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Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar Raider AGAIN: Test Level 1 Thu 4th Mar 2010 6:05pm

Category: Raider

Well, I've been working on MARDEK 3 for weeks now for many hours a day without any real breaks and, uh, it's getting stressful and tiresome, especially so close to the trip with my girlfriend. I've been thinking of Raider recently largely because I wanted something other than MARDEK to think about, and I've been feeling a strong desire to work on Raider because of it.
So, I started actually working on it...
I am NOT going to be postponing MARDEK; consider Raider something I'm doing in my 'free time' whereas MARDEK 3 is work. I'll probably get more done on that when I'm with my girlfriend and I feel less stress in general because of that, but Raider is much more fun and much less stress to work on.

So anyway. Now that I've explained that to hopefully prevent loads of comments about how it's totally wrong for me to focus on some rubbish like Raider when MARDEK 3 is so close to being done, uh, I have been thinking about level designs!

I said in the last news article (which was written like a day or two ago...) that I intend to have several short, easier levels per 'world' instead of just the one; I've decided to do five per world.
I've made one of them... Or rather, I've made some maps which give an idea of how big and difficult I intend the levels to be (I may or may not use this for the first level), and I want to show it to people to know whether they think the length and difficulty is okay. Remember, there'll be five of these per world, and this is the first level. I want to know if anyone has any particular trouble with it...
Also, please play on Intermediate... I may actually REMOVE difficulty as an option later on, having 'Intermediate' being the ONLY difficulty (since it seems the difficulty option will cause a lot of problems if I make all the various changes that I intend to).

Please note that I only spent a few minutes working on this, and all I did was open the old file and make new maps. I HAVE NOT added or changed any features yet because I've not spent long enough working on the game, but I'll do that over the course of time.
One thing I'll add is treasure chests, containing items or powerups, and there are several places in this level which will eventually have those but which now look empty and pointless. So if you see what seems like a waste of space, imagine a chest there or something.

Anyway, here's a link: [A LINK]

Too easy? Too hard? Too short? Too long? Too dull? TOO EXCITING FOR MERE HUMAN WORDS??!1/

Oh, and don't bother mentioning any 'bugs' in the menus or that there's no music; as I said, I just opened the file and made some new maps rather than fixing up all that sort of stuff properly.


56 Commentson 31 roots

Silavong`s Avatar
Rating Orb Silavong 20 United States CholericSanguine 31C 12F
8 years ago | (2)
hey man you got a life too so you need to get out with your girlfriend more and maybe a little special something ha ha but yeah if she makes you less stressed it would be better don't let our annoying pestering get to you so yeah don't over do your self, guys the more stressed he is the more chance of him getting a heart attack so hey let him just relax and let him get some free time more
Ahriman`s Avatar
Rating Orb Ahriman 15 19C 1F
8 years ago | (1)
I do like how you tried to make it hard but... it's a bit too hard alot of the time. I have not even half finished it at any point in time and the ideal time on the tutorial. After an hour of trying it couldn't be done.
THEsloppyninja`s Avatar
Rating Orb THEsloppyninja 13 United States PhlegmaticSanguine 2C 0F
8 years ago | (0)
i think it is great, i know you said not to mention bug, but when i loaded my game from the checkpoint in room 1-B i walked backwards a little bit and the area behind was invisible
Kam`s Avatar
Rating Orb Kam 20 Guam CholericSanguine 25C 48F
8 years ago | (0)
I like the raider series, and i hope that you dont make it like any other game and just pamper the players with an easy platformer that you can just pass by easily because it was TOO easy. one reason i remember raider games alot is because of the difficulty they have given me, and also that difficulity makes me want to try and try again till i finnaly beat it. There are some games that are easy and "fun" for the player but by next week after having completed the game in under 5 mins will have forgotten it, and become just another game they beat at the back of their head. Uhm also i would like to note that the music you make is wonderful and keeps me playing even after i have beat the game. And i would absolutely love to hear more in the future! Anyways im just saying keep the raider games at their current difficulty (or abit harder) And the music...keep it coming~
DeNovo`s Avatar
Rating Orb E β DeNovo 24 United States MelancholicSanguine 244C 201F
8 years ago | (1)
Oh hey, look, it's a Gamasutra article on why classic 2D platformers were great! [LINK]
Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar
Rating Orb A β Pseudolonewolf 23 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 2257C 559F
8 years ago | (1)
Though I read that fully, it didn't really seem to SAY anything... o_O
I got the impression of 'pointing out the obvious' or something rather than it being useful to me as a developer... Maybe I'll just looking at this incorrectly, or maybe thinking about 'the obvious' is the key to success, but hmm. HMM, I say!
DeNovo`s Avatar
Rating Orb E β DeNovo 24 United States MelancholicSanguine 244C 201F
8 years ago | (2)
Yes. I linked you to it halfway through reading it, and sadly didn't get the five-page senior thesis on 2D gaming I was hoping it would be. D: It seemed unethical to read it first because with a title like that it was just the sort of thing you're thinking about!

Anyway, it does hit on a few useful points:

1. Moving the player avatar has to "make sense." It has to conform to standards, or justify deviation from those standards. In your case, remapping the keys by default to A,S, and D needs to be justified over the more conventional uses of Ctrl, Shift, and Space. I think both control schemes are fine but I imagine a lot of players hit space, and then up, early on in the game and wonder why Arkus isn't jumping. The new giant blocks with letters on them do away with this problem nicely. :) Also, the movement of Arkus needs to match expectations; the "stiff jump" followed a rather fast rate of fall (you could reduce gravity and also initial jump velocity, maybe?) combined with his Castlevania-speed horizontal movement tripped my roommate up several times, as she failed to land on a block even though she thought she would make it. This shows a disconnect in mental model and in-game model.

2. Areas have to be "interesting." One of the things I noticed is that when you made an area easier, you didn't replace it with interesting things. Even if they're unreachable, it's fun to include little distractions, like maybe a droid being shot to death by a turret, or some sort of smoking ruin of a moving platform, or something. Since Arkus moves so slowly, the rooms have to keep the player interested for the additional time they spend in it. In most slower-moving platformers, this means more enemies, and more interesting enemies. It's weird how you give Arkus weapons and he spent most of his time in the original Episodes trying to overcome obstacles which were impervious to damage. So if you give him more stuff to shoot at the player may be more engaged, along with if you give them hidden or extra rooms to try to get access to, or things like Green Shells that you can pick up and mess around with. Making the world move and look alive is apparently a good thing, according to that article! My favorite room in the newer version was the one with droids walking around above you, so that agrees with what it says!

(Also, I think you should have Arkus put up a shield when he crouches! It would make my roommate happy and not detract from the game in any visible fashion....I think?)

bahamut zero`s Avatar
Rating Orb bahamut zero 21 United States 10C 0F
8 years ago | (3)
I know I am of topic, but i want to say that there is a special shiny pichu event for pokemon, diamond, pearl and platinum in Europe, the US and Australia. Its over Wi-Fi so anyone can get it. As for raider, to be honest, it did seem kinda long and so I quit midgame for both episodes due to boredom, so a smaller, super mario like land would make it more fun. I mean everything is there, its just that its too long and somewhat repeditive, either slash or blast enemy while avoiding spikes or whatnot.
tuberculosis`s Avatar
Rating Orb tuberculosis 21 Melancholic 16C 9F
8 years ago | (1)
I enjoyed it for the most part, although it seemed short and easy (for reasons you've already said).

The only real complaint I have was in the last room, with the moving platform and jumping over the spikes. It's not that it was difficult, but the platform is pretty slow, so if you miss one you get to wait for the platform to come back to try again or leave the room and re-enter. The latter I'm not a fan of in general, it strikes me as bad design and pulls me out of a game, no matter how engrossed I was. The former would be long and boring. Maybe having the platform return to the beginning if you're not standing on it for a greater amount of time than it takes to jump would work? Just thinking aloud.
DeNovo`s Avatar
Rating Orb E β DeNovo 24 United States MelancholicSanguine 244C 201F
8 years ago | (3)
I liked the fact that there was an enemy-laden route and a platforming-laden route; this allows us to pick the challenge, and you give a relatively good sign of what's to come early on. I made it through the levels without so much as a scratch, so yes, this version lacks the specific brand of difficulty you filled the last Raider games with, and since you were shooting for that you got what you were trying for. However, this goes back to my prior point, and it appears to be showing up in most people's responses; now that the difficulty of the game isn't a standout experience in and of itself, what's going to make the game fun?

Does Arkus jump higher now? o_o He can get over those "if you mess up you die" scenarios with some jumping, which is a lovely fact indeed, and very much appreciated. However, it would be good if you created rooms with a "theme" or challenge in mind; I've seen levels where you had to scale as possibly high as you could to make the jump (but of course there was no penalty for missing and falling), or levels where you had to scale upwards continuously, and levels where the room is *swarming* with enemies and you have to figure out the way to pick them off one at a time, or something.

It feels like you're at the right difficulty level, but that, after stripping out the difficulty, you're not quite sure what to fill the rooms with at all. This would be fine if the enemies were more interesting (and I noticed the more frequent health drops, which ere duly appreciated), like, if they popped out of the ground and ducked back under, or such, or you made Arkus move faster (part of the reason this game is at ends with my patience is the frustratingly slow way Arkus moves) so that the levels would go by faster. The primary concern here isn't that the game is too easy, but that it takes longer than players are interested in to get through the challenges. Your previous solution was to make things difficult, and an alternative solution may be making pass by more quickly. This can be done by reducing the number of times an act must be repeated (two is more than enough, unless the third time is different in some fashion).

Also, the moving platform with the spikes that Arkus has to jump over.... I would think replacing them with turrets would actually be a better idea, to be honest. Make them engage the player beforehand, and also make them something the player can handle well in advance, so that the challenge gets easier with each bit of progress they make. you think you'd be able to, um, give out a level editor for us to play with? I bet it would give you an idea of what we all have in mind... o_o
DeNovo`s Avatar
Rating Orb E β DeNovo 24 United States MelancholicSanguine 244C 201F
8 years ago | (0)
Oh! I also wanted to add that the big blocks that tell you what buttons to press were a far more effective way of telling the player what to do. I let my roommate play it, and she's notoriously bad at platforming, so the fact that she got through without dying on easy mode means that your game is just right, to be honest. She messed up a great deal of the platforming but thanks to the lack of penalties it wasn't as frustrating an experience.
Andragon`s Avatar
Rating Orb Andragon 20 Antarctica 54C 0F
8 years ago | (0)
I really like the idea of having themes in some levels. That would definitely make them more interesting.
It would be even better if the themes were randomized. So, if I play the game and my friend plays a different run, we don't get the same order or even the same themes. This would increase re-playability a lot.
1926`s Avatar
Rating Orb 1926 19 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic 15C 0F
8 years ago | (2)
I thought that this incarnation of raider was far too easy. I very much like old school platformers, and have played many in my day. This version of raider was fun, but greatly lacked the difficulty of the old games. I realize that this may have been your aim though. Also, I don't know if it was a bug, but the game ended abruptly at a door, and when I attempted to play again, it loaded me from the last checkpoint. I also realize that this may be due to the fact that the game is still in development.

Regardless of all I've said, I enjoyed the game, and I encourage you to continue its production, especially if you enjoy doing it, because in the end if you don't enjoy what you're doing, than why are you doing it.
gnome`s Avatar
Rating Orb gnome 19 United States PhlegmaticCholeric 386C 81F
8 years ago | (9)
Well, that was... not my preference. It wasn't bad, but I did find a few problems..
The first one was that there was definitely not much "breathing room"; many of the screens were jam packed with robots--not to say it was difficult, but some screens would be nearly empty, and others would be crawling with robots.. Also, I noticed that for just about the whole game I'd be doing something--be it swinging the sword, dodging bullets, or jumping across repeating, mechanically spaced gaps. I guess that's what I meant by "no breathing room".
If you were going to use this as a level, I do recommend you change it.. it seemed far less like a level, and very much more like a "I'm going to throw everything I've got at you right now, but I'll make it easy and boring". Y'see, almost all the concepts of the game (save the switches and ghosts (and the water and ice, if Ep.3 is to be counted)) were incorporated into this mess of a level, creating a boringly painful experience both now and in later levels (unless you plan to incorporate some new and unseen methods). It wasn't even difficult, but it was frustrating--frustrating to see how easy and bland the level was.
I think, if you were to adhere to this concept of a less frustrating game, you shouldn't have such concepts such as the spike/platform jumping, ladder jumping, and pillar jumping--at least, not in that "a block every X spaces" fashion. I think there should be some walking room every now and then, and fewer of those "if you misjump, you have to start all the way back there" scenarios..
Ah, as much as I'd like to go into more detail, I can't seem to get my thoughts down coherently enough, but I recommend you go look at some Crash Bandicoot games for further inspiration--at least, his platform genre.
Conclusively, I wasn't too pleased with this level, mostly because of the blatant lack of challenge which was paired with obsolete obstacles and more of those "you're screwed if you mess up" rooms.
After another playthrough, I liked 1C for the most part, the end of 1B (what with the stacked blocks--that gave some aesthetically pleasing breathing room) and 1D (it was a good challenge). However, I did NOT like 1E at all; it wasn't difficult, but that "one mistake and you have to start over" thing belongs in the other Raider.. maybe add some checkpoints (not the green orbs, but perhaps a cliff halfway through that you can climb up if you fall off during the second half of the sequence). The same goes for the end of 1A. And oh, since you probably will keep things like those, maybe fill the floor with spikes or piranha-plant-esque monsters to keep the long walk back entertaining?
Anyway, I think I've written enough of a mess here, but hopefully some points got across. Good luck with whatever you plan doing, though.
Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar
Rating Orb A β Pseudolonewolf 23 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 2257C 559F
8 years ago | (7)
Hmm. First, I want to ask, "if you had made something and someone 'criticised' it using language like that, how would you feel?"
I mean, you clearly don't like it, fair enough, but the language you used was just blatantly hostile and I don't appreciate that at all. It's made me lose a lot of respect for you.

This concept of 'breathing room' is nonsensical to me; I find platformers the most interesting when actually DOING things, not when walking around doing nothing much in particular; it makes no sense to me how you'd find a level LESS dull with more 'breathing room'.
Also, this is the FIRST LEVEL, and the whole point of this 'redesign' is to bring more people into the game. This is far from representative of the difficulty of all other levels.
What I've learned is that people like things easy and they like lots of things to kill; I tried to incorporate those things here. And since there are two paths on the level, you don't even need to attempt the ladder-jumping bit. The last room is also rather trivial, I think, and I think it'd just be belittling to players if there was a way to get back up if you fall off half way... I will however be adding some enemies on the floor that I've yet to make. Maybe I can add some spike pits too.

Anyway, I don't like this comment because it's hostile and not particularly helpful, since you're saying 'it's too dull because there's too much stuff and I want empty spaces where there's nothing going on and also it's too easy' EVEN THOUGH I explained that I was TRYING to make it easy... agh.
gnome`s Avatar
Rating Orb gnome 19 United States PhlegmaticCholeric 386C 81F
8 years ago | (2)
Oh well if that doesn't make me feel arsetastic, I don't know what would.. I'd like to apologize profusely for the useless and insulting comment, but the damage is already done, I guess.. though I am sorry and I regret saying such things.
For what it's worth, I'd like to give a *proper* review.

I guess I'll start with the idea of the breathing room. I hadn't actually envisioned a long flat plane randomly tossed in, but rather a break from the constant ladder jumping and droid dodging, such as the end of 1B with the pyramid of blocks--albeit short lived, it was something to do, but it was also a break from the last hectic bullet challenge, preceded by the ladder jumping maze, oh, and the following onslaught from 1D--it wasn't challenging, but it wasn't boring, either.
Maybe I'd meant that those breaks shouldn't even be necessary, really. Instead of having difficult challenge after arduous challenge after time taking challenge, perhaps have a moderately easy level (like A or C), with sparse challenges (from B and D) thrown in to keep the player from getting bored--after all, one gets bored when there's nothing to occupy the mind--but when there's too much to deal with, there's no room for fun.
Again, much of this level seemed crammed full of challenges,and the game didn't seem too.. fun--it wasn't boring, but instead of enjoying myself my mind was too busy trying to dodge bullets and coordinate with platforms to notice much else.

Another thing I just can't get off my mind is the spike above the checkpoint at the end of 1B---it really shouldn't belong there. All it does is restrict strategy (available options), a painful reminder from the previous Raiders--it doesn't make the game harder, either; in fact, its only purpose seems to be to punish the player for making the mistake of trying to dodge the little robot at the bottom of the gap.
Now, this doesn't seem like much of a problem at all, I mean, it only is one spike, right? Well, no--it just opened my eyes to what's been missing from your games so far, and that is the availability of multiple paths (no, this does not include taking the ladder path to C, because I for one went back to make sure I didn't miss anything important, somewhat defeating the purpose of nonlinearity). Your concept of strategy (as portrayed in this level) seems to be timing and avoiding bullets--however, I think a better application would be taking an alternate path to avoid the monsters completely---like in Mario games, where you could either take the lower, monster infested path, or you could jump onto the elevated platforms and avoid them, or break some bricks to reach that coin filled, enemy-less island--and not one that led to a dead end, but rather one that let you avoid the unrewarding chaos below.
Much of what you have in this level suggests that there's no way to avoid any enemy (jumping over it doesn't count, as the reason you jump is because you've already encountered it), so no matter what, you will face that wall of turrets, or that ill placed droid who knocks you into spikes. I'm not saying that there should be a short platform whose sole purpose is to allow you to avoid a single enemy, but one which, upon arriving, gives you the option to take path A or B, and both will have different enemies or prizes along the way, even if it's a very short path.
Here's an example to some paths in Mario---granted, due to the smaller screen size, it won't work nearly as well in Raider, but the concept should remain the same.

Er, I spent too much time on that image so that I lost my train of thought, but it's probably best I end here--hopefully this comment makes more sense, and again I apologize for that last one..
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