CGDC4: Mathematigolf: The CGDC Open


Mathematigolf: The CGDC OpenFlash Game Design CompetitionThe next entry to the 4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition is from David Beers of California (US). David is also new to our competitions, so please give him a warm welcome by providing your feedback in the comments.

Mathematigolf: The CGDC Open is a golf game that includes 3 courses of 10 holes each with terrain that affect "ball physics" in unique ways not usually seen in golf games.

Play Mathematigolf: The CGDC Open

Game link: http://jayisgames.com/cgdc4/?gameID=40

58 Comments

I kinda like the concept... But for me it is way too complicated. Great integrations of physics... and maths.

I made the first comment.

This just seems like a normal mini-golf game, except you can see all the underlying math all the time. In my book, it's more fun dressing it up as sand traps and fairways and slopes. Usually, the whole point of a game is to let you forget that you're basically battling one group of equations against another. So this is either an anarchic cry against the status quo, or it's a game that's only half-finished.

Actually, this is quite neat, as many of the effects are not possible in a realistic minigolf game as you say. The main downside is that it is hard to predict where you will be later, and that can add to the 'feeling' of this game.

Great art-game, but I wonder if that was the intention.
It's conceptual, something to think about, but unplayable. I like that, but then again I wonder if that was the intention. The game is extremely polished, all the features it could possibly have, has it. And there are maybe over 50? pretty big courses. I really don't want to upset someone, but I feel like I don't understand all the effort for something that's more like a failing prototype. I really love the concept and the visuals as a piece of art, but this doesn't work like a game to me.

I'm not sure why, but I'm loving this game! I pretty much ignore the specifics of the equations until I'm near the hole and I have to pay attention. But getting a general feel for the equations, whacking the ball in what you hope is the correct direction, and then watching the results is a lot of fun. It would be nice to start out with a few holes that only have 2-3 equations rather than having the three practice holes with no equations and then the first "real" hole has dozens of them.

Whoa. The idea seems fun but as people have stated already - it's a tad too complicated. In a golf game I usually wanna score below par, but I soon dismissed all my futile attempts to plan ahead in this game - I just pointed in the general direction of the hole and whacked at the ball.

It's just too much math to plan ahead, unless you're extremely gifted at, say, chess..

The game is well done but, I guess, not for me. If there weren't that many of the game altering fields and they would have been much simpler (say, increase speed by 10 or alter angle by five degrees) it would have been much more fun.

But as far as I can tell, this should definetly snatch a 'most thoroughly implement ball physics' award hands down.

Bravo on the effort!

I second the waaaaay too complicated statement. After trying level 1 hole 1 as a practice shot a half dozen times I quit trying.

As Psychotronic said: Make the effects LOOK like something so we can SEE what effect the different areas will have on the ball. Who wants to play a game where you need a doctorate in physics to know what's going on?

It's a computer game. You can create whatever playing surfaces and effects you want. Instead of Vx+=4 just put in a roller belt spinning in that direction at that speed. Add wormholes or transporters. Stick a blowdryer on the wall to push things around. Add a Hoover vacuum on one edge to draw the ball somewhere. Have a bunch of gradeschool kids shoot spitwads at the ball. Gullys filled with glue, slopes with thumbtacks, tar pits, alien lifeforms, Whatever. Plain shapes with equations remind me of school too much and that mean Mr. Thurber. He never liked me anyway. He was LOOKING for a reason to fail me! That's it! It's HIS FAULT! ! !

Sorry. Lost control for a second.

Did I just reveal way too much about myself?

This would be fun for a doctorate in mathematics, but that's it.
Heck, even I use Math at my job, but I couldn't play this game for long. people don't want to think too hard when playing games.
However, I agree it would be a GREAT game if you only illustrated the zones. 1000% better.

Well, its obvious this game will appeal to some and turn off others strongly, but i think that this game would lose its value if it was turned back into generic 'minigolf'.

uhh... is it just me or does reading the instructions feel like reading a math textbook?

The instructions for this game have got to be the most complicated for a golf game I've ever seen. Even the controls seem complicated.

I agree with the others, it is barely playable and the mechanics look like a normal golf game.

It is a really great premise... the only problem being that, as others have stated, it is too difficult and time-consuming to properly map a course's equation-effects and decide on the most advantageous shot. I really like the fact that the effects are spelled out on each zone, though, so I guess I am torn. If it were easier to see the pattern of effects that were going to be affecting you (maybe visuals like spinning arrows pointing in the direction the ball will arc or angle when it hits that section, or lines animating in the direction with a particular velocity that your ball will experience) at a glance, then the game would be much more easy to get into. As it is, you start out any given course scratching your head and praying it gets easier this time.

I also think I noticed some goofs with the equations displayed and the effects on the ball that were actually had. One particular instance I can think of was that the zone said "speed *= 1.1", which I would take to mean that my speed should become 110% of its original value when I hit that field. Instead I started to slow down, and actually slowed to a stop stop within that zone when I ended up hitting that zone again later. It didn't make sense to me. Maybe that equation means something else? If so, then as a programmer, I was very confused.

The exposed physics, I daresay, are the meat and potatoes of this game. I've seen five hundred golf games with slopes and graphical mechanical elements; a golf game which tells you, flat-out, what physical forces your ball will experience is something new and fun.

That said, it does seem overly difficult - maybe I need more practice, but here I am on my 24th stroke on hole 4, and I'm no closer to the hole than I was on stroke 2. (I've just figured out how to adjust my shot power, which looks like it'll help.)

Hmmm... Guess I made this game a tad bit more complicated than I'd thought.

Fun game! I'm a math nerd at heart, and I love the concept. I ended up two over par my first time at Shasta. I'll give the other two a try later.

I also found an interesting feature/bug:

If you click just to the right of the shot power, you can increase it .5%-1.5% at a time over 100%. I had my shot power up to 128% doing this, and if you're careful enough, you can keep going up!

What this game really needs is hot-seat multiplayer!

Plenty of fun the way it is, though.

My one grumble would be that the angle-altering regions are near impossible to precalculate in your head. Only though experience can you work out what they're going to do. Which is sort of fair enough, but a bit irritating when it sends you three over par on an otherwise easy hole.

Complicated game , but you can have some fun once you learn how to take advantage of it's features.

Thanks for the bug report, Spekkio. Can't for the life of me guess why that would work, but I'm definitely curious to find out.

Sorry to anyone finding this way to complicated. Really, there aren't that many different type of equations and once you get a bit of experience with them, I hope it gets much easier to "get a feeling" for how they will affect the ball.

The only controls that are important to play the whole game are: aiming with the mouse, shooting with the space bar, moving the course with the arrow keys, and adjusting the shot strength on the shot bar in the stat bar at the top of the screen. Everything else was added to help those that "really" love math to take it even farther.

Wow, Spekkio, just 2 over! I wound up 29 over, with almost all of those being on the two holes where the hole itself was in an angle changing zone. I can see how a lot of folks are finding this game doesn't work for them, but as a computer mini-golf fan, even with very little grasp of the mathematics involved, I still had a lot of fun with this game. I bet I'll be trying out the various holes for weeks to come.

Wow!

I'm very math-oriented, but I still wanted to see the equations represented graphically -- perhaps abstract designs with color cycling. "angle += 4" could look like spinning discs, for example.

I think smaller levels would benefit this game. If each level presented one equation as the main obstacle, it would be really interesting. The levels are so spread-out, that success sometimes feels random. I sunk a par-7 in 2 shots without really trying.

this is beautiful. my only quibble is I wish there was a little more emphasis on the puzzle aspect of the game. like maybe a set of small levels, no scrolling, with traps that reposition you back at the start.

I played a few holes, and wrote a bitter comment of the game being too complicated.

As an afterthought, I think the main problem is that I can't see the whole hole/entire hole/whatever. If I could,then it would be easier to predict the shot... Also the learning curve might be a bit steep. If you had some holes to learn the different zones it would be more appealing to go on.

Cheers

An interesting idea!

I wonder if perhaps it might be far better with only one or two equations per hole, and the entire hole and all its equations visible on the screen when you tee off and throughout the playing of that hole. Then you could stand some chance of understanding what was going to happen and attempt to influence the outcome to your advantage.

John

NotSoWise, I found that the holes which were in continuous angle changes were easier to sink if I used full power on the shot. Since these equations are time based, they curve the ball less if it is moving faster (for the same amount of distance).

I had planned on putting a tutorial sequence in with a few really easy, small levels, but I ran out of time. As for doing this for the whole game, I decided that it would make it more immediately fun, but would most definitely sacrifice the long term replayability. I didn't think about making one or two practice levels with a couple equations, but I think it's a great idea.

Dan Black, if you could tell me which hole that was that possible problem was on, I'd really appreciate it.

Keep in mind though that if the ball was moving slowly, the extra 10% might not be enough to over come the friction, especially if the friction is high and/or the balls mass is high.

Mitijea - Nice to see the author posting comments!

I don't think that it's the equations that are making the game too complicated, although that may be the case for people who are less mathematically inclined. I personally found it frustrating not being able to view the entire level, to see what would happen to my shot after it went out of where I could see. Now combine that with the sheer number of elements for each hole, and I end up playing by shooting the ball in the general direction of where I think the hole is, and hoping it comes to rest closer to the hole than I started.

My suggestion would be to start off with just one or two elements per hole, but design the hole such that the user is forced to utilize them. After they've mastered each type of element, then start combining them. Let them choose between taking the long but easy path or the short, precise one, or make them use the elements to navigate around a pit of death or something.

I really like the bare-bones concept, but the way you implemented the holes is just not very fun for me.

zxo, When you say you can't see the whole course, do you mean all at once? If not, you can scroll the course anytime you want with the arrow keys (or aswd keys) and recenter yourself over the ball with the enter key (or e key). Also you can make the aim line as long as you want (even all the way to the hole from the tee).

As for seeing the whole course at the same time, yes I thought that might be a problem and I did have a sort of work-around for it, but I didn't have the time to implement it.

Thank you everyone so far for the great feedback. I really appreciate it.

I like it!

True, my strategy is more the "cross you fingers and whack the ball" type, but it's great! Very fun, and the ball bounces all over the place and all you can do is cheer it on. Favorite moments so far is thinking "hmmm, px -= 80...that can't be good...oh no...no...NO!!!!!...definitely not good"

very fun game!

A lot of the complication really arises from the presentation rather than from the game as such. I agree with earlier commenters that it would be helpful if you could see the whole course and if there were graphical indicators that showed what the effect of a zone will be.

Mittjea, you say that a lot of the features were added just for those who really enjoy the math. To make the game accessible for those who are not so into math, graphical elements would really help -- even little curves or vectors to show what the general effect of each zone is. Perhaps the default could be an iconic representation of the effect with a pop-up showing the detailed physics when you mouse-over.

The colors of the regions could also reveal something about the effect (I didn't pay that much attention to this, so maybe it's already true).

I also agree that there should be some easier levels to get used to what's going on. I think this game could be really excellent if the difficulty ramped up rather slowly like many puzzle games.

Though somehow I managed a 28 for Shasta the first time through (13 under par overall; +1 on hole 8, under par on the rest; no holes-in-one; 6162 cash) .

My only real strategy was to examine the regions closest to the ball and make sure I aimed at one that would more or less help me go in the right direction. I never altered the shot power. It's not at all clear to me whether I was just ridiculously lucky or whether the holes were designed to respond well to fairly modestly informed pointing and hoping. (I mean, I'm good at math, but I'm not that good -- it's not like I found the holes at all intuitive.)

Overall, a good idea, but, as it stands, it's probably too daunting and complicated for most people. Plus, the holes themselves seem to be a strange combination of too hard and too easy -- though I imagine it would take a bit of careful experimentation to get a hole-in-one.

Great idea but way too much hassle to play. It seems more like a beta as the easiest level is riddled with unpredictability.

plover, yes, the courses were designed that way. I wanted it so that the ball would be guided toward the hole if played this way. Not nescessarily gettting a hole in one, but not penalizing either by not finding "the one correct direction shot".

All the courses pars were calculated by playing with the initial set up and making no changes (besides adjusting the shot power). I didn't want to make it too easy to get par right away (as in real golf), but with just a little practice, especially on the easy courses, I wanted it to be somewhat easy. When ordering the courses, I chose to go with real golf courses as an example, where the difficulty would vary from really long, more difficult shots, to short, easier ones. Overall the holes on Shasta should be the easiest, but the order on Shasta won't necessarily be that from easiest to hardest. Personally the third hole for me is the easiest (can get a hole in one every time), but I didn't think it would be a good starting one. Since you can play any hole you want on practice right from the beginning, I thought the tournaments should reflect a more experienced play.

One thing I meant to mention earlier, you can re-shoot even if the ball is still moving. Once Shot: next to the shot power bar lights back up, you can shoot again. This happens after 20 seconds, or the ball stops, which ever is first.

Also, if you are doing real bad on a hole, you can always give yourself a "mulligan" by exiting to the start screen from inside info (the question mark in the corner) and then continuing the tournament on the start screen. This will allow you to restart the same hole. This may be considered cheating by some people, but it is an option if you feel you want it.

It's a neat idea, and definitely the most literal interpretation of ball and physics, but for me it would have been more involving if the equations were replaced with statements like "friction doubled" "angle reversed" "50% speed increase" etc. The instructions were also a little difficult for me to follow - i would have preferred to be able to scroll up and down to read them rather than navigate up and down menu levels. Still, i got a hole in two(mainly by avoiding equations) - it was fun to play for a while, and for physics/maths enthusiasts i would imagine even more so.

Ah! I didn't know about the arrow key scrolling. I'm sure it's in the directions which I tend not to fully read. That is a bit better, although zoom capability would also be useful.

Thanks for the enlightenment!

I strongly agree with the comments suggesting that the different elements in the game be introduced one at a time. The biggest turn-off here for me was how the very first hole had, like, 15 different zones all doing different things. You can get people to cope with some pretty complicated situations, so long as you ease them into it.

Look at a game like Civilization. Insanely complex, full of complicated variables, crammed with options. But players get to learn about each new object one at a time. If you had to start each game of Civ in year 1986 with a giant army at your disposal, then I guarantee that Civ wouldn't the mega-popular game it is now. But that's essentially what you've done with Mathematigolf: start the game in 1986 with a massive army. Revise it so that players start in 500 BC with a spearman, and you'll get a much more positive reaction.

I think this is a great game. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.

I like all the effects you can buy such as different clubs and balls. I also like how you can change the effects of friction and the equations on the ball and also sup-up your club.

I am 9 under par on the 6th hole of Lassen. My trick is to increase the effect of the equations and decrease friction as much as possible. This allows for the most action in my opinion. Not sure if I want to mess with mass because I am not quite sure if it will hurt or help.

Good stuff. Just takes a bit of getting used to.

Found what looked like a bug of some sort:

On Lassen hole 2, in the lower right corner by the cup, there is a long, narrow region with (among others) a Vx+=2. My ball exited this region on small right hand end which is close to the playing field edge. The ball bounced against the playing field edge and then was propelled back toward the edge before it hit equation zone. It did this a few times -- including below the lower edge of the equation zone -- before rolling free.

Plover, yes I know what you are talking about. The code relies on the width and height of the zones given internally by flash and for some reason on long, thin ones this isn't given correctly. I couldn't figure out why this happens, but only noticed it on the right side if width was the long length or the bottom if height was the long length. Only thing that made sense was that it was an internal bug with flash itself having to do with the stretching of the boarder line.
I was able to correct it by having hidden "real" zones not stretched as much underneath "fake" visible ones on the one board that is made up of a grid of long thin zones but didn't have time to go back and fix them on all the boards as I didn't come across this problem until right before the deadline.

A typo:

Near the bottom, toward the right of Lassen 7 is a region with an equation labelled "frictiom".

plover, I searched all over Lassen 7 and I can't find the "frictiom" typo. The only thing I can think of is that since the "n" of the region I think you mean is on the border of the zone, it may look like an "m" on your screen. But for me, it looks like an "n".

Not that I'm saying I wouldn't make such a typo, I just can't seem to find it. But I do really appreciate your taking the time to point these out for me, and it's nice to know someone actually played this far.

It's weird: on some holes clicking the same pixel gets a consistent hole-in-one, and on other holes it does not. On holes 1 and 3 of Shasta, I seem to get a hole-in-one every time, but on hole 2, while I've found a pixel that can get a hole-in-one, it only does so a quarter of the time or so.

Any idea why this happens?

Also this game is a great example of "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" as neighboring pixels can send the ball to completely different places.

Interesting, I can't see why on hole 2 that if you are using the same pixel (I'm assuming it's the pixel your mouse is pointing to and not just one that the aim line crosses) would produce different results as the aim line is the line between the ball on the tee (always the same) and the mouse position. Perhaps you're going by the coordinates given in game which are set to every ten pixels (a change of one for the coordinates is a change of ten pixels), and there is some rounding error going on. Though for the aim line, there is no rounding on my part and should be using the exact pixel.

As for the "sensitive dependence on initial conditions", yeah, I thought it was pretty cool how just the slightest change in the pixel you pick for aiming could have such a dramatic effect. Reminds me of the butterfly effect.

I just looked at Lassen 7 again, and the typo really is there. The "m" is not on the edge of the zone.

Here's the full specs:

Angle/t+=2
Frictiom=0.006
Mass=1.2

There are two barriers that over lap the region: one square, the other almost square. It's directly beneath the tee, just scroll straight down to the bottom.

Also, I figured out what I was doing wrong on Shasta 2, and can predictably get the hole-in-one. The result does seem to be as deterministic as one would expect.

I can sum up my review in three words:

Best. Game. Ever.

No really, I mean it. OK, maybe I'm a little biased. I am, after all, a card-carrying physicist. All my friends are physicists and engineers. My wife is an engineer from a family of engineers. Did I mention I might be a little biased?

But really, this game has absolutely EVERYTHING I want from a minigolf game and so SO much more. I can't even begin to make a list of pros and cons because I don't know where to start.

I think I'll just stick with my original review. Best Game Ever. Thank you for making this. I shall now commence linking it prolificly to everyone I know.

plover, sorry, but you are right about the typo. I apologize as somehow my brain kept making me think you meant Klamath instead of Lassen for some weird reason. I kept checking Klamaths' hole 7 and couldn't figure it out...

Really though, plover, you've made my day that you have taken the time to replay my courses to the point you're already hole-in-one'ing them.

And iceman, your comment DEFINITELY made my day. Thank you.

Looks quite good, but unfortunately, my short attention span (and homework) means that I couldn't be bothered to work out how to play.

I think the complicated and very detailed instructions section is gonna frighten like 50% of the people right away. The concept itself will fright away 80% of the rest. 50% of those still here will find the game boring/too complicated.

The rest have found the game of their lives.

For a ball-physics game, this takes the cake IMO! It may be because I've been recently trying to teach myself flash & actionscript, but I can't help but chuckle at every moment the ball encounters a new modifier.

It's definitely more than slopes and speeds here... The time based modifiers add an incredible new twist to a basic golf concept to say the least.

I'm nowhere near iceman's level hehe, but this is a VERY fun game!

So, what been everyone's experience with the unlockable clubs and balls. I'm not good enough *sigh* to see them in action, so do they change gameplay much?

I am currently using the BFC or whatever the best club is called. The most noticeable difference is the power you get to hit with. I havent looked into the "distance" modifier and when I used the Angle/d modifier I only hit the ball in circles.

My only problem is I need to remember to lower my power after the first shot

I am waiting to buy a new ball until I can buy the super ball. I am not quite sure how to unlock it but I am guessing I need to get under par on all of the holes.

lasa, the angle/d modifier might be a bit too powerful for practical use on the B.F.C., and would probably work better if kept relatively low. The distance for oscillating on the B.F.C. is double the next best oscillating clubs and if you haven't changed it the club should work roughly the same as a single curve club on all but the really long shots. If you bring the distance down you should be able to get some nice wave patterns.

As for getting the super ball (and the other unlockables):

Unlock the faster/more powerful set of three clubs by finishing any course in tournament.
Unlock the Jack-Of-All ball by finishing any course in tournament under par.
Unlock the B.F.C. (club) by finishing all three courses in tournament.
Unlock the Super Ball by finishing all three courses in tournament under par.

bioLarzen, if 5% of the people playing my game find the"game of their lives", I will be a very happy camper.

Mitijea,

I'm positive about the 5% :)

I'd very probably be among them if the instructions and all that info on the fields, controls etc. were intruduced gradually - thru special learning levels, for example. But for me all that info at once was too much, so I jumped it and tried if I can get the hang of it by playing, but couldn't even hit the ball, so you lost me there :)

But one thing's for sure - if it's not you who wins the originality contest it's a fixed contest :)

bioLarzen, to hit the ball, you need to aim first. Click any where on the playfield with the left mouse button and a line should appear between the ball and your cursor. This is your aim line. You can move it around by holding the mouse button down, but once you are ready, let go of the mouse button. Then to hit, press the SPACE BAR.

You can scroll the playfield around with the arrow keys (or ASWD keys). To recenter the view over the ball, press ENTER Key (or E key).

If you are getting a line that isn't between the ball and the cursor while trying to aim, then you've accidentally switched to measure line mode. To get back to aiming, press the C key. (C key toggles between the two modes.) Measure line mode is only used when you want to measure the distance between two points or possibly help visualize a ricochet better, but isn't needed for game play.

Thanks for tip on how to get the super ball. That is the only one I have left to unlock.

I just have one tournament I need to go back and replay to get it.

Also a little trick that has helped me on more than one occasion:

With the powershots sometimes you bounce around the hole but get pushed away before you come to a stop. If the ball is going slow enough you can take another shot.
Hitting the ball while it's moving is hard to aim but has shaved several swings off my score.

Why is the Y-axis flipped? I was expecting up to be positive Y and down to be negative Y, and didn't notice until that they were switched until I started missing a lot of shots on the third hole.

HBar, flash internally has the y-axis pointing down, and I decided to leave it that way to help insure fewer bugs creeping in while programing as I knew I only had a limited time to fix them. (Flash considers the upper-left corner to be (0,0) and right is positive X and down is positive Y.)

In the game (0,0) has been moved to the tee, but all orientation is kept otherwise the same.

lasa, very good tip. I too used that strategy many times while testing, and definitely helps lower the score (though it can really mess you up too if you aren't careful).

Intriguing. I really liked to see the game physics explained. I did not find it difficoult. Got Course Shasta only one over par in first try. Many of the fields are more helpfull to the progress than actual obstacles. Perhaps a course with fewer equations but real obstaculous equations you had to work out in your favour could be interresting.
I found it fun to experiment with the different fields to understand the equations. But I did not get the shape colour coding of the different fields. Could help non matematics to se the equations and not get frightened if they where clearer. This could be developed into a math/physics game for schools. Excellent educational game. It Could make you some money.

If you where to code the equations visualy. I think it would suffice with colour, shape and perhaps subtle patterns. The trick would be to see the effect without animated visual aid. The aiding could perhaps be graded to help building the learning curve.
I would, as many mentions, like to see the whole course at once. To make the maths a bit more understandable I would also prefer to just set the exit speed in plain numbers not in percentage of something. My advice is: Keep the fun in, or do it even more funny, but make the plain math even more visible/understandable/accessible.

Like a few other people have said before, it would look nice if it had visuals (teleporters, conveyor belts, disks, etc.) but that it would also somewhat take away from the overall feel of the game.

A really nice addition would be to maybe "toggle" visual effects on or off.

There's a neat little bug on speed:

If you can get the ball moving fast enough for a long enough time, then (usually by chance) you can actually get the ball to go off the course. The shot will be reset and not be counted, so it won't end the game or anything. It's probably possible on all courses, but it's easiest on Klamath-4 if you shoot straight toward the Speed*1.5 with a powerful club.

Overall, I really love this game. One of my favorites in the competition.

Hi Mitijea;

if played this game back when it was launched and loved it - it was definately my fav in the competition.

Now I come back to it over a year later and wonder, did you ever get to redesigning it with the help of the comments placed here? i.e. smaller levels introducing the different possibilities, graphic aids like symbols in the equation clouds (I personally liked the idea of replacing it by a symbol and giving the exact information when the mouse hovers over it), and simplifying the game directions?

Because, as I love the game as it is, I really still wonder what these enhancements could do..

-just trying to get you enthousiastic for it :p

cheers,
Dub

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