For this year’s Independent Games Festival I submitted Ludoko’s Paranormal Puzzle Society. While I didn’t get into the final competition, I did receive a rather lengthy amount of feedback from eight anonymous judges assigned to review my game.
Paranormal Puzzle Society scored best in: Visual Art
And scored worst in: Game Design
Not a bad game at all really, but beyond the fun theming, didn’t find much compelling about the overall gameplay experience. Just a solid connect-three all and all.
Interesting game, I think the theme could be more explored – essentially you lose all of the ‘paranormal’ bits and just focus on it as a puzzler. But it is a fairly interesting one, at least in th endless mode. Not sure what to make of all of the issues with adventure mode.
I had a fun time noticing diagonals to make long lines of colors. My 4-year-old daughter did too.
A couple improvements we would have liked:
–The wilds don’t really look like wilds. We got used to it, but it took a little time. Maybe tint them the color of the chain when they’re selected as part of one?
–It would be nice if the chain line would automatically reroute (if there is a real route) when I accidentally drag over a tile of the wrong color.
I have become completely hooked. In the absence of the adventure mode (I really want to see it!) we’re flying a little blind in terms of what’s expected of us, but I also had a lot of fun just discovering how the different icons affected the gameplay in Odille’s mode. The fact that there’s a time limit brings an element of that manic Bejeweled Blitz aspect to the gameplay, and early on you honestly start to wonder how it could be possible to get a high score. Once you find its rhythm though, it’s an absolute blast. I love the visuals too… the characters and the overall presentation is gorgeous.
The game is well presented, sharp graphics and solid feedbacks give a solid puzzle experience. The two modes I saw on endless were interesting but lacked some depth in my opinion, the matches are too short and I had trouble realizing if I had gotten any better.
I have the feeling that this game would feel more at home on an iPhone in its current presentation. I was unable to try the adventure mode though (didn’t work), so maybe I’m missing something.
Sadly, the advertised adventure mode was unavailable, so I’ve based my scores solely on the endless mode.
At first I thought this was a pretty vanilla matching game but it proved to be really addictive. I look forward to playing a metagame with these kinds of puzzles integrated into it. I am a massive fan of Puzzle Pirates and I think not enough games use this kind of idea.
The artwork is superb, again looking forward to seeing more of it. More more more.
Audio-wise I got fairly bored with the music pretty quickly although I would imagine that the full release would have an option to keep sound effects while removing music, and also some more variety in the music. Sound effects were fine.
Technically the game was fine, no slow down and all graphics worked fine. A massive bug in Remy mode allowed me to achieve an arbitrarily high score – just click on the board while a line is being destroyed.
Which leads me onto the next bug – one minute in the game is about 50s in real life.
I also found that on entering a high score name, the text field for name entry was not automatically selected when I hit “submit” – I had to mouse over and select it myself. Also, the field supported carriage return (I hit enter and my name disappeared, having been moved up a line; I hit backspace and it returned), but gave me an error when I tried to submit the name. Maybe better to simply disable the enter key for this field.
I imagine that the game will have a tutorial included for the adventure mode. I found the tutorial in the current build, but it should have been the first thing I saw, or at least a link to it should have been there on the first screen. At first I thought the arrow on the title screen referred to the scores. Even if players see a tutorial in the adventure mode, I imagine you’ll be allowing them to play endless from the main menu anyway, in which case a tutorial should be evident. So it should really be easier to access it.
Minor point: arrows in the UI didn’t highlight.
Overall – visually great, looking forward to the rest of it. Good luck!
– Love it, love it. Endless “Odille” game is a fast-paced falling-block game, and the art is absolutely cute as a bug
– Haven’t really played a tile-match game like Odille before; unsure whether this is trodden territory or maybe “borrowing” from another title, but it has good ‘feel’, really nicely put together, pretty addictive
– “Remy” mode is interesting, and i like it, but not as engaging or gratifying as odille mode
– Not basing my score on “adventure” mode, obviously — was it scrapped?– but I did feel its absence 🙁
Hi there. I tend to take notes during my first playthrough in chronological order, so you’re seeing my impressions/reactions in the order I had them. Then I usually go back through and flesh out/clarify them, and maybe add some final thoughts at the end. With PPS, I played it cold without reading anything about the controls or gameplay. Obligatory caveat: you’re going to get real, unalloyed feedback from me because that’s what you paid for. I hope you find it to be useful and constructive.
(Note: one side-effect of this realtime-notes approach is that my wrong-headed assumptions about how the game works are preserved in my notes. Don’t worry, I figure it out eventually.)
FIRST SESSION FEEDBACK SPEW:
Clicking on Ludoko Studios as it loads takes you straight to website… which is probably more annoying than useful when you’re only clicking to get on with the game.
Dayum, this game be PRETTY!
Adventure mode = not working. To Endless!
At first I thought the shapes had to match as well as the colors, but then I figured out color was the thing after a few shuffles.
Sound is great, rewards/effects are great.
I often feel like the game should be spitting out more pieces more often, esp. after I’ve provably exhausted the board.
I rarely feel like I have a chance to save myself when the clock starts ticking. Kinda wish there was a way to earn back a significant amount of time… as it is, when I hear that ticking, there doesn’t seem to be any amount of shredding through big combos that can get me out from behind the 8-ball.
OMG SHAPES WORK TOO okay, that was like 12 playthroughs but I’m there now. I guess that explains why I didn’t get new pieces when I thought the board was out of moves…
Love the ascending pitch of the combo boops.
Music is making me crazy a little bit.
It sounds silly, but I was very happy when the Pause button was available for use. Great polish.
In the clutch, the laughing level-up guy occludes enough board for me to resent his presence.
My brain is starting to rewire itself to play this thing properly now. Very tricky to optimize for, I find myself watching for peripheral, orthogonal groups I might be bisecting on my current chain as I’m building it.
OKAY! Best Run: 346835 3:49 13x 8x What fun!
– Some of the items’ purposes are difficult to figure out in-game. For example, I still don’t know what the roses or skulls do, or what makes them different. At first I feared the skulls, then I saw that they didn’t seem to hurt me in any way, and then I just stared using them because they functioned as wild cards, but I always felt like I was missing something. At first I assumed the roses were for big points, but then I saw the multipliers and thought, well, that’s not it. So I used them as wild cards too. Based on my personal experience, I suspect that whatever they do (if they do something more interesting than what I described above) is too subtle in its feedback for the player to notice, and possibly too subtle in its actual effect for the player to care about.
– The role that time and timers play in the game was difficult for me to parse out and understand. I don’t know that it’s too complex, but I suspect that this is an area where a tutorial would go a long way towards players feeling like they understand the rules of the game and have a fair chance to succeed. A tutorial would also really help with the item confusion I mentioned above. Even just an old-school arcade attract mode (where you just watch the computer slowly and simply play the game with the occasional pause for an explanatory text-box/arrow) would probably get the job done.
– I often hit the right-mouse button before releasing the left-mouse button, in the hope that it will cancel me out of whatever line I’ve just drawn on the board. Sometimes this is because I make a mis-move with the mouse, other times it’s because I realize I’m about to break up a much better combo elsewhere. It could be that if I’m wishing I could cancel combos, I’m simply playing the game wrong and over-optimizing points/combo vis-a-vis combos/time, but there it is for whatever it’s worth.
– The skill requirement for playing for more than 4 minutes is very steep compared to the skill requirement for 3 minutes. While playing, I have the constant feeling that I”m losing, and that failure is inevitable. I never hit “cruising altitude,” for lack of a better term. I never felt like I was eating it up as fast the game was dishing it out. Games with really short rounds are fine with me (I’m thinking of pacifism mode in Geometry Wars, for example), but I want them to be short because I made a clear mistake, not just because the competing curves of my speed and the game’s speed inevitably crossed right around the same time they always do. If you empowered me to improve my survival odds more significantly, I think I’d play the game more and feel more rewarded while doing it.
– Similarly, the rate at which I level up and gain new shapes quickly outpaced what I was good enough to deal with. It might be worth doling those out a little more slowly, or giving the player a mode that lets them start with more shapes early on and just practice. I often go from Dude I’m Awesome to Oh My God The Screen Is Full And I Don’t See One Combo so fast it makes my head spin. In general, I think the early game is paced well, but then it goes logarithmic.
– I want the characters and artwork to relate to the game more. I know it’s a puzzle game, so that’s going to be a rickety bridge basically no matter what, but in some sense I think you may be victims of your own aesthetic success here. The milieu of the game is so solidy realized, and appealing, that I found myself really wishing I could learn more about the characters and their world. I assume Adventure mode is the place where that stuff is supposed to happen, and that it might address some of the pacing issues I brought up regarding Endless as well. Regardless, let it be known: I would love to see more of that sort of thing in this game.
Finally, let me just say that this is a great block puzzler. Super-addictive once you get the hang of it, and it rewires your brain in a way that reminds me of Quarto or Ikaruga (where you’re constantly swapping perceptual lenses in the same gamespace). The art is not only clear and functional, but also stylish and very beautiful with huge appeal. Everything about the game’s presentation screams polish and professionalism, honestly. Well done!
The feedback was far more in-depth than I anticipated. If you look around you’ll see that some people got far less feedback. Part of this was helped because I had two judges provide an essay’s worth of feedback.
Interestingly enough I expected far more harsh criticism about the game than I received. When I submitted the game one of the major modes that I had written about in my instructions, Adventure mode, was scrapped for the IGF build for various reasons. Additionally I felt the core gameplay itself wasn’t superlative and still needs some major tweaking and would be penalized appropriately by the judges. For whatever reason the judges found the game more fun than I expected.
So yeah, I’m pleasantly pleased by the whole experience. The IGF itself still has some sorting out to do and there’s plenty of discussion elsewhere on what the goals and motivations for the competition should be moving forward. But those are thoughts best left for another time.