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View Full Version : FEEDBACK REQUEST: The Amazing Brain Train



Ryan Clark
04-25-2008, 05:12 PM
Hi everyone!

Grubby Games is pleased to announce that our latest game, "The Amazing Brain Train," is now in public beta testing. We would love it if you could give the game a whirl!

If you have any older machines at your disposal we'd be interested to know how the game runs on them, as we're still attempting to nail down the minimum system requirements. And, of course, if you spot any bugs or gameplay issues, we'd like to hear about them!

You can read about the game here (http://grubbygames.com/tabt/) and view screenshots here: 1 (http://grubbygames.com/tabt/screenshots.php?screen=1) - 2 (http://grubbygames.com/tabt/screenshots.php?screen=2) - 3 (http://grubbygames.com/tabt/screenshots.php?screen=3) - 4 (http://grubbygames.com/tabt/screenshots.php?screen=4) - 5 (http://grubbygames.com/tabt/screenshots.php?screen=5)

And here are the beta build downloads:

Windows: http://grubbygamesfiles.com/tabt/BrainTrainDEMO.exe
Mac: http://grubbygamesfiles.com/tabt/BrainTrainDEMO.dmg
Linux: http://grubbygamesfiles.com/tabt/BrainTrainDEMO.tar.gz

We hope you have fun! Thanks very much for the help!

Matthew
04-25-2008, 06:22 PM
I played this for a bit a few days ago. Very well done! I probably played for about an hour without seeing any repeat games. Great polish all around.

There is one thing that annoyed me: When I was doing quests/errands, it wouldn't show me where I was headed to on the map. So I would have to drop an item off at an animal halfway across the world, I'd play a puzzle or two, and then I'd completely forget where it was I was going. It hurt my sense of progress, and made me feel disconnected from the overall goal.

GolfHacker
04-25-2008, 07:38 PM
I like it! Great puzzles, as usual! The turtle saying "Gee whiz" so often became a bit annoying after a few screens of text. And I couldn't figure out why he was whispering because the he didn't want the hare to hear, when all he did was send me into a game with the skating monkey that didn't seem to have anything to do with the hare. It wasn't until I came back to the map that he explained why he didn't want the hare to hear. This seemed disconnected to me. Other than that, I didn't notice anything else. Game ran fine, no glitches, on my Kubuntu 7 Linux machine, 3.2 GHz CPU, 1 MB RAM, NVidia Quatro Pro with 64MB onboard RAM.

One thing I did notice: like your other games, I couldn't just click on the run.cmd file from Konqueror to run the game. I had to run it from the terminal. With this game, when I unpacked it and ran the run.cmd script, it spit out the following:


[: 31: ==: unexpected operator
Building...
Executable built! Starting the game...

The game did start and ran fine.

It would be nice to have an actual installer for the Linux versions of your games, as well as shortcuts on the desktop and system menus. It would look much more professional. Have you seen the Linux Game Development articles that I wrote on GameDev.net?

ChrisP
04-25-2008, 07:43 PM
Edit: Hah, beaten to the punch about the console errors, that'll teach me to play for the entire trial period. ;) I use Gnome, and run.cmd did launch fine for me via double-clicking; it came up with the "this is an executable text file, what do you want to do?" message (options: Run in Terminal, Display, Cancel, Run).

Very nice! Lots of nice graphical touches, the music works well, and the minigames have all been fun so far. (Edit: OK, well the memory one wasn't so fun, but at least it doesn't take long. :))

I played on Linux and only found a couple of issues. Firstly, these errors appeared in the console when starting the game:


cd: 10: can't cd to /home/chris/bin/The
[: 31: ==: unexpected operator

(The game still ran anyway.)

Also, after running the game for a while in fullscreen, I'd lose the signal to my monitor every minute. I don't just mean a black screen; I mean the monitor actually came up with a "no signal" message! This would endure for anywhere between 0.5 and 5 seconds, at which point it would return to normal. I think the time was shorter if I moved the mouse or clicked quickly, but couldn't say for sure.

My computer is set to switch to power-saving mode after 1 minute of idle time, which I think is probably relevant; however, I wasn't idle! It happened during minigames, and at the quest mode screen, and in both cases I was actively moving the mouse and clicking. So perhaps the OS isn't being correctly notified of that activity.

The problem did not occur in windowed mode, nor on the menu screen. In these situations, the monitor did lose the signal after 1 minute of idle time, as it should do, but if I moved the mouse continuously over the period of a minute or two, it would be fine.

System specs: Ubuntu 7.04, Athlon64 3500 (it's a 32-bit system even though I have a 64-bit CPU, since I'm running 32-bit Ubuntu), GeForce 6600GT graphics card using NVidia drivers, 2 GB RAM.

ChrisP
04-25-2008, 08:22 PM
I told a friend about the game and mentioned that it featured a train which runs on brainpower. He immediately responded "So you could say that it's a... train of thought."

So... many... puns... *dies*

GolfHacker
04-26-2008, 05:47 AM
Also, after running the game for a while in fullscreen, I'd lose the signal to my monitor every minute. I don't just mean a black screen; I mean the monitor actually came up with a "no signal" message! This would endure for anywhere between 0.5 and 5 seconds, at which point it would return to normal. I think the time was shorter if I moved the mouse or clicked quickly, but couldn't say for sure.

My computer is set to switch to power-saving mode after 1 minute of idle time, which I think is probably relevant; however, I wasn't idle! It happened during minigames, and at the quest mode screen, and in both cases I was actively moving the mouse and clicking. So perhaps the OS isn't being correctly notified of that activity.

The problem did not occur in windowed mode, nor on the menu screen. In these situations, the monitor did lose the signal after 1 minute of idle time, as it should do, but if I moved the mouse continuously over the period of a minute or two, it would be fine.

System specs: Ubuntu 7.04, Athlon64 3500 (it's a 32-bit system even though I have a 64-bit CPU, since I'm running 32-bit Ubuntu), GeForce 6600GT graphics card using NVidia drivers, 2 GB RAM.

You know, this happens to me in Fizzball every 15-20 minutes on my Kubuntu 7.04 system, but I don't get a "no signal" message - it just goes black. But it comes back pretty quickly, especially if I move the mouse frantically! I didn't play Brain Train long enough to see if this happened with this game too. Interestingly, this does not happen with other games (Dirk Dashing, Runes of Avalon, Mayhem Intergalactic, Lunar Domination). I know Dirk uses SDL, but I use OpenGL for the graphics. So I don't know if it is an SDL-specific thing (since Grubby uses SDL for their graphics), if it is Grubby-specific code, or if it is a problem with *ubuntu's SDL (since I believe Grubby links against the system libs, whereas the other games all build their own custom SDL binaries per my Linux development articles - at least, the games that use SDL).

Midnight Synergy
04-26-2008, 06:12 PM
Really nice style, as always! The mini-games are fun, and the presentation is excellent. Lots of nice touches, such as the many animated bits in the title screen. I had been thinking about doing a "Brain Age" style game myself (in the faaaaar future, given my current schedule), and you've set the bar very nice and high! :)

Some minor niggles:
* the quest mode was not for me. I found it far too "wordy" and just wanted to get playing without having to read and click and read and click --- so I headed to the test mode, which was far more fun!
* are the puzzles randomly generated? Sometimes it seemed as if a very tough one was followed by a trivially easy one.

ChrisP
04-26-2008, 07:01 PM
You know, this happens to me in Fizzball every 15-20 minutes on my Kubuntu 7.04 system, but I don't get a "no signal" message - it just goes black. But it comes back pretty quickly, especially if I move the mouse frantically! I didn't play Brain Train long enough to see if this happened with this game too. Interestingly, this does not happen with other games (Dirk Dashing, Runes of Avalon, Mayhem Intergalactic, Lunar Domination). I know Dirk uses SDL, but I use OpenGL for the graphics. So I don't know if it is an SDL-specific thing (since Grubby uses SDL for their graphics), if it is Grubby-specific code, or if it is a problem with *ubuntu's SDL (since I believe Grubby links against the system libs, whereas the other games all build their own custom SDL binaries per my Linux development articles - at least, the games that use SDL).

That's pretty much the same behaviour I'm seeing. I don't usually see the "no signal" message either, but that's just because my monitor doesn't display that message until it has lost the signal for several seconds.

I think I played Dirk Dashing on Windows, but I play Mayhem Intergalactic under Linux on this computer all the time (since it's my development system) and I've never seen this happen to it. It does use custom-built SDL IIRC, though it didn't always. It also uses OpenGL.

I did delve into Brain Train's folder, and there are SDL .so files in there; it doesn't assume that SDL exists on the system. Actually there's some quite interesting stuff going on if you want to check it out - Ryan's shipped all the object (.o) files, and the game actually calls g++ at runtime to link them together. Neat. There's a pre-built executable as a fallback too. I assume this is meant to bypass some linking problem or other.

ionside
04-26-2008, 09:07 PM
I didn't have any technical issues while playing this game. It looks quite polished too, well done!
probably the most enjoyable main menu I've seen too, my baby daughter laughed every time the train flew by :D

Ryan Clark
04-27-2008, 11:19 AM
Hey everyone; thanks very much for the feedback! I really appreciate it.

To reply to some posts:


There is one thing that annoyed me: When I was doing quests/errands, it wouldn't show me where I was headed to on the map.
It shows you via a larger circle around the destination animal. But I agree that it could be made much more obvious.

Troy and Chris: Thanks for spotting those Linux issues... we'll look into them. Not sure why your monitors would be cutting out like that. I don't see that beviour on my machines, unfortunately :( As far as I know, we're just making standard SDL calls.

And regarding a Linux installer, yes, I have read your articles Troy, but I still haven't found an installer that can:

- Run via a double-click after download (without the user having to manually set the "executable" permission, or run it from the command line)

- Put an icon on the desktop and "start menu" on various different distros

If there were one magical installer that could do this, I'd be all over it :)


* the quest mode was not for me. I found it far too "wordy" and just wanted to get playing without having to read and click and read and click --- so I headed to the test mode, which was far more fun!
* are the puzzles randomly generated? Sometimes it seemed as if a very tough one was followed by a trivially easy one.
Glad you found a mode that you like! I guess Quest mode isn't for everyone.

Yes, the puzzles are randomly generated, and it's possible that sometimes they might be a bit too easy or too hard. We did what we could to ensure a steady difficulty increase, but it isn't easy!


Ryan's shipped all the object (.o) files, and the game actually calls g++ at runtime to link them together. Neat. There's a pre-built executable as a fallback too. I assume this is meant to bypass some linking problem or other.
I've found that this method results in higher success rates than doing either of the two methods individually (obviously!). Also, since the object files are there, power users can just link things manually if they're having trouble.


probably the most enjoyable main menu I've seen too, my baby daughter laughed every time the train flew by :D
Glad to hear it! Matt and Oliver put a ton of work into that main menu :)

GolfHacker
04-27-2008, 12:16 PM
Troy and Chris: Thanks for spotting those Linux issues... we'll look into them. Not sure why your monitors would be cutting out like that. I don't see that beviour on my machines, unfortunately :( As far as I know, we're just making standard SDL calls.

Could be something specific to *ubuntu distros. Let me know if you need me to test out anything for you, I'll be happy to help.


And regarding a Linux installer, yes, I have read your articles Troy, but I still haven't found an installer that can:

- Run via a double-click after download (without the user having to manually set the "executable" permission, or run it from the command line)

Not sure you will ever find such a thing, because it isn't an installer issue. It's just the way Linux works. Whenever you download something, it will always reset the executable bit. Not sure why this happens, but it has nothing to do with the installer.

However, I think most Linux users are accustomed to this. I've distributed installers for two games now on Linux, and nobody has commented or complained. Further, when I asked Gerry Jo Jellestad about the permission issue, he said pretty much the same thing - that he hadn't had any issues with this for the DROD games. As long as you tell people that you're using a graphical installer and it needs the executable bit turned on, I think you're ok. I think everybody understands that's the way it works. I put instructions on my download page to tell them to enable the executable bit before running it. I haven't had to deal with any support issues regarding this, so I think it is pretty much a non-issue.


- Put an icon on the desktop and "start menu" on various different distros

Bitrock was adding this to their installer, and it may already be there. I haven't checked it in awhile. But even if they haven't, or if you wanted to use a different installer like InstallJammer, this is actually very easy to do. Most of the popular distros are LSB-compliant, and there are a set of scripts (XdgUtils (http://portland.freedesktop.org/wiki/XdgUtils)) that do it all for you. All you need to do is create a desktop/menu shortcut file (very easy to do), and setup a postinstall step to invoke the xdg script, giving it your desktop/menu shortcut file, and you're done. Trivial.

You're welcome to examine the shortcut files and postinstall scripts that I deliver with my games to see how it is done, and I will be happy to answer any questions. I think you'll see it is pretty easy.

HDL
04-27-2008, 04:07 PM
Usually I like quest modes and read all the text but this time I didn't. It didn't really engage me. Might be because I was playing in windowed mode and the text was too small or just that the quest seemed totally unrelated to the puzzles but I just skipped through everything.

The puzzles were fun though and there was a nice mix and I liked being able to go back and try a different puzzle if the one that appeared first wasn't one that looked fun. It's a cute game. I hope it does well.

lexaloffle
04-28-2008, 10:37 AM
Great stuff. Ever since playing A Fool's Errand I've liked multi-games like this, but have been too wussy to make one.

One thing that confused me was the game where you're packing animals into the spaceship. I was given a 3x5 rectangle, and the following shapes:

1x3, 3x1, 2x2, 2x1, and a 3 square L shape.

I'm pretty sure it was impossible without rotation. Am I missing something?

Ryan Clark
04-29-2008, 07:54 AM
Could be something specific to *ubuntu distros. Let me know if you need me to test out anything for you, I'll be happy to help.
I appreciate the offer, but unfortunately we were testing on Ubuntu! If I can think of some way we might be able to solve the problem, I'll certainly take you up on your offer; thanks much!


However, I think most Linux users are accustomed to this. I've distributed installers for two games now on Linux, and nobody has commented or complained.
I agree, and I think an installer is nice and would be fairly easy to set up, and I hope to get to it soon.


Usually I like quest modes and read all the text but this time I didn't. It didn't really engage me. Might be because I was playing in windowed mode and the text was too small or just that the quest seemed totally unrelated to the puzzles but I just skipped through everything.
Thanks very much for the feedback. A few people have commented on the text size, so we'll be addressing that. We're also going to add something so that your current "quest destination" is clearer, and hopefully this will improve the experience.


One thing that confused me was the game where you're packing animals into the spaceship. I was given a 3x5 rectangle, and the following shapes:

1x3, 3x1, 2x2, 2x1, and a 3 square L shape.
I've just made a diagram with the shapes you described, and it seems possible to me (regardless of the way the 3-square-L-shape is oriented).

I often get puzzles that seem impossible, but then (after staring at them for 30 seconds!) I solve them. For some reason, sometimes the solutions are insanely hard to see! And other times you see the solution immediately...

Matthew
04-29-2008, 08:02 AM
It shows you via a larger circle around the destination animal. But I agree that it could be made much more obvious.


Ah ha--I didn't even notice. My focus was on the train, so I was expecting to see some sort of dotted-line path drawn from my train to the destination.

lexaloffle
04-30-2008, 09:25 AM
I've just made a diagram with the shapes you described, and it seems possible

Ha.. so it is. You'd think I would have learned something from all the players writing to inform me one of my puzzles was impossible.

RyanB
04-30-2008, 11:55 AM
Excellent art, sound, and design. I think young kids will really enjoy this game.

The ability to skip over the text would be a nice addition.