CONCERN: IS MY PROJECT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND?

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Hello everyone, I have a serious question and its recently been bothering me. Is my project difficult to understand?

Recently I came across a video seeing how an ordinary person would come across playing it and was a bit dumbfounded on why people fail at learning how to play something instead of diving in expecting to know what to do and getting yourself killed.

When this topic was made, everyone had some great pointers on difficulty in several areas. They suggested lots of good stuff to the user and gave lots of possibilities. However, I'm not sure how much clearer I could make my project. I've included a Manual that teaches you about most of the game up to this point and also included a controls viewer in the game. How much lower should I go? Make a "No Damage" Mode for players?

People today complain about games including Tutorials for you, but now I realize, those should be a requirement because some people need to have tutorials fed to them. Of course optional tutorials are always the best. Now, the video I'm about to show you is one of recent. I've already picked out everything I believe should be addressed, but I'd like to hear what you guys have in mind or would like to say as well.


Feedback is what curves out every developers' road to success even if it was in a comedic matter or a serious one. If you have played the recent demo, were there any issues in any category you would like to address? Thank you:)
No, honestly it seems like they were complaining about your game to be 'funny', you can tell they are trying to emulate game grumps even down to their intro. I wouldn't give their feedback a second thought, to be honest.
author=Necrile
No, honestly it seems like they were complaining about your game to be 'funny', you can tell they are trying to emulate game grumps even down to their intro. I wouldn't give their feedback a second thought, to be honest.


Oh! I see what you mean. Even so, when watching, it emulates what a person who has never played it before may act. Of course its impossible to please everyone when it comes to challenge. Good catch too. I wasn't even thinking about the Game Grumps thing.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7549
Their feedback is incredibly valuable, and you should not ever, EVER, dismiss it. If you don't want to listen to their words, look at their actions. What they DO in your game tells you way more than what they say, even though they said a lot of helpful things.

I watched the video. You've definitely got WAY too much going on for the first level of the game. Before the player even knows how to play the game, they are confronted with pits, an enemy that takes almost half your health in one shot yet needs 4 hits to kill, and an open level with plenty of potentially missable objects. These are things I would expect out of, say, level 1-3 or 1-4. Not when the player is still trying to figure out what they're doing.

Yeah, they struggled, but I promise you it's not because of them. This is a terrible, terrible first level for any player, regardless of whether or not they played the games you're paying tribute to. You need a new stage 1-1 that's more linear and presents a single, easy enemy type to allow players to get acclimated to the controls. Otherwise, expect way more reactions like this.

EDIT:

Go look at the first levels of Megaman X and Shovel Knight to get an idea of how basic you need your intros to be. Both these games present a series of single challenges to the player to allow them to get a grasp on the basic controls. This does way more to teach the player how to play the game than a manual, tutorial, and especially a no damage mode will.
author=Red_Nova
Their feedback is incredibly valuable, and you should not ever, EVER, dismiss it. If you don't want to listen to their words, look at their actions. What they DO in your game tells you way more than what they say, even though they said a lot of helpful things.

I watched the video. You've definitely got WAY too much going on for the first level of the game. Before the player even knows how to play the game, they are confronted with pits, an enemy that takes almost half your health in one shot yet needs 4 hits to kill, and an open level with plenty of potentially missable objects. These are things I would expect out of, say, level 1-3 or 1-4. Not when the player is still trying to figure out what they're doing.

Yeah, they struggled, but I promise you it's not because of them. This is a terrible, terrible first level for any player, regardless of whether or not they played the games you're paying tribute to. You need a new stage 1-1 that's more linear and presents a single, easy enemy type to allow players to get acclimated to the controls. Otherwise, expect way more reactions like this.


Indeed. I felt what they said was incredibly valuable as well. One of my mistakes for this demo was letting them experience too many stages they aren't supposed to be at yet and reduced the initial HP from 100 to 30.

I also noticed some glitches where the player could jump or attack even before the stage began. As for stage 1-1, I see there are some tweaks that need to be done here and there as seen in the video, but World 1-1 isn't the first stage. There are more a few linear tutorial stages before this one. I guess the problem with that was trying to make stages have more layers and be more open early on.

Its like the other users said in a different topic, what is easy to someone else may be difficult to another. This was very helpful because it gives me the views of people who are new to this. The things they did and said were very helpful. .

The only think I can think of doing now is adding a tutorial level that will stop you and tell you how things work in-game. I can add a manual and control views all I want, but not everyone is going to read those.

Thanks for the insight Red_Nova



Red_Nova
The all around prick
7549
I'm lost. You said you're thinking of adding a tutorial level, but earlier you said that there are tutorial levels before stage 1-1. Why not just make players play those tutorial levels before putting them in stage 1-1?

Either way, stopping player progress to dump tutorial text isn't the best solution, either. Just make sure the tutorial levels are slower and more methodically paced than the others. For example: Start the player on a single, flat plane with no pits or alternate platforms. As the player inevitably moves forward, they eventually run into a single slow enemy that dies in one or two hits, and only does about 5 or so damage to you if you are hit. Let the player get their feet wet with the combat by facing off against that super easy, basic enemy. Afterwards, they will find a chest that gives them a potion to fully heal them.

Honestly, that alone will do wonders to ease players into the game. They got a basic idea of movement, the hit box for your sword (which is really small, by the way), learned about chests and how to open them, and recovered from the small mistakes they made so they can tackle the next challenge with renewed confidence.
Oh! Sorry for the confusion. There are tutorial levels that have flat planes and only weak monsters. The tutorial I was speaking of is the text dump you mentioned. I did have a level in the past that had you read optional signs on how to play similar to the text blocks in Super Mario World.

As you mentioned, they did learn a lot of what to do simply by playing the game. This is the kind of feedback I've been waiting for in this specific release. Developers will continue to do things a certain way until they are corrected or given direction on how to improve. Oh, and thanks for mentioning the hitbox thing. The character uses a short sword, but I do think it could be lengthened just a tiny bit.

Learning to balance everything is a challenge. I've learned that there are lots of new people coming into every genre of game daily. Not everyone will react like developers think they would. Seeing this put me into a whole different perspective of players' minds. I'll use this to improve on level design and all that surrounds it.
Jesus Christ, this video is awful. The British guy needs to never ever make a video again. The Greek guy is kind of enjoyable, though!

However, Red Nova is right. Your first level looks like it should be way, way into the game. I'm no stranger to platformers and I understand everything that was happening, but you need a first level that eases the player into the game.

Imagine you've literally never seen a game before, and you pick up the controller as an oddity. That's what the five several levels should be.

In Mario (the very first one), you can only walk right, so you walk left. A thing comes out of the side of the screen, and it kills you if you touch it. This teaches you about monsters. The next time, you try to jump over it, but there are boxes there. This teaches you you can punch blocks. There's a shiny block, which draws the eyes. You know you can jump and hit blocks, so you hit it, and another thing comes out. This one is hard to avoid, and it accidentally touches you. You get bigger. Soon you hit a block when you're big, and it breaks. AND YOU JUST LEARNED MARIO COMPLETELY. There are other things, but since you've got the basics down you understand you need to try those basics to advance.

In your game there is a sudden clusterfuck of things; enemies that kill you quickly, spikes, water, springs, slow-bubbles, power ups, coins, vertical and horizontal platforming, TOO MUCH STUFF.

Level 1 should consist of: A pit you need to jump over that doesn't kill you (to teach jumping), an enemy that does almost no damage (to teach you to hit things like Red Nova said), a pit you need to jump over that might kill you (to teach you about dangerous platforming), two enemies that do damage (to show you it gets harder), et cetera et cetera. Everything in the game needs to be a ramp, growing in both complexity and difficulty, and everything needs to teach you something. ABSOLUTELY NEVER STOP THE GAME TO SHOW DIALOGUE ABOUT HOW TO PLAY THE GAME. That's terrible! If you want to teach the player about a spring, have a ledge too high to jump without it, and make the spring obvious and inviting, with no penalty to missing the spring jump. You only need one easy spring, the rest can get harder after that.

Not everything needs to be this obvious or easy; most people have played platformers before. But go into it with this mindset, otherwise people will just see a bunch of confusing shit everything, get overwhelmed, and stop caring.
I couldn't agree more. Though, even though this specific level wasn't included, there was a tutorial level that was in a previous demo, but was removed because the game was going through some severe changes. In the video below, fast forward to 11:36 and that is the true fist level of the game. Although, It still seems to have a bit of content in it. World 1-1 as seen in the other video is technically 1-5 in a sense if you count the introductory levels that are shown as Stage 0-X.


I know its strange to have a world 0, but I didn't know what else to call them at the time. When the project continues, I'll try to create a introductory level that consists of several training rooms that teach you how to do several things specific to that room(like a puzzle platformer). Of course this would be optional and could be played at any given time.

Thank you for the awesome feedback!

Bonus points for the first sentence as well XD. I'll do my best to cater to both platform veterans and newcomers.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7325
I downloaded your game to give it a shot. Firstly, there's absolutely nothing that can be done about the resolution it launches in? No script to have it run at 2x resolution or something?

Secondly, the controls are just awful. I felt like I was slipping all over the place and it made trying to land on the moving platforms (such as the one with the line of coins near it) an absolute chore. Also when you start to run, it feels like you're stuck in something before you actually start moving. You've clearly been putting effort into giving the character "weight", but it just doesn't feel right. And you might as well just call it a Game Over if you land in a spot of water with a fish in it because there's no way you'll be able to fight them off.

Lastly, I got myself thrown into the main menu while in Stage 1-1 and instinctively hit Esc to exit and it shut the whole game down. That's probably a limitation of the Game Maker engine, but I think having a very clear indicator of how to close something without it ending everything would help.

The video in question may have been awful, but you've definitely got a long road ahead of you.
Very helpful feedback. The screen options can easily be done by pressing F4 or changing them in the start menu that can be accessed both in the options menu and the main menu. I probably should have had made that clear in the previews before starting the game. I also forgot that F1 opens the game's information and all controls. That also would have been useful.

But here is a video that displays both option screens. Pause at 00:32. or 00:56

As for the controls, This is how the Monster World games(except Monster World 4) usually begin. You have a set speed at first, but you accelerate very quickly to your max speed.By equipping certain items, you are able to upgrade and freely control how your character plays. If your character has a max speed of 4, they will accelerate by 1 until they reach 4(which is much less than a second).

If you were to equip the stop boots with the accelerate boots, you will create in instant stop/fast acceleration game play similar to that of Mega Man. You'll almost instantly reach your max speed and be able to stop on a dime. Also, the feeling stuck thing must be the friction value I set. In order for your character to stop rather quickly, they have to have a force that stops them as you let go of the directional buttons.

And yes, the escape button is supposed to close the game. However, I can set that function off and leave it to the (X) in the upper right hand corner. The main buttons for everything are explained in both the control section and the manual that came with the game.


Honestly, whether your game is actually good or bad, I probably wouldn't listen to a word of what they said in the video. These guys are trying to be entertaining. The criticism they gave is to benefit themselves rather than your game.

No, the video doesn't emulate how a person first playing your game may act, because usually your players aren't going to try and entertain anyone but themselves. Some lets players often do stupid things in the game and whatnot on purpose for the sake of trying to be funny.

Criticism is extremely important, but don't get it from these guys. Look for actual playtesters and reviewers and get feedback from them.
author=Pancaek
Honestly, whether your game is actually good or bad, I probably wouldn't listen to a word of what they said in the video. These guys are trying to be entertaining. The criticism they gave is to benefit themselves rather than your game.

No, the video doesn't emulate how a person first playing your game may act, because usually your players aren't going to try and entertain anyone but themselves. Some lets players often do stupid things in the game and whatnot on purpose for the sake of trying to be funny.

Criticism is extremely important, but don't get it from these guys. Look for actual playtesters and reviewers and get feedback from them.


You have very strong point. I realize now what this was meant to be, though as Red_Nova suggested, their reactions and overall feedback are valuable in a sense. I watched another youtuber play it for the first time and they had a perfect run on the 1-1 stage. No damage or issues whatsoever. It goes to show that there are different leagues of gamers out there as well as people who are new to the series.

Sometimes, making a game is like the ultimate tug of war. You have people that say one thing, and another person has the opposite feeling. Its very challenging trying to create a balance that will feel natural.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5478
author=XBuster
The screen options can easily be done by pressing F4 or changing them in the start menu that can be accessed both in the options menu and the main menu. I probably should have had made that clear in the previews before starting the game. I also forgot that F1 opens the game's information and all controls. That also would have been useful.
The larger screen should be the default though, why isn't it the default? Plus, nobody is going to be trying random function keys on the keyboard. I would put this stuff in an in-game menu if at all possible.

Lemme give you some real feedback. One thing these guys are absolutely right about is that level 1-1 is WRECKING them. Two hits and the player's dead. Enemies take multiple hits, and apparently don't get knocked back when you hit them, so while you're slashing them they walk into you and kill you. 1-1 enemies should not only deal less damage but also take only one hit, except for the boss. Some enemies can apparently be jumped on to hurt them, but not the pink blobs with birthday hats, and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which enemies are stompable. If they ARE stompable then the hitbox seems really hard to understand, because their third death was caused by trying to jump on one. Slashing the enemy while inside it and using the player's iframes after taking damage also didn't seem to hurt the enemy, which it definitely should - you don't want to punish the player twice for the same mistake.
I'd claim that tutorials don't help much. A tutorial screen that pops up once is easily forgotten.

I prefer games that just put simple obstacles in your way that only can be overcome once you "got it". That way, it's much easier to remember the mechanism.

It's always a good idea to make a game start off easier, but it still should be just hard enough so a player can't just get through it without understanding how it works.
author=LockeZ
author=XBuster
The screen options can easily be done by pressing F4 or changing them in the start menu that can be accessed both in the options menu and the main menu. I probably should have had made that clear in the previews before starting the game. I also forgot that F1 opens the game's information and all controls. That also would have been useful.
The larger screen should be the default though, why isn't it the default? Plus, nobody is going to be trying random function keys on the keyboard. I would put this stuff in an in-game menu if at all possible.

Lemme give you some real feedback. One thing these guys are absolutely right about is that level 1-1 is WRECKING them. Two hits and the player's dead. Enemies take multiple hits, and apparently don't get knocked back when you hit them, so while you're slashing them they walk into you and kill you. 1-1 enemies should not only deal less damage but also take only one hit, except for the boss. Some enemies can apparently be jumped on to hurt them, but not the pink blobs with birthday hats, and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which enemies are stompable. If they ARE stompable then the hitbox seems really hard to understand, because their third death was caused by trying to jump on one. Slashing the enemy while inside it and using the player's iframes after taking damage also didn't seem to hurt the enemy, which it definitely should - you don't want to punish the player twice for the same mistake.

You got a point. Usually, I'd force the game into full screen, but there are players saying the exact opposite of what that should be. I recall one asking "why the heck am I forced into full screen?" Wait a second...no it wasn't full screen it was a resolution :O

It would probably be a good idea to change this into a full screen automatic option.

Like I said before, a mistake was reducing the initial HP to 30 for this demo. Originally it was 100 so that the player would have more time to react. However, there are several ways to greatly increase HP. I laughed so hard at the pink blobs with party hats XD That is a hermit crab lol. One thing I also forgot to do was decrease some monsters attack power after the HP decrease. As for knockback, I believe that is a strong possibility now since there are new AI agents in the game.

With the stompable enemies, I've been trying to make something that will help tell which ones are, but its difficult. Here is the manual page that lets you know which enemies are stompable. Perhaps there should be a marker of some sort that lets you know you can stomp on them? I'll figure something out.




author=RyaReisender
I'd claim that tutorials don't help much. A tutorial screen that pops up once is easily forgotten.

I prefer games that just put simple obstacles in your way that only can be overcome once you "got it". That way, it's much easier to remember the mechanism.

It's always a good idea to make a game start off easier, but it still should be just hard enough so a player can't just get through it without understanding how it works.

That's also a good point. The thing is, I don't want to make big tutorials for the platforming aspect because that's pretty much self explanatory, but tutorials for the battle system aspect are a must. The game has lots of platforming, but it also has lots of RPG elements in it that is the only way to truly succeed in the game. Most games I've played(especially action RPGs) have a tutorial of some sort that teaches how the game's battle system works.

Perhaps my mistake was releasing the demo without a proper tutorial that shows how combat works. Instead of making a tutorial that stops you, adding signs to read would be best.

Thanks for the feedback you two:) It really helps.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5478
author=XBuster
With the stompable enemies, I've been trying to make something that will help tell which ones are, but its difficult. Here is the manual page that lets you know which enemies are stompable. Perhaps there should be a marker of some sort that lets you know you can stomp on them? I'll figure something out.
In Mario games they just put spikes on their heads going straight upwards, and give everything else a smooth rounded head. Right now the small red crabs can be stomped even though their pinchers are pointing upwards, which could be solved by making their pinchers be pointing sideways so that their squishy-looking eyes are on the top. Right now the larger hermit crabs have a flat squishy area in the front that looks big enough for the player to land on, but cannot be stomped - I would recommend narrowing their sprite so that their entire body is centered under the shell, and also make the top of the shell come to a sharper point. Similarly the giant red crab in the second level has enough space in between its pinchers where it looks like the player should be able to land on its eyes and stomp it - you should make its pinchers much bigger and bring them closer together, so that they look like four spikes sticking up and covering the top of the sprite.

In most games that have weapons like yours does, the player just can't jump on anything, though. I'm not really sure why you made anything stompable.
@LockeZ:
You're right about the visual design of crabs v. goombas, but I think the stompable thing is a leftover from the Monster World series which this game seeks to extend.

@XBuster:
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP SHOWING EVERYTHING OFF AT ONCE. Every time I see a video of your game there are ONE MILLION THINGS happening. A dozen levels, a dozen characters, a dozen unexplained new confusing things nobody needs.

I can't stress enough how important control of information is when you're teaching someone something. I get that you want your demo to show off how much content there is in the game, but it is a bad, bad idea to show off so much all at once. It overwhelms everybody. Everybody. Stop it.

Everyone in this thread is saying the same thing: there's too much going on. They're also agreed about another thing: teach the player by letting them play the game. You can't do that when you let the player select ten different dramatically different levels and who knows how many characters and then throw powerups and money and all sorts of other shit at them.

Linearity is incredibly important in the first moments of a game, no matter how open-ended it's supposed to become. Even Breath of the Wild, the most open-ended game I've ever played, confines you to a tutorial area that allows the game to force you to learn things. If you want to show off your game, make a super-solid single demo level that shows off a small handful of features. You can hype the other ones with snippets of gameplay footage to show "yes there's more!".

People derive a huge amount of enjoyment from opening up and unlocking new things as they go along. Don't give away everything at once, even if it is suppose to be a showcase. There are better ways to handle this.

Your game looks like it'd be a tonne of fun and it seems to have loads of cool stuff in it, but NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING stands out because THERE IS SO MUCH SHIT HAPPENING.
Wow, both of you have VERY strong statements. I'm not even sure where to begin. I believe the best solution to stomping will be to replace it with something a bit more obvious and friendly.I have no intention on editing the monster sprites either. There are new plans for the jump system being developed as far as that matter goes. Its great to get feedback on that particular issue.

@Kaempfer

I agree, it was a bad idea to show off too much at once. If you think this is bad, you should have seen the last one I released in 2015. It had almost every level in the game in it. It was such a stupid move, that I actually decided to eliminate about 80% of them and prepare a completely whole new set underground. Releasing that demo and developing the game anew was a way of saying goodbye to that era of development. Yes, what is released in the early 2017 demo was a chunk of the game, but only about 5% in total.

But hey, we're all learning as we develop our projects of what to and what not to do.Recently I began to learn a LOT from companies showing off their products like Nintendo and SEGA. When it comes to demos, Sonic Mania comes to mind. 1 character, 2 levels, and a thank you for playing message.

Learning balance is also a good thing. People lose interest when you show nothing for a long period of time, and people hate it when you show off so much it feels like we've already played the game. Finding that sweet spot somewhere in the middle is the best thing to do.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7325
This just hit me.

People gave you an easy way to fix a significant problem many have been having with your game and you respond with...

author=XBuster
I have no intention on editing the monster sprites either.

You wouldn't have to introduce some other strange stomping mechanic if you just did this one thing. Graphical indications that the player can imply some sort of nature from is pretty much Game Design 101. Even if you don't speak the language, if an enemy in an RPG looks like it's using fire magic, chances are you wouldn't want to use fire magic on it once you get that initial experience of having a skill heal or not damage something based on its appearance or behavior. There's nonverbal communication here that speaks to everyone regardless of their education level with no "tutorial" menus/levels needed*.

You started up this thread wanting people to explain to you if your game is difficult to understand, but follow it up with essentially "I know what I'm doing." You've got a facade of accepting and considering critique, but almost nothing up to this point seems to be getting through without getting shot down with videos or screenshots explaining why it's not a bad idea.

I don't know how Monster World or whatever did it on the SEGA Somethingsystem (never made time for SEGA until my cousin got the Dreamcast), but Nintendo had plenty of examples of doing platforming way right that I think Monster World could've used if you've emulated them as perfectly as you appear to have.

Weapon not long enough? Castlevania used a whip. Controls don't feel quite right? Mario wrote the book on it. Too much stuff going on on the screen? Mega Man was difficult but it wasn't a clusterfuck all at once.

Take this for example: looks difficult as shit, right? Sure, but you were taught about both of these enemies earlier on in the level without pits being present, so the consequence for failure isn't so high. Also, even if you did die, this is the first screen of a level that you can choose once you fire up the game and getting a Game Over restores all your lives and costs you nothing.

The penguins move really slow and shoot out eggs if you get too close that are almost as big as they are, so if you just open fire on them, you're bound to hit at least one if not both. The flying enemies are harder only because they're sometimes out of range and they divebomb you, releasing the pillars of fire, but you get a pretty consistent idea of where exactly the pillars of fire will shoot up from when they land.

There aren't other things going on all around you to distract you from the enemies, so all of your focus is on them. Mario had slow moving enemies that rarely did anything more than move towards you (aside from the Hammer Bros.) so you had the opportunity to invest some of your time and focus into smashing blocks with your fist and getting mushrooms/lives/secrets from them. And as we all know, just about every enemy in that game (even the armored ones) were stompable, aside from Bowser (horns on head) and Piranha Plants (sharp teeth).

It's all in how your game's designed.

Going back to one of my earlier points that I feel mostly went ignored: if you just extended the graphic and hitboxes of the floating platforms that move and whatnot on Stage 1-1 (and wherever else they appear) so that the player has a greater chance of landing on it instead of falling off, that'd help significantly without making you change anything about the player's controls (would still recommend it, by the way)... but then there's this:

author=XBuster
I have no intention on editing the monster sprites either.

So I'm not holding my breath that even that will change, so instead all I can say is watch Egoraptor's Sequelitis videos on Castlevania and *Mega Man and glean some knowledge from them. They say a lot about "game feel" (something I felt Monster World Legends lacked) and teaching the player about your game through its level design (once again, lacking).
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