Author Topic: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !  (Read 16508 times)

Offline Roivas

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2011, 12:32:31 PM »
That's unfair to say. Some people don't like the mechanics of it. That's up to them. I'm not going to argue with them as long as they don't try to convince me that it's inferior to how I see it. That's when I get ticked off.

I'm afraid that good game design would disagree with that opinion. The most frustrating aspect of any game is when the player is given a task, they know what they should be doing, and cannot do it because the controls have them genuinely confused. The Shadow sequence comes out of nowhere and doesn't give any clues as to how it should be done.

I personally think that the Phoenix folk could've thrown us a small text box telling us the general idea instead of us resorting to trial and error. My first instinct was to go for the keyboard. When AGD remade King's Quest 2 they added in a sequence in which you have to race away from Man Shark creatures on a giant seahorse. Before the action sequence began they threw up a text window telling me the controls and I got through it flawlessly.

In Episode 3 I got to the dragon thing and was killed twice before I even got the hint that clicking on the sides to dodge was the idea. Any system in which the player's only recourse is to guess is a poor design decision and will drive away players.

Offline wilco64256

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2011, 12:41:27 PM »
That's unfair to say. Some people don't like the mechanics of it. That's up to them. I'm not going to argue with them as long as they don't try to convince me that it's inferior to how I see it. That's when I get ticked off.

I'm afraid that good game design would disagree with that opinion. The most frustrating aspect of any game is when the player is given a task, they know what they should be doing, and cannot do it because the controls have them genuinely confused. The Shadow sequence comes out of nowhere and doesn't give any clues as to how it should be done.

I personally think that the Phoenix folk could've thrown us a small text box telling us the general idea instead of us resorting to trial and error. My first instinct was to go for the keyboard. When AGD remade King's Quest 2 they added in a sequence in which you have to race away from Man Shark creatures on a giant seahorse. Before the action sequence began they threw up a text window telling me the controls and I got through it flawlessly.

In Episode 3 I got to the dragon thing and was killed twice before I even got the hint that clicking on the sides to dodge was the idea. Any system in which the player's only recourse is to guess is a poor design decision and will drive away players.

When you were playing the sequence did you see the areas of the screen with the flashing "Dodge" icons?  We felt it was pretty self-explanatory with those but then some people's computers weren't generating them properly.
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Offline Roivas

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2011, 12:44:55 PM »
I did see them but for some reason my first instinct was to reach for the arrow keys. I guess Indigo Prophesy and King's Quest 2 were the two major things going through my head at the time. I tested a couple of keyboard inputs before trying the mouse again. It didn't majorly detract from the experience, I was just saying that I can understand why some would be upset to be tossed into such a scenario.

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2011, 01:20:40 PM »
I have to say I disagree. I see what you're saying, but the game is entirely run by using the mouse, so it would seem to me that the natural inclination would be to continue using the mouse unless we said otherwise.

I also still think that the reviewer had, unfortunately, a rough time with the episode and took it out in his review. The bugs were a problem, yes, I will definitely admit that, but we are doing our best to address that for the future and did what we could to address it when those issues came up after release. The hints are there for every puzzle, however--and he even found them. He just didn't interpret them correctly, which I don't find to be a problem with the game design so much as just something that will happen to a player sometimes. It doesn't mean that the puzzle doesn't make sense just because you don't get it right the first time. We tried to make the puzzles follow a certain logic, gave clues to that logic, but there's only so much we can do before it's outright hand-holding that takes away from the very purpose of an adventure game to begin with.

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Offline Roivas

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2011, 01:47:08 PM »
I have to say I disagree. I see what you're saying, but the game is entirely run by using the mouse, so it would seem to me that the natural inclination would be to continue using the mouse unless we said otherwise.

It might seem natural to someone who has been involved in the game production but since you've now gotten feedback from at least two sources that state it isn't exactly the first choice, I would say that at least examining this as a legitimate complaint would be a good idea. Telling a player that they did something wrong with the puzzles is pretty easy to understand. The purpose of a Point and Click game is to have situations in which the answer isn't clear is exactly the point.

But if you plan to include sequences in a game that radically change the way the player interacts with the game giving us no hints as to the interface is a misstep. I knew exactly what I should be doing to avoid dying but the question I had right away was, HOW? and the game wasn't going to give up anything more than trial and error.

If you include another section like that in future episodes, that's fine. Just please keep in mind that a text box explaining the change to the interface is a good minimum to avoid these kinds of complaints.

Here's a good video that talks about tutorials and explains the major reason why we've gotta have something there and it might not seem clear to the people on the project.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/2921-Tutorials-101
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 01:52:03 PM by Roivas »

Offline wilco64256

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2011, 02:03:54 PM »
Don't you think it would have taken all the effort out of that whole sequence though if we had a tutorial that just said "Click on the screen wherever you see a new icon?"  If we told you up front exactly what to do ("If you see dodge, then click where it says that to dodge") there'd be no challenge or learning at all.
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Offline Roivas

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2011, 02:14:25 PM »
Don't you think it would have taken all the effort out of that whole sequence though if we had a tutorial that just said "Click on the screen wherever you see a new icon?"  If we told you up front exactly what to do ("If you see dodge, then click where it says that to dodge") there'd be no challenge or learning at all.

If the challenge of a sequence is figuring out what the interface is in a PC game you may wish to rethink the sequence.

Just having a thing saying Use the Mouse would be enough for most.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 02:26:38 PM by Roivas »

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2011, 02:25:00 PM »
I actually thought the flashing cursors were giving too much away.

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Offline dark-daventry

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2011, 02:36:19 PM »
You know what the funny thing is? The instant we addressed the puzzle difficulty with more difficult puzzles, we got ridiculed for puzzles that were too hard. I have a feeling the same thing is going to happen here; if we include another action sequence and tweak how it works, we'll get ridiculed for weirder controls than before or some such. We can't please everyone, and as much as we try to address these concerns, we still take the heat for listening to the concerns and addressing them.
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Offline wilco64256

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2011, 02:39:27 PM »
If the challenge of a sequence is figuring out what the interface is in a PC game you may wish to rethink the sequence.

Just having a thing saying Use the Mouse would be enough for most.

That's the part of the suggestion that's throwing me off - you've been using the mouse for every other interaction for the entire game, it seems a bit redundant that I would need to throw up a text box saying, "Keep using the mouse."

If we wanted to implement keyboard controls, sure we would have put a popup there to tell people what the keyboard controls were, but since it was still using the mouse I didn't see any need to point that out again.

As snabbott mentioned above, I also actually thought the blinking cursors were almost too much of a giveaway in some of these areas but we felt it would be good to give the player some help.
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Offline glottal

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2011, 08:03:15 PM »
I'm no programmer, but would it be feasible to make the action sequence respond to both mouse and keyboard control?  That is, if I dodged by clicking the mouse, it would work, and if I dodged using by clicking the arrow keys, it would also work?

Personally, I think the action sequence is brilliant, and I think it had the right amount of instruction (I needed the 'dodge' and 'jump' indicators to tell me what the heck to do, but it didn't break the flow of the story like a pop-up instruction box would have).

Offline Roivas

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2011, 08:16:00 PM »
I'm no programmer, but would it be feasible to make the action sequence respond to both mouse and keyboard control?  That is, if I dodged by clicking the mouse, it would work, and if I dodged using by clicking the arrow keys, it would also work?

I suppose I may have been out of lining calling it bad design. Though there are keyboard controls currently set as the default in the game. So it wouldn't be too difficult but I think that section's difficulty comes from clicking on the right space on the screen at the right time. It will kill most people the first time through but after you get used to the shift I guess it worked out okay.

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2011, 09:23:01 PM »
I'm sure it could have been done. It would have taken (at least) a bit of extra programming and a whole lot of extra testing, though.

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Offline bwman

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2011, 09:33:35 PM »
I understood what to do for the most part in the arcade portion. In fact, I was so captivated by the sequence following it that I played that part again when I finished the episode. However, I do need to tell you one of the ghosts didn't appear on my screen the second time, which made dodging it a big challenge once the "dodge" flashing disappeared.

Offline darthkiwi

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #34 on: April 12, 2011, 05:23:18 AM »
Quote
That's the part of the suggestion that's throwing me off - you've been using the mouse for every other interaction for the entire game, it seems a bit redundant that I would need to throw up a text box saying, "Keep using the mouse."

I will just say that, in my experience with games, mouse contol is always used for contemplative, complex actions (such as those found in an adventure game or an RTS), and keyboard control is always used for fast movements and action sequences. There are no platformers played by clicking, and the only action games which use the mouse either use it for freelook and leave the action movement to the keyboard, or use the mouse to draw gestures - which is secondary to the player's movement and is a very specialised action.

Sure, up until this point the player hasn't used the keyboard - but there have been no action sequences up to now. What you're effectively doing is changing the genre, and it's entirely possible that some players will instinctively reach for the contols that they associate with that genre. Other adventure games, such as Gemini Rue or the QFG2 remake, contain action sequences and switch to keyboard controls when they do, so it's natural that people might expect that.

I'm sure that this isn't a huge issue, and it sounds like it hasn't really impacted anyone's enjoyment of the game (unless, like the reviewer, they already disliked it), but just bear in mind that your goal as a designer is to make all players understand the game: if it's challenging then that's fine, but if it's actually obtuse then the design is flawed. The challenge of a really great design for a game or even just for an action sequence is to make it both accessible and challenging.

Having said that, I'm not sure how this sequence could be changed, but I just think you guys should bear this in mind for the future. I'm not trying to put you guys down, it's just that I'm aware that after TSL is done you'll start work on (what I presume is) a commercial project, and I really don't want you to do less well than you deserve because of imperfect design choices.
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Offline Enchantermon

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2011, 05:42:06 AM »
I would like to throw in my two cents and say that I instinctively used the mouse because I had been using it the entire game and had not been told by the game to do otherwise. This is very much a YMMV scenario.

By the way, this also applies to the SQI remake and KQII:RTS arcade sequences; I used the mouse by default.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2011, 05:44:23 AM by Enchantermon »
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Offline Roivas

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Re: TSL Episode 3 - A very unfair Review IMHO !
« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2011, 12:28:27 PM »
Quote
That's the part of the suggestion that's throwing me off - you've been using the mouse for every other interaction for the entire game, it seems a bit redundant that I would need to throw up a text box saying, "Keep using the mouse."

I will just say that, in my experience with games, mouse contol is always used for contemplative, complex actions (such as those found in an adventure game or an RTS), and keyboard control is always used for fast movements and action sequences. There are no platformers played by clicking, and the only action games which use the mouse either use it for freelook and leave the action movement to the keyboard, or use the mouse to draw gestures - which is secondary to the player's movement and is a very specialised action.

Sure, up until this point the player hasn't used the keyboard - but there have been no action sequences up to now. What you're effectively doing is changing the genre, and it's entirely possible that some players will instinctively reach for the contols that they associate with that genre. Other adventure games, such as Gemini Rue or the QFG2 remake, contain action sequences and switch to keyboard controls when they do, so it's natural that people might expect that.

I'm sure that this isn't a huge issue, and it sounds like it hasn't really impacted anyone's enjoyment of the game (unless, like the reviewer, they already disliked it), but just bear in mind that your goal as a designer is to make all players understand the game: if it's challenging then that's fine, but if it's actually obtuse then the design is flawed. The challenge of a really great design for a game or even just for an action sequence is to make it both accessible and challenging.

Having said that, I'm not sure how this sequence could be changed, but I just think you guys should bear this in mind for the future. I'm not trying to put you guys down, it's just that I'm aware that after TSL is done you'll start work on (what I presume is) a commercial project, and I really don't want you to do less well than you deserve because of imperfect design choices.

I will completely agree with this and his point is put much better than I had. I think a tiny icon would've helped such as this one.



ME2 was far too easy to beat, but it did make clear what input needed to be used to make actions happen on the screen. Just something like that might help for later action sequences too. While they might seem redundant, they are simply a reinforcement of the mechanics that those who already know and can be ignored by the player in the know and then include the people who are outside that knowledge. It quickly includes people with almost no extra programming and a very simple graphic that doesn't intrude for too long.

I too thought that episode 3 was a great fun slice of the larger story. It had plenty of foreshadowing, a couple of good puzzles that took some digging to discover the solutions and everything was well hinted at to the point of it being fairly easy to solve with a little bit of clear minded thinking. There are areas to be improved to be sure, but I still enjoyed it.