December 14th-17th 2012 :: Theme: You are the Villain

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Hench

by Thomas Bowker - 48 Hour Compo Entry

Hench

Hench is a game played by the community.

Levels are procedurally generated but are the same for every player.

Everyone who plays a level contributes to that levels completion, and once a level is completed it is flagged and another level replaces that one soon after.

Time-lapse:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgBAeD4T7a8

This game is dependent on the server, which I will keep up for a very long time, but this means it can have issues and might break at some point. If it does try to contact me and I'll do my best to fix it.

Controls:
Move: W, A, S, D
Shoot: Click
Talk: Enter/Return

If you would like to change the controls, download a version of Hench and change the input either in the dialog box before the game begins or in the config file.

Theme:
I found this theme quite difficult, narrative isn't one of my stronger traits and didn't know to convey the theme through gameplay. I started with an idea but soon got bogged down by the technical bits.

Downloads and Links


Ratings

Coolness51%
#60Innovation3.74
#169Fun3.26
#181Overall3.33
#415Graphics2.81
#468Audio2.09
#580Mood2.36
#695Humor1.45
#766Theme1.42

Comments

Xymostech says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 8:34am

You have a good, strong technical start, but it needs more work on the story. Unfortunately, this theme doesn't really work that well with multiplayer stuff... (I'm ffff)

ParaPup says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 11:44am

Not bad I would have liked to know what the login was for but not bad.

BlockBrains says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 1:43pm

I don't know about the theme... But I have to say i had fun being on a level with 5 more players and going ahead killing everything myself! :D

gesangbaer says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 9:16pm

loved this technically, and the game play was good. I did still feel like a good guy and like I was killing bad guys. Maybe if you had made the players black and reg and the good guys green and blue.

loren says ...
Dec 18, 2012 @ 7:43pm

nice idea, i liked the audio (good positioning)

rylgh says ...
Dec 18, 2012 @ 8:30pm

great job! wasn't sure how to complete a level (kill everyone?) but it was cool playing online with people. i liked how one hit killed you, but enemies that moved toward you and has less health would have been good.

goulding57 says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 4:18am

Great concept, and technically pretty awesome. Would love to see this taken further.

Amos Wenger says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 4:23am

The Bad: No relation with theme (apparently?), no running (golly I wish I could run), no sound

The Good: Plays very nicely, I enjoyed moving around, the camera/3D doesn't get in the way, and the online system where multiple people play the same levels (also with replays) is a very nice touch.

Overall, enjoyable, thumbs up!

kewry says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 4:31am

nice lil'game

JFlegle says ...
Dec 20, 2012 @ 5:49pm

This is a good start on what could be a great game.

lorancou says ...
Dec 21, 2012 @ 9:35am

Technically impressive! But a bit off regarding the theme.

Alex Rose says ...
Dec 21, 2012 @ 10:51am

I don't know what it had to do with being a villain, but it was a really interesting experience nonetheless. Nice one.

TheMelon says ...
Dec 24, 2012 @ 7:25am

Pros : Fun, Procedural levels, multi player
Cons : Theme not really on par, more features(sprint, weapons etc), some more sound.

Overall not a bad little game. It works and is very playable.

mcc says ...
Dec 24, 2012 @ 8:11am

Before I say anything else: Don't! Try! To distribute! Mac! Executables! Via RAR! Use Zip. First off, Mac users don't typically even have RAR utilities. Second off, I think RAR mangles the file attributes of mac apps. For whatever reason, the mac download above is *broken*-- as is it will just crash on startup-- I think because being stuffed into a rar strips the executable bit. (I bet the Linux version has the same problem.) I was able to unbreak the executable, and thus able to boot the program, by going into the hench_mac directory in Terminal and entering:

chmod +x hench.app/Contents/MacOS/Hench

Anyway gonna actually play the game now.

mcc says ...
Dec 24, 2012 @ 8:34am

- I like that there's an online/collaborative component to this. This is something I have been wishing we could see more of in LDs.

- I feel like account creation is unnecessary. You could just as well ask for a display name, and then randomly generate an "account" which is tied to the current computer. In the previous LD I did a game ("The World Hates You") which similarly had a level server and a persistent player history, and I just had the server assign each new person it saw a 32-bit random number as an ID. The client saved that random ID in an xml file and re-sent it on successive runs. The player never had to be aware of any of this.

- I never really worked out what the black boxes or the green people were supposed to be, story-wise. From the level structure and the name I guess I figure the black boxes are invaders in the evil fortress, and the green people are invading henchmen. The game didn't guide me much in this. The black boxes look and attack like conventional "enemies" and the green people look and attack like conventional "heroes". Well, never mind theme I guess.

- I rather a lot liked the visual style, the mix of lo-fi foreground and complex backgrounds. The shadows looked neat, although, sometimes when I shot an enemy "offscreen" its shadow would remain hovering on the walkable area and I'd think it was an enemy I was supposed to be shooting. It would also be helpful if the bullets were larger or more contrasty, they were hard to see.

- Play control was nice, shooting stuff felt satisfying (aside from the "can't see bullets" problem).

- It took me awhile to figure out what the server was actually doing (i.e. that you're doing coop with your own "ghosts" and the replay ghosts of others?). That's... really cool, actually! I thought at first the idea was just that the level server provided challenges, and different players were picking off the challenges one by one (although, if that were the case it would have made more sense if you got a bigger reward for beating a harder level that had already claimed multiple player lives). The way it actually works seems much cooler. I wonder, though-- do you wind up with a thing where the fact past players "can't see" what the future players are doing, means that the past players are less useful because they're mostly shooting at stuff that the future-player might have killed already? This seems to create possibilities for an interesting sort of strategy, if all the ghosts on a single level are your own, because you could go around being efficient about, say, killing only the even-numbered enemies on your first life, and killing only the odd-numbered enemies on your second life, but it seems to mean that co-op between different people is a little less useful except on the harder levels. (Then again, I guess the harder levels are the only ones likely to rack up a bunch of ghosts in the first place, so maybe this is OK?) I wonder if there is a gameplay type one could find which is less susceptable to this "ghosts can't see what you're doing" problem. Have you played cursor*10?

- Also: You seem to have noticed that "talking" gives the game a lot of personality, but it's almost impossible to talk without getting killed! Maybe the game should use preloaded emotes with trigger keys?

I hope you reuse the online model here in a more polished game, it's very neat tech and the implementation is surprisingly sturdy for a 48hour game.

Thomas Bowker says ...
Dec 24, 2012 @ 9:19am

@mcc Thanks for your feedback!

Yes! The RARs! I remember thinking this was an issue but I forgot about it after submitting. I'll get this fixed and upload zips very soon.

I developed this game quite selfishly, in that I just focused on what I could get out of working on the game and basically didn't care too much about the people who will actually play this. This ended up making the game more of a tech demo than anything else.

Also have used the unique ID to replace account creation before, but I wanted to try and implement account creation to learn more about it for a future project.

About the talking, I've definitely recognized your concern. The best fix I can see is to just pause the game while the player is entering text, and I may patch that in at a later date.

When I submitted this the best I was hoping for is that someone would recognize that there may be some interesting here, and you seem to have given me that, thank you!

Patrick64 says ...
Dec 24, 2012 @ 1:26pm

Cool game, very innovative. I love the idea of seeing what others players have done.

mcc says ...
Dec 24, 2012 @ 6:19pm

Hi Thomas-- that makes sense! I don't know what the future project you're practicing for will look like, so I can't know if what I"m about to say is good advice or not, but I do want to harp on account creation flow a bit. Trying to streamline account signup processes is sort of one of my hobbyhorses, I have this theory that confronted with an account signup box many people will just sort of walk away, so where registered accounts are necessary I want to think about ways to minimize the disruption. One way to do this might be to collapse boxes into fewer boxes. For example, in your program you have separate registration and login boxes. You can potentially merge these, see: http://sig.grumpybumpers.com/ That signup form just asks for *a* username and password, if login fails it bumps you to a registration page and autofills username and one of the password fields. Another option might be to just start with a screen that asks your nickname, it hits the server, if it's an existing account it asks your password, if it's a new account it presents a registration page with spaces for password and recovery email. This means that you do not so much get a chance to be scared off by a big complicated registration box, by the time that you realize you have to enter a password you have already emotionally committed by hitting "submit" once :) A modern AJAX web layout or Unity program of course could present a really nice interface for either of these two approaches. Anyway not something you have to do, but just a thought :) And glad to hear you're thinking about developing the ideas from this project farther.

The game pausing while entering text is a good idea, and it's uniquely possible since coop is "asynchronous". Although this is a quick shooty blast-em-up kinda game, you get very drawn into the bam bam shoot nature, so I'm not sure I'd think or want to stop this game to type something out in either case. One question is what the purpose of talking is. Is it to help coordinate best use of player resources? I.E. "I'm going left, you go up"? If this, you might want to think about structuring challenges to make this coordination *necessary*. Is talking to give character and reality to the individual players (i.e., they're talking, that makes me feel like I'm playing with people rather than robots)? If the latter, maybe you should explore allowing avatar customization or assigning specific accounts personal colors/clothing textures/something pre-configuration, so people can see who they're playing with, recognize people they've seen before, etc...

Thomas Bowker says ...
Dec 24, 2012 @ 11:41pm

@mcc

Yeah the account creation/login screen could definitely be improved. I might throw some analytic in there later to see how many people run away after seeing that screen.

The initial idea was a puzzle game where people would work and talk together to solve puzzles, but because of time I ended up making a top-down shooter (when I realized this I got a little sad, hah). I also just like the idea of connecting people, or as you said have the feeling that you are playing with people even if it's not real time. Also yes, avatar customization was one of the last features to get cut.

azurenimbus says ...
Dec 26, 2012 @ 10:03pm

This is just great. You'd be at the very least silly not to expand on this idea, polish the game, etc. I think it's absolutely brilliant.

ilo says ...
Dec 26, 2012 @ 11:00pm

Shame about the theme, but the concept is marvellous and you have something that potentially could be very good.

I could see it working well with customizable players adopting different roles to complement each other, and levels with multiple objectives to be dealt with simultaneously.

fishbrain says ...
Dec 28, 2012 @ 11:24am

Interesting.

Dioiminik says ...
Jan 5, 2013 @ 11:36pm

Awesome?! ;)

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