Archimedes' Labyrinth

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First time publishing here. Looking for constructive feedback on what I should do with the game (and if it’s worth expanding).

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I’m not a fan at the moment. :/ Though for reasons that can be fixed. Seems WAY too dark to me. Not sure if that’s an attempt to try and make it more mysterious or something, but the overwhelming majority of my time was spent going in circles trying to figure out which way to go. If that’s the purpose of the game, bravo. If not, and the purpose is to solve the maze-puzzle, then I couldn’t get that far.

The corridors also seem way too small and cramped. I realize that if they’re too big then people will expect there to be things to fill them, but the fact that I couldn’t see where I was half the time, combined (again) with the whole can’t see my hand in front of my face thing, only made it worse. At the very least there needs to be more space around the “braziers”. They take up what little space there is, just making it more difficult overall.

Draw distance seemed to be extremely short as well. Not a good thing.

The flame effects were very nicely done. Wall textures were pretty okay in most places, but some were terribly stretched for malformed. Only one I remember off-hand was right where I spawn.

EDIT: By stretched, I mean there were points where the texture actually looked like a barcode. One vertical bar had been strrreeetched to create these horizontal lines that ruined the effect.

Implementing a compass that’s always on screen would very an extremely nice addition as well. If not, perhaps making the rooms not only bigger but slightly themed might also facilitate. People generally like categorizing things. Doing so allows them to process confusing or unusual things, so adding little touches like a room with an open view of the night sky and a room with pillars and a room a fountain, et al. would allow there to be a bit more distinction and flair.

The upside to technology these days is that it allows game designers to provide more and more detail than ever before. The downside to technology these days is that now players expect more and more detail than ever before. Ignoring all else that’s been said, a series of rock tunnels just doesn’t excite. Look at classic Thief or Thief 2. The polygons are simple. The decorations are minimal. The textures are basic… but locations are still distinct and rife with little whozits and whatzits. Casks of ale. Butchers’ blocks. Windows. I know your game world is a labyrinth, but if anything that should be a license to go nuts, not a ceiling to trap you.

Not really digging the F1 details screen. It seems very much like a lazy last-minute add-on. How about a nice, simple, clean introductory slideshow, each slide paired with some doodles to illustrate the concepts. Here’s your mage. He made this other guy mad. Oops, in the maze. Time’s running out! Here’s what you do… A little bit of narrative goes a long way.

I also really don’t like that the counter keeps running down while that screen is open. Doesn’t at all seem like a design feature. Again, just seems like it was easier for you to let that part be, no matter the inconvenience.

I think something that would really step up the gameplay is higher stakes. The story as it exists now is pretty flat. Our character dies when this mysterious and inexplicable counter run down? It kind of begs a resounding “so what?”

Raise the stakes. What about this: turn the “stamina” counter into an actual minutes and seconds timer. Why? Maybe it’s the time the mage’s enemy has given him before a monster is released!!! This monster is the reason we die.

Now bear with me. I’m not saying introduce a monster just for the sake of introducing a monster. That’s stupid. I’m saying introduce a monster to raise the stakes. What really amps up gameplay and gets people going is suspense. It’s not being attacked. It’s the fear of being attacked. So, after X amount of minutes, a gong goes off, and the monster enter the labyrinth as well, beginning the hunt. How would I implement it? After the monster has been loosed, everytime my character changes rooms the game converts the positive time—the number of seconds that have elapsed since the monster was loosed i.e. when the time stopped counting down and began counting UP—into a probability. Whatever the probability is, the game “rolls” a die. If the result is outside of that probability, the return is “false” and I enter the room safe. If the result is within that probability, the return is “true” and the monster is spawned in the same room I’m travelling to and I die.

EDIT 2: I should have proofed this before I posted, sorry. The advantage to this is that it can give someone those extra few seconds, however, after enough time has passed it’s guaranteed that the next room change will kill the person. Yes, they could hide in their current room til kingdom come, but they also can’t win, so it’s not to their advantage to do so.

The upside to methods like this is that it introduce chance and seeming randomness, which takes some of the control out of the players’ hands, something that’s necessary for good games. This also makes speed that much more essential. That way it’s still technically possible to win with the monster loose, which makes those people who are “so close” to beating it absolutely nuts. Should they run from room to room in a last ditch effort, or take a pause of ten or fifteen seconds to crunch out the problem.

You don’t have to actually model and rig a monster, of course, though that would add a bit more to the game. You just need ways to raise the stakes and make things more personal. Dying from running out of stamina is not something people generally have experience with or fear. Being eaten by a monster is.

I know you also have your magic system tied into this game, but that could easily be translated by making a time cost for the magic. Make magic not cost stamina. Instead, it simply requires time to cast, which is then deducted from the available time.

So, yeah. Those are just the ideas off the top of my head. Lemme know if you have any questions for me.

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First off; thanks, far more detailed than any other feedback I’ve gotten on this project thus far. I think I’ll just cut it into points and answer. If you have further commentary; go right ahead.

Darkness: Had multiple complaints about that -/+ now toggles the brightness on the maingame light up and down.

Corridors: I could scale everything up a little; maybe, I fear doing it too much, simply because I want the interior of the maze to be devoid of obvious landmarks I’d need to put in should I grow it up to be larger.

Draw Distance: That was originally on purpose, because before the textures were put in place; I needed an indicator of too far to see to get around in it myself (the wall were solid color then and, ouch.) Changed it to a more standard value.

Texture Stretching: I think that that is literally ONLY at the spawn-point; if there are any other places screenshot them. The spawn point is missing another mesh that represents a cave-in; literally rather than the proper start; it has a version of the regular tunnel that I did a mesh → collapse to half of in order to get a usable start quickly for an alpha version.

Compass: Unfortunately; not possible. The maze is non-euclidean and the cardinal directions are often scrambled. (If you didn’t notice, logically speaking the tunnel sections would go through the middle of the torch rooms and come out on the opposite side); I put in the compass spell that works near the torches, but in terms of getting that to work anywhere away from the torches…erm, honestly inside those tunnels direction gets a little screwy; one of them even goes out and back in in the same spot.

Uniqueness to Rooms: I was/am planning easter-egg rooms; dead-ends with a lot of uniqueness to them, with funny/strange references, etc. As far as the torch rooms or tunnels being individually unique; I don’t think so, because the uniqueness would take away from the intended difficulty; the rooms being all the same, except for if you lit the torch to remind yourself you’ve been there before is a feature to make the maze harder to navigate. Also, if/when I complete the game and it has randomly generated levels, the procedural parsing would be easier with them all being the same.

UI: The UI isn’t done; that’s why it’s all Arial text; in an older version it was DOS System font text and had references to Zork; but then I realized I couldn’t call the game “ZorkMaze” after the maze section in the text adventure so…I dropped that theme and went to the legend of Archimedes, the Minotaur and the Labyrinth.

Score: Had another suggestion to switch to “golfscore” which I might just do. Have the score count up with time and lower score be better.

Pursuance/Monster: Interesting idea. If I had them; I would model them and have them from a beginning instead of any correlation to “score”. I did want the feel to be more puzzle in forcing the player to think and draw out maps and less adrenaline though so I don’t know if it’s a design decision I’d go for.

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Apologies for bump/double post.

Done some minor artistic changes to the game AND since it was poorly received to ignored, decided to shelve it. As with that poor of a reception; I don’t think more levels/better art can do much. Now, I will continue the project if one of the following happens:
(1) A few people tell me they love it and want to see more. / There’s a sudden popularity spike.
(2) Someone tells me that people probably just don’t like it because of not fully understanding the controls [I will just upload a new version with a tutorial level in this case though.]
(3) Someone has good advice on where to go with it mechanically that people would like more.

I see (3) as the more likely scenario; any ideas are welcome, I don’t know what to do to “save” it here. Thanks ahead of time.

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Originally posted by Lord_Lucien:

Compass: Unfortunately; not possible. The maze is non-euclidean and the cardinal directions are often scrambled.

I noticed after about eight seconds of playing because I came across a “door” that I couldn’t see though, but “bumping” into it suddenly put me on the other side with a new corridor, and looking back I couldn’t see the previous passage (another “door”).

I immediately thought “I have been teleported, I wonder if the geometry of this maze does not fit on a euclidean plane.” Turns out I was right. If you’re going to do this, try and be subtle about it. Instead of a door, put the next chunk of the maze so you can see off to the next corner, then teleport the player at the same time you are NOW, such that their view before the teleport and the one after are the same (I’ve done this in a TF2 map to shorten the distance out of one of the spawn rooms, though I never finished the map, the only time you even notice is when another player is just in front of you).

The “I don’t know which direction I’m facing” problem stems from a couple of effects:

1) Mouse sensitivity is too high, a small movement will rotate the camera A LOT, leading to a “did I turn 90 degrees to the right…or 270?”
2) Super dense fog, leading to a “a wall? where did that come from, and which way is the exit, left or right because I couldn’t see it through the fog?” moments
3) Sharp corners, which compounds the above issues. If a corner goes left at a 135 bend, and you walk into the corner and turn right “90” degrees…are you facing the way out…or did you turn 270 degrees? Or is that the way you came? Not to mention that the opposite wall (which would have the corner on it) is practically invisible in the fog. Not that it’d help much if you’re turning too far. You can’t tell if you came down the right side or the left.

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I could try to get the teleporting smooth; though that’d be more work (I think I’d need to change the model some; which probably means redoing all of was originally to have render textures and camera tricks to get it to look smooth, but those…I can’t publish with pro features. I guess I understand the other way of doing it, but yea it takes some model editing we’ll see. Fog was just added in this build; not sure a good brightness/fog ratio that works on all computers; as it is is fine on mine; going too bright breaks the mood and too dark, can’t see at all (hence the -/+ brightness control being available to the player). similar issue with mouse sensitivity; I could give the player control to set it where they like, but I’m not completely certain of how to find a good value for everyone to default to.