Cellblock Squadrons beta demo...

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by Reactor, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Hey one and all, we're getting close to releasing our first game, but we've had a number of quirks pop up during development. So, we've put together a demo which we believe to be bug-free. We'd love it if a number of people (Indie developers- not the general public) could download it and check it out. Here are a few screenshots... about 150k each. (they've been posted before)

    One Two Three

    It's a space sim, with a focus on action. To run it, you'll need more than your average indie computer, but from what I understand most people on this forum should be fine.

    Minimum:
    Processor: Intel or AMD, 600 Mhz (1-2Ghz preferred)
    Operating System: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP
    Memory: 128 MB RAM
    Graphics Card: DX8.1 compatible card, GeForce 3 or higher, ATI Radeon 8500 or higher.
    Sound Card: DirectX 8.1 compatible.
    DirectX Version: 8.1b

    The main thing we'd like is feedback on is how well the glow effect holds up. It's similar in nature to the one used in Splinter Cell (if you've ever seen that) and shouldn't do strange things like leave glowy bits all over the place. Things should glow correctly, and that's it. We've tested it on a number of Geforce FX cards, and a couple of Radeon cards, but none of the Go series or anything obscure. We believe we've got things working okay, but we'd like to be rock solid sure before we put up the final website and game/demo. Any other bugs or graphical/sound glitches you notice would be appreciated as well.

    If the game crashes, please email beta@superfurious.com with a bit of info about your crash, and the 'error.log' and 'run.log' files from the main directory.

    We also welcome feedback about the game, how things look and feel... etc, the usual Indie developer treatment. If you don't like something, please tell us. It may not get changed, but it's nice to know anyway. On the flipside of that coin, if you like something, please tell us too! It's hard to know what's good and bad when you've been staring at the thing for 10 months :)

    A full manual is included with the demo, so most importantly... have fun! Thanks to everyone who participates. It's much appreciated.


    Download it here.

    It's about 16meg.
     
  2. cliffski

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    Ok I didnt play it for long but here very basic feedback for you.
    Why do i have to create a profile? im the only one who uses my PC. seems like a redundant step.
    I'd like to be able to use 1280 1024 res but its not an option
    The start menu button should be with the others. for a while I didnt notice it.
    Everything worked fine, no crashes or anything which is good.
    My only worry is that it must be virtually impossible to compete in this genre. Why would I play this instead of a copy of Freespace? Thats the big question. It looks very nice, but not on a par with the Triple A titles, and unfortunately as I see it, 3D space shooters tend to live or die on their eye candy. I think you need to do a lot to emphasise the differences between your game and its rivals, because you can't compete on the eye candy shooter stakes (unless you spend $5 million).
    Nice work though, hope my feedback isn't too negative.
     
  3. Wayward

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    The demo installed and ran without any problems. It was tested on: Windows XP Professional (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 2 (2600.xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158), Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG, Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.00GHz (2 CPUs), 2048MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904), NVIDIA Quadro FX 1000, Driver Version 6.14.0010.6573.

    The demo is well-presented. The front-end is simple but polished. The ingame graphics look okay. I've seen better and I've seen worse (a lot worse). I'd suggest more colourful space vistas, and higher-contrast overbright (modulate x 2) lighting, more glowy bits, and trails. The screenshots don't do the game justice; the ships look too dark on the screenshots, but that isn't really a problem when you're playing.

    I was put off reading the manual by the need to minimize the game. Teach-as-you-play is needed to reach impatient types like me.

    I was okay with the concept of profiles. I'm used to them.

    I found the introductory story dragged on a bit. I appreciate the importance of relating the key scenario concepts, but perhaps you could say it with fewer panels.

    The game itself didn't get me excited. Sorry. I don't normally seek games of this genre, but I can be hooked when they offer something special. Mainly, I found the ship-to-ship combat dull, which is unfortunate as it's pivotal to the whole game. I got an enemy ship in my sights and pounded away with my lazers. It seemed to me that the enemy ships took too long to destroy, and I only tackled them one at a time. There wasn't enough going on to keep me occupied. Other games in this genre do more for me. I like dogging an enemy until I get a missile lock and then launching a fire-and-forget homing missile, knowing that that enemy is doomed and I can focus on the next one. I also prefer fighting lots of weak enemies to a single strong one, switching targets often as opportunities present. Maybe you've got all that stuff later. Maybe it's in the manual that I skipped reading. Unfortunately, you'd lost me before the game had a chance to show itself.

    I'd focus on making the ship-to-ship combat more engaging from the get-go. If the game gets more exciting later, then start with a taster of that.
     
    #3 Wayward, Jan 9, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2005
  4. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Hey guys, thanks for the feedback. I'll go the whole 'devils advocate' route to explain why we decided to do what we did. Obviously when the game is properly advertised it will be explained as more than a " freespace clone".

    I don't think it's a redundant step, mainly because it allows you to have several games running at the same time. We went out of our way to make the process super-fast, so for people who only want to do it once, it's done quick smart. We don't have startup logos or any other self-advertising junk, so it hardly makes starting a game slow.

    I'll have a think about that. The manual explains how to start a game, but good to know.

    1280x1024 isn't a normal aspect ratio (1280x960 is)... but we should be able to put it in. We filtered out anything that wasn't 640x480 'standard' ratios to make sure the glow didn't look wonkey, and the menus didn't look odd. It may not cause a problem, so we'll look into it.

    In Freespace the capital ship combat is... well, poor. In ours, the longer you play, the bigger the battles get, and the bigger the ships. We've had a number of guys play it and just about fall out of their chairs when they've seen a few of the missions. Freespace is one thing, but 99 fighters attacking a ladened battleship is a sight to behold. It also looks different- especially thanks some of the later races.

    We could have, but a year ago we weren't up for the job... which is a shame. The thing is, we're not aiming to compete with AAA titles. That'd be stupid. We're marketing it as it is- a cheap fun space game made by two indie guys.

    Not at all... thanks cliffski.
     
    #4 Reactor, Jan 9, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2005
  5. Reactor

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    A post for you, Wayward ;)

    Thanks for the feedback. It's a fine balance with CellSquads, mainly because we want it to look dark and brooding. Adding hyper-colourful vistas may go to ruining that effect... but we'll see. More glowy bits would be nice, I agree. We'll have to look into that... it just means more time, and we're pretty much out of that.

    I agree. It was a shame we didn't have the time to go for a nice "here's what to do" tutorial, but... you get that. We didn't mind too much because tutorial things *really* bugs us both- they've been done to death. We'll have to seriously consider it.

    Heh, you can't please everyone :) It's a different game... we expected some to be completely put off.

    As mentioned earlier, it's a game about fighters versus capital ships. Later on, when you're faced with beams, mines and the whole kit, things really get interesting (for myself, anyway). But, when you try something different, you do tend to risk alienating people from the get-go.

    The feedback is appreciated, however.
     
  6. C_Coder

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    Brilliant! Reminds me of X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter! I loved that game!

    1. Too dark. I know you explained and I like it dark but I suggest some supernovas in the background so that to see the edges of the ships. It's too dark to notice and you can collide very easily.

    2. I have a GeForce4 Ti4200 128MB video card, running on an AMD Athlon 2500+ with 512MB DDR400 RAM and an nForce 2 chipset. The glow effect is brilliant on my machine.

    3. The story gets me in the game immediately nice work there but you need quite a lot of reading to get into the game the first time. What do you think if you put pieces of the story in between first levels?

    4. Problem. The first time I got into the game, only the music was audible. The sound effects were just clicks and pops. I had to change the device to DirectSound for it to work correctly.

    5. Sound effects. The laser sound of the shark fighter I was using was not very credible. I would increase a bit of bass for more punch... :D (I love bass!)

    6. Radar. It is not very easy to find your wingmen on the radar. Why not use a more clear color like bright green or yellow? (or are all the white dots in the radar your wingmen?)

    Anything else, I would say that for two indie developers doing this brilliant job I would not compare this to any AAA title because in comparison it is much better especially considering the budget and the man power!

    Keep up the good work and I'm willing for more beta testing in the future!!
    I loved it! :)
     
  7. C_Coder

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    Oh yes, I forgot:

    7. Can you make critical points on big ships? I.e. Lasers can be destroyed individually? Like this you can first destroy the big guns and then concentrate on the hull itself.

    8. Some warning sign that a homing weapon is approching would be nice.

    Great game! Cannot stop playing it! :D
     
  8. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Thanks C_Coder... the kind comments are appreciated :)

    We'll have a good think about how to spruce the backgrounds up a bit... you're right that some of them are far too dark.

    The game itself doesn't have a solid story... it's more of banter-like emails between yourself and other people. But, those first few (long) emails are the "here are the reasons you're here" emails. You're right though- they're too long, and don't fully represent the amount of reading later on in the game. I'll look more into cutting them down in length... or spreading some of the info out over the first few levels.

    We've had problems with a number of sound cards, which is why we had to go with some different drivers. What sound card are you using, and are your drivers fully updated?

    I'll see what I can do!

    Those grey dots are your wingmen. Since the randar eventually fills up with 99 of them, we didn't want them being too much of a distraction. They're mainly on the radar so you can see where they're flocking to.

    That's a tough one. We threw this one around for weeks... trying to work out if we should have them or not. Eventually we decided we wouldn't, mainly because (in my opinion) there's nothing as boring as shooting at a completely crippled ship. To add to this, it's difficult getting the AI to shoot at tiny little turrets effectively. Lastly, a number of the turrets appear on unflat surfaces, meaning some guns would have distructable turrets, while others in strange places wouldn't (ala Freespace). We didn't want to confuse the player by having turrets on big ships, in some places but not others, and none on small and medium at all.

    Eventually, we decided not to have them. It's an unusual move, but once you're used to the fact you can't just pick them off it's not much of an issue. Perhaps if we get the chance to do a sequel we'll get that functionality in, and plan for it better.

    :)

    Later on in the game you'd have one every half a second! Actually, the homing shots aren't as strong as what you'd find in XvsT. You can fairly easily dodge them, once you know what you're doing. They're also quite slow (so you can easily outrun them) and are mainly there to stop people from flying lazily.

    Will do, thanks. The comments are appreciated... and we'll see what we can do to improve the game even more.
     
  9. techbear

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    It's a very pretty game! Your glow effects are very nice.

    I have an old P3-800 with a GeForce 4 ti-4200 card, doing 1xAGP. The third mission, where I fought the long, pointy ship with four fins, really started chugging for me. The sky was filled with glowy bullets, of course.

    I agree with other posters that the intro might be a bit long. This is easily fixed; add Instant Action to the main menu.

    I was simply unimpressed with my wingmen. I know you're going for quantity over quality with them, I get it, but I rarely see them except at the beginning of the mission. On the third mission the sky was so filled with bullets that I couldn't tell who's was who's. I know they're there, 'cause I see them on the radar, but there's no way for me to interact with them or focus on what they're doing.

    Perhaps you could indicate them with green diamonds (like you do the enemies). Perhaps just the closest ones, or just a few important ones (the characters you exchange e-mails with). Perhaps your side's bullets should always be a distinct color from the aliens.

    I'd love to know more about these alien ships we're fighting, and the aliens that made them. I know you have in-game info, but what about a briefing while your ship is auto-piloting at the beginning?

    Anyway, VERY nice game, and I hope it makes you filthy rich. :)
     
  10. Martoon

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    Maybe because you'd prefer not to memorize 112 different key commands? This was always a pet peeve of mine with the Freespace series. If Cellblock Squadrons gives me some good shooty action without making me memorize a lot of complex controls, it'll get my dollar.
     
  11. Reactor

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    Thanks techbear! Hope you don't the (now usual) cut and post replies.

    Okay, good to know. Did you drop off bump mapping, or the detail level slider in the graphics menu? There's quite a bit in there to make sure the game keeps up its speed. That third mission only has a few bullets compared to the later missions... maybe we should put together a test mission for you, to see how well your system handles? Would you be up for that?

    Do you mean the beginning writing, or the intro? If you mean the into, it can be skipped by pressing escape.

    Okay, that's interesting. The game runs well on my system, and I don't have any problem telling the difference bewteen bullets. I have to say though, the game isn't a 'play once, you've seen it all' kind of game. There are missions you don't see much of your wingmen (because they're so small) and other times you see a lot of them. I see what you're saying though.

    Those red diamonds are mines! :)

    You unfortunately don't know who it is you're exchanging emails with but... good point. Originally we did have an element in the game, which required knowing about your wingmen, but it got cut because of time. We're hoping to add it back in with a free add-on sometime. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Have fun in the Archive. Look up any of the ships you like!

    That's a great idea for the first few missions... should be do-able.
     
  12. C_Coder

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    I have an SB Live! Value 4ch (not 5.1) and yes the drivers are the latest. What drivers do you use by default when the game is started the first time?
     
  13. Reactor

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    Okay... that's interesting.... what you're using. I have a Live Value as well (4 ch), and everything works fine for me. I had a chat to my brother about it, and he'd like your help in sorting the problem out. If you could email beta@superfurious.com (if you don't mind) he'll let you know how you can help, since he knows what drivers are being used by default (I'm not 100% sure).

    Okay, it's late here... so I'm off to bed :)
     
  14. Tom Cain

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    Looking good! It runs fine for me on a GeForce FX5900.

    The ship selection screen interface caused me some problems. The selected ship is moved from the top row to the main part of the screen, leaving a space. If you roll the mouse over a different ship in the top row, it draws a selection box around it, but leaves that box around it after the mouse has moved away. This confused me every time I used the screen to select ships. A quick glance at the top row made me think I had the middle ship selected because there was a box around in. In fact, I had the first ship selected but had moved the mouse over the middle ship, leaving a selection box around the middle ship and the first ship missing from the selection row altogether. This confused me every time I used the screen.

    I found myself wishing for some kind of aiming help from long distances. The darkness can make the enemy ships hard to see and from a distance you can't see your shot impacting on the hull. I realize this may be how you want it to work, since space shooters with advanced aiming controls become too easy and more of a game of "keep the circle on the diamond." Maybe you could test a simple aid, like changing the center reticle color when the guns are aimed properly. X-Wing was able to do this without detracting from the arcade-like action.

    One of the reasons I would play this instead of Freespace is because I've already played Freespace dozens of times. I would play a game *exactly* like Freespace if it had different missions. This isn't to knock cliffski's observation above, though. I am a big fan of the genre and probably not the best indicator. I love space shooters.

    Good luck with the game. :)
     
  15. Nexic

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    I played it and I was very impressed. The story really dragged me into the game.

    I have to agree other people on here, the enemies take much too long to die. I would like to see much faster, weaker enemies, and much more of them.
     
  16. Reactor

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    Thanks for the additional feedback guys...

    Tom Cain...

    Okay, good to know. We should be able to fix this...

    We've increased the brightness of most backgrounds, and the enemy ships are almost always easier to see now.

    Great idea... we'll put this in. I remember wanting it at one stange, but it didn't get done (for some strange reason :)


    Nexic...

    It's a bit late to add in smaller fighter craft now, but as a consolation, later on when there are more squads versus more smaller ships, they do tend to die quicker (a lot quicker). It actually starts feeling more like Freespace then. We'll have to keep in mind adding in some smaller fighter combat with a free add-on later

    Again, thanks for the positive comments and feedback guys.
     
  17. Nexic

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    I only played the first two missions (because my computer keeps crashing, tho I don't think its your game that is causing it) but when I played the enemies didn't really seem to be moving. I mean they were moving, but much slower tha me. Infact the only real time I took damage was when I kept repeatedly crashing into them ^.^

    I really think the game would have much more appeal if the first couple of missions was versus something weaker and faster. My first impressions once I got into the actually game made me feel like the game was going to be boring all the way through. Would it really be that hard to put in enemies into the first two missions that are a bit faster and weaker? Surely you could just modify the stats of the ships you currently have just for those missions?

    I think this change could make all the difference, I can see a lot of people playing and getting turned off at the first instance (though for me the story makes me want to play more, but for others it may not work as well)
     
    #17 Nexic, Jan 11, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2005
  18. Reactor

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    Well, no... it wouldn't be impossible to speed the smaller ships up a bit. I'm not sure chasing after speeding ships would be that fun, but... I'll experiment a bit with it. I might be able to get them boosting around every now and then. One thing I think we will be doing is changing the missions in the demo. Some of the later missions are simply hectic, and once you're in the middle of them the last thing you worry about is how fast the smaller ships are.

    Try the third mission.

    Faster, yes. Weaker... well, that'd just be stupidly easy. The ship would be dead ten seconds before you got to it, since the wingmen you have aren't complete loosers like you'd normally get in a space sim. I'm wondering if people remember the first ships in Freespace? Those basic fighters (especially the ones with shields) actually took longer to kill off than one of our small ones...

    I personally don't have a problem with it (since the first missions of your average space sim usually suck even more), but I'll look into it anyway. Thanks for the additional info, Nexic.
     

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