[Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze

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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2015, 21:40:28 »
Good news!  The level has been making steady progress, and I've now got the first three areas fully completed and ready for testing.  I've already sent out my (horribly long) PM to Fubaka - if anyone else would be willing to playtest and give feedback, that'd be great!  You can expect a massive PM with a lot of stuff and questions and whatnot, but if it causes you to avoid getting a response to me, it may be best left unread....  :P
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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2015, 08:10:49 »
I would be willing to try it out if it is still available.  :)

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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2015, 08:04:36 »
Alright!  So, after far, far too long, I have some information on Deep Freeze:

It's cancelled It's been slow-going for the last few weeks, and the main reason as of late has been that there's a gimmick I'd like to include, but I'm having some issues with the implementation.  If you'd like to possibly help at the cost of spoiling the level's gimmick for yourself, then read on.

Spoiler: (click to show/hide)
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Offline Talps

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2015, 13:23:08 »
The sound didn't actually bother me. Yeah, you couldn't put music over it, but I don't think it sounds unpleasant.

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Offline egomassive

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2015, 15:24:19 »
Have you tried different tones for different directions? A change in pitch may be all the player needs to distinguish the 2 timers.

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Offline sergiocornaga

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2015, 16:17:58 »
I'm fine with the sound cues. I have a suspicion percussion might work better than piano, but I don't know if that's worth following up on.

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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2015, 22:38:09 »
Thank you for the feedback, guys.  Looking through what y'all said, I decided that the best way to handle it would be to experiment with having multiple audio cues for just this segment.  There'll be the piano cue, a lower-middle-range cue, and then a percussive cue - each one seems to be doing a good job at filling its own space such that the sounds can be heard distinctly.  I'm going to use that combined with a warm, ambient pad for background music, and that should give the area its own, unique sound while still being themed with everything else.  I've also adjusted the piano sound effect so that there's a bit of extra subdivision at the end to help players time when it's going to go off.  Thank you again for the feedback (and it was so quick, too!).  Under the spoiler is what it sounds like, now.

« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 22:41:57 by Ultigonio »
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Offline Purple Ink

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2015, 03:20:02 »
Still looking forward to this, really neat concept. And I think the newest sounds are good.

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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2015, 07:25:05 »
Thank you, those are both good things to hear!  I'm still working on Deep Freeze and fully intend to finish it, but one of the problems with my extremely dense approach to level design is that a single screen can sometimes take an hour to complete!  Other issues come with the fact that I want certain areas to have more content, but coming up with a compelling puzzle or challenge for each screen is tough!  The bright side is that, even though there won't even be half as many rooms as a typical environmental level, Deep Freeze will probably have several hours of dense, varied playtime for someone's first playthrough.  I'm grateful I elected to focus strongly on gameplay for this particular level; working on complex visuals or constructing a coherent story likely would have stopped me from making further progress a long, long time ago.
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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2015, 07:25:30 »
I'll say this..."Deep Freeze" and "Dragon Myth" (by Talps) are the two KS games I'm most looking forward to being released and playing!

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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2015, 11:38:43 »
I'll say this..."Deep Freeze" and "Dragon Myth" (by Talps) are the two KS games I'm most looking forward to being released and playing!
Heheh, that's great to hear!  I'm looking forward to Dragon Myth quite a bit, myself.

So, I spent about 2 hours designing the puzzle for a single screen, today.  After having cleared this massive hurdle, I feel compelled to talk a little bit about how I design puzzles. Much like the rest of my level design, it's kind of a freeform experience.  I'll often throw some things down on a given screen, move around a bit in that space to get a feel for the environment, and then tune jumps, enemies, and the like.  For overworld design, this is done with an overarching structure in mind - I think to myself, "I want the level to head in this direction, with this degree of openness."  And I start laying down the groundwork for the level.

For puzzles, it's as follows:
  • Lay down a few tiles with a small thought in mind (I don't want the player to jump up here, I want these sides of the screen to be accessible
  • Play around in the environment to see how moving around it feels
  • Lay down some enemies and some additional blocks (by this point, the level design doesn't have any holes in it, but I may see sections of the screen where I could definitely put stuff)
  • Consider how I want this screen to fit among the others around it in and add some mechanical density based on that.
  • Test again, where can the player get, where can't they?  I'll keep playing around and seeing where I can and cannot take the player, and the complexity required to get to certain locations
  • Choke points are established, places where the player needs to go but they have to open up first
  • Test again, now I'm trying to see if this "puzzle" has a solution at all
  • OH WAIT, I'VE GOT AN IDEA
  • Wildly scribble down new level elements that may make the screen impossible (and/or will make it really neat!)
  • Test the screen and readjust until it's beatable (note: may take FOREVER)

And that's about it!  I wonder if there's a way to acquire an actual method for this sort of thing....
« Last Edit: December 15, 2015, 13:02:02 by Ultigonio »
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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2016, 10:39:02 »
Once again, it's time for me to chronicle a little more about my workflow on my level, in 300 words or more!  :P2

I've been getting good work done on Deep Freeze over the course of winter break, including a lot of very important polishing that had to be done in preparation for a playtesting session that I did with a friend of mine a week ago, which she streamed.  This particular friend wasn't too bad at platformers, but had no experience with Knytt Stories, letting a very interesting light on how the level could be played.  Before I go into detail on that, though...

The last time I brought on someone who hadn't had any experience with Knytt Stories (and possibly not a lot of experience with platformers), that person played abysmally.  I couldn't make it through the playtesting footage because of the sheer commonality of failure on things I thought simple - not because I was frustrated at the player himself, mind you, but because I was frustrated at my utter lack of foresight.  Even simple quick stair-steppings, jumps that should be simple, timings that should be known - all those were not being applied.  Somehow, despite my knowledge on avoiding this issue, I'd managed to make the severe error of assuming the person had already played a few - if not many - levels of Knytt Stories.  

The playtester was so frustrated with the level that he likened its difficulty to that of I Wanna' Be The Guy - a completely false statement, but a meaningful one, regardless.  It meant that it felt unreasonably hard - that the level was just plain unfair if you didn't already have some of the key muscle memory of Knytt Stories under your belt.  I could have made the level easier - could have toned down some of the earlier sections and made that difficulty curve flow a little more smoothly through reduction....

But I didn't.  I didn't really even want to.  And I still wouldn't want to.  I'm very satisfied with the vast majority of the screens present in Deep Freeze, and, at this point, only some select sections have gotten major difficulty rebalancing because multiple players were dissatisfied with them - and so was I.

So, instead of changing what was already there, I added an entirely new section to the beginning of Deep Freeze.  I won't go into too much detail about it, but the basic thrust of the area was to "train" new players.  This section has comparatively small jumps, lots of stair-stepping, the works - it's all about building up a new player's understanding of Knytt Stories.  

The main takeaway from my experience with that particular playtester is this:  I saw that the level was impenetrably hard for certain players - I added a brand new area.

And so we come to the most recent playtesting of the level.  I cleaned everything up, gave my friend the level, and she played it through from start to current-end.  And she claimed to enjoy it - though she may have just been sparing my feelings, so I took that comment with a grain of salt.  What was most important was seeing how she played.  I was a bit surprised at the difficulty the new intro area caused her, but she made steady through it, and it was very evident in her playstyle afterward that she'd taken away the skills I needed her to have for the rest of the level.  There were two MASSIVE hiccups in the playthrough - these things were adjusted immediately because they were evidently way too hard and way too specific, and I'd already received complaints about them.  So I changed them.

As the playthrough went on, I found myself getting rather in-tune with the way the level should "flow" for a new player - and I realized that this particular playtester was just about to go from one dense puzzle to another, due to the layout of the level.  And she did.  And she said she wanted more platforming.  And I agreed.

So guess what I did

no, guess



That's right, I added another new section.  Well, I say "added" - it's more like I'm currently working on it right now.  And that sounds like a bad thing, like Deep Freeze is going to get pushed even further back because I just cannot stop adding new content, but this particular section is going to be very light on discreet challenges and puzzles - it's going to serve as a break for players, and so, likewise, will serve as a break for me.  This section has, so far, been very easy to work on, which is just what I've been needing at this point in Deep Freeze's development.

So, in closing, here's the big, massive thing I learned from watching this playtester: there's a reason people sometimes have little bits of filler or just slightly easier content in otherwise densely-packed games.  When you have challenge after challenge after challenge or puzzle after puzzle after puzzle - at least, in this kind of genre - it can result in an internal response that's intensely flow-breaking for the player.  They get fatigued - too much consecutive challenge, and they start to lose track of what they're supposed to be doing - they get bored, they get frustrated, they get worse at the game.  And that's no fun at all.  

[886 words.]

(And by the way, AbstractMatter - I haven't forgotten about your offer to playtest!  I'm just saving that until the level's closer to completion - for the intermediate playtesting I've been doing, I'm trying to stay close to the players.)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 10:42:18 by Ultigonio »
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Offline ixMarcel

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2016, 15:26:03 »
Sounds like a good idea to me. A training area would certainly fit in a level like Deep Freeze, but I would suggest making it optional, keeping experienced players in mind  8).

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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2016, 17:22:32 »
Sounds like a good idea to me. A training area would certainly fit in a level like Deep Freeze, but I would suggest making it optional, keeping experienced players in mind  8).
Hahaha, I didn't want make the area optional, but I've already got some extra challenges mixed in just for experienced players!  
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 17:28:19 by Ultigonio »
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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: [Puzzle/Challenge] [KS+] Deep Freeze
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2016, 09:18:26 »
Status update!  Today has been mostly polishing and bug-squashing for the new area - but after all the headache, I can now happily say that it's complete!  I'm really glad I decided to take some time off from the rest of the level to just make something really fast and easy, it's helped me focus a little more on improving some bits of my workflow, on top of rejuvenating my motivation.

I've been muddling around in the script today and so I decided to get a relative idea of how many screens I'd made so far - shockingly, with the addition of this area and some incidental screens, the number of screens with script in them just barely surpasses that of Talps' I Dreamed of the Sky.  Unfortunately, I don't have an especially effective method for counting screens with and without script, so it's not reliable for comparing against other levels, but in the case of Deep Freeze, the two numbers are nearly identical since almost every screen has a shift in it.  :P2  It's still very small in map size compared to juggernauts like IDotS and Fubaka's Cosmic Meltdown (Cosmic Meltdown has over 800 screens with script!!!!), but I imagine it'll stand right alongside them in playtime once it's finished, if only because some parts of it are so darn tough!

Another thing: I may have just discovered that podcasts are an excellent way to keep me focused, especially on the more mundane bits of level designing.  Last night, I got a fairly good amount of work done on this level while listening to some friends of mine playing Pathfinder, and then today I found a podcast and hammered out all of the cleanup work I had planned while listening to that, without ever skipping a beat!  Now I see why people listen to these things.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 09:28:48 by Ultigonio »
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