! We will be looking into the problems you've encountered and get them fixed in the next update :)

 

@MaxDZ8

 

Hmm.. that's strange. Did enemies stop spawning after your poured your energy into the cannon?

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Excuse me for the late reply. I just waited and nothing ever happened. Yes, there were no spawns.

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