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A jam submission

Bowl'dOverView game page

The 'Dark Souls' of Bowling
Submitted by matsuringo, NoAverageJ0E — 8 hours, 38 minutes before the deadline
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Bowl'dOver's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Unexpectedness#333.2233.636
Visuals#383.3043.727
Gameplay Innovation#402.9013.273
Overall#562.9823.364
Fun#612.8203.182
Audio#722.5792.909

Ranked from 11 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Please list any pre-made art/music/code/other assets that you used.
Church bell - Copyrght 2008-2010 Ulrich Metzner https://opengameart.org/content/church-bell

Bicycle horn - https://opengameart.org/node/16322

How many members in your team?

Team of 3

List each team member's role, along with their social media / website links!
Ed Hicks, programmer,
https://matsuringo.itch.io/

Joe McPhee, artist/designer,
https://noaveragej0e.itch.io/
https://j_a_mcphee.artstation.com/

Turlough McHugh, musician,
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1OHVBahhT5t5yuSEaX1arf

Anything you want to say to players before they play?
We hope this game bowls you over!

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Comments

Submitted(+2)

Amazing! Love the premise and the overall idea :) I wish there was a way to quickly restart -- I had to press escape and play the whole thing from the start. Love the look and feel to the game, I think the mood is very on-point.

Spoilers:

I really like the bumpy floor and the pit filled with broken pins (that was a very nice touch). The music also set the mood really well, and I like how you use the light to guide where the player should go.

For the first few times I tried this game, I spawned outside the starting area (after hitting the 'bowl' button) and just fell off the map and was just confused. Not sure if you need to reset your momentum or set the position or what not.

I played the game up to the 3rd room, but found that it was too frustrating to keep going past that. I know y'all put in a lot of effort into this game, but sometimes players just get stuck with the smallest part of the game and quit. I think it's okay for a game to be brutal, but I think there are definitely ways to make it feel less frustrating. For instance, Celeste immediately spawns you at the start of the specific screen on death and makes sure you can quickly get back and try the game again. When the screens are so small, the player can learn from their previous death and can quickly apply things like jump here earlier, dash up this way, etc. I think you were going for the Souls-vibe and that's why you set the spawn to be the campfire, but sometimes you have to make the choices between the mood/theme vs game-feel or gameplay loop experience.

One other thing is to put more difficult maneuvers closer to the start rather than at the midway point. In the third room, I found jumping off the rotating platform to be super hard, because I couldn't feel like I could predict the movement of the ball when the the floor is also spinning. This isn't explicitly bad, but the walk back to that jump really added to the frustration :( It's hard to design a game to be challenging rather than frustrating, but these little small things really help.

One other option to explore that switches the mood of the game greatly (which may not be what you want) is to provide more agency to the player (i.e. adding jumps, dashes, or making it easier to switch direction/momentum) . Being more in-control of your movement option makes the player feel more responsible for their death (rather than end up blaming the game for it). It's very much a perception thing (because at the end of the day, it's objectively the player's fault), but the line between "oh darn i was so close, let me try that again" and "dangit this game asdflsakfjlskdajf i'm done" is very thin.

But then again, these are all my opinions that were molded by my favorite game of all time (Celeste), so other types of gamers might find this challenging instead of finding it frustrating (which I did). Maybe you wanted a frustrating experience and then that's okay, but it was just too much for me to try to get to the end of the game.

Other small things to keep in mind is how dark you make the levels. Although it does really contribute to the mood of the game, don't forget that everyone's monitor/set-up and eyes are all different so things that are super low-contrast can be hard to identify for some players.

I think it can be pretty disheartening sometimes to hear folks get stuck on the smallest part and end up not experience all the nice parts of the game you designed. However, this is something that pretty much all game devs run into (seeing streamers skip through all the nice parts of the world I designed wasn't fun to watch either, but oh well). Over time you'll learn what to catch early on and you'll build a wider game designer toolkit to apply to your levels.

Developer(+1)

Thank you for such a considered post - I'm glad that the general appeal was there for you. If there was one thing I really felt glad about having reached the conclusion to the jam it'd be the audio/visual theme that we got pieced together. Though sparse in places, I was pleased that we got something together that felt unified - which with more time could become something akin to real world-building.

Having read through your suggestions on difficulty I think you've hit on some really important points and provided credible solutions! I felt that one failing of ours on this project was the early lock on the kind of game we wanted - which was to involve a lot of 3D work & didn't leave ample time for iteration. We were happy for things to be tough, but I do regret not taking closer care of the difficulty curves in order to keep the game from being too frustrating. The point you made about the lighting is also one that, in hindsight, would have benefitted from more time. Thanks again for playing and leaving such a thoughtful comment :)

Submitted(+2)

This is very unexpected, I miss a sound track. I like the idea of the puzzle and it looks very beautiful, I'm so bad at this that after 10 minutes I only got one pin and gave up, but i get it and i like it =)

Developer(+1)

Thanks for giving it a go :)

Submitted

My pleasure 

Submitted(+2)

I guess I'm the king of a very small space now.

Developer

Thanks for playing :)

(+2)

I completed the game quickly, really quickly, probably the quickest completion in the world. I thought it would be a bowling game but then it wasn't a bowling game. One of the stone slabs had something written on it about an oreo, and I had just eaten an oreo before playing, which is crazy because I never buy oreos.  I had the audio really low because the game looked spooky, so I gotta say sorry to Turlough McHugh for that one.

Developer

Wow! You must be some kind of speed-runner then? That is a crazy coincidence, how strange.. The music is absolutely great - we should get him to upload them somewhere, maybe his Spotify or something.. Thanks for playing!

Submitted(+1)

At first I was like "Ha! It's defenitely not a bowling game!". And than I broke my eyes trying to read sings on the stones. And after that I was like "WTF". And now I have to say one thing: F**K MOMENTUM. Lost every nerve cell, will try tomorrow, I need to relax.

Developer(+1)

Haha, well I hope we didn't stress you out too much! Bowling balls are rather cumbersome objects to get around accurately aren't they! Thanks for playing :)

Submitted(+2)

The graphics and the game idea is really fun. But I had some issues with the ball getting stuck. I also have another issue, but it's a bit difficult to explain without spoiling. Overall is this an interesting and pretty well made jam game.

Developer(+1)

Thanks for giving the game a try! Yeah, in hindsight a 'ball-reset' button wouldn't have gone-a-miss! We have made it rather difficult for people to feedback without spoiling it I suppose... But then again hopefully people will play the game before looking to the comments so I shouldn't worry about it. Still, I admire your decision to keep it a secret for now! Thanks again :)

Submitted(+2)

I had an issue at one point with bowling but it was just my laptop crashing. I have to say. If bowling was like this I would do it more often 

Developer

Glad you enjoyed, thanks for the comment/rating :)