Link Dump Friday №142


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraSurprise! It's Link Dump Friday!... what do you mean, you weren't surprised? Well, okay, sure we do this every week, but would it have killed you to look excited? Sheesh. And after we went through all the trouble of renting the acrobatic ponies. Oh well, at least we're together, and that's what counts! We missed you, did you miss us?... well, now, that's just rude. Lucky for you, we've already got these games ready, and we're too bloated on Thanksgiving leftovers to take them back.

  • OnonminOnonmin - Although it sounds like someone trying to read a LOLcat caption with a mouthful of peanut-butter, Ononmin is the latest from Tonypa. You've got sixty seconds to rack up as many points you can using nothing but the awesome power of your ricochet. You know, like He-Man, but less running around bare chested. Unless that's how you like to play. I don't judge. I merely stare in chilly disapproval.
  • Magic FactoryMagic Factory - I shouldn't even have to tell you why you should play this spot-the-difference-meets-jigsaw-puzzle game. Just listen to that music. Listen to it. It is wonderful and whimsical and you are going to enjoy it and be delighted or so help you. Any similarities to factories manned by small green-haired, orange-skinned men are purely coincidental. Probably.
  • ShapelyShapely - I'm a simple girl. I like bright colours, sparkly things, addictive gameplay, and heavy weaponry. Three of those things are in this puzzle game that lets you play at your own pace to reach the objectives. While the difficulty curve is non-existent and the game runs out of new things to show you moments after hitting the start button, it's a well made and relaxing puzzle to fill your afternoon with.
  • Revert to GrowthRevert to Growth - Robots and plants are normally natural enemies, like yours truly and carob cookies. However, in this pleasant but easy puzzle platformer, machine and mulch have learned to come together for a common goal. Assembling a space ship. Admittedly, plants from outer-space have a bad reputation, but then not all of them are quite so lovely to look at as the visuals offered here, Seymour.
  • Glow CutGlow Cut - Essentially Tetris by way of fast-paced knife skills and a detour through Nervous Breakdowntown, Glow Cut sees you slashing swiftly falling shapes down to a more manageable size. Or else. While it does sport a few different mechanics to keep you on your toes, it doesn't have quite enough meat to it to be anything more than an afternoon fling. But oh, what a passionate and tempestuous romance it will be while it lasts, mon petit chou.

19 Comments

Ononmin is an *excellent* game, as is surely expected by now from Tonypa.

It does, however, have a little bit of a balancing problem.

Because the screens are randomly generated -- and especially because some randomly generated screens allow for the possibility of at least three score-multiplying bouncing while many allow for only one -- comparing your score between different playthroughs becomes largely meaningless once you've acquired a certain level of skill. Beating one's own high score then becomes a matter of playing enough games until the random elements align in enough of the screens of one playthrough to allow even the possibility of reaching your former best.

A possible solution would be for the system calculate the maximum number of bounces possible for each randomly generated board and to tune the algorithm so that the average number of possible bounces per board remains roughly the same for each full game. (this sounds simpler than trying to calculate the maximum possible score for each board).

(Alternatively, averaging out some variables that control the density/position/clustering of the balls across the screens of each game might do the trick?)

Again, this is a great game, and I just spent at least an hour playing it. I'd just likely play it a whole lot more if there were a bit more consistency of possible scores between games.

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I love Glow Cut. It's the ultimate hack'n'slash fest for a Wacom user. It's very rare for a computer game to allow such fine tuning of playing technique - I could feel myself continually adjusting the length and direction of my cuts to make for the optimum cloud of flak flying upwards, both to rack points and slow down the falling pieces :) I can imagine it being horrible torture for anyone with a trackpad though.

It's not without its flaws, however. The worst is the "Level up" effect. It's impossible to anticipate in the middle of the gaming action, it freeze-lags the game for a moment, causing cuts to miss or fail to be registered, and the text obstructs the view for a very long time (in this game's timescale). While it's on screen, any cuts register and connect only randomly. The useless wobble and gleam effect is nothing more than punishment to make you lose your focus, and of course also results in more lag from the game as well. All this lag can be caused by my macbook pro, though, so that part of the criticism might have gone up the wrong tree.

My second gripe is the red pieces meeting an early end when they touch a flying piece that you have cut up. I've inadvertently destroyed three red blocks in a row simply by doing what the game should reward you for: cutting other blocks into smithereens before they reach the ground. In my opinion, the red blocks should only activate from contact with a frozen chunk. Furthermore, it seems that if you cut the red blocks too small, they'll just disappear in midair. There's no colour change or any other signal to tell you when you've cut your red piece too small to be effective at its job, which is a design mistake.

Lastly, slashing at the edge of the game screen is hard because you end up clicking on the enclosing web page. There should be a margin inside the flash object to leave you room for slashes from outside the proper gaming area.

Ononmin, I didn't like much. I can see the point, and I did enjoy it for a time: finding the optimal path for the shot that is as long as possible and bounces as much as possible, finding that path as fast as you can, and being able to shoot along this path. However, as Tonypa's games often turn out, the presentation is so simplistic, harsh and unassuming that it manages to detriment even from such a simple game. Maybe it's not so much the bleak colours and lack of styling or beauty, but the effect is intensified by the game's narcissistic way of taking its time changing views and counting the remaining balls - it's psychologically very annoying when you're given exactly one minute to show off your skills and achieve as much as you can, and a major part of that time is spent watching the ugly game take off the balls one by one before letting you onto the next level. Of course, there's not even any way to hit more than one ball in the first place, so the effect comes off as useless punishment.

The clever idea of the game was the use of a piece of background music one minute long - an excellent way to signal the impending end of your game in a pleasant manner, using a sense that isn't bogged down by the other details of the game.

In my humble opinion Tonypa should have more ambition with his game mechanics and aesthetics. Obviously he can program, and it cannot be impossible for him to design as well, or to find someone to design with him. Games with a single simple mechanic, with aesthetics composed of vector balls and lines, or abstract two-colour arabesques work a limited time as a (debatable) stylistic statement or as learning material, but it would be time for Tonypa to aim much higher.

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I didn't like onomin. Too simple of a game play to keep me going.
I did like glow cut though - it is certainly a 'fling', but indeed a good, fast-paced one.

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VoidDragon November 27, 2009 8:46 AM

Ononmin is a really unique, fun game. However I got my highest score by just blindly clicking as soon as they spawn.

Nobody - loved your first suggestion on dealing with random spawns; hope that gets implemented.

Also, awesome intro and reviews (every Link Dump Friday actually). Dora <3.

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FEED ME SEYMOUR!

I havent yet played these, but I wanted to be the first to recognize and comment on the Little Shop of Horrors reference

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Revert to growth is awesome! This is my first time posting, and I did just for this game. Very clever puzzles. You feel your brain growing as you play it. Just like with Braid. And I'm the guy who usually gives 1 as a grade to games, just so their overall score will drop. I mean, come on! How can more than 50% of the games get a grade higher than 4? Don't you guys have critical reasoning?

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Glow cut seems like it will be great to play when I plug the mouse in, but it's definitely no good for the trackpad.

I agree with Jonasxs that the rating system here is generally useless in informing me whether or not a game is mediocre, good or great. I usually give a relative rating based upon the general sample of games offered here. Since you JIG doesn't usually post games whose developers assault me, games that are significantly better than that get 1's from me. This way, the ratings actually mean something other than pointing out that the games featured on JIG are excellent overall.

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As a relatively new game developer, scores and ratings on sites like this are pretty important to me, so it's very discouraging to read comments like jonasxs's.

If you feel that the average JiG voter is too generous, then by all means bring the average back into line by voting sensibly - but deliberately voting lower than you feel a game deserves in order to 'even things out' just serves to pollute the voting process even more, and makes the whole system worthless. User ratings are never going to be entirely objective, but I'd far rather the voting was predictably skewed towards the top end than for it to be rendered totally meaningless via political voting.

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Thank you for picking my little game :)

nobody, yes I understand the game is also about luck as you can only achieve certain number of bounces on some screen layouts. The way I imagined it, you need to pick best path on any screen without spending too much time figuring it out. Even when hugely long path exists, you could miss to see it or fail to shoot on correct path. Its the "hopefully I get better layout on next game" that I hope will keep you try again :)

Spoon, obviously I do not share your views on styling or beauty as these are different for every person. To me simple shapes and lack of color is pretty.

The time spent on changing into new screen is intentional. It is suppose to reduce "random fast clicking gives best score", maybe I just failed to do it properly.

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Glow Cut is fab :)

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Revert to Growth is an amazing and fun game, thanks for posting :D

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Yes, it would be a shame if Tonypa were to change his style. There are enough visually rich games out there, and it's pleasant to see someone who keeps things crisp and simple. And the same again, ten times so, for the design; it's beautiful to see a single idea well executed. I don't think you're right, Spoon, to cast this as a matter of "ambition": I'd say it's a more demanding task to design something with one mechanic and make it work well and hang tightly together than to design something where you have recourse to slapping a whole new mechanic in to tweak things. Otherwise de gustibus disputandum non est, but I happen to live for these "simple idea" sorts of games, so keep 'em coming!

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I am a big fan of Tonypa, and I have yet to dislike a game he has made. Ononmin is not my favorite Tonypa creation, but I still enjoyed it. The fact that it lasts only sixty seconds makes it at once casual and also fiendishly addictive.

The random element does make comparing high scores pointless, as "nobody" mentioned above, but luck plays a significant part in a lot of games--it's very rare to find a game where luck plays no role. I suppose it could be argued that luck plays more of a role here, but I guess I'm OK with that.

As for Tonypa's design aesthetic, I think it is quite elegant and beautiful. In fact, the simplicity of the designs is one of the things that really draws me to his games. It feels more pure to me, focusing on only the essential aspects.

I suppose I subscribe to Antoine de Saint Exupéry's idea of perfection: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

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I like tonypa's games, but ononmin is not one of his better offerings. I think the biggest obstacle on this one is the time. You get to play only 60 seconds, then the game is done. Very very lame. There should be bonus bubbles that give you more time, and/or point goals that extend the play.

As it is, it's boring.

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I made the Ononmin for Mochi November 2009 Contest - "60 Seconds to Fame" so limiting playing time was pretty much required.

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Ononmin is great. Having to watch a pop-tarts ad, go through the high-score reporting screen, and reload the game every 60 seconds is not great and is an ongoing problem with tonypa's games for me.

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blockhose December 1, 2009 5:17 PM

tony - I understand the time requirement for the contest. If that contest is over, why not tweak it to make it an overall more engaging game?

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I heart Glow Cut. I have to keep coming back for more! And I am using a track pad - it's really not too bad, I'd like to try it with a mouse sometime, though. ^^

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