Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

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ranger_lennier
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by ranger_lennier » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:10 pm

matt wrote:Sorry Ranger! I missed your comment earlier. We have not tried multiple enemy types in one room. Ordinarily, we space out the enemies significantly, so we don't run into bugs where two enemies try to kill you at once, so basically every enemy is in its own set up from the rest. It's an interesting idea, and I'll give it some thought, but we are kind of running out of time and want to get new stuff in, so I don't know how much time we'll be able to devote to descent... :-/
For me, Final Descent seemed very easy for a final level. You just see every enemy once, and the player gets past them by doing something identical to what they've done in previous levels. I would say it is the easiest of all the levels that include enemy encounters.

Here's something I just thought of for a combined enemy encounter. (I'm sure there are many other possibilities.) Thomas is going down a long hallway and has to quietly sneak past an asylum inmate. Then a baby monster starts chasing him, and he has no choice but to run back toward the inmate. If Thomas runs too close to the inmate, he'll be heard and attacked. If he stops running too soon, the baby monster will catch up to him. But if Thomas chooses the correct point to start walking instead of running, the baby monster will run into the inmate's hearing range, and the inmate will jump on the baby monster instead, giving Thomas an opportunity to get away.

ElTipejoLoco
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by ElTipejoLoco » Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:16 pm

matt wrote:ElTipejoLoco - Thanks for the info! If you don't mind me asking, is this the first build you've played? We had some code that locked it from previous save versions, but it seems like we didn't get to the root of the bug.
Yeah, this is the first build I've played. I went ahead and edited in the screenshots into my previous post now that you gave permission. I still have no idea where you got anything about a black screen from me, though! At no time was my screen completely black other than when, well, killed.

I couldn't pick or even highlight any of the other levels on the select screen, so I didn't know their names until you mentioned them.

I rather liked the level, actually, even in its rough state. I only really died twice, and both times it was on a room where the level's unique hazard spawns rather early at the start of a long hallway, and Thomas's short stamina made me stop my dashing earlier than the rooms probably intended out of fear that he would stop to catch his breath. It also led to my discovery that the door opening animation does not make Thomas invulnerable to the hazards, which surprised me because old survival horror games conditioned me to thinking that starting a door animation equals safety.
ranger_lennier wrote:No, I never got a black screen. I played up to a point where I went through a door and was quickly killed by the enemy. I guess this is unavoidable, but I haven't actually tried it again.
Yeah, I never got a black screen either. Also, regarding the screen right before the unresponsive one: The door locks behind you. This happens at the end of Together At Last as well.

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matt
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by matt » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:52 am

ElTipejoLoco -
Oops! I misunderstood what you were saying, and the screenshot is a little spoilery, so I edited it back out again. Sorry for the confusion.

ElTipejoLoco and Ranger Lennier -
It seems that the level was "working", it is just an early prototype, so all the elements aren't in place.

The art is super rough, very copy and paste, which makes the labyrinthine aspect more confusing than I intended. Since we don't have a map system, we have to be very careful to design a level that doesn't allow too much backtracking since I'm sure people will get lost although we are trying to make it a little easier to know where you are with the art.

For the enemy, I wanted to create the feeling of being relentlessly pursued. Unfortunately, since Thomas has terrible asthma and sprints very slowly, it is difficult to pull off, which is why the encounters are basically gated with doors. I wanted to do something where he could smash through a door or something, but I don't think we'll have time. :-/ I am open to suggestions, but at this point, I think we can only do low hanging fruit.


My goal with Final Descent wasn't to make it hard (pretty much nothing in the game is hard) but instead make it creepy and disturbing. In my mind, the game is more about exploration than challenge, so I'm okay with it not being very hard. I'll definitely give some thought to something interesting I could do with multiple enemies, but with no help prompts, the game has a range of difficulties. Some people mentioned that they have trouble with the first baby monster because they don't know about sprint. I'm not sure what the solution for that is exactly... Someone else mentioned in the survey (which is a bummer because I can't respond to it) that they were wondering whether we'd add saving or if the game was meant to be played in one sitting. We have a pretty generous auto save and have for a while, so I guess we need to change the wording somewhere.

Anyway, I guess I'm rambling, but your combined set up seems kind of challenging, and I want to make it so anyone can beat the game without getting stuck, so I can't do something too difficult. I'll give it some thought and perhaps I can do something optional where the second enemy doesn't show up if you die a few times. Maybe that's a good solution to make everyone happy.

Anyway, thank you all for your feedback!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

ElTipejoLoco
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by ElTipejoLoco » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:38 pm

matt wrote:ElTipejoLoco -
In my mind, the game is more about exploration than challenge, so I'm okay with it not being very hard.
Hmm, in that case, I'd agree that Destroyed Dreams would be considered pretty unpolished exploration-wise in comparison to the other levels, though I think that might be a sort of necessity if the unique hazard is kept in that level as is. It's kind of hard to want to explore when you feel you're chased, though it did make that level feel a lot more tense and exciting in comparison to every other hazard in the game.

What if you integrate that hazard into the game's decorations? I think it could work pretty well, considering:
For example, put some of the 'baby avoidance cabinets' in the level, but subvert the player's expectations by having them house the hazard in at least one of the hallways. Or have a room where the hazard and Thomas switch places or appearances to confuse the player momentarily. There's some other art assets you might be able to reuse that look like they'd be pretty great for hiding the hazard in (the water therapy chamber from the asylum, the curtained hospital beds, body bags and/or corpse piles, bath tubs with shower curtains, etc.), which might feel rewarding to discover even if the hazard kills and sends you back to the nearest bedroom.


Also, regarding not noticing the save/checkpoint feature, it's possible that the player missed them because they might've only died in the one level where most of the early bedrooms you wake up in don't have any variation: Insanity. 'course, to not notice some of your progress had been saved you'd have to just quit before you leave the room, so maybe my guess is wrong.

Zigg
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Zigg » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:48 pm

Hey everyone,

I'm now 1h into the beta, and just paused after drinking my glass of milk ;)

Here are a few comments that I wrote on the fly. I hope some of them can help polishing an already fascinating game :

1/ Animated sprites just flip when they change direction - there is no intermediate movement (e.g. seeing them front or back). It does not feel especially wrong on the main character nor the zombies; however it really feels artificial on the "Big baby" enemies.

To me, it feels like "Oh, wait, half a second later it was facing left, now he's facing right in a blink of an eye -- I remember now, it's just a sprite..." => breaks the spell a little, know what I mean ? :|


2/ Since the asylum stairwells are obviously made of metal, it surprised me that the character does not make more noise when he's using them.


3/ I remember a "big baby" chase sequence where the main character can escape the hallway (and thus the enemy) through a stairwell. Since stairwell openings do not have doors, there is no "door opening" animations when using them for escaping enemies. At this moment, the game feels as if the escape takes place instantly - the change of room magically nulling the threat. It almost felt like cheating to me.

I feel we can really surprise the player by keeping things as is, and by adding a little extra => after escaping "big baby" through a stairwell opening, if the player stays still in front of the doorstep for 2 seconds, big baby's arms appear and drag him back to his choking death !!!


4/ I remember another sequence in the manor where the player is advancing while lights turn off behind him, and darkness keeps growing as he walks the corridor. I first panicked a little when I tried to go left and got eaten by the darkness.

At my 2nd try, I quickly realized that darkness "waits" for the player to walk in order to progress. I don't know if it was intentional, but to me, this felt "scripted" and was a kind of a let down.

Why not letting it advance continuously, and let the player "run wisely" to escape it ?


5/ I think that the asylum level has much potential that has not been unleashed yet. My first reaction was "Oh God, here comes the mandatory hospital level that keeps coming back in all horror titles...". I'm not a big fan of these environments, and I walked much less cautiously than in the manor, just to get it over with. However...

...however...

However there were the doors. All these cell doors and what is (could be ?) (might have been ?) just behind them when I peeked inside. To be honest, I looked in the first 3 cells through their peepholes, and then a thought crossed my mind : what if the inhabitant of the next one was waiting for me to peek, just behind the door ? I then became irrationnaly terrified by these peepholes, and almost ceased to use them for the whole level in fear something was waiting just behind to get at my eyes while I looked.

In my opinion, you could use that to your advantage :

- By implementing a couple of random stuff that actually jump at the character from behind the door (heh, maybe you've already done that but I was way too much scared to check it out ^^)

- By making more weird stuff randomly come out of the doors to the hallways : clouds of flies, puddles of oil or blood, mutilated limbs....

- By forcing the player to peek inside in order to unlock a part of the level (e.g. by letting him understand that the key of the exit room is inside one of the cells, or by letting him know of a hidden passage that can be unveiled by reading the blood messages left by the inmates).

=> IMHO, the asylum would become a true nightmare if the rooms were brought to their true potential

Arkham
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Arkham » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:47 pm

My first play was on the beta, and I totally agree with Zigg about having stuff in the cells. They just felt empty, and I kept expecting to see horrific scenes inside or to see whatever creature was making that sound. For example the cells could be telling a story as you go by them: one cell could have a murdered inmate with some clumps of fur around him, the next a piece of a creature (a tail or something) as if that inmate put up a fight, then when you go to the next cell you see the beast feeding on an inmate and suddenly it turns around and pounces towards the door! The cells in each block could tell a different horror story.

I thought the best scene in the asylum was when the hand reached out of the cell. I would love to see more unique animations, even if they are small. Thanks, Matt!

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matt
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by matt » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:52 pm

ElTipejoLoco - I slightly edited your post to put more in the spoiler section. I started a new board for Destroyed Dreams discussion where I respond to your post.

I think the save issue was perhaps because we don't mention saving ever in the game. I changed the pause menu to say "save and quit" for the next build, which will hopefully communicate that your progress is saved. It doesn't actually do anything different though. hahaha
To me, it feels like "Oh, wait, half a second later it was facing left, now he's facing right in a blink of an eye -- I remember now, it's just a sprite..." => breaks the spell a little, know what I mean ? :|
I agree, and I was hoping at some point to have a turn animation for the baby monsters at some point, but it is a tough animation to do, and we just don't have the time. I looked at Dragon's Crown which was well received for the quality of the art, and they basically have 1 frame turn animations (basically just one picture facing forward), so I don't feel QUITE as bad that we are missing them.

Technically, they aren't animated sprites. They are actually 2D polygon meshes with vertex animation. That gives us several advantages in terms of quality of animation to a game like Dragon's Crown - ie. we blend animations between different poses, and we can interpolate them to get 60 fps - even if we play an animation in slow motion like the run animation when you move slower. That doesn't make your concern any less valid, but I'm kind of anal about technology, so I felt the need to mention it. :)
Since the asylum stairwells are obviously made of metal, it surprised me that the character does not make more noise when he's using them.
I think Eduardo redid the sound effects for those, so they should be louder. If not, he'll get to it when he does his final mix down.
I feel we can really surprise the player by keeping things as is, and by adding a little extra => after escaping "big baby" through a stairwell opening, if the player stays still in front of the doorstep for 2 seconds, big baby's arms appear and drag him back to his choking death !!!
This is a great idea, but I fear we won't have time to implement it...
Why not letting it advance continuously, and let the player "run wisely" to escape it ?
The idea of that hallway is that even if you take your time, there is an advancing noise of a monster dragging chains that ends up passing above you. If we force you to run forward, I think it decreases the tension for the advancing noise. It's possible that the advancing noise didn't sound very loud or positioned correctly if you weren't using headphones. The positional audio is not very good without headphones unfortunately. That being said, advancing darkness may be used elsewhere in the game!
what if the inhabitant of the next one was waiting for me to peek, just behind the door ?
No comment! :)

Anyway, thanks for playing the game and providing your thoughts! I appreciate it!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Div.a.re
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by Div.a.re » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:53 pm

matt wrote:Firstly, the beta build is finally live and working for backers! So sorry it took us a week to get that set up. So if you have beta access, feel free to start playing the game! :-D
All good, thanks so much for this!

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matt
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by matt » Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:44 pm

My pleasure! I'm so sorry it took so long to get the build working!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

prof_yaffle
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Re: Beta 0.6 discussion [SPOILERS]

Post by prof_yaffle » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:17 am

Matt - are there any more details I can send that will help pin down the problem? I tried running the game with strace but nothing jumped as being a possible culprit.

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