Thanks for the informative writeup.
In response to your queries:
1. Coins, what for? A store is in the making. It will include accessories that alter gameplay as well as cosmetics. The game will also include an energy mechanic in the form of ammunition. There's too much to explain, but the long and short of it is that the jam version has no store as I wanted to nail the gameplay first.
2. Music too quiet: That's an issue of ducking. I've already addressed this post jam, but yeah, sfx are reducing the gain of the music mix excessively and abruptly as well.
3. Music too short: Agreed. Really a time constraint issue. For this jam I composed 2 songs, in essence, both with relatively few bars and instruments. As you descend down the mantles a different "style" of the same song plays, for a total of 9 individual arrangements. I thought this would be sufficient for a jam environment, however, I'm starting to think it may be enough for the final product as well. I think as long as the play loops are kept short, the repetition should not present itself as an issue, but that's hard to say. Adding more content to the compositions should not be an issue, in the end of the day.
4. Theme: I agree, but the more I think about it, the more I'm seeing a subtle yet stronger connection. I have yet to work out if this is delusion or not. :) Either way, it is my firm position that utilising a theme to the point of making a game deliberately less enjoyable, as many seem to have done during this event, is unacceptable. The most common other approach to the theme, when the game hasn't been damaged, is to make characters deceptive, or using some kind of extreme plot twist. In my estimation that's missing the theme, as it's about the game intrinsically lying. One more case is where some developer have opted for making the game itself into a character of sorts. While literal, I think this is a fairly good reading of the theme. Extremely rare are the cases in which the theme has in fact been embraced subtly and enjoyably, where the game truly is a lie in its mechanics. An example is https://charu12.itch.io/mindless-runner. So, in our case, our game's premise is a logical fallacy which our protagonist firmly believes in. Yet the game itself will never allow for anything to be proven one way or another due to its design. I suspect if we had added a piece of narrative (in the form of a cutscene, for instance), we may have scored higher on this metric. We opted against it due to it being a low priority. But, yes, despite my somewhat long reasoning here, I agree with your position on this to a large extent.
Thanks again for taking the time to play and review the game in a comprehensive way. I appreciate the effort that goes into doing such a thing.
in Principle Games
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Thanks for the informative writeup.
Hi, the game's narrative goes like this:
Hank, the protagonist, is looking to demonstrate that the Earth is not a sphere. His theory is, if he digs down and the Earth is 3D, he should be able to get to the other side. If he can't, it proves that the Earth cannot be 3D (in his logic). The game is endless... That's how the game lies.
There was no way for you to find this out in game as it's not it. But that's fine, I'm much more interested in getting eyeballs on the gameplay than worrying about the theme. So we left the narrative for later.
The music was so poor, I stopped playing. It didn't even loop properly.
The character only moves forward. Which is inconvenient, when the enemies only charge. Fortunately, they also charge through walls.
The game is designed to be obnoxious. Basically what you see is all false. Use Xray vision, now you see the actual level. Use Xray vision sparingly because it has a meter. It might fit the theme, but I don't find it particularly fun to play a game where I have to periodically press an input to play it as it was intended.
The character controller doesn't have modular jump height and there is no grace jump either. This isn't a big deal, because the game is primarily focused on puzzling.
Graphics: Ms paint sprites, default unity blue background, almost no animations... It's quite poor.
Audio: The music is repetitive. I didn't enjoy it. SFX: there's only a sound for killing enemies, I think. Not much going on.
I skipped all of the dialogue as soon as I found out that C does it. No interest in reading. I want to play.
What a joy to play. Well done. I have very little to criticise, with the possible exception of the alternative weapons to the default revolver. They all seem worse. The 9mil sort of gun that takes two hits has a small magazine AND it's inaccurate. The sawed off shotgun doesn't kill at point blank, which is a shame. So you basically always want the default gun. Though part of me does see why you guys went for this. Always being short on ammo is a great way to keep up the pressure and reward accuracy.
This game is all about the juice. And it's a blast to play because of it. We also focused on juice quite a bit.
I got as far as 63 kills. I don't have time to keep playing but I would.
Graphics: excellent. Fits the context perfectly.
Audio: great track, great SFX. Very meaty gun sounds.
Theme: didn't see it there, unless being on a set is the theme. Which is fine by me. A little stretched perhaps.
This one goes in my hall of fame.
Your grounded bool is bugged. When you leave a surface without jumping you can then jump in midair at any point. The UI buttons have their navigation turned on. So sometimes the Retry button counts as selected. So if you press Space to jump you trigger the retry function instead.
I got as far as the level after the tutorial was finished. There I couldn't figure out a way to activate the bottom bridge. I would have continued playing if I didn't find the various bugs too irritating.
The tutorial interrupted gameplay. It didn't tell you that you had to press Enter to continue the dialogue. The first time I didn't find out, so I clicked on Retry. You forgot to reset the playerControllable bool to true when you Retry, so the game effectively locks up. I eventually found out about the Enter key and was able to proceed. I found the narrative irritating, so I started skipping all of the dialogues. This led me to miss lots of important information. I would much prefer to have the relevant tutorials in the relevant areas. As your initial levels are tutorial levels, you could have embedded shorter text boxes into the levels themselves.
There was no audio at all.
The graphics are a bit of a mess. The level tilemap is using 2D assets, the character is a primitive square. The mana blast is a thing that looks like it's a UI asset. The exit IS a UI asset. The particle systems don't fit any of the styles.
I don't see how the game fits the theme.
A decent entry, with design potential, but too many execution problems for me to find it enjoyable.
The random "Billy has died" messages might very well have been a lie, they were also annoying. In the small intestine, trying to grab the red and white particles, it seems to me like they had lower click priority than overlapping green and blue. Also, you could drag red and white very close to the target location, but they would remain behind the villi. This could also be to fit the theme. Yay... Sometimes the large intestine controls were reversed. Might have something to do with the theme... Double yay.
I am subtly trying to tell you that your interpretation of the theme was irritating. You didn't have to deliberately annoy the player. There is a difference between "liar" and "troll".
Graphics were consistent and fairly clear. I would have used cheese for dairy. It just seems unhealthy to me to eat glass.
There is no music. The sound effects are serviceable.
Graphics are nice. Like the voronoi pattern on the sea shader. Not exactly realistic, but at least it gives the sea some motion, and that's nice. The ships look detailed and interesting. The weak point of the graphics is PFX. Most of your PFX are PlayOnAwake(true) and PreWarm(true), which gives a jarring effect when they start. You can increase the simulation speed if you want them to spawn faster. It's in the main module.
The music loop is too short and therefore repetitive. SFX are fine.
I don't see where the theme is used. Could be that help will never arrive? I suppose. Bit of a stretch.
I had fun playing it and it has replayability. I didn't like the design of the shockwave pickup, as one of the main strategies for me is keeping the distance. So that pickup served no purpose. The AI also goes mental every now and then, spinning in place.
A decent entry.
Character controller: There is no modular height control for the jumping and no grace jump. Fortunately there aren't many precision jumping situations, so this isn't a big deal. However, jumping is suffering from inconsistent reading of input. I think you put your input control in the FixedUpdate() loop. This is a problem, because this loop runs at a constant and relatively infrequent way. For all input you need to use Update(). Then when you have the input, you can use that information in FixedUpdate() instead.
Towards the center of the map, there is a platform that cannot be seen at all, so you have to take a leap of faith there. I died there once and I definitely felt like I wasn't in control of the situation. At least I respawned at the feet of the mountain and not at the start of the level.
The ending of the game, which restarts the game, basically, is a little underwhelming.
I liked the dialogue as I walked across the stage. It enticed me to find what would be on the other side.
Graphics: I think the graphics are too simple. I did like the trail though.
Audio: I didn't hear any audio.
Theme: I don't think you've hit it. I didn't see the game lying in any way other than the title, arguably.
Well, you have succeeded at making a game that's deliberately unenjoyable to play. So I suppose you could argue that's done well. I'm not being funny or sarcastic. As I wrote before, in order to stick to the theme, you decided to make a game that isn't so much a liar, but more of an unpleasant individual to be around. This was the decision you made. I think it's wrong, as it goes against what games are.
I wouldn't take it personally if I were you. I've noticed a non-insignificant percentage of the devs in this jam interpreted the theme in the same way. Very unhealthy. As a game dev, what you're trying to do is delight your players. Some play for escapism, some play for skill building, some even play frustrating games, but still for some kind of enjoyment, usually it has to do with overcoming difficulties and getting better. Heck, my own second release on Steam is a desk chewingly difficult game to complete, let alone 100%. But that's not the point here. Here you have made a game that changes rules all the time. You have violated the essence of what a game is, namely something we do in our spare time for our own enjoyment. Imagine if you will that you have an acquaintance. Somebody utterly unpleasant to be around. Now imagine spending your weekends with this person DELIBERATELY. Would you do it? I wouldn't.
Hey there. Store is on the roadmap. Couldn't get it done within the week.
The game is endless. That's the lie.
There is a bug with gems now. As they play their SFX, the music ducks too much. Did you dislike the sound for generic coins too? Lemme know!
Difficulty balance: that's a tough one for sure... The enemies take ages to shoot (well, this enemy type anyway) intentionally. Later, when you reach 2000 ft or so, you will find yourself overwhelmed with crowd control. The game becomes much more strategic later, in terms of deciding whom to pick off and when.
Interesting comment about the graphics. Will talk with the artist, see if there's anything we can / should do about this.
Thanks for the useful feedback.
You know when you said "I didn't want the theme to turn my game terrible"? Yeah, that's where you and I should have a beer together. A lot of that in this jam. And your game is enjoyable because you didn't decide to make clicking on letter A activate the Space key, because the game is a liar, trololol.
With that said, the rating system is there and I have to use it as it was designed. So it scores low on theme. My own game also has the theme expressed in an unintrusive way. The premise is our protagonist, Hank, wants to demonstrate the Earth is not a 3D spheroid by digging down. His reasoning is, "if I can't get to the other side, then it cannot be a sphere". What a shame that the game is endless, so he will never find an answer either way. So the game lies to him. Most people who evaluated the game can't know this, so they marked it as not matching the theme. No fault of theirs really, but the philosophy for me is: games are supposed to be fun and enjoyable. No theme is going to get in the way of that.
Also, all jams don't have a rating for Function / Polish / Execution. So, I could give somebody a 5 star in Game Design, but their game crashes 100% repro rate on level 2. There is no rating for "my game actually works". Your game would score 5 on this category, which doesn't exist... yet, it's all important.
Also, all hail programmer art! May it live forever.
Sorry man, I dislike QTEs at the best of times in AAA. Last games I remember enjoying QTEs are Shenmue 2 and Ninja Blade, by FROM. Those had all sorts of other systems in them and were logically set up. Yours has no other systems going along, and it's random.
This theme has produced a lot of dodgy decisions. Like I said, make a game without that mechanic and focus on adding other, interesting and pleasant stuff, and you can count on selling me a copy.
The theme isn't explicit. We want to add it to the narrative in game at some point, but the gist is this:
1. Hank (protagonist) is setting out to do a scientific experiment. He will dig down through the Earth. If he gets on the other side, then it means the Earth is a 3D object of some sort, so he will prove he is wrong and the Earth is a sphere.
2. If, however, he doesn't get to the other side, then the Earth must be something that isn't 3D.
3. The game is endless, which means he will never be able to demonstrate the earth is spherical this way.
That's how the game is a lie.
I've heard of this before. Not sure what causes it. You can use the link to play it directly in your browser if you want: http://www.inprincipleinc.com/games/FlatoutDrillin/index.html
You can't make changes now. That's how the competition works. My suggestion is, make sure if you make another game like this in future, include checkpoints as a high priority item. Full restarts are a serious turnoff for many many users.
Pretty good platformer. I think the levels are too long for the Super Meatboy style punishment. On level 3 I needed practice figuring out the are with the spike below and above. But getting practice entailed redoing the first part of the level. I'm not a diehard member of your consumer base, so I am not willing to give you this much of my time. I say this, because games like "I want to be the Boshi" and similar assume an existing audience. Within the context of a game jam, you are going to get strangers to play your game. Many of these, like myself, will not want to die 900 times just so that they can solve some puzzle you've put together. In this context, I think you're much better off testing mechanics to see how they are received.
The bubble mechanic is interesting as it works as a weapon and locomotion. I don't like how it disappears unexpectedly on its own, and I don't like its cooldown being so long. It slows down gameplay for no reason that I can see.
The dash mechanic is pretty well done, but only used in level 1. I am of two minds about it being 360 and affected by physics. It's interesting.
Presentation, both audio and video is excellent.
The tutorial plants are annoying. I'm not interested in their banter. Tell me what the buttons do, then vanish forever, thank you. That's my position on that.
I don't think the game hits the theme at all. It might happen later, but I'll never find out, because of the restarts.
Thank you. Glad to hear you child enjoyed it. Interesting comment about the difficulty. We're going to have to ponder who our audience is when balancing. Also, it's a little gory at the moment, which concerns me for a younger audience, to some extent.
As for the theme, our game has it pretty deeply, but it's not advertised in game. Hank, the protagonist, is a flat earther. He has decided to use the scientific method to prove once and for all that the Earth is not a sphere. His demonstration process involves digging vertically into the ground. If he gets to the other side, then the Earth is indeed a 3D object. If he does not, then it's definitely not a sphere. However, the game has no end, so it makes proving either side impossible. :)
Now, this will be included in the game, somehow at some point, but my concern number 1, 2 and 3 are always gameplay. The rest comes after.
Thanks again for playing!
PS: My daughter got to 2800 ft. Can your boy beat her?!? The challenge is on! :D
The part I enjoyed the least in the experience was the interminable tutorial, which plays every time you start a game. I needed the information within it, but I wasn't willing to bear with the sequence of text bubbles. I would strongly recommend tutorialising things in game directly when it's necessary to use a certain function. You could have also placed the A and D keys visually directly on the player's cursor, tinted them the colours you did and the tint true and false the same colour. Done. No need for tutorial at all.
The graphics are simple, abstract and coherent. It's all very teal, but that's a matter of taste. In contrast, I think the colours you picked for the bullets are too unsubtle. #FF0000 and #00FF00 are not exactly a match for your art style, and they are a nightmare for people with colour blindness.
I'm not a fan of uncontrolled randomness in skill based games such as your own. The ??? tiles affect my playing experience negatively. I know you wanted to stick to the theme at least to some extent, but I don't think it justifies damaging your design. With that said, I do think the game benefits from having a wildcard. But you should brainstorm to find a way to make it somewhat predictable.
Audio was solid. I really liked the SFX for moving left and right, but it did mislead me to think that it would be a rhythm game. Not sure this information is that useful, but there... :)
Very simple concept, but it works.
The characters have just enough detail in their portraits that it's possible to identify them in a crowd. I was surprised to notice that my most likely score was 75%. I suspect this has to do with the combination of the amount of time available and the fact that the human mind struggles remembering more than 3 details simultaneously without creating some form of gimmick reminder rule. I would have preferred to have an explicit timer. This has two advantages: it builds tension as we go along, it removes the surprise when the screen changes.
The game is obviously aimed at a younger audience, and that's great, however, I still think it could use more variety to improve its longevity, which, at the moment, is extremely short.
There is no audio at all.
I don't think the theme was followed at all.
Good show. Simple, humble, functional, fun.
To quote a member of my Twitch audience: "This was basically the Stanley Parable poopy version". He used a different word, but that's because he ignores my channel is Family Friendly, the scoundrel.
I started playing. A voice started talking. I started becoming really bored. As soon as the game actually started. I walked into a cave. By this point, I had tuned out the nagging voice that was talking to me, I think. I basically turned this voice into my wife's, when she talks about curtains, or something. So, as I was thinking about the fact that my new car is leaking motor oil from the pan (have to replace the gasket), I ordered it, so that's cool, I walked into this cave. And then it was game over.
In all seriousness, hopefully you see how my recounting of my personal thinking about motor oil has nothing to do with the context in question. Therefore I'm boring. That's what I experienced "playing"... waiting on your game.
I'm sure there are people who like this sort of thing. I don't at the best of times. And when it's ostensibly not funny (which I concede is somewhat subjective), I don't at all. It is what it is.
No modular jump height. No grace jump. I went left at the top of the two red stripes and got a precision jump. No surprise I failed it the first time. Restart from beginning. Not doing it. You need checkpoints. If you don't have them, you reduce your audience to a sliver of the amount of players that may be interested in playing your game.
The design is interesting in terms of the coloured areas. What's good about them is that they have very specific rules and they are confined to these areas. So while you change the rules, it's never unexpected. This is both interesting and a desirable challenge.
The "As if :)" bit at the beginning was going to be where I would quit. Nobody pays me to look for the design inconsistency that you've decided I have to look for to even start playing. Now, with that said, you did help the user by putting the red area right above the secret wall in question. And the fact that this is so early in the game, is also helpful. With that said, I only kept searching for it, because I read comments that indicated other areas existed.
There is no audio.
Aesthetics are very basic, but they are cohesive. An odd choice is picking a hexagon for your player when his collide is a circle. I wouldn't recommend having colliders be too different from their shapes. In your case it isn't, it's just odd that you would change it from circle to hex just because. Perhaps there is a reason, I haven't found it.
I don't see how the theme is hit. After all you didn't lie. You said "As if :)". I only got a few more text object in the game, and they read go right, and then go left. So at best we have some wrong instructions at times, and some secret passages at other times.
I'm not going to evaluate the game because I don't understand how to interact with it at all. I can click on the people, they say things. But I cannot interact with the statements. Except, sometimes the Truthometer does react when I click on the text they say. I don't know why or how. I haven't left you a rating. For me your game doesn't work at all.
This is my experience:
1. Dialogue: Enter, enter, enter, enter, enter, enter...
2. Oh, it's done. Let's go right. Talk to some people. Next screen...
3. Random Encounter: Evil mules need like 6 attacks to kill - Enter, enter, enter, enter, enter, enter...
4. Take a step.
5. Random Encounter: Evil mules need like 6 attacks to kill. There are 2 of them - Enter, enter, enter, enter, enter, enter...
6. Take a few steps.
7. Random Encounter: Evil mules need like 6 attacks to kill. There are 2 of them - Enter, enter, enter, enter, enter, enter...
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 four times, I think. A few with the new character in the party, before he officially joins, but never mind.
9. He joins. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once.
10. Transition to next screen.
11. Take a few steps.
12. Repeat steps 6 to 7, possibly with different enemies. By now I've lost all intellectual capacity. But my Enter finger is stronger than ever.
What I'm trying to say, in a cheeky kind of way, is that your game has:
1. Too many random encounters and they are too frequent.
2. Evil mules take too many hits for being the very first enemy you encounter.
3. Considering the amount of HP your character have and the damage output of the enemies, there's no point in using anything other than Attack. The Suikoden series created an Auto function. You needed one as well, given the conditions just explained.
Based on these understandings, I wasn't going to subject myself to this anymore.
Music is pretty adequate for the context. Very few SFX.
Graphics are consistent, though very old school. If you're into that, I think they work OK.
I enjoyed this puzzle game and finished it. Two things, design-wise. I think the gravity reversal bool is too OP, if that makes sense. Several levels can be solved by wiggling midair. Second is the problem of the slow Z axis rotation when reversing gravity. It makes it quite confusing to tell how far along the X axis we are in space. Several times I've hit spike I wouldn't have expected to hit due to that. If you had 3D art, this would be easily solvable with a local Z axis 180. With 2D, not so easy. I would probably just flip the sprite, even though it's less visually elegant. Gameplay über alles, as far as I'm concerned.
Art is consistent and pleasant. I just thing there is a bit of an overuse of grey. I also didn't like it that the spikes didn't change when they were harmless. That confused me on one of the early puzzles because they look the same whether they are on or off.
I want to marry your music. I'm already married so I can't but the music was excellent. I was bobbing my head throughout. Though with that said, I do think it doesn't really fit your game very well. But hey, I enjoyed it.
I don't think you guys hit the theme at all. It's a game about booleans. It works, just not with the theme, from my perspective.
Premise: I'm not one for choose an option to continue the book games. The primary reason why this is, is that the choices devs give me rarely match what I would do. This game takes the cake. Almost none of the options were options I wanted to pick. "What's your favourite colour?" I would pick "I am not 7 anymore". "What's your favourite animal?". I would answer "Bacon". "Is this glass half empty?". "Do you need to see a psychologist yourself?" would be my answer.
This means I find myself consistently clicking through options and bearing with subsequent dialogue that I don't want to select / live through.
The adherence to this theme exacerbates the issue. At the end I selected not to shoot the target and the game still forced me to do so. Which makes me question if any of my choices even had an effect of any kind. This further defeats the purpose of a choose your own adventure.
Art is extremely blurry. I think this is intentional, and to be fair, it looks consistent. However, it also looks poor, at least to my eyes. Distracting even.
Sound is very subtle, which I think is fine. Except there is no music of any kind. Again, could be a deliberate and justifiable decision.
Not my cup of tea. But more so than usual.
The combat is top notch. What a shame, that to adhere to the theme, the developer decided to add keyboard guitar hero in the middle of the action. It's especially irritating, when there are ranged enemies right in behind a QTE. So, I'm expected to jump using W and D, hit the QTE, which tells me to press P (opposite side of the keyboard), while time stops for me, but not for the rectangle with the gun, who will shoot me as I'm reaching for the letter P.
The combat is so interesting, I want to steal it for a proper release. Why oh why did you decide to do the QTEs? Absolutely tanks the game for me.
Graphics are simplistic. Consistent but a little too basic to merit praise in my opinion. The weapons and sword slash are great, so it's sad to see every character be a primitive, in my opinion.
Audio has no music. The slash sounds great.
This would have been in my hall of fame for this game jam. Sadly, it isn't. Press P to pay respects.
I think the game has some kind of fatal error in it that triggers at some point. Every time I got to the last level before the congratulations level I experienced weird behaviours, like enemies not colliding with me, me not being able to pick up the hearts. One time the game proper crashed as well. Not sure what's causing it, but it may be connected to the Xray vision feature. This feature, always had problems for me, and in the last levels I couldn't use it at all.
The character controller has a very narrow window for modular jump, and the window has a huge effect. The jump can be doubled in height with very little input time. There is no grace jump.
The art is consistent and palette use is generally clever. It's easy to tell FG from BG, with the exception of the grey colour. There is a slightly darker grey used indicating that's BG. I think it needs more contrast. Also, there is no proper background. It's all black, which suits the game alright enough, I suppose, but I would like to see more detail there.
The music arrangement uses very high frequency tones, which are irritating to the ear. I'm grateful you added the mute function. I did listen to it all, and it's also very short, so it's irritating and repetitive. SFX are serviceable.
I don't see how the game conforms to the theme. I think the rationale is that the Xray vision aspect is "the lie", but in that case, Hitman, Lara Croft, and Batman are all liars too.
This game had potential to be a fun little platformer, but it's negatively affected by A class bugs.
A platformer that restarts when you die. Doesn't matter which level you die in. Back to the beginning with you. I never got past level 3. I had no intention of redoing level 1 for the 10th or so time. In my opinion this is a terrible design decision that alienates a substantial slice of your potential audience.
In order to stick to the theme, this game places invisible hazards all over the place. These will cause many death (plus restart for good measure) until you learn the level and eventually beat it.
The character controller has height modulation for jumping, but no grace jump. I didn't see any precision jump sections, so this isn't a big deal.
The art is a little inconsistent. The BG and FG look charming and stylish and consistent. However, the character an enemies look like they have a different art style.
The music loop is very short, so it's pretty repetitive. The footstep sound is both loud and deep. I found it uncomfortable to listen to with headphones on.
This is a game that dislikes its player. I'm afraid the feeling is mutual.
Strange game design choice. Basically, if you interpret the lies correctly and you choose the correct path, you remove platforming from the platformer. So at that point it becomes a press D simulator, with the occasional press Space moment.
However, if you choose the platforming instead, then you get a fairly difficult game, made more difficult by the fact that the jump is really high, and cannot be modulated. Further, if you take two hits of damage, you die. What happens when you die? Start over. I quit the first time I died. I wasn't going to subject myself to replaying the same 8 forks in the road again. I think it would have been a much better decision to put a checkpoint before each fork.
The theme is explored somewhat, but in the end of the day it's not the game lying, it's Navi.
The aesthetics are odd. There are some blurry repeated textures (like the brown ground texture), some sharp drawings, like the main character, a blurry pfx, like Navi, and a stylised background. The obstacles are very narrow, and the spikes are dark in colour, so they are somewhat hard to distinguish from the walkable areas. Character animations are peculiar as well. She will walk while jumping, for instance.
I thought the piano notes, like C3 when jumping, C2 when landing, and another note I can't remember when taking damage was interesting. A bit obnoxious if the player jumps in corridors, but that's their decision.
An alright entry, damaged from my perspective by the full restart on death.