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Borundin
01-12-2008, 01:35 PM
Descrition
Mulver is a 3D platform game (Windows). Super Mario 64 is the main source of inspiration and also one of my alltime favourite video games. Im trying to target the casual gamers (more on this below). I have been working on Mulver since May 2006 on and off. I have a full time job so difficult to find time since I also made all the modelling and level design as well as web site etc. Music and sound effects were bought though. I also used alot of open source librares to make the game: Ogre3d, Lua, OIS, ODE...
Blender was used for modelling and as a level editor.

Gameplay
In this version there are 8 levels included. The goal is to reach the exit which in turn will enable the next level. There are also secondary goals for each level and that is to get the badges. There is always one gold badge which you get if you collect all coins and then reach the exit. Some levels also have hidden bonus badges that are a bit difficult to find. For replayability there is also a score for each level that one can improve.

Screenshots


http://www.spelagon.com/mulver/thumbs/Lanes02.png (http://www.spelagon.com/mulver/images/Lanes02.png)http://www.spelagon.com/mulver/thumbs/Bridges01.png (http://www.spelagon.com/mulver/images/Bridges01.png)http://www.spelagon.com/mulver/thumbs/Secret03.png
(http://www.spelagon.com/mulver/images/Secret03.png)
(click images for larger version)

Web
Homepage (http://www.spelagon.com/)
Download page (14.2 Mb) (http://www.spelagon.com/mulver/download.html)

System requirements
Windows operating system.
Not sure yet about hardware but 3D hardware is a must. Direct3D 9.0 or OpenGL is supported. I'd say most computers from 2005 or later should do.


Feedback
Im aware that there are a couple of important things missing that I should adress before releasing it, such as:

changing Settings for sound, music video etc
get proper 3D models instead of my programmer art
add more levels.Any feedback on the game is welcome of course, but there are a couple of things Im particularly intrested to hear about:

Animation
There isnt a single animation yet more than moving and rotating. Is the game totally unacceptable in this state?
Technical
Im intrested to hear about configurations that cannot handle the game, installation problems, bugs etc. Also havent been able to test it on older operating systems such as Windows 98, Windows ME.
Casual enough?
I have tried to make Mulver casual friendly. Still I get the feeling that I failed. I mean its 3D, only keyboard as input, some levels are really difficult. I was thinking that maybe it would be better to change it into a more puzzle oriented game and remove some of the arcade/action elements?
The game engine can probably handle it. It will take time to create new levels though :(
Story
Well there is none. The more I think about it the more I see this as a big problem. A story even a very simple one such as save the princess from Koopa in Super Mario do add to the "feeling". Any thoughts about this? Does it depend on target audience?

buto
01-12-2008, 03:33 PM
I played the first four or five levels of your game. I liked some parts of it, like the smooth moving level-objects and the overall style. At least the graphics wouldn't stop me from buying it (I'm not a casual gamer though).

The main problem of your game in the moment however, and this is at the same time the key feature, is the movement of the character - in my opinion at least. It has absolutely no feeling to it. I think this is due to the fact that the speed of rotation and the speed of movement are always constant. The faster the character moves, the slower it should change direction when pressing left or right. Some sort of acceleration and deceleration could be nice, too.

Another point is the direction in which the shadows are casted. Since the shadow of the main character is not projected from top to bottom it is sometimes very hard during a jump to estimate if you made it to a platform or not.

Your game is quite challenging (this is not bad) but sometimes quite frustrating too. I don't think it's a good idea to let the player die each time he misses a platform!

I think it would be a good idea to concentrate your work on the 'flow' of the game. Replace some of the moving platforms by a normal way for example - it's no fun to wait for them each time some attempt went wrong. Improve the movement of the main character - and probably replace him by something ... uhm ... more interesting.

As I said - I liked parts of your game. I'm sure I would enjoy it a lot more, if you would improve the movement of the character...

Good luck with it!

OremLK
01-12-2008, 03:53 PM
I generally agree with buto's analysis. On the plus side, I do think you had some nice features--I like the level geometry going translucent when it's in the way.

One thing I think you should work on is getting a little more texture in the game. You can have texture and still keep a cartoon style--as it is things look too basic visually.

One thing buto mentioned was "feel". He's absolutely correct and that plus your Mario 64 reference brings to mind a Gamasutra article (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2322/game_feel_the_secret_ingredient.php) that you should definitely look into if you haven't already read it.

About death: I think you should just get rid of the life penalty and make the falling time a little shorter so it's not such a painful wait to get back into the game. Then it would be casual enough.

You mentioned a lack of animations; I would go ahead and make a different main character and yes, definitely animate him. (This all comes back to that "feel" issue). Also, one thing that made Mario 64 so cool was how many different awesome-looking things you could make Mario do with just an analog stick and one or two buttons. With just movement and a simple jump, you kind of lose that excitement. It'd be neat if you mixed things up a little and gave your main character some more abilities in addition to reworking the feel of the movement.

dogdog
01-12-2008, 05:22 PM
Nice game. Couple suggestions that are strictly opinion... I would add a sound effect for landing, as well as a sound effect for running into the guardrails

me_36
01-13-2008, 02:14 AM
Hi Borundin,

For a casual game you have to keep an eye out
for frustration.
Maybe point / coin loss when you are hitting the
edge?

Vertigo effect on movement with the cursor
keys. The scenery should be stationary to avoid
too much directional movements that would/could
annoy users....

I liked the camera movement with the mouse so
you could emphasize that use if you want to view
the scenery from a different angle.

For casual gamers I think it would be wise to
avoid too much balancing on rotational objects.
Again it would frustrate the users too much when
they die.... Avoid death :)

I think this game has a lot of potential. Good luck
with it!

Best regards from

M.E.

Nexic
01-13-2008, 09:34 AM
1. Make the character animate and have some moves other than simple walking and jumps. Sprinting, double jumps etc.

2. Add more sound effects

3. Add a story even if it's just saving a princess etc.

Though even with all this I think it would still need more work. I don't think a pure platform game will really work these days. You need enemies, puzzles etc.

Take a closer look at kid's playstation platformers (Mario, Spiro etc). You need to try and reach that sort of quality, even if you won't have so much content (hard for one guy).

What you've got is good, it just doesn't feel finished yet.

P.S I think your idea of making it more puzzle orientated might be the answer.

Borundin
01-14-2008, 02:46 PM
Thanks for your feedback everyone :)

From your response it seems that the most urgent thing to fix is the main character movement. I did actually read the Gamasutra article (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2322/game_feel_the_secret_ingredient.php) but unfortunately it was published just a few months ago and that was almost a year after I had coded that part of the game. I actually had a "garden" during May/June 2006 where I ran and jumped around. I should probably have stayed there for a little longer...
It is a bit difficult to change movement code now since I risk invalidating already made levels. Problems could arise where suddenly youre able to reach places that you shouldnt or worse not able to reach places to finish level and so on. It is also tricky to get a sensitive input system with only a keyboard. Mario 64 did have analog joystick which means it can detect if you press alot or just a little in a certain direction. Also you get very fine control of direction, not just left, right, forward.
But I shouldnt defend myself. This has to be improved so its my top priority now. Main character animations, more sound effects and particle effects when touching the ground after a jump, when running into something or while just running and more moves (double jump etc) will have focus for the next release.



Another point is the direction in which the shadows are casted. Since the shadow of the main character is not projected from top to bottom it is sometimes very hard during a jump to estimate if you made it to a platform or not.

Yeah, I know. Problem is that if I put the light straight above most shadows will disappear from the regular level geometry. Maybe put it in as an option? I could try to make a second light for just Mulver so he gets the shadow projected from top to bottom but Im not sure if the rendering engine will allow that in an easy way. Have to check that.



About death: I think you should just get rid of the life penalty and make the falling time a little shorter so it's not such a painful wait to get back into the game. Then it would be casual enough.

Well its not like you have to start from level 1 if you loose all three lives, you just have to restart the current level, meaning retaking coins, keys etc. But maybe thats what you meant, still being too harsh on the player? Im probably not thinking like a casual player :)



One thing I think you should work on is getting a little more texture in the game. You can have texture and still keep a cartoon style--as it is things look too basic visually.

Yes, as soon as I get an artist to do it. This is more of a gameplay mechanic test release.



3. Add a story even if it's just saving a princess etc.

Im thinking about adding a "Indiana Jones" background story. Explore strange places, get treasures, avoid enemies, in the end find your missing uncle and save him from the evil swedish chef. Could have Mulver wearing a hat and whip too (or would that infringe copyrights in any way?). He could use the whip to save himself from falling off platforms. Getting coins means more whips to use... ...

Nexic
01-14-2008, 02:58 PM
Giving him a hat and whip wouldn't infringe on anything. Even if it was similar enough to infringe chances are it would count as a parody and would come under fair use.

Henrik
01-20-2008, 07:15 AM
There are several problems with Mulvers movements:

* It's too slow
* The camera is too rigidly locked behind him

And the worst one
* He controls like a crappy toy tank, not as a platform character!

You should not have the left and right arrows translate into rotating the character and camera, instead the four arrows should decide which direction he goes, relative to the camera. Fire up Super Mario 64 and think about what it's doing.

In addition, Mulver has an extremely ugly color, and so have the worlds he run around in. Go to some color scheme generator website (google) and pick a nice set of colors instead of using simple brightness variations of 0x00FF00, 0xFF00FF etc.

Oh, and for a nicer lighting feel, make the ambient light a dark blue and the sun light slightly yellowish. If you are using shaders you can take this further, but this is a quick fix that will make your lighting look better.

Borundin
01-22-2008, 11:59 AM
Here is a new YouTube video showing off an improved Mulver. Includes Indiana Jones "look", animations (idle, walk, jump, land), sound and particle effects. Hopefully these changes will make the game more enjoyable.

Mulver - new animations (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90tUd4Fuu0Q) (video)

Next I will add sound effects for walking/landing as well as effects when bumping into something.

Mikademus
01-22-2008, 02:13 PM
The thing that struck me immediately is that the character floats when jumping as if in a low-gravity environ.

buto
01-23-2008, 08:46 AM
I like the new animations!
They look very smooth and improve the visual appearance a lot.