First of all: congratulations for the very solid concept, solid art style throughout the game, amazingly executed character animation, snappy execution of the game play & solid start screen.
Technically what you have done is amazing and flowing and technically I would give you 5+ starts immediately.
But - as I love games and technicality is not the number one reason why I love games - instead journeying through the game world is or being immersed in the game world or having one on one time with wonderful main character/s & story, or having a big laugh or wonderful puzzlement and awaiting feeling about what is going to come next, I find that these aspects have to be in a game to make me enjoy it with full blast.
Your game has been one of the hardest for me to review.
What you have done is brilliant technical execution wise, yet the most compelling sides of games, those ones which for a player gets really involved with the game world and characters are for me little bit still missing.
Bring in a story line. Write a short wonderful story about the cats and the cook. For example there has been old lady cook in the king's castle, she has spoiled the cats with cream and leftovers. Cook changes, cats are in trouble. They are not anymore spoiled, they have to steal. They come up with a plan to sneak in the castle corridors dressed up as a soldier to steal the food from the kitchen.
Make the cats alive: give them names. Give them different characteristics. Animate the beginning of the story - the big drama for the cats - not being spoiled anymore - just because they are fabulous cats in a castle - and show with animation how the new cook treats them and how they come up with the food stealing plan. Or no animation is needed, it could be done in simple screens as well, where you just press to next to get the story line that leads to the game.
This way player will be more interested to get the cats in the kitchen, and be fond of them, because then they will have personalities and there's a story behind. This kind of story would also make player want to "fight for the cats" which means "play the game", because cats have lost their old lady friend and now it is the tough cook in the kitchen they have to deal with.
Next. Each time the cats have success with stealing food. Animate or make different reaction by the cook to the happening. After each level your obstacles increase so it would be fun to see the cook ripping his hair off and placing more obstacles near the kitchen corridor. The drama arch in the story would increase all the time as obstacles increase. Cook's reaction could become more and more frustrated as game goes on and cats successfully steal the food time after time.
The coins one collects. What is the use of the coins? Could the cats collect something else? What would be more fun thing to collect? Could they for example pick up boots/different helmets? Could you have sort of "dress the cats up" screen where player can put on the collected boots/helmets to the cats?
There should be some reason to collect the collectibles :)!
It might be really fun if you want to develop the game further, to have the cats collect things they can use somehow. Or they could even be able to collect a frying pan which with you can avoid the kitchen axes and knifes if you press a button when a knife is coming towards you?
Like I wrote, technically you are already in the league that can execute all these suggestions. Or in the league that can do anything with the game really. And that is the league where it gets tougher to please the audience and where it is important to start pleasing the players and make it the best possible experience for them. Give them surprises and tricks. Give them a story to relate to.
When I played your game, the points where I was really pleased and that made me happy and where I felt rewarded was when cats were jumping & moving. That animation was amazing and very compelling. But I think I would have loved to be entertained and rewarded in the end too. Like when getting to the kitchen.
The problem for me was that there was always the same cook and the same stealing end and the same way the king looked at the end of his table and that made me feel a bit frustrated when playing your game.
Small thing to do would be that you could alter the faces of the cook and the king a bit. Even give the cook more aggravated look and the king more sad look. Or make the king become thinner and thinner in the end? He is starving then because he doesn't get his dinner. That would make the player anticipate what comes next - like is there a skeleton waiting for them in the king's chair in the very end? Or maybe it is the cats who have collected the hats and they are wearing the king's crown and there is an end picture where the cook is serving them?
The reason why you get 3,5 stars is that technically you're in the league that can do anything already. But technicality is not the only aspect of a good game. In the League of technically superior - it is where you have to start thinking about the other things - collecting collectibles because that leads to something etc. Having a story & rewards because that leads to happy & interested players.
In the end: your game is really good play, solid concept, amazing and eye-pleasing animation with the cats, pleasure to play with once you get accustomed to the jumping, the platforms where you jump to and have to jump with different cats is pleasing experience to get through, and one wants to play it through and it is really really good jam game in a way that it is not too long, not too short, but gives the player some fun time with it and harder challenges as time progress and player learns to control the cats.
What I think is that, you might want to add more "soul" and more "reward" and "surprise" to your game after the jam, to make it completely solid. With "soul", "reward" and "surprise" your game will be a top game definitely and people would appreciate it even more.
In the end: It is very good job for little time, but the technical aspect and the "soul of gaming" are not yet in the right balance with each other.
Entertain. Surprise. Reward. You get all 5 stars then. (You have the technical skills necessary and beyond to do it!)
WOW! What a huge response :)
First of all thank you so much for playing and taking time to think and talk about the strong and weak parts of our game :)
I agree with you that the game needs more work, but you might have in mind that this is a game jam game, made in less than 3 weeks by a team of 3 while doing other stuff. When your resources (mainly time) are limited, you have to focus on some things, and leave to your future self some others.
I can see you are o like a lot to think about games as an experience, as an overall enterteining piece, and you don't forget the most important goal, to connect with your players.
I will recomend you to read "Art of game Design - A book of lenses" or at least check the free app with the full deck of lenses. In his book, Jesse Schell, explains and propose different ways to approach, analize and improve your game, he puts these lenses a name and they include a bunch of questions to guide you through your own search for answers.
On your feedback I could recognize the "lens of the character", "the lens of the story", "the lens of surprise", just to name some. You will love it if you didn't read yet.
One of my favourites is the "toy lens", where he says...
"Think of your game as a toy... without explicit goals for the players. And then ask yourself... Is your game fun to play with ? How can you make it more fun to play with even with no goals."
Anywhay, as you've been really honest i will be aswell, and i must say that I think context is important, and it might be too much asking for more content, like animations, different endings, etc... I mean, i agree the game would be better with all that (and it will be :) ) but i think it's too much to ask a game jam game to have all that content.
For example, with the same limited resources, it means that to add something we would have not to do another thing. What would you take off the game to include something else?
No Cheff/King scene, but a better animation when winning a level could have been smart, but we wanted to include the king somehow (becouse what we have planned for the future of this game, with, as you mentioned, more story)
If you want to send us more insights i invite you to send us a PM
I hope to have you around for the future versions :)
The graphics in this one are amazing. I appreciated especially the eerie orange glowing alien moon landscape and the nice details in the platforms. The player character has really good animation too! :) Music goes well with the atmosphere too.
Suggestions: Add a life system! That would be very great bonus for the player. I don't know what it was with me and the spikes, but I always got as far as it was possible, but with first spikes the death got me :D.
Couldn't use the shop with ESC so I wonder is there a problem with that, or is it just me? :)
The last thing to say: You have created very cool atmosphere to your game - congratulations! And damned spikes, I would have wanted to see what comes out next after all the first double jump platforms :D!
You have some really nice pixel art in the game. Especially the branches look good and the lives system made out of the tree leaves.
Good things come in trees was a fun way to interpret the jam theme :D!
I like the music you chose for the game, it is upbeat and makes one want to try the game again. It is fast enough and loopy enough to keep the player interest for a longer time - fast and loopy tunes sometimes transfer you to in odd meditative game play state where you just want to try and try and try again until you get it right.
It took me a bit while to understand how the game works with all the floating branches, but I got it in the end. Didn't succeed to advance much though, only to the first bee. That nasty squirrel got me too many times before :D.
This might be a really fun play with a vertical view port. Then the player could see more branches that are there to move and move onto. Vertical view port would allow the player little bit chances to earlier think where he/she might want to move the movable branches and how to best avoid the enemies with the branch system.
Also you might consider making really easy practice level for the player, because getting to know the branch system and getting to know how to navigate with it takes some time. With easier first practice level one could have enough time to learn the ropes of the game, before advancing to harder challenges where the nasty squirrels and slippery branches await :D.
P.S. I liked the main character and the way it was animated, that was one funny looking walk and made me smile while I played :D
I like the animation work, good that you show it!
I like especially the funny zombie walk and the way how they start to move their arms up and down when attacking the player! :D Keep up with good work.
When I was playing I noticed that the attack towards the zombies somehow makes me think (the movement) about digging yourself their guts out. That was cool! The character's attack ended up being much more bad ass than the zombie attack!
thanks yee i did it really fast cause was running out of time
I'm not usually a fan of the game type your game represents, but this one was nice play and I liked it. This game reminds me of the old wooden box game, where you turned the board, to get the ball past labyrinth with holes. Although this one is better than that game, because you can't drop to "bad holes" while you play -only to good ones :D!
I like it that you kept the look/feel of the game quite clean.
Some of the sounds were great choices for it - especially where the glove suddenly hits you, I liked there the sound a lot. :) It's great that you took time to animate small things, like the ball going into the good hole in the end of a challenge or that there was the glistering effect in the pattern on the floor that gives you speed.
I also like it that you made the challenges evolve into harder ones and have new elements once you progress through the game.
I like the simple working game logic and idea and the way things level up once you progress through the challenges. I also found it funny that there was the Twitter button in the end :D.
I think the game could benefit from more softness to the way you rotate the box where your ball is in. I had some troubles sometimes with the controllers. I am not sure though, is the problem in the game, because with some games here the first time you play it the controllers are crappy and the second time alright?
There might be some extra "special things"in graphics side which you might want to think about adding to polish things up as the concept is otherwise nailed.
Ideas for the game:
There could be some animation for each time you get the ball to one of the three pads? I appreciate it, when the game tells me, that I've done something correct and thanks me for it :D. It could be even so small, that you make the pads light up in some really cool way?
Or you could have a character- like the ball with hands and legs - attached to the screen (down right corner?), which could be animated & talk and say things like: hey, you did it, wohoo, good job or something. That would definitely bring sense of victory to the game, to have the ball you play with as a character talking back to you.
I completely understand though if the character idea doesn't appeal to you, because some people like their puzzle games sleak and with nothing extra, but I'm just throwing thoughts in the air, because it is fun to think about what kind of things could still go into some game to make it better! :D
The text that appears when the first hole appears. Would be cool if you could attach it to a layer so that it would be right sides on the screen even though player might have moved the board? :) Mine came in some odd upsides down position!
When there's the brick wall in the game, it could have some bigger fracture happening after the first time the glove has hit you to it? It would be nice to have visual feedback of your progress through the wall. :)
And one extra comment - the portals - when I got to those I was totally scared that it is some terrible razor that's going to kill me :D. Was funny to go through it and understand it was a portal. This was one of the best things in the game for me - that the killing razor turned into portals and I was just happy to pass through and laugh about it that why I was thinking it is something terrible! I think you should keep that surprise in the game!! It was fun!
Anyways, thanks for making the game, it was a cool play! :) Kept me entertained to the end!
Thaaaaaaaaaaaaanks !!! :-)
I admit it, I didn't finish the project because of the C3Jam deadline.
But you are right about the visual effects. I'm working on them and the background too.
Sorry about the text not rotating lol.
I'm happy you liked my little "dark hole" lol I wanted people to hesitate :-P
I'll keep all you comments in mind and try to improve the whole thing.
thank you again ;-)
I like it. You have some nice special effects there like the lasers and the portals in the maze with the glowing light.
The cubic brothers have enough animation in them, not too much, not too little either. Just enough to have them feel like cubic & little bit clumsy in their own way, which suits the game. :)
And you have done quite a lot of level design too. I like the level tricks I've encountered this far (haven't been able to finish the game yet!).
Also it was cool, that you took the time to do the animation/conversation with the cubic parents in the beginning, so the game had a story to begin with, not only cubic brothers in the maze! :)
Hey! Thank you for the time you took to write your thoughts here. I am glad you like it.
I have actually started the game with making the Intro, because that was the first ideea that came into my mind. Then the animation for the players. Then I spend the next 6 days, after work, to create the system (I am not experienced in eventing :) ). And one day before the gamejam ending I spent all day for creating 6 levels, it was exhausting :D. The next day I found out that sunday night will end the contest so I took some time to create one more level, add some music and make some final changes.
I like it, it is simple and working "find things and take them to their right places" type of game.
I like your character as well. Who wouldn't want to be bearded adventurer in a tomb? :D
Especially funny thing that made me smile in the game play was the "mmhhmmm" sound when he notices places of interest.
It kind of made me feel I am safe with the bearded adventurer even in the scary tomb, because he is just nodding and "mmhmmm"ing in pleased knowing grandfather kind of way all through his "scary skulls and entrapped in a tomb" adventure :D.
Bearded adventurer has seen it all! He is definitely not scared of any usually scary places! Good game hero to be safe with anywhere!!
I really like it. The characters were compelling & funny, they made you want to play it through until you got to the end. That's really valuable thing for a game.
The eye adventure was great, because I like funny things you might not figure out immediately but then when you get it you are amused and happy! :D
The art style and the game world peculiarities made me want to continue the game even when it finished, because I wanted to see what would come next in this odd adventure world.
Your character animation was delicate, I loved especially the small funny feet off them and the odd dance of victory when a route was completed.
The only things I can think of that could be perhaps tinkered little bit still:
The music. Overall I think the music was eerie in good way and good choice for your eerie game world :). Still I think the game might benefit to have different music for each level, because then the idea of progressing in the game comes clearer as well as each of your amazing creatures would get their own adventure theme music. The same music and tempo continuing through the whole game was the only thing that bothered me a bit in the otherwise compelling game play.
The other thing I was thinking was the end animation. Your game creatures were so great that the ending didn't come out as compelling. In a way this is huge praise :D. You might want to think about letting them shine in the end even more, because they are the ones that made your game very special.
Using the personalities of the creatures might be a thing to think about. Let their gifts shine. They got to the end because of their different skills, so these could be included to the end animation.
Things that came to my mind about the creatures were that it could be even dark rainy night in the end, the tree/roots grows into a huge shelter for it's friends, and eye lights the tree house where it is resting with the other small guy? Or make them dance even better winning dance than after a level? Or let the eye put a light to the sky (like batman light) and call in huge amount of flying/gliding head creatures carrying the three guys away to new adventures?
You have so good & enchanting game world going on, that it would be cool to have an ending that leaves for the player longing feeling to continue playing the game and see more of the world and more of the new adventures of the three creatures which hopefully you will end up making!
It was actually really hard to try to find anything to suggest, because your game is 5++++ for so little time. And you really nailed it with the organic movement / organic strangely peculiar game world & characters. :)
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