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Vacant Kingdom

A hybrid of bullet hell and action-RPG. · By shru


A topic by shru created Feb 22, 2019 Views: 594 Replies: 39
Viewing posts 1 to 16
Developer (1 edit)

Hey folks! This is where anyone and everyone can post their thoughts on Prologue For A Vacant Kingdom. Of course, you could also create your thread and post your feedback there, if you feel so inclined.

Here are some questions to give you an idea of the sorts of things I'm wondering about. 

  • Did you get stuck or frustrated at any point? If so, where?
  • Did you enjoy the combat? Were any of the mechanics hard to understand?
  • Did you enjoy the dialogue and story? Did you think it was funny? Did you think characters were too wordy?
  • What difficulty did you play on? Did you find it appropriately challenging?
  • How did the game run on your computer? Did any parts perform poorly? (If so, it would help me if you could post your PC specs!)

However, these are by no means the only things I'd like to hear from you. Please feel free to post any and all thoughts you have on the game. :)

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When I arrived at the area with the stalls, it wasn't immediately obvious that I could go southeast, so I spent some time just running around in circles doing the puzzle to the west wondering if I was missing something. I did find it eventually, but maybe some signposting would help.

When it comes to the UI, greying out previously viewed conversation options would be a great help. Letting you click the conversation/menu options you want with the mouse would be nice as well, rather than it just being a confirmation button.

Developer (1 edit)

Hey, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I know what you're talking about in relation to the room with the 3 market stalls. Players often have a tendency to explore the north-east and north-west entrances before they figure out that there's entrances on either side of the bottom of the room. I think maybe I'll change those to one-way exits, so that your only real choices when you first get to that room are on the bottom left and right.

Being able to use the mouse for menus is definitely a highly requested feature that I want to add. It's going to be a bit tough to find the time for it when so many other things are vying for my attention, but I do want to add that in the near future. 

Greying out previously selected conversations is another thing I'd love to do, but unfortunately it would be difficult to implement with the way I do my dialogue scripting right now. I would like to do it eventually, but it'll require some reworking. I think the right time to do that would be if I end up going back through all of the scripts to make them translation-friendly. So maybe you'll see it if that ever happens!

I got typified as a "Brave Gamer" (interesting, what's this about?). I played on normal difficulty.

I almost never play/enjoy bullet hell games, but the format of your game is interesting and enjoyable to me - it gives a sense of a lonely world that has a past to discover, so I feel encouraged to explore the game world and learn about its contents.

I sort of "missed" the defensive treasure that increases HP to 3, then attempted to fight the first boss of this version of the game - failed 16 times. I backtracked, found how to get it, and then defeated the boss on the 17th try.  The difficulty feels appropriate here.

I feel that the second boss (took me 20 tries with my HP at 3) is quite a jump in difficulty compared to the first boss, and felt significantly more difficult than the third (I beat the third boss on my first try). I believe this may have something to do with the rotating hitbox lines that force the player to move in circles around the enemy; the first and third fights don't have that, making them a lot easier in my opinion. I'm not sure that these boss fights are necessarily done in this order, but hopefully you can understand what I mean by my descriptions.

The game ran fine for me, and I played with a mouse/keyboard. The controls/menu navigation are pretty easy to understand as they are.

I liked the NPC interaction, and found myself wanting to interact with more, though the lack of them does give a lonely atmosphere to the game that is nice. The soundtrack is provokes the imagination and adds a lot to the atmosphere. Also, I noticed there's no combat outside of boss battles. Will there be combat other than bosses? I would like to shoot at things other than bosses and switches, but a boss-centric game might be pretty cool too.


Hi and thanks for playing. I'm glad to hear that you found the world intriguing and that I was able to make a genre that you don't normally like appealing.

It's good to hear that you were able to backpedal and get the August Attire even after skipping it. The "hey you missed an important item" is pretty blunt I feel, but I was worried that some players might just ignore that message, find the game too hard and quit.

I think it's been a fairly universal opinion that [on Intended Experience difficulty] Sarcoph August is a bit too challenging, and that Orobas, Oracle Of Obscurity is too easy. Especially considering that most players will fight Sarcoph first. I've already made Orobas more challenging, and I hope to tweak Sarcoph later today.

I feel that in terms of getting the most out of development time, the sort of boss-rush format is a very practical choice for me. It takes me a long time to design and implement bosses, so it's good that I can usually squeeze a good 10-30 minutes of gameplay out of players for most of them. Normal enemies would still take while to develop, but probably wouldn't provide as much dev-to-gameplay time value. The other issue is that I think that hiding behind terrain and kiting would be very powerful when fighting enemies on the overworld, so I would almost be required to make areas have an arena-like design in order to make enemies work well, I feel.

That isn't to say that I'll never explore the idea of having lower-tier challenges. Maybe something interesting would be to have some weaker enemies that you fight on their own, only to have them appear later as minions during a boss fight. We'll see!

Thanks for your feedback!

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I played my first playthrough on normal difficulty and I did not find it frustrating at all, but I do enjoy bullet hell games so most of the bosses only took me a few attempts. I never felt compelled to take a break from the game or anything of the sort. I think it is a good level of challenging currently. The combat was fun and intuitive and as someone who doesn't really play twinstick shooters I think the control scheme is pretty good. (The skull was a good addition, too!) I played with a PS3 controller.

I will agree with modwhgmh that the attacking seems fairly unused outside of combat so far, but I am sure still you have plenty of ideas, although I think the setting does kind of play a role in the scarcity of conflict. I think the tutorial segment sets up a fair amount of tension by actually having bullet shooting hazards, which then ends up not really being a huge factor later on once you select your difficulty, as (almost?) nothing after that point actually appears to be hostile aside from the bosses. It still made me want to run to save spots every once in a while just to make sure I wasn't going to randomly bump into a boss in my first run, but by the time I got further into the game I realized that you were very generous with the save points prior to bosses. The bossfights themselves were really cool, and you've created some very pretty patterns. I did get some slight framedrops on the flower boss (aside from the Hourglass cutscene, of course) during the pattern that spawns petal-shaped crescents of bullets. Out of all of the bossfights - all of which I enjoyed - the one I liked the most was Orobas. The fight mechanics were super cool! It was actually really fun to keep retrying the fight since there were so many different questions (and some of the alternate answers were pretty entertaining.) I did think that the flower bossfight began quite abruptly after triggering it, I'm not exactly a huge fan of cinematic transitions and stuff like that, but it did strike me as being kind of rough for it to suddenly just spawn out of nothing. I think bosses could also do with changing or disabling the music after successfully killing them, since it seems a bit odd that the battle music carries on playing after the fight is over.

Regarding the movement, particularly the dashing, I was very struck by how smooth the whole thing plays and how good all your z-axis handling is, which became particularly apparent when I was trying to scale some of the side walls, like the one to the far right of the stalls, and some of the rock formations in the tutorial segment. The part that introduces shooting at switches for instance allows you to get raised up by standing on the spikes, which does actually let you get on the rock tiles next to them. It's really cool that stuff like that works and I hope you may even include an (optional) secret or two that rewards crafty climbing. As a side note, I never found myself needing to use the dash in actual bossfights.

I really enjoyed the story, setting and the themes. I remember commenting on the name you chose when you announced the title of the game and it wasn't really clear what the implications of it were, but now that I've seen played the demo and learned more about the world it makes a lot of sense. The NPCs are very endearing and are always a joy to encounter, especially with how expressive the portraits are, and you are clearly having waaaay too much fun with the hotel room numbers and other cute details like the trivia questions or the item descriptions. I think the relatively somber atmospheric music gets contrasted nicely with the humour in this game, so it still ends up setting a good tone. That being said, some segments of the game can feel a little bit barren of NPCs at times, but that does suit the theme and therefore seems okay for that part of the game, and the empty stalls did hint at there being possibly some kind of influx of NPCs in that area perhaps later on in the story? The NPC interactions really elevate things, so it's going to need a very careful balance, and I think the demo succeeded in that thus far. Sometimes I almost wish I could talk to NPCs again to ask them about new things I've encountered that are in some way related to them, but I do think that there's already a fair amount of that. I'm also very excited to see what other equipment ideas you have for your current equipment system.

PS: Since you suggested to me to try easy mode without the August Attire on yesterday, I tried it and no boss took me more than 2 or 3 tries tops with all of my clumsy maneuvering. Sarcoph Augustus does strike me as being kind of rough on easy still, and I had the impression that Orobas didn't feel too different from his normal mode counterpart.


Hi, and thanks for playing!

Good point about the save points. Maybe they're a strange inclusion right now given the lack of threat of losing progress and the ubiquity of their presence before boss fights. I'll have to think about whether they're really necessary.

Noted on the performance on Mandrake's (flower boss) final phase. That pattern runs fairly poorly on my PC too. I haven't really hunkered down and really optimized the engine yet, but I will surely do that before the final game is released.

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed fighting Orobas, he was a lot of fun to design. The last phase was supposed to inspire a sort of playful feeling of unfairness.

In regards to the abrupt starting to the Mandrake fight, I totally agree. There's a number of things like that which I plan to do eventually but which I determined were not totally necessary for the closed beta. I also don't like how the player and bosses just disappear instantaneously when they die, I plan to have death sprites eventually.

I'm glad you enjoyed the movement. I'm kind of divided on whether I should include more platforming-esque challenges, because a fair amount of player have have had difficulty interpreting the perspective of game. I try to use a consistent visual language for raised blocks that you can walk on, and raised blocks that are just walls. But, despite that, it's still very common for players to test whether they can walk right onto a cliff which is actually supposed to be like 5 tiles too tall. Maybe I'll just have to be really clever with my design and save the tricky stuff for optional secret areas/items.

I'm ecstatic to hear that you enjoyed the NPC interactions and little environment jokes. I'd like to think that some of the jokes definitely comes across as the sort of thing which could only exist in a game where the writer has nobody higher up to answer to suggest things like "Okay dude, maybe let's cool it with the archaic 19th-century pseudoscience references and the September-Eleventh joke??"

And yeah, I think maybe the decision to have a world with not so many NPCs is a bit at odds with the decision to make a dialogue-heavy game. I've tried to balance it out by giving them more to say than your average RPG game, but it's probably not a setting decision I'll make again. Your point about NPCs not having new dialogue in relation to things you've seen is one that has me thinking. I've spent a lot of effort making sure that NPCs have lines when you do something slightly unconventional or out of order, but I think adding new dialogue like you've described with be a better place to spend energy.

I agree that Sarcoph Augustus is probably too hard for easy, and I've tried to rectify that in the latest update. We'll have to see what playtesters say.

In regards to combat outside of bosses, please see my answer to modwhgmh.

I just wanted to comment on the out-of-bosses combat point, I was actually moreso referring to other puzzle mechanics similar to switches, just so that the stick/aiming maybe isn't entirely irrelevant when you're not interacting with switches or fighting bosses. That being said, I think between the switches and the bosses it probably already has enough purpose to be fine the way it is. Your approach is very sensible regarding time investment and focusing on bosses!

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Stats were 2 hours 30 minutes, 1 death to flower, 25 to Sarcoph, 50 to Orobas. I played on Intended without the august attire and without using the hourglass. 

I liked the patterns and around where the challenge was at, but I think either the player's hurtbox or the projectile hitboxes are too large. I may be spoiled by most shmups having the hitboxes for bullets be much smaller than their sprites, but it doesn't feel right to me to get hit like this (closest frame I could grab from test recording):

Other small stuff: Sometimes difficult to tell exactly how tall something is. I don't think that the game tells you that the hourglass boosts attack outside of Orobas' quiz (maybe this is apparent with use, maybe it's not significant to be anything more than trivia, I wouldn't be a good judge). Last phase of flower causes frame drops. It would be nice to be able to refight bosses.

Humor and dialogue were good, movement and interacting with everything is very smooth without any jank. It's fun and I liked it.

Hey, thanks for playing!

It sounds like you might be the player who is the most experienced with danmaku games so far, based on the success of your challenge run. So, I'll trust your judgement that the hitboxes might be a little too large and I'll have a look at things. At some point I did do some testing to make sure that the hitboxes lined up with the sprites exactly, but it's possible that some newer bullets or some changes may have thrown that off the mark. And even so, it still might feel better if I shave some pixels off of some hitboxes here and there. 

Besides the screencap you posted, were there any bullets types in particular you where felt the hitboxes were especially off? Just asking so that I can give those some extra scrutiny.

Yeah, the perspective sometimes making the height of things hard to perceive is something I'm aware of, and there are a few areas I've been meaning to tweak to make a bit more intuitive to understand. Do you recall any spots in particular which confused you?

Noted on the hourglass damage boost. I used to have it during the sort of freeze-frame moment in the Mandrake fight, but cut it because that whole sequence is already verbose and the that information seemed non-essential. I suppose throwing it in the item description would help, but I think not every player will read that. I'll think more about the right place to put that information.

Noted on the frame drops too, I still need to do a big optimization pass.

The large circular bullets Orobas shoots out directed at the player during phases 1&3 were the only time I felt like the hitbox was actually a bit larger than the sprite. Everything else was more or less me feeling that it was odd that everything was as it looked. While on bullets I just remembered that the start of Sarcoph's final phase is awkward. It's probably just a matter of transition though because even though the saws spawn in instantly and start orbiting around I think at least their hitboxes don't come in for a while (until they start spinning?).

The only instance of being confused at the height of things I think was the area with the 3 stalls and the treasure chest, and it was when trying to jump to the outer walls. This was only because the path from the treasure chest felt like it was leading somewhere so I tried for a while. Everywhere else it was fine, just think it could read a little better.


Thanks, these details will be helpful. And yeah, the saws could probably really use some spawn-in animation. You're right that they're not deadly until they start spinning, though.

Ah yeah, I guess the walls around the treasure chest probably do read a lot like a secret, don't they. I put that in there because I thought it was a little bit fun to run on top of them. So I'll either make sure that they're far enough from the outer walls that nobody will make that same mistake, or I'll actually put something something up there to get...

One thing I forgot to comment on, refighting bosses. I do have some fairly novel ideas for a boss rush mode that I'd like to do eventually. I think that'll *probably* have to wait for the full game, though.

I've only played about twenty minutes, but I will say I like the way you're introducing mechanics without making the player feel like an idiot. One small thing:

You have a 't' too many and a 'w' too few.

Developer (1 edit)

It's a stupid Super Monkey Ball 2 reference which I totally expect to slightly confuse a lot of people, but which I still refuse to remove. If you really want it, notice that the "w" is available in the bottom right kaomoji.

Managed to beat Orobas and got the completion screen even though I haven't beaten the Sarcophagus, playing on Intended. The 3rd and 4th phase in particular... it's a pattern that's pretty familiar but still gives a lot of trouble. I'm not as experienced with danmaku as other but would agree that the player or bullet hitboxes seem a bit big, maybe I'm just too used to/spoiled by other games but I had some moments where I felt I could have grazed by and ended up taking a hit. I didn't know the focus mode concentrated your fire at first, but it didn't seem like too big of a difference.

Beyond that, I like it a lot. Never had issues with the z axis which is typically a problem in games like this. Dialogue was cute and quirky without resorting to "my fellow gamers" antics, and I enjoyed the obscure references (that I actually knew). The NPCs are really endearing and I hope they won't be forgotten as you progress further. The melancholy music seemed like an odd choice at first but after exploring the setting a bit more it all fits together. Didn't encounter any bugs, even though I went out of my way to mess with things to see if anything went wrong. Oh, and the bloodmurder color scheme could use a bit more contract for the highlighted option.


Hey, thanks again for playing!

Even though he's something that nearly every player will encounter, Sarcoph Augustus is technically an optional boss. So it's not unusual that you got the completion screen without beating him.

Yeah, the amount by which the focus mode concentrates your first is fairly subtle for balance reasons. For regular STGs usually the trick as far as positioning goes is to keep your player aligned with the enemies / bosses in order to deal optimal damage. Since Vacant Kingdom has 360 degree aim, that dynamic can't be the same. So instead, the risk-reward dynamic for positioning is based more on distance from the boss, and the amount by which your bullets arc outwards is critical for tuning that. Still there might be something I can do to make it more obvious that focusing concentrates your fire. Maybe longer bullets would emphasize the direction more? I'll play around with it.

I do have some plans on the front of NPCs not being forgotten. It's sort of alluded to in Prologue For A..., but I won't say for fear of over-promising. Good to hear that the moodiness music grew on you, I was worried that some people might think it clashed too much with the relative lightheartedness of the story. Noted on the highlight color contrast, little suggestions like that are very helpful!

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I still have to fight Oro so I'll have more complete thoughts after that but I wanted to lob out a suggestion real quick: a quick retry button might be nice. while fighting Sarco if I took a hit in his first phase I'd just take two more intentional hits to die because I knew which phases I had guaranteed hits on

oh but first impressions: solving Oro's puzzle by changing the difficulty might be one of my favourite things in a video game.

Developer (1 edit) (+1)

Yeah, that's a good idea. I'll definitely add a retry/suicide button for bosses.

Glad you liked the Puzzle Difficulty room! :D That whole part was inspired largely by Silent Hill 3, whose hardest "riddle difficulty" setting features some notoriously obtuse puzzles which sometimes require relatively esoteric knowledge from the real world; the very first puzzle in SH3 is the "Shakespearian Anthology Puzzle", to give you a sense of what it's like.

Finished the prologue on easy in about 2 hours.  After I finished, I came here to check the comments and realized I forgot the August Armor.  That would have made it easier!  I feel dumb for having missed it.  I loved the dialogue and you really hit the "Vacant" feel in the story thus far.

At no point did I experience any lag.  The controls were excellent and while I'm not bullet-hell player, I loved this game.

The only thing that happened to me that was outside of the norm was the first time I played Oro, I didn't stop shooting, and immediately died right after.  It was one death and I learned from it, but it wasn't expected.  

Great job so far and I cannot wait to try more content!

Developer (1 edit)

Thanks for playing! Sorry to hear that you missed the August Attire. I'm trying to strike a balance with it: making it hard to miss but not directly handing it out to the player, while also making it technically optional so that players can forgo it for an extra bit of challenge. If I find that a fair bit of people are missing it like that, I'll definitely rework how it's acquired.

Hi Shru, 

A colleague at work asked that i try the demo. So i did.

About me: I'm a middle aged, infrequent gamer... my favorite game is still Diablo 2 been playing for 20+ years. I've never played a bullet-hell game before. I played the game on my laptop running windows 10 with an intel core i5 processor.. not sure about the RAM but it didn't matter ... hang on i'll check .. k 8GB... pretty sure i downloaded the 64 bit game... it ran really well but my machine was getting pretty hot near the end of any session I think my total time was 2:30 or so (two sessions, after the first hour i had to stop... i was trying to beat sarcophagus it was not going well)   i played on Easy.  I found the bosses to have quite a bit of HP considering i was on easy as noted above the first boss killed me as soon as i opened the tap... but more on that later..

I found the start of the game really long.. took me 30 minutes to get to the level selection screen.  Took me a while to figure out it was a puzzle game like skylanders. by the time i got to the gardener he was not providing me with any information that i needed at all... i knew he'd give me seeds although i suppose if i'd have paid attention i would have known some of the answers to the Oro questions. (found Oro to be the easiest bost BTW) probably because by that time i was more used to the controls. Which i struggled with quite a bit: played mouse and keyboard. I almost never used the focus walk as i was then unable to navigate properly on the WASD controls ended up walking into death too many times. I never used the hourglass feature (i'm sure this is a dexterity thing for me, my kids would probably have a much easier time or plug in their PS4 remotes) 

I have no idea what the skull was for in combat and i generally was just aiming in the middle and avoiding stuff until bosses finally died. Didn't find the shift attack ever did enough to bother with it... though i did use shift throughout the sarcophagus battle (my hand is still cramped) it took getting used to the speed difference but it helped get through the gaps.. the spinning blades there were the most frustrating part getting the boss so close and dying was disheartening. 

Very wordy chatter from NPCs and if you are going for very rude you nailed it! Pretty sure that after talking to any NPC i tried to shoot them all.  I skipped through a lot of what they said.  though i was happy to see that ringing the bell ticked Ronove off so i did that for a while... probably 5 mintues (mainly to see if he'd let me in). Almost lost it when the ticket didn't work but then saw the "by-pass".

I found the language was on the poor side in the sense of words missing, misused or just i'm not sure how to say it was "bad english" if that's the intended flavour then right on... it felt like bad chinese translations such as: "stay off the sleeping grass" instead of "stay off the grass". Again if that is the intended feel good on you.

I actually enjoyed the puzzle aspect of the "gardens" shooting the buttons and such was an interesting twist. Did take me a bit of time to realize i could jump on the stalls... Not sure if i actually equipped the clothing properly as my character didn't change at all..  Not sure i could tell the difference between the hourglass and iron kettle...  

The bosses i found to be the most frustrating i found that i died way too easily and that they had way too much HP for an easy level setting.. I have no intention of replaying normal or hard to see how "easy" i had it.. mostly due to not my style and difficulty with controls. That being said i found the first boss to be the most fun and challenging enough the art is nice and the background not too busy. (sarcophagus and Oro have busier backgrounds) I suppose the lack of anything other than the bosses to shoot at doesn't give a decent gauge as to how hard you are actually hitting.

I liked the no elevator access to the 13th floor. I did not visit every floor, probably should have. 

I tried to pick up everything bu never found a use for many things... like my 7 blank tickets.. that's ok though. 

Oh, not a big fan of all the animals as characters... but that's just me... doesn't change much to the gameplay. Did find Oro a little annoying at times. Especially in the Library. 

Anyway mechanically the game seems very sound, i didn't experience any glitches or bugs, it downloaded very quickly and installed just as fast i was up and running very quickly.  As noted above as well, the mouse would be great to use in menus navigating was a bit tedious at times.

Developer (1 edit)

Hi, thanks for playing!

When you say that the start of the game took you a long time, was there a part in particular that didn't click right away for you? It sounds like you might've been stuck in the little pit where Sprighou (the Gardener) resides and didn't realize you could get out of there by planting the seeds? Let me know if I'm correct, because if I know exactly what didn't click for you, that'll help me greatly while trying to figure out a way to make it more clear.

If the game took you about 2.5 hours in total, then I'd say that's about the playtime I was going for. The bosses are definitely supposed have have a sort of "die -> get better -> try again -> repeat until you win" cycle, even on easy. The idea for easy to give a bit of a struggle,  but still set the bar lower enough that even players who aren't super into the genre can proceed before they get frustrated. It sounds like it probably missed the mark for you though. Can you give me an idea of how many deaths it took you for each boss before you were able to beat them?

The skull icon just shows the direction of the boss in relation to your character. The idea is that you can visually focus on just your section of the screen and focus on dodging... But it's probably something that's more useful when playing with a gamepad, so maybe I'll consider removing it for mouse and keyboard players.

A lot of NPCs are definitely supposed to come across a little rude. I was hoping it would come across as more playfully cheeking than annoying.

Your comment about the English being bad is highly interesting to me. You're the first person I've heard say this, although I definitely am taking it seriously as a concern. I've probably spent a disproportionate amount of time learning the intricacies of ESL english. So it does not surprising if while making a writing this came across. Was there an NPC in particular who you felt was particularly bad for this, so that I can give them some more scrutiny? Or better yet, even a line of dialogue?

Changing clothing doesn't reflect on your character right now, but you would have noticed your HP change from 1/1 to 3/3.

A handful of items are just gag items which clutter up your inventory for now... :) maybe they'll find a use eventually.

Noted on mouse navigation in menus. That's on the todo list, it's just hard to find the time for.

Thanks again for sticking through the whole thing and for taking the time to write such detailed feedback!


Hi Shru,

 By the time i go to sprighou i was good, i think it was the jumping between  raised platforms, getting used to the controls, talking to the NPCs and the initial profile that doesn't seem to have a bearing on the game though i suppose it will for the full game. Might have taken me some ime to walk all the way to the left away from ronove and start moving through the platforms...  I realized i had to plant seeds before i saw the gardiner i knew i'd have to do that as soon as i saw the fresh earth spots.

I also died like 5 times just getting back from the boots !!! found it a lot easier to get in than out... 

I think the main NPC where i noticed the English was probably Xarria.. though i may have been only a line or two i'd have to read through the scripts again, Ronove too and he was the cheekiest especially walking into the game and getting started.  Though they have the most speaking lines. Otherwise i think the rest were good though i must say i did a lot of "speed reading".. 

I did try to go back through the normal mode and stopped after dying twice against the first flower.. I was just trying to gauge the difference between  easy and normal.. Is it possible the monster is faster in normal and his seedlings too... it was noticeably more difficult though i wasn't giving it my all. But there was a difference.

As i had said earlier this was my first bullet-hell and it's not really my style, so not very proficient.. 

Deaths on Easy: Boss 1:  10 to 15;  Sarcophagus like 17 to 25; Oro i think less than 8.

OK so i went back to look at the text... 

I think it's mostly in the descriptions/instructions. But you might want to have someone look through the script.

Oh and in the game calibration you could ask about gender and then get rid of the "sir or madam" I found that weird. 

This time through i did hit a bit of lag on Mandrake in the final stage.

Also i suppose this is just the style of game, but i find it a little too bad that you are kind of forced into a corner to avoid dodge missiles and sort of miss out on the really nice patterns that are being drawn.. They were very nice and caused me to die a few times,, just admiring them. Oro was definitely easier once you get into the final stage Although i did get all the questions right so there were no red X's ... i think that did make is a bit trickier the first time through. Might want to randomize where the correct answer spawns.

Anyway hope it helps.

Oh yeah... i'm surprised that Oro seems to say toodles when he leaves, considering he's the BBEG. I guess it just seems so out of place with the rest of the conversations being terse. 

Especially considering your use of alliterations in the interaction pop-up. I realized what you were doing when i found it strange that you would "Gossip with the Gatekeeper" when really that doesn't make sense.. 


Thanks for clarifying on the start of the game and who you thought had awkward dialogue. Ronove referring to you as "sir or madam" is supposed to be intentionally weird and is supposed to be emblematic of his total disinterest in accommodating or helping you.

~10 deaths on the Mandrake boss and Orobas is about what I was aiming for difficulty-wise. 20+ is maybe a big too high for Sarcoph Augustus, but then again you said you weren't using the Hourglass, so that would have made things more difficult than it needed to be. So I'm not sure whether I should touch him.

The higher difficulties mostly affect the density and speed of projectiles, and well as the resting time between volleys/patterns of bullets. The seedling minions move at the same speed on both Easy and Intended, but there are more of them on Intended, so that would create the effect making their pursuit feel more threatening.

In terms of being "forced into a corner" during boss battles, I agree with you. That's been something I've been trying to design bosses to avoid. I think the Mandrake's design makes it so that it's pretty optimal to just stay back in the corner and move yourself just enough to dodge bullets. However, Sarcoph Augustus and Orobas were both designed to make it so the player should have to utilize most of the arena to be successful.

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I just finished the main bit (without the secret boss) and had a lot of fun!

Did you get stuck or frustrated at any point? If so, where?

It took me a few tries to defeat some bosses, but nothing out of the ordinary I would say. I am not an experienced danmaku player, and I also have a weird hangup about trying not to use slowdown items in games unless completely backed into a corner. I had no issues with the environment puzzles. I opted for the simple riddles.

Did you enjoy the combat? Were any of the mechanics hard to understand?

I did, the player is fun to control. I started playing with mouse and keyboard, and had a bit of trouble keeping my aim on the bosses as I would sometimes lose track of where the targeting reticule is. When aiming with the mouse, the reticule's positioning is affected somewhat by how the scrolling will lock against the boundaries of the map. After the first boss, I switched to an XBox 360 gamepad and found it easier to target the bosses.

Did you enjoy the dialogue and story? Did you think it was funny? Did you think characters were too wordy?

I enjoyed the NPC interactions. The contrast of cheerful characters against a gloomy atmosphere worked pretty well. Love the music.

What difficulty did you play on? Did you find it appropriately challenging?

Intended Experience. I felt it was reasonable.

How did the game run on your computer? Did any parts perform poorly? (If so, it would help me if you could post your PC specs!)

I experienced some dropped frames and performance fluctuations on the first boss as it got closer to defeat. I don't recall having any technical issues during later fights. Here are my system specs (this is an old Windows HTPC that I recently dug out of storage)

OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, Version 1809
CPU Make/Model: AMD A6-6400K APU With Radeon HD Graphics
CPU Clock: 3.90GHz
CPU Logical Cores: 2
RAM: 4 GB (DDR3)


Hi, thanks for playing and for leaving detailed feedback! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your time!

I started playing with mouse and keyboard, and had a bit of trouble keeping my aim on the bosses as I would sometimes lose track of where the targeting reticule is. When aiming with the mouse, the reticule's positioning is affected somewhat by how the scrolling will lock against the boundaries of the map.

Yeah, I've made the aiming ridicule larger a couple times and I'm fairly convinced that losing track of the mouse in the chaos might be somewhat unavoidable for new players. I think it's the kind of thing that one will get better at after playing for a while.

I'm not sure if 100% understood the second sentence, I think you're talking about how scrolling the screen will move the mouse along with it? It might be interesting to experiment with an option where the mouse cursor stays still (relative to the game world) when the screen scrolls, but I think something like that would be less than ideal for anything except a relatively small boss arena.

I experienced some dropped frames and performance fluctuations on the first boss as it got closer to defeat.

Good to hear that other than this, it was smooth for you. The last phase of the first boss is a problem area, it's my go-to scene for benchmarking right now.

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I'm not sure if 100% understood the second sentence, I think you're talking about how scrolling the screen will move the mouse along with it? It might be interesting to experiment with an option where the mouse cursor stays still (relative to the game world) when the screen scrolls, but I think something like that would be less than ideal for anything except a relatively small boss arena.

This is totally a nitpick and I feel silly dwelling on it, but the boundaries of the arena are close enough to the boundaries of the map that scrolling stops when approaching the corner of the arena, changing the player's targeting angle as they move around when aiming with the mouse. Just wanted to mention that during my playthrough, it was my motivation for switching to gamepad input (which ended up working really well).

Looking at the behaviour again today, I see that there is more going on with the camera than just keeping centered on the player, like the focus mode expanding the zone that the player can move in before scrolling occurs. (And losing visibility on the boss because they're out of frame would be a worse trade-off.)


Ah, I see what you mean now with the aiming. Arguably this behavior is desirable since one would hope that your bullets would always fire towards the crosshair? I guess I tend to leave my crosshair as close to the boss as possible, if not directly on top of, so this hasn't been as issue for me. I see how this might trip you up in some scenarios, but I'm not sure if there's a better alternative. (A conclusion which you seem to already agree with, I think.)

For sure, I think I would have acclimated if I had continued with KB+M.

hello, i would love to have access to the love file, so we can play in linux or any other platform. Very good game thanks for your work.

Hi Shru!

I just finished your game, it was really fun and cute! made for a very enjoyable evening. It was actually my first bullet hell game EVER, imagine that! And I'm glad it was : )

I was actually so stricken by the riddle, that I stopped that game, and did some googling for an hour. I wasn't able to solve it (actually, my least favorite part of the game was how inadequate it made me feel, lol), but I was able to find out that it was solvable (if you take steam at its word). Maybe someday I'll figure out how it works.

It also prompted me to learn more about whomever would put such a thing in a game - I learned a lot about you, and became a big fan - I went through all 250 of your twitter pictures, and found we have a lot of interests in common. A Baby Boomer Christian Otaku Intellectual Game Dev?! I love your moe philosophy!

It would make me really happy if we could be friends, my friend code on steam is 391497118, please add me anytime!!!

Now to give you proper feedback:

  • Did you get stuck or frustrated at any point? If so, where?

    Yes, I got stuck after finding my room at the hotel: I checked all the doors on every floor, I checked all the NPCs for hints, I retraced my steps in previous areas, I even tried to make something of the library with the limited information I had at the time (at one point I thought the clues were directions for ordering drinks in a certain sequence at the vending machine, haha). I just didn't know where to go, and although I saw the crate in the basement that was to be my next step, I didn't think to approach the crate in the basement on the off chance that it might be the first movable object in the game. I wish there were just a BIT more direction on that count; not to make another "heavy handed" tutorial out of the receptionist, but I don't think it could hurt to have her at least give you a hint as to what floor/area you should be focused on, at any given point in the game.
  • Did you enjoy the combat? Were any of the mechanics hard to understand?

    Yes, very much so, and I've been avoiding bullet hell because I didn't think I would like it! I love how you rewarded critical thinking, in small intricate ways, ranging from the auspicious decision to press the attack and get close when Orobas stopped moving for brief windows, to figuring out that dodging razor walls was easier to do on the sides of the map than in the corners (and more efficient yet to follow the inner razor wall around for as long as you could), or even lining up your shot to hit as much of the side of the boss with the greatest surface area as you can.
  • Did you enjoy the dialogue and story? Did you think it was funny? Did you think characters were too wordy?

    Yes, though I have been STARVED for a game that surpasses an 8th grade reading level, so who even knows at this point. I found most of the humor in the dialogue, but not all of it (I didn't get that sir/madame bit you explained in posts, for instance). I definitely don't think the characters were too wordy, and sanding yourself down too hard on that front would detract from your authenticity and author's voice. However, speaking of author's voice, the characters COULD be a little more distinctive from one another. As for the story, I very much appreciated what was there, but I couldn't help feeling as if there should have been more.  Just a few "relics" or textual artifacts fleshing out the transition between lord-what's-his-name's era with the present one - as opposed to just throwing him in at the end - would have made a big difference, in my opinion.
  • What difficulty did you play on? Did you find it appropriately challenging?

    I played on the intended difficulty throughout. It was enjoyable, and challenging. I died like 10-15 times to the plant, 20 times to coffin, and 45 times to Orobas. Like I said, it was my first bullet hell game, and I would definitely try another, after this positive experience.
  • How did the game run on your computer? Did any parts perform poorly? (If so, it would help me if you could post your PC specs!)

    There was like 1 or 2 parts of the game where the protagonist sprite seemed to be lagging, but I forget which - sorry (I think I remember a grey background, for what it's worth). But I've learned I'm not the best gauge of these things (I didn't even realise blight town was a problem, when I played though dark souls), so take my half-baked opinion with a grain  of salt.

    Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-7700HQ CPU @ 2.80GHz, 2808 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)
    16GB RAM

    I really think we could be great friends, please add me on steam!! Thanks so much for the game!

I just wanted to make a point to note that I did reply to this post, except on the steam forums:

Partially so that I don't see this a year from now and forget, and partially so that if other people see this thread, they don't see this post without a reply and figure that I've stopped reading it.

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Minor point, still looking forward to getting into the game, but here's the first path I followed:

1. Beat the first boss

2. In the hotel, decided to go to the basement first instead of the mission-suggested 13th floor, since I found the first boss rather hard, and thought the basement might have some powerup I could use.

3. Solved Orobas' riddle, fought him, and beat him, went to the restaurant, and left.

At this point shru shows up and tells me the game is basically over, but I believe I skipped a large portion of it, now that I look around a bit at forum posts and so on.

Anyway, thought you might want to know, I wasn't looking for a way to break the game or whatever, but this was left open as a possible path.  Maybe lock the basement at first, or allow for this in the dialogue with shru?

That minor thing aside, hilarious writing, you already got a few actual LOLs out of me at this point.  Also, entertaining enough that I found myself playing a shmup even though they're really not my cup of tea normally.  Cleverly done, my hat is off to you. :)

* * * Update after finishing the rest of the bosses (including the super secret one)

  • Did you get stuck or frustrated at any point? If so, where?
    • The first boss, even on easy, but that was mostly because I couldn't find the 3HP gear yet at that point.  After getting that it was definitely more doable.
  • Did you enjoy the combat? Were any of the mechanics hard to understand?
    • To some extent I did enjoy it.  I don't think I've played many shmups since Galactix way back in the day, which at some point I persevered through level 100 and actually beat, once.  It's not my favourite genre, for sure, but the combat was OK and the rest of the game held my interest through whatever I didn't like about the combat.
  • Did you enjoy the dialogue and story? Did you think it was funny? Did you think characters were too wordy?
    • Absolutely.  Frickin'.  Hilarious.  Didn't find them wordy at all.  Loved it!
  • What difficulty did you play on? Did you find it appropriately challenging?
    • Easy and yes (for me).
  • How did the game run on your computer? Did any parts perform poorly? (If so, it would help me if you could post your PC specs!)
    • Ran fine (via Proton on Linux Mint 19), specs:

Processor Information:
    CPU Vendor:  GenuineIntel
    CPU Brand:  Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-4210U CPU @ 1.70GHz
    CPU Family:  0x6
    CPU Model:  0x45
    CPU Stepping:  0x1
    CPU Type:  0x0
    Speed:  2700 Mhz
    4 logical processors
    2 physical processors
    HyperThreading:  Supported
    FCMOV:  Supported
    SSE2:  Supported
    SSE3:  Supported
    SSSE3:  Supported
    SSE4a:  Unsupported
    SSE41:  Supported
    SSE42:  Supported
    AES:  Supported
    AVX:  Supported
    AVX2:  Unsupported
    AVX512F:  Unsupported
    AVX512PF:  Unsupported
    AVX512ER:  Unsupported
    AVX512CD:  Unsupported
    AVX512VNNI:  Unsupported
    SHA:  Unsupported
    CMPXCHG16B:  Supported
    LAHF/SAHF:  Supported
    PrefetchW:  Unsupported

Operating System Version:
    Linux Mint 19 Tara (64 bit)
    Kernel Name:  Linux
    Kernel Version:  4.15.0-74-generic
    X Server Vendor:  The X.Org Foundation
    X Server Release:  11906000
    X Window Manager:  Metacity (Marco)
    Steam Runtime Version:  steam-runtime_0.20191210.1

Video Card:
    Driver:  Intel Open Source Technology Center Mesa DRI Intel(R) Haswell Mobile x86/MMX/SSE2
    Driver Version:  3.0 Mesa 19.1.2 - padoka PPA
    OpenGL Version: 3.0
    Desktop Color Depth: 24 bits per pixel
    Monitor Refresh Rate: 74 Hz
    VendorID:  0x8086
    DeviceID:  0xa16
    Revision Not Detected
    Number of Monitors:  1
    Number of Logical Video Cards:  1
    Primary Display Resolution:  2560 x 1440
    Desktop Resolution: 2560 x 1440
    Primary Display Size: 28.74" x 16.93" (33.35" diag)
                                            73.0cm x 43.0cm (84.7cm diag)
    Primary VRAM Not Detected

Sound card:
    Audio device: Intel Haswell HDMI

    RAM:  15967 Mb


Hey, thanks for the feedback!

Did you solve the Orobas's riddle in the basement without going up to the library? If so: that's impressive, if not: then I'd argue did see most of the game. The boss on the 13th floor is designed to be optional, so you haven't really skipped anything that I didn't intend for the player to be able to skip.

It's cool to hear that you still enjoyed the game even if the combat wasn't super your cup of tea. 

Noted that you didn't catch the 3HP gear on your first pass. In the current dev build of the game I have that pretty much on the critical path, as I figure that it's too important to be something a player could miss.

It's cool to hear that it worked okay under Proton for you. Eventually I'd like to have an official Linux build, but in the mean time at least that's something I might be able to point people towards.

I did solve it before gaining access to the library (I hit Google instead), so, thanks.  :)  For my part, I thought the amount of challenge was just right on that one.  (I totally had no idea on the in-fight physics trivia from Orobas though, haha)  I guess I was half-done in the end.

Sounds good re: 3HP.  And I'd be glad to help test any early Linux builds.

Hi! I liked the game pretty much! I like how the soundtrack keeps the mistery feeling and the characters keep it funny. I would like to know if the quiz on the game's start has any consequence to the gameplay. Apparently, I am the Opulent Player. I tried to imagine more informal when asking the questions, because, in general, I tend to decide things on what I need or what I gotta need to do next when playing.

I liked how the game was just about fighting bosses, because it lets the other parts of the game be about solving puzzles and understanding the story. It gives a challenge but also offer some kind of relaxed gaming.

I think don't need to list my specs, because everything ran fine, but, just in case:

Intel Core i5 2.6GHz


Intel HD Graphics 4000

Windows  64 bits

PS: The 666 room freaked me out!

Developer (1 edit)

The quiz is just a weird one off moment which doesn't affect anything mostly, but I have a couple ideas of how I might to a call back to it later on.

I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the sort of divide that exists between the combat portion of the game and the story/exploration/puzzle portion of the game. It was an intentional decision of mine to sort of pace out the game with spikes of challenge and then periods of rest, but in retrospect I think I could have done a better job of that. I think I have a better handle on it now that I'm working on the rest of the game.

Thanks for playing, please keep an eye out for the full game!

Really well made game, I always like RPG Games
Your game is really well done and the game was really enjoyable too
I like the fact that UI is customizable as per the player's preference

An interesting and well executed combination of two completely different genre
Dialogue was pretty funny too, Overall really good game
Good Work!