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View Full Version : Feedback Request: To The World Tree V5 (Beta) - Single-player RPG



gdunbar
02-14-2008, 02:00 PM
Hi all,

To The World Tree is a game I put together for the IGF competition based on the engine I've been working on for the past year. It didn't do well in the IGF (not a finalist or anything), but I've been having fun working on it, so I've made another update. This version rips out the old Windows-looking user-interface and replaces it with a slick new Direct3D integrated user-interface.

I really want feedback! People are downloading the game, but I've hardly heard anything. Please, even just a short mail on how much you played and whether you liked it would be appreciated.

Screenshots:

http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt3_small.jpg (http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt3.jpg) http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt5_small.jpg (http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt5.jpg) http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt6_small.jpg (http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt6.jpg) http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt7_small.jpg (http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/images/screens_2008_02/ttwt7.jpg)

Download:

Read the readme.txt (http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/version5/readme.txt) file.
Download InstallTTWT_2008_02_13.exe (http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/version5/InstallTTWT_2008_02_13.exe) from here.
Note: This download scanned with Norton Internet Security.
Run the executable to install To The World Tree.
After you've played, fill out the feedback.txt (http://www.prankster.com/ttwt/version5/feedback.txt) file and email to ttwt@prankster.com.


Website:

http://www.prankster.com/ttwt

PR Blurb

In To the World Tree you control first a lone adventurer, and later a party of adventurers, as they journey through a mystical world of magic, battle, and mystery, in a quest for the legendary World Tree. To the World Tree is a single-player, party-based, computer role-playing game designed for computers running Microsoft Windows. Best of all, To The World Tree is free for your personal enjoyment.

More Info

TTWT uses a custom RPG system, described in the manual (the manual is online at the TTWT site, as well as included with the game). The graphics are done using a custom engine, basically using D3DX as the engine. The writing, art, and level design are all done by me.

I'm interested both in bug reports and feedback on TTWT, and thoughts on the longer term viability of making a commercial/shareware game with this engine. Candid thoughts such as "You really should hire an artist" or "Don't quit the day job" are certainly welcome in addition to the traditional "Nice work". Feel free to post feedback here or at the forums on the website http://www.prankster.com/ttwt, or even just email right to me at ttwt@prankster.com.

Thanks,
Geoff

OremLK
02-14-2008, 03:09 PM
I played it for about ten or fifteen minutes. Everything ran fine in terms of performance.

Definitely do the "hire an artist" thing--not just for the game graphics, but for the GUI as well. I can't imagine paying money for it looking like this--no offense. It's not just the art quality, either--the characters are extremely tiny, and everything looks quite low-resolution, like a shareware DOS game from the early 90s.

Aside from looks, I also found the interface a bit unintuitive to use--just in a lot of little ways, like how there's no separation between the player's conversation choices and what the NPC is saying, or how exiting an area requires clicking on the tooltip in the top left. Some of this is functional, some of it is visual, but all in all, it needs work.

There are really lots of things I could pick on, and while I can see you've put a lot of effort into it, it feels very much like a hobbyist freeware project at this point.

I don't want to be too harsh here--I'm impressed that you got a tile-based isometric engine working, which is something I'm scared to even attempt due to my extreme fear of math. You just need to put a lot more effort into the design part of the game, and get some graphics that don't look like programmer art.

Good luck!

mot
02-14-2008, 04:33 PM
Just some tiny details regarding your post:

"Note: This download scanned with Norton Internet Security."

Since you even mention this, I assume one of your previous releases must have had a virus in it - no download.

"After you've played, fill out the feedback.txt file and email to ttwt@prankster.com"

OK, how about a simple web form that takes care of "find feedback.txt on disk", "open with text editor", "save", "open email app", "create new email", "get back to this browser and find email address, copy&paste", "locate feedback.txt again to attach"? Such as http://www.catnapgames.com/survey/2/form - much easier to click link, fill in fields, click submit. ... I'm sure you'll get more feedback that way.

gdunbar
02-14-2008, 07:32 PM
I played it for about ten or fifteen minutes. Everything ran fine in terms of performance.

Definitely do the "hire an artist" thing--not just for the game graphics, but for the GUI as well. I can't imagine paying money for it looking like this--no offense.

Please, no offense taken. Honest feedback is much appreciated and desired! I am disappointed that the GUI doesn't suit you, but I will accept your criticism.


It's not just the art quality, either--the characters are extremely tiny, and everything looks quite low-resolution, like a shareware DOS game from the early 90s.

Ah, the old dilemma... camera distance. Too close, and you're getting hit by arrows from offscreen. Too far, and the characters are tiny. I suppose my preference of being able to survey the whole battlefield shows here. What resolution did you run the game at, if I might ask?


Aside from looks, I also found the interface a bit unintuitive to use--just in a lot of little ways, like how there's no separation between the player's conversation choices and what the NPC is saying, or how exiting an area requires clicking on the tooltip in the top left. Some of this is functional, some of it is visual, but all in all, it needs work.

Man, I swear all sorts of other RPGs do just about the same thing in conversation, but you're not the only one who has complained about that. I'll play around with something.

The exit design makes a lot more sense when you are controlling more characters, and they all need to be in the exit area to exit. But again, you're not the only one who has complained, so I'll take it as valid criticism.


There are really lots of things I could pick on, and while I can see you've put a lot of effort into it, it feels very much like a hobbyist freeware project at this point.

I would love to hear each and every thing you want to pick on... feel free to drop an email if you don't want to seem too harsh in the forum.


I don't want to be too harsh here--I'm impressed that you got a tile-based isometric engine working, which is something I'm scared to even attempt due to my extreme fear of math. You just need to put a lot more effort into the design part of the game, and get some graphics that don't look like programmer art.

Good luck!

(Note: The engine is actually 3D, not isometric, I just don't allow much camera control because, well, camera control is often clunky and annoying).

Anyways, I really appreciate the honest feedback.

Thanks,
Geoff

gdunbar
02-14-2008, 08:35 PM
Just some tiny details regarding your post:

"Note: This download scanned with Norton Internet Security."

Since you even mention this, I assume one of your previous releases must have had a virus in it - no download.

Interesting; I thought I was just being reassuring. I could move that to the readme where it will be less intimidating.

To allay your fears, none of my previous releases have had viruses, and I always scan them.


"After you've played, fill out the feedback.txt file and email to ttwt@prankster.com"

OK, how about a simple web form that takes care of "find feedback.txt on disk", "open with text editor", "save", "open email app", "create new email", "get back to this browser and find email address, copy&paste", "locate feedback.txt again to attach"? Such as http://www.catnapgames.com/survey/2/form - much easier to click link, fill in fields, click submit. ... I'm sure you'll get more feedback that way.

I'll look into that.

Thanks,
Geoff

Teeth
02-15-2008, 01:07 AM
I've started playing.

First ten or so minutes:

The GUI is fine in terms of how it looks IMO - it's rugged but functional. There are a few problems with it in terms of usability though. In the inventory screen, to get back to the game I have to click "Game". I think this should be "close" or something similar. "Return" perhaps. Otherwise the interface is responsive, informative and simple. I like it as is, but I could understand people thinking it's a bit grey and I wouldn't object to a bit of texturing. I'd suggest changing it so that the info box becomes a tooltip at the mouse cursor.

One thing I'd really like is click-hold to move towards the cursor. I click and the character moves, but I'd prefer it if, when I held down the button, the target my character is moving towards were updated.

If I click outside the playable area my character goes crazy trying to reach the spot and starts walking around forever.

If the window doesn't have focus and I click on it to regain focus, it registers this as a movement, which is not good - I just wanted to get focus back so I could see what I was doing again.

Exiting the Cellar - I milled about for a while in the exit area before noticing there's an exit button I could have been clicking. Why not automatically exit the area if the player walks into the edge that leads out of the area?

Graphics - they feel too zoomed out. There are also some terrific jagged edges on the floors - might be worth smoothing out the textures a bit so they don't jar so much. Everything feels really zoomed out and tiny. If you can, try using a smoothed font. I don't know how you're rendering your text, but I recommend BMFont by AngelCode for bitmap fonts. The game feels quite dark, as well - it might be worth continuing the terrain while making it impassable, so you don't end up with a lot of blackness. The transparent areas outside feel a little rough; that river at the start is glowing in all kinds of garish colours on a black background and it looks... not so good. The grass is primary green, the earth bright brown... I think you need to improve the art in this game.

Your audio really needs work. You have the opportunity to add a whole bunch more sounds - footsteps, environmental sounds - and the sounds you do have don't seem to go well together. The bow noise sounds more like a ruler on a table edge. They feel very sudden; it might be worthwhile to make them a little more subtle. The UI interface sounds don't sound too nice either - they cut in like the start of the sample was removed. For the most part the game is completely silent, it's eerie.

Also at the moment your game continues to play when it doesn't have focus, even though the sounds stop playing. It would make more sense if the sounds stop playing to have the game pause, or for the sounds to continue playing to keep the user informed that the game is still processing events.

I didn't like being given a choice at the start only to have it overthrown. I think you should have someone look at your writing for this game, as there are already a few places where I've noticed that improvements could be made.

The battles in the cellar are taking my Rogue ages to win. A full minute of bow noises with little result is very underwhelming - there's a reason most RPGs start with one-hit-kill enemies. I'd suggest making the enemies in the Cellar even weaker / easier to hit. Most of the time my Rogue is standing there doing his idle, which is frustrating for me; I realise that later on when he's mastered his art he'll probably be much faster, but at the moment it's like playing an MMORPG where I just click on the enemy and wait while the character endlessly repeats his "wait for attack time" animation.

I just inscribed a spell and got a Windows dialog with a Windows beep. I'd much prefer something in the game window. Same for when I get wiped out.

It's really good that you autosave at rest points. There's nothing worse than losing work. But I'd suggest using an in-engine dialog for saving and loading games. Lose all of the Windows OS stuff.

I've gotta head off now, hope that's some useful feedback. I like the start of the game, it's good to see people making new CRPGs. The engine feels solid, but I think the game itself needs a few rounds of polish. Good luck!

gdunbar
02-21-2008, 03:55 PM
snip

Meant to reply before... thanks for all of the helpful feedback!

Geoff