PDA

View Full Version : Feedback Request: Loco Mogul



ApeZone
09-28-2007, 10:53 AM
Hi,

I've got a beta version of my demo available for feedback. It's my first game to use the Torque Game Builder. I'd like to know if it runs on your machine (specs), especially if you're a Windows Vista user. I'd also like general feedback on gameplay and interface. I'm wondering if Its too vague in terms of goals.

The game is called Loco Mogul and its my first attempt at a more casual game style. The game is about building railroads and then running your train to try and meet the demands of your customers and getting rich doing it. ;)

Requirements: PC, Win98..Vista, OpenGl, 256 MB memory, 750 Mhz cpu

Screenshot: http://apezone.com/graphics/train/shot.jpg

thanks,
Andrew Ewanchyna
http://apezone.com

papillon
09-28-2007, 11:59 AM
I like the overall look, but the font on the "menu" and "shipping rates" buttons isn't as readable as the other text is. The way your gradient is darkening the letters in the middle makes them unclear.

Shoe
09-28-2007, 03:40 PM
Looks like a really clean and smooth game! Good job!:)

GolfHacker
09-28-2007, 04:07 PM
I LOVE TRAINS!!!

The game looks cool! I would love to try it out when/if you port it to Linux.

I like the screenshot and graphics. I agree with the previous comment about the font gradient making it unreadable (though I like the font itself). I think if you make it all yellow, like the rest of the text, it will be fine. The game kinda looks like a model railroad. I was actually thinking of this theme for a game of my own, but you beat me to it! Nice job!

ApeZone
09-28-2007, 04:58 PM
I'll look into smoothing out the gradient text. I tried to add several layers to the effect but probably not worth the clarity of readability. KISS, I guess.

I went to the Torque Game Builder (TGB) to allow Mac ports, not Linux. Sorry. I would love to develop on Linux, though. Kinda tired of the endless Windows upgrades. The other reason I went for TGB iso C++, like my other games, is my compiler doesn't run on Vista. This kind of put me over the edge. ;)

Hmm, gotta change that signature.

DayDream
09-29-2007, 02:34 PM
Good work... it's a really nice game and the sort I enjoy playing... but...

The mixed art style and the GUI could use a cleanup. If you are aiming for a release on the casual portals it might be necessary to improve it by a notch or two.

The title screen looks confusing with the main menu getting a very kid like style with toy trains. I don't think the font is the best choice available as far as readablity goes. I am also not a big fan of the tiled background - just looks unprofessional...

I did play around with it yesterday and came up with something a little cleaner to give you an idea:

http://www.spriteattack.com/mocks/LocoMogul_1a.jpg

The same goes for the game screen... it's got stuff all over the place. You might try and arrange them in a way that's a) focusing on importance of the elements - menu and shipping rates in the top standing out like that gives them huge visual value - yet I played and rarely clicked either one - and b) is more along the lines of what the casual gamers are used to as far as game ergonomics go.

With the iso style game area you created a 4 huge triangles around it to hold the GUI elements but lined the elements up in a way that does not break the empty space up or ties it into a nice "railroad feel".

It's a good game and you should consider a little polish before you release it - it could be well worth the time. Good luck with the game!

Shoe
09-29-2007, 03:47 PM
Okay I just played it let me tell you it is a great game! Very very clever gameplay that is well just plain addicting. Id buy it if I wasnt short on cash right now. The only problems are:
1. The title screen (I agree with everyone else)
2. No music (Put in some music as it can get really tiring without music)
3. No SFX (At least I dont remember any...)

By the way DayDream that looks fantastic!

DayDream
09-29-2007, 11:37 PM
Thanks, Shoe... I will try to mock up an ingame screen tomorrow...

I encountered a nasty crash - with the mouse being stuck on the main monitor and the program becoming unresponsive - I could close the applications on monitor two and move the mouse back over the game but without any change in pointer art or response.
I couldn't even bring up the Task Manager to close the game... and any attempt to replicate it failed...

ApeZone
09-30-2007, 09:45 AM
Wow, nice intro screen DayDream. I was waiting for people to comment on my programmer's art. ;)

Funny thing is, I was *just* discussing with the wife about getting an artist to give the game an art polish. I can't disagree with any of your comments.

Would love to see what you can do with the game screen.

Let me know if this task would interest you at all and what kind of money is involved. You can contact me at ape@apezone.com, if you'd like.

As for the crash, I've never experienced one like that as I don't have a multiple-monitor system. Not sure what to say about that.

Shoe,
The soundtrack was reduced to only 2 songs to cut down on download size. The fullgame has a 20 minute sound track of about 11 songs. As for SFX, they're there! Is it possible you can't hear them due to some technical difficulties? Do you hear any sound effects?

bard
09-30-2007, 03:35 PM
Wow. Really, really nice game. A familiar, Oasis-esque concept but unique enough to be interesting. I like it!

As everyone's mentioned, some polish in the artwork department would be great before a final release. The music actually felt a bit distracting for me simply because I wanted to sing along to the songs rather than play.

One minor thing to toss into the "consider" bin: what about a click queue? Say, for example, you can click on station 5, then click on station 3 to have the train stop there next. Or click on station 5 twice to stop there and then pick up the goods. It might improve the flow a bit.

Mikademus
10-01-2007, 12:46 AM
Hi!

The first thing that struck me when trying the game was "Oasis rip-off", but the train running segment was original. In all, though, a generally entertaining game but with some flaws that should be addressed.

Thus, I've some very specific comments on your game:

1) First, the instructions screens:
* You've misspelled "2 or 2", I guess it should be "of".
* The "next" arrow and "close" button are positioned somewhat counter-intuitively. Replace the page number with "page 1" and "page 2" arrows/buttons at the left and right bottom and a "back to meny" button in the middle.

2) Music
* Your music system is flaky. It works sporadically, but most of the time it is quiet, both in the start menu and in-game.
* The MIDI-ish take on 19th century folk Western has an artificial plastic and annoying feel. In fact, I was quite happy that your music system stop playing almost immediately. Find some real-instrument recordings or resample your existing music files on a different synthesiser.

3) Graphics
* The character design is not aligned with that of the rest of the game. In fact, they look like MS Office clip arts when the rest of the game (the tiles) has a nice and slick design. You could replace with cuts from oil drawings for historical periodicity, or Adobe Illustrator monopoly-like graphics for a clean stylish look.
* The wood background is uninteresting and overstretched. It is also rough and poor for a mogul's desk.

4) Game play
* Most importantly, there's all too little (no?) feedback on your performance. Did I do well or poorly?
* Almost as critical, it is very confusing and uncertain during play what goods can be delivered where. I was continuously frustrated by this and eventually simply randomised my destinations, hoping that the particular station would unload what I was carrying. This might be described in the instruction screens but that is no excuse: all fundamental, not to say critical!, game play aspects MUST be immediately accessible when playing!
* Being environmentally conscious, as are most Swedish and increasing numbers of people everywhere, I was also put-off by the hard and exploitative view of forests in the game. Encouraging people to view trees as simply resources to chop down and use up is not cool.

dma
10-01-2007, 04:45 AM
Being environmentally conscious, as are most Swedish and increasing numbers of people everywhere, I was also put-off by the hard and exploitative view of forests in the game. Encouraging people to view trees as simply resources to chop down and use up is not cool.

But isn't that what forests are for? I mean, Warcraft, Age of Empires, and tons of other strategy games taught me that years ago!

ApeZone
10-01-2007, 06:22 AM
Bard:
Thanks for the comments. I think a click queue, while possible, might be a bit of overkill. What do others think?

Mikademus:

"Oasis rip-off"

you caught me, I'll hand in my mouse now. Seriously, I appreciate the spirit of your comments.

Good catch on the help screens. The modern day equivalent of programmer-created documentation. ;)

The demo only plays 2 out of 11 songs. I figured playing 2 songs in an endless loop might get a bit annoying so I leave it mostly silence. What would you (or others) recommend?

I agree that the wood textures is crap. It should be replaced in a reskinning by a competent artist.

Now to the meat of your comments:

"* Most importantly, there's all too little (no?) feedback on your performance. Did I do well or poorly?"

This is interesting and a point I overlooked. Are you talking about such feedback as showing you: % coins found, % resources located after the build phase and some kind of scorecard after the sim phase? Or a post game scorecard?

"* Almost as critical, it is very confusing and uncertain during play what goods can be delivered where. I was continuously frustrated by this and eventually simply randomised my destinations, hoping that the particular station would unload what I was carrying. This might be described in the instruction screens but that is no excuse: all fundamental, not to say critical!, game play aspects MUST be immediately accessible when playing!"

Are you saying that I should make it clearer to deduce that the numbers by the rail cars refer to the station numbers they should be delivered to?

"* Being environmentally conscious, as are most Swedish and increasing numbers of people everywhere, I was also put-off by the hard and exploitative view of forests in the game. Encouraging people to view trees as simply resources to chop down and use up is not cool."

I believe this is what they did in the 1800s, the time period of the game. Anyways, I'm from Canada, cutting down trees represents an important export for us.

Mikademus
10-01-2007, 07:52 AM
"* Most importantly, there's all too little (no?) feedback on your performance. Did I do well or poorly?"

This is interesting and a point I overlooked. Are you talking about such feedback as showing you: % coins found, % resources located after the build phase and some kind of scorecard after the sim phase? Or a post game scorecard?
Well, you are obviously inspired by Railroad Tycoon (one of my favourite game series!) and you could borrow their gold-silver-bronze concept (based on net worth, carts delivered etc at period's end). You could also have an on-screen meter showing current quality of service with markings for, well, gold, silver and bronze (or whatever grades you use). Anyway, an end-of-level screen with some qualitative and/or quantitative feedback would provide incitements to keep going and sense of accomplishment.


"* Almost as critical, it is very confusing and uncertain during play what goods can be delivered where. I was continuously frustrated by this and eventually simply randomised my destinations, hoping that the particular station would unload what I was carrying. This might be described in the instruction screens but that is no excuse: all fundamental, not to say critical!, game play aspects MUST be immediately accessible when playing!"

Are you saying that I should make it clearer to deduce that the numbers by the rail cars refer to the station numbers they should be delivered to?
Oh, is that how they work? Yeah, at least I missed that. I thought that was the worth (by number of cars) or something. You could name the stations and label the couches by destination name instead. Or do the Railroad Tycoon thing and let any passenger or mail couch unload at any station connecting to a town but let worth be decided by distance travelled.


"* Being environmentally conscious, as are most Swedish and increasing numbers of people everywhere, I was also put-off by the hard and exploitative view of forests in the game. Encouraging people to view trees as simply resources to chop down and use up is not cool."

I believe this is what they did in the 1800s, the time period of the game. Anyways, I'm from Canada, cutting down trees represents an important export for us.
True in a way, it is important for Sweden too, but we are responsible about it (not saying the Canadians aren't) and and the game approach still bothers me. There could be a negative consequence to deforestation, like fields getting destroyed (simulate soil erosion) or something, and the tutorial guy could say something like "Those pesky trees are in our way, let's make bridges out of them! Trees are useless, and our children will thank us for removing them!" or something, so add humour to it and remind the kids to don't do it at home (at reality). You might even add some Karma from it ;)

ApeZone
10-01-2007, 11:07 AM
Okay, I think I understand now what you mean about end-of-level feedback. One thing that probably isn't conveyed very well in the demo and should be is that your investors (you have 5 of them) give you a new, more powerful train engine after every 1000 points. I can see the advantages of having some sort of motivator each level. I'll also think about how I can tie it in to the eventual end-game of trying to use the money you've made to buy out the 5 investors.

I appreciate your insite in how you saw the rail car numbers. It would have never occured to me. I'll look into it some more. I admit to being a bit patronizing in my answer to that one. My apologies. Shame on me. :(

Hey, I'll have you know that I hugged my trees today, honestly. I had to hold onto something while cutting down the lower branches. ;) Canadians aren't taught to cut down trees. Most cities and towns have laws against that. I seem to recall that the text was a little jarring. I'll see about softening it a bit. It may have had something to do with brevity, though.

Mikademus
10-01-2007, 12:05 PM
I appreciate your insite in how you saw the rail car numbers. It would have never occured to me. I'll look into it some more. I admit to being a bit patronizing in my answer to that one. My apologies. Shame on me. :(
Np, teh intarweb has a tendency to lure out the worst in most of us, I too am guilty as charged too often for my own conscience. :-/ Also, there's a second reason I think you should do away with the numbers: numbers are too cold and statistical, and people (especially the teeming, mindless, drooling unibrow mouth-breathing masses of casual gamers (did I mention that the internet elicits arrogance and stereotyping?)) don't like numbers. If you use proper-ish names instead the game will seem more alive, real and inviting.


Hey, I'll have you know that I hugged my trees today, honestly. I had to hold onto something while cutting down the lower branches. ;) Canadians aren't taught to cut down trees. Most cities and towns have laws against that. I seem to recall that the text was a little jarring. I'll see about softening it a bit. It may have had something to do with brevity, though.
You could make that instructor/investor tutorial guy a parody of the cold cynical magnate and have him say stuff like "Just chop those trees down, the Indians don't need them any more since we chased 'em all off" and other obviously mad non-PC stuff :eek:

ApeZone
10-02-2007, 05:39 AM
I'm playing around with using station names instead of numbers. It certainly adds to the warmth of the game. Just not sure if the extra clutter will work. There's the possibility of using letters instead of numbers and having an index to the side, something like "A) Springfield, B) Coaltown, ...". Will have to keep experimenting.

As for the deforestation messages. I've toned them down. Instead of saying something like: "Click on the flashing square TWICE to cut down 2 forests.", I say "Click on the flashing square TWICE to clear 2 paths through the forests.".

HDL
10-22-2007, 06:05 AM
Oh I know this is really late but I thought I'd already left feedback here. I downloaded LocoMogul and thought it was a neat little game. It actually inspired me to go out and get Oasis and see what that was like but I think I prefer LocoMogul. Without the barbarians it's a lot less stressful and the choo-choo noises of the trains are fun.

Numbers for the railway stations works far better for me than names would. If you want to change things then perhaps use lettered stations instead of numbers but don't overcomplicate things with full names. We're not going to see the stations for long enough to get attached to them and it'll be slower and more confusing to have to look for a full name as opposed to a letter or number. If they were Station A, Station B, etc then at least people wouldn't then get confused about what the numbers meant. (Though I personally didn't).

I'd no problems with cutting down trees either. It's just a game after all and you expect to do things like knocking down trees without any sort of environmental consequence (unless it is one of those games that teach a message which it isn't.)

I would have liked to have known the difference in the various resources though as opposed to just trying to cover everything. If there was some sort of strategy, that some would offer me more money than others but were further away so I'd need to work out if I should hook up lots of small resources or if I should instead build paths to the further away ones. As things were it didn't seem as if there was much strategy beyond find all the resources and connect them up which was easy enough to do with all the moves allowed.

With Oasis there was more of a strategy. You had to work out if it was worth using your workers to connect up the far away cities or if you should keep them. Should you put your people into the mines to develop technology or should you cross your fingers and put the people into a city instead and hope that their sheer numbers would be enough to defeat the enemy. Should you spend your turns exploring everywhere you can or should you search your cities hoping to find valuable artifacts to defeat the enemy with.

As simple as Oasis was your game is even simpler and I can see how it would get very repetitive pretty quickly. As things stand I wouldn't pay money for it, for all that I think it's a neat little game, it needs something more to it. Some meat to get my teeth into.

Admittedly there is some potential for strategy when delivering the carriages, but with all of the carriages being worth the same amount it doesn't feel as if there's anything more than just grabbing the nearest ones. I'd like for there to be something more to it than just that.

ApeZone
10-22-2007, 06:22 PM
The latest version of the game is using 3 character abbreviations iso numbers. There're also displayed in a different color than the station "names". Looks better. I'll post a screenshot after I have the graphics reworked.

As you play the game, you learn about what the different resources (and carriages) are worth. When you run the trains you can see what you'll get for each type of resource by calling up the Shipping Rates popup.

Early levels are meant to be easy, so you'll tend to have lots of time to build your railroad. Later levels become more challenging and require you to think a little more, such as fogetting about a resource in favor of a better rail network.

Unlike what people are saying, this isn't meant to be like Oasis. It should take about the same deep thought as when playing Solitaire (e.g., not too much).