To be clear: While I do have depression and it is a pain, I was mostly describing a game issue and then making a bait-and-switch joke about my mental health.
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Managing my mood is such a pain. I try to leave enough time aside for mental health, but no matter what I do I keep falling into depression. Sometimes I manage to recover, but only by completely stalling everything else I try to do. And often as not, even those extreme measures don't seem to do anything.
I'm having similar problems in the game.
I like the game in a way that's difficult to describe in text, so I'll just skip to the bit where I nitpick something that I hope the Steam release does better.
Specifically, the thing where hitting the Submit button scrolls away from the sub-headline text and image as they're being added. It would be one thing if you could look at the newspaper as a whole after finishing, but you don't. Blink and you miss it, stare and you still miss most of it. Which is a shame, because the glimpses I saw often seemed funny!
The big problem is that that kind of "endless mode" requires limitless difficulty escalation. The encounters in the game seem to be hardcoded (ie, there's one at a specific level with a Bramble and a Rat, rather than Bramble and Rat being random enemies that can be paired in any arbitrary encounter). The Lich always comes with some Bones and not Imps or Slates or whatever, because that's what the Lich encounter has. And so on.
Maybe the game could add enemies from different encounters together, e.g. Level 21 could have a level 13 encounter added to a level 7 encounter or something, then 22 does 14 and 8, etc. But that seems pretty hard to balance or playtest; it could probably work when both encounters are straightforward, but plenty have special design gimmicks that might not interact straightforwardly.
So this game only actually prepares taxes for people with extremely simple tax returns (no retirees, no Uber drivers, no interest/dividend income, no sales of capital assets), and only if they live in states which don't need to file tax returns. Bold dream, but I feel like you're not living up to it.
Actual tax advice: Ignore the big corporations and look for a local tax preparer. I'm biased since I am one of those, but you should be able to get better service and lower rates when you're personally working with someone who doesn't need to support lobbyists and national marketing campaigns.
A pretty fun run, though it went a LOT longer than I expected, partly because this is the first game I've played since Endless Mode became a thing and partly because I spent a lot of the game with something like three block dice and one attack die thanks to some transform shenanigans.
The stats don't mention it, but I frequently gained 40-some block in a single turn, and once healed myself by more than 50. (Which sounds excessive, but I was on single-digit health at the time, and hadn't picked up the sturdy heal die.)
1. It's not obvious enough that the black stuff is dangerous and not just the darkest background color. It blends in too well with the backgrounds.
2. Not sure if I should criticize the number of stalactites in jump paths or the scarcity of checkpoints; I kept dying before I even saw the second checkpoint. It was awfully discouraging; if I can't even get through this first segment of the game, there's no way I'll reach the endgame.
I had accidentally whittled the population down to a sustainable solo farmer, with enough food to go around. I thought I was finally going to win a game...then, random illness death.
Next game, I semi-intentionally whittled the population down to a couple of farmers and a kid. The farmers died of illness and violence, the kid starved.
Shot every non-farmer day 1. All but one of the farmers died of illness. One of the children came back to life, then died of illness. Amazingly, the last farmer survived (even though it was boring to keep him alive).
Frustrating. The only way you have any chance of survival is killing the non-farmers (or letting them die), and even then you can be screwed over by random deaths.
I have two critiques of the game.
First, Talos Skin is basically worthless. It doesn't take long before enemies start dealing dozens of points of damage; it's cheaper to upgrade Endurance and Strength enough that you annihilate a room of enemies before they can take a turn than it is to upgrade Defense enough to reduce the damage those enemies deal by a noticeable amount.
Shards of Heart don't have this problem; the amount of health each shard provides isn't a constant amount. It increases rapidly enough to make a difference. But Talos Skin just provides a flat -1 damage/attack, while enemy attacks rapidly scale past a few dozen damage into triple-digit damage. It maybe saves a couple potions per run, upgrading it might save another tiny potion, and your heart cards will likely drink those potions while fighting against an enemy too strong for the potions to help against.
Second, another scaling note. Most idle games let you increase the rate of resource generation as you progress, generally just a bit slower than prices grow (plus or minus new mechanics being introduced). Vogue just makes you stronger and tougher, letting you crawl deeper into the dungeon at the same speed.
Now, if the amount of cash gained from vanquishing enemies grew fast enough, or if the treasure chests were a larger fraction of your earned gold, this might work. But the chests in a room don't have much more gold than its monsters (and in some cases have less), and while I don't have the spreadsheets in front of me, the gold earned doesn't seem to go up that fast.
End result: I have to wait increasing amounts of time to scrape the funds together to buy upgrades. Which is technically true of most idle games, but there's usually some other upgrade I can buy to reduce how long I need to wait on the main upgrade. Something I can do to make it go faster.
Anyways. Aside from those balance issues, it's a pretty good jam game. Moving through the dungeon feels like an extra complication that doesn't add much, but it looks kinda neat.
Am I missing something? All I can do is start the game. Clicking on things does nothing. None of the keys seem to do anything.
If you can't fit a tutorial in the game, could you explain the controls in the game description? I can't figure out how it's supposed to work.
Further accumulated thoughts:
- I think part of what rubs me the wrong way about how the down-boost is currently implemented is the ways it restricts your control. It feels like the counterpart to the normal boost, which you can activate any time you have charge, letting you use it for anything that a sudden velocity change could be helpful for; avoiding Bae, restarting a stalled flight,
catchingdifferently missing an airborne power-up, etc. But you can only use a down-boost if you are at a fairly specific altitude and moving up, meaning that it's basically useless for anything except recovering a power-up that you landed slightly to the left of, or occasionally dodging Bae if you know you're going to hit her at the right time and can get the right angle. And that uselessness isn't a factor of the down-boost, but of when the game lets you down-boost, for no reason beyond the game designer deciding you shouldn't want to down-boost when you're not going up enough.
- It would be neat if the game pointed out certain achievements you re-achieved during a run. Not the basic ones like Super Glider, Rocket Power, or the Monopoly achievements, but the ones that feel like achievements. Might help some of the runs that didn't achieve anything new feel like they achieved something.
- To be clear, I was serious about IRyS's volume changing with altitude. That wasn't just a joke. I think it would help "sell" when IRyS gets really high.
Some random accumulated thoughts:
- At the moment, it feels like attaining a significant altitude/vertical speed is a liability. You don't accumulate down-boost, you can't collect yeets/sodas/etc, and it's tricky to tell whether or not you're about to crash into that Bae coming up. The only advantage, aside from some one-off altitude achievements, is that you don't need to worry about meatballs or Baes, except the ones you blindly crash into at 25 meters per second.
It's making me start to think that yeet-boosts (and especially Mumei's big toss) aren't really helping. They might even be liabilities. To counteract this, some reward for getting high might be nice. Maybe accumulating XP faster the higher you are? Or some new mechanic, similar to the down-boost, if you want something less simple yet disruptive to existing mechanics.
- Speaking of down-boosts...only being able to use them while moving up is a weird restriction. They're sometimes useful for exploiting an opportunity before you fly away, but the narrow angle windows and how quickly the angle bounces around, it's tricky to pull off—you need to hit F at the right moment, then release it at the right moment. And since you can't use it while moving down or sideways, it doesn't help you avoid hazards unless you can predict where you're going to land early in the arc—and if you're moving with speed, you'll probably stop moving up before your landing site comes onscreen.
Down-boosts feel very restrictive. I feel like there's an intended use case I'm missing, because otherwise it feels too restrictive to be useful with any regularity.
- The camera feels weird. If I'm reading its behavior correctly, it has two zoom levels it can slide between; this is fine under certain ranges of speed/altitude, but also sometimes feels weird. I assume you tried a more granular camera and something didn't work?
It also feels way too easy to fly off the top of the screen. That feels like it should be exciting and uncommon, but it's common when you combine a decent base speed with a yeet/boost. Under current physics, a 10-meter ceiling feels too low. A fairly mundane 12 or 15 meter apoapsis doesn't feel very different from a 60- or 100-meter one; its just IRyS staying offscreen longer.
- Airspace feels underutilized. Flying items are fun but simple, Monopoly boards are fun but random. (Though I like that both good and bad are better/less bad if you're low on boosts. Helps with strategizing.) Both are rare. There should be less stuff in the air than on the ground, but it would be nice if there was more stuff up there. It would complicate flying items, though.
If you take this suggestion into consideration, consider adding some kind of indicator for upcoming airborne items. Actually, maybe consider that anyways—it could help make use of flight-item boosts.
- It would be funny if IRyS's voice grew faint at high altitudes. Imagine a "WHYYYyyyyy...?" trailing off as Mumei yeets her into the mesosphere.
"[Love] is a trade and a deal that manifests in many forms; but comes down to sacrifice and compromise."
YOUMU: I thought about what you said.
YOUMU: And I think you have a point.
DIOTIMA: What point would that be?
YOUMU: That love must be negative overall.
And like I said, the problem isn't that the idea doesn't work, it just doesn't show up. The flashback says...
GAINED “LOVE IS, DESPITE SUFFERING, ULTIMATELY GOOD.”
...but the first two times I tried, the idea did not actually show up in my idea list. It did when I replayed to get the exact text, and I wish I'd paid attention to the exact order of events each time.
Two last notes:
1. How do you spoiler stuff on itch? I feel like some of this should be spoilered.
2. Should I be disappointed that you didn't include a single "baby don't hurt me" in this game about "what is love?", or impressed by your restraint?
I had a flashback scene of Diotima's past which sounded very pointedly like it would apply to Youmu's argument. I believe it even said I got that exact Idea. But when I went to present it to her, and the Idea just wasn't there. Which is frustrating, because the game was enjoyable up to that point...
...aside from the times that I presented seemingly applicable arguments and lost Credibility because Diotima couldn't figure out the connection there, and the fact that this is a jam game with no save slots, meaning that running out of Credibility meant I had to start over from the beginning.
I really want to see how the game ends, but I'm not sure I want to replay most of the game over and over until I figure out what arguments are right and how to not lose the important ideas.
I've done a bit more testing, and I've boosted without shift once. So, I guess the time I tried pressing shift was just the first time I got the down-boost to work.
Even when I'm at what I'm pretty sure is the right altitude, pressing F sometimes doesn't do anything, and I have no idea why. I'm sorry that I can't provide more detail than that. If I could...well, I guess if I understood what was going on well enough to explain it, I wouldn't have a problem.
Two pieces of feedback about the downward boost.
First, I use a keyboard to play the game (hooking up a mouse is kinda inconvenient), so it took me a while to figure out how to make the down-boost work. The game says you need to hit 'f,' but you seemingly need to hit 'F'—like, shift+'f'. That's inconvenient and weird.
Second, it took me a while to confirm that that's (part of) what's going on, because the circumstances when I can down-boost are unclear. It seems you need to be at just the right altitude (for some reason), but sometimes it seems like the you-can-boost arrow flickers into and out of existence...maybe as the targets it's pointing at move away and new ones come into being? I have no idea how it's supposed to work, so maybe my description is way off, but the fact that I have no idea how it's supposed to work is kinda the problem?
Random game feel comment: Boosting when using a flight item seems to just end the flight, which doesn't feel like what should happen. (I guess it could be a coincidence, I didn't want to waste any boosts/gliders after that first incident.) I guess it's not that surprising you can't just swerve-glide up or something, but it feels wrong. Could it maybe accelerate the horizontal gliding, though?
To David Wu, I'd like to say: Good work! There's a lot of obvious content updates, and lots of little tweaks for juice or quality of life.
I have no idea how you think of these boosts. Okay, Calliope "5'5" is short enough for me" Mori was obvious, but smacking into Kronii's face is hilarious and weird.
To IRyS, I'd like to say: The more you avoid Mumei, the more I throw you. You will continue being thrown, at minimum, until I see what Mumei's special boost looks like. I hope you understand what you should do now.
Very pretty, nice juice, but...mechanics are kinda finnicky. It feels like I'm sliding forward when I jump, even when I let go of the arrow keys, which makes landing on small platforms (like the second one in the game, and also the third) very difficult.
It might be a UX thing more than a balance thing. It's hard to feel a 15% boost to Calli tosses, for instance, especially when your attempts don't last long enough to max anything, or even reach level 3 in anything. The occasional double soda is a bit easier to feel, since you can see the double sodas (even if you're twenty meters above them).
Maybe the upgrades just need "juice"? Something to make it feel like Calli's throwing you harder, like the upgrades are doing something?
Another point of technical feedback: Sometimes spacebar works instead of clicks and sometimes it doesn't? It works most of the times I load the game, but sometimes it doesn't. It's a small point (you're instructed to click, and clicking always seems to work), but it's also really weird.
(Browser version, same device each time.)
It's so nice of Calli to give all those boosts. That, or she likes yeeting medium people almost as much as small ones.
Minor note: The upgrades feel really small. A 10% boost to something that might show up when I need it, and that I might hit when it shows up?
Maybe they'd feel less small if they came with some modifications to the probability of related things showing up? Like, the Calli-yeet-booster also increases the chance of Calliopies spawning, or the meatball-slow-reducer replaces some Baes with meatballs, or something like that.
1. Maybe this was changed in an update, but there isn't a 3-of-a-kind bonus. There's a 2-of-a-kind bonus, though I don't think boosting the odds of that are worth that many unused dice.
2. I don't think you actually boost the odds at all. I think they're actually lower. With your setup, the dice being rolled only have two dice next to them. Contrast mine (I took a screenshot time).
As you can see, with the exception of the outer edge, every die has three neighboring dice, for roughly 50% greater odds of Two of a Kind triggering. You could have that for all your autorolling dice by adding another 24 dice to your setup, but at that point you have 72 dice to twelve cups, whereas I have half that many dice for nine cups.
I just don't see any way that a setup could be better than this one, mathematically speaking. Every die is being actively used, and has as many neighboring dice as can be crammed next to it while using them all. None of the buffs give bonuses for anything except being next to dice or...rolling more dice, I guess. Aside from rotating the setup 90 degrees, no other setup can match it.
Pretty good for a jam game! Though I found my dice bar was cluttered with useless elements most of the time; I wish there was a way to, say, discard a die every turn (unrelated to the two you actually use to act).
I made it to the end with only one attack die. Not on purpose; I got some bad transformations, but the deck(?) worked really well once I pruned out the second mirror die. Figured I'd commemorate this weird run.
Note: I only added that heavy block die at the last second, not sure how it would play with three block dice. Also, I was only actually playing the game for about 40 minutes—I was interrupted partway through, but the game counted the time my computer was asleep. (It was kinda slow at times, though, especially when I fought multiple tanky enemies before, especially before I enheavied the attack die.)
Geez, this game just keeps getting more stuff. Apparently there's even more stuff beyond the Queen Bee...but I died on the 21st floor, confident that I didn't need to bother healing all that damage I'd taken, so I don't know what it is.
I realize this is a jam game from almost three years ago, but there's a bug where I got stuck in the wall to the right of where you get the dash. I'm not sure how that happened—maybe I dashed or transformed at the wrong time? I wasn't paying that close attention—but if the solution is more obvious and simpler than I expect...I figured I'd let you know, just in case.
You'll know this if you saw Lua's stream, but there's a bit of a bug if you just keep playing after the game loops post-bad-ending instead of hitting ctl-R. It's entertaining at first, with Dream's angry murder face saying all the polite stuff, but it also seems to make him kill you for your incompetence no matter what. Would not recommend.