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Brandon JS Lea

A member registered Apr 18, 2016 · View creator page →

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10 levels is honestly quite a lot for a jam unless they're like one screen each. Rather than making as many as you can, I'd recommend just doing the least necessary to show off your game.

No theme, and it doesn't have to be specifically the NES. Just has to feel like a retro game from any console whilst doing stuff only possible with modern hardware. 

I don't have too bad eyesight but the text is absolutely tiny.

Really nice idea and looks polished but feels very very buggy. I keep getting stuck on invisible walls. Then there's the fact you laser instantly without any kind of grace period. 

I think the problem IMO is that there needs to be some kind of issue or dilemma the player faces, even if it's incredibly easy, in order for it to really be a puzzle. There were certainly moments where I wasn't sure what I was doing, but usually by the time I'd got my bearings it was already over. Again, I think if button/door relation was clearly conveyed then I'd at least be able to think things through. I'm sure even an easy puzzle would feel better if I feel like my choices solved it rather than hitting buttons until it solves itself. 

Nice core mechanic and the secondary mechanics feel like strong expansions of it.

Not a fan of the puzzles though. Most of them are barely challenging. It feels less like solving them and more like stumbling through them, more busy work than anything. 

The one exception if the last level, but that felt more like a case of just being deliberately overwhelming which results in a more trail and error approach than something I can step back and think about. A big part of that is keeping track of what switch does what, in something like portal this is clearly indicated without ambiguity. So again the stumbling technique resurfaces.

I think a big part of this is that elements are often used once blatantly and then not again, it feels like following a very linear path which always gives away the solution to the puzzle. 

Very interesting. I think this kind of interactivity is something that should be explored in traditional stories so it's really great to see someone finally give it a go (personally I struggle to follow characters and such, so being over to hover over people to remember who they are would be nice in longer books).

I think the "story" works well with this kind of mechanic as well, going back and finding out about the other people there after knowing what happens has a strong impact.

With that said, I don't think the pacing is great. As in, through any play style. Play without reading everything, it abruptly ends after 2 pages. Play with reading everything, it abruptly ends after 2 pages. I know this is where the "but that's the point argument" could pop up, but more than anything it just left me underwhelmed.

Perhaps if after going back there was more story to unfold, but it felt far too ramble-y after a while which isn't a great note to end on. More like padding than anything.

It does raise a lot of interesting ideas though. Like, what if you go back and reading in more detail re-contextualizes the events.

But my biggest complaint was that you basically had the opportunity to do so. Instead, we get the ending ramble telling us what the stories about. No story should have to end by telling the reader "this is what the stories about, this is what it's meant to make you feel", that's the stories job. Going back and reading everything else might have had a lot more impact had the end screen not literally gone "this is what the story is about", isn't the entire point of this that I can go back and discover that for myself, instead all of it was spoiled. At least give the option to play again before proceeding to developer commentary.

To end on a more positive note, I'm glad this sort of thing exists. There's so much more opportunity for discussion in a story that people experience at different paces and where they know different information. 

Really cool idea and well polished, but it feels like most of the challenge is less puzzly and instead far too precision based. The controls could also do with some work. I don't see why you can't just drag and drop stuff, instead having to right click, drag from top, then click again to drop.

First off, this game has some fantastic pixel art. The effects like the jetpack stand out in particular. I do have some issues with how the art can interfere with gameplay. Platforming in a tight area can be quite annoying (admittedly this may be more of a pico 8 issue) but it's even more of an issue with the 3d look the grounds got going. I could point out where the robot would land if asked, but in moment to moment gameplay it can make platforming feel quite awkward. 

Furthermore some things don't convey what they do very well. Like the enemies are all vague things. One's a bolt that I ran into at first because it doesn't look like an enemy. The green flying thing looks more like a collectable than an enemy. The lightbulbs look like something I'm meant to shoot but are just environment. 

Onto gameplay

I think having the bar deplete from the start is quite confusing since it just sits at empty and seemingly has no consequence, that left me confused.

As for the whole main mechanic of switching, I think it's the game's biggest issue. For starters I rarely notice when I've changed. This is made worse by the fact that I couldn't tell what exactly was depleting it.

But just as a whole I don't think it adds anything, it's more of a nuisance than anything. Each lasts sound short there's no point really getting used to it, shooting just becomes more cumbersome. In something like Megaman, the different powerups mean there's some tactics to which one you use at which point. " In games with multiple power ups, often the player sticks to one power, either because it's their favorite, or because you just forget about it." I don't think the solution to this was to remove all strategy. I'm left feeling like the game would be better without it, it's just a gimmick. I'm still just going to run through and shoot everything so it doesn't add anything to the experience. "the player is incentive to use all powers and mobility options." No, no they're not. There is no intensive, they're forced. That's not the same thing. 

It's a shame too because the level design and weapon design meant that if I were to switch between weapons freely, there would be a good amount of tactics to it. Plus most of the weapons are quite fun to use, although a bit similar in usefulness. I understand that wanting to incentivise players to use different weapons, but surely the whole reason for that is so they get the experience of assessing the situation and figuring out what works best, that's irrelevant when its randomized. 

Couple of nitpicks.

The chargeshot not shooting all the distance when the reg shot does felt off.

The laser was confusing. Like "do you have a recharge or do you have to get close to an enemy?" kind of thing. 

Spikes hitting you from the side is so annoying. This could be an art or gameplay fix, either convey they have side spikeiness or have them just not.

Overall, most things are done well but the core mechanic is the game's biggest flaw. I can think of some subtler solutions to getting players to try different weapons, but to flip the problem on it's head and ask "how would you get this mechanic to work better" is a lot tougher question. I've seen it work in more arena shooter style games and I think it works better there because you don't control the pacing, you can't just sit back at weapon switch. So perhaps if this were more of a run n gun like contra where the pressure's always on and the change was more clearly broadcast then it might work better, since in both the focus is on adaptability. This more Megaman like design suits....well Megaman, a game based more around decision making (which there is a lack of now). 

Lastly, I know this is quite a critical review, so I just wanna add it is impressive given the time constraints, and given more time I'm sure some of these issues would be ironed out. 

Been thinking more about my issues with the game . I think the main problem is in the latter half, there's no strategy. Or rather, any strategy other than the intended one will get you killed. I gave up after the final fight one shot me (I had the moves but often instinctively double click going into battle and accidentally clicking a move I didn't mean to) because the final fight wasn't even a fight, there was no strategy, just "do the one thing that is guaranteed to kill him", more of an easy puzzle than strategy. Not to mention if you take a wrong path you have to grind up all over again. Like, why? It's not that I don't know what to do, but either I'm locked in with a bad moveset and it's just a case of RNG, or I've got the moveset and it's just a case of doing it despite how mindless it is by that point. 

Sry if this comes across as harsh, but this game has an enjoyable factor that mean all the issues are so much more bitter. 

Thanks for the feedback. I can't update the game until post jam period, but I've got a new version that adds a leap button. Given the momentum it's helpful to save a left key to correct yourself, but just tapping left beforehand means you'll be leaping that direction instead which I've found helps balance things a little. That and making the randomness less random.

Thanks for the detailed feedback. Pretty much agree with everything, the key randomness was just a "ran out of time" thing.

Just one thing I'm curious on, what was the issue with the level design. I know it's quite basic, I just wondered if there were any particular issues?

This games really great, but there's two major points against it.

1.RNG, its best to just take on tough enemies and hope they don't use their strongest attacks at the start, in part because 

2.It feels like there's always one intended path, and if you don't take it, you're screwed. After grinding for way too long, I decided to keep boost incase we ended up with a numeric damage attack. Then the sun 1 shot me cos I didn't divide its HP and all that time was wasted.

The sense of scale was great but now I leave it feeling like I just wasted my time for trying to be ambitious. 

Really entertaining game. Wanted to see what came next but after going outside every single enemy could easily kill me. The only way I can see to progress is through RNG. 

Really interesting concept. Though honestly it's hard to appreciate it when the game gets so intense. I feel like the walls shooting back could add some tactical depth but personally I found it too chaotic to even be sure what was firing at me. Very well polished mind. 

Can you please include a rule that people have to include screenshots of the game? I like to know what I'm playing, and it's much easier to keep track of judging/rating entries when they have a picture. 

The games quite slow, and TBH I'm not sure why it even is a game when you're only agency is to move, very slow move.

But it does have its charm to it, I really like the parallax effects and the rocks, so I figured I'd give it a chance and get past the intro to see where it's going.

Then it ended.

Really stylish, but I can't get into it with movement this slow.

Really lovely foreground art. Somehow manages to have that slightly cutsie look whilst still suiting the grim atmosphere.

Game also feels really polished, everything just feels good.

Not so much a fan of the gameplay. It's a lot of wandering around hoping to stumble upon the place to go next. It doesn't help that everywhere looks the same. Despite how much of an atmosphere it builds up, the world is for lack of a better word "gamey". Something like super metroid has surreal platforming based areas but still manages to feel like a real world.

Also not sure why so many Pico 8 games have dialogue, really hard to read if you have poor eyesight or just struggle with reading. 

Curious, what inspired the feel for this game? It's very charming. 

I played "run to nowhere" but despite being listed as an example of the kind of thing we're going for, does arguable have a couple of jumpscares. Admittedly they're quite lite in the sense there's no loud screams or anything like that, so I was wondering if that kind of jumpscare (eg sudden cuts that take you by surprise and sure made me jump) are acceptable or if our games need to be completely absent of jumpscares.

Personally, I think they can serve quite a strong purpose. Even if a jumpscare isn't actually seen as scary, it's much easier to build an atmosphere when I'm terrified something's going to jump out at me. I had assumed based on the "no jumpscares" rule that there wouldn't be any in "run to nowhere", had I known and the atmosphere would have hit a lot harder.

How did you make the text all floaty?

You mention in the devlog that this is meant to be more approachable, but to be honest I'm completely lost.

I got stuck on level 7. I completely forgot I can freeze guys in place with the music trick because I was so overwhelmed with the amount being introduced. Like, the level where the recorder is introduced was completely baffling. I can get instructions on how to move but not how this new confusing mechanic works which seems quite odd. 

There's a lot of cool ideas here but it's so unfocused that I'm just left lost. Giving it my all to solve a puzzle is a good sensation, but when I skip levels and mechanics I can't give it my all there's always that fear I'll just be wasting my time cos the real solution is something I don't know about yet, in that sense there's no breathing room. 

Even when I did beat levels (just beat 6) I felt as though I'd broken it or something, cos most of the elements there I barely used. I just kinda stumbled though it and then was like "oh, thats it?" Was I meant to use the numbers as platforms there?

Couple of small things. Having the numbers and 1up blocks be the same color makes me think I can change them about even though I can't. Also, it feels like it should be a drag to move them rather than just a click, I'm sure a simple visual indicator can fix that. Also, level 3, the dotted outline blocks make it look like if you drag things onto them they'll pop it place or something. 

I'd also be nice to have a better indicator of how score works. The score change seems like one of the mechanics with the most meat, I quite enjoyed the puzzles with it, but it would help for a +1 or -1 or whatever to appear when it changes, it didn't notice at first that dying decreases score.

Level 3 I've no idea how anything works. Is the fact I keep teleporting through the flag a bug? I'm honestly not sure. I figured the above dudes acted like thwomps and I'd have to stop the music at the right time to use them as blocks, then I remembered I can just climb the numbers.

Lastly, controls. Perhaps just me but I kept trying to use the scrollwheel to scroll down to the options.

Overall, as cool as this is, it feels like the opposite of what's described in the devlog, being that doing a whole bunch of ideas at once isn't the most intuitive IMO. Just feels like the kind of thing that could do with a lot of refining. 

Really nice art and controls quite well, but the "run around randomly looking for computers" isn't that compelling or interesting. Would also be nice if there were more sound effects (shooting and jumping).

Nice art, but the controls are overly difficult. 

Quarantine Jam community · Created a new topic Ranking

You mentioned streaming the best games. How is the ranking done to decide the best games? Is it community voted or...

Thankyou, this will be a great help

Ranking just adds extra insensitive/motivation for people who are into that kind of thing. If you're not, it can just be ignored. 

It can be easy to put all effort into the game and then fall short in the presentation of the game on the game's page.

Any good examples of well done game pages? Any tips?

This is simultaneously a very polished and very unpolished game.

The art is pretty great, it's what drew me in. Usually, when I see a game looking this good, I expect the gameplay to follow suit but....

  • The empty corridors. It takes quite a while for you to come across anything of even slight significance. It reality its only about a minute, but given the nature of this type of game, having gone through a fair few rooms, its quite long. This would be fine if it were building atmosphere or leading to something, but it doesn't.
  • The first path you unlock you do so by interacting with a thing, and then it unlocks. It'd be much more interesting if you got some kind of upgrade that naturally unlocks an area, rather than a door just opening. Also, it tells you to open the map I believe, but doesn't tell you how.
  • The camera feels horrible, I'm sorry but there's no other way to really put it. Sometimes simple works better, particularly in a retro style setting. The way it lacks behind or jumps back and forth as you turn around is incredibly disorientating and obnoxious. The only time I can think in a platformer that a camera should work more complexly than "stick to player" is perhaps invertical sections. 
  • The controls are tricky to get even though it feels like the type of game where they'd be easy to pickup. For one thing the jump. Having the character drop when the jump is released works well for some types of games and could work here. The problem is thus, instantly dropping when it's released does not work in tandem with the shoot jump mechanic. FTR, cool mechanic. But being forced to release the jump button to press it again feels all kinds of awkward. Later, without realising, switched to shooting down using the shoot button and this worked much better, so then why is the ability to use the jump button there? So it's easier to figure out? A simple prompt could do that, I'm all for teaching through level design over obnoxious tutorials, that doesn't mean simple prompts need to be completely omitted; that flies in the face of being user friendly. 
  • The bullet recharge mechanic is just bad. Having to wait around for the gun to charge destroys the pacing. There's an easy solution to this that I'm not sure why it wasn't taken, increase the weapon recharge time dramatically, but only have it recharge when on the ground (or recharge faster on the ground). I got one of the recharge speed upgrades, I'm guessing that the idea is you find more of them and so on. But you shouldn't need upgrades in order for the game to be fun in the first place. I believe in the trailer it showed the character recharging in the air to repeatedly bounce, but that itself could be an upgrade.
  • Each room just kind of blended together. Looking back, the only room that I remotely remember was the rolling rock room. Every other room didn't present some kind of challenge, just the same enemies in the same situations, it all felt like filler.
  • I didn't play around with this too much cos I didn't want to die, so apologies if I'm wrong, but spikes seem to knock you back when you get damaged. This seems like something that'll make it a pain to get out of.

Don't worry, in the future I'm sure they'll had an option to turn off and kind of emotion the game may evoke.

Really cool concept, and quite well executed.

The laser on the boss is way too difficult compared to everything else. I can dodge all enemies, all bullets, but the laser gets me every time given how fast it is.

Lasers aside, the game is very slow, in terms of going room to room, in terms of enemies, in terms of projectiles. I don't really want to replay it when it starts off so slow only to die to the boss despite how interesting it is. I guess I feel like I've seen most of what the game has to offer quite quickly, it's cool, but there's not really any intensive to play more.

Not really sure what the darkness adds, felt like more of an annoyance.

Is the green a dash? Given you already have a dash. perhaps something else would fit better, like the ability to destroy enemy bullets.

Lastly it could do with a lot more kick to it. The rhythm elements have a really great feel to them but everything else is very lacking. 

The highscore is meant to be what level you reached, after you run out of keys it'll present it. I should have made it clearer TBH. 

Great experience overall, but the ending was an anticlimax with the sudden "victory", it's like you build up all this atmosphere and immersion to go "congratulations on beating this video game you are playing right now" and ruin it all.

Would it be too forward of me to suggest adding a theme? I understand why you wouldn't want a theme, in order to create a diverse set of games. However, I think a good theme can help lead ideas without being overbearing. 

I'm not saying there should be a mandatory theme, but something to help inspire people. Given that this is a reoccurring jam, having a theme would help to give each it's own identity. 

Any VSauce channel is allowed.

This jam seems cool but there's very little detail on what this jams about; I'm not even sure what a fantasy console is. I think some amount of basic info/pointers would help newcommers like myself join. Like, do we just make up a console? Is there some place dedicated to fantasy consoles where we can learn about the idea? I know it says use our own interpretation, but as a newcommer to the idea, I have no guidelines to form my own interpretation. 

Also the rules makes it sound like we have to work in a team, is this the case?