(Prior to downloading and playing, will edit/reply with post-play thoughts) So based on the description and demo vid (especially the momentum-based movement and style/weight of the air-based movement), it would appear to be a spiritual succesor to Jet Set Radio (or better yet my faveorite game Jet Set Radio Future). Meaning, I have my hopes up!
Hope you'll have fun playing this demo, it is still all a work in progress, so we'll work hard to improve it all the way! :)
First of all, despite what others have said the demo is very playable on keyboard- you just have to set up custom controls in the launcher. I'll admit though, the movement control system is literally tenky, as in you move forwards or backwards in relation to the direction you're aiming. While I do agree that it's the most technically accurate way to mimic rollerblading (at least in theory), there's a small matter of momentum and directional movement based on the tank-style. To make sense, when rollerblading in a straight line you start off with a small boost of acceleration (your first step and the push that follows), bringing you up to at least 50% of your average speed in the first few seconds. Also, when turning your forward momentum is redirected (not cancelled out for momentum in the new direction), meaning that a turn can actually speed you up depending on the angle. I think specifically it's the turning and forward/backward control style that (while I was able to get used to) would frusterate the average player.
To fix this, I recommend that the joystick (or in my case 'wasd') control not only the direction, but also the camera and forward push, and swap the now unused forward button for a 180/90 degree character rotation, both for tricks and movement tweaking. Or just "rotate right/left on the spot" buttons.
Personally I'd recommend that the camera follow behind the player and "lock on" to within 15-20 degrees, and have a seperate button you hit to unlock it (so you can look around without moving as an option, instead of the default), and a double-tap to recenter it.
Then there's the jump, which is a very typical demo-game jump. I presume it's a placeholder until you can get a sort of tap/hold -> short hop/high jumpflip system working.
Again, very playable and I had fun, even collected 4 badges before I had to start fighting the momentum and inertia. Also, I saw a few people complain that the rails are "too thin"- I can see why they'd say this, but with the tweaks to the movement system it won't be much of an issue.
I have hope for this game, and eagerly await the next demo version!
Thank you for your feedback! I'm sorry in advance for the long answer, you don't have to read everything if this bores you. You can just go all the way down and just read the TLDR. :P
I understand the point of view about reverting all the controls to existing layout such as Jet Set Radio or Tony Hawk in order to get into a familiar way of playing. On the other hand there is 2 reasons I'm not doing that.
First, well, making the game play and feel the same way as another kind of destroy the point of making a new game with a new IP and a new gameplay that I believe is better for roller skating while needs a little time to get used to. On the other hand, I'm all for a new THPS or JSR to be made!
Now the second reason is yet to come : the overall design for this specific control mapping is not showing nor complete yet, and I am aware that one way or another, I will need to harmonize a player's positive experience, friendly learning curve, and solid understanding of the control layout, all with level design. Not an easy task.
Let me elaborate the design: the triggers are used to skate forward or backward. You usually see that kind of input mapping in driving simulations, like on cars, tanks, or boats.
Somehow I find it even more legitimate to have this in a roller skating game. You see, in driving games, 90% of the time, you'll be pressing the right trigger, braking or driving backward just happens less frequently.
In Neon Tail, going backward goes exactly as fast as going forward, you just got the direction reversed. So what's the point of going backward since it's harder to control? Well performing combos of course. So there's a high probability that new players will be pressing right trigger most of the time. But over time with the combo system, I expect players to be switching between forward and backward skating all the time, in order to perform combos.
The more combos you perform in the streets under the awestruck gazes of pedestrians, the more reputation you will gain.
The more reputation you have, the more things you can do, but this is another subject. The point is, there's an ongoing incentive to perform combos all the time.
Right now the combo system is yet to be done.
I will create a list of combos, that are fixed orders of actions, each with a different amount of reputation point gain. For example, a combo named 180 grind to grind would be performed by being grinding in the first place, jumping, turning around then landing on rails again. Each character will have their own set of combos.
Skating backward will usually be more rewarded than the forward counterpart, to balance the difficulty of having the controls inverted.
I think this system might prove good enough to keep the players performing combos as much as they can, while make use of this new control layout in a good , challenging and fun way. You can see that playing this way making use of the separated input of Lt and Rt all the time makes sense. Although the worst thing a player can do is to never release Rt, and this is where I'll need to craft good level design and tutorial.
The left stick is used to rotate the character toward a direction. Do take note that I'm separating the action of rotation and the final direction.
Whenever the player uses the left stick, a blue arrow will show the direct input of the player, putting a visual to the player's intention.
Depending on the alignment of the roller blades, the direction in which the player is moving, its speed, the character's weight and the gravity, physics will decide how the character will act while trying to go toward the direction of the player's input.
Our main character is quite light and agile so it is almost unnoticeable at first. But give her more speed, or more weight, and the difference will be felt. This physics based control makes it even more important for the player to play with both trigger's analogic input with subtlety and skills and that is where I think the fun resides in this control layout.
TLDR : I think the control mapping right now feels good but is very new. I understand people who wants a new Jet Set Radio or THPS will just want exactly that, but I'm not making a sequel of those very good games. I have plans of my own and if you give me a chance I hope it will prove to be a positive experience in the end.