That's fair. Thank you for letting me know where I might start looking!
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Does this have a setting to only play the sounds during certain keystrokes, instead of all of them? I'm glad I got this, it sounds awesome and I'm eager to try, but I can already anticipate that it might be a bit of an overload for my brain.
I would like to have it play only for vowels (so about half of my typing, maybe less), or maybe, if even that was too much sound to deal with, maybe only on punctuation marks or only on capital letters or only on the return (yay, you finished a paragraph!).
Even better if there were a field I could type in the specific letters or combos it'd make noise for (e.g. maybe it's a VW kinda day, or maybe I'm trying to type something without the letter E, or maybe I just want booing sounds when I start to type the villain's name).
Thanks! That lines up with Extra Credits' video about "Minimum Viable Product," and I'll try to bear that in mind while I get started.
Also, just noticed that you're from the Pacific Northwest -- sweet! Always nice to connect with creators from the same area. Maybe sometime I'll see some local plant life in your games (madronas?). Stardew Valley's creator is also from around here (I found out yesterday), and he added salmonberries to SDV ^_^
Thanks for being clear about expectations! (And about whether or not you might consider a re-release.) For a first game, it does seem quite large and detailed and interesting.
"A big learning experience in just getting something we felt happy releasing" is one of those moments I hope to have in my future, as a hobbyist game designer who's been trying to get some teenage+ nephews interested in actually completing something that we could submit to the public. (Got any advice or "things I wish we'd known when we were just starting out"?)
Yes, it's important to remember the scope of possibilities, given the resources and experience of the team. Honestly, being not that familiar with itch.io but having played a small varieties of games here, I expect smaller projects, smaller teams, lower budgets -- but even there, there's room to grow, and to think more about what can be done within those limitations. (I forget which thing I was watching or reading recently that discussed the benefit of working within limitations... possibly an episode of Start With This, by the creators of Welcome to Night Vale?)
I hope I don't come across as too critical in the feedback; I figure, since the creators donated their efforts to a good cause, then if I like it enough to both play more than a couple minutes of it and also wish it were better (more polished), I ought to provide at least a bit of a feedback about how that might be accomplished. Whether that feedback helps with a revamp of this game, or in a future project, it might still be useful. (As for the length: I tend to get wordy when I discuss things that interest me, and since I sometimes have trouble getting my point across, I tend to also over-explain things. So I hope it wasn't too much.) I know that with my writing, I appreciate detailed feedback about how to improve; that's not true of every creator (which is fine), but it's the position I start from, at least.
Oh, I understood perfectly well what the game wanted me to do. But Spade-style players like to nose around the edges and see what the game lets you do. And whether the designers anticipated that.
In World of Warcraft, a long while before certain expansions, there was a place atop Ironforge that only a few players ever got to see. You had to do a weird combination of jumping and sprinting and knowing (or guessing) precisely where to aim in order to make it up there. But there was content there, for those of us who managed it. Similarly, in one game (I forget which, maybe a GTA?), there's an area you can only get to by something like a game-breaking bug, and there's like graffiti on the wall (I haven't played the game in question) saying something like "Hey, you're not supposed to be up here!"
A smaller game designer can't be expected to account for all the ways a player might try to play the game (heck, even the big game designers can't account for everything), but they can still work out flow charts for areas and figure out where adventurous players might try to go. Heart-type players might try to interact with the characters (and get disappointed if the NPCs are too simplistic). Diamond-type players might try to see if there are goodies to collect. Club-type players like to assert dominance over the enemies and the game itself. And Spade-type players like to explore (and break the game scripts by doing what the game doesn't expect).
Consider if, in the midst of that storm, there were just a couple characters out there -- not like the guards, not blocking the path (a mechanical detail), but out there to give a little color to the landscape for those players who didn't follow the game's directions to go straight to the inn. Maybe the lighthouse keeper is checking the integrity of the lighthouse. Maybe a farmer is checking to make sure that his animals are all right. Maybe a mom is out hunting for her storm-enjoying kid. A little something, maybe something that most players wouldn't see, but players who ran around the town a bit during the storm would run into these characters. It'd give a little color to the people in the town (Heart), show that the designer was thinking about more than just the linear story (Spade), and maybe it could give a small goodie to the player (Diamond) that doesn't impact the game much in the long term, but might be a useful boost in the short term (e.g. 20 gold coins for helping the lighthouse keeper gather wood to fix up his windows). Throw in a little challenge (like tracking down a couple of animals) and you might even make the Clubs happy, if they happened to hunt around in defiance of the game's logic.
If it's a character you meet later, then when you run into them "for the first time" (as the game expects), the game could remember your interaction the night before and greet you in a different way.
But if there's literally nothing to find out by venturing through the storm, then physically prevent that from happening. Make the inn be next to the entrance to the town, and have a guard not allow strangers in during the night, or have the gate be locked and not guarded due to the storm. Or maybe the storm's knocked over a big tree that blocks the path to the rest of the town, and they won't be able to clear it until the storm clears. Maybe the storm flooded a river and it's flowed over the field that separates the inn area from most of the town, so you can only really explore a tiny part of the town during the storm -- and maybe use that corner-of-map preview to let the player get a peek at upcoming areas, without being able to walk around in them just yet. Maybe you see the graveyard from the edge of the screen (behind the trees and rocks that block the path), so you'll know it's a point of interest for later. Maybe if you nose behind some bushes to the side of the inn, you see a short interaction between two characters that starts a little mystery about what's going on in town, or that makes it suspicious when that character seems super nice the next morning (not having seen you spying on them).
You don't want it to be as obvious (and boring) as No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom (see TV Tropes), but by artistically cutting down on where the player can go (at any given point), you can improve the player's experience and cut down on frustration (one type of frustration being "I'm not sure I checked all the nooks and crannies"). And if you allow a small amount of exploring while the game's waiting for the player to hit the next section, you can make simple yet interesting choices about what the player finds if they actually do start exploring, and you can expect the explorative characters to find the things you set up (as opposed to wandering around a giant town during a storm and then getting bored and wandering back to the inn without having found the one section where you hid something neat).
Quite pleasant music design, good graphics, overall enjoyable game with decent controls, not a bad boss battle. I loved the coin-explosion animation for the chest and the large number of coins compared to the bushes I chopped down (I always felt like Zelda had too few: If I'm chopping bushes to earn money, gimme more faster!).
I am not usually one to complain about open-ended level/area design, but that is the area I would most recommend that you focus on. First, you have to go through half a dozen screens with zero content and no branching, just to get to the cave; I'd suggest the cave be on the first screen there, or perhaps the second (so you'll likely have grabbed the sword). If you want some distance when the character returns to that spot, there are other ways to achieve it. (The cave itself was not a bad design, if a little back-tracky.)
Secondly, the town wanted me to go to the inn, but, being a Spade, I wandered. And I found just a ton of open areas with no dangers (which was actually nice), but also no content. I could basically get hints about upcoming areas to explore after the storm (lighthouse, graveyard, mayor's house, random buildings), and coins from chopping bushes, but that was it. Several screens had me stuck in a tiny spot where I could see the screen but not interact with it unless I backtracked and found a way to it -- which would be fine as a preview of "aha, the boss/treasure is over there" but this happened to "preview" spots I was at just two screens ago. One "previewed" a corner of the island next to otherwise all ocean.
(I couldn't tell if I couldn't enter the houses or just hadn't figured out the correct button. Having the doors react to "knocking" in some fashion would be useful.)
Earthbound has the police cordon off the not-useful places at the start, so you can only really go up to where you're meant to go to progress the story. This was funny, but also useful to prevent the player from spending time in ways that have no long-term effect on the game. I recall A Link to the Past being pretty restrictive at the start, in a natural fashion by not letting you chop bushes yet (or bypass guards?).
You can have some larger open areas, but, in general, think of areas as having enter/exit points, and design the screen around that concept. Trees and rocks and cliffs and the like help guide the player toward useful content, much like lit-up areas ("go here") and broken cars, fences, and trash piles ("you can't go that way") do in Left 4 Dead. If you do it right, the player doesn't even notice that they're being led around; they feel free to do things, but also are physically prevented from wandering too far off course.
(World of Warcraft did this between low-level and high-level areas, not as a hard limit but some pretty obvious signs that a certain area is Bad News. That I ignored those signs and got my level-12 character killed by a level-40 spider is my own fault. But most games won't even let the low-level characters get anywhere near the high-level stuff unless the player has been particularly tenacious in bypassing the signs.)
Anyway, that's the area that I think could use the most improvement. The only other issue that I ran into was a minor fine-tuning thing: It'd be nice if bumping into the wall slightly off from the path just bumped me down toward the path instead of being a hard stop, so that it felt easier to get my character in where I wanted to go. That's not likely a big concern at this level, but it's something to consider for smoother controls once you get to bigger projects.
This was a pretty good game! I might play more of it later (I'm just kinda dipping my toes in the water for a few of the games I just got, and offering feedback if the game is good enough to warrant a little polish). Thanks for making it!
<beelinespan class="beeline-node">Remembered links would likely be sufficient, especially as you get near the end of the game and even if you tried to get 100%. (I'm not generally a 100%er, but I am a Spade, and digging into the little details of a small game is a lot of fun.) Kinda reminds me of a pattern I saw once for a computer that taught itself a tiny (3x3) version of chess... and was made out of matchboxes, no electricity involved. (Every time the human wins, remove the bead that indicates the move that made the computer lose. Eventually, the computer becomes unbeatable.)</beelinespan>
<beelinespan class="beeline-node">The lack of always-good or always-bad options is a nice touch. I have a storytelling card deck I've been designing with that general theme, which is kinda based around balance or wisdom (the portion of wisdom that judges when to use Tactic A and when to use Tactic B and when to choose a third option). Like how following authority can be good in one circumstance and bad in another, or how violence can be appropriate in some cases but not in others, or how Nature vs. Technology sometimes goes one way, sometimes another, or how loyalty is not a positive quality when it ties you to a bad person/force. Even the Loss cards are understood to be a positive change sometimes, and other times a road block that you get stuck in and need to move beyond.</beelinespan>
What a neat idea! I've been trying to get my nephew and me to sit down for a week and try to make a game (basing our options on the engines I have available, the assets I have available, and the list of easiest game genres from Extra Credits' "Minimum Viable Product" video), but now the idea of doing it with some random mechanics intrigues me. I could see having the stages of game development come at us randomly: "Today we (draw) record sound effects!" (without knowing what exactly we're recording them for, aside from the general genre) "Today we (draw) create background graphics!" "Today we (draw) develop a basic physics engine!" "Today we (draw) choose a color scheme!" lol
Yeah, my biggest issue with this was the amount of "I have no idea what this is going to do" except that snakes kill and steeds possibly carry me out of danger. There needs to be a Tooltip, at the very least, to show what the card types are for after the start; it'd be nice to have them numbered up in the corner somewhere so that even when the cards are not on the table you know which ones you have left.
Also -- although perhaps you've already accounted for this -- in playing the game through a second or third time, it'd be nice to see the number of choices that you haven't taken under a given choice, making it easier to hunt through and find paths you haven't yet explored. And maybe it could keep track of which cards you used on previous encounters with a given location/scenario (and perhaps provide you with a "mystic view of the future" or whatever, as to what lay down that path (that you already tread last time)), so that you could decide whether to use the same card or a different one.
Overall, pretty enjoyable! Although I wasn't sure if using the snake card at the start was a key factor or just one of many in the ending I got. I'm a Spade, so it felt right to do the thing that most good-style players wouldn't use (plus, at the time, I was under the impression that perhaps the snake would do something other than kill).
Y'know, I love that I got all these game assets in this pack, thus giving me additional fuel for my hobbyist game-design doodling, but this stuff is just making me remember that I once (like a decade or two ago) started a project to make RPGMaker-style trees for, like, all the conifers and maybe some of the broadleafs as well.
I do not have time to delve back into pixel art. I really hope my Muse doesn't pick up this idea and run with it, not right now.
But anyway! Thank you for creating this set. The trees really look neat, and I like how the shadows make it feel more defined. And the car looks pretty darn sweet!
"Use the asset only in one (1) end product or game title."
Does this mean that in order to use the assets in a second end product, one must pay for a second copy of the assets?
Also, I assume this implies that if the games never get to the public-distribution phase, they don't count, but if the game gets to public distribution (beyond alpha stage?), it counts even if it's distributed for free instead of for money.
Looking forward to this one! I do so love seeing old game mechanics given new life in new contexts. (Have you played Hexcells Infinite?) The combination of the two types makes this especially appealing.
Since people mentioned colors: If you haven't yet accounted for colorblind players, I hope you consider adding at least a couple of color scheme options so players can figure out one that works well for them. I'm not colorblind (though one of my nephews is, and he comes over a lot), but I often like the colorblind sets more than the normal sets -- for example, in Mini Metro. And greater color choice is always a plus.
(Someday I'm gonna run across a game that repurposes Backgammon as some war between Girl Scouts selling cookies and chasing off the rival gang. I've long felt that Backgammon mechanics would suit a game for younger players if it had cutesy graphics and some more interesting context.)
What? Dang. Yet another game incompatible with my Dvorak. Still, I tend to assume that a lot of games in environments like this are from hobbyist devs who are still at the stage of "throw things at the wall and see what sticks." So I'm not too bothered by it; I don't expect full compatibility from this level of game design.
(By contrast, a full-fledged game from a professional studio has no excuse for having hard-coded keyboard controls. See "Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter", which I was managing to fumble along with until the eavesdropping mechanic required manipulating one cursor with the mouse and the other with the keyboard, simultaneously, as they randomly move away from the target.)
Actually, related to that: Have you ever played Puzzle Pirates? The gameplay is based around a lot of different minigames. It'd be neat if this game eventually got a couple new minigames for different aspects of gameplay. Or gave an option of which of three types of minigames is the one you'd like to play for alchemy, so there's a bit of a switch-up and it's not quite so tedious at times.
Lastly (for now): I know it's low priority, but I wish I could choose the color hierarchy for the minigame. I love purple, but it only shows up when the game is complex enough that it's not so fun anymore. When I finally get enough experience in the game to make it easier and more fun, the purple's gone! I'd love to be able to set the colors in some menu, individually, either ordering the colors I've discovered so far, or specifically choosing custom colors for each difficulty level. Also, would be kinda nice if getting a high score at the game gave you an extra potion (if you were doing at least X potions). Say that for every four potions you're making at once, there's a chance of a fifth potion, so if you were making 12 potions, you could conceivably get back 15 (some chance of getting 13, lower chance of getting 14, very low chance of getting 15), and it's based on how well you played the game. Also, would be neat to have a bonus round of some sort if you get the potion done and there's still X seconds left on the clock, but only when it's not the easiest level (because that would get tedious). Maybe an option for which level is the lowest level that bonus rounds kick in on.
Is there a part of the GUI or whatever that indicates when the Eagledeen merchants happen? because right now, I just have to head over there and see if they're there, which wastes both in-game and out-game time. (Why does traveling by portal to a nearby town waste a whole chunk of time, anyway? Shouldn't portal travel be instant, but making use of an area (foraging, shopping, etc.) be the thing that makes time advance when you leave?) A game that I pull out of my pocket at random times when I'm bored should not also be a game where I have to keep mental track of some sort of schedule within the game world.
I still can't find anyone who sharpens swords. And why is it that broken swords stack, but tiny copper rings don't? How long before I get the ability to enchant a ring (or a sword)? Am I missing something here? something I ought to be doing instead of foraging through the dungeon areas, turning the stuff into potions, selling the potions in my shop, taking whichever quests the guild offers, and talking to random people at random times in the hope that something new pops up?
I've got multiple quests that basically just go "Hey, those guards are blocking the way, can't fulfill this quest yet." What? How long before the guards move? It's been months of in-game time! I beat the forest and I'm halfway through the temple area, just opened up the graveyard. Why would I get a quest to deliver flower petals to a shopkeep in Eagledeen at a time when I can't enter any regular shops? Why didn't the "go to Eagledeen" quest disappear once I went there, instead of constantly reminding me that I can't fulfill the next step yet?
When can I get/create a bigger backpack? I assume from the silk? When will I get recipes to make the silk into something I can sell? (I've been selling low-quality silk, but saving the good quality for whichever item I can eventually make.) Why does silk require alchemy, I mean seriously? it's a weird outlier. Would be less immersion-breaking if I went and sold spiderweb to a specific merchant, and got paid the same price as it would take to buy silk from that merchant (in quantities limited by the amount of spiderweb I brought them). Also, I'd love to be able to make cloth items and enchant them, or create potions whereby to enchant them, something like that, to sell them.
(Unbalanced ingredients is one of my pet peeves, from back when I was hooked on Facebook games. Theirs was deliberate (trying to get you to buy the items you needed), but this one's just incidental. Still, having a ton of something you can't use, that just takes up space, is irritating, and I hate to just destroy it (might need it later), and I'm always getting more of it.)
And I'd like to see an alchemist or magic user from a neighboring area, or one who's just starting out, use my shop to buy extra mats for their work. That way I could get rid of all this extra slime ooze. I've started fleeing slimes just to avoid the overstock, and I still get way too much extra from the Fighter Guild forays. Maybe give us a way to squash slime into higher-level ingredients or something? Donate it to the Mage Guild for points? Use it as fertilizer to grow extra resources at home?
Also, why is it that nobody's buying my old armor or the cupcakes and cakes I bought from next door? I can't appear to sell my old armor to the Eagledeen vendor, so it should be something I can sell in my shop. Is it just that the right buyer hasn't entered yet? because I've had multiple times when the shop closes without any sales, though my shelves are stocked with cupcakes and such.
Until the crashes are solved, maybe a soft save upon finishing a combat, so upon reloading game you choose start of zone or end of combat? Would get rid of the part where I fight a bunch of monsters but then lose it all and have to restart the area. Which happens frequently.
Kinda disappointed that I can't find a Twitter for game dev :( but I'm kinda hooked on this buggy game, and got somewhat excited when I realized the dev was actually putting time into improving/expanding it. Wish it'd stop crashing and having graphical errors, though :\