BOH, original retro-flavoured game released

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by saimo, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. princec

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    To be honest I don't think BOH is a money-making endeavour, it's a labour of love. You can tell the author is extra proud of the look and feel of this game, and I suspect it's exactly what he wants it to be. This is of course totally unlike the sort of game that people will pay for these days but I don't think any amount of explaining this is going to change saimo's mind. BTDTGTTS :D

    Cas :)
     
  2. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    Cas, first of all, thanks for understanding some fundamental points :)

    Yes, it's first and foremost a labour of love - that's perfectly spot on :)
    Since, eventually, the product turned out to be enjoyable also by others, it ended up being commercial - given that I'm unemployed, some money doesn't hurt ;-)

    "I suspect it's exactly what he wants it to be": 100% right (more or less the same words I've used myself in the FAQ).
    Yet, rather than proud, I'm just very happy with it and I'm even happier when people tell me that they're having lots of fun with what I've created with so much passion.

    Again you're perfectly right.
    I'm perfectly aware of this, I'm perfectly aware that the game faces a cultural barrier. I've been repeating this lots of times, even in interviews (and it can be seen traces of it everywhere). So why I did? Because I like it. And it turns out that I'm not alone ;-)

    Well, it's not matter of changing my mind. Why should it be necessary? Why should anyone want that? To what avail?
    To put it simply, there's a quite different game out there and anybody is absolutely free of liking it or disliking it. All I've been suggesting/advicing here is to approach it with a certain kind of awareness to really understand it - it wouldn't make much sense dissing it without having first understood it, right? ;-)
    Moreover, I do believe that also gamers that are used to totally different stuff may have fun with it although it may be disorienting to them at first.

    Erm... could you translate it, please? :p

    That said, Cas, you wanted a demo for the review... well, it's available... and now also for MacOS (DOWNLOADS page of the website)... are you still willing to have a look at it? ;-)

    saimo
     
  3. princec

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    BTTDGTTS = Been There, Done That, Got The T-Shirt :)

    That said... labours of love are all very well - but the trouble is, when they get very, very far off of the beaten path, what happens is that people picking up your game are turned off far too soon to get to appreciate it. This is the quintessential nature of The Demo. One must produce a demo that is interesting and compelling enough to fully convey the love and attention that has gone into the full work. Sometimes the very nature of the full work will never really make a good demo as it's just far too outlandish for people to want to see any more.

    I should offer you a little more critique of BOH here, and maybe you'll have a think about it, because at the end of the day, if you want people to know how much you love your game, you need to ease them into it a bit more gently and there are a few little things that you could do to help this.

    Firstly, make a proper installer for the Windows version. Use NSIS by Nullsoft. It's dead easy.

    Secondly, consider making the game rather a lot easier to begin with. Make the aliens die quicker and cause less hurt. Don't make less aliens though. Killing them is fun.

    Thirdly, consider these graphical tweaks:
    1. Highlight collectables in some way. Most of them look like blobs or blemishes on the floor. At the very least, a good black outline; possibly add a pulsing glow. Maybe hover a hint over it when it first appears.
    2. Add player bullets. I don't know if they're present with later weaponry but bullets need to be in the base weapon as well. I know you love it without bullets but really... bullets look great in 2D games, and not having them deprives the player of feedback between his actions and the environment.

    Fourthly, enable Alt-F4 on Windows.

    In the sort of reviews I do for Indiegamemag, which are purely reviews of demos scored on a reasonably strict points-out-of-ten criteria, BOH falls short of what it could be - but then the reviewing criteria is geared towards alignment with what The General Public are likely to think, and right now the General Public are likely to leave BOH alone somewhat because of its numerous strange quirks. On the current scale I think it would score a fairly lowly 4/10 from me, and fixing the above quirks would raise it to a 6. In no way does a score of 6/10 reflect how much effort you've gone to in the game, but I think it probably more accurately reflects its commercial potential with respect to people playing it, liking it, and buying it.

    Cas :)
     
  4. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    Sorry, what's wrong with the current installer? :confused:

    The demo includes two missions: "getting started" and "tougher and tougher".

    "getting started" is a single-phase mission that includes two rooms connected by a corridor. The room the player starts from has the following collectable devices:
    * an automapper (which draws the map as locations are explored);
    * the 360° visor (which allows to see also behind the back - which is very effective thanks to the strong ambient illumination);
    * the strongest weapon.
    The other room has the brightest, biggest flashlight (which, since the rooms are already illuminated, is there just to show the player how lighting works).
    Exploring the rooms is very simple (practically 0 thinking is required).

    "tougher and tougher" has been described in a previous post. It's divided into 5 phases. The first one is a bit more complicated than "getting started", but not much. And can be completed by anyone in less than 30 seconds without firing a single shot.

    The provided missions, in a nutshell, are very easy and show some of the building blocks of BOH. They become complicated only if faced with the wrong attitude (f.ex., the blast-everything-that-moves one).

    Suggestion followed before even reading it ;)
    The matter is a bit more complicated than one might think, so please bear with me.

    The premise is: BOH is themeable, so any theme represents power-ups in its own way.

    The default theme represents objects that way because I wanted them to look as real objects, really lying there on the floor - this means that they are very small and thus may be hard to see. But, if you think about it for a second, wouldn't a small key be really hard to see in dimly lit mazes? Besides that, most of the powerups are animated and thus easy to spot.

    Other themes, of course, may depict collectables in different ways.
    F.ex., the "castle" theme (still unreleased) actually uses a very visible, pulsating glow around the objects (which fits the magical, fantasy style). You can see an example of that at the end of the game session video (if you want, I could give you a preview of the theme, whose graphical department is 100% complete).
    Hypothetically, another theme could have icons as generally found in shoot'em-ups...

    Sorry, as you said, I love it without bullets. And, indeed I hate those bunches of pixels slowly moving across the screen - they don't make sense (but players are normally used to).
    But it's not just a matter of aestethics. You see, now you shoot and immediately you are able to see the result (and thus adjust/react accordingly); adding moving bullets would delay the effect of shots and thus have a major impact on the gameplay (well, on playability altogether), as shooting would be more difficult.

    mmm... to be easily portable, BOH is built on top of the libSDL library, which is what takes care of getting the input from the OS. BOH does handle the SDL_QUIT event, which is the event SDL is supposed to generate when the application is sent a "quit" message (f.ex. when the window is closed by clicking on the close gadget). I assumed that SDL would take care of all the possible quit events, but your remark indicates that it doesn't happen. Well, although I kept the OS-specific code to the bare minimum, I could add such a feature, but I can't release an update just for that. I'll note it down so that it will be part of the next update (if there will ever be one).

    EDIT: as promised, this feature has been included in the update3 (available for free on the DOWNLOADS page of the website).

    Well, given those criteria, then I guess you could give BOH a 0 or at most a 1...

    saimo
     
    #44 saimo, May 17, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2009
  5. Uhfgood

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    If it requires this much defending, it's probably not worth paying for. I think you should release the whole thing for free. Ask for registration and distribute it as true shareware. That is they can give the full version out to anyone, and if they register they get their name in the title screen, or a nag screen removed or something.

    I will still review the demo, and I will still try to be objective, but please, stop trying to give us excuses as to why you won't do something. Most of these guys (and i'm not talking about myself) have tons of experience in this area. Especially PrinceC since his games are mostly retro-flavored and He has several released and actually making money. It would be unwise to turn away his advice out of hand.

    No, don't reply and argue "but this and this" and "you don't understand", etc etc. There's really two things here, are you doing it for the love of doing it, (or even the art of it), or are you doing it for commercial reasons. It does not matter if you would "like to make a few bucks along the way". It's just the matter of fact. If you want to make money with this game then quit wasting people's time and start doing the things you need to make money. (For instance like Cas said, putting in some sort of visual feedback for your powerups, even if it's themed, and especially if it's themed). If on the other hand you just want people to play, and to feel the way you do about old amiga games and retro games in general, then you don't care about money, don't even think about it. More than likely it is a decent game, and if you did release it completely for free people would play it and go "hey this is great, I should probably register this because I've had a lot of fun with it).

    Just make a choice. Money, or art? -- sure you may get the other once you decide on one, but just don't count on it, instead make it the best money maker, or the best fun, artsy, interesting, game you can play.
     
  6. princec

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    This is definitely a case of "art" - I think it would do better released as free.

    A general response to the OP's last defence: if you find you are defending your game - it's not right. It's really that simple. Whether art or not. Of course a critique from just one person should be taken with a pinch of salt but there's no smoke without a fire and I should think most players will agree with most of what I think on BOH.

    BTW a zip file is not an installer. An installer on Windows is a .exe or a .msi file that you double click on to launch the installation process. You'd be surprised how many people will give up when confronted with a zip file.

    Cas :)
     
  7. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    It's not my intention to turn down anybody's advice just for the sake of it, nor to give excuses.
    PrinceC has made some remarks about the game (and I thank him for that!), and I answered explaining the facts relative to them (except for the installer thing, which now I can answer thanks to the explanation he gave me in the following post).

    As I said, it has started for love, but then it became also a commercial project (without losing the love aspect). To me, these aspects are not mutually exclusive and actually people appreciate the love which the product has been produced with (this can be interpreted in a general sense, but I also refer to people who actually spoke their appreciation).

    In short, trying to be clearer: most of the items in the default theme *have* visual feedback; the "castle" theme has precisely the kind of visual feedback Cas said. Since the game is themed, the player is free to choose the theme that suits him most.

    No, I don't want that. Quite simply, I'm offering a game. It may be enjoyed by both "old" and "new" gamers. Sure, the game doesn't quite fit in today's gaming culture, but that doesn't mean that it can't fun.

    saimo
     
    #47 saimo, May 17, 2009
    Last edited: May 17, 2009
  8. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    As I said in my answer above, I'm not ignoring what you said - indeed, I considered it carefully, otherwise I wouldn't have even been able answer in detail as I did. Sorry if it will sound pedant, but it's easy to see - you raised 4 points (of which only two regard the gameplay): the 1st wasn't answered because I couldn't see what you meant (but I'll answer below); the 2nd asked for an easier start, and I explained why the demo missions *are* easy; the 3rd one actually asked for 2 things, of which the first has already been "satisfied" and the second has been indeed rejected because of stylistic and gameplay reasons; the 4th asked for a quick-quit feature and I explained that the game already supports that (try clicking the close gadget when playing in window, for example), but since I ignored that SDL didn't handle the specific ALT+F4 combination (despite it should), I said I'll add that feature, although it necessarily needs to be part of a bigger update.

    Ah, now I see. Well, there's a key element to consider: the game comes on CD! When you insert it, the installer is launched automatically, so there's no unzipping to do.
    NOTE FOR TECHIE-MINDED PEOPLE: the CD is both for Windows and AmigaOS (not MacOS because the MacOS port has been done after the CDs were produced), so it contains platform-specific files (among which, installers) and a common directory containing all the common data. That's why there isn't a single-file package.

    saimo
     
  9. Bad Sector

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    I disagree with this. I've seen many people defending their games and being right about their desicion to defend them. You cant make everybody happy, there will always be people who dislike one game aspect or another.

    @saimo:
    Since you already have Windows, Amiga and MacOS X versions how about making a Linux version too? :p. I tried it with Wine and i've got only a black screen (actually a black window since it ran in windowed mode).
     
  10. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    Indeed.

    It's in the plans, but first I have to complete the additional themes and the developer's documentation that will enable third-parties to make themes, missions and translations.

    Strange: I have successfully ran it under Wine on a couple of machines and many others did the same. Maybe it's just a problem of installation? After all, I don't think the installer works on Wine. To install it manually, follow the steps indicated in the user's manual (it's very easy).
    Sorry for the rushed answer, I'm in a hurry! I'll be back in some 4 hours.

    saimo
     
  11. princec

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    I used to think that too.

    Cas :)
     
  12. Bad Sector

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    @princec:
    And now what do you think?

    @saimo:
    It was probably the installer as you said. I copied the contents of "common" in "Windows" and it worked. Although the "press any key" screen went away only when i pressed Num Lock :p. The themes are a nice touch. Although i can't say the game itself was my kind of game. I might liked it if it was in first person perspective though :p.
     
  13. princec

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    Now I think that if anyone has a criticism of any of my games they are almost certainly going to be the criticisms that 1,000 potential customers had that stopped them buying my game. That doesn't mean I'm going to pander to every criticism from everyone - just that if I have a target market in mind I'll be listening to their criticisms in particular.

    When the day comes I release a game and everybody goes, "Wow! that's just great" that'll be when I've figured it all out.

    Cas :)
     
  14. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    Yes. If you want a cleaner installation:
    1. make a folder;
    2. copy the contents of "Windows" there;
    3. copy the contents of "common" there.

    Weird.

    Well, the world is full of FPSes, so BOH wants to offer an alternative ;)
    Of course, it's perfectly OK if BOH doesn't meet your preferences :)

    saimo
     
  15. defanual

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    I think everyone being a bit rough on you (just a little anyway) considering it's a situation of any sales is a bonus, but if I'm to understand that your installer requires the user to copy files to their windows / common directories manually, I think that's taking things a little too casual / far, even for a hobbyist project.

    It takes a hour or so to setup an installer (in something like the great free tool Install Creator **plug) that copies and (equally important) uninstalls these files to the users folder for them.

    If I'm expected to copy files to folders without an installer / uninstaller in 2009 I'm more then likely gonna past and I'm a techie / core gamer type. You should at least do the simply / quick stuff and this is one of them, not having a proper installer in these modern times just comes across lazy more then anything else and will probably put people off trying and certainly buying I think (even if that isn't the priority).
     
  16. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    No, that's not how it works ;) There *is* a perfectly regular installer. The user inserts the CD into the drive and the installer pops up automatically.
    You may have been confused by two things: the demo and the installation on Linux+Wine: the demo is a .zip archive that needs to be extracted somewhere (and, after that, the regular installer can be launched with a double-click); the fiddling on Linux+Wine is required only because that's not an officially supported platform - or, in other words, the Windows version can be made to run on Linux+Wine. Probably I'll release also a Linux native version that won't require such operations.
    I hope it's clear now (BTW: if you want, you can try it out yourself) :)

    saimo
     
  17. defanual

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    Oh, ok, I think I misunderstood then, the installers in the zip file, cool:cool: EDIT: Sorry :)
     
  18. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    No problem, really ;)

    saimo
     
  19. princec

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    You can make the full game as obtuse and difficult to install as you like! But you must make the demo utterly brainlessly simple to install or you'll just be throwing away opportunies for people to see your work.

    Cas :)
     
  20. saimo

    saimo New Member

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    I understand you are saying this to strengthen what followed, but, to avoid further misunderstanding to casual readers, let me clarify that the installation of the commercial version is absolutely immediate.

    I agree.
    I assumed that anybody who uses a PC knows what a .zip is (or, at least, that it can read and understand the provided step-by-step instructions). And actually it wouldn't be that bad if who doesn't learnt it some way :D
    Although I wonder if it's any worth getting people who can't even extract an archive to try BOH, later (I'm leaving in few minutes, so I can't right now) I'll look into how to adapt the current installer ;)

    saimo
     

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