Through the Blue Sea Postmortem 2

Posted by (twitter: @Ythmevge)
May 13th, 2012 10:00 pm

Through the Blue Sea is my entry for Ludum Dare 23, it is a abstract platformer art game about using drugs as an entry into your own tiny world.

Now that Ludum Dare 23 is over I wanted to write a second Postmortem that addresses the comments I received, as well as how I have dealt with them in the Post-Compo version of the game. If you haven’t already you can go read the first Postmortem, its an analysis of the game whereas this Postmortem is me explaining my decisions.

"Happy square grows!"

Addressing Comments:

First I want to thank everyone who played my game, and left a comment. It is always helpful to get comments because you get a real opinion that was articulated in words, rather than a number. If my response seems harsh to you, just remember that it is my opinion, that you also have a valid opinion. I am not attempting to force my opinion and say that I am right or wrong, just the way that I view the issue and deal with it.

 

“You need the August 2008 DirectX update in order to run this application….” error

Comments:

“I didn’t bother updating, so it’s possible this is my fault. But I purchased my computer after 2008. Window 7, 32 bit.”

“I won’t even try – my comp is older, circa 2006.”

“Same problem here.”

Response:

DirectX is a common requirement that most gaming computer have already. In the event that you don’t have it, well there is a free download on the Microsoft website, it can be any version that is newer than the August 2008 DirectX. SO for Vista of 7 that could mean 10 or 11, for XP the most recent DirectX9c would work.

I expect that most people entering a 48 hour game challenge would have DirectX already. I could bundle DirectX with my game, but that makes the download larger.

 

Platform play-ability

Comments:

“Couldn’t emulate on linux (wine)”

“Sorry, I can’t play since I’m on a Mac.”

“sorry mac only here!”

“Alas, I cannot play this game on my mac.”

“Can you make a Mac version?”

“I would try it if you had a Web or OSX version.”

Response:

I recognize that using Construct Classic limits what platform the game can be played on. But Web games have a tendency to be mediocre at the best when compared to a downloadable game. They have that reputation of shitty flash games, and just changing to html5 doesn’t change that fact. The majority of players do not realize what the underlying tech is (flash or html5) nor do they care. There are quite a few decent puzzle games on the web, but outside of a few genres web games are inferior. It would also be harder to allow customization of a web game. In addition to losing the usability of the right mouse click.

As for a Mac version, it would be nice. Ideally the games would run in WINE, but they don’t currently (and I believe it has to do with the Sound Engine used) I hope to set up a Linux desktop soon so I can get them to run in WINE. If I cna get them running in Linux WINE, then they should work on the Mac WINE. Not that I have a way to test them…I don’t own a Mac.

 

Sound Effects

Comments:

“lol, Pretty strange game. It really didn’t need the sound effect for when a asteroid was being generated, Music was good tho. Apart from that good work.”

“You know what?! that awful sound and eye bleeding graphics kept me playing :))
The winning sound is even more awful (but in a good way)”

“The SFX were painful to be honest. The controls were good. Great effort!”

“jesus christ what is that noise”

“Interesting menu. Sound effects were annoying. Except for the times when levels were unbeatable, this was pretty good.”

“Sweet little platformer. But oh gods, the sound hurts my ears.”

and more :)

Response:

The winning sound effect is actually bugged in the Compo version, it is playing over and over again. But only 18 games have been finished for the win sound to be played. More than likely the Asteroid incoming sound effect was annoying, I should have lowered the volume of it some. Overall I still feel that the sound effects fit in the game.

I will agree that the asteroid incoming sound effect was probably not needed, but it was later in the day when I decided to make the asteroid spawn at a random location off screen, aimed at the player. To compensate for the random location I though a sound effect would make it more playable by offering a warning.

 

Gameplay

Comments:

“No virus warnings or anything here. Technically solid. Gameplay was a little frustrating though – dots that couldn’t be retrieved, powerups that weren’t onscreen long enough to get. Controls felt a little oversensitive.”

“Not bad, but it seemed like some coins were just impossible to get, and the sound effect was kind of annoying. But I do like the online scoreboard.”

“Weird game :)

Works fine, however the random positioning mostly ends up in unsolvable stages (too many pips appearing on the lower border without platforms below)”

“Interesting concept! I kept trying to avoid the red splotchies until I realized they made it easier to win!”

“Really weird game. The sound played when the asteroid was being created made me cringe. I had to turn my sound off to even play the game. That sound was literally painful for me. :/ Interesting that you’re generating levels though. :) That is different than what most people do.”

“It was cool that you procedurally generated the levels. At least it’s new each time. That said, the gameplay was lacking and the sound effects were pretty abrasive. Good effort – keep it up!”

“Kinda strange, it’s too unpolished to give a fair rating, the physics really sucked. Would’ve need a double jump at least and less power in the jump, the title screen didn’t look that nice, the text with white background gave an ugly contrast to the rest of the screen. The game would probably have been a lot better if you had a day more to work out the problems, it does have potential, just needs more polish.”

Response:

I do agree that the dots not being retrievable can be annoying. The levels are randomly generated (not procedurally) so I knew there would be cases of not being able to collect all of the pips. I should have addressed this issue by forcing two of the platforms to always generate on the bottom, and to make all of the pips generate above the lowest platforms. That is how I have it set up in the version I’m working on.

I messed with the controls quite a bit to come up with something that was tricky to control, but still controllable. The asteroids and growing feature was added later, and once I added the larger character I needed to make the game challenging again. So I shrank the starting size, and made it harder to control. Adding something like double jump would have made it to easy to complete the levels. With double jump you would be able to drop under a platform to get a pip, then jump back onto the platform. I wanted you to be force to choose what pips you got in what order and to have a consequence for choosing to drop down and get a pip, at the risk of falling off.

The game could use a better introduction and How to play text, or a tutorial but I was low on time and wasn’t sure how to do it (so you got a wall of text).

 

Graphics

Comments:

“Won’t gonna lie to you. Graphics could be… better. But sound is good and gameplay is fun, but needs improvements! Keep up the good work!”

Response:

I disagree, not to say that I can’t draw better (I can) but that wasn’t the goal of this game. My entire interest in creating Video games is using it as a Fine Art Medium. For fare to long Fine Art has been paintings that costs thousands of dollars, or drawings, prints, ect that costs hundreds. Video games for me represents a way to put art in front of everyone for a little to no cost. Then maybe we can move past Thomas Kinkade and Bob Ross being the greatest American Painters, when in reality they are only a minor player in the Fine Art world. I like Abstract Expressionism art mixed with the Minimalist art, and that is what my games tend to represent.

The purpose is to get across a message, and convey a point. Through The Blue Sea is a bit light on the message but it is a message targeting society. It has to do with the use of drugs, that they take you to your own tiny world, where you are the only person. Then when you come down from your high you have the munchies. But I want the message to be interpreted from the game, and not told to you.

 

Score Menu in the Post-Compo

 

Post Compo version of Through the Blue Sea

I have released a Post Compo version of Through the Blue Sea. It doesn’t add new content, but it does address a number of issues that the Compo version had. I think it is important to release a Post Compo version because it gives you a chance to apply the feedback that you received for your game, and helps you to create a better game next time.

Scoring:

The scoring in the Compo version was overly simple. For ever pip you collect you gained one point. As a result  there is no different between two people who both collected all of the pips. With only a little variation it makes the Online scoreboard a bit on the boring side.

In this version I reworked the scoring system, so now you start with 100 seconds on the clock, this is then multiplied by the number of platforms you have left, then you multiply that by the score pips you have collected, and the last thing that happens is you add the count of asteroids that you collected. This turns out much more varied and interesting scores, now just because you collected all eight of the pickups, you likely did so faster or slower than someone else.

Gameplay:

The biggest Gameplay problem was the pips that couldn’t be collected. Quite often the game would randomly place the pips below the lowest platform, and spread that out across the level. This resulted in you not being able to complete the level.

I fixed this issue by generating two platforms that are always the lower that the pips, now when you are big you can collect all of the pips.

I also revised the How to Play text to mention the asteroids that make you grow larger.

One of the comments I received suggested this:

“I’d suggest automatically redirecting to another world instead of going to the main menu every time the player goes off the screen.”

I thought this was a great idea, and was implemented into the post compo version. Now if you collect all of the pickups you move to the next hardest level, if you fall off you move to the next easier world. This really makes the game more cohesive. With the new end of level scoreboard you have the choose to keep playing, or go to the main menu.

Online Scoreboard:

The Compo version would only show the highest 20 scores for each planet, so even though 232 games have been played the compo version would only show 100 results total.

The Online scoreboard has been revised, and moved. It is now a page on the main All Around Games website. The scoreboard can be sorted by time, platforms, asteroids, pips,  score, and name. You can also find development information, videos, and screen-shots all on one page.

 

Tiny Green Planet

 

 

Ludum Dare 23 Postmortem

This was my fourth Ludum Dare, and the biggest overall Ludum Dare yet (1402 games) The competition has only grown since I started.

The rating system in Ludum Dare 23 is for the most part like it was for Ludum Dare 22. The Community rating was removed, since most people did not rate it correctly. What I like most about the rating system is that the twenty that you see on the rate page change depending on how many games their creator made, as well as how many rating the game has had. I rated 110 games this Ludum Dare, and have around fifty-five ratings.

The one thing that I would like to see is voting opened to the public, preferably in a way that  did not force registration. I think this should be kept separate from the current scoring methods. So you could have a developers ratings (from participants) as well as a public opinion rating.

As far as the games, I think the bar was raised this Ludum Dare. I played more games than I did demo-scenes, although a few did sneak in. Overall most of the games were fun and entertaining, with some idea in them that worked really well.

This Ludum Dare I had two goals in mind before the competition started. The first one was that I wanted to make a complete game. While my games doesn’t really have a beginning, and ending It is complete. I find that score is often one of the best goals you can use in a game, because you can strive to improve that score. My other goal was to make an art game of some sort. As mentioned early Through The Blue Sea qualifies for my definition of Art Game.

Rating Games

When rating started I decided that I would be consistent this time, rather than rating a bunch of games at the end. I rated five games each day, this got me up to 100 ratings with an extra day to rate whatever I wanted. I didn’t really have a method for selecting games, I just played whatever I saw. Some-days I picked them based on the name, or all web games. I don’t really participate in Ludum Dare to rate games, or be rated, but it comes with the competition so I do my part. I tried to be consistent in how I rated, but I think I am to generous when rating…

Overall – I just average the others to a degree, so if I give mostly four stars then Overall is four stars.

Innovation – I look at what is different in this entry than the other games I have played. I tend to score 3D games high, just because of the time it takes to do 3D rather than 2D. I also tend to rate a bit on artistic merit in this category…what statement if any does the game make.

Fun – This is one of my least favorite categories. What one person finds fun, another find boring. I rate depending on the time I spend playing the game, and how enjoyable it was to play.

Theme – I rate depending on how typical the interpretation of the theme. To me a theme really shines when you get non-typical games.

Graphics – I rate the hardest in this category…but compared to most interpretatiosn of graphics I’m backwards. I’m looking for anyone that tries a different graphical style. Something minimal, surreal, expressionistic, or just abstract is rated highly for me. Pixel Art, realism, cartooning rate the lowest.

Audio – I rate easy, if you have sound effects you get 2, if you have music you get three. If they fit the game you get more.

Humor – I tend to not rate this at all, unless I feel it was intended to be humorous.

Mood – I tend to not rate the mood either, many games don’t really set a mood for me. They are just generic locations with a goal.

That is how I rated the games I played, now I want to look at my own rating. I feel more or less at the average line. This is were I expect to be, I’m not looking to appeal to the masses with my game or art, I am looking for a small supportive audience.

#467 Humor 2.15 – I’m happy with this rating, I intended the game to be funny and lighthearted, with a serious underlying issue.

#597 Audio 2.02 – I don’t really understand this rating, according to the comments this should have been really low. Almost everyone complained about the sound effects. Yet this is my second highest rating?

#756 Fun 2.15 – Happy with it, there isn’t a deeply fun element to the game. Just an average platformer.

#762 Theme 2.30 – I think this is on the low side, but the Tiny world theme is one of my least favorite.

#799 Mood 1.97 – I’m alright with this rating, I don’t think I set much of a mood.

#804 Innovation 2.04 – I think this is a bit low, how many entries had an online scoreboard, or controls that you could remap to different keys or even a gamepad. I’ll give it that the gameplay isn’t really innovative.

#838 Overall 2.17 – ok

#849 Graphics 1.89 – I have already voiced my opinion on graphics. But this was expected.

 

The Dreaded Tiny Red Planet

 

 

In Closing

I enjoyed participating in Ludum Dare, and will be back in August for Ludum Dare 24. I have my own clearly defined reasons and expectations from Video games and I stick to them.

I have released the post compo version of the game, you can download it from:

http://allaroundgames.net/index.php?page=throughthebluesea

Thanks for reading.

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4 Responses to “Through the Blue Sea Postmortem 2”

  1. Chaoseed says:

    But Web games have a tendency to be mediocre at the best when compared to a downloadable game.

    Man, what ARE you talking about? Have you even played any of the other LD games made in Flash? I mean, if you get up to 10 megs of graphics or sound, then it’s probably easier to download a package, but for small games (especially the kind you get in LD Flash is great.

    There are quite a few decent puzzle games on the web, but outside of a few genres web games are inferior.

    This really makes me think you haven’t played many web games. I mean, I’m not trying to tell you what tools YOU should use, that’s obviously your decision…it’s just that you’re really selling web games short.

    • Sandcrawler says:

      I played about half web games and half downloaded games.

      I suppose I do tend to sell them short. Flash or html5 don’t really fit my own interests. I like to make games that can be customized, and that seems harder to do with a web game. I would suppose that in order to let the user select his controls you would need to store a cookie on the browser, or file on the webspace. I’m not sure if flash can support a joystick or gamepad, but it doesn’t appear to.

      Another part of it has to do with Kongregate, that a number of flash games used. It slows down the playing and rating if you have an ad-blocker or don’t. I don’t think that games made for Ludum Dare should be monetized during the rating period. I also think that were and how you present your game for download or play should have an influence.

      Games like Nook, WaterdropWorld, and Spitoon I really enjoyed (and a lot more).

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