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Paul Lawitzki

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A member registered Apr 27, 2014 · View creator page →

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Thank you very much! :)

Diving into movement code of Quake-engine based games can become a bit of a rabbit hole. Since the original Quake code (and also Q3) has been open sourced it's not much of a mystery, how player character acceleration is calculated. The calculations differ slightly from game to game, but the general approach is mostly the same. I looked into Quake 3's code to emulate its movement model in Orbhead:

https://github.com/id-Software/Quake-III-Arena/blob/master/code/game/bg_pmove.c

Also there's a series of youtube videos taking a deep dive into Quake's movement:

Needless to say, it has its quirks, but it managed to feel great across many games sharing the Quake DNA.

An important realization I've made is, that you shouldn't let some built-in physics solver (PhysX in Unity, Bullet or Godot Physics in Godot) handle your movement. The only thing I'm using physics APIs for  is collision detection, and then I handle the outcome myself. So I ended up writing my own collider component which uses boxcasts for detection and adjusts the objects velocity/position accordingly. You also don't need any fancy capsule shapes. Axis-aligned bounding boxes are perfectly sufficient (they have been in Quake 3, HL2, and in many other FPS games). They are cheap, simple, and they don't have inconvenient round shapes.

I also handle vertical movement separately from planar movement. The player controller I've written performs a boxcast starting somewhere at the player's knees downwards to their feet. The downward distance of this boxcast is often called the 'leg height'. It defines what the maximum step height is the player can climb. This is how I detect steps, slopes, and whether or not the player touches the floor.

As for Possessor, I think that a slower paced movement works well with the theme and the overall character of the game. It reminded me a little bit of Thief or System Shock 2 (slower walking pace, high player eye level, as if on spindly legs, if you know what I mean). I think it was very fitting. If the movement would be faster and more fluent, I would've felt more compelled to engage into direct combat instead of strategize on who to posses next and how to take out a group of baddies. What the game wold benefit from is the ability to take steps/stairs without jumping.

I played the downloadable Windows version. In my experience HTML5 versions have some sort of issues most of the time. Maybe the jumpiness of the mouse look (i.e. very high sensitivity) depends on the screen resolution. I have a 2560x1440 screen here and I played on fullscreen. I'm not sure how Godot handles mouse input in regards to viewport size. But in general, having a sensitivity slider would allow people with similar issues to work around such problems.

If you'll pursue this concept in the future, I'm looking forward to see what you'll do with it.

Oh, I'm pretty sure that if an army of guinea pigs would play this game, a handful of them would be stubborn enough to develop the muscle memory and learn to reliably hit their targets. I don't see a hard limitation on skill building here. The question rather is: How big must this army initially be to yield at least one sharpshooter? It's more about the steepness of the learning curve (no pun intended). People can develop intuition for the most complex things (I'm looking at disciplines like acrobatic archery for example).

I went a little bit on a tangent with the stereoscopic vision and depth perception, which might have been misleading discussion-wise. Sorry for that. My whole point there was: "You can't rely on information from depth perception (due to inaccuracy or complete lack thereof), which makes things more difficult."

Regarding proof: I can just speak my mind and utter some assumptions based on individual observation. If there's empirical data from a set of playtests that contradict my statements on certain points, I'm most likely the less reliable source ;)

Thank you, too. It was an interesting conversation.

I gave it another go, but I couldn't see how vertically swinging the shot can be more accurate than constantly stabilizing the gun and swinging right/left. Vertical and horizontal swings don't differ. It's just that there's more horizontal space for the bullet curves than vertical due to the ceiling. Is the vertical weapon axis wobble intended as an additional element of difficulty, or is it part of your intended input mechanic? For me the gun's vertical axis goes crazy after a couple of relatively subtle movements and becomes virtually uncontrollable unless I stabilize it with RMB first. Am I not supposed to do that?

The problem with the 'relatively slow process' of swinging in the third level is, that I don't have the time to execute it. I get shot first.

Maybe adding a few intermediate levels with a more gradual increase of difficulty would help. One or two scenarios with stationary targets before moving on to moving targets could do it. You know, with different geometrical challenges, so the player has time to develop a feel for what's going on. I can imagine that many players would hit the first target more by chance than by skill.

One peculiar thing happened to me while playing level 3 again: I happened to press RMB the moment the turret's beam hit me and somehow I managed to 'catch' the beam. Is that a remnant of a mechanic you were experimenting with?

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I liked the possession mechanic a lot! You took its consequences into account and streamlined the gameplay to its favor. You don't need health pickups, since your possessed hosts are all the health you get. Not having ammo but keeping weapon reload was also a smart decision in my opinion.

Engaging in combat as the possessor was always a last resort for me. I see a lot of potential in the strategic depth of this game. Being able to formulate a plan and then execute it can feel very fulfilling and I feel like this should be (and most probably is) the centerpiece of your experience. I works as a slow-paced strategic game (exploring and planning) with fast-paced interjections (executing your plan).

There are so many possibilities arising from the game elements you introduced: "Which guy to posses first?", "How to position myself in order not to get involved in the shootout?", "My host died and dropped my favorite gun, what now?"

I don't think you need the Vibe limitation. A maximum possession range should be enough. The game would benefit from giving the player plenty time to asses a situation first and then act on their plan. I should get hectic when the player decides the game to get hectic.

Now I could start rambling about game feel and movement, but this clearly isn't what this game is about. However, please add a mouse sensitivity setting in the future. I really had trouble aiming since moving my mouse by a millimeter made the screen jump. But still, the game was fun even when I had trouble aiming.

I'm not a huge fan of the visual style, but that's a subjective thing. I did like the sound effect and the music a lot, though!

Good job!

Ok, this one was highly interesting due to its original concept and its experimental nature. I made it until the third level with the turret. Unfortunately, that's where it became too frustrating for me to continue. More on that later.

First off, the presentation is great and the audio feedback is fantastic! The game is visually very pleasing.

The core idea of giving your bullets a curved trajectory sounds super fun and alluring. The problem I see is that curves in a 3D space can become very complex and it's very hard to make a reliably aimed shot without depth perception. I would even argue, that our stereoscopic vision wouldn't be sufficient to make a reliable curved shot. Our depth perception works well when we want to make qualitative estimates like "A is more in front of B" or "X is moving away or moving towards me". But on a quantitative level I think it's not that accurate.

What I found myself doing was trying out different trajectories and successively adjusting my spin to the shots I was observing. This works well on stationary targets. Moving targets required far more attempts. The default vertical sway of the gun didn't do much for me. Maybe I was missing something, but I ended up holding down RMB at all times trying to give my shots more controlled spins.

In the second level I tried to hit the enemies by ricocheting my bullets off the walls because curved shots had a greater chance to hit the shield and bounce back at me. Once the enemies turned towards the direction my bullet hit them from, I could finish them with straight shots.

The third level, as mentioned before, was where I eventually gave up. At first it wasn't clear to me that I had to hit the target from behind. I started to play around, and one of my many bullets hit the turret by accident, triggering the hurt sound. The target was way smaller than the shield guys in the previous level and way harder to hit. I only managed to hit it once or twice by sheer luck before getting a laser beam in the face.

Overall, I think this is a very valuable experiment. Despite the trouble I had with it, I wouldn't abandon the idea of curved bullet shooters. Maybe you were also trying to do too much in one go. The mouse-controller-stick-hybrid input is interesting but I'm not sure if the combination of those two quite idiosyncratic concepts benefits the experience. If you'd ask me, I would try to make the curved trajectory mechanic more approachable (add a simple trajectory indicator on the crosshair? Try it without the vertical weapon sway? Variable game speeds as you already have when changing position but when aligning your shot.) and design enemies and play environments around that.

You've made a very compelling prototype for an interesting mechanic. It answers a lot of questions and it might be a major stepping stone for a unique game in the future.

Haha, I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for playing!

The movement code is actually Quake-based. The calculation methods hold up pretty well to this day. But I feel like these are subtleties most people recognize on a subconscious level only. That's why we tried to make the art style scream at the player ;)

Thanks for your elaborate feedback! It's a real treasure trove!

It would be possible to go 360 but it probably would require another projection style to be useful (panoramic or equirectangular instead of fisheye), although that might take out a lot of the perceived speed. We initially had the player character hold an actual orb (as a 'weapon' view model) that showed what's behind the player. Kind of like a back mirror. But during playtesting we found that you'd never actually look into the orb since you'd be mostly focused on aiming and what's in front of you. So maybe having a 360 fov might defragment that information.

You're absolutely right about having more means of crowd control. That's a missed opportunity. We had pain responses and knockback in mind but as always, time was the ultimate constraint. We focused on creating different enemy behaviours instead and sadly at some point totally forgot about crowd control mechanism. There was also an idea for a secondary fire mode, like a charge attack of some sort with additional pushback or slowdown within an area.

I'm sure there's a lot potential for elaboration and we certainly didn't exhaust all interesting possibilities. Orbhead 2 maybe ;)

Thanks for playing and for the nice words!

Thanks!

Yeah, we've experimented with changing FOV based on gameplay situations or powerups, but the changes were so jarring, they often threw the player for a loop. So we stuck with a fixed angle. I haven't thought of different shooting directions, though. Sounds interesting.

It's 5 cameras projected onto a distorted cube ;)

Sounds great! I'm also very happy to see Godot based entries in this jam.

Nothing radical, really. Just minor tweaks in the consistency of movement. It felt to me like I lost a bit of momentum whenever I was jumping. But if I'm not mistaken, I gained speed when I landed after a jump. Is that what you referred to as bunny hopping? Sorry if this is not a clear answer. It's hard to point out. Maybe I should spend some more time and see if I can find a better description of my experience.

Nice one! I really enjoyed the style and the unique mechanics. This is one of the best entries in this jam I've played so far.

Great mood! This one gave me serious Thief vibes, and that's a good thing :D

I really enjoyed getting lost in the environment and explore all the corners in search for loot. I did get >666 coins but got killed immediately after that. So I didn't beat it, yet.

 It's not too punishing and I found myself playing it for quite a while.

I like the retro look of the minotaur models and the environment. A few simple sounds would go a long way towards improving feedback and telegraphing. I'd also make the courts bigger, so those minotaurs have more space to charge at you. That would also work well with faster player movement. Other than that, well done!

Really enjoyed whizzing around and shooting down the occasional target. I like the mood and the minimalist style. And the music fits so well. Good job :)

Hey, that's pretty solid! The movement could use a bit of work here and there, but overall the gameplay feels pretty good. Nice job!

Haha! That's a rather unintentional Dr Phil reference :D

Thanks for playing! <3

Hi there! Thank you! I really enjoyed your podcast. I'll definitely follow you guys.

Yes, the lack of a menu is a bit annoying. But, you know: time constraints.

Have you tried Alt + F4?

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Well, I'm not sure but my guess is that you get the warning because the APK you download here from itch.io is not signed with the google play store.

On which platform are you trying to start it?

Haha, don't get too excited, yet. I'm full time on Good Company  And I'm on vacation next week. So it will take some time. And it will be tiny ;)

I'll drop you a line if it's going somewhere, though.

Thank you!

It was the best jam experience I've ever had. I remember lurking on notch's  twitch channel while he was working on his entry "Last Minute Christmas Chopping".

I've had few happier moments in my life than these 48h home alone. And sadly, jamming never was this way again. I guess that's how you get used to happiness. I've learned to appreciate being content since then.

Hugs to you, too, pal <3

Ok, Sebastian, that's it!

because of you I'm actively planning my next solo project. I hope you're happy with yourself!

;)

Sebastian,

this is very high praise, and I don't know what to say. Reading your previous comments on my other games made my day. But this is genuinely heart-warming. Thanks, man :)

Oh, hello again,

thank you for your kind words and for the time you spent with GRAIL. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. This one means a lot to me. It was the first jam game I ever made. Every time I see someone playing it I remember that I intended to make it into a longer experience. I still think I should...

Also, nice playthrough you did there :)

Sebastian,

thank you for checking out and recommending this old piece of mine. I forget about it sometimes, and seeing that it still manages to catch someone's attention -- even for a short while -- feels comforting and encouraging. Your oppinion in particular means a lot to me.

P.S.: Sorry that our glitch demon startled you. But it's the only purpose it has in its exsistence, and I'd hate to take that away from it.

Sounds interesting! I'll have a look at it. Thanks! And thank you for playing!

Thank you :)

Thank you! Glad, you liked it :)

Well, I guess I should look into it and see how long it would take me to make a full game out of it ;)

Thank you! I really appreciate your feedback :)

Thank you! It was very insightful to watch you play :)

It does :D
It should even go far beyond that. But the font will exceed the paper eventually.

Yes, the temples do not yield any score. They can be used to protect your other buildings and to delay floods.

Thank you :)
Ralf and I were talking about extending the game to something bigger a couple of times. But we couldn't find the time to elaborate on it, yet. Y'know, life always gets in the way ;)

You're right. The game has a ton of flaws.

Bear in mind it's just a prototype made in less than three days.