CGDC4: Nightmare


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NightmareFlash Game Design CompetitionThe penultimate entry(!) to the 4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition is from wonderwhy-er of Latvia. Please welcome wonderwhy-er with your kind feedback and constructive criticism in the comments.

Nightmare is an action game of fighting monsters with your bare hands. The "ball physics" theme has been implemented within the underlying game engine rather than in the gameplay itself.

Play Nightmare

Game link: http://jayisgames.com/cgdc4/?gameID=47

14 Comments

lol, nice anime style storyline intro there :)

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Why is the introduction artwork so detailed, but the in-game artwork so awful? Priorities, man!

There's no reason for me to have to jam on the space bar to keep my "anger level" up. Just holding down the mouse button to power up my strikes would have been fine. In fact, since I can't shoot and all attacks are at close range, movement could have been handled by the mouse as well. The controls are five times more complicated than they need to be. The instructions for this game should say "Move your guy with the mouse! Punch zombies by clicking! Hold down the button for super-punches!" and then make it work that way.

The sprites for the player and the zombie are too small and don't fill the space well. They're all limbs with no body, so it's hard to tell if I can strike something or not. The anger bar is tiny, all the text is tiny, everything requires me to squint. The background colors are too bright, so the characters are even harder to see.

The difficulty curve is ridiculous. It goes from five zombies to fifty zombies in the first ten seconds of play. I know this is basically a tech demo, but the large number of spindly moving objects just makes it hard to tell what's going on.

So basically, this game wasn't nearly ready to be entered in the competition. The debug mode is still accessible from the title screen, for goodness sake.

There might be a good game in there somewhere, but honestly, there's already a ton of Crimsonland clones out there, to say nothing of Crimsonland itself, so I'm not sure what the point is of making another one. You might be able to make something out of the punching, but if you want to do that, you really have to go for it.

The punches just make zombies fall over and die. That's silly. Those zombies should go flying when you sock 'em! They should burst apart into pieces when you hit them hard enough, and the pieces should fly into other zombies like missiles! There should be big fat zombies that you can send rolling like giant deadly bowling balls! There should be bloated zombies ready to explode from the horrible gasses inside them, and you have to kill them from a distance so they don't explode you to smithereens! Look at your main character! He should be able to seriously kick some zombie tuckus!

If you're gonna do a game like this, do it right.

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As I can see, a lot of effort has been put in this game, however I didn't like it very much. Those are the bad points about the game, and that could had been improved (or maybe not, because of the 1-month limit):

-The tutorial is in another page, and I have to wait it to load. Since I use dial-up, it's hard for me to wait even more, and I think 5Mb is already too much.

-Every time I attacked the zombies, I lost life too. Is that supposed to happen so it forces the player to kill more zombies and get a health pack or is it a bug?

I liked the story, the concepts and most of the other things, but the gameplay is not what I expected, so I think I'm turning down for this one and going back to my so-loved Armadillo Run (ball/armadillo physichs...)

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another Armadillo Run fan huh? :)

Anways, I agree with the others on this game, nice concept but gameplay isn't so great.

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Actually, it was a 2 month limit for this competition.

I agree the game is a bit rough round the edges. And my pop-up blocker wouldn't let me see the tutorial, so I skipped it and went straight into the game.

Bit of a mistake - didn't realise the spacebar did anything for a bit and I was a bit confused as to what was going on.

Graphics could definitely do with some work, especially when you look at the art in some of the other entries.

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deadassassin October 11, 2007 8:11 PM

I agree with the others. if you polished this game up a lot, it could be really good, but the controls are really quite unresponsive, and the graphics aren't up to much. having the tutorial and intro in other places doesn't work too well because some people might not be willing to disable their pop up blocker.

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Mashing the spacebar is annoying as hell... It was fun at first, but I lost patience rapidly.

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It seems that a lot of time was spent on the graphical intro and some of the menu graphics, while much was neglected on the game-mechanics side. I know that when entering a competition you have the highest hopes for your entry, and a thousand ideas swirling in your head, and it IS very tough to decide where to start and where to end in order to make deadline with as much in the game as you wanted to get in at a minimum... but the gameplay on this game just isn't there. My feeling is that too much time was spent on making the early graphical elements impressive, and that work left little time to actually program the meat of the game.

Not to be rude, but some of the "features" to the game in your tutorial and instructions page read like concessions you made because you didn't have time to improve on what were probably issues. Like saying that the zombies are so brainless that they will sometimes run right past you. It just doesn't sound like something you would actually intend on programming into a game.

Also, was the game supposed to not allow you to use the key press commands until you threw your first puch? Because that's how it works. I thought maybe it was because I hadn't clicked to activate the Flash ActiveX control through the browser, but I tried it again, and the character doesn't react to either the spacebar or the W,A,S and D keys until you click the mouse button. But that doesn't stop you from getting attacked by the zombies.

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wonderwhy-er October 12, 2007 7:53 AM

To Psychotronic:
Hitting space for anger - this was made because I need some tension in game. So that you at feel efforts of a guy down there.
Crimson land was desktop game with video card support. And this is Flash browser game so it was pretty hard to make it as optimized as it is.
About other points you mentioned. His game was developed for this competition so I must have looked on limited time I had for this. I had plenty of other ideas for this but it would take another two months to add them. And it's not 50 its 130+ zombies. What I wanted here were large crowds of them.

To Donut:
I know that it was a bad idea to make tutorial separately but this time I hadn't other choice ;(
About loosing health from attacking zombies. Well it was said in tutorial. When you hit them you got recoil. Usually it is absorbed by energy you put in to your attacks but I you don't have enough energy then your strike damages you too.

To Dan Black:
"It seems that a lot of time was spent on the graphical intro and some of the menu graphics, while much was neglected on the game-mechanics side." - well actually it is completely opposite. Pictures from intro were drawn by separate artist in a week time or so. I spent two days making intro, menu, and game over out of them. And 5 weeks were spent on making, polishing engine for this.
What I wanted was to allow a lot of zombies so code took a lot of polishing. Crimson land was desktop game with video card support. And this is Flash browser game so it was pretty hard to make it as optimized as it is. Brainless zombies are such at the beginning. You couldn't survive 150 zombies with good reaction even for second anyways.
About bug with first punch. Yeah there is small problem with component focus. I will try to correct it today.

Thanks for feedback.

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wonderwhy-er October 12, 2007 8:00 AM

To Psychotronic: I forgot. Debug Mode is not really the debug mode I used. It's here to show the actual balls behind this all.

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Too many controls to handle make this a tough game to play. So many controls and so little real options of things to DO in the game make it frustrating.

I can move, I can spin, and I can punch.

That's it? Hmm... yep.

Having to use the spacebar to increase anger was kind of a hassle to begin with but not being able to hold the spacebar down to accomplish the effect actually DID increase my anger - at the game.

Give me a gun, or a rocket launcher, or a spear, or a sword, or even let me pick up a rock and throw it... SOMEthing.

Overall too complicated with not enough payoff for the effort. Make the controls easier and a slower increase in difficulty and it could be a fun game.

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wonderwhy-er:

It sounds like you built this game to be impressive technically. And it might be impressive, but it's not fun. If you want to make a game about zombie punching, then make a game about zombie punching. All the design decisions - hammering the space bar, 140 enemies on screen, tiny graphics, complicated controls - detract from the simple, fun idea of zombie punching.

It's great that you can make Flash put 140 enemies on screen, but this game doesn't use them well. I hope you can find a way to use this code to make a fun game, though. I suggest that you start by simplifying the controls a lot. You don't need the space bar to create tension. The main character is being attacked by zombies! It's already a tense situation!

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To Psychotronic:
Yeah I know about all that. Unfortunately I thrower out few things :( There should have been more moves with which you spent energy. Those move you get fro spending exp. And also I really wanted to make zombies squad like. I mean that at later stage they would have formed different turtle, triangle, and squire squads and so on...
Now that I was not able to add those things in time I will make second part of this game after some. Tough space bar punching will be left. Annoying you say? It should completely piss you off as if space bar was the zombie you are punching :) I think I will bind this spacebar punching with special moves triggering in it then. Tough it will not be soon… May be at next summer… For now I will stop with small simple games with Geometry Wars like graphics…

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I second that.

The spacebar thing doesn't make the game more intense, it just makes your hand tired.

You've got 130 zombies swarming at this guy, and his only advantages are faster reflexes and anger based damage reduction. This game had better be more intense than Crimsonland with just that, or you've miscalulated on a fundamental level.

Perhaps you could replace the spacebar mashing with a combo system that rewards players for hitting zombies more frquently. Players love being rewarded for hitting zombies. That's why Symphony of the Night is still selling.

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