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WarpZone

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A member registered Feb 04, 2017 · View creator page →

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All right, I just had a decent run, by which I mean my RNG was uncanny.  4 missile systems by area 2 and plenty of pulse launchers before the end boss.  I couldn't get past the second to last boss, in part because I tried to practice aiming the energy weapons.  I don't want to give you the impression that missiles are OP, because then you might nerf or remove them rather than fixing all the unusable weapons, but everything other than missiles is pretty much impossible to aim, especially against a fast moving enemy bobbing up and down, which is pretty much all of them by area 7 or 8.

What exactly is the intended gameplay experience, here?  Right now it feels like you're bobbing around taking carefully timed shots with your cannons at the start of the game, which only works if you get right on top of the enemy and maybe nudge an expendable block into their core or only thruster if the opportunity presents itself.  Then you get missiles if you're lucky, or a wall of random trash guns if you're not, bind them all to 1, and do drivebys on the enemy until you've worn them down enough that you can afford to slow down enough to actually aim at something important.  All too often, though, you'll end up trading hits with the enemy, which is NEVER a good trade past area 2 or 3, because all the enemies have crazy amounts of armor and/or horizontal speed you could never in a million years find or buy by the endgame, let alone that area.   They you get to the Island at the end, and obviously it's an OP crazy-pants over-the-top boss like in FTL, but it has so many layered shields that even missiles are useless, so you need to use the pulse weapon that passes through shields and hits blocks.  But since that weapon functions like a cannon in terms of how well you need to aim and time it, you basically are a sitting duck for the boss, plus you're trying to use a skill you've long since stopped using for most of the game.

The real problem is the core combat loop.  Assuming I don't have crazy good missiles, shields, and movement, to the point where I can kite the enemy along and pick off shields and weapons systems until it's safe to drift close enough to take out thrusters, there's just too much going on at once.  In my head, I need to somehow keep track of my cooldowns, the enemy's cooldowns, the speed the enemy ship is currently going, the speed I'm currently going, whether or not my guns are aimed at the enemy yet, and in order to look at all that stuff at once on a big screen monitor, I'd need eight separate eyeballs that can swivel independently.  And that's with me binding everything to 1 and just mashing right click whenever I think I have a clean shot.  If you want me to somehow World of Warcraft hotbar individual weapon systems and use them strategically?  Popping their shields with a bank of shotguns or machine guns and then firing a penetrating horizontal laser into their core?  That's basically impossible.  I know one dude I have ever met in my entire life who could keep track of that much complexity in realtime, and he solves mazes instantly by looking at them.

Each individual part of this game is great, but the sum of its parts is just a frustrating, borderline unplayable mess.  It has amazingly deep systems, but you bought that depth with way too much moment-to-moment complexity for a realtime game.  You get these split seconds in which you can fire, and you have to set those moments up, and if any one of like, five different dynamics isn't as well-aligned or timed as you thought it was, you miss.  Meanwhile, the enemy basically never misses unless I'm out of range.  It's like you picked a core mechanic that was easy for a computer to do but hard for a human.

Fortunately, there's an easy fix for all of this.  A way to make all this agony go away, make the game more accessible, and you don't need to develop persistent systems or dumb the game down in order to streamline it.  Are you ready for this?  This is gonna blow your mind.  All you have to do is change a single number.

Double the turret rotation speed.

You're welcome.

Wow.  Seriously?  The enemy island values are fixed based on the level and the generation is completely random?  That's astonishing.  It really goes to show how eagerly the human mind assigns value to random noise.  I was so sure adding a shield caused the opponents to get shields early, for example.  Now that I know that's not the case, let me play some more and see how I feel about the experience.  I was second-guessing things that weren't an issue.

That said, RNG shouldn't make it impossible to win.  (Yes, even in a roguelike, assuming progression or learning the game's systems aren't a deliberate part of the intended player experience.)  Just about the only mechanic I didn't learn on my first run that reached stage 8 was that those energy weapons that bypass shields are probably what I need in order to stand a chance against the last boss.  (Later on, I sort of guessed that you might be doing the FTL thing of a weapon type being impractical and under-powered most of the game but then pretty much necessary for the last boss, but I haven't made it to the end since then.)

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I've been playing the game some more and it's gotten to a point where I just can't anymore.  RNG just plays such a huge role in whether or not you have the parts you need to make a viable island.  Twice in the last day, I started a new game to find three forges.  Every enemy ship always has better weapons, defenses, and movement than you, no matter what you build.  If this only affected the enemy island design, I could sort of see it.  Sure, it's weird that you can replace all your stone with dirt or un-equip most of your weapons to weaken a boss, but it also seems to scale with stage somewhat, and maybe the enemy needs an advantage in raw numbers to compensate for their lack of brains.  But where I lost all hope was when I discovered that the quality of your island affects the loot that drops.

Having trouble finding horizontal movement items?  Just get your lateral acceleration down to 20 or so, the game will start dropping them.  Not finding any weapons?  It's because you foolishly equipped the few weapons the game gave you, so it decided that you had enough weapons and stopped giving them to you.  Just cut yourself down to a 2x2 brick with one cannon, two thrusters, and the warp drive.  Of course, one false move and you're dead, but that's basically the way the start of the game plays anyway.  Oh, you took a hit and died?  Better esc to the title screen and start over.  Otherwise you'll end up with no lives left in the late game when you need them.

What ever happened arbitrary challenges?  Whatever happened to RNG actually being random?

The more I play this game and the more I start to understand how it works under the hood, the more angry and frustrated I get.  I love the concept and the core mechanics seem fun.  Building your base is fun.  Getting loot is fun.  The combat is fun when it actually works.  But it feels like every time I'm just starting to enjoy myself, I get screwed by RNG or physics.  Maybe if you could see the cooldowns on each block so you know when the enemy's about to fire, or maybe if you were allowed to buy as many of one item as the enemy can buy, it would be less infuriating.  Or, hell.  Unlocks.  If I were getting pop-ups that say "You've unlocked <name of item,>" maybe I'd be able to tell myself that RNG in future games would be less shitty than RNG in the game I just played.  Maybe that's why roguelites do it in the first place, I don't know.  

What I do know is two of my favorite games are Shellcore Commander and Enter the Gungeon, so you'd think a game that combines them would be the best thing ever.  But so far it's been pure torture.  Looting mechanics are supposed to drip-feed the player dopamine, but all I'm getting on my end is pure cortisol.

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Seems like every single run ends in an infinite battle where I can't kill the enemy and the enemy can't kill me.  Both ships lose their lateral thrusters and then the enemy cannons itself back and forth off the sides of the screen.   But because the cannon range is so short, the shots can't actually hit you, so it just keeps recoiling back and forth off the side of the screen where you can't see it.  You can't hit it, and it can't hit you.  Infinite nothing gameplay.

NONE of the decisions I make while building my island prevents this outcome, and piloting the island is always a total crapshoot, so there's literally nothing I can do to prevent this.  One time I stuck my core on a healing block just to see what it did-- not even altitude could kill me!  It takes a game with potential and makes it unplayable, since I literally never know when the game's going to suddenly throw itself into an unwinnable state.

Why not do what all base-building games do and give the core a small ammount of basic gameplay juice?  In some games this would be resource generation-- here, it should definitely be lateral movement.  Not fast movement.  Not good movement.  Just enough that you can maybe try to pursue some sort of change to the game state when the enemy decides to troll you with an infinite cannon recoil loop. 

Seriously, I can't even get through the first area without this happening.

One thing I can tell you from personal experience: Don't just record gameplay!  It doesn't work.  Instead, look at trailers for successful games (Indie and AAA) and copy what they do!

Overhauled my screenshot production process and took some more recent ones.  I really don't know what else I could be doing wrong.  The landing page is definitely the weak link.  People apparently go to the twin stick shooter genre page, see the animated gif, click on it, find out that the game is pretty much exactly what the animated gif made it look like, in a landing page that you guys claim is excellent... and then they leave without buying.

What am I doing wrong?

Oh.

That's just mean.

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I don't mean the adage is false.  I mean any person who ever said "I will personally pay you for this game by donating, but only if you make it free first." is a liar and a fraudster.

I brightened up the header on the landing page and tweaked the favicon.  It's still a dark page, by design, but I think this made a difference.

I mean... if you show a relative percentage, and I know what my numbers are...

As someone who started with a free game, added features to it, and later started charging for it, this is bumpkiss.

Aaaaand done!  Blast Pulser is a paid game now.  Special Thanks again to all my Early Adopters for helping me test out the early alpha.  You guys really earned your Free.  Expect buggier beta builds and more time between Final builds as I start to work on bigger, more complicated features.

Don't be afraid to charge, people that get the game for free can be considered "rewarded" for being the first ones to trying your game, so is fair that they got it for free.

That was always the plan, to get feedback early in the development process and then gradually increase the price until it's feature-complete.  It even says so on the landing page.  It's was just the timing I had a problem with.  It's been less than a week and I feel like itch, the website has been constantly trying to hurry the process along while itch, the community has been collectively dragging its feet. 

Game + Soundtrack

Can't do a soundtrack, it's not my music to give.  ( Again, it says this on the page you're critiquing. :P )  I figured I'd start doing this by bundling my own games once I get more than one made.  Maybe I could do an HD/SD thing.  I dunno.

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People are starting to encourage me to Shut Up and Take Their Money, so starting at midnight, that's what I'm gonna do!  If you or a friend wants Blast Pulser for free, get it now!  Do not delay!  Use this link and bind Blast Pulser permanently to your Itch app before Midnight!   After Midnight, the price goes up!  Well... the price starts to exist.  I know $2 is still pretty low, but I wanted to leave myself room to grow when I start putting in all the crazy features I really wanted to have in it.

(Seriously, thank you all so much for the amazing interest you've shown in the 5 short days it's been up.  I can't believe how fast things have been happening.  None of this would have been possible without you.)

I mean, things kinda blew up after it hit the front page.  And they didn't un-blow-up again after it got off the front page.  People are still downloading.  I have no idea where they're coming from TBH.  It looks like they're still coming from itch.io's main page, but that doesn't make any sense since I'm not on the front page anymore.  Maybe I'm scared things are gonna tank if I start charging.

Sigh.  Only one way to find out...

"Climb?"  Is it hierarchical?  Do I do a thing to get it to go up?  I thought a mod or an admin just decided.  I also thought games only get one crack at the frontpage since that's how it works on Steam, appstore, istore, and pretty much every other games portal on the internet.

I is confused.

This is interesting to me, because my experience so far has been the opposite.  My game's a twin stick shooter, and the traffic from https://itch.io/games/tag-twin-stick-shooter is 4x the traffic from https://itch.io/games/free/tag-twin-stick-shooter.  But both of those pale in comparison to the traffic that came through the frontpage and Newest.  But even when traffic peaked, literally nobody tipped.

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Aaaaand just like that, it's over.  My 15 minutes of fame are up.  Less than 1% of the people who saw the link clicked on it, but of those who did, slightly more than half of them chose to go ahead and download it for free.  Does anybody know if these numbers are good or bad?  Now that I'm off the front page, it's all Long Tail from here on out, so I need to figure out what I did wrong ASAP.

I dunno, I heard demos don't work.  Youtube videos drive sales.  Game Demos just cost you sales because people play the demo and decide they've had their fill.  At least, that was the conventional wisdom way back in 2008 or so.

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AAAAA.  What do I DO?  The plan was to keep gradually building up the game, and start charging once people started donating.  That hasn't happened yet.  Zero donations.  But now somebody put my game on the front page!  It's listed among Most Popular in its genre tag!  I did an update with two new turret types but that's hardly enough to justify going from $0 to $2.  But if I don't switch it over now, I'll miss out on the biggest traffic spike ever.  Or is that just a misconception on my part and if it were on the front page at $2 right now, nobody would be downloading it?

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This guy managed to find a way.  Darned if I can figure out how he did it, though!



No matter how many lines of text I add to my description, the button never appears above the fold.  My game is free with optional donations, exactly like Neon Collapse.



Update: Figured it out.  Apparently I just wasn't using enough superfluous text:



  • Right now, when I look at my page while I'm logged into itch, the Download button is below the fold.



  • If I double the amount of text before the button, it still doesn't make a second Download button at the top.



  • If I quadruple the amount of text before the button, it makes a secondary button at the top.  But this makes no sense since you have to scroll 3 full pages to get itch to realize the button's beneath the fold and correct itself.



You need your button to be above the fold.  Need need need.  Everyone says so.  Literally everyone in every web-based marketing anything ever says so.  Don't like marketers?  Only care about the opinions of developers?  Tim Ruswick, Developer of Philophobia and creator of Game Dev Underground, says so.  Button must be above fold.  Your business needs that to put food on your table.  Therefore, you need it to live.



I don't think itch's current system even knows where the fold is. 






You have to admit, a factor of 3 is a pretty big margin of error.  My screen is 1920x1080, for instance.  How big does itch *think* my screen is?  Does it take into account formatting?  The text specimen I used from Google Texts?  My header image?  The fact that I'm using Firefox?  The fact that I'm logged in and there's a grey top-bar at the top?  My operating system's UI elements?



I actually don't think you should give people the option to choose where the Download button is.  I think proper Download Button placement, supported by every A/B test ever conducted by the entire human race, should be mandatory on all pages.  I think it should be at the very top of the document, just under the Header, in case your customer is easily bored by the wall of text and can't be bothered to scroll down to find it, and another one at the very bottom of the document, just above the footer, in case your customer read every word on your page before getting bored and don't feel like scrolling all the way up again.



Sorry for typing so much, but this boggles my mind.  Everything else about the itch.io experience is excellent.  Why would you mess up the one thing everyone says is the most important?

I figured it out.  (For real this time.)  It's social engineering.  The reason they did it like this is to force you to list all the controls on the page.  Even if you have a menu in the game to rebind the controls.  Even if you use the same control conventions as every other game in your genre. Even if you sunk a ton of elbow grease into in-game tutorials.   Honestly, I can live with that?  I just don't like finding out about it by second-guessing the admins.

They coulda just said "Your Download button will probably end up below the fold if you don't list your game's controls."

How's this for the life bar?


I must be weird.  I prefer when comments are negative, or at least challenging of my design.  To me, "this game rules" is just as useless of a comment as "this game sucks."  Tell me why it sucks so I can try to do something about it, and I'm a happy camper. 

But that's just me.  When reviewing everyone else?  Yes, please use constructive criticism!

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Blast Pulser is a twin-stick shooter with AI-driven minor enemies, procedurally-generated bosses, and an awesome soundtrack by Deceased Superior Technician.

You can play it for free  cheap now at https://warpzone.itch.io/blast-pulser.  The price will gradually go up as I add new features, so get it now before it's finished!  Feedback, suggestions and bug reports are greatly appreciated!

The Landing Page

https://warpzone.itch.io/blast-pulser

I think it looks pretty good, but what do you guys think?

When should I start charging?

I uploaded an MVP with no minimum price, with the idea that I'd start charging for it when it was worth charging for.  Until then, I'd be getting free playtesters and maybe even building a little bit of a community.  How would I know when it was worth charging for?  Well, I figured when people started making donations, that would probably be a pretty good sign.  

But then I took a look at Analytics, and I noticed that I was getting a lot more traffic (literally 2x-3x as much) from the non-free versions of pages as from the free versions of the same page.  ( tag-twin-stick-shooter vs free/tag-twin-stick-shooter, for example)

Now, this doesn't prove that the people who were browsing non-free games would have clicked on mine if it had been priced at $2.  But it does suggest to me that maybe a bigger percentage of itch visitors are willing to spend money than I originally thought.

I dunno.  Am I overthinking this?  (Total traffic's still in the double-digits, so probably.)

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Nope.  I'm using color very deliberately in this game.  Red glowy things are things that WILL hurt you.

I might do some other visual effect, maybe some kinda green electrity arcing along the guns or something.  But it would just be for effect, not precise enough to time your shots by.  This isn't Dead Space. 

It needs a life bar, too.  Possibly also some other kind of gameplay-related data, at some point.  Maybe I'll do it in the form of a ring around the player's ship or something so you don't have to glance at the corner of the screen.  We'll see.

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Although... now that I think about it... I suppose it might be possible to add overheating as a secondary mechanic buried in the options menu.  I'd have to increase the normal bullet damage when it's active to compensate for the fact that the player would be firing fewer shots per minute on average, but in theory there's no reason why it couldn't be totally self-balancing... hmmm...

For example, if 50% downtime is necessary to prevent an overheat, then normal shot damage needs to be doubled for the rest of the gameplay to stay the same... Yeah, that might be generalizable, if I can get the math right.

And of course there would be a bar or a radial indicator or something.  The problem with "stamina bars" isn't the bar.  It's the stamina.

Making the player think about more things at once is something I'm actively trying to avoid at this point, because in the very near future I intend to add more diverse and complicated sets of things to avoid.  Once all the enemies are in the game, I'll think about adding this or other mechanics that make the shooting less "simple." 

(The same goes for limited ammo, shot charging, overheating, weapon swapping, weapon pickups, weapon upgrades, cooldowns, literally anything that makes the shooting more complicated than the simple spray-and-pray affair it is right now.)

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1. Wow.  Good catch on #1.  I used to think I had to choose between supporting old computers and supporting modern ones.  This might be the fastest build I ever pushed to butler!

2: I had thought about doing this, but it's a good sized chunk of code and requires some conceptual work and probably some menu options to keep it from conflicting with what's already there, so it had been on the back-burner.  I guess I'll prioritize it.  Wow, that went a lot faster than I was expecting.  The way it interacts with toggle-fire is a little unintuitive.  I may need to change it so aim-to-fire overrides toggle-fire.  What do you think?

3: This one, I'm less enthusiastic about.  I hate stamina meters and cooldown systems in games where it's not warranted.  You would have to explain why you want this feature and what you think it would add to the game.  I can't think of a justification for it, myself, especially when there's so much more work still to do on the enemies side of the risk/reward equation.

Stop burying the lede, Heather.  Are the bugs male or female?

I'd just like to say thank you for answering it here even though you already answered me personally in the email.  This will help everyone who randomly stumbles here via Google at some unknown point in the future.

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Bored with the official uploads?  Want to indulge in the latest bleeding edge features and experimental game mechanics, even though they might get ripped out, replaced, or rolled back tomorrow?  Don't mind downloading a version of the game that might be broken and on fire, just to see what would happen?  Roll the dice with Automated Nightly Beta Builds!

Using the most advanced batch file technology 1985 had to offer, I told my computer to go ahead and compile and upload the Unity project for me every night.  Assuming my computer's turned on and I'm not already working on the game when it happens, it should basically do this on its own.  It'll upload the project in its current state, regardless of quality or stability.  Expect bugs galore, missing features, evolutionary dead-ends, and all manner of chaos.

What could possibly go wrong? :D

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Feature requests go here.  I may or may not implement any particular feature, but I do read this thread.

Bug reports should go here instead.

Thank you!

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To report a bug, please follow the instructions here.

To see a list of known issues, please enjoy this delicious waffle.

This is only for bugs.  Feature requests should go here instead.

Thank you!

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This feels similar to the "contact us if you need more space" thing.  So try using this link.

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I've tried to login with Butler several times.  Each time it gives me a different authentication code.  Each time, after I enter the authentication code and hit Enter, Butler freezes.  It doesn't say the authentication code was right and it doesn't say the authentication code was wrong.  No error messages, nothing.  I paste the code, hit enter, and it just sits there.

Any ideas how to get it working?

Also, why is it the same code every time?  I thought this was some kinda one-time pad thing.