Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

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matt
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby matt » Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:59 am

I fixed the credits thing today, so that'll be in the next build. :) We just got some really cool new things in "the Final Descent" level. I kind of wish I waited to release the build, but I guess it's good I saved some surprises for the next one.

A few people responded on the survey to the $14.99 question: "Definitely not. You have a lot of work to do in 3 months if you want people to buy it."
I probably shouldn't have put that question on there because I was worried I might not like the answer to it. D'oh!

Asuming it was you and you are comfortable discussing it, what do you think we need to do? Is it that the game needs some polish or that it is too short? Gone Home took me 113 minutes for $20, and it was a really well received game, so I'm of the opinion that short isn't necessarily a bad thing.

We are adding the branches, so it is going to be significantly longer. Our goal is another 3 nightmares, which is probably 45 minutes to an hour of gameplay if our current nightmares are an indication. In addition, you'll have to explore the world to find the branches, which probably would add another half an hour to an hour. So if you say our playtime is two hours now, it could easily get up above 4 assuming you are interested in unlocking all the secrets.

However, I worry that people will just hit one ending, call it done, and then complain the game is still too short and not worth $14.99. I'm especially concerned with the people who responded that we have a lot of work left to do think....

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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JPrice
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby JPrice » Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:32 pm

matt wrote:A few people responded on the survey to the $14.99 question: "Definitely not. You have a lot of work to do in 3 months if you want people to buy it."
I probably shouldn't have put that question on there because I was worried I might not like the answer to it. D'oh!

A few people responded on the survey to the $14.99 question: "Definitely not. You have a lot of work to do in 3 months if you want people to buy it."
I probably shouldn't have put that question on there because I was worried I might not like the answer to it. D'oh!

Asuming it was you and you are comfortable discussing it, what do you think we need to do? Is it that the game needs some polish or that it is too short? Gone Home took me 113 minutes for $20, and it was a really well received game, so I'm of the opinion that short isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Well I can say for sure that I didn't respond like that, though I did choose the one that said something like "It seems a little short for $14.99" so I guess I can chip in.

I read the question as a response to the build currently. So yes at the moment it is a little short, however I'm well aware that you're adding more content so I imagine that it will be a good length when it comes to shipping date. As for pricing, I'm not so sure. I remember some people being a little off put by the price of Gone Home when it originally came out. I mean even myself, I really enjoyed the game but I wasn't sure that the amount it cost on release was wholly justified. I mean I evaluate games mainly on my experience with them so in the end I determined that I got my money's worth but I remember hearing some opinions stating that the game seemed a little pricey. I think it's a debate on both sides that comes down to subjective thinking. Some people will be fine with the price so long as the experience is worthwhile, whilst others want to get their moneys worth. Trying to appease both I can imagine is tricky, as you want to price it enough to make a return on what you've spent into the game but also make it a fair price for the majority of consumers. Honestly I think we should probably have a discussion about it when we get closer to release, so everyone on these forums can give their own opinions on what they feel the game should be priced at with an almost final release build. That way we can all playthrough the game, see how long it turns out to be and then evaluate how we felt the overall experience was & give it an appropriate price point based upon that assessment.

As for what we can do right now, well I guess we can just speculate. For me personally given that the next builds are expected to add about 2-3 more levels into the game, I can say that I probably would get my moneys worth for $14.99 (Which is about £8.00-9.00 for us Brits hahaha).

Basically the gist of what I'm saying is that I feel that it's too early to really answer the question of "How much do you think Neverending Nightmares should cost?" We can probably answer that question better for you closer to release :)
"Always look on the bright side of life"
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matt
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby matt » Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:46 pm

I don't want to change the cost because I would feel like I ripped off backers if I asked for $15 to get the game and then went and charged $10.

Plus these days, a ton of your money is going to be driven by Steam sales. People will buy the game whether it's $2.50 or $3.75, so I think $15 is a much safer price point...

That being said, I want to do everything I can to make sure people get their money's worth. I'm not sure what my options are if what we deliver isn't sufficient, but as you said, I guess that's something we can discuss when we are closer to release...

Anyway, I appreciate your feedback!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby JPrice » Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:59 pm

matt wrote:I don't want to change the cost because I would feel like I ripped off backers if I asked for $15 to get the game and then went and charged $10.

Plus these days, a ton of your money is going to be driven by Steam sales. People will buy the game whether it's $2.50 or $3.75, so I think $15 is a much safer price point...

That being said, I want to do everything I can to make sure people get their money's worth. I'm not sure what my options are if what we deliver isn't sufficient, but as you said, I guess that's something we can discuss when we are closer to release...

Anyway, I appreciate your feedback!

Yeah well that's fair enough I suppose! I can understand keeping it at that price point as the backers paid that much as well, seems only fair really. Also no problem, always happy to give feedback whenever :)
"Always look on the bright side of life"
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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby Mung0 » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:54 pm

I found a reproducible, game-stopping bug.

In "Together at last", after the candle is blown out, go back up the stairs you just came down, left all the way to the end of the corridor, then open the door (all while in the dark). The character gets stuck in an endless loop of putting down the blown-out candle to pick up the lit candle, then putting down the lit candle to pick up the blown-out candle. This happened to me accidentally on my first play-through of 0.5, and I had to quit out and restart from the beginning of the level, because selecting "Continue" had him already stuck in the loop.

Aside from that, the game really seems to be progressing well. I hadn't played since a couple of builds ago, and I'd forgotten where all the jump-scares are, and so I got to enjoy them all over again. The sound and music seem to have improved a lot, and I can't wait to see what the different branches do to the story. Keep up the good work!

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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby RightClickSaveAs » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:53 pm

Wow, these new builds continue to surprise me with how much content is in them! The new level looks amazing, I love the transitions among the different sections. I'm still getting my thoughts together on everything, and I want to play through it all one more time before I post some more detailed impressions, but I'll just say I liked the ending. I think it ties a lot together but still leaves some questions, which can be a good thing.

I answered on the survey "A little short for $14.99", and I was conflicted about choosing that option, but I think that's the most honest feedback I can give to that question. We've had some good discussions on game length on the forums before, and I think the expectations that games have to be a certain length is changing, but I think a lot of people will take note of the length. So as far as that survey question goes, the alpha build as it stands right now, which is how I interpreted the question, is on the short side for $14.99. I fully expect that as more polish is added and the other ending is put in, I'll be ready to answer that question differently.

I actually think the current build is really polished for an alpha, so I don't totally agree that it needs "a lot more work". The last level looks and plays pretty good as it is. More interactivity would help a lot, and I'd imagine that's on the to do list.

Oh and a quick comment on the survey, I bookmarked the survey after my first playthrough, but didn't fill it out until I played the last level a second time, so I hope that doesn't interfere with any metrics you're tracking. I'm not sure how those are gathered or how long they're stored, but if you want to look at the data from the first playthrough, that would be the long session from yesterday.

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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby ranger_lennier » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:25 am

It was great finally playing through a whole game. I did say it was a little short at this point, though it was probably a bit of a polish issue as well. But I feel like it could be ready in three months at the rate you've been moving. It is hard to judge how long a game should be. Part of it is probably that I've been anticipating some branching levels since the Kickstarter, so that's set my expectations. And I have, admittedly, gotten into a habit of buying most games on sale unless it's something I'm really looking forward to.

I felt like the story came together well, though I did also wonder how the daughter actually died. From the dreams it's as though Thomas feels like he murdered her himself, but given the tone of the letter I think, at the very least, he didn't intentionally kill her. I actually interpreted the "womb" as the back of an eye, seeing it as a way to show that Thomas is finally waking up for real.

I think the last level did a great job of mashing everything together in increasingly disturbing ways. My main complaint is that it didn't add any new mechanics or expand upon the mechanics introduced previously. You've just got a few enemy encounters that are identical to ones we've seen previously. Looking at the game as a whole, I felt like it relied on the mansion environment a little too much. We've got one asylum level, the first level that's just a little bit of forest with the rest mansion, and the last level that mixes everything, but is still mainly mansion. In the final level, there were a couple of spots where I was looking forward to seeing a new environment, like a cave or a crypt, but then just ended up back in the mansion.

I think all my other comments will be over pretty small things, but here's what I noticed this playthough.

The grandfather clock chimed 10 times, but the hands aren't set to 10:00. Actually, the setting doesn't make sense at all, since the minute hand seems to be right at the top (as you'd expect), but the hour hand seems to be just a few minutes before midnight. Of course, this could be intentional, being a nightmare and all. Actually, if you want to make it more like dreams, you should have the clock set to a random time every time you see it. For people who try to induce lucid dreams, looking at clocks or watches is actually one of the most common "reality tests". In dreams, if you look at it, look away, then look again, the time will usually be completely different the second time.

I tried to experiment a bit with the baby monsters that break through walls. With the first one, if as soon as you hear it, you run toward it instead of away, you can see the wall it supposedly broke through, but it isn't actually broken. In the final level, you can't run back that far before you're caught, but you can backtrack after entering the stairwell. Again, the wall isn't broken.

I also ran into a difficult to reproduce animation glitch with one of the baby monsters. After falling through the floor, I encountered one where I believe you're supposed to run forward into a cabinet before he can get you. By the time I saw him, it was too late to get to that cabinet, so I tried to run back (left) instead. I didn't make it to the previous cabinet, and when he grabbed me, Thomas glitched through the monster's arms, and ended up superimposed over the monster's shoulder to the right while the blood squirting animation happened.

I thought the changes to the asylum were good. You can tell which cells you can look into easily, and it's more interesting to do it now that there are more messages. I also didn't see any inappropriately colored doorknobs in this build.

I'm not sure if this is worth changing, but I did notice that after you walk on the broken glass in the last level, you leave bloody footprints for as long as you walk in that room, but stop immediately after leaving it. And if you go back, the footprints are gone. Did Thomas leave footprints when he stepped on glass in the asylum? If he did, I didn't notice it.

I hope this is useful. Keep up the good work! I think the beta backers will be pleased when they get a chance to play it.

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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby matt » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:11 am

Thank you all for your feedback. Let me respond to a few comments and questions:
In "Together at last", after the candle is blown out, go back up the stairs you just came down, left all the way to the end of the corridor, then open the door (all while in the dark). The character gets stuck in an endless loop of putting down the blown-out candle to pick up the lit candle, then putting down the lit candle to pick up the blown-out candle. This happened to me accidentally on my first play-through of 0.5, and I had to quit out and restart from the beginning of the level, because selecting "Continue" had him already stuck in the loop.

This is a good find! I actually just fixed it by accident yesterday because we decided to change it so you can't walk up the stairs in pitch black just because it'd be confusing. That should be sorted out in the next build. Thanks for passing it along!

Oh and a quick comment on the survey, I bookmarked the survey after my first playthrough, but didn't fill it out until I played the last level a second time, so I hope that doesn't interfere with any metrics you're tracking. I'm not sure how those are gathered or how long they're stored, but if you want to look at the data from the first playthrough, that would be the long session from yesterday.

That should be fine. Filling out your user ID is actually part of the URL, so it should be in there. In addition, the user tracking is not that important. I just thought it might be useful if someone said something was way too difficult but didn't leave a comment, I could take a look at their records and see how many times they died and where.

Looking at the game as a whole, I felt like it relied on the mansion environment a little too much. We've got one asylum level, the first level that's just a little bit of forest with the rest mansion, and the last level that mixes everything, but is still mainly mansion.

This is definitely true, and the branches will rely on the mansion less. We built out all this other art and barely took advantage of it, so we plan to rectify that. hahah

The grandfather clock chimed 10 times, but the hands aren't set to 10:00. Actually, the setting doesn't make sense at all, since the minute hand seems to be right at the top (as you'd expect), but the hour hand seems to be just a few minutes before midnight.

The short story behind that was that I was going to procedurally animate the hands, but I wasn't sure how I'd make it work out to strike a time right as you walk up to it because you could move towards it and then turn around backwards and run away. I was crippled by indecision, so I never did anything. We have pretty full plates, but maybe I'll revisit that and think of something.

I tried to experiment a bit with the baby monsters that break through walls. With the first one, if as soon as you hear it, you run toward it instead of away, you can see the wall it supposedly broke through, but it isn't actually broken. In the final level, you can't run back that far before you're caught, but you can backtrack after entering the stairwell. Again, the wall isn't broken.

Doing the destroyed art is time consuming, and we didn't think it was worth making the assets when we hoped no one would see them. hahah It probably isn't really worth doing since it's going to be a small percentage who try to check.

I also ran into a difficult to reproduce animation glitch with one of the baby monsters. After falling through the floor, I encountered one where I believe you're supposed to run forward into a cabinet before he can get you. By the time I saw him, it was too late to get to that cabinet, so I tried to run back (left) instead. I didn't make it to the previous cabinet, and when he grabbed me, Thomas glitched through the monster's arms, and ended up superimposed over the monster's shoulder to the right while the blood squirting animation happened.

I've seen this, but it is so hard to reproduce, I haven't been able to sort it out. I think the problem is that Thomas is facing the wrong way, so the animations don't line up. He should be facing towards the monster for the hug. When this happened, was he facing in the same direction of the monster? If so, then it's the bug I'm talking about. Otherwise, there's another bug I have to try to track down.

I'm not sure if this is worth changing, but I did notice that after you walk on the broken glass in the last level, you leave bloody footprints for as long as you walk in that room, but stop immediately after leaving it. And if you go back, the footprints are gone. Did Thomas leave footprints when he stepped on glass in the asylum? If he did, I didn't notice it.

Yeah, he leaves footprints in the asylum. There is a lot of blood on the floor, so it's hard to notice. To save on memory, most things only persist within one world. That's why the footprints stop when you leave a room and aren't in the previous room when you come back. It would be a bit of a pain to change it, so maybe I can chalk it up to being in a nightmare? hahah

Also, on the surveys someone mentioned "I did notice that there is no longer a part where you run away from one tortured girl and another one has popped up behind you, I liked that setup in the previous build."

Actually, I didn't remove it. It's just with the changes to the behavior of the enemies, it's possible you weren't backtracking long enough to trigger them. Everything was all set up with the assumption that you are running from the enemies, but since you don't need to run, they might not always trigger. Did the set up work for everyone else? It's possible there is another bug, but maybe I just have to tweak the placement of the triggers and all that.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby ranger_lennier » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:24 am

From your description, I think that the animation glitch I saw is the same one you've seen.

I hit the part where you run away from one girl and then see another one coming from the opposite direction.

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Re: Alpha 0.5 discussion [Spoilers]

Postby matt » Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:15 pm

I don't know what I'm going to do about that bug but perhaps once I have more time to go bug hunting, I'll be able to sort it out. Or maybe we'll patch it post release. hahaha That is one of the joys about working on open platforms. :)

I'm glad to hear you still got the second girl. I suspect that it was a question of the other one not being triggered, so I'll see if I can maybe adjust that. I guess the only way to completely miss her is if you stay really close to the following one, and then I don't spawn the other one because I don't want to sandwich the player... I guess that could have happened, but I'll play around with it more.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games


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