PDA

View Full Version : Spring Up! - Feedback request (game and PR)



frozax
03-09-2008, 02:14 PM
Hi all!

I'm going to release very soon my new game Spring Up!. It's available for Mac and Win, and I'm looking for feedback.
The gameplay is inspired from Peggle and Breakquest.
On windows, I'd like to know if it works properly on Vista (I only tested on a few XP computers). Did I screw up the directory right on Vista?
On Mac, it's my first Universal Binary, and I compiled it on a PPC, but I already tested on a few Mac Intel and it should work.
Of course, I'm also looking for any gameplay/bug feedback (I know screenshots in the nag screen are missing, but I'm currently doing some).
Finally, I am posting the press release, as I think I'm really not good at it so I'm looking for advices.

win: http://www.frozax.com/sup/ind/supsetup.exe
mac: http://www.frozax.com/sup/ind/springup.dmg

game page with screenshots:
http://www.frozax.com/games/spring-up

direct link to screenshots:
http://www.frozax.com/games/images/sup1.jpg
http://www.frozax.com/games/images/sup2.jpg
http://www.frozax.com/games/images/sup3.jpg
http://www.frozax.com/games/images/sup4.jpg
http://www.frozax.com/games/images/sup5.jpg
http://www.frozax.com/games/images/sup6.jpg


---

Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Frozax Games Launches Spring Up! A Physics-Based Action Game

France -- March 12th, 2008 -- Frozax Games (www.frozax.com) has announced the release of a unique physics-based action game called "Spring Up!", available for Windows and Mac OS X.

Using realistic physics, Spring Up! offers a unique game experience with bouncing balls and bricks. The player needs to clear levels by launching balls on color-matching elements. A player-controlled paddle at the bottom of the screen gives additional points when catching the items. The levels are made up of various dynamic and motorized blocks, as well as fans, bumpers or teleporters. It can guide or slow down the player in its efforts to complete the 72 levels. Using credits won making big plays and combos, the player can buy around 50 upgradable items for its own customizable garden, such as trees, statues, fountains, flowers and much more.

Spring Up! is available in English, German and French and can be downloaded at www.frozax.com.

Features at a Glance:
- 72 levels full of colors and physics
- 12 different worlds to explore
- Around 50 upgrades for your private garden
- Multiple dynamic elements (fans, bumpers, teleporters...)
- Online high scores table to compare your points and accuracy

Read more about Spring Up! at http://www.frozax.com
Trial version, screenshots and gameplay video available at http://www.frozax.com/games/spring-up

About Frozax Games

Frozax Games is a company founded in 2005 and based in Western Europe. We are developing downloadable games for Mac and PC. We strive to make games that are fun for the whole family. For more information, visit www.frozax.com.

###

Contact or to ask for an evaluation copy:
email

stanchat
03-09-2008, 03:30 PM
The install is not working for me and I am using Vista. The install icon does not appear on my desktop. When the game tries to launch I get a black screen with a spinning cursor.

MattWorden
03-09-2008, 04:12 PM
I tested it it out briefly (about 4 levels) on my WinXP machine. It worked very well.

Nice game -- good feel to the movement in the levels, especially with the "pool balls clicking" sound effect. It's an interesting mix between feeling like I was waiting for things to happen as the ball is launched and the hit targets start to fall, followed by feeling like I couldn't keep up with everything going on as the falling objects accelerate toward the bottom.

Three minor nits: (1) I generally like a main menu item for "How to Play", which could take the place of the pop-up help messages at the start of the first level ... however, this is obviously my personal preference and I won't be surprised if the next person says they prefer it the other way. ;) (2) I ran in Windowed mode, and when I moved the mouse pointer outside of the game's frame, it lost the mouse until I clicked somewhere within the frame again. And, (3) I had problems quickly picking up what the various power-ups would give me as they were falling. Also, the sometimes blended in with the falling smaller balls when they went outside my main area of focus on the screen. (Probably too late to tweak your graphics assets ... but if it isn't, you may wish to make them have a different shape -- like a star, for example.)

What I liked ... smooth, intuitive UI. Nice physics. Good sfx.

Hope this was helpful,
-Matt

frozax
03-09-2008, 04:16 PM
Thanks a lot for the information.

@matt : Thanks for the feedback. I already had remarks about the power ups, and I'm not explaining them in the help screens, there might be something to do, here.


Thanks.

MattWorden
03-09-2008, 04:30 PM
@matt : Thanks for the feedback. I already had remarks about the power ups, and I'm not explaining them in the help screens, there might be something to do, here.
Yeah -- that might also work as well ... especially if they can simply be told apart by their color. In that case, then the shape might not matter.

Good luck with the last-minute polishing. :)

-Matt

barrygamer
03-10-2008, 07:03 AM
Hi --
Works fine here, Mac mini intel.

I also noticed the disappearing cursor issue, but not a huge problem.

I like the physics, things seem to bounce around as expected. I think the graphics could be more polished, but its obviously hard to judge without comparing to Peggle. The backdrops could perhaps be better? (Peggle would look very different without its backdrops). Imagine your main menu backdrop used in-game, that would look fab. Also, some current backdrops look like a top-down views, whilst the gameplay is obviously gravity based.

The pegs etc may look nicer with chunkier border/edges, or a more 3d look? Peggle has quite an intricate use of (aliased) edges, borders and shadows on the pegs.

My only other issue is the gameplay itself, but this might just be my personal taste. The risk/reward of Peggle is not there, and there seems to be no big forfeit for not using the bat, aside from not getting credits for the garden. I would've liked some bigger incentive to collect using the bat, and not letting items fall out. e.g. running out of balls if I don't collect enough. Perhaps not as harsh as Peggle, but something like that.

chanon
03-10-2008, 09:10 AM
I agree with barrygamer's points.

I think your first level shouldn't be so peggle-like. It makes people immediately compare it with Peggle in their minds and as barrygamer said,
it is hard to compete with PopCap on polish.

Instead you should start with a level that emphasizes what's unique about your game and what is exciting about it. I only played until the second level, but I imagine there are more interesting uses of physics in the game later. So I think instead of having the player have to play through a standard Peggle level which they will feel doesn't bring much new compared to Peggle, give them something that will suck them in immediately. And if the first level isn't very exciting, make it short!

I also felt that the backdrops should be improved. You should put more color contrast into the game as a whole and generally make it more colorful. Peggle makes the bright colors of the pegs stand out by using darker backgrounds. But the backgrounds themselves still have interesting images.

Gameplay-wise, I thought it would be more interesting if you could bounce balls off the paddle like in breakout games.

frozax
03-10-2008, 12:51 PM
barrygamer & chanon : you are both right, I can't really compete with Peggle, but people will see I was 'slightly' (:o) inspired by it and I try to make some notable differences.
I should change my first level, you are completely right, I wanted to start simple, but I should start by impressing the player.
About the backgrounds, well, it's really a lot of work for the artist to do 72 backgrounds of the complexity of my main screen, and also, when I tried with complex backgrounds, objects and balls were barely visible. (yes, Peggle was able to do it;))
I had a few remarks about the fact that the player can't loose in my game. I don't really know what to answer to that, as I did not even realized it at first. I did not want a limited number of balls (to stay away from Peggle), and I did not want a time limit (I received mail from people saying they did not like the time limit in my previous game). Let's try it that way, hoping people will play to get credits.
Thanks so much for the feedback, that's really helpful!

I'm in need of help finding the Vista crash (see 4th message of this thread) if some people do have Vista ;)

AlexWeldon
03-10-2008, 01:41 PM
I see a lot of promise in the game. The game is visually very cool and is exactly the sort of thing I would have loved like nothing else as a kid... the cascade effects and whirly bits are awesome. I don't think the backgrounds have to be any fancier, just a bit more polished or something. The levels are also pretty cool... although the actual gameplay got a little boring after the first few levels, I kept playing a while longer just to see what new doodads would be introduced in the next level.

As far as fun goes, though, I'd appreciate a bit more tension or something. As has been mentioned, there isn't really any way to fail, per se. Also, there doesn't seem to be a feeling of risk vs. reward.

If you don't want to limit the number of shots per level, how about having a minimum score required to advance?

As it stands, I don't see any reason not to just cycle through the balls until you get the colour you want. I would suggest either penalizing the player some points every time he swaps, or limiting the number of times you can do it per level. Otherwise, you might as well let the player select the colour of the next shot.

There also doesn't seem to be much payoff for attempting a difficult shot. What about making the points scored inversely proportional to the percentage of pieces on the screen that are that colour... e.g. if there are 20 red pieces, 10 blue and 5 yellow left, the yellows are worth twice as much as the blue and four times as much as the red. Also, what about giving more points for bank shots, which hit a solid barrier or other-coloured piece before hitting the first matching piece?

If you combined those two things, people would be more inclined to risk losing their multiplier in order to go for a piece at which they don't have a clear shot, instead of just swapping balls and going for something easy.

Maybe some pinball-like effects wouldn't go amiss... e.g. I feel like I should be getting points for spinning the windmill-like bits - more points the faster they go.

Some technical points:

- I don't know about PC, but on Mac, the regular system cursor is visible, with the custom leaf cursor just hovering under it.

- Good for you to allow space to swap balls, not just the right mouse button. A boon for single-button Mac users.

- How about some kind of border around the playing field? As it is, when I have to go for a sharply angled shot, my cursor often slips out of the window, so I end up changing to a different window when I click.

- It's not clear on the inter-level screen that if you stop moving the mouse, you'll get a view of your garden without the question marks. I discovered that by accident... a more obvious way of seeing the whole thing might be better, especially since some of the improvements are almost entirely covered by their question marks, so you don't know what you just bought.

frozax
03-10-2008, 03:31 PM
I've been able to track down the Vista crash thanks to Emmanuel ;) .
The problem was Audiere. I now use SDL_Mixer, and I will update the new version soon.

@alexweldon: well, you can't really cycle through colors, as you risk to loose your "multiplier", but I see your point. I could have things like "Nice shot" or "long shot" as Peggle does to reward risk, but once again, I tried to split from Peggle a little :)
I'll have a look for the cursor thing...
I already clicked out of the window, I know how it feels. Surprisingly, nobody complained that there is no fullscreen on Mac? (I had a few problem with this and nobody complained either on my previous game).
Thanks for the feedback

AlexWeldon
03-10-2008, 04:10 PM
@alexweldon: well, you can't really cycle through colors, as you risk to loose your "multiplier", but I see your point. I could have things like "Nice shot" or "long shot" as Peggle does to reward risk, but once again, I tried to split from Peggle a little :)


Looking at the game after reading this, I realise that hitting space/right click only switches the order of the next two balls... I thought it got rid of the current ball and gave you some random new colour... which would be equivalent to letting you pick the colour you want, only in a longer more annoying way.

It still seems to make it a bit too easy though, especially since you never seem to get two of the same colour in the shooter, at least that I saw. What if the ability to switch was a power-up?

Another thought... instead of catching the falling objects only once with the paddle, what if you could juggle them, like the "nains" in Jardinains? As it is, catching the things doesn't feel like as important or interesting a part of the game as making your shots in the first place.



I'll have a look for the cursor thing...


Oddly, the second time I loaded up the game, I just got the leaf cursor, and I haven't been able to duplicate the bug. I was definitely seeing the standard mouse cursor over top of the leaf the first time I played, though.


I already clicked out of the window, I know how it feels. Surprisingly, nobody complained that there is no fullscreen on Mac? (I had a few problem with this and nobody complained either on my previous game).

I really don't like fullscreen games actually, because I like to be able to see if someone's MSNing me or whatever, so that would be why it doesn't bother me. I don't know if I'm typical of Mac users in that regard.

frozax
03-10-2008, 04:51 PM
I thought it got rid of the current ball and gave you some random new colour... which would be equivalent to letting you pick the colour you want, only in a longer more annoying way.
Actually, there may be a bug here, my wife told me she believed the secondary ball changed color once...
You a a lower probability of having a ball of the same color, but it's possible.


Another thought... instead of catching the falling objects only once with the paddle, what if you could juggle them,
I tried something similar in the beginning of the developement but I found it not working gameplay-wise. Especially if I want to have a gravity, balls / items only bounce once (well, and before that, it was not this gameplay at all ;)).

Ok, I uploaded a new version with the fix in the win/vista version, a few changes in the level orders (First set has more original levels) and real nag screens.
The cursor bug on Mac seem to appear once you move your mouse over the "task bar". Then, it never disappear again...

frozax
03-11-2008, 08:10 AM
Wow, my game is not officially released yet, and it's already being copied on russian and chinese websites (windows version).
Crackers seems to be browsing around here...

Jesse Hopkins
03-11-2008, 09:46 AM
-----------

chanon
03-11-2008, 11:03 AM
Just tried the new version. Played to 1-3 this time. First level is a lot better :)

3rd level though I had to wait a while for the last few pegs to move into a position I could fire on. Maybe someway to speed up time would help in this case .. but maybe that is too specific. A more general way would be some kind of power up that is given near the end of levels to help finish off the few remaining pegs ... like in some breakout games they help you out when there are only a few bricks left.

Another idea that I think would be a lot easier to implement while providing good value is to have bonus text show up counting the number of pegs you were able to catch after each shot.

Instead of just showing +10 each time the player catches a peg .. show the number of balls too.

Ex. When the player catches the 3rd ball it might show 3 Balls! +30
Then if the player can catch a 4th ball it would show 4 Balls! +40
The text would get bigger and bigger.


This way players will have an incentive to try to catch the highest amount of balls in one shot. It is like a mini-game in a game that will help drive the player to try to beat their personal best.

You could keep a statistic such as the highest amount of balls they were able to catch in a single shot for each level and for all levels.

Just an idea ... it could put too much focus on catching balls. Up to you to decide.

frozax
03-11-2008, 12:50 PM
Sorry to hear that! Are they stealing your graphics too?
Well, they just put a .rar file on rapidshare with my game and a .txt file with a valid key. I mailed rapidshare but I highly doubt they will remove it.

chanon, you once again have good remarks! I won't spend time on these features now as I've finally been able to have a stable version and will release very soon, but those are interesting ideas that I will take into account in the near future. About the "catching", I've seen different people : some are most interested in catching that in "hitting/matching", and some don't really care of the catching :)

papillon
03-11-2008, 02:19 PM
Rapidshare usually takes things down, it's just that people will put them up again.

Anyway, feedback:

Many of the powerups aren't sufficiently clear. The 'shrink paddle' bad powerup is pretty easy to understand but lots of other ones, I caught and I had no idea what they did, if anything. A brief display of text over the paddle when a powerup is caught - "Paddle Increase!" "Bonus Multiplier!" - or something might make this more clear. Or was there info somewhere and I didn't see it?

Is there any point to catching things other than a few more points? You might want to have a minimum score / number of catches needed to advance (and then have this be changeable in game difficulty settings). As it is, if you just stop bothering to try and catch things, the game can feel a little too simple.

The shopping garden area is very confusing. There doesn't seem to be a way to know/guess what something is before buying it, and I don't know what effect buying anything has other than putting an object on the screen. More story content explaining this area and making it feel rewarding to the player might be helpful?If it's just random decoration, that's fine, but you need to make me feel that decorating the garden is cool somehow. :)

frozax
03-11-2008, 04:10 PM
If it's just random decoration, that's fine, but you need to make me feel that decorating the garden is cool somehow. :)
well...it isn't? :) I thought people would like to upgrade their garden just to see what's next. But I guess that for many people, that's not enough.
Basically, I thought player would like to get many points for their garden (or to appear on top of the online hiscore table). Therefore, players will want to catch things with the paddle to get more credits... no? :o

I've seen that some Chinese seem to like my game according to their forum and google translate... :rolleyes:
It will be very hard not to be compared with Peggle. But I think it can also be a good point to draw interest from people who played Peggle.

papillon
03-11-2008, 04:39 PM
Well, I mean, I don't *know* that I'm decorating my garden. All I see is a screen with a bunch of buy links on it. I have no idea that it's a garden or that it's mine . I click on something and a statue appears. I don't know why. This confuses me. :)

If there were some story framework... if the game began with a quick story telling me that I want to make my garden more interesting so I need to earn credits by matching things, then led me to this screen and told me to buy things for my garden, then at least I'd understand what the point was. :)

frozax
03-13-2008, 11:00 AM
All the bug fixes are done.
I released the game, I'm accepting affiliation requests for mac and windows through Plimus for those interested (just search for spring up in plimus products catalog).

Thanks so much everyone for the ideas and the feedback.

alecxena
03-15-2008, 05:12 AM
I just finished the first few levels, and I must say I really enjoy the gameplay and especially the great use of physics.

A "simple" way to make the graphics seem a bit more alive would be to introduce simple dynamic lighting. That is, introduce a direction from where the scene is lit, and make the borders of the balls, sqaures and wood change according to the light source.

Anyway, great game!