πŸ€‘ Indie game storeπŸ™Œ Free gamesπŸ˜‚ Fun games😨 Horror games
πŸ‘· Game development🎨 AssetsπŸ“š Comics
πŸŽ‰ Sales🎁 Bundles

Gameplay Discussion Sticky

A topic by aeiowu created 237 days ago Views: 1,023 Replies: 114
Viewing posts 1 to 37
Developer

Talk about: likes, dislikes, ideas, changes and etc.

Sorta all about game design in this thread.

(Edited 2 times)

Just as a data-point, I think I played four games this evening and got about half way up the area after the forest, including unlocking the teleport to the first camp. On that subject, it'd be nice if the bubble unlocked the teleporter as soon as you reached the camp, in case I want to try the challenge room, so I don't have to worry about losing the bubble. (I don't actually know if you can lose the bubble like that; I didn't try it.)

I found myself mostly sticking to using the basic seeds, I think mostly because I was more comfortable with them. Maybe it'd be a good idea to get a free, automatic use of a seed when you acquire it, just so players can see what they do? (Or in the case of seeds acquired in crystal rooms, after you bounce out the effect activates?) I know there's text describing things, but, for example, the Vert Thorn Seed's particular attack isn't what I was expecting when I used it.

Enemies seem very tenacious, and overall the game feels quite difficult, but I think that's pretty expected since it's more-or-less the first time playing. Still trying to figure out what the "gem economy" is like. I've never had enough to buy anything at the store or to invest at the bank.

Last thing for tonight, I found myself wanting to see a gallery of the seeds I've gotten at least once. I think that would provide a nice sense of meta-progression and accomplishment.

Developer

On that subject, it'd be nice if the bubble unlocked the teleporter as soon as you reached the camp, in case I want to try the challenge room, so I don't have to worry about losing the bubble. (I don't actually know if you can lose the bubble like that; I didn't try it.)

Great point. Teleporters are definitely one of the less-polished pieces of the alpha right now (you definitely won't be carrying around a programmer-art green circle in the end haha). Currently you activate a teleporter by bringing the bubble close to the pillar with the chunk of land on top of it. This isn't super clear, so I think you're right that until the art is more polished it'd be good to trigger as soon as you enter a camp.

Maybe it'd be a good idea to get a free, automatic use of a seed when you acquire it, just so players can see what they do?

We've been struggling with this problem for a while -- a free automatic use is a great idea. An example of something we've tried in the past included having pre-planted versions of the seeds in the room. This ended up making the room too dangerous in a lot of cases and most players started skipping them because the risk didn't feel worth it. Think this is definitely worth exploring more.

I found myself wanting to see a gallery of the seeds I've gotten at least once. I think that would provide a nice sense of meta-progression and accomplishment.

Totally agree! :D

Really loving the game so far, it's definitely got that "one more round" pull to it.

One thing I noticed was that for quite a while I didn't understand how losing health when you fall through a hole worked. Because your heart meter is hidden while you're falling down, it didn't occur to me that I could lose more than 1 heart while falling--the red indicators didn't fully signal to me what was going on. Even now that I understand that, it always feels like a surprise whether or not I'm going to die when I fall through a hole.

Developer

Because your heart meter is hidden while you're falling down, it didn't occur to me that I could lose more than 1 heart while falling--the red indicators didn't fully signal to me what was going on.

Great point -- the number of hearts you lose is tied to the distance that you fall, but those distances are opaque.

The mystery of how much damage you take is in that sense somewhat intentional. We want to punish not planting checkpoints, and not fully knowing how hard that punishment will be is in the ideal case part of the mental calculus that makes deciding whether or not to plant a checkpoint suspenseful/interesting/difficult. The feedback probably isn't quite there yet to make that feel fair yet.

Developer

what ben said ^ but also, for checkpoints I usually find you can avoid multi-damage falls by planting one checkpoint per area, usually around mid way (crystal rooms are spawned midway). actually doing though is a different story because you're always like "oh man, but i need an extra heart, or etc." definitely a feel thing, but that's sort of the feel i've arrived at.

You can lose more than one heart for falling!? Wow, did not know/notice this. It also sounds like you're punishing the player twice, which does not make sense to me. I already have to cover that distance again. I like planting crystals and thorns, and one of my favorite aspects of play was the risk/reward balance of knowing the farther I go only planting resources, the more I'll have to redo if I screw up.

Just some quick initial points (non-gameplay, but more menu flow) on UX elements:

  1. Think about making the initial post-install cold-opened tutorial skippable. I'm not sure if it was just me (running on Mac OSX 10.11.6), but I felt constrained to it and was unable to open any in-game menu to either just check or exit out of it. Could come up as an issue when re-installing and forcing players through it again. Suggestions either allow the main/pause menu to be accessible right away, or just open right to the main menu with the tutorial pre-selected so all the user has to do is hit go. Users don't like being forced to sit through stuff.
  2. During game over, allow users to just hit space to restart a run immediately (think about the death flow in super meat boy). Users will die a lot in this game - make the game over screen less punishing and more like something they can gloss over and restart immediately. Think like the game over screen in binding of isaac - it takes less than a second to start a new run.
One other point, aside from UI elements, is that I was surprised that fire didn't hurt me - I kind of expected it to. That might be for the best, but I'm a heavy binding of isaac player, so I guess my expectations are generally based off of that.
I tend to be picky about being forced to sit through timed UI elements, so stuff like this is what I immediately notice. I'm continuing to enjoy the game though, and I'm getting better at it each time I play. You guys rock.
Developer

No, *you* rock. Great points on the UI flow -- definitely something I have written down on some list somewhere, but it's very helpful to hear other people share those feelings. We'll always have to have some slight pause in there (~the time it takes from the end of the blowing-away animation to when the UI comes in) for generating a new world, but that also has seen 0 optimization so I'm optimistic we'll get it faster in the end.

Also just great to hear someone is excited enough to get back into it that the slow UI is bothering them πŸ˜„

Maybe I'm a different type of roguelike player than everyone else, but I'm really wishing for a quick-restart button in the pause menu. Sometimes you've just screwed yourself beyond repair and you know this just isn't gonna be the run.

Developer

I hear ya. We're always trying to think of and build things into the game that would not make you wanna restart. But I'm sure there are still those runs after you're familiar with the game where you fall in a hole like...right out the gate and it's like "maybe I should just restart" haha

+1!

+1!

+1

A couple of smaller things

When restarting, you have to wait for the UI to finish popping up before being allowed to roll. Minor thing but I'd love to move at once.

In the crystal rooms, as well as the shops, one has to roll close to items to see what they do. This is a bit irritating to me because a) I'm bad at making decisions and reading while simultaneously controlling the seed and b) it takes time to roll left and right and I want to get back into the flow of the game ASAP. The crystal rooms are already a flowbreaker for me so I'd love to minimize the time I spend there.

To me, the shop seeds seemed a bit expensive - why pay lots of crystals for them when I can just find them in the real world? I might be missing something but I often just skip it to save time.

Also OH MAN THERE WAS THIS WORM and I actually murdered it using a mine seed. It felt AMAZING

Having lots of fun so far! :)

Developer

The crystal rooms are already a flowbreaker for me so I'd love to minimize the time I spend there.

Interesting! Hopefully once they are more arted they will feel more like a mini-break similar to how camps provide a break from the action. Will have to see if that ends up being the case.

To me, the shop seeds seemed a bit expensive - why pay lots of crystals for them when I can just find them in the real world? I might be missing something but I often just skip it to save time.

Shops definitely become more important as you start reaching higher up the mountain and are looking for specific seed types to round out your build. Shop costs are definitely still really early -- I think you're right that the post-forest shop could probably use being a smidgen cheaper, and shops in later camps could definitely use being more expensive.

Also OH MAN THERE WAS THIS WORM and I actually murdered it using a mine seed. It felt AMAZING

Ahhh love stories like this ^^ Thanks for all the feedback!

Gotta 2nd the crystal room feedback. I wish I could see all the text bubbles all the time. Having to roll slightly to one side to see what something does feels like a waste of time.

quick notes after maybe 60-90 mins of play. i'm having a great time with the game, even though these are mostly critiques :)

- movement is different from anything else i've played and feels great after the initial adjustment period. i can tell immediately that it's something special, not just another roguelike

- if i fall into a hole before planting a checkpoint, it seems strictly advantageous to restart. this is fair but also pretty un-fun. it happens more often than it might since area 1 is mostly fairly easy and area 2 is really hard, so i know i need to stock up on hearts and gems rather than spamming checkpoints

- i'm generally really unsure how much damage things do. this is at least partially because the moments when i take damage (and the couple of seconds after when i'm catching the seed) are the times i'm least likely to have my eye on the health meter. also i'm not sure how partial hearts work

- what if holes didn't do damage? in a roguelike, having to repeat an exhausted area already feels like a huge punishment. also, it seems nice and elegant for holes to just be holes and for only monsters hitting you to do damage - a closer tie to "ice cold beer but videogame". just having to repeat that area seems annoying, but i feel like the damage is a distraction from that annoyance rather than a fix (see next note)

- as i'm writing these i'm realizing that having to repeat stuff after falling into a hole is central to a lot of my annoyances. not sure what to do about that and i'm sure you've thought a lot about it... maybe something to make the section different each time you fall down?

- i can't what extent enemies are seeking and to what extent they're random wandering. feels messy to me (in a bad way) not to know

- restart loop feels slow to get back into the game (both menus and going through the starting camp)

- each heart icon represents 1 hp, but the gem icon doesn't represent any gems. i often think i have 1 gem left when actually i have none

- love the world building in the camps!

- i wish there was a way to jerk one end of the stick up if you tapped a stick hard/fast enough. probably quite hard to tune to feel good and you wouldn't want to use it most of the time, but i imagine it would make fast rolls more usable and widen the action gamut a bit. obvious caveats are that it would have to maintain the current slow/smooth controls and integrate smoothly with those, and not feel weird when (i assume) the seed never leaves the stick

- spikes don't look dangerous enough to be instakills

hope these are helpful, looking forward to playing more in the next few days!

Developer

Hey Drew!

if i fall into a hole before planting a checkpoint, it seems strictly advantageous to restart. this is fair but also pretty un-fun. it happens more often than it might since area 1 is mostly fairly easy and area 2 is really hard, so i know i need to stock up on hearts and gems rather than spamming checkpoints

This is something I've thought about a lot while making this game, and for better or worse it feels like a core part of the design. As you get better that point on the mountain where you have to stop playing maximally greedy starts getting pushed further and further up the mountain.

I've started likening it a bit in my mind to a racing game -- when you're going for a fast lap there's a very fine balance between pushing your car as hard as you can and playing really risky, and playing conservative enough that you don't crash and ruin the whole lap. You can try to drive really aggressively and take every corner perfectly, in which case restarting the run as soon as you don't nail a corner is in a sense the optimal way to play. But, I think, that push and pull of risk/reward greediness/safeness over an entire lap of a course is what makes the race interesting and fun. In my own playing whenever I'm shooting for perfection out of the gate it usually ends up being less fun for me because I do restart as soon as I take damage or fall in a hole rather than rolling with the punches and trying to make the best of a sub-optimal situation. Sometimes the RNG of crystal rooms, enemy spawns, shop spawns, etc. will swing a not great run into one of my best runs.

Anyways, sorry that metaphor got out of hand. This is all probably stuff you already know, and I'm not trying to make it sound like you're playing wrong since I do the exact same thing. We *should* have a quick-restart button so that you *can* just restart easily.

- i'm generally really unsure how much damage things do. this is at least partially because the moments when i take damage (and the couple of seconds after when i'm catching the seed) are the times i'm least likely to have my eye on the health meter. also i'm not sure how partial hearts work

Yeah, a clear language around damage is one of the more final art things that needs to happen. Damage amounts are a thing that change so we also haven't done this in part because everything has felt too in flux to nail down with a strong visual language. Definitely a big thing that will need to be improved. The one little thing that is a little helpful w/r/t seed types is that it'll say "deals massive damage" in the description if they do 3 damage.

Partial hearts are a representation of how far you are towards getting another heart with the heart seed. They don't actually provide you any health, and nothing does damage in sub-heart increments.

- what if holes didn't do damage? in a roguelike, having to repeat an exhausted area already feels like a huge punishment. also, it seems nice and elegant for holes to just be holes and for only monsters hitting you to do damage - a closer tie to "ice cold beer but videogame". just having to repeat that area seems annoying, but i feel like the damage is a distraction from that annoyance rather than a fix (see next note)

On the darkest nights when I really want to scare the rest of Team TumbleSeed I talk about experimenting with changes like this. In the long long past (maybe 1.5 years ago) we had prototypes where you'd just pop out of a hole about one screen down from where you fell in the hole and checkpoints didn't exist. I will say this is unlikely to change, but, never say never.

- i can't what extent enemies are seeking and to what extent they're random wandering. feels messy to me (in a bad way) not to know

The halfway-done visual rule on this is things that are pink has seeking movement, everything else is random. This will hopefully improve as we move more towards final art. Definitely a thing that we forget about since we know all the enemies and know which ones seek and which ones don't, so it's good to hear about this pain point.

- each heart icon represents 1 hp, but the gem icon doesn't represent any gems. i often think i have 1 gem left when actually i have none

This is a great point. We've been considering a shift to representing how many crystals you have using the crystal counting system we have in the game on the vine (silver is 1, gold is 3, emerald is 5).

- love the world building in the camps!

Awesome!! Can't wait til we get more stuff in like this -- we have a lot in mind for camps.

- i wish there was a way to jerk one end of the stick up if you tapped a stick hard/fast enough. probably quite hard to tune to feel good and you wouldn't want to use it most of the time, but i imagine it would make fast rolls more usable and widen the action gamut a bit. obvious caveats are that it would have to maintain the current slow/smooth controls and integrate smoothly with those, and not feel weird when (i assume) the seed never leaves the stick

We've experimented with stuff like this and unfortunately it doesn't work :(

- spikes don't look dangerous enough to be instakills

Agreed!


WOW! Thank you so much for all this incredible feedback. It is insanely helpful. Thank you so so much for taking the time to play and give us all your thoughts!

A few suggestions after playing some more tonight:

  • In the button challenge room, it might be nice to have an indicator of how many buttons there are left to push. I've never actually gotten far enough into it to be able to judge how difficult it'll be to hit all of the buttons in 30 seconds because I have no idea how many buttons there are.
  • You might want to re-word the bank to clarify that you'll only get money back if you visit him again in the same game. Perhaps have him say "...when I see you again further up the mountain...". Coming from a background of playing a lot of Binding of Isaac, I initially assumed it worked like the donation machine and the gems could help me out in a future game.
  • Passive upgrades seems like an interesting design space you could explore. The potential synergies could help create more emergent gameplay and keep people engaged. Also, occasionally letting people get overpowered combos can help people who feel like they are bad or stuck make progress in the game.
  • I don't know how hard you want to go on the meta-progression elements a lot of rogue-lites have, but unlocking seeds based on various criteria seems like an obvious step in that direction. Kill X green flies, die in the last hole before a camp, that sort of thing. This can also increase engagement so long as it's paced well, and maybe keep people from being overwhelmed by seeds right from the outset.
  • Speaking of green flies, I died to one in a camp... :(
  • I think there is the potential for some interesting alternate game modes:
    • Random starting load-out
    • Classic "holes only" mode
    • "Seeded" (ah ha ha) daily runs
    • An arena mode where you just fight enemies in a static room
Developer

Passive upgrades seems like an interesting design space you could explore. The potential synergies could help create more emergent gameplay and keep people engaged. Also, occasionally letting people get overpowered combos can help people who feel like they are bad or stuck make progress in the game.

Yes! This is something that we have in the game but is not in the alpha build right now. We call them auras. I've made a thread so people can discuss and post ideas for these!

I don't know how hard you want to go on the meta-progression elements a lot of rogue-lites have, but unlocking seeds based on various criteria seems like an obvious step in that direction. Kill X green flies, die in the last hole before a camp, that sort of thing. This can also increase engagement so long as it's paced well, and maybe keep people from being overwhelmed by seeds right from the outset.

In this aspect I think we're going pursuing a more Spelunky route than Binding of Isaac. One of our design goals is that a friend can come over to your house and play the game in the same way they play at home. However, I think your ideas are right on in that spreading out suits a bit more, and giving the player more sub-goals are things we want to explore. I'm hoping to explore some kind of mission-style structure you mentioned as a series of steps/prerequisites for unlocking teleporters to later biomes.

Speaking of green flies, I died to one in a camp... :(

Sorry, that shouldn't happen :( Their wall detection is a little wonky.

I think there is the potential for some interesting alternate game modes

Love these ideas. Seeded daily runs are definitely the thing that is most certain to be in the game. I also love the random starting loadout idea a-la Eden in Binding of Isaac.

Totally agree with the other items you posted as well!

I have to agree with the daily/weekly shared levels. It's a bit part of Nuclear Throne's hold on me.

(Edited 2 times)
  • Falling down / taking certain damage seems extra punishing because you lose all of your accumulated thorns.
  • Thanks for making crystals never fall down the holes. :)
  • Bonus for using all the plots in a stage? Or fewer plots in a stage? (Although I guess this is functionally similar to simply using the crystal seed...) Bonus for no checkpoint plots? If you want it to be subtle you could just alter the number of crystals in the next camp.
  • If you fall down a hole during the button challenge, I feel like you may as well just end the challenge because there's zero chance of finishing.

The crystals sometimes end up in holes. I've also seen them land inside walls. :(

Developer

ugh yeah playing the other day I had some land in walls too. Sorry about that

Is there any way to manually start the tutorial after you've finished it? I'd like to show it to friends and I think the game explains itself better than I could.

Developer

If you're on Windows you can go to where the game is installed and delete the file "TumbleSeed.ts" to reset your save so you re-do the tutorial. On Mac you might be able to search "TumbleSeed.ts" in Spotlight and you can probably find it that way. This will unfortunately clear your teleporter progress and high score. We'll definitely be adding a way to re-play the tutorial eventually!

This itch.io feature is pretty great!

Having played a lot of the ICB arcade machine, one difference I noticed right away with the physics is that you fall in holes much more easily in TumbleSeed.

It looks like TS checks if the center of the seed is over a hole, and if so you fall in. This means you could fall in a hole that is smaller than the seed itself, or more relevantly a gap between the bar and the edge of a hole smaller than the seed. You also roll into holes you would roll in front of in ICB.

To be more like the physics of the ICB machine checking a point straight down from the center, maybe 1/3 or 1/4 of the radius from the edge, and a point 1/3 or 1/4 the radius above the top of the seed when rolling along a bottom edge of a hole. And the top and bottom points on the seed for the top edge of a hole. Then if either of those 2 situations is true fall in.

Not sure if that would mess up game balance or not having not gotten too far yet. But just thought I would mention it.

Love the game so far!

Developer

This is an excellent way of describing this problem. The hole-falling being un-generous has been a long-time complaint. This gives me a good model to approach the problem with! Thanks!!

I have played a bunch more now, starting to get used to it. I was thinking about it and I guess a good amount depends on how horizontal/vertical the background is supposed to be? I was coming at it from a vertical background approach, but maybe that doesn't make sense? Also realized I should have said perpendicular to the bar instead of straight down/straight up etc.

(Edited 5 times)

I am into the fire level so far. Some thoughts after playing a bit:

  • Crystals sometimes land over holes and float or out of bounds.
  • Teleportation bubbles blend in a whole lot with the background, lots of them all over the map when doing the run, even if you haven't died? Was a bit confused about that not sure if intended.
  • Flying seed ghost can land on bar even if immediate death is result/over hole, doesn't feel good when it happens accidentally.
  • Would like to have "shoulder" buttons change seed type 1 slot and pause, unpause 1 second or so after the last shoulder button pressed. Died a few times due to changing seed type when too close to enemy and having to have finger on A button instead of a stick to unpause.
  • Feels like there should be a bigger reward for reaching the 1/4 map friendly zones? Maybe a heal to 3 hearts? Or having the special seed type unlock zones appear there if you didn't teleport up instead of mid level? They are such a big reward that having them used that way would make sense.
  • Loosing multiple hearts when falling in a hole was very unintuitive. I didn't understand it until I read how it worked on here. 1 heart is probably enough with the pain of having to go up again still making checkpoints worth placing nearly the same as they are now.
  • If you die from falling in a hole, would like that to happen right away maybe?
  • The "last heart" warning noise kinda gets in the way and don't think it made me care any more about my health level.
  • I didn't understand (and maybe still don't?) the antidote seed. But seems like it should only appear if you already have the mushroom seed?
  • When ending run where you teleported, path on the map maybe should start at the zone you teleported too? Actually the whole teleporting thing I am not sure how I feel about. It might make the higher levels more special if it just didn't exist?
  • I kind of wanted to have the bar move faster, seems like there would be some problems with leaderboard etc if the user could choose speed though. I haven't beaten the game yet so don't know what happens (working on it) but maybe a hard/pro mode or something where the bar is faster? It seems like it might actually make the game easier if there aren't other differences as well though, more holes etc.
  • The score seems based only on distance, not sure? Having it be a factor of speed, enemies killed, seeds planted, crystals/gold picked up, lack of deaths, would give more competitiveness. See the leader-board thing, maybe some of that is already planned?
  • Would like to be able to skip the loading/splash screen on click if it is just a visual.
  • Enemies that jump from off-screen killing you is a bit frustrating. The black slug things that rotate and jump from below, the ones that create and pop out of holes from above.

Game is amazing!

Developer

Teleportation bubbles blend in a whole lot with the background, lots of them all over the map when doing the run, even if you haven't died? Was a bit confused about that not sure if intended.

Oh man you know what this is probably a bug where they aren't getting reset properly when respawning the world. Good catch!!

Flying seed ghost can land on bar even if immediate death is result/over hole, doesn't feel good when it happens accidentally.

Not sure what you mean by the flying seed ghost – are you referring to the flying seed after you get knocked up in the air?

Would like to have "shoulder" buttons change seed type 1 slot and pause, unpause 1 second or so after the last shoulder button pressed. Died a few times due to changing seed type when too close to enemy and having to have finger on A button instead of a stick to unpause.

We had hotswapping implemented at some point, but I'm really intrigued by the pause suggestion – never thought of that! Will definitely be interested to try this out eventually.

The "last heart" warning noise kinda gets in the way and don't think it made me care any more about my health level.

Good to hear -– my guess is it'll get toned down eventually – was a sound added when people were struggling to understand that they had health at all and we were attempting to hit them over the head with every piece of feedback at our disposal including sound haha

I didn't understand (and maybe still don't?) the antidote seed. But seems like it should only appear if you already have the mushroom seed?

Yeah, it only interacts with the poison (mushroom) seed. The reason we always spawn it in the world is that it can be interesting to pick it up early and hope to get poison later on. I agree that it is one of the more confusing seeds, so maybe there is a way to obscure it until you're more comfortable with the game. Or giving it some kind of secondary function besides just curing poison might be the real answer.

When ending run where you teleported, path on the map maybe should start at the zone you teleported too? Actually the whole teleporting thing I am not sure how I feel about. It might make the higher levels more special if it just didn't exist?

Good catch on the starting point – we actually don't use teleporters ourselves very often so that's just a bug. We've debated a bunch if they should exist at all in the past. The problem they're trying to solve is that there's often that wall in roguelikes where you're working on a new area but just don't know the enemies at all so you get really stuck. So the hope is that teleporters are helpful enough to help you learn enemies, but not having the crystals/suits/hearts from playing previous biomes that it isn't a super effective strategy for beating the game or actually progressing (a-la Spelunky) (you probably already know this, but, just thought I'd write it down).

This week I am working on a sort of "mission" or "quest" system where you're given little tasks/challenges in the biome you're working on. The idea is that at the end of this chain you then unlock the opportunity to attempt to unlock the teleporter to the next biome. This will hopefully somewhat approach the problem of making it feel less special, and give players enough time to get good at that biome before unlocking the teleporter. This in turn hopefully means that players are much better by the time they unlock the teleporter so that gaining the advantage of crystals/suits/hearts gained from previous biomes makes teleporters much less appealing.

The score seems based only on distance, not sure? Having it be a factor of speed, enemies killed, seeds planted, crystals/gold picked up, lack of deaths, would give more competitiveness. See the leader-board thing, maybe some of that is already planned?

The plan with the leaderboard is to have scores be purely distance-based up until you beat the game. At that point a score for beating the game will be valued via some combination of speed and crystals to determine the highest beat-the-game score.


Thank you so much for all this incredibly thoughtful feedback!! Definitely thinking on everything else on your list as well!

Not sure what you mean by the flying seed ghost – are you referring to the flying seed after you get knocked up in the air?

Yeah after getting hurt. There are times when you can get killed in weird places and almost forced to catch the seed over a hole or enemy as you try to move the start away. Also spikes kill enemies while you are in the air which feels odd.

Cool the quests sound interesting!

Was thinking something that might be fun in the starting camp is a shorter very difficult challenge/practice area that does not change like the current challenges do, and has no impact on the real game. More of an ICB machine analogue. 20+ with a good run is a bit long to play competitively with friends on the couch passing the controller around. Different RNG means they are hard to compare and the score doesn't really account for that right now. Just a thought!

Thanks for the detailed response. Everything sounds good! Having a ton of fun.

Developer

Was thinking something that might be fun in the starting camp is a shorter very difficult challenge/practice area that does not change like the current challenges do, and has no impact on the real game. More of an ICB machine analogue. 20+ with a good run is a bit long to play competitively with friends on the couch passing the controller around. Different RNG means they are hard to compare and the score doesn't really account for that right now. Just a thought!

This is a really interesting idea! Sort of a local multiplayer quick-competition mode! We've been thinking on how to make the game more amenable to multiple players and this is a really cool idea

hoho here he comes.

  1. Whenever I get into a menu my brain tells me to navigate with the dpad on a ps4 controller (which doesn't work in seed selection). Would also be nice to back out of the seed selection menu with the O Button, tho it is Arguably not a problem b/c forcing selection of a seed isn't bad and reduces buttons used, etc.
  2. #BringBackMyEmojis.
    1. When will we get to put sick EmojiSprays on the Mount?
      1. the PSHT sound effect would work well.
      2. In that vein, this game is kinda like one long grind rail sesh in Tony Hawk Pro Skater X. Could you add some sparkies to the branch that would be dope.
    2. IN all seriousness, the new text gets the point across but removes a lot of the mystery in the game. Part of what I like the most about TS is the mindfulness and care it evokes through different aspects of its systems. For example, Branch movement is best controlled slowly/carefully, monsters are best dealt with through careful timing / reading of their behaviors, etc.
    3. I know that the emoji system caused confusion w/ people but it also creates a dialog between players.
      1. "I got the star seed and it makes you invincible!" says Tumbler #1 to Tumbler #2, "I bet I can get through all those crazy holes in the desert if I roll it in my next run". "Yeah but holes still gitcha!" says Tumbler #2. Tumbler #1 looks sad but understands.
    4. It also taps into the mystique of emojis. Their meaning is symbolic and have the potential to express complex ideas.
    5. I'm sure y'all have talked about all of this and have weighed pros/cons. that's just why I'm a Fan of that. At a minimum, the full text in seed descriptions make me use abilities less b/c I already feel like I know what they do so I'm not as inclined to experiment when I find something new.
  3. Sometimes Landing on an enemy after being Plopped up by them is rly frustrating. Would be cool if certain seeds were heavier and would smoosh enemies when they land back on the Branch. Or if it didn't happen at all but that's Too Easy.
Developer

In that vein, this game is kinda like one long grind rail sesh in Tony Hawk Pro Skater X. Could you add some sparkies to the branch that would be dope.

COMING IN THE NEXT PATCH

IN all seriousness, the new text gets the point across but removes a lot of the mystery in the game. Part of what I like the most about TS is the mindfulness and care it evokes through different aspects of its systems. For example, Branch movement is best controlled slowly/carefully, monsters are best dealt with through careful timing / reading of their behaviors, etc.

Yeah, I definitely do miss the emoji to some extent. There were just way too many people bouncing off the game way too hard because they just had no idea whatsoever what was going on. The other thing about text is that right now we just went completely overboard to figure out "are emoji why people don't understand this game and bounce off of it and don't care about it?". Sadly, the answer was "yes" to a significant extent. So, right now we're at the other end of the text extreme, and we are definitely going to try to minimize the text as much as possible in the game. But, I think it will be hard to completely do away with at this point :( As you mentioned, suit descriptions are one of the most extreme cases of this, and is the case that we are already discussing alternatives to.

Would be cool if certain seeds were heavier and would smoosh enemies when they land back on the Branch. Or if it didn't happen at all but that's Too Easy.

There's definitely a problem when an enemy knocks you into a wall above you and you get multi-hit, which we will add some kind of temporary-invincibility to solve eventually, but otherwise falling on the enemy is kinda part of the game. HOWEVER I freaking love the super-smash-bros-kirby-smash suit idea!!


Thanks Johnny-boy! Your notes are as good as your restaurant ideas – and by that I mean they're great!

I also miss the emoji, but this makes sense. Have you considered something like Hyper Light Drifter, using gif-like animations to describe what suits do instead of words?

Developer

Yeah, our current plan is to try essentially capturing in-game "footage" (or, like, simulating the game off in a corner) or what a seed does

Oh man, it's a suuuuper bummer that falling down a hole in the timed race hurts you. There's a chance I just lost money AND lost my spikes AND now I've lost a heart, even though I'm in what I'd consider to be a safe space where I couldn't die or take damage.

Have y'all considered just dropping you down to the bottom without penalty? As soon as I hit camp, I expected to be able to take a breather and focus on resource management before venturing into the next area. But once I realized I can get hurt in the bonus race room, I stopped visiting them altogether even if I had good health (since I still didn't want to lose my spikes).

Also: the springboard challenge room looks really fun! But it's so difficult, and I risk losing a heart if I fail, that I pretty much only tried it once before vowing to never try it again.

And while we're talking about safety in camp: sometimes those green flies end up in camp. Is this a bug or a feature? Again, with camp I expect to stay safe, so any enemies appearing is more annoying than usual ('cause I just want to relax in that sweet sweet camp!).

Developer

Yeah, it's been a general design-theme/goal that camps and areas with friendly seeds should be safe. The flies ending up in the camp are a bug (sorry!).

Funnily enough, I hadn't considered that taking damage in the race room breaks this general rule of thumb (perhaps it's okay because it's underground and underground stuff isn't guaranteed to be safe?). Really appreciate your notes on this stuff, though– we developers are definitely okay with harder punishments than other players, so this is important stuff to consider (and is exactly why we're doing this alpha).

Developer

right on, i hear you for sure... buuuuuut there will come a time when you want to risk it, and tbh getting all 8 btns in the race challenge is so advanced level that i feel like that punishment is a good warning to not try it until you get to the point with your rolling where you never really worry about holes anymore.

haha I recently hit all 8 buttons but only managed to pick up four crystals. There weren't any gold crystals in my path and that was the best I could do given the time limit. I felt REALLY stupid carefully rolling back down knowing I'd just failed to make a profit despite completing a satisfying challenge.

I think I still approach all challenge rooms as like a carnival game. They're a place to test my skills and maybe lose money. The springs being free is surprising, but I dunno, maybe I'll use a warp and just dive into a spring map and play that until I die a few times. But the format of "pay 5 crystals to probably lose 5 crystals and that's the full risk" is what I *expect*, since both camp and a carnival-esque game both tell me "this place is safe."

I feel like a jerk hammering this. Maybe it's because these mini-games are fun and I feel bad getting salty about them. Like yes they're high-level, advanced challenges, but I can't practice them if I feel super discouraged. Like I can either focus on going up the mountain OR do challenge rooms at camp and take damage (making that run less likely to succeed), but not both.

Fellow alpha testers, how do you feel about challenge rooms?

Same feeling. Right now, it doesn't signal as advanced play, it signals as a break activity. When half/all of the activity in a safe space is dangerous, that feels not so safe.

What if you had to do something else to unlock the dangerous version. Or if the free safe things had a decent upgrade (you get one shot then it locks), but secret strats, like bringing in extra crystals, unlock the dangerous but oh-so-good results? (People will figure out every secret.)

I have basically not engaged with any holes because I'm just trying to reach zone 3 before I even dream of more advanced strats. It feels like I still have so much space to improve my thorn/crystal/heart balancing, the last thing I want to do is hurt myself or spend crystals on things with unclear value.

This is how I play as well.

Once I've passed the game once I'll consider the challenge rooms.

Developer

Really helpful to hear these thoughts! This is exactly the sort of stuff we're hoping to find out from the alpha :)

"Like I can either focus on going up the mountain OR do challenge rooms at camp and take damage (making that run less likely to succeed), but not both."

This is how I feel, exactly. I don't know if I'll ever want to "practice" these because the time invested to get there is substantial enough and the risk is very high.

Maybe if there was an upgrade structure to the side-games? Like, if at first the games are way less risk, but the reward is proportionally low as well. Then, upon completing "Level 1" of said challenge, the next time you get back it's at Level 2. That would definitely be more appealing to me and I would be less inclined to ignore these before I'm an expert.

The jellyfish-looking things that pop out of new holes and then fly down: it feels really cheap that spikes don't hurt them. Sometimes they appear so suddenly that I can't dodge to the side, and I've thought "well at least I have my spikes" then nope, they hit me and I lose all my spikes. Suuuuper frustrating. I'd feel less frustrated if they telegraphed their arrival sooner, or they moved more slowly.

And here's a random thought: I agree that the "last heart" noise is annoying, but it's serving an important purpose. Consider adding a new layer to the soundtrack instead? Something heartbeat-y? This is a completely unsolicited idea but warning noises are rarely not annoying. (The "you have 30 seconds left" alarm in Katamari Damacy struck me as surprisingly bad and that game came out like 10 years ago.)

I was surprised that tumbleweeds were an insta-kill. I discovered this with four spikes and three hearts, and that sudden death suuuuucked. (Roguelikes feel best when you feel like every death is a learning experience and not a cheap death, so I'm trying to share when a death feels "cheap.") If they were anything else that better telegraphed insta-death, (say, a giant boulder) I'd be less frustrated, but for now they look like big fluffy clouds that should do a heart's worth of damage and pop with one spike. Also: holy fuck there are so many tumbleweeds. Between them and the holes, more often than not it's about waiting a looong time time to see an opening, since most of the time they appear to be presenting an unwinnable configuration of tumbleweeds effin' up your business.

(I am loving the game so far, by the way. It can get difficult right out of the gate, and I appreciate that.)

Developer

The jellyfish-looking things that pop out of new holes and then fly down: it feels really cheap that spikes don't hurt them. Sometimes they appear so suddenly that I can't dodge to the side, and I've thought "well at least I have my spikes" then nope, they hit me and I lose all my spikes. Suuuuper frustrating. I'd feel less frustrated if they telegraphed their arrival sooner, or they moved more slowly.

Yeah their telegraph is quite subtle right now – there's a sound effect as well as a circle that alphas-in where they're gonna spawn. Agreed that thorns should kill them, though!

Consider adding a new layer to the soundtrack instead? Something heartbeat-y?

Interesting, I like this idea! Will bring it up with Joel!

I was surprised that tumbleweeds were an insta-kill

Yikes! Looking at the code they look like they should do 1 damage, so this might be a bug. Will investigate. In general, I personally am not a big fan of tumbleweeds, so, I hear ya.


Thanks for all the feedback, Hank!! Keep on tumblin in the free world!

Developer (Edited 3 times)

Tumbleweeds definitely aren't supposed to be instakill, sorry about that haha!

Part of me likes tumbleweeds as kind of this wall that you have to use your abilities and navigation skills to get avoid. I believe the way they're supposed to function is to only on the very bottom of them. This may speak to Mike's concern about 3D objects being hard to distinguish though...and while it's part of why I like and think it makes them different it can be confusing.

Maybe we try spawning single tumbleweeds that appear on their own throughtout the biome instead of focused dense sections? And maybe they only hurt you when they hit the ground/appear to land on you. Even typing this now I'm like brainstorming an almost frogger-like section or maybe challenge room that causes you to weave in and out of tumbleweeds. This could be extremely bad lol, but I think they have potential to create some interesting quick environment-reading opportunities for players and are a weird non-living entity that feel thematically nice to exist in the desert and could help create the identity of how one approaches and views the biome

Yeah, the tumbleweeds, like the avalanche snowballs, are big objects that use a shadow to convey where you're in danger, right? And since I'm not sure where they're doing damage to me, I tend to avoid them WAY more than I need to. Like I only use avalanches when I can hide in a weave to the level design so snowballs won't hit me.

The tumbleweeds section is fun in theory, but I've gotten super frustrated when it's tumbleweeds AND a ton of holes AND I'm being shot at by something. Maybe a clearer hitbox will help! I'm down to test anything.

I like the Frogger-like analogy. Any sort of bonus room or stage layout that uses them like that would be fun.

Though I mentioned this in another thread: taking real damage in a bonus room completely discourages me from using the bonus rooms at all. Racing all the way up there just to carefully navigate down is kind of a chore. If you won, and you knew you could safely fall into a hole after winning the race, that'd feel more fair and fun. Like, I already spent 5 crystals. That's the risk: losing crystals. Adding damage / death makes it too much of a gamble. (Oh, and the the spring layouts look fun but they're super difficult so I don't bother.)

Kind of a tangent, but I just imagined a tumbleweeds bonus game and immediately thought "oh if I take real damage, though, I'll pass." I'm pushing myself to try bonus rooms more often, and taking damage is killing my enthusiasm. As soon as I get to a between-levels area, I go into money-management mode. Is the bank worth it? What's in the shop? Thinking "do i have enough health to justify trying a bonus race?" is the only time I think more about survival than planning ahead and it feels weird.

Developer (Edited 1 time)

I hear ya. I feel like the challenge rooms have the highest skill ceiling in the game right now (aside from just beating the game itself). The risk reward is so high- trusting yourself enough to engaged those systems and if you manage to bear them the rewards are a usually a huge payoff. Also, we've talked about adding more challenges in the game (whether in camps or otherwise). I like that there are challenges that push even the most skilled players to their limits, but maybe we need some other challenges sprinkled to give the harder ones context instead of all of them feeling like such an uphill battle.

That was kind of a rambling haha, but hopefully that makes sense? Curious to hear more about your (and others'!) experiences with the rooms. Do you favor one or the other or does one seem entirely less fair than the other out of the two that are in now

A few more notes today:

  • Tall 3-dimensional objects are kind of confusing--hard to tell where I'm allowed to go and where I'm not. And I'm pretty sure there's at least one instance where you can't go behind them at all (in crystal rooms I think?) which seems inconsistent. Also it's really frustrating when a tree is blocking a hole and you fall in, but I guess this is intentional? It doesn't feel fair though!
  • Are the analog sticks supposed to be analog? I remember Greg told me at PAX that the game felt way better when they were changed from digital to analog, but it's definitely not analog on my 360 controller.
  • I've now unlocked all the teleporters and I never use them because I don't have enough seeds/crystals/hearts to make it through the fourth biome. I was the same way with Spelunky. But I guess that's maybe OK?
  • The soundtrack is basically always running in my head when I'm not playing. It's good
  • If you guys ever release a mobile version of this game I'm never going to look up from my phone to make eye contact with another human again

Tall 3-dimensional objects are kind of confusing--hard to tell where I'm allowed to go and where I'm not. And I'm pretty sure there's at least one instance where you can't go behind them at all (in crystal rooms I think?) which seems inconsistent.

It's not in crystal rooms, it's shops. Seems like I should be able to go behind this thing.

Developer

And I'm pretty sure there's at least one instance where you can't go behind them at all (in crystal rooms I think?)

Yeah, you're supposed to be able to go behind them. We originally had that but then found out that you could just roll behind and pick up all the suits (this bug existed for, I think, months πŸ˜‚). The quickest fix we came up with was just making the collider much bigger, but, that'll change eventually.

Also it's really frustrating when a tree is blocking a hole and you fall in, but I guess this is intentional? It doesn't feel fair though!

This will probably change -- right now our side wall sprite placement is sort of rough

Are the analog sticks supposed to be analog?

They're not anymore. We realized that the analog was a big problem for beginners being able to nail the both-sides-up-at-once maneuver that is so critical to movement since they'd often be not-fully-pushed on both sides. I believe our plan is to add it back as an option.

I've now unlocked all the teleporters and I never use them because I don't have enough seeds/crystals/hearts to make it through the fourth biome. I was the same way with Spelunky. But I guess that's maybe OK?

Woohoo! That is exactly our intent. They're mostly there in case you get stuck learning a biome's enemies.


Thanks for the kind words at the end! Yeah, I'm really excited for Joel's soundtrack, even just for my own use haha

Forgive me if I'm repeating anything said above (there's a lot to go back and read!) but here are some quick thoughts I have after playing a few rounds:

  • The UI for crystal count is a bit hard to read at a glance. I've mistaken my count of 11 for 1 multiple times (read as "x1"). Of course, short of shop segments there aren't many times I need to fret over how many I have (usually I only need to worry if I have zero), but maybe a more skilled player would find this frustrating. The strokes are cute but I don't think they're worth the sacrifice in readability.
  • I also found myself confused by the heart UI during my first few rounds...they're so dark that I thought they were "empty" slots. I think an argument could also be made that they're a little hard to parse at a glance, but again, I'm usually not too concerned until I have only one (and at that point it's flashing). Making them a brighter red would go a long way.
  • A quick restart button would be very nice. The time between death and restart isn't too bad right now, but I'm used to Spelunky allowing me to go from death to restart in a second!
I haven't gotten super deep into it yet but other than these complaints I'm having fun! Keep up the great work :)
Developer

for sure!

quick restart is def a thing we will add, it annoys us too. lotta that is polish after we are feature/content complete though.

for the crystal ui: our next idea is to make that graphical and show the crystals themselves (transmuted into gold, emerald, white)

like the heart ui change idea too! would jive with the new crystal ui as well.


thanks eric

Heyo, I can reliably get to the desert. Still haven't hit the winter area.

I'm finding I'm really struggling with the "monsters take multiple hits" thing now. It means my playstyle has changed from very methodical to quite a bit more frenetic. Before, I just had to make sure I'd hit something once, and there was a natural risk-reward relationship with thorns. You have one, it's hard to aim, but if you have many and you fail at aiming and get hit, you lose them all! (which always felt horrible, but it meant you tried to avoid it) So I didn't have to worry about where I need to go next, or the next bit of path, etc. (I pretty much never use any of the other weapons because they're slow, hard to aim effectively, and are usually dangerous to me. I really don't need _more_ hazards.)

But now all these things take multiple hits. The turrets (of all types, it seems) and the shai hulud (yellow worm that follows me), etc. Those taking multiple hits is brutal. I've killed them, but it never feels worth it. It's always a pain the butt, and a waste of seeds.

So it means my play style has moved much more towards checkpoints and rushing strategies. Which works, but it means I often look at multiple hit enemies as almost purely environmental hazards (i.e. something to be avoided) instead of enemies (i.e. something to be defeated)

Oh, and the eyes that swipe at you were really tough before, but they reminded me of chests in Dark Souls and Nuclear Throne. Something you had to be vigilant against. Now they seem really easy because it feels like their reach is less (is that true or just me?) and they are super easy to spot.

And the curves on the walls feel really bouncy now. Has that changed?

Developer

The walls haven't changed in a long time afaik so they should be pretty much the same

Is there an other item that uses that A button for an action like the Teleseed? It seems really out of place.

Developer

I don't think there is right now, but, I sort of like having that option as another thing we can use to design with. I agree it does feel strange that it's the only one right now

I pretty much always use the banker, because I get to the desert pretty much every time, so it's always a good call.

After playing for a few hours with monsters having multiple hit points, I gotta say I'm not sure that's a great call.

The game is already _really_ hard, and for non-experts hitting one of the turret or homing monsters with multiple hit points is a guaranteed game over, and that feels really crappy. Part of why I've stuck with the game for so many hours is because I felt like it was possible. I'm not sure I would have felt that way if I was regularly hitting (what appear to the novice to be) game ending moments.

Maybe that should be New Game plus? I'm certainly able to almost beat the game with these multiple-hit monstrosities, but having them be in vanilla is def alienating to people who are still learning the mechanics of a rolly-like.

Developer

I think part of the goal of multi-hit enemies is to force players to use seed types besides the defaults, because thorns are explicitly bad against multi-hit enemies. I understand the frustration since I had a similar reaction when they were first added, but once I shifted my play style to be more reliant on non-default seed types it felt like it made sense. But maybe that shift is non-intuitive/unclear?

Nono, I think that makes sense and is clear.

And I think you might be right. It's just very jarring to go from "everything is one hit" to "things have hit points". Most players won't have this experience so maybe it's fine. :)

So far the only controller throwing frustration from this game is pre-planted vert lasers. NOTHING is as aggravating as being hit by one of those as they enter the screen. No warning, just if you're the unlucky sucker who happened to be going up in line with one, you get hit.

That has ended literally all three of my winter area runs. At least with the rotating turret laser bad guys there's some safe distance. The vert lasers are if you're on screen and they're hitscan damage. Feel impossibly unfair.

Developer

Agreed, I think we turned the range way up on them since they felt underpowered for a while, but we changed how their damage works and I think they're preeeetty strong now so I think we can turn down the detection and laser distance

The biggest problem is the lack of tell.

If there was a visual pre-laser that took a ~1s to turn into the damaging laser, I would have absolutely no problem with it. But a hitscan weapon with no tell is rage-inducing.

Developer

A pre-laser is good idea!

Homing shot towers feel really cruel. I'm not even sure how to deal with them sometimes.

Can the homing shots please eventually time out? Ideally in the space of a screen height or less? I have literally finished areas with three homing shots chasing me all the way to the end of the level.

Or maybe have them trigger on a distance less than a full screen? Or both?

I agree they are really difficult (talking about the 'bomb' ones right?). I find that if they happen to be generated for your run is make or break for me, as in just not having them spawn makes the game waaaay easier. They probably are too powerful? Maybe if they had a very large turning radius or something?

Developer

I'm actually surprised those are in the game right now since they are very unpolished and I thought we took them out at some point haha -- they need a timeout or something for sure! Sorry bout that!

The Thomp sight range seems really agressive.

I just had an instance where I spawned one, it took out a couple enemies (eeeeeexcellent) and then saw me, missed me, and then went out of sight, below the screen. I understood the terrain back there, so I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be a problem....

Potentially "famous last words" because it almost hit me coming back up. It definitly wasn't attacking an enemy.

I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that should have been at what seemed like a safe distance.

That's weird..

After making that comment, I went back to the game. The Thwomp saw a grub to the left, but upon what looked like contact, it disappeared and the grub was still there. No sound or other feedback, it just disappeared...

Developer

Interesting/concerning! We made some changes to how things are parented -- I wonder if it's getting disabled for some reason at some point. Thanks for noting this -- will definitely look into it!

I just had a really frustrating situation happen.

I was being followed by 3 of those purple fliers, so I decided to see if the boomarang would save me. I made 3 attempts (3 seperate plots) and the boomarang each time flew out in comepletely useless directions, deftly avoiding all enemies on the screen each time. (The screen had more than just the 3 fliers).

Because I was giving the boomarang a fair shake, circumstances forced me against the wall with an overhang. Like this:

(Those plots were boomarang attempts)

Needless to say, I got hit. Problem was that I immediately went up against the ceiling, the game treated me as if I landed on the balance beam, and I was instantly hit a second time (this all happened at the same time). Sooooo I lost 2 hearts and somehow got out without losing a third. Very discouraging.

Don't quite know the solution, but this whole situation (from the boomarang being pretty useless and not acting in a predictable way to being hit twice for an inescapable situation) really took the wind out of my sails...

Developer

I'm really sorry about that. We're going to add an invincibility period after getting slammed into a wall if the wall is directly above you :( This is a known issue and we sort of just play around it since we know it exists, but we absolutely need to fix it since it's a heartbreaker.

For the boomerang -- the direction the boomerang fires is related to where you are relative to the plot when you plant it. It'll always shoot out in the direction that you're "pointing" (i.e. draw a line between the seed and the center of the plot when you roll over it, that is the direction it'll fire). Good to hear you're not enjoying it, though! Always interested to hear what people dislike.

Aiming with the player position is something I'm just starting to toy with, seriously. I can see how it can be good, I think I just need to gain a lot more confidence with movement before I enjoy it.

Thanks on the boomarang explaination. :)

Is the seed selector design final? Scrolling through the whole list to switch from the top seed to the bottom seed (especially if you're further into a run and have picked up several seed types) is kind of tedious and feels like you have to interrupt your own flow too much. Maybe some sort of radial menu (sort of like weapon selectors in a lot of open world games) would feel more streamlined?

Developer

Yep probably not final -- we feel that pain point as well. A radial is one of the approaches we've talked about -- so, good to hear another vote for that

I know the Bullet Turrets (the ones that home on you) have been discussed a little, but I just wanted to add something to it.

Beware of having 2 of those things spawn next to eachother if you plan on keeping their firerate as it currently is. I just got juggled by those things, going from about 5 hearts to death pretty quickly. I kept thinking that falling into a Crystal Room would save me, but I couldn't land long enough to enter the door...

Developer

Thanks! I just turned their fire rate way down and made their bullets die after a while locally. Actually, I stopped spawning them altogether for now since I made some changes to enemy distribution, but this is good to know for when they make it back in the game

After dying to this mess I'm very glad to hear that!

Developer

Oh nooo! Hahaha

New build coming today if all goes according to plan!

Some notes from build 0.5a:

  • I think the first quest should not be specific as to how you kill yourself. Aside from the tutorial, this is the first thing new players will see and you should encourage them to live as long as possible and see the game, not die on the first spike they see. Just having the quest be "to die" seems fine and would adequately introduce the quest system (in my opinion).
  • Aiming turret plants feels quite frustrating, I think because the hit box is so close to the point of rotation. You get your shot lined up juuuust right and then moving in to hit it makes it rotate like 30 degrees. Perhaps moving the hit box out (with an obvious marker) would make it feel better?
  • The bomb seed might be too powerful with the increased number of enemies. With the aura that takes 7 crystals instead of damage, I still had 40 crystals by the third camp (along with 8 hearts).
  • At the final boss, it'd be nice if it was more obvious that you've dropped the aura when you get hit. In the excitement of the battle I'd moved on to the next two patches before I realized what was wrong. Perhaps make the patches close their eyes and turn grey when you don't have the aura, as well as add a bouncing arrow that points to the aura when you've dropped it?
  • On the same topic, it might be nice if the map that appears in the final score screen tallied the number of patches you successfully hit in the last battle. Just getting to that battle is quite a challenge, and getting some acknowledgement that you partially beat it seems like it might provide some encouragement to try again.
Developer

I think the first quest should not be specific as to how you kill yourself.

I like this. My initial reasoning was that spikes killing players instantly is sometimes a frustrating gotcha, but that might be solvable through other means. Thinking about it a little harder I realize that the first quest might be the way it is because it was the fastest quest for me to test and it's the first one I implemented and just wanted some task I could repeat quickly which is not a good reason behind a design but is kinda a funny epiphany haha

Perhaps moving the hit box out (with an obvious marker) would make it feel better?

Good idea!

The bomb seed might be too powerful with the increased number of enemies. With the aura that takes 7 crystals instead of damage, I still had 40 crystals by the third camp (along with 8 hearts).

Hahaha yeah that could be. I've been having a lot of fun with the latest build because you sometimes get overpowered stuff like that happening, but it's definitely too much in some cases.

Really like your boss suggestions as well! Definitely one of the far less polished sections of the game so ideas for that stuff are really appreciated

Maybe the poison seed should have a charge up, just in case players want to use it as area control and not just as self-poison?

Also, is it just me or is reflect better than shield in every way? Shield only protects you from the front and only from projectiles, but it doesn't reflect them.

Developer

The advantage of shield is that it takes 3 hits rather than just 1. We've discussed potentially having it surround the whole seed.

Allow me to vote for the shield surrounding the entire seed.

(Edited 1 time)

So one suggestion for game play I have is to even out the difficulty variance, and to have it ramp more at the low end. In the forest having an easier first couple hundred feet/meters seems like it would make it more approachable to new players, but overall the variance over the entire game is very high. I feel like a huge amount of the current difficulty variance (seed luck aside, which is a separate thing) is a result of homing enemies.

The spawning algorithm does not seem to take this into account, so sometimes you make have 3 homing enemies (pink spiders and large pink fly's) spawn at once early on and follow, which is very demanding so early for new players, or you may only have 1 per screen or less at higher levels which makes it fairly simple for experienced players. Right now a runs difficulty curve can be all over the place and sometimes decrease as time goes on.

Something that could maybe be done is to spawn homing vs non-homing enemies independently so they are not over or under concentrated on spawn. Also possibly tracking the total number of homing enemies on screen and limiting it based on progression seems like it would help even out the enemy variance.

Developer

In the forest having an easier first couple hundred feet/meters seems like it would make it more approachable to new players

Agreed

The spawning algorithm does not seem to take this into account, so sometimes you make have 3 homing enemies (pink spiders and large pink fly's)

It does take it into account, but not in a way that is as effective as it could be. Right now every enemy has a weight. We spawn zones of enemies, and each zone has a weight sum. Homing enemies have a much higher weight than non-homing. The idea being that ideally a single homing enemy (or other more-difficult enemy) spawns in the zone, and then another high-weight enemy can't fit under the weight limit, so the rest of the zone gets filled with smaller enemies.

In reality what happens is we get bad spawns when homing enemies happen to *just* fit into an enemy's weight-sum so they are the only enemies in that zone. And of course two or three homing enemies with no filler enemies is MUCH harder than one homing enemy with a commensurate amount of filler enemies.

All this to say that we are trying, it's not working as well as it should, and it should definitely be improved! Limiting the number of homing enemies per zone is definitely one approach on the table right now, and should probably be the system since it is what the weight system is attempting to do right now, and failing quite often.

All this to say that you're right!

(Edited 2 times)

Ah cool yeah that all makes sense. I guess the problem is non-linear difficulty of multiple homing enemies. 3x pink spiders is more than 3x as difficult as 1, but it is any homing enemy that effects this not just individual types. An exponential weight multiplier would probably do something. Also that they will persist and follow from the previous zones. Tracking homing enemies close to the player and including it in the new zones spawn weight to reduce it etc. Give you a hope of running away when under pressure from them with a slightly easier zone.

Developer

Tracking homing enemies close to the player and including it in the new zones spawn weight to reduce it etc.

We spawn the whole world at once so that we can have consistent seeding and eventually have daily runs.

The exponential weight multiplying is really interesting!

Hole squids feel too hard for the Forest, I think they should probably wait until at least the Jungle.

Flytrap seed should have a visible timer on it to show how much time until the spikes return.

Developer

πŸ‘πŸ»

Snowballs from Avalanche should have shadows on the locations the snowballs will land on as soon as the snowballs are on screen, or at least way sooner than they currently do.

I've never managed to use it without it hurting just me.

Developer

agreed. added it to the to-do!

Randoseed shouldn't cost any crystals to plant. It's just not worth it in almost anything but the most desperate situations at 1 crystal, and honestly even in those kind of situations it's probably not going to actually get you out of a bind as much as it will straight up kill you.

Tallspore + Homing aura is quite the powerful combo. The aura says "homes slightly" but it sure doesn't seem "slight" to me (the bottom shot curves all the way around to hit an enemy above me). Should probably fix either the aura description or the homing amount.

Developer

yea that's one our list. it's a real game-breaker. i'm not sure what the plan is but i think it's what you said in fixing the homing amount.

Why were the HP thorns removed from enemies? I miss them :(

Developer

you end up learning that innately and also it was just too much work. the shards looked bad and making armor for each individual enemy and then animating that armor, we just don't have time and it'd weaken other parts of the game that need more attention

Quest order seems a bit off with "use non-default seeds 15 times." I was in the desert when I completed it; the quest before and after were way easier.

Also, the quest flow feels clunky to me. After I complete a quest, I have to return to the bottom of the mountain and go into the quest house, and then I have to go up the mountain again (or restart) to get my next quest? Why can't I do both at the same time? Was it designed this way to somewhat deephasize quests so you feel more inclined to go up the mountain? It still feels inelegant (which is really out of place in TumbleSeed! The game is really tightly designed overall).

Developer

Yeah the goal was to de-emphasize quests and ensuring that people didn't think they were sort of "the game". They're mostly there as bite-sized guideposts for improving skill and exploring everything the game has to offer. Thanks for the catch on the difficulty spike with non-default seed planting!

We were planning on adding some text that hopefully would point to the quest being de-emphasized like "Remember, it's not about the quests it's about getting to the top!" Or something along that line of communication. Does that feel like it'd help?

It also might potentially be a little different for someone who's not already an expert like you? The quest system has been simplified since the do-one-quest-at-a-time thing was a part of it so it's feasible to have them chain together one after another, but the de-emphasis is still somewhat important to me.

I've been thinking about this, I think the text you suggested would be a good idea. Like you said, I'm in a weird place because I got good at the game before quests were even introduced, so I don't really have the proper experience--I'm trying to power through the quests because I want to see what they are, so something like this that gets in my way feels awkward.

I have another idea, and maybe this defeats the purpose entirely (trying not to play backseat game designer here) but I figure I'll suggest it anyway. Maybe you could streamline the quests, but find a way to mechanically emphasize that getting to the top is more important. Like, if a player regularly makes it well past the teleporter quest block they're working on, they could skip straight to the next block. Like if I'm working on the Jungle teleporter but I've already made it to the Desert a dozen times, let's just skip ahead. This is sort of similar to the approach Spelunky had with teleporters. Does that make any sense?

Developer

Hmmmm, thanks for the insightful thoughts. I have a bunch of fears with secretly skipping quests

- The game experience will silently vary between players in a way that makes conversations about the game weird

- There's an achievement for doing all the quests

- I'm afraid of introducing complex state into a the game that complicates save files and changes a linear go-from-one-thing-to-the-next into something *more* than that

The case where a player has mastered the game but hasn't unlocked the teleporters is one I hadn't fully considered, but on the same token teleporters are hopefully not very enticing to someone in that situation in the first place.

Super appreciate your thoughts on this. I'll definitely be adding a dialogue bubble that appears after completing a quest that explains.

According to the leaderboard, nobody has beaten the game on this build. I'm cautious to play the difficulty card, but are the desert and summit too hard right now? Feels like too many aiming turrets maybe? I definitely appreciate the removal of spawners from Jungle, those had the potential to ruin your economy if you weren't paying attention.

Unrelated: when you press A after a daily challenge it sends you to the main menu. This is better than just restarting, but I'd much rather go straight to the daily leaderboard, since I do this manually every day. Or maybe integrate the daily leaderboard into the game over screen somehow? (Maybe just "Rank: #5 of 25" or something?) Something about the way the UI works right now doesn't "feel" like a Daily Challenge, it doesn't make that "well that was my only shot!" as explicit as it should.

Developer

good call on sending you back to leaderboards post-daily.

for difficulty: so yea, i just played to prove your wrong and got iced in the desert so hahha, my usual strategy sorta failed there and i took a few too many risks that bit me. desert definitely needs a look at for sure, esp. with the node/plot flies. there are tons. i'll take a look at snow as well, we did a bit of a big shift recently to try and make those biomes much more unique feeling by introducing enemies in each as opposed to sorta having a lot of haphazard overlap, but yea, certainly could use a pass or two. thanks mike. our head's have been mostly focused on other parts of the game balance wise so this was needed. :)

(Edited 1 time)

I was just blown up by a bomb due to not knowing the explosion range - I did not even have the bomb visible on my screen yet it murdered me, which did not feel fair. A visible explosion radius would be super helpful!

Developer

thanks sebastian! that should be amended in the latest version on steam. i'm preeeetty sure. Yea the previous bomb fx were p bad. sorry about that!

I have this game on my Nintendo Switch, having fun so far (About 2 hours in the game) and I noticed a little something. When you die, the animation that plays afterwards (the seed flying out of the ground) sometimes stretches or shrinks. Just a very tiny issue you might have overlooked.