Game progression rate

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Game progression rate

Postby Denis » Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:43 pm

This is a subjective issue to be sure. To each his/her own and all that. I'm just a single point in a cloud of data, blah blah blah.

Also, the game improves with each release so a version 1.0 player will have a different experience than I (we) did, so perhaps this is not relevant.

My first impressions of this game were the subject of a long post and I want to underline that I might represent a portion of the target audience that just don't get (obvious) things (easily). In any case, it wasn't love at first sight. I had to "stick with it" as I was pretty much lost on how things work and what I was supposed to do. Again, most of this is perhaps simply the fact that the help wasn't implemented (and yes, I didn't read much of what was written).

So at first I had some trouble getting a grip on how things worked. Wiring things, finding where I was, what I was supposed to do, etc.

But I got help from worfc and rdka and passed that first phase and I got into it and found myself liking it more and more and wanting to come back to it. I still had things to say on how to improve the game of course, but I was hooked. I think the success of a game relies on various subjective issues, but one thing that is most important is if people "stick with it", because once they quit you can't win them back (as they're not listening to your arguments).

So there was a time I was enjoying myself.

You can think of it as a grinding-budget: there is some amount of bother that I'm willing to go through for something that looks promising.

As I said on this board, there was many times I would have liked to be able to program the robot instead of micro-managing it. But you hang in there because the good stuff is just over the horizon. Well, I'm still waiting on that good stuff and the grinding-budget is all spent...

I can no more program the robot than I could before[3], so having the robot do things for me seems as much work as if I had to do them all by myself (ok that's an exaggeration, but it helps with making a point sometimes!). I have to deal with a limited inventory, and the amount of raw materials I need for the next phase of progress seems huge.

The reason I cannot really program the robot at the moment is that gates are very expensive (resource wise) to make (at the moment), and I spent those (gates) I crafted to make other things (like genetic mutation oscillators). So automation of the grinding part is not yet an option (for me, perhaps I'm missing something obvious — again).

At the moment, the amount of stuff I need to make things, and managing inventory, and dealing with stuff on the ground and chests and whatnot, and the fact that there is no improvement in sight (from what I can see in the near future) would simply make me trash this game and go on to the next. The only reason I stick with it is that I'm not playing a finished game and I'm doing it to help test things out, so my expectations are not the same. If there was no dialog (with worfc or others), and I was trying this game to see if I liked it, this is where I would have quit.

Now again this caveat: I'm much less tolerant to grinding than I used to be. Yes I play a FM in CL, but I've been playing it for 15 years[1] so much of the grinding is behind me (you mentioned I was getting old, well I am).

It's also hard to say if the appeal of the later-game of worfc would make me stick around under normal circumstances. There is much appeal (to me) to this concept you have for worfc[2] (or I wouldn't have registered to test it). What I mean is that a version 1.0 experience with sufficient data/info on what's coming ahead might make people stick through this part of the game. So perhaps this would not be an issue.

But I've played less recently, and mostly only because I feel guilty not to test things out, and partially because I'm curious if I'm mistaken and this phase I'm in and that is bothering me is shorter than I expect it to be.

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[1]: and I've quit a couple of times along the way, but eventually came back
[2]: gah! spelling checker keeps changing 'worfc' into 'work'
[3]: less than before actually, since the changes in the way bumper work, I can't easily have a logic circuit to power down when I get to the stone wall while moving in diagonal because it would take many more gates than it used to take before the change (and more than I currently have).
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby worfc » Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:28 pm

Denis wrote:So there was a time I was enjoying myself. [...T]here was many times I would have liked to be able to program the robot instead of micro-managing it. But you hang in there because the good stuff is just over the horizon. Well, I'm still waiting on that good stuff and the grinding-budget is all spent...


Oh Blargh! This is exactly the thing I was trying NOT to do in worfc (see note elsewhere about my thoughts on grinding farm games and why I started worfc in the first place).

And, while you're right that you don't read all the help, etc., you're actually an excellent beta-test case! One thing I learned during user-testing with high school kids (probably the bulk of my actual "target market") is that they don't read ANYTHING! They just start clicking things, drop their only saw into a lava pit then say "I'm stuck. Now what?"

If you leave, you leave, and I'll be sorry to see you go. But I hope you believe me when I tell you that your input has been amazing, and I hope I can find a couple more "Denis-es" to help me push the game toward more-approachable to "folks like you."


Materials costs: Yeah, you've mentioned that a few times, and I've been stewing on it for a while now. I'm trying to figure out a progression that allows bare gates to be cheaper but still make it a good idea to farm them. (So I have to figure out how to make gates cheap, but gate-trees even cheaper, but without it becoming a "gates fountain".)

Perhaps the balance there is to make gate-crafting a little cheaper, make gate-trees more expensive, but make gate-trees drop seeds more. So, basically, you can make more gates, but it's still "crafting gates", which is work. Then, once you can finally afford gate-trees, they propagate like kudzu, and suddenly gates are "all over the place".

I need to stew on that a bit. Basically, you guys are far beyond where I've played the game as a "real" user. You're deep into "I laid this all out on paper and it seemed reasonable; let's see what the beta guys say"-land.

"Game design is haaaaaaard!"


Rock walls: I'm going to assume that you don't have an item sensor, yet. You can wire one of those to sense rocks, then wire it to your bumper (or multiple bumpers, via OR gates) and it goes hot when you hit a rock.

The only reason I stick with it is that I'm not playing a finished game and I'm doing it to help test things out, so my expectations are not the same. If there was no dialog (with worfc or others), and I was trying this game to see if I liked it, this is where I would have quit.


And THAT is the whole reason I'm all over you guys' feedback!

Less tolerant to grinding: yet another way that you're a good representative of the "kids, these days" market. ;)

Wrap up: I have sincerely enjoyed every word of your feedback -- the positive and the less-positive equally. Again, if you're burnt-out on it, I understand, but I'm glad you dropped in and hope you got something out of it, too. (And please don't play out of guilt! Don't worry, putting your name in the about box was pretty inexpensive and you've more than paid me for it in helpful feedback! :) ) If you do decide to take a break from the game, perhaps you can hang around the forums a bit and be what Joe calls a "spirit guide". That's basically where you make fun of all the n00b questions and play the part of "wizened old robo-farmer" who has so much free time to hand out advice since his farm is clearly fully automated (or so everyone else thinks ;) )

Or, who knows? Maybe at some point I'll get the balance right and there will be so much content it'll just be fun-new-discoveries every day and you'll want to jump back in. Of course, then you run the risk of being a n00b, yourself, again -- so there's a trade-off, there... <G>

That's my goal, anyway. I don't really want to just release a game that sucks and abandon it. Even if v1.0 gets a lukewarm reception -- maybe only OCD kids will play or something -- I hope to learn from the experience and keep evolving it into something better.

It is a bit of a bummer that I'm not independently wealthy, which would enable me to hire 4 assistant engineers, a couple of artists, and afford me time to play frequently so I could pursue The Vision. Maybe that's the secret, though -- maybe I've been too-deep in code and haven't been playing enough. Ok, from now on, I'm going to see if I can play 30-60 minutes every day. Granted, I know how everything is supposed to work, but at least I'll get a stronger sense of "ok, this just takes too #@$% long" or not.

Spell check: "work" -- yeah, what-up with that, anyway?!?!
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby worfc » Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:31 pm

P.S. Thanks to the bug you found, it wasn't possible to make silicon. I'm going to guess that put a damper on gate-creation. I'm uploading a hot-fix for that RIGHT NOW!
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby Denis » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:12 pm

I'm not leaving just yet. As I said the game-as-you-describe it appeals to me, it's just not there yet (or I'm not there in it). My post was meant to point out that the progress rate needs adjusting because you'll loose people at the point I'm in at the moment (if they're like me, under similar circumstances). I'm just playing less[1].

Bug: it was possible to make silicon, it's just the button that is at the level of the "Short:" section (I call it the BOM button) that freezes things (and not just for silicon). It seems to freeze for things that I'm far from being able to make, like Steel mill, but for things like Steel bar too.


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[1]: and the loss of progress, again, because of the 'save name' thing doesn't help.
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby Denis » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:23 pm

P.S. the hot fix seem to have fixed the BOM button issue. I tested some of the troublesome items and they show their BOM. So I saw the BOM for the Steel Mill...

1824 clay
4040 copperwood
9376 ironwood
64 plastiwood
4080 beachwood and
22818 wood

Seriously? that's more than 42k items! The maximum inventory is 4000 items btw. Just saying.
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby worfc » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:28 pm

Well, I beg your patience as "I'm just one guy", but I'll do my best to make my millions so I can hire a team of experts to help me balance the game. :) If you need a break, that's cool, I'll plod along as well as I can.

Silicon: the BOM button (that's what I call it, too) hung because, at the time you pressed it, silicon required a steel hammer, and steel required silicon.

* Fixed in latest hot-fix.
* There's a unit-test now to help me never-again screw-up the data that way. (Assuming I run the unit-test every release ;) )

Also, (and this won't be in until next release, but it would make the hot-fix, if you found me another crashing bug <G>)...

* I lowered the price of gates ~30%. Actually, I had to raise the price about 50%, but now it makes 2. (Had to do it that way because there's no decent way to spend 1.3 iron, for example.)
* I made gate-tree-seeds a learn-by-fail thing, but with a decent head-start on the % chance.

In theory (THIS HAS NOT BEEN PLAY TESTED. LUCKY YOU! ;) ), this will make gates a little more affordable, but also put a little distance between crafting and farming gates.

Feel free to let me know if I totally screwed the pooch on that change. :)
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby worfc » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:29 pm

Denis wrote:P.S. the hot fix seem to have fixed the BOM button issue. I tested some of the troublesome items and they show their BOM. So I saw the BOM for the Steel Mill...

1824 clay
4040 copperwood
9376 ironwood
64 plastiwood
4080 beachwood and
22818 wood

Seriously? that's more than 42k items! The maximum inventory is 4000 items btw. Just saying.


That includes everything needed to make the tools needed, which are reusable. I've taken tools out of the BOM for next update, since it seems to make the BOM kind of useless for pricing stuff.

Next update, it'll show only the raw materials.

(Before that happens: want to give yourself a heart attack? Scroll to the bottom and BOM a robot. ;) Heck, even with the tools out, it's 66k wood, plus a bunch of other stuff. However, you don't tote around all those raw materials at once. In fact, most of the wood becomes charcoal to make iron, steel, plastic, copper, etc., and all that is made into gates, chests, and other items. BOM just shows raw-materials, starting from zero. The BOM button is there both as a player-planning aid and to help "keep me honest." I use it a fair bit to make sure things don't seem completely out of whack. That's what gave me the idea to take tools out, since it renders the answer kind of useless.)

Also, FWIW, others have crafted full-on robots. "Chop chop!" <G>
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby Denis » Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:01 pm

Yeah I looked for what the Steel Mill was required and got the heart attack :)

Also, FWIW, others have crafted full-on robots. "Chop chop!" <G>


Well then, have them come to this board and fill in the "tips and trick" section! I guess I need help. :D

And I guess they didn't have to manage inventory for a while either.
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby noivad » Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:15 pm

worfc wrote:
Denis wrote:P.S. the hot fix seem to have fixed the BOM button issue. I tested some of the troublesome items and they show their BOM. So I saw the BOM for the Steel Mill...

1824 clay
4040 copperwood
9376 ironwood
64 plastiwood
4080 beachwood and
22818 wood

Seriously? that's more than 42k items! The maximum inventory is 4000 items btw. Just saying.


That includes everything needed to make the tools needed, which are reusable. I've taken tools out of the BOM for next update, since it seems to make the BOM kind of useless for pricing stuff.

Next update, it'll show only the raw materials.

(Before that happens: want to give yourself a heart attack? Scroll to the bottom and BOM a robot. ;) Heck, even with the tools out, it's 66k wood, plus a bunch of other stuff. However, you don't tote around all those raw materials at once. In fact, most of the wood becomes charcoal to make iron, steel, plastic, copper, etc., and all that is made into gates, chests, and other items. BOM just shows raw-materials, starting from zero. The BOM button is there both as a player-planning aid and to help "keep me honest." I use it a fair bit to make sure things don't seem completely out of whack. That's what gave me the idea to take tools out, since it renders the answer kind of useless.)

Also, FWIW, others have crafted full-on robots. "Chop chop!" <G>



Have you drawn out a map of the BOM tree and added the time to grow materials? If you did that you could see where the game slows down and adjust accordingly.
I agree with Dennis on a lot of his observations, but I too realize this is a beta (actually more of an “alpha” technically since basic features are still being added) so I am sticking with it.

I haven’t even gotten to gate trees yet because I intentionally playing “stupid:” IE: I have only glanced at the circuit layouts and played like I’m discovering circuit design (even though I can read electronics schematics which are even more basic than the starting switches we have here—basically your skipped making 3 lead circuitry for the convenience of 1in - 1out for each logic gates). I am not sure how many hours I have let it run. I actually wired the top bumper to the antenna transmit so I can hear when the bot gets stuck. So, I can go off an read for a few minutes or check mail and let the bot run around collecting things. The biggest problem is, the inventory limit makes me have to intervene and plant the lowest seeds count (assuming I don’t want to craft a new seed from prior seeds — which is also a juggling act). If there was a “if inventory full: plant lowest seeds count until inventory not full” it would be great, but a bit of a shortcut.

It seems like you are trying to make 2 games: one where you don’t have direct control of the bot, but at the same time, need direct control of the bot to get past a mid-level point where you can’t build enough logic circuits to let it run itself. (I could craft a flip-flop circuit earlier, but the challenges push towards other goals first) This dichotomy interaction and lack of direct control add to some of the progress as well as can be contributing to other problems you are probably facing. It’s all trial and error, but ultimately you have to try to shift perspective from the widget builder to the widget user, and “eat your own dogfood” so when you yourself find a thing that frustrates you, you can tweak it. Also, if you have farm saved at various levels, you can tesrt that within the current progress context that things make sense. All of this is just my opinion, but it’s served me well to design non-game UIs (mostly DB & Web Dev) that do the job well—in this case “the job” is defined as “provide a challenge while balancing entertainment.”
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Re: Game progression rate

Postby worfc » Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:41 pm

noivad wrote:Have you drawn out a map of the BOM tree and added the time to grow materials? If you did that you could see where the game slows down and adjust accordingly.


Yes. That's exactly how we got to where we are now. Turns out that it's a bit trickier than just "look at the numbers and make adjustments".

As I've mentioned before, the latest trick is how to make things go faster for slow players, while not making it to too fast for fast players, all while not making things more of a grind. (If you're reading while waiting for your robot to catch up, that's already A Bad Sign; I don't want to go further down that road!)

I appreciate your sticking it out while I work on getting more fun things/solvable challenges into the game while removing grind.

Inventory-full indicator: Nice. On the list for next week. Programming it to do what you want is already in-game.

2 games: No, I'm trying to fix things so that, without inundating the new user with too much all at once, you can get to where you can proceed apace. That's why I lowered the price of gates significantly for this next update.

As before, you guys might be beyond the point where that's helpful to you, but I'm also soliciting additional Beta users, so we can get a fresh-run at the "start game" perspective as it changes. (Yes, any of the existing beta-folk could reset & start again, but that's not quite the same. Still useful information, just not as much info as what comes from a true-newbie.)

Eat your own dogfood I'm a firm believer, and I do believe I recently posted my commitment to do just that! :)

(Various-level save-farms): yeah, that too. You gotta keep up with the posts, man! ;)

Thanks again for your help.
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