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Timebot


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dancemonkeyTimebotOne of my first ever "favorite" games was a little isometric action puzzler called D/Generation, where you led a little delivery guy through successive floors in a building by stepping on switches, opening doors, and collecting weapons. Does anyone else remember this? My friend and I had such fun playing this game that years later I tracked down a copy on ebay and gave it to him as a birthday gift. Yes, I am that cheap.

Timebot by David Durham is in a similar vein to that old chestnut, but with one noteworthy exception: his interpretation of the "replay" competition theme. Using the arrow keys you must guide a robot throughout several levels. The key mechanic is to roll onto switches that open doors or materialize platforms, but the doors and platforms block your progress again once you move off of the switch. What's a player to do?

In this case hit [spacebar] to jump back in time to the start of the level, allowing your "current" robot to wait patiently while your "past" robot once again heads over to the switch to open up the door and let you through.

Have I blown your mind? There's more: you must accomplish this before you run out of energy, while simultaneously collecting little gold gears for extra points. Had enough? Good, because that's about it. The game itself is fairly straightforward, but the levels obviously get more and more difficult as you progress. You're allowed only a certain number of "time jumps" each level but usually end up using them all, sometimes overlapping your robotic instances so much that your brain threatens to explode from the combined effort of temporal distortion.

Analysis: The replay mechanic in Timebot turns what would otherwise be a simple platform puzzle game on its head and creates something truly outstanding. Not only do you have to know which buttons to press in the right sequence, but you have to mentally track your past movements over several iterations of your robot, replaying in your mind how each one will move and when it will land on each switch. It caused a real brain meltdown for me around level 8, where I had to hit the comments for some help.

The graphics are nice and remind me of a more refined update to the graphics in the aforementioned D/Generation. I think the lack of music is always a good choice in games like these since you could wind up spending so long on a particular level. Unless the music or background sound effects are truly superb, it's better just to do without them lest you drive your audience mad.

My only quibble with the game is very minor. You gather the gears for points, but I'd rather see the gears be put to another use. I personally have never been driven to gather anything purely for points or achievement, though I know that those gamers exist. Perhaps they could bump your energy up to give you more time (and for particularly evil level design, some could actually cost more time to fetch than they give you)?

The game as it stands doesn't really need much refinement, but it would be great to see it further developed with more obstacles, more levels, and eventually maybe a level editor? That's a lot to ask, I know. For now I'll just enjoy what David's given us.

Play Timebot

JayJay - David's creative interpretation of the replay theme here applied to a puzzle game fits like a glove. He focuses on a few core concepts and keeps it relatively simple; the end result is a game that is lot of fun to play. Timebot feels like a complete game, polished in many respects and yet there are a few rough spots, too.

Some people experienced difficulty grasping the concept of time travel (myself included), and I believe the choice to describe it as such represents a fundamental flaw in the design. After all, the player isn't doing any time travel, but rather establishing a program for subsequent bots to follow as the player continues along the same time continuum. This burdens the player with a paradigm shift, necessary to experience before the game can be played as it was intended.

And for a game that is entirely keyboard controlled, forcing a mouse-click between levels causes unnecessary additional effort. Also, the lack of a save mechanism to store progress reduces the likelihood that the player will come back to finish if the game is not solved in one sitting. I would have liked to see a keyboard hotkey (spacebar perhaps?) to advance to the next level, and a level select screen with perhaps levels unlocked as the player advances.

All things considered, Timebot is one of 4 entries I had chosen as personal favorites in this competition, and it is a game design with enormous potential. I'd love to see David develop it further with all the polish of a game afforded ample development time. It is an exceptional idea executed almost perfectly, and it is indeed a pleasure to have it included among the other entries. Well done, David!

75 Comments

Shouldn't the post title be "Timebot"?

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ACK! :x
You are, of course, correct. Thanks for pointing that out. Fixed.

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Totally stumped on Level 8.

Since there's a gap between the time it takes you to walk to each of the first four buttons, it seems like you'd need 4 "replays" in order to make the bridge fully appear, otherwise each bridge section disappears while you're walking to the next switch...

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I've not played a game with this concept before. Really enjoyable!

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Khaustic, if you are talking about the level I'm thinking about:

You should be able to do it with just two bots working the bridge. You don't have to have the bridge up at the same time either. It's similar to what you've done before, just with trickier timing. I think it would go something like this:
1. Timebot A activiates first square
2. Timebot B activ. second
3. Timebot A moves and activates 3rd
4. Timebot B moves and activates 4th
and so on.
Let me know if that helps or makes sense

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Harukio...

I guess I was over-thinking it, didn't even consider just using two bots. Makes sense now! Thanks!

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Whoa, quite the learning curve. Still, this looks fascinating.

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I ran out of energy on level 8, yet i got a game over instead of a retry/quit screen...

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I solved level 8 by ...

getting one bot to follow the other around. The timing was tight and it took me many tries, but if bot A stands on square 1 for a second and then moves to square 2, bot B needs to stand on square 1 until bot A has been on square 2 for about half a second, then follow him. In this way, bot C has enough time to move onto the next platform before the one he's on disappears.
Another re: my solution for 8...

Do the second half of the bridge first. Then bot C waits until A and B are working on the first half before crossing, grabs the coins, and stands on the button for a second before splitting into bot D. (I figure that at this point you should still have about 30 seconds left.)

Although I think I see what Harukio is saying, and that might work better. ;)

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Nevermind my previous comment- dark screen with faded out buttons, and the quit was where the retry was from previous restarts by using the menu.

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the clap Author Profile Page July 18, 2007 10:01 PM

Oooh, this is easily my favorite of the lot. Its very original without being too abstract, and challenging enough to make you think several steps ahead before attempting moves (especially on the last level.)

I for one would love to see Mr. Durham expand upon this idea in the future...

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Cool!

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It took me a couple of tries to wrap my head around the concept (I kept wanting to control the newly appearing bots instead of the one I already had control of.) but man, once I got into it, this was fantastic! Really carefully conceived and tightly executed. There's obviously a lot more you could do with the gameplay than just standing on switches, but I'm glad you stuck to one thing and made it work well. The platforms over the water really created some tense situations, as I trust my earlier planning to carry me to safety.

The one thing I felt lacking was the sound effects. I really needed a sound for the doors opening and closing, and some sort of robotic fanfare at the end would have been nice. As it stands, I think the only sound effect is the one for picking up gears.

With slightly juiced-up graphics and sound, this would be one slick game. Nice job.

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This one ROCKS! Really does use the "replay" feature & it's not just there for kicks it's part of the gameplay. Very cool!

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I definitely thought it was the best of the bunch so far but it could of used some different puzzles every once in a while and sound effects would have been great

but other wise great job!!

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Yes! This is totally awesome. Original, fun, challenging, plays smoothly... Pretty much my only beef is that you can't press the spacebar or something to go to the next level.

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Very similar to the time travel in Shuggy and also Knight Time, so I'm not sure how original this really is, though it's possible for multiple people to come up with the same idea, of course... It's a good concept, anyhow. Would've been better without the timeout.

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im having troubles with level 5 can anyone one help me?

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Wow! What an original implementation of "replay." This game does a great job achieving that tough balance between easy and frustrating.

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Wow I love level 8.

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Mandypoo July 18, 2007 10:52 PM

This just might be my favorite game so far. When I first started playing I thought the timebot moved too slow for my attention span but then I realized, after figuring out the first level, the game has everything to do with timing (hence the name "time"bot). I just love how David Durham interpreted "Replay"; I've never seen anything like it. My only note is that I wish there was a pause button rather than having to click quit.

Very original David! Cheers :D

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One of the few entries that has paid attention to the theme and paid attention well. What's the sparks thing got to do with Replay?!

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abfdrumz July 18, 2007 11:06 PM

Wow, that's really cool. I normally don't enjoy games that induce this much "time tension," but of course the concept here requires a countdown, and the execution is extremely clever. I may need to do some relaxing exercises before I'll be able to get anywhere on level 8, but this is easily the best of the bunch I've seen so far, in terms of both gameplay and working in the replay theme. Well done, Mr. Durham.

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It would be nice if you could replay the level without having to wait for the time to run out. Otherwise, a great game.

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sooze - you can retry a level without waiting for the timer to expire. Just click the [Quit] button in the lower left corner of the game window, and then "Retry" from the menu that pops-up.

The word "Quit" may seem scary in a game that doesn't save your progress. Perhaps it should be labeled "Menu", or "Pause" even?

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...or even "retry." Having two buttons down there wouldn't break the world.

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Awesome!!! Seeing this game in the same day as I posted my comment on Super Earth Defense Game was really cool, because in that post I suggested that the "ghost" ships somehow be made integral to the completion of the game. This play mechanic has a lot of potential. Does anybody know if it is something that was basically just invented for this competition? What are some historical precedents for in-game time travel? (plotlines where a character goes back in time aren't that interesting for this question...it's more about where time travel is a part of the gameplay that the player controls) Just curious!

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Brilliant! My brain, she is broken.

The difficulty ramps up quite nicely, as you learn how to do the basic opening of doors, then the more advanced timing stuff. I quit at level eight but I'll come back to it later.

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MatrixFrog Author Profile Page July 19, 2007 12:48 AM

Level 5

While one bot is crossing the bridge, you can only have one in the right-side chamber. Which seems like a serious problem

until you realize that the sections of bridge opened by the buttons overlap each other.

So, the bot in the right-hand room has to hit the buttons in the right order

upper left, upper right, lower right, lower left. Full solution:

Walk over to the button on the left. Stay there for a second or so. Long enough for a bot to walk in and another bot to leave. Walk over to the doors. Time warp. Wait until the doors open, then walk through. Collect the two gears. Step on the buttons in the order above, pausing on each for a second, but quite a bit longer on the first one. Time warp. As soon as you see a bot come in to the button room, leave. Collect the upper three gears while you're waiting, then cross the bridge and exit!

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MatrixFrog Author Profile Page July 19, 2007 12:51 AM

Actually, I think it's a little easier to

get the 3 gears with your first bot.

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i Really liked the replay feature of this game--what i was hoping for exactly :)

so far this overall has been my most favorite competition, do to the great games.

thanks jay, and thanks all of the designers...

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Goliath July 19, 2007 2:44 AM

Whoa! I'm completeley thrilled! This game kicks in extremis. In a game competition I do not expect long, endless games which should provide me hours of distraction but rather a game that takes me on a short leave and spits me out later with a huge smile on my face.

Timebot does exactly that. No 1 so far.

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This game is almost perfect - I love it!

The one tweak I'd have liked to see (and this is very, very minor) is some kind of animation for time travel taking place. Because the first time one of my bots just vanished it took my feeble brain a while to work out why this was correct!

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This is the best of the entries till now, guys this is getting hot now!

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Escapee Author Profile Page July 19, 2007 4:25 AM

Woah - this is great - I'm going to have to play it more later when my brain is functioning, but I love the replay.

Very very good!

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Wow, really great game. Level 8 is mind-boggling. Definitely the best entry so far (and that says a lot).

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berarin July 19, 2007 6:29 AM

This is a wonderful game, I love the concept of "going back in time", something unique!

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This is a very good game! I love how it operates, everything has been smooth so far and I may become addicted! Very cute, and fun - I definitely will come back to this.

I only have two or three critiques the game. I would like a few more sound effects. Right now all that has a sound effect is the gears. Perhaps get a noise for the doors opening, like the ones on Star Trek or something. Even the switches could have a little clicking noise when they activate. And you DEFINITELY need some sort of snazzy "Congrats, you won a level" noise. Doesn't have to be too complicated. :)

Also, I think there should be a "choose level" feature of some sort. It could be a code you input or an actual menu. Right now you have to play from the start if you quit the game - which, being at level 8, is frustrating.

Also, there are a few gameplay elements that Mister Durham could add to enhance the experience. Along with switches, there could be a tide (for example, every few seconds water will cover a bridge that the Timebot must cross to reach the exit; he would have to wait until the water level is down again to cross). There could be batteries you collect that would add time to a level, but they would be out of the way and somewhat hard to reach. There are a number of things he could add to make it more interesting (not that it isn't already a wonderful game, mind you!).

Other than those nitpicky things, everything is excellent. :) Wonderful job Mister Durham!

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Hands down the best implementation of the theme yet. This may very well be my Sprout for this CGDC3... I'll be looking forward to seeing if any future entries can top this one.

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Basically what Metanaito said (there should be a "select level" or "continue" option.)
The gameplay is awesome, very addictive and in the line of the contest theme (so far only this and A Bark in the Dark originally take advantage of the theme), graphics are nice, smooth and functional and sound could be a little bit more varied, but that doesn't really matter a lot. Nice job!

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I agree with everyone, the game is fantastic, however here's some constructive criticism I hope helps:

-having to physically click on the screen in annoying between levels of an entirely keyboard based game.

-the learning curve for getting used to the time your double is around for is a little high. Perhaps some tutorial-esque levels would be a help

-is there a reason to collect gears? It says 'for a better score' but as far as I can tell there is no score (maybe there is at the end fo the game). It'd be nice to see it.

-telling the player there's a set number of replays is a little too vague. Keep the set number exactly the same in every level nad tell the player that number

-the animation for triggering a replay really looks like a teleport, or something similar, and even a number of levels in I felt like I should control the double, not the original. Perhaps a shadow travelling really fast to the start point? A beeping light on the original timebot's head, and use that animation for the new one?

-more than the one sound would be nice, as people mentioned above, and music too. Some elevator-ey music in the background would work for the ambiance, or some light techno. look to www.freeplaymusic.com and the www.newgrounds.com audio portal for free music to use in non-profit flash movies and games.

Overall, gets an 8.5/10 on my scale. props!

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Like the game. It's basically the same idea as the "shooter" game, but a little bit better implemented, since you HAVE to use your "ghosts" to solve the game instead of them being convenient sidekicks.

A tutorial COULD help, though. And one thing I didn't particularly like is how the time-shift mechanism is a little bit unintuitive. At first I thought that by pressing space replayed EVERYTHING from the start of the level and I tried to solve the levels according to that. But rather what happens is that the level gets reset, the "ghost" repeats your actions and the "real" robot gets transported in place, rather then time. This takes some getting used to - especially with more replays - and could get quite messy if the game progressed with the current difficulty curve. I think I'd rather have a total "reset" with the player robot getting back to the starting position, it would make all this time-space management easier to grasp.

Otherwise, a very nice addition and great implementation of the game. Too bad there is no Jay logo in sight :).

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the curraptor,

you say:

"-telling the player there's a set number of replays is a little too vague. Keep the set number exactly the same in every level nad tell the player that number"

I have to disagree - i guess the hardest part is to solve each level in exactly as many tries - or "replays" as is given. The number of possibly "replays" is a core feature of each level.
Maybe with different levels designed for the same number of possibly replays could work, though.

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This is probably the best entry so far. (Thursday)
I only wish there were more levels. (Level 8 below)

This is a very unique puzzler and i just had a lot of fun with this game. Level 8 was a real challenge but it doesn't take to long to figure out. This could be a real PC(-CD) game. I wish that it could be made fuller and that we could really get some use out of the time-shifts (really good use of 'replay').

Level 8:

Your first bot but his the bottom right for a while. Wait, then move to the bottom left. wait, back to right, wait back to left, spacebar. Your second bot should hit the top left, wait, to right, wait, top left, wait top right. (This might not be perfect but your smart, figure it out, this is just an example.)
Now, your third bot should go to the beggining of the path. Pretty soon youll seen that the previous bots will let you pass. Wait on the switch on island for a long time, as much as you can spare (i got out by only 3 seconds). Then press space. Your last bot will be sitting on the switch, just wait. When your third bot sits down inside you, you should see the path opening up for you. Go across. Hopefully there was enough time on the switch on the island. Good luck.

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This game is wonderful! It's clever, well designed, and takes quite a bit of thinking to solve the puzzles. And of course, it fits the theme of this competition perfectly.

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Is there any way to get back to a level that you were working on before? I closed the window to come back to this game, but now I have to start again at level 1 instead of level 8. Wah!

But I agree, this so far is the best game in this competition.

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This game is mind-bending!!!!! I love it!! I'm stuck on level 2 :P I think it's the best use of the "replay" theme yet.

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old woman Author Profile Page July 19, 2007 5:43 PM

Fascinated by all the glowing remarks, but I just can't find my way into this one. Level one, piece of cake... seem to understand the concept... but no amount of trying is getting me through level 2. Lead man gets through doors one and two at best, (my worst efforts are reaaly BAD). I accept that I am old, but I don't want to be old AND stupid. Any suggestions all you bright young kind people?

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It's not a matter of being stupid, it's more one of perspective. And all you need is a good paradigm shift. ;)

For me the key was to remember that when I press the space bar, another timebot will be 'replaying' my current actions, exactly, allowing me to go on ahead.

So, each turn you will want to do exactly what you want the bot behind you to do, remembering that sometimes waiting in one spot for a bit before moving on may be necessary to give you time to get through that door (in the future).

I hope that helped. It definitely makes you think in ways you're not used to thinking in.

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old woman Author Profile Page July 19, 2007 6:16 PM

Thanks Jay for the quick reply. I've had another dozen attempts, no joy yet, but I will crack it! However it is late here in the UK so I must leave it for now and try with a fresh 'brain' in the morning. Goodnight and thanks for all the fun I get from your games.

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To old woman, I found having the Retry option helps when i didn't do a sequence correctly =) My suggestion is run it through, find a mistake, retry and tweak what you need to tweak. Repeat. Or in this case, Replay :)

I honestly thought this game advanced too quickly, but when i finally beat the last level, i was left wanting for more. Awesome game, David!!! u kno when a game is great when a lurker bothers to post a comment ^_^

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Either I'm having a glitch, or I don't understand some aspect of the game, because I can't get past level two, my echoes keep disappearing on me.

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Undefinability the best use of the Replay theme. Once you get your head around the control and time delay the best game so far

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To Brucker, the echoes only replays to when you hit spacebar (that glow around the bot). You might want to keep them on a square for a longer count. I did a LOT of counting because you also run out of time if you dally around.

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old woman Author Profile Page July 22, 2007 5:28 PM

Great game finally got into it! (for a long time I thought I had to press the spacebar whilst my robot was actually standing on a square) haven't completed it yet, but it is good challenge.

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For those confused by the exact behaviour of the button: it IS time travel.

To explain in more detail:

* There is only ONE robot.
* When you press the button, it travels back in time to the start of the level whilst staying in THE SAME place.
* This is why you continue to control the same robot, not the "new" one - because the new one is not new, it is simply your past (which cannot change).
* This is why "other robots" suddenly vanish - that's what you see when you reach the point in the timeline where they jump back in time (but you carry on forwards).

For a deeper understanding of time travel I recommend the movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure". ;-)

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Alastair Edwards July 24, 2007 12:19 AM

Yep, that is an excellent game - just the right length, perfect difficulty curve and buckets of originality... I was really excited when I figured out what was happening and the way I'd have to solve my puzzles.

Nice not to throw in loads of new elements and keep it simple with the switches for those few levels. Going forward there are heaps more things you could try... but I really like it the way it is!

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NotSoWize July 24, 2007 6:11 PM

I really enjoyed this game. Not sure about the grade at the end, I don't think I missed any gears and still received a "C".

One of my two favorites from the competition!

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daviddurham Author Profile Page July 25, 2007 10:19 AM

Thanks (and well done) for playing to the end. Better grades can be achieved by completing the levels with more energy remaining as well as collecting the coins. I realise this should have been mentioned in the help, sorry for the oversight.

Thank to everyone for all the feedback, especially to those who persevered with the game after not getting it right away.

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dude, i don't know what i'm doing wrong! i can't get past level 2. I gotta be missing something

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Hmmm. This game displays a nice 'TimeBot' logo in simple type, but not only fails to progress further, it also apparently crashes the contest interface. Any idea what's wrong?

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I cannot reproduce the problem, Chris. Perhaps try reinstalling Flash?

What version of the Flash Player do you have installed?

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It seems level 8 is the most difficult one, but I cannot get past level 7 :-)...
I can open the second door using one of my timebots (standing on a button) but somehow I cannot move through it, my bot just won't answer my keyboard left arrow. Any suggestions ?

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meowsqueak August 23, 2007 2:57 AM

I remember D/Generation - basically a realtime puzzle game with security systems, keycards, linked doors and weird green 'slinky' things. It was a great game in its time.

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meowsqueak, that actually makes me so happy.

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Jorth Vorlund August 31, 2007 12:04 PM

This guy collects some kewlie games.
big fan of Onslaught 2. Keep up the good work!

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Easy! Got through the 12 levels in about 1/2 and hour. But fun game!

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I'm stuck in level 11 can someone help me please!... :-S... thanks

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NiñoScript November 16, 2007 9:49 PM

Fun game, not soo hard, lacked more levels :-(

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stuck on level 2 can you do walkthrough

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Level 8 took me a while but I finally figured it out. The easiest thing to do is wait for the lasers to flash then go...about halfway through press the spacebar but don't let go of the arrow key. Press the button until you're sure the door will be open when you're at it again. Leave the button, get close to the lasers, wait for them to go again, then go, again, halfway, go back in time and then you should be at the door.

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Anonymous January 9, 2008 9:34 PM

Lvl 11 - help please!?!?!! It's driving me crazy.

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kate Ebbutt January 11, 2008 6:36 PM

here's how you do level 11...

level 11 is easiest to start with the top left button, count to four, move one to the right, count to four, and continue in a clockwise motion. then timewarp, and with the second bot, start on the bottom right button. follow the same pattern, but start by going to the button to the left. and make sure that you stagger your bots. the second bot needs to stay on his square a second after the first bot has reached his next button, or you wont have enough time to move across the bridge later. After you've completed the buttons, warp again and walk across the bridge one square at a time. then sit on the button on the island for a few seconds, warp one final time, and then walk across the bridge as it appears, then wait for the square bridge to appear, and run across it and through the door.

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I just completed level 12, and I have to say this is one of the best games I've played so far :)

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LOL. There are 8 Level only!

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Caves Online> Johnny123 An online platform game that pits you against the "ghosts" of players who've run the course before you. Use the arrow keys to jump, dodge and collect gold as you avoid lava pits, skeletons and the ever-sliding view.  ...
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Primary Max> Lori.h Play around in Max's clone lab and test out his new machine by solving puzzles. Use your clones as stepping stools and button pushers but make sure they get back, as you find your exit, to prevent a time paradox.  ...
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Manor Memoirs> starchild Scarlett has just moved into an old, decrepit manor, looking for inspiration for her new book. But who can write in a house that's falling apart? That's where you come in. As a seasoned interior decorator/garage sale organiser, you will do your best to raise money to renovate the old place. Manor Memoirs is a wonderfully sweet hidden-object/time management hybrid that's guaranteed to make you smile.  ...
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14 Comments
History Museum Escape> Dora Trapped overnight in the history museum, if you want to escape you'll need to solve puzzles and craft some pretty darned clever tools in this short but sweet game also available free for iOS and Android.  ...

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