Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by Cinnamon, Jun 20, 2014.
Hehe, that's good. Hope they clean up the website soon. Whatever I sort it on Ghoulish Guests is at the top, and there are so many fake games (one just links to a website of a victim of rape counter...) I can't really find any proper other contestants. I'm sure it's not making it easy for other people to find Unraveled either.
That's why I just put mine in my sig and a link to it in the game topic.
Put yours in your sig too?
Great idea, done! ^_^
We're going to wait to receive more feedback, then add more content to the game. We wanted to keep it short enough for the judges to finish, as the ending is really important. It'll be exciting to release the full version after the judging.
My game's ending was really important too, so I get you.
Regarding feedback, I'd probably say something about the marbles. They don't really seem to fit into the 'environment' when you pick them up as they seem a bit blurry. At the same time, if they merged too well, they'd be hard to see. What I'd suggest is making them out of the same style that you made your backgrounds from, as actual size, and putting a glow around them - currently, they look like they were made small and then expanded in size. Is this the case?
Other than that, the game plays really well. There was one trinket I couldn't go back for, so I missed out on an achievement, but I never had any issues with the battles (one was won by the skin of my teeth! o_o) and the story made me crai ;-;
Ah, now I see this reply, lol. The marbles are actually drawn in the same way as the background. In fact, they were downsized instead of expanded. Do you think a darker, stronger outline would help? They already have a glow but because there's no outline it might look blurry. Good point, I'll mess around with it.
Just played this fully and really enjoyed it. Great game!
The art style is very beautiful and each level is very pleasing to look at and works well with the platforming elements. I quite like the mechanics of these. Simple, yet versatile.
Also really enjoyed the battle system in this. I haven't seen anything like it before and it was really strategic and made those battles fun (even if there weren't all that many). Perhaps the only one thing I disliked about the combat side of things was lack of reviving items. I only came across one of those in the whole game (though maybe I missed the others). Also, I noticed losing still allows you to continue (I lost to the last guy). Is the only reason to win for the sake of getting a perfect score?
I liked the level design overall, except maybe that forest level was a bit too confusing to navigate through. Aesthetically it was very beautiful, but there were too many paths, some of which weren't too clear whether I could go there or not and whether it's the way I'm supposed to be going. So as a result I missed a lot there and only collected half the marbles in that level, and (I am not entirely sure about this, but) maybe that's why the next boss felt like a big spike in the difficulty, since I guess those marbles give some kind of bonuses.
The story seemed nice and kind of sad. I didn't quite get it fully, but I liked how the whole thing was told without pretty much any character saying a single word. I kind of gathered that most of the stuff was being imagined by the protagonist as a way to cope with trauma and that fantasy and reality were fused into one for her. A very interesting concept and executed pretty well.
Finally, I like the idea of achievements. They give incentive to replay the game and to do better than the last time, so I might find myself replaying this game since it's been quite enjoyable and I've yet to beat that final boss, because he ain't going to push me around.
So I'm just going to copy and paste what I put on the contest page in the comments. Because it bears repeating.:
"So I know I already made a post to play this game. But I think I should be more clear in what I mean by that.
This game is the best game in the contest. Better than my game. Better than your game. It tells its bittersweet story completely and wholly without words more effectively than any of the games here do with a million words of dialogue. The original graphics are remarkably well-done and lend to the feel of the game well. The music is simply beautiful and reminds one of the RPG Maker darling "To the Moon". I was fully engaged in this masterpiece and my hat goes off to the developer."
I've finished this game yesterday, and already put a review on the rate out of 5 thread. I'll also put the review here, just in case.
"Amazing. That word can describe on how much I love this game. Looks like all of sprites and tilesets is original, not to mention that it was created beautifully. The animation were fluid, love how they were executed. I assume the sounds is original too. Enough, let's talk about the gameplay. The battle had some gauge (forgot what the name is) that plays role on how much damage you'll receive and give. I think the battle is well balanced. It's not too hard nor too easy. But everything is different when you're trying to achieve an all star achivement. It sure does need a lot of efforts.
About the story itself, I found it interesting. But sometimes the thought that I'm wandering with a big blue creature helping me fight against monster with no explanation whether it was an illusion or a dream sure set me off for a bit. Open interpretation is great, but I think there's something that felt off. Anyway, the presentation is good. I think I got the gist of most of the story.
There's a bug on a map where you need to find 12 orbs to open a wall that blocked your way. I can pass through the wall without collecting all of the orbs.
After all that said, the game itself satisfied me for the most."
Btw, I got the secret ending.
Can't wait for it to be released. How long are you guys estimated to finish it?
I'm pasting my reviews from the other thread onto each game's own thread, so you can have them all together. Here it is:
So, I finally got to play (and finish) Unraveled. But before I start, I want to say something: this is really not my kind of game, but I'll try my best to be fair. Now, here's my review:
Seems like your overall presentation is just great: both visuals and sounds are really good. The overal style of the game is really coherent with the tone and mood, so you did a very good job there. The music was nice, BUT (and this is a big but for me) the intro theme reminded me TOO MUCH of "To Zanarkand".
Now, about the game mechanics. First of all, I'll compare your game to another big hit: "To the moon". The "explore and collect" in the different stages reminded me of it, and at first it was nice... until I got to the jungle stage. Here, scenery, walls and floors were all too much alike and I had some big problems navigating that maze. And having to find 12 marbles? Really? That was a big downer and I had to put down the game after trying to find the way to open a door (the one with the striped blue and yellow thing) with no success. After some rest I went back to it... and couldn't find it either. What I did find was what I think is a bug: I discovered I could walk through something I had thought previously that was a wall, and then I DID walk through a wall that just took me to the skeleton dragon boss. Weird, but at least I could move on with the game. It was nice that the last stage was just 6 marbles again, because I don't think I could stand being lost in another level
Combat is... I don't know. I like the interface, and the idea is nice... but I don't think it really works in the end. Games were you have to work up a resource in order to get stronger attacks are nice, but when one resource depletes the other, and you can't always heal because of it... I don't know, but it just didn't click with me. Also, some skills were mostly useless (protect and provoke, I'm talking about you), and as the blue side had few attacks, trying to take advantage of the focus/rage weakness was just too random. Like the dragon using shield in a random moment halfway through the battle. I had to try to change my strategy to be able to get the shatter spell with Marbles, but it just took too many turns and I got killed.
And when I saw I could continue from there, I got mixed feelings. Why try so hard if the game just lets you move forward?
Finally, I have some comments about the plot: I didn't really get it. Mixing fantasy and reality is nice, and it has been done in many successful games... but I didn't really like how it was presented in the game. I didn't like the lack of text in the game: there's a limit to what you can tell without words, just with graphics and sounds alone... Just who was that kid the girl was waving to before she "jumped" into the water? Why appear there?
Also... I was just a tiny bit disappointed with the ending. I haven't seen the secret one (and it's more that I don't want to go through the stages again than trying to get 3 stars in every combat), but for what I've read around, it's just some kind of easter egg so I guess I'll pass.
So, in conclussion: A very good game, because it's easy on the player with the nice graphics and music. Interesting combat, but with some flaws because of being experimental. And I guess the plot is more of a hit or miss thing. Anyway, you deserve to do well in the contest, really.
Hey guys! I already read your reviews in that other topic & on the game's page but I appreciate you posting it here, too. It'll be much more convenient later. ^_^ Thanks!
Out of curiosity for those who played / finished the game and happen to read this post:
Did you understand what happened to her mother and brother? And who the boy, woman and man (not the one in the blue hat) were that kept showing up?
@BlackMage: If you're referring to Unraveled's sequel, that might take a while (a year or so) as we're considering making an RPG Maker-ish engine for Unity using some existing assets out there. If you're referring to the extended version of Unraveled (using all this beautiful contest feedback) then about mid/late-August. It depends on what the judges say. I don't want to release it until the judges' feedback is out, as we'll be using that to update the game.
Yeah, I thought the narrative was fairly straightforward, and I probably should have given you more detailed feedback than that little blurb in the rate thread; I think you were the first person who didn't have a thread on rpgmaker.net that I reviewed, so I didn't do that (I tend to post more on that forum). I guess this is something I can do now, at least in terms of story, as I think that this felt like your strongest area early on but your weakest area later, at least for me:-The opening scenes up through the jungle areas felt downright magical for me. I especially liked when Cinnamon first reached the jungle area and when she jumped into the water. I wasn't sure if I could read that as a suicide attempt or not, but I think that fits, and I would have liked to see the results of that feel more realistic, e.g. have her coughing and sputtering up water once the daydream aspect passes.
-The battles were fun, and I think they added to the narrative--though the focus/rage system felt more forced (as I read someone else write a while back), though it was still fun. However, the achievement and ranking systems, while cool in a "this is a neat feature" sense, didn't really fit the tone of the game. This was a game about the narrative; it wasn't a game about getting the best score, so these two different aspects conflicted for me. I think I mentioned that in my blurb, but it might not have been well-explained.
-While your storytelling is strong, I think that, in order to tell a story with no dialogue, you had to strip back the story a lot, which limited characterization options. You could still have a strong story, but I found your story started to get weak and melodramatic at the end, as I mentioned in the blurb. The mother's depression and Cinnamon's reaction were very well-conveyed--this was the best story point in the game. Abject terror is exactly how a child would react to seeing a parent facing an adult issue that she just wouldn't understand. I also like how the suicide happens off camera and is just implied by the grave and the preceding scene.
-The first problem comes when her brother dies of tuberculosis. This is already pretty melodramatic, but to happen while visiting the mother's grave? I mean, come on. Maybe this was an area that you had to rush through since it happens fairly late, but if you were to see that in a film, you'd think it was cheap melodrama. When I saw the grave I thought, "Oh, the mother died, how sad..." and then when little Timmy started coughing I went, "No, don't do that, not now, not NOW!" and then it happened and I almost laughed--that really killed the story for me. I feel like the brother could have been removed from the narrative completely, actually, since I think he only functions as a character in two scenes (the other being his introduction in the hallways), and that's more or less just to set up his sickness (his other appearances were more about the family than about him in particular). If more was done to make him stand out as a character and his death were handled more deftly, though, then that'd be fine, too.
-Actually, now that I think of it, more could have been done to characterize the entire family. Little scenes of Cinnamon's past with them would have been nice. There was that one moment when they were on vacation, which was nice, so I could see how you would want to isolate that as a style choice. At the same time, though, it felt more like a "let's show the happiest family on earth" scene. The lack of dialogue made it work, but, now that I'm writing about it, it's kind of reminiscent of those scenes in, like, disaster movies (and a bunch of other films), where you see the family before the tension occurs and they're all like fricking whistling and the wife's making pot roast and the kid makes some hokey comment about the food or her day at school, and maybe she can't pronounce her R's yet so the audience can just swoon over her cuteness--you know, a "let's show the happiest family on earth" scene. Again, the lack of dialogue and the comparatively brighter color palette made your scene work, but I think you could have some flashbacks that function to characterize the family more instead of just showing their fatal problems or showing the perfect family. Maybe the mother could have had a scene where her depression was subtext--leaving that pot roast in the oven too long while staring out the window and it starts burning and then having her dad yell at her for it, for example. See--with just a couple of tweaks, you'd take that crappy fictional scene and charge it, which would hint at the mother's depression in a way the audience would question (why was she staring off into space?) and then later they would say "oh, she has clinical depression," and then Cinnamon would have thought her father's reaction was a sign of abuse rather than a sign of exasperation at a difficult issue. I'm not saying use the pot roast scene, but that kind of subtext could have been useful, as could little moments that characterize the family beyond the item descriptions.
-The other story issue was the ending. Cinnamon's freakout on her father seemed like a deus ex machina just to have him dead. The fact that she leaves Marbles by his body and returns to the title screen is a fine image to end on, but killing him off in this way, again, felt overly melodramatic. I can understand Cinnamon not knowing what to do with her emotions considering the situation she's in, but there needed to be more in the present scene that sparked it in order for that to feel feasible as a plot point, and, even then, it's definitely going to flirt with melodrama.
-When writing an earlier point, I think I may have gotten something about the story. Did the father come into hard economic times, have his family live in the foundry, his wife committed suicide because of their new situation, the brother died from tuberculosis because of the lack of medical care, and Cinnamon freaked out on him because him not being financially stable put them in this situation? All those pieces fit, but I hope that's not the case, as that's even more melodramatic than a family dealing with a loved one's clinical depression for me.
Anyway, despite the melodrama, I think your storytelling is solid enough to potentially win this competition. Like I said in my blurb, the first half of this game was incredibly absorbing for me--enough so that I can see the judges being swept up enough to find the melodrama passable or to forgive it. In terms of what I've played so far, Sunken Spire's progression system made the gameplay a bit more enjoyable for me, but the story is on the other end of the spectrum: it's not very serious at all, way too wordy, and it's got similar problems with becoming less engaging as it goes along. I probably had more fun messing with the progression system in that game, but your game's great atmosphere and storytelling made it more memorable, so I'd probably call it the best game I've played in the competition so far. It's the rpg I'm most afraid will beat mine, haha.
Edit: and I should say, my game flirts with melodrama, too, so feel free to take my points with a grain of salt.
Thank you so much for your detailed reply. Before I start thinking about all your points more thoroughly, I just have to point out that:
Cinnamon doesn't kill her father. There is a guy (with gray hair and a blue hat) following Cinnamon to see if she's alright. You see him looking at her right before she enters the ship for the first time. And he's the guy she knocks into the hole when she wakes up from her nightmare. The issue of confusing this guy with her father was raised by a beta tester, which is why we gave him gray hair and a blue hat. But apparently that wasn't enough, as you thought they were the same person, correct? In that case I'll have to think of a way to make it absolutely clear that "random guy" and her father are not the same person. If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know. Perhaps instead of falling into a hole he could just trip and fall back, hitting his head. I'd love to hear why you thought they were the same character, etc. though. It'll really help.
There's just so much to put into 1 hour, though. Definitely excited about extending the game and adding more background story and interactions between the characters.
Oh gosh, I thought that was her father!
In the end, is the dead guy under the beam her father, or the random dude?
If the guy under the beam is her father, why not make the 'random guy' the father?
It's her father under the beam, hence the black hair and lack of blue hat. I was afraid of the confusion! The function of "random guy" is to show that in such a tough environment people don't care about each other, and when they do they can get hurt (Cinnamon taking her anger out on the guy who tries to help). Also it's to add a certain element of "hurry up before the guy catches up with her". Hmm... How to make that clearer. I thought the different appearance of those two characters would do the trick. Perhaps at the very beginning I can show "random guy" walk up to the ship entrance after Cinnamon enters.
Why not have a situation where the two are shown at the same time (the father would have to die during the game timeframe after the meeting for this to work), or even make 'random guy' a female?
I think the issue is that during gameplay, the hair colour is unlikely to be remembered, and I thought the guy under the beam just lost his hat or something... o.o
Did you notice Rando (my friend named the random guy Rando, ha) makes eye contact with Cinnamon at the very beginning of the game?
Probably not? I'll have him follow her into the ship visibly.
I'll also addRando to the bit before the "jumping into the water" scene. That way Rando and the imagined image of her father will be in one room.
And we're adding a ballroom scene where Cinn dances with her father, which is broken up by Rando (similar to Rando walking into her fantasy of her mother at the mirror).
Yeah lol I noticed that scene, though I'd class that one as more of a sideways glance due to the ways they were looking. Those other appearances are good ideas for Lando though. Does he survive the game?
Fair enough, at least they're looking straight at each other now (easy fix :3), so 60 seconds after "Go find your parent." I hope it's obvious that Rando is not her father. ^_^ And he might survive or he might have died, but he does fall into a hole after Cinn slaps him with Marbles...
Ahh, I see.
Since you're dealing with an ethnicity that has a lot of the same features and are reduced down to sprites, then distinguishing between them can be difficult. The hair and clothes weren't good tells for me, as it just made me think the father had aged since the events and stress with the mother/son, and the different clothes could have just been his work outfit. Having such a small cast just made me default to him, I think. You should probably do something like give the man a clear visual feature--maybe he's a different ethnicity or he has a big nose, or it's a woman, etc. If you wanted to have a little cat and mouse aspect with Lando, then you should have him chasing her included in the gameplay more. Since Lando wasn't the father and the father was dead under the beams, that's producing an even larger problem, as there was no clear indicators leading up to that, but I'm guessing that's an effect of being rushed to finish.
I think your idea to have him fall into the hole isn't necessarily problematic if he were seen as a villainous entity by Cinnamon, however seeing him fall down the hole and then a man dead underneath the beams immediately after creates a pretty logical bridge. My solution would be to 1) actually see that man die or at least what happens to him after, and 2) have some sign that he was going to help her, since we don't know if he was malevolent or not. That still won't excuse the issue with the father, though, so you need to have more leading up to that.
Thanks for clarifying some of your plot points; your theme about an uncaring world that was established early on definitely has more dimension now, but, yeah, I don't think it's conveying what you want to from the actual game quite yet.
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