Stream Of Consciousness - Gameplay Session
This first section is me just taking notes as a play the game, writing down thoughts as they come to me. A negative statement doesn’t equal a suggestion. I tried to add a bold Suggestion or Bug indicator anywhere I have a suggested change.
Chapter 0 - Forest of Doom
- I found the intro section mostly just confusing and irritating. I couldn’t even try to fight back or do anything.
- Suggestion: Revise this section to feel more cinematic. Add fog, have the character talk to himself, make the map design more linear. When monsters come, trap the player on all sides in a small area so it’s obvious you’re trapped.
Chapter 1 - Home at last
- On Screen display seems to be controller buttons only. Intro window shows keyboard controls. That will likely need to be cleaned up.
- Rescued by dad? Thanks dad.
- Indoor/outdoor transitions are decently fun.
- I like the polish: wind, wisps of grass, moving trees, etc.
- Bug - I can talk to gramps (Esben) from anywhere? I don’t even see him on screen, but pressing (A) causes me to talk to him.
- After getting the power stones, I built the spinning tower in the wrong location, and it couldn’t reach the target. If I hadn’t already known how to recall towers from other play sessions, I would have been confused about what to do next.
- Suggestion: You may want to consider the scenario I found myself in so new players aren’t confused. Maybe Esben could teach you how to place and recall towers in general first, then have you place it at a specific location.
- Suggestion: show where a tower will be placed. Perhaps the first press shows where that tower will go, and the second press confirms placement. I put towers in the wrong location frequently
- Bug: When playing with a controller, dialogue still shows keyboard controls.
- I like that monsters are already out and about, and don’t only come from huts. It adds a good world feel. I don’t like that there’s still no manual attack ability outside of building towers. It feels weird to build a tower to attack a lone slime.
- Suggestion: Add a weapon that can be used e.g. link’s sword (zelda). See below for more thoughts on this.
- The view from the mountain is a nice touch!
- I like the general level design so far.
- Second “bees” area needs some adjustment of the timers, I think. It’s a little slow.
- Suggestion: I later discovered that a lot of the timer gaps were kind of long. A way to skip the wait might be nice. See below for more thoughts on this.
- The barriers that appear in the third bee section (bridge) are a nice touch. Something similar should happen in every spawn encounter. A change in music or otherwise would also be a nice touch. (BTW, I do like the music so far!)
- Some secrets or dynamic interactions other than turret placement would be nice for traversal sections. Similar to collecting rupees in zelda games by slashing bushes, grass, etc with a sword. Only dashing every few seconds is fine, but not great Idle behavior.
- Suggestion: add destructibles like bushes, crates, tall grass, etc, to the world. It’s nice to have encounters that aren’t dangerous in games. Adding an occasional drop from these destructibles would be a nice touch.
- Some sort of notification of a completed encounter would be nice (a sound, a popup, etc), to help battles feel more complete.
- When the charge meter refills, it should flash and a (louder) sound should play (e.g. Overwatch abilities). The current sound may be too quiet or not sharp enough. The charge refill also seems a bit slow to me.
- Showing the burning town could use some more urgency and polish. It almost looks like there’s just some campfires burning down there or something. Things like sharper camera movements, intense music, etc, could help.
Chapter 2 - That town! It’s smoking!
- Spawning in the middle of an area is confusing. I walked back to see where I came from.
- Suggestion: move the spawn location closer to the edge of the map.
- The grass color is inconsistent with the grass edge pieces:
- Walking through hay could use some polish. It feels really flat.
- When dialogue switches between two people, some transitions are far too slow, and the text starts displaying before the correct person is illuminated.
- Suggestion: speed up the transition. Maybe pause for a few frames before starting the text on a transition
- The encounters with the wolves in the village seem well balanced. This was a fun section.
Chapter 3 - Prove Dad’s Innocence!
- I REALLY want a default attack. Standing around running in circles while my turrets attack things feels too slow.
- Can you stop telling me where to put towers? I want to figure that out on my own.
- Suggestion: After the first time or two, remove tower location suggestions altogether. Part of the fun of this game should be in figuring out a good strategy for each encounter. Even if it’s using a new tower the player has never used before.
- Yay! Treasure!
- Yay! A potion! (not that I needed it, but yay!)
- I’m not sure about this basic gameplay. It hasn’t really changed from the previous build. I like the story and added polish, but I still think the basic gameplay has some problem areas... hmm.
- This build has come a long way! Overall, I had a good time with it.
First off, I like the added story, the larger areas & level design, and that there’s a trajectory set up for more. It’s funny how just adding a simple storyline added so much more interest for me as a player. I like the work you’ve done in this build, and I’m excited to see development continue. Keep it up!
Room for Improvement
In my opinion, these are the biggest problem-areas I see at this point. Following these points are some suggested improvements that address these issues.
- Pacing of battles could use improvement
- Sitting and watching your towers do their work is a little dull.
- In harder encounters, trying to rebuild broken towers mid-fight is clunky, and since a prime strategy is walling off, Most of the time you can’t get to your front line anyway, so there’s not much you can do.
- A smaller issue, but there’s several moments in this release where you’re sitting waiting for the next wave to begin. That pause is nice if you want to rebuild your tower setup, but otherwise, you’re just standing around waiting for the battle to be over.
- There aren’t many options for getting creative with tower placement or multiple approaches to any one encounter.
- To sum it up, there’s not quite enough tools/choices to work with during battles to keep them exciting and fun.
- I like the size of the maps, but walking around in them is lackluster because there’s so little to do or interact with outside of battles.
Suggestion 1: A Weapon
As mentioned throughout, I think a primary weapon ability would be a great addition. Here are some additional reasons why:
- Building a tower to attack a lone enemy is weird.
- It provides the player with more they can do during battles
- It allows more interactivity -- destructible objects, switches, etc.
Weapon idea 1: HAMMER
My personal favorite idea is just letting you swing that hammer you’re holding. It could be used to flip switches or buttons, to break destructibles (barrels, crates, etc), and hurt baddies. Also, since it’s the same thing you use to build towers, what about letting you “attack” your own towers to repair them? Or maybe even upgrade them? You could also experiment with a tower needing a few whacks to construct in the first place. Ideas like these could provide plenty of opportunities to add more tension & choices to battles, and more actions you can take throughout the world.
Idea 2: Boomerang
In the previous build, there was an “auto-boomerang.” I think disabling/removing that ability was the right choice, as it didn’t really seem to add anything or solve any design problems. But it could serve as a different weapon idea than the hammer. Unlike before, it should require a button press to throw. It’d be fine if it “auto-aimed” if there was an enemy near, but otherwise it should just fly straight in the direction you’re facing. That way it could be used to hit switches, break destructibles, etc. The boomerang (or a ranged weapon) could also be used to do things like flip switches across a gap, which might be a fun concept to play with. (e.g. hitting a switch across a gap to open/change a path, in or out of battle)
One other use of a weapon
Here’s something else you could experiment with -- letting the player use their weapon to attack enemy spawns. Perhaps hitting a spawn causes a few extra baddies to pop out, or causes the current cooldown to zero out, adding to the challenge, but also giving a risk-reward of letting you destroy the spawn outright if you can get enough hits in. One benefit this could provide is it allows players to skip the timer if they’d like. Timers are nice if you’d like to rebuild/repair your tower setup, but otherwise it might be nice to skip that cooldown. It also provides another strategy for multi-spawn encounters. For example, build towers on one side to handle one spawn, while you try to take out the other spawn on your own.
If there are certain encounters that you don’t want the player to have the option to destroy the nest, you could add a separate kind of nest (e.g. a stone mound) that can’t be destroyed. (Even then, I’d leave in the ability to hit it to pop out baddies or skip timers)
Suggestion 2: Mazing
I won’t re-iterate it in this post, as the suggestion is largely the same concept as my post from the previous build. I’m putting it here only because it supports the Room for Improvement listed above. Short version:
- Add an ability to build cheap barricades that don’t attack -- meant to be used to maze.
- Add some conditions to enemy AI so mazing is possible (e.g., they don’t attack towers unless they’re blocking the path to the player/some other goal)