Contrasaurus Launch Successful!

Posted by
October 12th, 2010 12:15 pm

The Contrasaurus launch was a big success yesterday, getting onto both the front page of Hacker News and the Programming Reddit. We even got 57 Facebook likes!


We received quite a bit of feedback, some positive, some negative, a lot of it useful. We also received a donation!

Something I wish I had done earlier would be to write down my expectations and try and guess what kinds of feedback we would receive, then compare that to the actual feedback and try and improve my intuition for what players care about. It is all too easy for ones mind to pretend it knew it all along once the evidence is in, so next time I’ll be sure to write down my hypotheses.

Another thing I learned is that not all feedback is equal. Some tells more about the player than the game. There will always be negative feedback and trying to modify the game too much to accommodate it may, in some cases, dilute the experience such that no one really loves it. On the flipside though, be sure that there is actual real positive feedback supporting the tradeoffs you are making. Our main one was that we chose to emphasize “being an awesome dinosaur, crushing your enemies” above “having balanced and tactical gameplay”. That’s not to say that there is no balance or tactics, just that “being an awesome dinosaur” came first in our priorities. In some cases it caused the gameplay to suffer and in an ideal world where we have infinite time the game would be extremely excellent in both regards.

The feedback we received often mirrored that choice. The players for whom “being an awesome dinosaur” was important really loved the experience. The more hardcore players who didn’t care about “being an awesome dinosaur” and wanted more complex and tactical gameplay were often disappointed. Some striking examples:


The gameplay literally consists of the character holding down the left mouse button and holding the right key. Once you get the jetpack you pretty much can’t die. The level design is non-existant, as every level (that I’ve played so far) is just a flat surface with enemies being constantly spawned on it. Overall, I think that you need to work on this game a lot. Currently, I’d say that it’s too boring, and few people will play it past the third level.


I can’t even begin to describe the awesomeness of controlling a jetpack powered dinosaur wielding twin chainsaws while fighting communists all to the midi-encoded tunes of Lady Gaga. The plotline was truly amazing, I totally didn’t see the ending coming.

Another interesting decision was that we chose to go the HTML5 route, rather than using an “established” platform like Flash. I think that, for us, it was the right decision. We don’t have much Flash experience, and if we’ll need to learn a new platform anyway we might as well go for one that appears to be rising rather than one that appears to have plateaued.

There are still tons of problems with HTML5 today, primarily cross browser audio, and crazy nearly impossible to reproduce crash bugs, as well as the standard cross browser web crap. The biggest pain was all the crash reports of running the game in Chrome, even though that’s the environment where for us, in development, it worked nearly perfectly. Additionally it was pretty much unplayable in FF, except on super-powerful computers, had control issues in Opera, only usable in IE via Chrome Tab, and crash reports on any of the browsers were not uncommon. This is the biggest issue right now with HTML5 but it is an issue that is currently being resolved and hopefully quickly.

In the end though the actual technology doesn’t matter at all to the player. The only thing that matters is that they can play the game reliably and enjoy the experience without issues.

Brian Gruening

the best flash game i have EVER seen play it

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3 Responses to “Contrasaurus Launch Successful!”

  1. pekuja says:

    Cool game. I had major framerate problems in Firefox though, and have some sort of freezing problems in Chrome.

    Why do you have MIDI versions of Lady Gaga songs as the soundtrack?

  2. 31eee384 says:

    Played it all the way through around when you first posted it. Really cool game, in my opinion. Being an awesome dinosaur is AWESOME. Needed a break from all my tactically-strong games, I think. :)

    (About the last line of your post, I’ve been looking for *hours* and I still haven’t found the flash game on your site! 😉 )

  3. Hey, thanks for the feedback!


    I’m a Lady Gaga fan and I think it’s a good homage and adds a distinct feeling to the game.

    As far as the FF framerate I’m looking into it and may roll out an update to address it if I can optimize enough (or FF may roll out an update with better HTML5 canvas and JavaScript support). For Chrome, it used to crash quite a bit for me, but once I updated to 7.0.517.36 beta I’ve had very few issues. Again, hopefully I can figure out a solution or browser updates may take care of it in time.


    Glad you liked the game, it’s good to hear that the core message made it through.

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