HOMEBREW SUBMISSION/VOTING THREAD

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by richiz, Mar 30, 2011.

?

Which is your favourite?

  1. Wars Commando

    51.0%
  2. Snowman

    12.2%
  3. Rescue

    4.1%
  4. Raedr

    2.0%
  5. Greyout

    30.6%
  6. Unready

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Robo Hell

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. sswam

    sswam Advanced Member

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    Yeah, I think I'm starting to agree with you!! One thing is, on the rough ground, the player sort of settles into a dip in the ground as if he were a round ball. It's a consequence of my crazy-complex bitwise physical collision reaction code! It makes some sense that walking on rough ground would be a bumpy experience. Similarly, he falls down slopes if left to himself. I don't mind this, but I could fix it (and the bumpy ground) by getting him to lift up one leg higher, as in real life. Would need a lot more sprites for that! I would like to have better control of the jumping, so he could do a wider variety of jumps.


    It also seems to be quite a lot harder to control on the Pandora than on a PC with keyboard. That surprises me, I had thought it would be easier on the Pandora. I'm not blaming the Pandora's controls, I just think the combos needed are more difficult, so I need to rethink that.


    It obviously needs some easier 'training' levels, or an easier learning curve. Probably shouldn't have put that Wumpus in the first pool! I did add a couple easy levels, to learn climbing and fighting skills, etc, but they're not working in the pnd for some unknown reason.


    I'd also like to change the colours. There is really terrible ghosting on Pandora with the colors I've chosen. I am trying to do 60Hz but the screen does not respond at that speed. Blue seems to be especially bad, or anything on a black background. I was a bit disappointed with that, I haven't seen such bad ghosting with any other games, and my game looks heaps better on a PC.


    One weird bug which might be annoying or off-putting, the hero drifts along by himself in a rightward direction when on flat ground! Makes it look like my game mechanics is totally bogus, when in fact it is quite complex and thought through. That bug is something to do with me assuming each object's centre of mass is in the exact centre of the tile, but actually he's an odd number of pixels wide so it can't work out. I'll change it at some point to actually calculate the centre of mass instead. This was a "todo" but I just didn't have time to get everything perfect! I could probably sneak that in as a bugfix anyway... :)


    I'm definitely going to do some more work on this game, and I'm grateful for friendly criticism, it will help me to make it more playable and enjoyable. I'll also try to improve the controls so that it's not quite so difficult, it's a bit of a worry when the game author can't complete it! I think rescue as it is gives robo-hell a run for its money in difficulty level. I find robo-hell really hard, but it is a fun challenge. Once you get into the feel of it (and rescue is the same) you can do much better, and you can have a real sense of achievement or skill.


    I made rescue difficult because I figure I am not much of a gamer, haven't really played many games for the last 15 years! So I should make it challenging enough for the full-on game wizards here. May have gone overboard with that.


    Also it's hard for the sake of realism - any wild animal let alone a Wumpus or Grue would be a formidable enemy combatant. I'd hesitate to fight with a koala or raccoon let alone a giant clawed and toothed cave monster. Would you come of best in a fight with a tiger or shark? It takes some practise and skill to defeat them!


    I was going to give him a sword, but decided to go with Mario jumps instead when I didn't have time to animate the sword nicely. Low ceilings can make it difficult to jump on them, there's a bit of strategy needed to lure them to some place where you have head room or the higher ground...
     
  2. richiz

    richiz Member

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    Anyone tried Robo Hell on there pandoras?


    Wont seem to run on mine =/
     
  3. gruso

    gruso thunderbox

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    ^ Tried removing the space from the PND name?
     
  4. foxblock

    foxblock Asleep

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  5. richiz

    richiz Member

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    Sweet


    Got it working...I'll get it up on Milkshakes site sharpish. Damn...It's so easy (due to the slow framerate) on the Pandora :(


    On PC speed is god damn tricky and you have to time it really well. I've beaten the 3rd level ONCE on the PC...beat it first time on Pandora. NEver mind it was a fun learning curve.


    Oh well I've started on my next game andd I'll be doing it in C++ so I should get the framerates I want :)
     
  6. Neelix

    Neelix Insecticidal Maniac

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    As a matter of interest what CPU speed are you running your Pandora at? I haven't seen any problems with it at 600... (new default speed as of HF5) but some parts of the game are running really slowly at 500. (to the extent that I had to ssh in to kill it when I got to game over in full screen mode)
     
  7. bzar

    bzar A Commando

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    Finland
    That... was awesome.
     
  8. Ziz

    Ziz Advanced Member

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  9. the_marshal

    the_marshal Member

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    I've tried all the game beside Robot Hell (the pnd didn't seem to work) and I really had fun trying them.


    This kind of competition really shows the spirit of the Pandora and it's community.


    I want to thank all the developer who participated :)


    I always thought this competition was a great concept (donated a small amount) and I've been really impressed by the quality and also originality of the homebrew that resulted.


    My personal favorite are definitely Wars Commando and Greyout. Both game have good gameplay and... music !


    Wars Commando is really a cool old style platform game (graphic and music spot on). I didn't go past level 3 yet (the level design on level 3 is great) but it's really quite addictive.


    Greyout is really a quite original puzzle / platformer hybrid. I like the minimalistic graphics. The menu looks great too. Got to finish that one. I am at the level with the elevator... a little bit of a challenge to get both to the exits without hitting the red.


    Rescue definitely deserve a mention for the strangest. I actually kind of like the atmosphere of it. That being said it seem really difficult (I didn't play it for long). It's not very polished either (no menu, explanation...). I think it might need more progressive levels and introduction to the gameplay. It is the game with the greatest potential for improvement IMO.


    Raedr: The graphic and the gameplay are sound. I can't say I am a big fan of this type of game but it's certainly quite fun for a quick play.


    Snowman is another original platformer and pretty well done. The graphics are 3d accelerated but in a 2d universe. You collect snow that you can then use on action (jump, throw snowball...) in order to kill the enemies and arrive to the end of the level. I found the menu a bit strange and not very obvious at first. I liked the clear instruction page though.


    Unready reminded me of a small snake game I made using ncurse and python.
     
  10. richiz

    richiz Member

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    you have to rename robo hell to robohell.... im trying to get rights on the repos but no luck so far :(


    It runs on 20fps as opposed to the 60fps I wanted...but I knew next to no programming when I started this comp :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2011
  11. foxblock

    foxblock Asleep

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    First of all, thanks for all the comments concerning Greyout, I highly appreciate it :)


    Some of the bugs you addressed will be fixed in the next version and I am also working on a guide on how to create levels.


    But now, its REVIEW TIME


    Disclaimer: I am very critical with all the games, not because they are particular bad, in fact quite the opposite is true, but because I think every mistake made (in my eyes) has to be pointed out in order for the maker to consider it and maybe improve next time (and I would like people do the same with my game) - this also is the reason why some games have a more lengthy review than others. Personally I have reasons for why I did most stuff in Greyout like I did and I guess other devs have, too, so please feel free to discuss the points I make here and maybe tell me why you did it that way :)


    So please keep that in mind, not because I mostly mention bad things does that mean your game is horrible.


    Also, in lack of a Pandora I played all of the games on my PC, experience may differ with real gaming controls.


    Addendum: HOLY COW, that has grown one hell of a post, I might stress here that it mostly is aimed at the devs of the individual games, but I highly appreciate everyone reading through it.


    I don't know why I took the time to write so much stuff, probably cost me half of the day, but some times I just like to write :)


    This might just be the longest post on this forum, do I win something?


    The post apparently even is too long for the forum to handle as I get a "You must enter a post." error, so it comes in two parts.


    Wars Commando


    An old-school action side-scroller with lots of bullets and steep difficulty curve and nice sprites, which could have been ripped directly from a SNES game.


    Ok hands down, this is the most polished and overall best made game in the competition, it is challanging, yet seldom frustrating, the art is very well done and fits perfectly.


    Yet this means there are few general things to criticize, still there are minor details, so the following probably will sound like major nitpicking, which it just might be.


    First of all the game mechanics feel very solid, moving and jumping has the certain, right feel to it, you feel like you have full control over the character in all situations.


    Still I think there are a few things which could be improved, especially the running mechanic, which the number one source of frustration in this game.


    To run you need to double-tap in a direction, which this seems like a right and intuitive way to do it in theory it does not work out that well in practice. This mostly is because the player already moves a tiny bit when you only press a directional button for a very short amount of time which on the other hand sometimes can push you over the edge of a cliff or platform when you are standing close.


    A better way to do this in my eyes simply would be to go the standard way of assigning a button to sprint, R or L for example, which seem to have nothing assigned currently (this for example also is how it is done in Warioland 4 and it works quite well there).


    On the other hand, this would not be a source of frustration of the the level design allowed for errors in jumping, but at times jumps have to be nearly pixel perfect when you are not running, so it is almost required to make the jump or make it safely without cautious positioning.


    Overall when you are not trying to make your way across certain platforms the running and jumping mechanisms work quite well, especially the jump feels spot on, you have a good control on how strong you go up and decent air-control.


    Another thing bothering me about the sprint is that it is nearly indistinguishable from the normal walk/run, the player moves slightly faster, but not substantially and as the camera is fixed on the player as the center you barely notice it. At first I though there was no difference at all.


    This could be fixed either by speeding up the sprint, so the player moves noticeable faster or, my favourite way, to delay the camera movement when sprinting, so the player gets slightly off center when sprinting and the camera takes some time to catch up. This would also make the whole camera movement look more organic, instead of rigit, like it is now.


    By default (and all of the time) you are equipped with your trusty assault rifle, which is the number one weapon you will kill enemies (at least soldiers) in this game.


    Sadly you can only aim your rifle left or right, which probably has several reasons, but feels like a waste of potential in certain situations. I understand that being able to aim the rifle would have needed additional animations and also would have made it much more powerful (maybe too powerful even), but in some situations it is just frustrating to see that the player is not able to do so.


    I don't think just adding the ability to shoot directly upwards would be a good compromise as there rarely is an enemy directly above you which you can shoot at the same time. Full 5 directions and aiming with the d-pad would be in order I guess (which poses another problem with movement, but I will get to that now).


    Now shooting your weapon does not hinder your movement at all, so there is no disadvantage in shooting all the time, basically you can tape down the shoot button before starting the game and have the finger free to do all the jumping.


    I guess that is not really the intended behaviour and an easy fix would be to slow down the player slightly when shooting, also introducing another tactical component as the player has to decide whether to run and gun (slower) or simply run away (faster).


    As said before the art is great, especially for a guy claiming to never really been into spriting before :p


    I especially like the death animations and how the blood flies into the direction you hit the enemies, that is a nice touch and overall the graphics fit very well and feel right.


    The tilesets also look brilliant, could be taken directly from a SNES game, some areas like the forest could use some additional colours, but that's a tiny nitpick ;)


    A minor thing, though is the font used for the level and lives text on the map, it does not seem to fit and looks misplaced.


    The background are simply solid colour fills, which makes the foreground and action stand out, but some parallax scrolling landscapes with a still image of the war going on would have given the game an extra touch. Still the colours are chosen to match the tiles, which works very well and one does not notice an absence of background art in the heat of the battle anyway making me wonder whether that would actually add that much to the game (considering the amount of work).


    The level design overall is great, sometimes there are multiple (2) paths, usually one hard and one more easy, while the hard path always seems to give some kind of reward, like a grenade or bazooka enemy at the end (whose weapon you can collect upon killing).


    As said above, some jumps could be made a tad easier to be less frustrating, especially the upper path on the first level, which is just too much for an easy start.


    To end every level with a mini-boss fight to provide a challenge is also a good idea, although the second boss seems easier than the first the the tank much harder (especially after you run out of grenades and rockets).


    The game also is very hard - I haven't been able to get past the fifth level yet, so far new enemies or elements have been introduced (like bazooka soldiers, tanks, spikes, stationary guns) on nearly every level, which is very nice and also keeps the replay value up.


    I wish there was a continue or code option so I would not have to start from the beginning every time, though it only underlines the arcade style of the game (for some reason I suspect there might be one hidden... that would be the final blow).


    Another plus is that you can quickly skip any intro text and map animations and not have to watch them on the tenth playthrough.


    The sound effects are decent, though the default rifle could use more power, currently it sounds more like a gun shooting rubber balls (well it also kinda looks like that ;) ).


    All in all it is a great game, which feels very polished and brings back memories of classics like "Contra" or "Turrican", it is a joy to play and a challenge at the same time. It is not innovative, but well made, all the pieces come together and form the overall best entry in this competition in my eyes.


    Though with the above wall of text it might look different, there actually is not much to change or criticize about this game.


    A small bug I noticed: You don't seem to be able to jump when running up a slope, turning mid-way (still in the slope), running down and trying to jump while still on the slope. But it is hard to pull off and does not happen that often in real gameplay.


    Snowman


    In the only 3D entry in this competition you control a snowman fighting his way through a horde of rotating circles and ellipses to free his land (which apparently is a bunch of floating platforms in the sky) from them.


    In a way this game is similar to Wars Commando as you the game mechanics are similar: You can shoot you have a "bomb" attack and enemies shoot back. Well I guess that is where it ends with the similarity though as you also got a broom (for twice the damage) and the game features a nice twist.


    Because every action (except for the broom) from jumping to shooting costs snow, which your character is made of, jumping for example costs 1, shooting 2 and being 3.


    You gather snow by collecting white-blue-ish, rotating circles/coins (ironic isn't it) and as a very nice effect your snowman will grow (or shrink) with each additional snow collected (or lost).


    This whole mechanism is a nice twist and creates many strategic options, sadly it also leads to some frustrating dead ends, but the good points outweigh the bad on this one by far (it's not that there is a lack of snow and making errors probably has to lead to death, also there is no inevitable dead-end).


    What is slightly bothering me is that you take the collected snow with you, while all levels are completable with the small snowman in the beginning, it becomes much easier if you start with the big one. I guess that also kind of is a reward for completing the previous level successfully, but at some points the game becomes unbalanced by that.


    Movement and jumping feels tight and overall there is not much to complain about, apart from the fact that, like in Wars, you cannot shoot directly upwards or in an angle. This would be a necessity to properly hit enemies above you, while currently you have to jump next to them and shoot at the right time - not ideal.


    But I guess being a snowman without arms is an excuse for that shortcoming.


    The "bomb" attack, in which you sacrifice your entire "big belly" is the most powerful in the game and can kill boss enemies in one hit if fully charged (the more snow, the more damage). It takes some time to get used to through as you need to make a big sacrifice (loosing your big belly also means loosing a good chunk of your health) and the bomb travels rather slow in which case most enemies can run away from it if you don't time it correctly.


    The game consists of 3 chapters with 3 levels each and a boss battle.


    The difficulty ramps up nicely, though the last few levels seem to be slightly easier or on par with the levels in the second set. At least the last boss is not that much of a challenge if you kill it directly with a big bomb attack.


    New elements are introduced throughout the game, such as the broom, new types of enemies, one-way gates (only horizontally sadly) and trees. Again later levels don't feel that good in comparison as, even with changing layouts, the game already showed everything it got (the same might be true for Wars btw, but I have not gotten far enough to judge that yet).


    Snowman still remains fun though, no question.


    Graphics are nice, especially considering the whole 3D engine has been made from scratch which is impressive considering the short amount of time (also the game is supposed to run on the GP2X so I guess it has better performance than Wars, Greyout, Rescue and Robo Hell which are all 2D games...).


    Animations are certainly lacking, as well as proper models. The main character is looking good, the grow/shrink effect as explained above certainly makes it stand out, though it feels too solid in my eyes, separating spheres on a jump and maybe some horizontal movement relatively seen between the spheres would have helped to make it look more organic and less like a plastic figure.


    All enemies are rotating circles, which is a bit dull on the long run, I hope this will be improved in future versions.


    The level exclusively consists of blocky platforms, which are nicely shaded, but also become dull after the first set of levels. The trees introduced in late chapter 2 help, though I would have liked to see more "useless" decoration, like piles of snow, falling snow-flakes, plants, etc.


    Level backgrounds consist of scrolling 3D clouds, which makes the level stand out from it and do not distract.


    Sound effects and music are spot on fitting very well into the game. The music is relaxing, yet not too slow or sleepy, still another track or two would have been good for a change.


    I also liked the menu which is a nice transition to the game and give a nice retro feeling, I remember something like this has been done a lot in the past, but not any more, currently most menus are only text-based.


    It is not really adding much to the game, but feels right also one can get used to the controls and test the movement without any harm.


    Now the biggest shortcoming of the game in my eyes also revolves around what makes it stand out: the 3D.


    The 3D graphics are nice and dandy, but they don't add anything to the game. While they also don't distract or confuse the players like in other 3D platformers (I am looking at you Sonic), this is a missed opportunity in my eyes.


    Something like multiple layers (think Little Big Planet), levels which make 90-degree turns or moving platforms in multiple dimensions would have added much depth and gameplay possibilities to the game.


    It might be route not taken due to time constraints, but in my eyes then the whole 3D would not have been necessary at all and one could have done it in 2D and concentrate on other gameplay elements more.


    Still I am happy to see at least one 3D platformer in this competition and I hope gameplay additions like the ones above will be considered in the future, because there are certain things which are only possible in 3D and I would love to see this pulled off well.


    Overall it is a very nice platformer, it is not as challenging as Wars providing a better entry for novice players, but still remaining a tough battle for experienced players in later levels.


    It is fun to play and a fresh change to the other 2D games, I can see some potential in this one.


    Rescue


    Well, I cannot say as much about this one as I would like, mostly because it does not run decent in my VBox and I have not yet attempted to compile a Windows version. So part of this is judgement based on the trailer alone - I will edit this section if I manage to get it running properly.


    First of all, what is Rescue? That is a good question, to me it is one of the most interesting entries in this competition because it is so "different".


    Beginning with the bright orange tiles, over the nude character sprites, the strange-looking purple aliens, ending with the psychedelic music - this whole games somehow feels like I am on a trip...


    I really like the music, btw, that song is just pure genius, I would like to know where you dug it up, it might be the only song in the game and I should probably mock that there should be more, but in this case I personally don't care ;)


    Now the goal is to rescue several girls from the aliens and get the out of a cave. The girls will try to follow you when you get near them, but apparent are as dumb as the hostages CounterStrike.


    There also are gems to collect, but as the game is missing a score counter as well as a menu or highscore list there does not seem to be much point in it.


    I can't say much about the level design as I did not explore the cave much, but it seems to be fairly large with a range of different geometry, from pits over to small pools of water and bigger hollow areas, all a decent cave need is present.


    The game mechanics have both good and bad sides.


    Also reading the previous posts the game seems to have a fairly sophisticated physics engine, which is nice accomplishment over the usually static and rigid collision detection in the other games.


    This becomes apparent when destroying blocs (gems roll down a hill and float in water) or standing on a slope (you will slowly slide down) as well as using the rope feature (which I could not test for myself yet :( but it seems to be very sophisticated and also a very interesting addition you don't see like that in many games).


    The player movement on the other hand is not that great. Acceleration and deceleration are way to slow for my liking, making the player slide more than walk, also making precise jumps becomes tedious. This might work in theory with the accurate nature of the rest of the physics engine, but it falls short in actual gameplay and feels like it does not fit the rest of the game anyway.


    What's a really nice twist is that you need to watch out not to hit your head on spikes or the ceiling, which creates a nice contrast to Mario where you destroy everything with your head.


    The graphics are, well.. different. The orange tiles really stand out and underline the psychedelic nature of the game, but are not especially easy on the eyes.


    The sprites are not very well animated and still have magenta borders around them, which probably should be transparent. Yet, in the context of the rest of the game that is actually kind of fitting.


    The best thing about it are the particle effects - you will loose drips of blood when hitting a spike, which will then pour all over it and also drip down, creating a really nice effect. This is also helped by the fact that collision detection is pixel-perfect.


    Another thing that is bothering me is the fact that you are supposed to kill the aliens by jumping on there head, yet this is never indicated and to top it off all aliens have a white spike (which probably is not one, but still looking like one) on their head clearly indicating "don't hit me there or it will hurt you" to me.


    The camera is very well done, it feels very organic and the constant shifting, tilting, rotating and twitching only adds to the feel of the game. It is also very unusual to see such a "free" camera in a 2D platformer.


    All in all I think of this as an experiment and a very special one. The whole concept and execution seems very interesting to me, also seeing there is much though behind each part of the game.


    Sadly the actual gameplay does not hold up to the premise, but especially with some polish this could be one of the most interesting games in the Pandora library.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2011
  12. richiz

    richiz Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2011
  13. foxblock

    foxblock Asleep

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    Part 2





    Raedr



    This game really takes the side-scrolling aspect to heart, because that basically is all you do - you control a green dragon (possibly evil), automatically running to the right, which avoiding walls and gaps.


    In general I like the concept of the game, it's great fun for small breaks and you can challenge your friends with the highscore list.


    However what this game is mostly lacking is depth. Sure, the whole concept is very arcade-like and does not need a story or characters, but more variety in game mechanics and level design would have made this a lot better.


    For starters, you are only able to jump and have no control over the horizontal movement of the dragon, this simple feature would give the player more control and would lessen the frustration in later levels.


    But I think another mechanic, like the double-jump or dash in RobotUnicornAttack or the non-deadly objects or random bomb drops in Canabalt would have increased the replay value a lot.


    The levels start pretty easy and get harder and in general have a good ramp-up in difficulty. Sadly after 4-5 levels it starts to get easier again, just to push you in the face with the last, brutally hard, level - I think this could have been ballanced a tad better, but overall it's fine.


    Random level generation like in Canabalt would have been a huge bonus, but I guess that is hard to pull off and even harder to get right (which not making the game unfair or frustrating with too much randomness).


    Alternate paths, however, could have been created and would also lead to a higher replay value.


    The jumping control and mechanic feels very good, one seems to be able to make exactly the jump (height) one wants to, which is essential and one big point to why this game, despite its flaws, is still fun and exciting.


    The graphics are... well, inconsistent. I like how the dragon stands out of the background as it is much less detailed, but I strongly dislike how it looks like it has been made in a lower resolution and then sloppily upscaled with a bad nearest-neighbor algorithm.


    The tiles are alright, but at first I was confused by the black-red tiles, because they looked like lava and I assumed I should not let the dragon touch them - turns out they are just ordinary tiles. I think this is another missed opportunity as deadly tiles could provide a nice mix-up of the else stationary level design.


    Background are okay, but sometimes blend to easily with the tiles making the path hard to make out.


    In general I probably should not criticise the artwork too much, not being a good artist myself ;) - overall I think the art is okay, because of the colour-scheme it certainly is pleasant to look at, just the sprite (and animations - the legs never overlap while walking making it look like he is tripping in place) could have used some work.


    I like, however, how the game starts with the dragon coming from his cave and how the menu fades to the game directly, that is a nice touch and well done.


    Also the clean-hud only showing the score seems good, there is nothing distracting the player from the fast-paced gameplay.The techno music also fits nicely to the fast paced gameplay, although the two tracks get repetitive quickly.


    One last thing to the, already much criticized, loading screens. I played the updated version with the shortened screens, but I still believe they are not necessary at all (my computer certainly is fast enough to load a level in a millisecond, you can't even display a loading screen that fast) and could be removed completely as they get annoying when attemting a level for the tenths time.


    As a rule of thumb in game design: You should never display a loading screen! If you have long loading times, try to mask them by playing a short animation while loading or displaying the highscore list or some instructions, look at how games like COD:MW or SuperMeatBoy are doing it.


    Gamers are impatient, so try to entertain them at all times and keep the times when they have to stare at fading text to a minimum.


    In a nutshell the game is fun for a short run in breaks, especially with the highscore list, but some additional gameplay mechanics and a little polish would have helped a lot.


    A few (annoying) bugs I noticed:


    The player won't jump the first time when one completes or fails a level while the jump key is still pressed.


    Sometimes the player only will jump to the maximum height, sadly I can't properly reproduce this or give a hint at what it might be causing.


    Unready


    It's an ASCII-art evasion-side-scroller.


    Unready is similar to Raedr in terms of game-mechanics, in terms of art however it is totally differnt from everything else in the competition.


    The game is very-lightweight (it runs in a terminal), it starts very fast and probably runs full-speed even in low-power mode, but sadly does not feature a restart option, but requires a re-execution, which is a big "don't" for these types of games.


    The gameplay is very simple fitting the ASCII graphics, the author tries to mix it up by allowing the player to "switch dimension" to an alternate field of lava. This is supposed to get you out of tricky/impossible situations by providing an alternate path.


    It is barely usable however as being in one dimension one cannot see how the other one is looking and therefore has to either constantly switch back and forth, trying to remember the patters (which becomes impossible with increasing speed) or trust in blind-luck, switch in tricky situations and hope not start in front of a lava-tile in the other dimension.


    This could have been solved by displaying the other dimension in grey, but I suppose one had to scrap the terminal-based approach then.


    The game starts fairly slow and slowly accelerates, slower than Raedr, which allows for longer single plays, but will probably get annoying for more experienced players as the game is too easy for too long.


    Overall the terminal-style has a nice retro-feeling and efficiency, but the game gets boring quickly because of the slow starting velocity and acceleration.


    Robo Hell


    It's a short game about a robot trying to get to the chopper, or so the intro text says. Just like ninjas and pirates, robots like gold, so you try to collect those shiny coins on the way, which avoiding spiky pits and foes, which kind of look like Wall-E.


    Now there are two kinds of hard games: Hard games and frustrating games. Robo Hell sadly is the latter.


    That is mostly because of the movement of the player character, especially the acceleration/friction. The little robot slides like he is walking on ice and manoeuvring on small, single-tiles platforms becomes hard to next-to-impossible.


    Hard games have a tendency to become frustrating, but it is not a necessity as demonstrated by SuperMeatBoy, the point is that the player never should be able to blame the game (control, mechanics or bugs) for his failure, because then he will less likely continue playing but rather throw the controller down, give-up and rage-quit.


    The key to this are very precise controls and accurate mechanics, or rather the right level of control and flow in the given situation (SuperMeatBoy gets this 99% right, which is why it is hard but mostly not frustrating - to me at least).


    Jumping and running mechanics in general work pretty well and the game has a nice feel when you get into a "flow" and speed through the level. Sadly this is constantly countered by the level design, which requires very precise jump, evading foes and direction changes, not allowing for the player to run into one direction for very long.


    In my eyes there are two ways to counter this problem, either change the movement mechanics to be less floaty/slippery, i.e. increase the friction or change the level design to allow the player to run longer distances with easy to spot jumps and less changes of direction and less one-tile navigation.


    The graphics are very simple, but have a nice abstract charm the animation of the player character (as simple as it is) fits perfectly to the way he moves. Some more animations (like dying) would have been nice.


    Sound is simplistic, but fitting to the rest of the style of the game. Though sound effects have been played a little to late (a few milliseconds after I collected a coin for example).


    Enemies make up exactly one tile in size, but still can hit you when you stand directly below them (probably because the bounce up and down a bit), which is annoying and seems like an unnecessary obstacle in my eyes.


    Another design flaw I notices is the fact that game logic is only processed for enemies on the screen, every enemy leaving the visible area will stop in his path and not come back even if he hit a wall.


    This can lead to dead-end situations in which a game is leaving the screen, but only (and directly) coming back when you move forward or try to make a jump hitting you (the second enemy on the second level for example).


    Creating a second "logic" border around the visible border in which an enemy is not visible or drawn but still moving would solve this problem and also lead to a more consistent experience.


    Score is tracked throughout the game, but there is no highscore table, which is counter-productive as it would have increased the replay value and competition value (in the "challenge your friends" sense) a lot - nobody likes to keep track of highscores in his head without a proof :p


    Transitions when dying or on a game over are fast, which is a plus.


    The camera movement is also done nicely with a small free-roam area in which the player can move without the camera directly catching up, this creates a nice, organic feel of player movement instead of the feeling that you are moving the level around the player when it is centred at all times.


    Overall the game shows promising roots, but sadly falls short in execution as it is not only hard, but also frustrating due to the movement mechanics.


    With some more work on that or level design this would make a very fun and interesting addition to the Pandora library, especially because of the fast gameplay, which could promise a nice "flow" other games often lack. I certainly can see some potential shining through.


    Thanks for reading


    foxblock out


    EDIT: Seems like some formatting is messed up... sorry for the double spaces


    EDIT2: I had included links to SuperMeatBoy, RobotUnicornAttack and Canabalt, but that is making problems, just search for them on google
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2011
  14. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Still Fresh

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    And wouldn't YOU like to know?
    cool story bro
     
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  15. milkshake

    milkshake Advanced Member

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    I have edited out the swear word from the application page, it may be worth removing that word if you add any updates :)
     
  16. richiz

    richiz Member

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    Sorry man, forgot that was on my comments before the code started :p
     
  17. foxblock

    foxblock Asleep

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    Well, what to expect from a guy voting three times for the same entry...
     
  18. richiz

    richiz Member

    Joined:
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    In fairness I think RoboHells only redeeming quality is that it's a 15 kilobyte PND file :p


    I liked the way he slides >_<


    I think I'll do a quick Review too.


    Wars: Commando





    Bloody brilliant. The game mechanics are tight and unlike FoxBlock I like the idea you can only shoot in one direction. It gives it it's own sort of strategy where you have to jump at the right time to shoot a soldier.


    Graphics


    Great great great! I wasn't a fan of the hero though. If I were BZar after the competition I'd be tempted to spruce the sprites up a little bit or get someone to make the sprites look cooler. They kinda look like lego men. Which is both a good and bad thing I guess. But overall the graphics give the game a feel to it which I like.


    Snowman


    Hands down my favourite in this competition and it's a shame Ziz stumbled with the PND (crashed after level one point one) so I think people wrote it off as a brief engine kinda game.


    The graphics are beautiful and the best in the competition. It has 3d effects which I really appreciate and applaud Ziz for doing. I don't know Ziz's background or whether this is his first game (I suspect not!).


    Game play


    Fantastic. Foxblock has basically explained the way you have to utilise your snow for shooting and jumping. This means you can play through a level get near the end and not have enough snow to "jump up" that last pillar. This game FORCES you to perfect each level and then to make it even harder...sometimes it's not even possible to complete the next level if you didn't collect enough snow in the last (too many enemies to shoot too many jumps).


    After the first few levels you truly appreciate how precious your snow is and in doing so you "perfect" every level. Anyone that hasn't gotten past level one point 5 should really give another crack at it. I love this game and it's a shame Ziz came late to the contest!


    Greyout


    Love it. Minamalist. Very cool puzzle platformer. One of my favourites. Set's the atmosphere with eery music. The rest you'll just have to play.


    Rescue


    A very cool game. It's beautiful in it's own way. Everything just makes you feel like your on psychadelics. Saying that the controls are hard and I found it pretty hard to rescue girls. I'll be revisiting this though.


    Unready


    Terminal shooter. Good stuff. Great time killer. It's not really a platformer though.


    Raedr


    Cool game. It's a timing jumper game. Sprite looks cool and everything works quite well. Great time killer. Sort of game you play when you have 3 minutes to spare and then you mentally remember your score next time you have 3 minutes. For what it is it's a great game. I'd have loved to seen this as a full platformer.


    Robo Hell





    RichiZ, RichiZ, RichiZ. What were you thinking? Well essentially it's a game that uses very basic graphics. Controlling the character is hectic and your only actions are to run and jump. You can collect coins and in later revisions of this (the code already has an ending...but not a 4th and 5th level..which is why it crashes when you complete the 3rd level) so it should retain these points into a high score list.


    Playing on the Pandora is a shockingly bad experience even overclocked to 800mhz...the Frames per second function returns 24/25 on 800. By the time you get to the third level which is pretty crowded the framerate drops even further to 12fps.


    Played on a PC however it runs at 60fps fine.


    It's an interesting game to play...if only to see a game that was made and stopped half way through.


    It's only really redeeming feature is that it's a 15 kilobyte PND file. If you're really hard up for gaming action give it a go.


    A lot of the problems I had was I basically learned a programming language in the 3 weeks I made it...then I switched to C++ halfway through due to framerate issues.


    I'm currently coding a game I hope to release in June...should be far better :p


    Summary and who I'll be voting for





    At the moment it's a toss up between Snowman and Wars: Commando....I'm stuck on both, level 2.3 and 4th level respectively. Whichever I vote to win the other will get 2nd place. I'll complete the games before I give my vote however I think Snowman will take it. I love the whole idea of it :)


    3rd Game. I don't know. I haven't played Rescue or Greyout as much as I'd like. I think maybe greyout will take 3rd.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2011
  19. sswam

    sswam Advanced Member

    Joined:
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    Thanks very much guys for the reviews, it's really helpful: nice to know that there are some good things, and also what to improve!


    I really liked all of the games, and my wife and son (3) like them too. The Pandora controls make gaming much more accessible for the little guy, compared to a PC.


    Here's some more reviews, from me:


    Greyout


    This is my personal favorite, one of the most memorable games I've played. It's such a cool idea and well realized. I like the graphic style, so simple but it really works well. The menu effect makes this my favourite game menu of all time! I voted for Greyout because it's a great puzzler with with arcade gameplay, and a surprise twist that bends your mind. It's mostly about the puzzles, but you need your controlz skillz too. I'm hoping Foxblock will whip up some more levels. Maybe his fans can come up with some good ones too, from what he said it's easy to create new levels. I played Greyout in the dark, backseat of a car, and it did something strange to my mind and vision. It's like you have to think in a different dimension and it's very challenging for me to think that way. I imagine some truly confounding and even more mind-warping levels could be created for Greyout. How about tri-tone? play with the colors of three-stripe national flags, with the characters themed appropraitely - maybe a french-style hat or something... hehe I think that would be awesome. Foxblock, I never thought from your vids that you were making such a great game, although the elite menu should have tipped me off to it. It really looked like pong with the monochrome blocks! I'd like to see how Greyout plays with a pong ball bouncing around, either as an enemy or a object to be transported, that might be some fun too - another 'extra' for a later level, to keep the interest building.


    Wars: Commando


    Commando feels by far the most like a real retro platformer game title, among our games. B-ZaR, it's very well done, and we can all see that you're headed for success here. It would take a landslide ballot hack to bring you down now... I'm tempted to get all my wife's friends and relations in Manila to vote.. but no, it's not right sportmanship, we don't need to turn this into a forum hacking competition! I'm not that bitter...! I like the gameplay, and especially the new challenges and items as you progress, it keeps the player's interest. I tried to do this in my game too, within its single, challenging level; but I guess it needs to start slower and progress easier, with a few more items of interest along the way. My only complaint with Commando, is this: I feel like I shouldn't play games about war! but in spite of this, I do enjoy the game - and as for gore and violence, my own game is if anything more blood-drenched than B-ZaR's one. My son was an early player of Commando, before submission, and I think he prefers it among the rest of the games. He finds level 1 difficult, but at least he can do some running, jumping and shooting without being annihilated by a cave monster or halted by an impossible puzzle! Don't forget about the 'play the blue side' feature that he demanded :p or I'll have to do it. Is there a way I could create an easier level or two for him, how did you make them? The graphics are good, it would take just a little more work and polish, on the graphics and sound, to bring B-ZaR's entry to the level of a commercial release platformer like Mario, or a fully polished free one like Giana's Return. That's meant to be a compliment, in case it wasn't clear! Yeah for sure some parallex backgrounds would lift it here (I should have done that too). The feel and the gameplay are already spot on for me. If you're considering Foxblock's 'turning gun' idea, take a look at Abuse, and see if you think it fits.


    Snowman


    I like the resource management, and the variety of attacks in Snowman. It's unusual to be charged for each shot fired in a platformer, and I've never seen another game where your jumps are limited, as they eat up your body! A clever innovation, I think. I admire Ziz for coding his own engine, with 3d, that runs not only on the Pandora (unaccelerated) but also on several other less powerful handhelds. He must have done the portability the right way - tell us how you did it, Ziz! I agree with RichiZ, that more could be made of the 3d - maybe just with one more layer, like Unready! and while your graphics are fine and appealing, a little more variety would spice it up for me. Why DO all these different spinning discs have it in for me?? ;) Technically, Ziz has shown he's the man to beat: his coding skills must be honed up beyond the rest of us I'd say. The 3d really adds a lot to this platformer, I feel more like I'm really in the game, that it's a real place... in spite of the bizarre character, unnatural enemies, and alien world / scenario! I think the Snowman himself could be drawn with a bit more appeal (in the graphics). If you could 'cute him up' a bit, like Mario, he might become a cult figure. Maybe get him to collect his coal eyes, carrot nose, stick arms, etc., and up the skillz when he does so? I think it would be cool to try starting the game (or some levels) with a full snowman too, especially if you want to make some easier levels suitable for children. I guess a Snowman is most appealing to children, so I would expect an easy first level, but your game is pretty hard, there's no way my son could tackle it! it'd be "WHY CAN'T I JUMP NOW!!" after the first couple seconds. If you redo the graphics with a twisted monster, struggling his way up from just a bouncing liver to build his full gory zombie body, it might appeal more to the young adult market: and they would be better able to handle the challenge! or something like that...


    Robo Hell


    I'm sorry RichiZ was bitten in the ass by unexpected and unreasonable python / pygame performance problems on the Pandora. He's lost half his time because of this. Wow, IIRC you said you're new to game coding and python but this is a great achievement, you made a compulsive and unique game in 3 weeks! I think you went easy on us so as not to win your own competition, that might look shady ;) Well I'm not sure if it's fraustrating, I've mostly been playing the decelerated Pandora version (but overclocked) at ~30fps! I had a go at 60fps too, I like the speed and that extreme skills are required. For me, 'Robo Hell' does suggest a hellishly difficult and intentionally extremely fraustrating game - you know what you're in for, when it's written on the box! I really like it, including the retro style, motion, tiny platforms and sliding. It's hard and it's a real victory to beat it! The player needs to give it some time and get into the groove. The levels are small and challenging enough that it doesn't bother me to start over when I crash. It's simple, but don't abandon it, RichiZ: it's good. If you abandon it, I'm going to adopt it! Like I said, I'd be happy to port this to C++/SDL for you, or help you to do it.


    Raedr


    For me, this is the most 'fun' game! and fun is what games should be about. It the only game that's really simple and accessible to a young child like my son, or a really inexperienced gamer. 'Angry birds' shows that simplicity, accessibility and universal appeal is the best recipe for a popular winner of a game - and you've got those three for sure. You should have heard my son when I said which game would you like to try: this one, that one, ... or this one with a dragon, it's was like "YES! THAT ONE WITH THE DRAGON!!". And it's such a cute dragon. For me I like the slow menus and slow start where he's running across the screen - this is not a finger twitching super-challenge game, where I want to restart it so quick for another bash. It's a relaxing, cute, fun game. While I love the dragon, and the backgrounds feel great, I think the tile graphics and obstacles are a bit plain, they could use a bit more variety. Perhaps some items, 'power ups' or baby dragons to collect would add to the gameplay. The feel of the game is great, I think you've nailed the control-response... well, I mean the jump! It's great fun, and well done.


    Unready


    This one is more or less of a joke I guess, but actually I do like the idea. My wife says it's is a good one too, and she's not a hacker. Of course, no one in 2011 but a bunch of hackers is going to spend much time on an ASCII terminal game, even if it's as good as Angband, nethack or tty Tetris. The two-planes idea is a real winner for me, I haven't seen that before. If you hacked this together with Snowman's 2.5d engine and some cute Penguin / ice-block sprites, for example, it would really rock. Maybe the 'lava' (or ice) doesn't need to kill you, but you just have to get through it fast enough to survive! You could perhaps add one or two more game elements, maybe an egg you have to push along, or a bear that appears from time to time and chases you, for that wacky North-pole / South-pole synthesis. All the Linux peeps would play any nice Penguin game like this, along with tuxracer and frozen bubble! ;) Was that your intent in the comp, to make a game with this idea but having bitmap graphics? Or did you work on something fully different? 'Unready' has that simple appeal like Raedr and Tetris. It could easily become a popular game with SDL instead of stdout!


    Rescue


    Hm it's time for a self-indulgent self-game review too! Well I had so many ideas for this, but like Foxblock, I didn't get it all done in time. The biggest flaw would be the controls, they are fussy, not obvious and it can be very difficult to do certain things. I'd like to have more control over the jumping especially, perhaps hold and release to jump, so I can time how big the jump should be. In real life, you do prepare for a jump - can't jump from standing position at a moment's notice. I'm too much of a physics nut to allow him to vary the jump-path in flight, but you can float in the air, a very little, for that skydiving effect! I think people would like this game better if I'd made it much easier for a start, and broken it into shorter levels. As for the 'Counterstrike-Hostage-Stupid AI', I did that in an hour or two's rushing in the last few days, it wasn't intended to be a sexist slur! The lack of menus, scores and health bars is deliberate, I wanted it to be immersive (and didn't have time or inclination to do a decent menu). If anyone gives this game a good play, on Pandora @ 800Mhz or PC Linux, and manages to rescue a few girls or do some rope tricks and develop a combat strategy, I hope they might get more into it and have some fun. Hey Foxblock, did you rescue a girl, or not?? If you did, there's a $10 bounty for her safe return, and a ranking in the as-of-yet-empty Hall of Fame (on my website). Please let me know! Accepting prizes is mandatory: you shed blood and risked your life after all. If no one claims any prizes I'm going to go insane, and multiply them by ten. Then my wife will leave me! So do me a favor and save my marriage along with at least one 'Resuce' girl, and send me a jpeg photo of it. An Ubuntu live-CD would run 'Rescue' quite nicely, I reckon. I'm sorry to say the Windows build is not trivial, it will take me quite a while to do it especially as I'm not set up to build on Windows. Don't think to attempt a port, it's a 'port hell' akin to robo-hell.
     
  20. gruso

    gruso thunderbox

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    Thanks for the heads up.

    richiz: I am unable to edit the poll results, but please exclude MichaelXX2's votes when you do the final count (unless he wants to change them himself, which would be welcomed.) Putting all votes on one entry is pointless and not in the community spirit.
     
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