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A jam submission

Shroom and GloomView game page

A deck-building, dungeon-crawling, first person tale of mushrooms and madness.
Submitted by TeamLazerBeam (@teamlazerbeam), Call Of The Void (@codeofthevoid) — 7 hours, 4 minutes before the deadline
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Shroom and Gloom's itch.io page

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Comments

Submitted(+1)

This is absolutely amazing. I never expected to play a first-person card game, much less one that sucked me in so much, but here we are. This game owns face.

The only real annoyance was the fact that hitting Escape just brought me back to the menu. No options, nothing to customize controls, graphics, audio, anything, I just kind of had to get kicked in. Likewise, the lack of an ending was a real limp finish after everything else amazing up to that part.

Those are really just minor nitpicks, though. I went in expecting "oh, it's a card game, I'll probably play it for like half an hour or 15 minutes" and then almost two hours had passed. Incredible timesink, and very inspiring what you all managed to do with both the artstyle, presentation, and gameplay.

I'm going to make mushroom soup now.

Developer

Damn this is some awesome feedback!

Thanks so much for checking the game out and for letting us know you had such a good time with it!

You'll be happy to know that we are working on improving/ fixing the two areas that you were annoyed by.

Thanks again!

(+1)

This game is freaking awesome guys!!! I've beat it my third try but each time I played it I'm discovering something new, Its so fun to figure out combinations for the cards. I really wish the game would repeat after you beat the last boss so you can continue to experiment with the combination. I know you guys built it in 14 days but its really smart and what you guys have here is unique . It also has so much potential. Cant wait for the updates if you continue to move forward with the project. 

BTW - the upgrade for the cards seems like a great idea but honestly you really don't much time to get a good upgraded card cause you go through the levels fast. By the time you get to the end and the time you spend upgrading the card its really not worth it. The frog is great to get rid of lower value cards and the fire is good to sacrifice more cards to get better cards. 

I suggest adding a tier system for cards. So we feel more rewarded when we dig up a treasure and find a legendary card!

Good - Level 1 

Great - Level 2 

Epic - Level 3 

Legendary - level 4 

Thanks for the amazing game. Hope 2022 is the great year  for you guys!

Developer

Hi RavenAce!

Thanks heaps for playing, and passing along this encouraging feedback - it really means so much hearing this kinda thing from players.

High fives on being able to beat the game after only 3 attempts. I know it's currently tough as nails for most folks who pick it up, so you've definitely done well being able to get all the way on your third run!

Hope you also have an awesome 2022, and thanks once again for the support!

Submitted

Excellent game. Amazed like everyone else by how solid you got this in a couple weeks.

A bit easy right now but very fun. Love the permanent effects, cheesy as they can be. (I won on my first run – I had committed to some fatal buildup stuff early on, and once I got that ‘activate all fatal effects’ card, victory was a foregone conclusion. I was doing like 50x2 damage with my 1 energy dagger.)

I didn’t memorize all of the mechanics, had some stumbling blocks. A glossary or hover-over tooltips might’ve been good for some card effects. I had a ‘battery’ card that unexpectedly seemed to become dead weight. I kept drawing some splinters that I couldn’t seem to toss out from the frog, maybe because of something I picked up at the very start of the game and wasn’t paying attention to. It would be cool if I could have pulled up a full decklist too.

Stricter hand limits would probably make sense, I initially thought the ‘everlasting shroom’ was going to be a trap where I was going to ruin most of 99 hands with a card that gives me 3 health while enemies are hitting me for 20 damage and I would need to be drawing other things, but it was a non-issue in the current balance, and I ended up actually claiming a second copy of the same truffle to trigger some more ‘on consume’ effects. No cheese-stalling necessary!

The energy system is cool too, it can be dicey when you have to give up on camping so you can thin your deck or add more effects to cards. I really enjoyed that decision-making. There was a card that traded camp energy for combat energy though, and I never felt like it was a good idea in my run.

You’re probably aware of most of this already, but I thought I’d share the feedback. Again, fantastic game!!

Submitted(+1)

Absolutely fantastic! 

From the moment the game started I knew I was going to enjoy it, but definitely it overpassed way too much my expectations.  I spend over 5 hours non-stop in the first run, and I just loved it. (damn that last boss!)

Developer(+1)

Awesome! So very cool to receive feedback like this!

Were you able to get past the final boss?

Submitted(+1)

After too many attempts and on the edge of a nervous crisis, I can proudly say I beat that bastard! lol

Developer

Awesome - high fives on reaching the end!

Submitted(+2)

Fantastic game!

I love the art style as well as the mechanics.

In the beginning I was just expecting some classic Slay The Spire gameplay, but my mind was blown when I realised the buffs were persistent.

It was super satisfying to one-shot the final boss thanks to combined use of the vulnerable stacks and boosted card damage. I really think you nailed the progression / meta-game.

Interesting twist on the formula as well with the "between encounter" cards.

Congrats, one of my favorites from the jam!

Developer(+1)

Thank you! Loved reading this and hearing this was one of your favourite games of the jam!

Glad to hear you appreciated the persistent buffs!  We are also very excited by the idea, and are stoked with how it came together in the game.

Also cool to hear that you liked the exploration deck. We had to shelve some of the more ambitious ideas for it, but glad with how it's working in it's basic form.

Thanks again!

Submitted(+1)

Love me some deckbuilders!  Great cohesive style; a clarity of vision is apparent in the art style.  A bit on the easier side, but imbalance is to be expected given the time frame... and to that point, I think there may be some cards I didn't see after one playthrough which is pretty impressive for a game jam!

Hope to see this built on after the jam!  Would certainly sink a bunch of time into this if it had between session progression, branching paths and that sort of thing.

Developer(+1)

Hi Belbeeno!

Thanks for playing, and passing along this encouraging feedback! As a fan of deckbuilders, I'm glad to hear the game landed for you!

We're super keen to keep working on the concept post-jam. We're excited to improve and build on the systems that we've got set up, and would love to explore some of the ideas that we had to shelve because of time-constraints during the jam.

You'll be happy to hear that we had some awesome concepts for branching paths during exploration, and a progression system that would extend across runs. Our original concept was to have a third deck in the mix; one that would be persistent across runs, and would draw a selection of cards that would represent a base build for your character on each run. We landed up shelving this character deck so we could focus on the combat and exploration decks, but would love to explore the idea in the future. Would be cool right?

Thanks again for playing, and for the encouraging comments!

Submitted(+2)

This was amazing, great work! 

Loved the shaking hand whenever I pulled out the map. Would've been cool to pull it back up on a button press or when running back to the location where I lasted pulled it up since I happened to run past that moment too quickly and missed how far I progressed.

Also the everlasting shroom allowed me to cheese pretty hard where I was able to just use it every turn while I left one of the small foes alive (I got up to 200HP before I decided that it was enough lol).

Besides these nitpicky points it really was a great experience, enjoyed every second of it!

Developer

Thanks so much rzl! Feedback like this is so encouraging!

Glad to hear you liked the shaking hand! One of our favourite details too! I also always land up accidentally skipping the map, and we're totally planning to add a "map" button for for exploration sections.

I personally adore the everlasting truffle (can comboa amazingly with some other cards), but we are looking at how to rework it to avoid people farming max HP in low level fights.

Thanks again for the great feedback - so stoked that the game is striking a chord with people!

Submitted(+1)

excellent deckbuilder! looks like you made full use of the time available to you. presentation is consistent and clean--I assume you have some experience working together (wink). really great job.

what is that ambient loop you use for card selection? I have to have it--great vibe, really puts me in the mood. reminds me of an old carmack track.

did one playthrough. made it all the way to the final boss and... wasted an uber buffed card on a shield by 'accident'. totally immersed. sound and visuals go a long way to sell this. will give it another go later and might have more thoughts on balance--on first impression at least, I felt like the difficulty and combos were just right!

gave you all the follows. excited to see more. itch page is still down, however! would love to tag you there as well. great work!

Developer

Hi there! Thanks so much for playing, and for passing along this very encouraging feedback - it's really great to hear!

As you guessed, the four of us have all worked together in the past at different times. That definitely helped thing to run smoothly! i think it also helped that we got a very clear idea of what we wanted to do early on.

So glad to hear you felt the difficulty and combos felt right! Our biggest focus was on trying to get that stuff feeling as solid as possible, so very glad to hear we hit the mark for you!

Our itch page is now live here:
https://teamlazerbeam.itch.io/shroom-and-gloom

Thanks again for the feedback - it's greatly appreciated!

Submitted

did a second run today. pleased to find that my build ended up significantly different than the first one!

managed to beat the game this time around but it felt like a bit of a cheese. picked up the 'everlasting truffle' very early. it's difficult to see how this isn't op; you can easily farm the card on low-level mobs and pick up a huge amount of hp. given that the card title also clips off the sprite, part of me wonders if it was a debug item? it doesn't seem to be more valuable for cooking, either. even if something like this was balanced as a viable strategy (say, by throwing in a bunch of health trading cards), it still seems a little rough to have to grind with it in the early game.

I do appreciate the biphasic decks. having useful items as cards motivates interesting player choices--your draw potential is hurt by hoarding valuable stuff--and the risk v reward feels like good design.

that being said, it was unclear if you can shuffle your 'home' deck? I should have paid closer attention but it seemed as though sometimes I can't draw into what I expected. on my first playthrough I was fairly confused about drawing and shuffling after a fight vs on entering a safe zone. I'm reasonably convinced that it works mechanically but from a readability perspective it could probably use a little love.

the relationship between truffles => the campfire is fairly unclear, but the rest of the game stands on its own so that's OK. feels like more of an easter egg than a mechanic. once I did pick up on the crafting, the items didn't seem more useful than my actual deck. but that was just my initial impression.

having card trashing handy with the pig is nice. that being said, my deck never really felt bloated. you start with very few cards, and because trashing is so easy, you can trivially thin your deck. perhaps this is intentional--it's certainly your choice--but it might put more pressure on the player to make this a less accessible strategy.

the damage cards also feel somewhat fungible. this is again something I like--I'm excited by the idea of modding and mashing up cards in this style of game, and I think it's a powerful design direction--but it's too random to feel like a significant player choice.

ultimately, it feels easy to become very powerful. my draws were almost always good. I can almost always get my cake and eat it too. this is something I like about the game overall. but this might hurt replayability. not sure--I've only played it twice, and this is only a demo. probably though you want a little more deck difficulty, as opposed to just making the enemies harder.

again, overall, great work! happy to answer any playtest Qs, but I'm sure you guys have a local scene there to watch people play live.

Developer

Wow! Thanks for the all feedback. We haven't had a lot of outside feedback so far, so this is very valuable.

We'll have to do something about all the potential farming. It's nice to hear you're getting powerful cards, but we don't want players sitting grinding turn after turn on low level mobs.

I think all the points you raise are very salient. Buffing the campfire seems sensible. Maybe making thinning the deck a bit more expensive/complicated. I'm a fan of creating monster combos in card games, but the combos in Shroom and Gloom don't involve much investment or specialization. Though I think some of that will come naturally with more content (or at least, with more content we'll be able to design more complicated card relationships).

You sound like an expert on card games (moreso than us). I'm going to be borrowing some of your lingo and ways of reasoning about card games!

Submitted

oh ho. an expert--that's a good one! did get into dominion a little back in the day, but I don't do much with deckbuilding in my own design practice, unfortunately.

some final thoughts. did one last playthrough (it's fun!). was able to farm the positive feedback cards (I think there are two? 'raging edge', which quickly spirals out of control, and something something blade) pretty successfully. it looks like one of you may have capped the total mob count to ~20, or at least it seemed that way, since some squid thing just flat out stopped calling for reinforcements. by the end of it all I was dealing about 400 damage per turn.

there are many ways to combat this kind of thing. slay the spire I think features several enemies with positive feedback loops of their own, making lingering in encounters incredibly punishing. you do a little bit of this with the shield buff squid. but really you might just want to apply reinforcement actions more delicately, and pair them with powerful opponents (which check the player) rather than making it a thing you can always just do.

I'm definitely not against easy trashing--it can be a powerful creative tool for the player. but perhaps if you go down that route, you might consider balancing it against something else. all roguelikes sit somewhere on the control/constraint creativity spectrum, right? i.e. whether you're forced to play the hand you're given (pun intended) or you have the flexibility to always make your own build, no matter what. this has apparently been described as 'headroom' in the past: http://nethack4.org/blog/strategy-headroom.html (kudos to my jam partner Elliot for sharing this with me recently). what I like about shroom & gloom is that the cards feel more component-based and buildable than the typical deckbuilder, but maybe you're not trying to move in that direction. I mean, if you don't, I will! :)

speaking of which: it seems as though there are no tradeoffs to all the stacks you can put on cards. one common strategy I had, which feels degenerate, is just to load everything useful on one uber card that I know I'm never going to lose.

finally, here's a dumb thought. I realized that you guys are one key away from a mouse-only game. don't get me wrong, the W card is gorgeous, but if I could just click to move forward I could throw my keyboard away and put my feet up. the ultimate lazy day.

Developer

Haha! Having the "W" to move forward (rather than a click) was the closest we came to having an argument during the jam. I think we could probably include an option for people who want to play single-handed, but there was something about pressing forward that felt a little more visceral.

We're not big fans of puzzle games, so I think our natural instinct is towards more headroom, more viable strategies. 

That said, the thing that bothers me most about more headroom designs, and is mentioned in that pretty excellent article, is that players will repeat themselves given the chance, and this is boring. You mentioned headroom in the context of farming strategies in Shroom and Gloom, which is something specifically mentioned in the article, though the solution the author found probably won't save players from their min-maxing instincts in Shroom and Gloom.

Sorry if this is turning into a bit of a long response, I'm just interested in thinking about aethetics-of-dynamics in deckbuilders.

Despite some divergences, Shroom and Gloom is a "Slay The Spire-like" (which is a genre these days, one that I'd prefer to call a "Dream Quest-like" but that game never got popular). And in terms of the headroom dynamic, these games have a lot going for them. As in, they avert some of the problems of too much headroom simply by not giving many options (in Slay The Spire-likes the first choices are all "Choose One Of Three"). (in this way Slay The Spire-likes are quite different to traditional Roguelikes).

Alex Smith (the author of that headroom article) would argue that limited card choices steers players due to the low headroom in subsequent choices, that the player has to commit to a path once they've chosen it. He'd be right... but there's still something curious about simply not giving players most of the choices in the game. i.e. it's possible to make a game with relatively high headroom, but low repetition just by having a lot of content that doesn't appear every run. Like simply not offering any cards that allow farming is an actual solution, even if these cards exist in the game and do appear sometimes.

And the thing about CCG's in general, is that the random-draw-from-a-deck is naturally great at getting players to improvise (which is the opposite of the feeling Alex Smith identifies as being caused by too much headroom, i.e. Players deciding on a strategy early on and then just sticking to it). I feel like there's got to be a way to disrupt a farming strategy through introducing more randomness, like if the first half of a run involves a lot of farming, but then some event takes place half way that provides an even better approach, that would reduce the overall repetition, and as I see it the repetition itself is the problem.

All of this is to say, that I feel like Shroom of Gloom is in a good place with its headroom... but there's consequences of our highish-headroom approach that you've pointed out that I'd like to avoid - like repetitive farming, and low improvisation decks (that have few cards, and so more repetition when playing).

And I desperately don't want to reduce the headroom to solve this by direct nerfing of options (which is the low headroom approach), while I also desperately want to limit the boring strategies.

What's left then are largely content-based solutions. As in, solutions that involve more content that introduce new incentives for players or otherwise force players to improvise around a new element. And I suspect in a high-headroom design paradign content is usually the tool that solves problems.

You've already mentioned some approaches with limiting farming, like new enemies that gain in power. My feeling is, whatever these limits are they need to be baked into the rules of the base game, rather than specific encounters. For instance: all basic enemies can flee (after a turn or two) when they're feeling doomed, but then come back in a later fight.  The same amount of killing enemies for "If Fatal" improvements might happen, but it would be less possible to ignore enemies and keep buffing your cards (which isn't a fun strategy).

Submitted
but there's still something curious about simply not giving players most of the choices in the game. i.e. it's possible to make a game with relatively high headroom, but low repetition just by having a lot of content that doesn't appear every run.

I think you're getting at what (I believe at least) is missing from the headroom framework. Alex Smith would appear to value player choices only with regards to their relative probability of reaching a final win state, but this disregards how such a probability is actually computed: in general, the chance of victory depends on future choices, such that the value (sometimes referred to as the 'return') of a choice is actually a composite of every future choice in the chain of choices that make up a playthrough.

more plainly, two choices may have an equal likelihood of victory, but differ (e.g. in length, or composition) in how this likelihood is actually computed. despite their apparent similarity, they can actually be quite different, and in fact quite meaningful to the player, i.e. meaning is clearly not fully represented by the 'probability of victory' signal as Alex Smith would seem to claim. to reuse an example from the article: if two characters play very differently--so differently that learning one teaches you nothing about playing the other, say--but otherwise present equal opportunity for success, I would consider character choice to be meaningful: it determines the rest of your game!

there is something orthogonal to the notion of headroom, I think, and being unaware of it can lead to dangerous conflation (particularly 'high headroom' and player creativity). as you point out, the degeneracy of a 'puzzle' experience (there is only one path) is not the same as low headroom. ultimately what seems like poor design, at least in the context of these sorts of games, is making only one path viable. I think that you can give the player plenty of creative choices early on, as long as they have to pay the price for these choices eventually... and that's what I think could be neat about shroom & gloom, at least in the early game.

on the other hand, giving the player too many options probably overwhelms them with choice and/or puts them in a rut, as you say. this would seem to relate to player creativity in general. this post focuses on sandbox games, not roguelikes, but I am surprised to find that it has some relevance here. offering the player three cards and telling them to make a decision feels a lot like giving the player an interesting and functional design constraint.

regarding farming. at some level I believe that farming (and stuff like exhaustive inventory management) is just 'bad', at least in the sense that it's unintentional (i.e. as opposed to a game 'about' farming). regardless of the value of the reward (and sometimes in spite of it), the cost of farming is usually only player time, and player time is a valuable resource. either just give the player what they want, or incorporate some kind of risk/reward tradeoff into farming, right? curious if you agree. I mentioned this already, but one thing I liked about shroom & gloom was that it puts a negative feedback loop on inventory management. if you try to hoard tons of cards in your home deck, you'll just weaken its draw power overall. I would probably enjoy if farming was given a similar treatment.

this segues somewhat neatly into your other comments.

the thing about CCG's in general, is that the random-draw-from-a-deck is naturally great at getting players to improvise . . . I feel like there's got to be a way to disrupt a farming strategy through introducing more randomness, like if the first half of a run involves a lot of farming, but then some event takes place half way that provides an even better approach, that would reduce the overall repetition, and as I see it the repetition itself is the problem.

I would like to push back a little against this, but not much, because it's more important to preserve your take--particularly in a genre game like this.

but I would say that the whole point in building a deck, from the player's perspective, is to make something that consistently delivers exceptional performance. in order to do this, you need to be able to understand your deck in its totality--you need control. deckbuilders feel like a battle against the machine, where the player always wants more control but is (positively) constrained by some aspect of the design. MTG (which I have very little experience in) has a minimum deck size for this reason.

so when a card shows up in my hand, I already know what to do--it's part of the engine. this is because it is common in these sorts of games to have total information when it comes to the composition of your deck. understanding your deck is knowing all the hands you could draw, and this information isn't gated by anything (in particular: time) so investing into this sort of knowledge can be seen as a weakness in the player that is either encouraged or discouraged by the design. a little like farming I guess. so the extent to which players 'should' improvise I think is very low, or at least the game as it currently exists does not encourage this in play. you could however imagine several changes that would (not knowing what's in your deck is the obvious one, but also cards that mutate in the background, or cards that synergize very broadly, etc.). I am sure slay the spire supports large 'grabbag' decks--I am not a serious enough player to know--but there has to be something that makes these viable, otherwise you just draw into a lot of terminal cards.

Submitted(+1)

Ton of fun ideas here and an absolutely gorgeous style

Developer

Thank you so much - that's awesome to hear!

Submitted(+1)

really neat concept, and the graphics are amazing! i got killed by the large dude that attacks you three times, seems like a bit of a difficulty spike there lol

also yeah, the game page doesn't show for me, so i kind of had to figure out the controls as i go along. i did figure them out so that's good, but a little tutorial wouldn't hurt imo :)

Developer(+1)

Thank you so much for playing, and for passing along this encouraging feedback. Glad you liked the concept!

The big beastie that killed you is actually the first of  three bosses! Still not sure if we've made the game too hard for people, but you can also get pretty crazy strong with some of the combos that are possible.

Game page should be public soon, just adding a little visual polish to the dungeons and then unleashing this baby.

Thanks again!

Submitted(+1)

Game is amazing but your game page is down? you should probably fix that unless you want to hide the game or something. in which case you probably remove teh submission itself.

Developer

Thanks so much for the positive feedback, and for letting us know about the page.

Here's a link to the page:
https://teamlazerbeam.itch.io/shroom-and-gloom

Seems to be working just fine on this side, but do let us know if you can't access it!

Submitted(+1)

also unable to access the game page, it seems like it is set to private or similar

Developer(+1)

Thanks for letting us know Voxel! Getting a new, stable build up and then we're gonna set our shroomy baby to public!

Submitted(+1)

I really loved the concept! But I think i found a bug, dunno, i was able to summon a frog and keep walking till past the wall behind him in the total darkness lol

Developer(+1)

Thanks heaps for letting us know about that - really appreciate it!

Will take a look at that and get a new versions live ASAP.

Thanks again for playing and letting us know about that bug!