Interpreting Feedback: Asteroids and Laser Wars

Theres a theory that consumers don’t know what they want to buy. I think this is for the most part cynical and disrespectful, but it is based on something true. Most people don’t always know exactly what they want at all times because it can be difficult to think of solutions to problems or needs they have. It’s not their job to tell developers what to make though, so developers need to interpret feedback they get.


I was told by a few different people that SBMS looked like the game Asteroids. I was a bit confused, and almost offended because Asteroids isn’t even a strategy game; it’s a very simple shooter, so this isn’t a comparison I would have ever made. Upon letting that idea “bake” a bit, I realised that they might have thought this because they only saw objects shooting at each other in what they might have assumed was space. Someone else described it as “laser wars”.

I think the problem is that they are used to mechanical-skill based games where you simply attack the enemy, so their first thought here is to directly go for the enemies without a plan. They then see the lack of mechanical skill involved as a simplification of shooter games. It’s like a shooter, but aiming and firing are automatically handled for you, so you simply tell your units who to attack and wait for them to finish fighting.

This is understandable, but completely missing the point of the game. I think this is the same reason people find the game so hard. Some have even suggested to give the player an equal number of units.

The point of the game is that you cannot win just by direct passive combat. The core gameplay involves tactics, not reaction time or accurate aim. Missions are supposed to be lost if you simply let your units fight without much thought. The fun of the game is supposed to be the tactical manoeuvres and choices that allow your weaker force to overcome a more powerful one.

I don’t think I ever really made this clear. I set out to make an RTS that was more tactical because that’s how I like to play RTS games, but never realised that I had to explain that concept to others. Since RTS has been twisted into a micro/macro game genre, it’s normal for people to want an even footing. I’ll need to explain that early on, instead of just saying the game is more tactical.

Maybe I misunderstood the “Asteroids” and “Lasers” comments, but even if I have, it’s led me to be clearer about how the game works.

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Posted in Game Philosophy

Button Reference

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Slizer: BMS v1.18b18

Release Date: /5/17
v1.18b18
1. [b17] Mute sound hotkey is now the pause button instead of S
2. Added Selected images for buildings
3. Added a second art style for ground based guns
4. Plasma Tower now uses the tower model
5. Mission 2 Princeps missile ammo reduced to 1
6. Mission 2 some Hastatus units have had their missile ammo removed

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Posted in Patch Notes

Slizer: BMS v1.18b17

Release Date: 17/5/17
v1.18b17
1. PAV fixed using the old ambush code, crashing the game. Detection decreased from 0 to 1
2. ABMS mode fixed crashing the game
3. Praetor and Enemy Praetor secondary attack speed reduced from .04 to .028
4. Unit stats box in game now has a button and use the rebindable key
5. Fixed Mirage images being selectable with the group hotkeys
6. Fixed enemy units still drawing a circle when selected
7. Updated maps for mission 2
8. Fixed partial grid lines having been deleted and optimised it
9. Added all the missing weapon plans, weapon information is now a script also used in the Library and set the loadout number to start at 1, remobed the “Weapon Loadout” text, set the weapon type to be an image, reduced the height of the box
10. Fixed the “Basics of Battle Management Systems” in the BMS Help section in the Library using the weapon types image, fixed the Ambush image showing the wrong second image, updated the PAV and Ambush images
11. Removed the Sagitus’ duplicate weapon
12. Added a detailed map for missions 2, 1-12, the option to switch to it
13. Added plans for the Aquila and Reaper
14. Fixed the escape button in the System Settings
15. Fixed an extra Mainbase spawning in mission 10 by fixing the Planning object always spawning at least one unit
16. Spear Lanzer targeting speed decreased from 15 to 10 5, accuracy decreased from 40 to 10, Pummeler accuracy decreased from 15 to 5, targeting peed decreased from 10 to 5
17. Dodging now decreases more slowly with respect to distance from attacker
18. Updated the unit stats box to move the weapon targeted text next to the target name
19. Fixed the unit stats overlapping the unit description in the Assembly room (known bug left in to fix later) and added a sub box when not moused over, added unit stats for aircraft an battlecruisers and buildings in the Library, and added battlecruiser and building stats being saved in the database along with units’ and enemy units’ stats
20. Removed the initial Starmaker and Starslash units given to the player at the start of the game
21. Removed the Urdswan from the Degaulle in the Fake Slizer Base mission, increased EMP mine stun duration to 60 40 seconds, added dialogue and an ending
22. Added Gunbarrow and Wing Guard plans
23. Fixed army orders applying to unselectable units
24. Adjusted the game intro rectangle being too big around the title
25. E-mails for Allies noow have standardised e-mail names, fixed “One of your officers, LTC. Markov [is currently] under investigation.”, added e-mails for mission 6, fixed e-mail name ‘Admiral [@am.mil’ and added ‘Trael Winder [twinder@un.org]’, pulled back e-mails one mission after mission 6
26. Added Pummeler, Rammer plans
27. Added grid coordinates drawn on the grid the mouse is in
28. Added Selected glow images for normal unis
29. Mission 2 enemy Praetor now has its secondary weapon removed, Princeps missile ammo removed, some Hastatus missile ammo removed, and edited the mission briefing to say this

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Art Assets for Sequel

The artist’s current progress on the new maps.

v1.02

v1.01

v1.00

Alternate


The Original Maps:

Posted in Media, News, Uncategorized

Alternate Mission 2 Backgrounds

Original (v1.18b17)

Original (v1.18b17)

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Short Story- Grip

A: Captain, you are Blanc’s boy aren’t you?

B: Admiral, sir!

Blanc salutes in shock.

A: How are you doing?

B: Very good sir.

A: And what would you be working on at the moment?

B: I’m handling the logistics for the transfer, it’s all going smoothly sir.

A: They have you pushing pencils? Surely you must have better things to do. Who put you on this assignment?

B: I’m not sure, we all handle these sort of things. I suppose we take turns, now that I think of it.

A: I will talk to whoever is in charge and have you put on something more fitting. It is a real waste of good talent.

The admiral never talked to anyone about it. It wasn’t that he never meant to, or that he forgot, it was just more of a singular, isolated statement.

B: [At first hesitating, surprised] You are too kind sir. I’m just doing my job.

A: Non sense, I have seen your dedication. Not like that Russian Colonel. I have to wonder how he has got as far as he is.

B: Do you mean he did not earn his promotions?

A: Come now, a lazy Russian, a colonel? You are smart enough to know something is wrong there. His attitude insults hard working Frenchmen like us.

Blanc is listening, contemplating what the Admiral is saying.

A. Oh well, what ever it is, we will never know. I would ask him myself but it is not my concern, unless there is reason to investigate.

The Admiral inhales, making that face as if concluding and preparing to leave.

A: Keep up your good work Captain.

The admiral turns and takes a step. He pauses just before Blanc responds.

B: Sir!… Thank you, sir!

Not having paid attention to what Blanc said, he considers and then puts his hand out. Blanc, lightly confused, looks down, and lowers his hand slowly from his forehead to take the Admiral’s strong grip. He tries to reciprocate the strength, but as he considers gripping tighter the handshake is over.

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Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans Season 1 Analysis

[SPOILERS FOR GUNDAM: IRON BLOODED ORPHANS SEASON 1, GUNDAM WING, and GUNDAM 00]

It’s OK. It’s not a great Gundam series or a great anime. It has great moments (though not as good as Gundam Wing or Gundam 00) spread throughout an OK story that takes a bit too long too progress, and doesn’t really develop a lot of the themes it has, possibly to just introduce them for season 2.

It’s very slow. Not much happens. Very few fights. By the same point in Gundam Wing or Gundam 00 there would have been major plot reveals, which don’t seem to he happened in this, or if they have they haven’t bee particularly impressive. It’s a fairly simple plot. The events on mars, in space, in the colonies, and on earth feel like they could have been done in fewer episodes. Some episodes has no fights at all, and barely any story progression. All they had was basically characterisation, and while that’s not a bad thing, it’s better if that’s not the only thing that goes on in an episode. Some episodes, while not bad, had me feeling that while the episode wasn’t boring, I was waiting for something to happen to accompany the characterisation. Like eating a single ingredient as a starter, enjoying it, then being told the meal is over, and wondering where the rest of the different types of food were.

The fight scenes were good, but they never quite reached the high standards of Gundam 00. They were infrequent though, and on average a bit duller than other Gundam series. The lack of clearly separated Gundam mobile suits from other mobile suits did not help. While they did say that Gundams were amazingly powerful, the gap in the power level between them and mobile suits wasn’t as big as in other series. As a result the Gundams weren’t too impressive, especially given that there weren’t that many. This was likely a choice to go with the original Gundam 0079 style rather than the Gundam Wing style of a team of Gundams. The lack of energy weapons was an interesting choice, but simultaneously the old weapon style has drawbacks making the weapons less impressive. To make up for that the Barbatos had some interesting weapons. While the Barbatos was interesting in both design and use, it wasn’t quite enough to impress me. It’s hard to get that feeling of a succinct team of distinct Gundams like in Wing, or the clearly defined roles of Gundam 00. It didn’t even have a clear set of enemy Gundams like in Gundam Seed. But it worked.

The themes of poverty and literacy were good and I thought fairly original since most shows do not deal with these things, especially having an illiterate child soldier as a protagonist. They didn’t quite develop these themes much though, or any of the other themes very much. It didn’t do the revolution theme nearly as well as in Gundam Wing, and the child soldier theme could have been used more too. Gundam 00 made me feel more for the child soldiers, despite not focusing as much on that theme. It also had a theme of underage marriage and harems/prostitution, but again not much was made of it.

The deaths as usual were fairly emotional, except for Biscuit’s. I just didn’t feel like they built it up enough. He had sisters who he wanted to put in school, his brother died after severely disappointing him and selling him out. If they hadn’t made it so obvious then I might have been more surprised. I think more importantly, while he seemed like a nice guy, he didn’t have much of a personality. I assume they meant for him to be very likeable, but he wasn’t exactly an unnamed analogous character from Gundam 00. When someone said he’d have time to tell Orga later, it was clear he wouldn’t have time. I would in fact say, a lot of the characters lacked dimensionality. They definitely had some, but they seem very singularly motivated with a bit of softness. There was also a character that’s hinted at being homosexual, which is an interesting addition that I don’t think has been done before. I felt more for the deaths of the enemies, especially towards the end, since they were handled with more drama. Similarly, some characters who almost died towards the end I thought were handled better than Biscuit’s death. Biscuit’s death wasn’t done completely wrong, as the events that led up to it would have been good if they just weren’t so transparent, and if he was a more interesting character.

The enemies are far too often stereotypically arrogant. They suffer from the fallacy of feeling indignation and wanting revenge for their comrades’ deaths. I think that perhaps every single Gjallarhorn character who they fought suffered from this cliché. They really overdid it in that regard. Mikazuki’s clear disregard for their pride, while entertaining, seemed to have been the only reason this was set up as it was. I don’t think one should -want- to see arrogant people being proven wrong, as if it were a perverse, almost sadistic addiction. When done tastefully it’s fine, but they really went out of their way to make Mikazuki a sociopath. I assume that like the other themes, they wee only setting it up for season 2, which is why they didn’t develop it much in season 1.

The Alaya Vijnana system was a nice choice for t signature technology of the series, but again wasn’t quite used as much as the Zero or GN systems in Gundam Wing and 00. It was done tastefully though, they didn’t make too big of a deal of it. Again, it seems fine since it’s more so being set up for season 2. Not much was done with the colonies either.

The demon theme was good, especially as a contrast to the angel theme in Gundam 00, both of which were fairly subtle. Such themes are better done subtly, but since I didn’t recognise most of the names, I’m not sure to what extent they kept the (few) Gundams or other mobile suits in this theme. The whole story arc seems like a continuation, or contrast to Gundam 00. The organiation that maintains peace, Gjallarhorn, is analogous to Celestial Being who had an angelic theme and were “above” national blocs. A small, militaristic group such as Tekkaden, with more demonic features, is in a way a counter to that, almost as if Treize had started his coup d’etat in a victorious but corrupt Celestial Being.

I would not say there was a lot of missed potential, although that may be true, because I think it was an acceptable choice on their part to make it like this. It wasn’t worse, it just chose not to pursue some avenues that it would have done really well. I think it was mostly to set up season 2. The biggest problems for my taste were how slow it progressed, the lack of depth for some characters, Biscuit’s relatively unmoving death, and the lack of distinct Gundam design themes. Not a bad Gundam series or a bad anime, just a bit disappointing and a bit lower down on my list of favourite Gundam shows.

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Short Story- Shade

Past morning in Marseille, light shining through the window at a 40 degree angle, covering most of the desk and the Admiral’s chair. He thinks for a moment how he’d like to have a cigar in his mouth, despite him not being a smoker. Stationary and office things on his desk are gently bathed in bright light, but he only sees the document in his shadow.

A middling strength knock comes from the door, four knocks.

A: Yes.

The door opens promptly.

G: Admiral, Colonel Toulouse reporting for duty.

A: Colonel, come in. Take a seat.

G: Thank you sir.

A: You have heard of the attack in Toulouse?

G: No, sir, a terrorist attack in Toulouse city?

A: Oh, well, rebels attacked the base and stole a Praetor. You will be in charge of finding them and returning the ship undamaged.

G: I don’t q-

He gestures towards the door without noticing Col. Toulouse was asking a question:

A: Ask him for the details. He can answer any questions you have.

G: … Yes sir-

A: You are welcome colonel, this is a great opportunity for you. You are a smart man. I asked for you personally on this case because I know you can get that which belongs to us back without messing it up. You will be attending the gala next week?

G: Possibly, sir. I might have to attend a family event beforehand.

A: Don’t be modest colonel, it will be fun. You will be done with this by then, I will introduce you to General Septheim. Make sure you have some stories to tell him.

G: I’ll do that, sir.

A: You are on your way, -colonel-.

G: I’ll be on my way then, with permission, sir.

A: [Laughs a bit] Go, go.

He not impolitely gestures with his hand for him to leave. Col. Toulouse closes the door conscientiously, relieved and confused, and asks the assistant for the report.

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Short Story- Stumble

Flying into the launch bay with controlled thruster bursts, a white machine suddenly stumbles in mid air, but stabilises and lands to a group of technicians confusedly making sure it lands safely, and two guards not sure if it’s a threat or not.

It powers down, most notably from a glow on the head dissipating. A hatch opens on the chest, and an Alliance officer jumps out, grabbing and pushing on the handles to skip out to the ground. He lands and walks past the crowd to Col. Toulouse.

G: “Lieutenant, what is this?”

M: “Gerard, this machine is amazing. The response time, the power, it has incredible performance. It could use a tune up, but this thing is amazing.”

G: “Markov you didn’t- did you take the Urdswan?”

M: “I don’t know what it’s called but I love it. Can we keep it? I promise to take good care of her.”

G: “You stole this, we can’t just take units without proper requisitioning. It’s very old as well, I don’t think it’s safe for you to pilot, especially not on the field.”

M: “Come on Gerard, you saw me out there didn’t you? You’re right it’s probably not safe, but have the engineers take a look at it and get it fixed up. Worst case I can eject and it crashes and burns.”

G: “You honestly want us to take this unit and maintain it? Milo there are procedures, we would have to run a lot of tests on it-”

M: “You get all the paperwork done and tell me when I can jump back in. Gerard this is a great asset for us, plus it’s great fun to pilot. You should give it a go, while you’re still young enough to take the G’s.”

G: “Markov…”

M: “I’m going to eat, that was a pretty good work out. See you there? Unless you have papers to scribble on.”

G: “Hold on, even if the unit is cleared for use, which I’m not sure it will be, it’s probably still not a good idea to use. It’s very old Milo, it might have powerful components but who knows how long they’ll last. They could fail in battle. There might be issues with the computer systems, we don’t even have any replacement parts for any of it. It would need a complete overhaul.”

Both walking down the hall.

M: “Oh no, don’t you go putting any cheap parts in that thing. Have you ever driven a classic car Gerard? You don’t mess with the parts.”

G: “You know I haven’t.”

M: “Then it’s settled, do what you can buddy. Don’t worry.”

G: “No promises.”

Gerard stops, Markov turns to face him while walking backwards.

M: “I told you this would be fun!”

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