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KK/Altair

[Atari 2600] RoboMechanik - a puzzle/action tile-based game

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Hi everybody! :)

 

It's been a while since I shared a first WIP version of RoboMechanik, so it's high time to start an official AtariAge thread, where you'll be able to get a newest version and post comments/suggestions.
(of course I still read all responses on my Facebook DevKK.net page, too, so give it a like to be up-to-date there)

 

Below you can find attached the second WIP version. The changes are extensive, so let me name just a few:

- 49 levels
- Special world "X", which lets you play levels from randomly picked worlds

- More features, including:

- new enemies

- automatic doors

- surprise boxes

- ... and many more

- Two BOSS stages

- New intro and credits screens

 

Known bugs:

- game can randomly lock up when changing levels in world X - I'll be working on this

 

Have fun! And be sure to post your thoughts! :)

 

Thanks,

KK

 

RoboMechanik_by_DevKK__WIP2.zip

Edited by KK/Altair
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Really a major improvement over the first version. :thumbsup:

 

My ideas:

  • I don't know the original, but I would like to see some more puzzle elements (I am a huge Boulder Dash fan). The solutions are IMO often a bit too straightforward.
  • a tracing enemy, maybe showing up when you take too much time (a bit like Berzerk's Evil Otto)
  • a timer
  • different music tracks
  • selectable difficulties
  • some kind of scoring, maybe timer based, so you have a reason to replay and improve a world
  • SaveKey support to track your progress and continue a game
  • maybe occasional bonus rounds

 

For those who missed it, here is the original thread.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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You are really doing an amazing job with this. I enjoy seeing your periodic updates. Keep up the great work!

 

..Al

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Wow...when I play a game that feels like it belongs on the next generation of systems, I'm impressed.

Love the pacing, graphics, music, and sound effects.

 

Really, I got to get some sleep. It's the kind of game that you don't want stop playing. Grateful for that continue feature. But seriously, had to pry myself away from playing, yet I also had to post something. Holding myself back from creating a video for the game (For now).

 

Thank you for sharing it. Very much looking forward to further developments.

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Noticed "WEAK WALL" is listed twice - towards the beginning and end - in the objects list.

Right, but with different graphics. I wonder what the difference is.

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@Thomas Jentzsch:

 

There are some more puzzle levels, but looks like I'm not very good at making hardcore puzzle maps. Have you tried world 'E' in the current build? How would you rate difficulty there?

I might focus more on puzzle maps in future releases, but making good ones takes really a lot of time. But you should be happy to hear I have made several Boulder Dash (with boulders) maps already.

 

I have tracing enemies (eyes), but I don't plan on adding timers or similar limits. For one, I don't have memory to store that, and it would require getting rid of map number in-game display.

 

There are two music tracks. One starts when you enter intro screen, and the other when you start new game. But for longer plays, they will both play in turn.

And as I already have under 50 bytes left in audio bank, I don't expect being able to add more.

 

How do you think the game should change according to difficulties?

 

The scoring idea is nice, but if I'll be able to add it (RAM!), I'll probably just award points based on level difficulty and you'll be able to see how far you can go without running out of lives.

As for replayability, there is world X which serves maps from random worlds.

 

I don't think SaveKey is really needed here, because you can start from first stage of any world. Upon losing last life, you can also choose continue from the last level you played.

 

In general, I'm very near to ROM/RAM limits (except I didn't release all the maps in this build), so my options are a bit limited at this point.

 

 

@Trebor:

 

Please DO make as much videos if you like. If you could comment while playing (in English) - even better. I love watching these videos, as they give me insight on how new players play the maps,

and where real difficulty lies for someone, who hasn't played this game to death already and didn't design the levels himself. :)

 

"WEAK WALL" is listed twice, but I'll rename the latter to "3 HIT WALL", because it takes three shots to destroy.

 

 

@Everyone:

 

Thanks for your kind comments! They keep me motivated to try to make this game as good as I can. :)

 

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There are some more puzzle levels, but looks like I'm not very good at making hardcore puzzle maps. Have you tried world 'E' in the current build? How would you rate difficulty there?

Actually I had not tried it before. The puzzles there are really fun and some are also quite hard. :thumbsup:

 

I might focus more on puzzle maps in future releases, but making good ones takes really a lot of time. But you should be happy to hear I have made several Boulder Dash (with boulders) maps already.

Understood. And yes, BD maps will definitely make me happy. :)

 

I have tracing enemies (eyes), but I don't plan on adding timers or similar limits. For one, I don't have memory to store that, and it would require getting rid of map number in-game display.

Have you thought about using extra e.g. SuperChip RAM? Though, that would cost you 256 bytes for each page... :ponder:

 

There are two music tracks. One starts when you enter intro screen, and the other when you start new game. But for longer plays, they will both play in turn.

And as I already have under 50 bytes left in audio bank, I don't expect being able to add more.

Let me know if you want me to have a look for some optimizing. Which tracker are you using?

 

How do you think the game should change according to difficulties?

Without a timer, this becomes a bit tricky. Maybe the enemies could move faster? More or less lives would be another option. More or less frequent bonus lives too. Maybe I can come up with more ideas.

 

The scoring idea is nice, but if I'll be able to add it (RAM!), I'll probably just award points based on level difficulty and you'll be able to see how far you can go without running out of lives.

That should already help. Instead of a timer, you could count the player's steps. The more steps, the less points.

 

As for replayability, there is world X which serves maps from random worlds.

This already helps, but basically it only gives you access to worlds which you can only hardly reach or not at all. For even more replay value, there has to be an incentive to beat a world better than you already did.

 

I don't think SaveKey is really needed here, because you can start from first stage of any world. Upon losing last life, you can also choose continue from the last level you played.

Yes, but only until you switch of the console. And IMO continues should be limited. But you are right about selecting the worlds. Alternatively a key code would work, but I suppose that would require even more ROM.

 

In general, I'm very near to ROM/RAM limits (except I didn't release all the maps in this build), so my options are a bit limited at this point.

Fully understood. Again, if you need help with optimizing for ROM space, I am pretty talented. :)

 

BTW: This game needs a manual. I know I can figure it out myself, but there are a lot of casual gamers out there.

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Some levels are too easy.

Try to add sokoban stuffs on all the levels. The flying enemies (bats?) are too easy, try make them twice as fast.

 

How about sokoban keys? Do not pick them, push them into the doors. This make the levels more longer.

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Have you thought about using extra e.g. SuperChip RAM? Though, that would cost you 256 bytes for each page... :ponder:

I don't need that much RAM. And losing 256 bytes per page would mean cutting features too much - at least 10 maps less, removing some tile types (graphics won't fit), and cutting major parts of the music.

Not worth it, IMHO. Also I'm really happy I can pull it off on pure F4 bankswitching without using any dirty tricks. :)

 

 

 

Let me know if you want me to have a look for some optimizing. Which tracker are you using?

FL Studio. ;) With custom VST I made myself. So I think I already harvested any low to medium optimization fruits. :)

 

 

 

Without a timer, this becomes a bit tricky. Maybe the enemies could move faster? More or less lives would be another option. More or less frequent bonus lives too. Maybe I can come up with more ideas.

I was thinking about varying life count and disabling continue feature on some settings.

 

 

 

That should already help. Instead of a timer, you could count the player's steps. The more steps, the less points.

I was never fan of step-optimizing games, so I'm not really inclined to add that feature. :)

 

 

 

This already helps, but basically it only gives you access to worlds which you can only hardly reach or not at all.

The idea was to add a bit of surprise, and to test how well player remembers various stages.

 

 

 

Yes, but only until you switch of the console. And IMO continues should be limited. But you are right about selecting the worlds. Alternatively a key code would work, but I suppose that would require even more ROM.

The idea was based on H.E.R.O. system, where you could start from any fourth level (1, 5, 9...), which is I think clever solution without using any permanent storage. It allows keeping some progress, while still losing something upon "game over". I was initially thinking to disallow continues straight away, but after watching ZeroPage Homebrew playing RoboMechanik on stream, it looks like that limitation would take away too much fun. It looked like they used dozens of lives to figure certain stages (especially the boss one), but when they finally did, it was really rewarding. So I don't think I should punish new players for trying. :)

For now, I think the continue option will depend on game mode (selected with switches, or maybe in menu), with some hardcore "go as far as you can" modes included (anybody up to beating whole game on single life?). :)

 

 

 

Fully understood. Again, if you need help with optimizing for ROM space, I am pretty talented. :)

Any hints on how you would approach this?

 

 

 

BTW: This game needs a manual. I know I can figure it out myself, but there are a lot of casual gamers out there.

The manual will definitely be there at some point. :)

 

 

 

Some levels are too easy.

That depends on the player level. :) After developing this for so long, almost all of the levels feel easy for me. Except few ones which have INSANE difficulty and still keep it after lots of play-throughs. ;)

But if you think some levels are definitely garbage - don't hesitate to name them. I have quite comfortable level editor, so I can come up with new ones in relatively short time. :)

 

 

 

Try to add sokoban stuffs on all the levels.

With 12x9 grid making a reasonable sokoban stuff requires dedicating entire map to it. And it's hard to design, because if I want to make them really hard, testing usually turns out there's still a really easy solution, requiring to almost start the design from scratch. So I don't expect to make any really difficult sokoban puzzles unless I at least partially automate making it (e.g. making sure there are no easy solutions).

 

 

 

The flying enemies (bats?) are too easy, try make them twice as fast.

They are meant to be easy. :) A lot of other enemies are twice as fast, so I can design for any difficulty I want. :)

 

 

 

How about sokoban keys? Do not pick them, push them into the doors. This make the levels more longer.

Play some more later levels, and you'll find exactly that, even in three forms:

- battery, which you can push into a battery slot to activate something (open door, spawn a screw, etc.)

- "rune key" which you push into proper door to open them,

- the same "rune key" can be pushed into a "run box" to open it, revealing an item inside (there are no levels using that feature in this build)

 

Thanks for all the comments! Keep them coming! :)

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I don't need that much RAM. And losing 256 bytes per page would mean cutting features too much - at least 10 maps less, removing some tile types (graphics won't fit), and cutting major parts of the music.

Not worth it, IMHO. Also I'm really happy I can pull it off on pure F4 bankswitching without using any dirty tricks. :)

That (IMO good) attitude has become quite rare these days.

 

I was thinking about varying life count and disabling continue feature on some settings.

Yes, that would work. But is it enough to make a difference?

 

I was never fan of step-optimizing games, so I'm not really inclined to add that feature. :)

Understood.

 

Another idea for difficulty levels: Worlds could contain extra tools, e.g. 3 keys for 2 doors or more bombs. Or you have to collect less screws. Or there are less blockers. This would work well for puzzle worlds, but of course each change will require extra tedious testing.

 

The idea was to add a bit of surprise, and to test how well player remembers various stages.

Ok, that's cool. But does it really make people come back after they solved all worlds?

 

The idea was based on H.E.R.O. system, where you could start from any fourth level (1, 5, 9...), which is I think clever solution without using any permanent storage. It allows keeping some progress, while still losing something upon "game over". I was initially thinking to disallow continues straight away, but after watching ZeroPage Homebrew playing RoboMechanik on stream, it looks like that limitation would take away too much fun. It looked like they used dozens of lives to figure certain stages (especially the boss one), but when they finally did, it was really rewarding. So I don't think I should punish new players for trying. :)

For now, I think the continue option will depend on game mode (selected with switches, or maybe in menu), with some hardcore "go as far as you can" modes included (anybody up to beating whole game on single life?). :)

I would exclude some worlds here. Just to make the hard core players happy. Maybe the last world(s) of each group could only be reached if you played through the whole game and/or did not use any continues. So you really have to master the game to see everything.

 

Any hints on how you would approach this?

Usually just some hefty peephole optimizing, often with some local code restructurings,

 

That depends on the player level. :) After developing this for so long, almost all of the levels feel easy for me. Except few ones which have INSANE difficulty and still keep it after lots of play-throughs. ;)

But if you think some levels are definitely garbage - don't hesitate to name them. I have quite comfortable level editor, so I can come up with new ones in relatively short time. :)

I have to replay again, but there are a few worlds which are just way to easy. And the difficulty ramp up seems sometimes a bit off.

 

Also, how have you structured the worlds and world groups? Do the world groups have a common idea? Like E, which consists out puzzle worlds?

 

BTW#1: How do you abort a game quickly? Maybe pressing RESET and SELECT together would work here.

BTW#2: IMO the win message misses an "a" before "long".

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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Here are my thoughts for the C world group (and other molecule level until then):

  • C1 is pretty boring. IMO it doesn't do its job, because you don't see, that the molecules are moving when they get space (and they got introduced in A8 already). Give them a little initial room, maybe enough so that you cannot solve the level without freeing some. A bit like C3
  • C2 is already quite difficult, maybe swap with C6 which seems easier
  • C3 I like that one.
  • C4 seems a bit too easy. Its more a like tutorial world. And it doesn't fit to the other ones.
  • C5 is also too simple and straightforward and also doesn't fit to the other ones.
  • C6 fits nicely, maybe there should be less safe spots.
  • C7 is cool!
  • C8 is a blast! But it has no molecules, so maybe it fits better into a different world group.
  • B2 seems like another world from this group, but it is just another very simple one. Not sure if it is required.
  • B4 also fits in here, and it is not a too easy one.
  • B5 looks and plays a lot like C6, one of them seems redundant
  • B6 is nice and combines molecules with another element.
  • B8 plays well and has nice ideas, but maybe there are too many different elements at once this early.

Idea for a molecule level (stolen from BD ;)): let the player dig a labyrinth first. Then release the molecules into this labyrinth and gain enough time to collect the screws before the molecules come back.

 

General thought: After introducing the molecules with a few worlds, later worlds should start combining them with other, already introduced elements. E.g. A8 would fit here.

Even more general thought: I would structure the world groups a bit. E.g. world A is meant as tutorial, introducing the most common elements only. Then each world group should introduce ~2 or 3 new elements (one by one), play with them for a few worlds and then combine them with already known elements from the previous worlds. So overall each world group becomes more and more complex.

 

BTW: The molecules seem to behave a bit like the Boulder Dash fireflies. But I think their first preference is to run in a straight line, right? That way you can quite easily cheat them, so they don't follow you.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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Yes, that would work. But is it enough to make a difference?

Disabling continue feature definitely makes a difference, because with continues you can just play like you have infinite lives.

 

 

 

Another idea for difficulty levels: Worlds could contain extra tools, e.g. 3 keys for 2 doors or more bombs. Or you have to collect less screws. Or there are less blockers. This would work well for puzzle worlds, but of course each change will require extra tedious testing.

I already thought about that, but most levels won't fit this scheme.

 

 

 

Ok, that's cool. But does it really make people come back after they solved all worlds?

Well, it still kind of works for me, after playing all the levels more than anybody, so it's definitely something worth having given its low implementation cost.

 

 

 

I would exclude some worlds here. Just to make the hard core players happy. Maybe the last world(s) of each group could only be reached if you played through the whole game and/or did not use any continues. So you really have to master the game to see everything.

I was thinking more along the lines of disabling the continue feature in certain worlds. Having something unlockable in game immediately calls for save feature, which should be done on cart because most players won't have SaveKey or something similar.

 

 

 

Usually just some hefty peephole optimizing, often with some local code restructurings,

I'm now at the level of global code restructuring (e.g. already rewritten entire enemy logic code), so I'll leave local optimizations to when I'll be fighting for single bytes. Right now I have 50-300 bytes left in each bank except in two banks for keeping maps and the music/sfx bank, so I don't feel constrained too much at the moment. :)

 

 

 

I have to replay again, but there are a few worlds which are just way to easy. And the difficulty ramp up seems sometimes a bit off.

It's hard to balance the difficulty when you have played all levels more than you'd like to and knew all puzzle solutions before thy even existed. :) Still, the A-D words (except boss stage C-8) are mostly from first WIP, so I might still reorder them further. Also, I'm aiming at having a separate difficulty curve for each world, so while the latter worlds will be more challenging, every world will start relatively easy on its own.

 

 

 

Also, how have you structured the worlds and world groups? Do the world groups have a common idea? Like E, which consists out puzzle worlds?

That is the plan, but with levels I have currently developed it's sometimes hard to group them this way.

 

 

 

BTW#1: How do you abort a game quickly? Maybe pressing RESET and SELECT together would work here.

You can RESET to lose a life and restart current map, and if you still have lives, you can press SELECT on the "get ready" screen to return to world selection.

 

 

 

BTW#2: IMO the win message misses an "a" before "long".

Thanks! Fixed. There was room for just 2 extra characters on this line. :)

 

 

 

Here are my thoughts for the C world group (and other molecule level until then):

This list is PERFECT! Keep it coming, if you feel like it. :)

 

  • C1 - The point here is to avoid opening the baddies completely. You never know which direction they are looking at, so you are risking insta-kill.
  • C2 - OK. I boosted it's difficulty to "medium" in level notes to remember to push it back during next reordering.
  • C4 - That's one of my failed attempts at making hardcore puzzle. Having 12x9 grid overfilled with boxes sounds hard, right? Well, it turned out that the hardest thing here is to make it hard. :)
  • C8 - That's boss fight, which will stay here because I have just enough bosses to put them every 3rd world. And this is 'C', so... :)
  • B5 - True. I have also a few other level pairs similar to each other, so a bunch of them will probably get swapped for something else.
  • B8 - It got it spot as '8' because it was designed as hard race against the cannon. That is, until I saw that you can simply block the cannon back with the crate.

 

 

Idea for a molecule level (stolen from BD ;)): let the player dig a labyrinth first. Then release the molecules into this labyrinth and gain enough time to collect the screws before the molecules come back.

It would work better with other enemies, because it's too easy to trap the molecules completely.

 

 

 

Even more general thought: I would structure the world groups a bit. E.g. world A is meant as tutorial, introducing the most common elements only. Then each world group should introduce ~2 or 3 new elements (one by one), play with them for a few worlds and then combine them with already known elements from the previous worlds. So overall each world group becomes more and more complex.

That would be ideal, but considering the levels I have already, they combine all existing elements as they seem fit, while also having varying difficulties. So it would be hard to arrange them by features and at the same time have reasonable difficulty curve. But I will try. :)

 

 

 

BTW: The molecules seem to behave a bit like the Boulder Dash fireflies. But I think their first preference is to run in a straight line, right? That way you can quite easily cheat them, so they don't follow you.

Yes, the molecules and the bat were the first enemies developed for the first WIP (released at SillyVenture), so their logic is quite simple. The most recent butterfly (not used in this WIP) and the saw are classic wall followers, so thy would work better here.

 

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Saw this link at RVG and was blown away. Looks GREAT and looking forward to watching your progress :cool:

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I already thought about that, but most levels won't fit this scheme.

For others the speeds could vary. Are you using fractional math here? That would allow fine tuning the speeds nicely.

 

After that, what kind of levels wouldn't fit? Do you have some examples? Maybe I can come up with other ideas.

 

Well, it still kind of works for me, after playing all the levels more than anybody, so it's definitely something worth having given its low implementation cost.

It definitely is a good addition. And you should keep it. That's not what I meant to say. I was only wondering if that's enough for an extra replay incentive.

 

I was thinking more along the lines of disabling the continue feature in certain worlds. Having something unlockable in game immediately calls for save feature, which should be done on cart because most players won't have SaveKey or something similar.

 

Here I disagree. Many, many games have levels which can only be reached after mastering a lot of previous levels. If you hide maybe 20% of the worlds in total, that wouldn't hurt the casual player and add that extra incentive for hard core players.

 

I'm now at the level of global code restructuring (e.g. already rewritten entire enemy logic code), so I'll leave local optimizations to when I'll be fighting for single bytes. Right now I have 50-300 bytes left in each bank except in two banks for keeping maps and the music/sfx bank, so I don't feel constrained too much at the moment. :)

That sounds fine. If the status should change, maybe you want to come back to me. :)

 

It's hard to balance the difficulty when you have played all levels more than you'd like to and knew all puzzle solutions before thy even existed. :) Still, the A-D words (except boss stage C- 8) are mostly from first WIP, so I might still reorder them further. Also, I'm aiming at having a separate difficulty curve for each world, so while the latter worlds will be more challenging, every world will start relatively easy on its own.

Yes, game balancing is not an easy task. Especially for this kind of game. But it can make a big difference, so IMO it is worth the effort.

 

I wouldn't mind if later world groups start harder than previous ones. Especially those were all kind of elements are being combined.

 

That is the plan, but with levels I have currently developed it's sometimes hard to group them this way.

I don't know the total numbers of levels you have and the space you have to use them. But you probably need a few which you can throw away.

 

Also, only the first groups have to work like this. The latter ones can be less strict, because they are only combining already existing/known elements.

 

 

You can RESET to lose a life and restart current map, and if you still have lives, you can press SELECT on the "get ready" screen to return to world selection.

 

Ah, I didn't notice. So it is a two step game abort, right?

 

BTW: I suppose the individual level selection is only there for debugging, right?

 

 

This list is PERFECT! Keep it coming, if you feel like it. :)

C1 - The point here is to avoid opening the baddies completely. You never know which direction they are looking at, so you are risking insta-kill.

Hm, avoiding them is too easy then.

 

B8 - It got it spot as '8' because it was designed as hard race against the cannon. That is, until I saw that you can simply block the cannon back with the crate.

 

I think you can easily fix that by adding another wall/crate in the row above the crate.

 

It would work better with other enemies, because it's too easy to trap the molecules completely.

Agreed.

 

That would be ideal, but considering the levels I have already, they combine all existing elements as they seem fit, while also having varying difficulties. So it would be hard to arrange them by features and at the same time have reasonable difficulty curve. But I will try. :)

 

That's all one can ask for! :)

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For others the speeds could vary. Are you using fractional math here? That would allow fine tuning the speeds nicely.

No fractional math here. Player uses delays of integer number of ticks, and the rest of the game is synced to music (which uses partially fractional tempo, but I can't change that).

It's enough to keep PAL/NTSC speeds the same within a reasonable margin, so I didn't bother more.

 

 

 

Here I disagree. Many, many games have levels which can only be reached after mastering a lot of previous levels. If you hide maybe 20% of the worlds in total, that wouldn't hurt the casual player and add that extra incentive for hard core players.

Sounds that disabling the continue feature in some worlds will do the trick. Especially for worlds where high difficulty kicks in early on.

 

 

 

Yes, game balancing is not an easy task. Especially for this kind of game. But it can make a big difference, so IMO it is worth the effort.

The core problem is, that once you made the game, you are the least qualified person to properly asses level difficulty. :)

 

 

 

I don't know the total numbers of levels you have and the space you have to use them. But you probably need a few which you can throw away.

Slightly more than 100 now. Every level takes 66 to 120 bytes, depending on enemy and scripts use.

 

 

 

Ah, I didn't notice. So it is a two step game abort, right?

Something like it.

 

 

 

BTW: I suppose the individual level selection is only there for debugging, right?

Yes. I planned the same being true for the continue feature, but after watching some players struggle with some levels I considered easy, the continue feature definitely stays in for casual players.

 

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Thoughts about the A worlds, assuming it is meant as a tutorial world.

A1: perfect for introducing the goal of the game

A2: introduces the crates easy enough

A3: introduces bombs, weak walls and ammo and combines them with crates (to be bombed). IMO that's a bit too much at once. I would leave out the weak walls here.

A4: introduces keys, doors and turrets, combined with bombs, ammo and crates (to be bombed and moved). Already quite complicated for a tutorial level, IMO this would better belong to a later group of worlds.

A5: introduces just the bat, very easy, here one more new element would make sense

A6: introduces the teleport very nicely, but IMO this is an advanced element which shouldn't come up that early. I have to check were it shows next, it is not used in B and C.

A7: bats with keys and door (very easy), nothing new here, so probably not a candidate for a tutorial

A8: introduces the molecules and combines with the bat, already a bit difficult, should better be put into a later level of world C.

 

Thoughts about B

B1: this would make a good tutorial for the gun (easy)

B2: could be an introduction level for molecules (easy)

B3: shows that you can shot bats with ammo (easy), could also become a tutorial level

B4: molecules only, medium difficulty

B5: quite similar to B4 (medium)

B6: danger is new here, combined with a hunting molecule (above medium)

B7: bats only, nice one, you can either run ahead or behind them (above medium)

B8: lots of elements combined (keys, door, turrets, bats, molecules, weak walls (hard when fixed), a (too) big step in difficulty, IMO a bit too much for an early world like B

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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No fractional math here. Player uses delays of integer number of ticks, and the rest of the game is synced to music (which uses partially fractional tempo, but I can't change that).

Why not? A faster music for a faster level seems to make sense to me. So you accelerate the music and automatically the game becomes faster (and harder).

 

With ticks you mean frames, right?

 

Sounds that disabling the continue feature in some worlds will do the trick. Especially for worlds where high difficulty kicks in early on.

IMO an unusual concept to disable continue based on worlds, but I think it does the job too.

 

The core problem is, that once you made the game, you are the least qualified person to properly asses level difficulty. :)

That's why I am writing down my initial thoughts now, and not after I have played each level numerous times. :)

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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A3: introduces bombs, weak walls and ammo and combines them with crates (to be bombed). IMO that's a bit too much at once. I would leave out the weak walls here.

So, you'd prefer a smoother learning/difficulty curve?

 

 

 

A4: introduces keys, doors and turrets, combined with bombs, ammo and crates (to be bombed and moved). Already quite complicated for a tutorial level, IMO this would better belong to a later group of worlds.

This was based on the first level of the Robbo, and it's not even a quarter of it. :)

 

 

 

A8: introduces the molecules and combines with the bat, already a bit difficult, should better be put into a later level of world C.

As I've said, I want the difficulty to ramp up a bit at the end of each world, so player has some sense of achievement.

 

 

 

Why not? A faster music for a faster level seems to make sense to me. So you accelerate the music and automatically the game becomes faster (and harder).

Well, that actually is an idea for a difficulty setting. :)

 

 

 

With ticks you mean frames, right?

Yes.

 

 

 

That's why I am writing down my initial thoughts now, and not after I have played each level numerous times. :)

Excellent. I should figure out some way to attach notes to levels, not to gt lost when I move them around.:)

 

 

 

Wow! :-o Is this the 2600? Or did you hack Stella emulator to do that job??? :-D

No. :) I didn't even use extra RAM or DPC/DPC+/ARM for any dirty tricks. Just plain old F4 32k bankswitching and good old Atari 2600. :)

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So, you'd prefer a smoother learning/difficulty curve?

Not for me, but having the more casual gamers in mind.

 

This was based on the first level of the Robbo, and it's not even a quarter of it. :)

Then this was definitely a different approach. No tutorial levels there.

 

As I've said, I want the difficulty to ramp up a bit at the end of each world, so player has some sense of achievement.

Understood, but I would try to make something out of the elements introduced already. My idea for each (early) world is:

  • first introduce something new (easy to medium difficulty)
  • then play with (mostly on its own or with only a few other known elements) (medium)
  • finally combine it with all elements known until now (medium to hard)

In the first world(s) you should introduce basic things rather quickly. Later slower, one by one and not too many new per world, so you have enough levels to combine it. So the focus is shifting from introducing to combing for each world and even within each world. In the latest worlds you would just combine everything as you like and only ramp up the difficulty.

 

I would make a plan, which elements should be introduced in which order. And then start assigning each element to a world for being introduced. Example (10 elements, 10 worlds):

  • world 1: elements 1..3
  • world 2: elements 4+5
  • world 3: elements 6+7
  • world 4: elements 8+9
  • world 5. element 10
  • world 6..10: only combining (maybe you can give every world a theme based on an element or challenge which occurs frequently)

That way you can move all "superfluous" levels you have already into the later worlds and order them there by difficulty.

 

Just my two cents. :)

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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Continuing with World D:

  • D1: nothing new (bombs, crates and a turret), but a very nice level nevertheless (medium)
  • D2: nothing new (bombs, crates, ammo, keys and door), well done (medium+)
  • D3: nothing new (bombs, keys, ammo), nice idea with the blocking keys (just 3 bombs would do too) (easy-medium)
  • D4: extra life (turrets, keys and door), you need patience, then its no too hard (medium)
  • D5: nothing new (turrets and crates), blocking 3 turrets is rather easy, then the level becomes quite easy too (easy-medium)
  • D6: nothing new (molecules), another introduction play level? (easy, more molecules might help)
  • D7: nothing new (turrets), would make a nice turret introduction play level (easy-medium)
  • D8: nothing new (turret, bombs, bats), quite easy if you are patiently watching the timing (medium, with just 6 or even 4 bombs it would become more challenging)

World E:

  • E1: rune keys and doors, after you arranged the keys initially, it becomes a bit tedious to push them around (easy-medium)
  • E2: surprises (turret, bombs, crates, keys and doors), nice idea, (easy-medium, more crates and less bombs might make it more challenging, one could also hide an extra life here)
  • E3, nothing new (crates), except for the bottom middle its pretty obvious how to push the crates (easy-medium)
  • E4: cells and slots, I like the idea that you have to run all around for pushing (medium)
  • E5: trip wire (molecule, crates, bomb), cool one! getting the molecule where you want it, can become really challenging (medium-hard)
  • E6: burner (crates), you can solve the level without using the burner (medium)
  • E7: sand (turret, bomb and surprises), nice puzzle for the first time (easy-medium, mixing some crates might make pushing harder, or 1-3 surprises are bombs!)
  • E8: nothing new (runes, cells and their doors), good and quite challenging puzzle level (hard)

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OK, last world (for now) F:

  • F1: Saws, simple introduction level (easy)
  • F2: nothing new (saws), since they are all running in sync: (easy, async will make this harder)
  • F3: nothing new (saws), nice hurrying from safe spot to safe spot (medium)
  • F4: nothing new (bats, rune keys and doors), I like how the bats interfere with each other (medium)
  • F5: nothing new (saws), clockwise or counter clockwise, that's the question, nice! (hard)
  • F6: nothing new (saws), once you understand where the safe spots are, it becomes relatively easy (medium)
  • F7: nothing new (saws and burners), nice chaotic one, the safe spots help (medium to hard, more saws would make it hard)
  • F8: spawn doors, semi weak walls, cores (ammo, turret, boss eyes, alien walls), it takes a while until you even realize that what to do with the semi weak walls, until then you die a lot already, and then you die even more! (f***ing brutally hard! unless I miss something, should be Z-8 :))

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