Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 15 May 2010, 01:43

Hey, folks.

I'd like to show two of my latest games. Both of them are GPLv3, source code is available on Google Code project pages.

First one is Black Obelisk. It's a turn-based stealth action with horror theme. Actually it's so simple that it's basically a puzzle game. I've just completed it and in need of feedback. It was also a test of HTML5 canvas technology so it needs a Firefox 3.5, Chrome or fresh Safari. Please tell me what you think. In particular I wonder if I should make some rules concerning the village/villagers as it seems that 1/3 of the screen is unused.

http://starinfidel.co.cc/obelisk/

Second one is Evil Cult - a turn-based strategy of global domination. The player controls one of four cults each trying to bring the destruction of the Earth. It's fairly mature and balanced but still could use some feedback. I'm currently working on new gameplay features targeted at increasing the gameplay depth. It also plays in browser and does not require anything fancy so all major browsers except IE are supported.

http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult/
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby qubodup » 15 May 2010, 03:04

My first impression was "eeeew". :) But then I tried evil cult because it had colorful nodes in it, kind of like MoO2..

I'm impressed by Evil Cult. The music adds so much.. And it's... abstractly immersive. I had to figure out how to play by trial and error though, because the tutorial is scare-awayingly long and black-on-white ;)

I don't like how the "could not persuade node" message are pop-ups. instead they should appear as messages below I think.. Of course people like my grandmother, who always double-click web links will retry sometimes, when they do not intend to do so, but that's a risk I'm willing you to take :D

I would like an indicator whether or not I'm in war with another cult.. I guess the bottom left could be used for "In war with: [colors]"

Bug?: If I eliminate all other cults, I can continue invading free nodes, every time getting the "gods are pleased" message.

I'll have to check out Black Obelisk..

PS: I now checked out BO too. I think it's pretty cool. And it reminds me of Be The Wumpus: http://bethewumpus.sourceforge.net/

By the way, you know of Endgame: Singularity? ( http://www.emhsoft.com/singularity/ )
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 15 May 2010, 11:07

qubodup {l Wrote}:My first impression was "eeeew". :) But then I tried evil cult because it had colorful nodes in it, kind of like MoO2..


So, you're not a roguelike fan then? ;)

qubodup {l Wrote}:I'm impressed by Evil Cult. The music adds so much.. And it's... abstractly immersive. I had to figure out how to play by trial and error though, because the tutorial is scare-awayingly long and black-on-white ;)


So that's why nobody reads it! :)
But seriously, I thought about it before and I don't think I can do anything about that except moving tutorial off from google code page. But that would make the editing harder - wiki and all that. Though it's probably not a tutorial anymore but more of a full manual.

qubodup {l Wrote}:I don't like how the "could not persuade node" message are pop-ups. instead they should appear as messages below I think.. Of course people like my grandmother, who always double-click web links will retry sometimes, when they do not intend to do so, but that's a risk I'm willing you to take :D

I would like an indicator whether or not I'm in war with another cult.. I guess the bottom left could be used for "In war with: [colors]"


Well, the INFO button shows all cults information - and wars, too.

qubodup {l Wrote}:Bug?: If I eliminate all other cults, I can continue invading free nodes, every time getting the "gods are pleased" message.


Yep, thanks. The fix will be in the next version.

qubodup {l Wrote}:I'll have to check out Black Obelisk..

PS: I now checked out BO too. I think it's pretty cool. And it reminds me of Be The Wumpus: http://bethewumpus.sourceforge.net/

By the way, you know of Endgame: Singularity? ( http://www.emhsoft.com/singularity/ )


Yeah, I love it. In fact one of its authors collaborates with me on Evil Cult writing the long texts and developing new cults in his spare time.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby qubodup » 15 May 2010, 12:58

starinfidel {l Wrote}:So, you're not a roguelike fan then? ;)

No Sir, I am not. :)

starinfidel {l Wrote}:But seriously, I thought about it before and I don't think I can do anything about that except moving tutorial off from google code page. But that would make the editing harder - wiki and all that. Though it's probably not a tutorial anymore but more of a full manual.

Well, images could help. But that would only work with dark bg..
Is there maybe a way to have a page, which imports the content of the google code wiki page and draws it with its own style sheet? Something like http://code.google.com/p/arc90labs-readability/ ?

qubodup {l Wrote}:I don't like how the "could not persuade node" message are pop-ups. instead they should appear as messages below I think..

What do you think about this?
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 15 May 2010, 16:58

qubodup {l Wrote}:
starinfidel {l Wrote}:But seriously, I thought about it before and I don't think I can do anything about that except moving tutorial off from google code page. But that would make the editing harder - wiki and all that. Though it's probably not a tutorial anymore but more of a full manual.

Well, images could help. But that would only work with dark bg..


I haven't thought about images, probably a good idea, thanks. Even on white background they would be alot of help.

qubodup {l Wrote}:Is there maybe a way to have a page, which imports the content of the google code wiki page and draws it with its own style sheet? Something like http://code.google.com/p/arc90labs-readability/ ?


Technically, yes. But it would take a fair amount of research/hacking and I'm trying to focus on the gameplay right now.

qubodup {l Wrote}:
qubodup {l Wrote}:I don't like how the "could not persuade node" message are pop-ups. instead they should appear as messages below I think..

What do you think about this?


You mean the "Not enough X" stuff? Well, I don't see that as a problem, except maybe the design is slightly out of tune. Is that annoying?
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby qubodup » 15 May 2010, 17:23

starinfidel {l Wrote}:Technically, yes. But it would take a fair amount of research/hacking and I'm trying to focus on the gameplay right now.

Very good!

starinfidel {l Wrote}:You mean the "Not enough X" stuff? Well, I don't see that as a problem, except maybe the design is slightly out of tune. Is that annoying?

No, I mean the %-based "Could not gain a follower." message, which requires yo to click "OK" :)
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 15 May 2010, 23:02

qubodup {l Wrote}:
starinfidel {l Wrote}:Technically, yes. But it would take a fair amount of research/hacking and I'm trying to focus on the gameplay right now.

Very good!


The current development version (which is available at http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre1/) has one major addition - investigators. They're basically like a cult nemesis - once the investigator finds out about the cult, it better stop him or else. I'm currently working on a difficulty setting.

qubodup {l Wrote}:
starinfidel {l Wrote}:You mean the "Not enough X" stuff? Well, I don't see that as a problem, except maybe the design is slightly out of tune. Is that annoying?

No, I mean the %-based "Could not gain a follower." message, which requires yo to click "OK" :)


Oh, that one. Ok, I changed it to a fading popup like "Not enough" in the code. Let's see how that works in the next dev release.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby qubodup » 16 May 2010, 00:42

starinfidel {l Wrote}:The current development version (which is available at http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre1/) has one major addition - investigators. They're basically like a cult nemesis - once the investigator finds out about the cult, it better stop him or else. I'm currently working on a difficulty setting.

That's a very good idea, I think usually browser games don't have a live development version available for play, one has to check it out on his own. Very handy.

I don't know what I think about the investigators..
It seems I can only start hunting them when they revealed one of my guys, and I don't even know what that means gameplay-wise.
They have the same problem as enemies do, you can't say for sure what they made in their round, unless you track the nodes. This is easier for enemies, since they can only attack on borders of their area of influence, but I assume that investigators can attack anywhere?

Also, the 'ritual failed' messages might also be better without an "OK" button. Not too important.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 16 May 2010, 18:03

qubodup {l Wrote}:
starinfidel {l Wrote}:The current development version (which is available at http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre1/) has one major addition - investigators. They're basically like a cult nemesis - once the investigator finds out about the cult, it better stop him or else. I'm currently working on a difficulty setting.

That's a very good idea, I think usually browser games don't have a live development version available for play, one has to check it out on his own. Very handy.

I don't know what I think about the investigators..
It seems I can only start hunting them when they revealed one of my guys, and I don't even know what that means gameplay-wise.
They have the same problem as enemies do, you can't say for sure what they made in their round, unless you track the nodes. This is easier for enemies, since they can only attack on borders of their area of influence, but I assume that investigators can attack anywhere?


Take a look at the updated tutorial http://code.google.com/p/cult/wiki/Tutorial_v3pre1. The last section explains all about investigators. I'll probably rename it to the Manual soon and add a menu on top for better navigation. In short, yes, investigators can attack any node that is not hardened and has a level equal to theirs or lower. They do not do anything for a turn after appearing and are also not attackable - the cult sort of knows _about_ an investigator but has not yet determined his location.

qubodup {l Wrote}:Also, the 'ritual failed' messages might also be better without an "OK" button. Not too important.


I changed that, too.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby qubodup » 16 May 2010, 19:33

Here's an animated match of EC: http://yfrog.com/0zanimatedgg (click image to see .gif)
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 17 May 2010, 00:10

Looks great :)
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 17 May 2010, 01:03

I released v3pre2 a couple of minutes ago - it has difficulty settings (which need some testing) and some AI tweaks. The updated manual is here: http://code.google.com/p/cult/wiki/Manual_v3pre2
And the game itself is at http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre2/
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby qubodup » 17 May 2010, 02:35

starinfidel {l Wrote}:I released v3pre2 a couple of minutes ago

I think I might have spotted a bug: an investigator declared a cult dead, even though it still had one node.
http://yfrog.com/j9huhvp
http://yfrog.com/08huh2xp
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 18 May 2010, 00:58

Yep, these are two separate bugs, I fixed both in the current svn. Thanks.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby qubodup » 18 May 2010, 05:55

Here's some fan art for ya:
Image
link

Did you write about the development of the game somewhere? What your inspirations are/were and so on..?

About the latest pre-release: I dislike the menu, because it breaks the layout.. and would like to suggests replacing the menu button with something like
{l Code}: {l Select All Code}
◁ [Restart: Easy  ] ▷
in which clicking the arrows would change the difficulty.
This might be a bad suggestion if you were thinking of putting more controls into the menu.

Perhaps it would be just as well to use a menu, but place it above the non-map area.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 19 May 2010, 01:57

qubodup {l Wrote}:Here's some fan art for ya:
Image
link


As my first ever fan-art that will hold a special place in my heart :P

qubodup {l Wrote}:Did you write about the development of the game somewhere? What your inspirations are/were and so on..?


No, I haven't yet. Well, two of my main inspirations were the Introspective music on Kahvi: http://www.kahvi.org/releases.php?release_number=236 (there's more of it there) and Google Maps. That is I wanted to make a game on Google Maps. The first one eventually found its way into the game as web music player and the second got dumped quite fast because the usual iteration process was laggy and annoying. There are probably some bits of Endgame: Singularity there and plenty of H.P.Lovecraft.

qubodup {l Wrote}:About the latest pre-release: I dislike the menu, because it breaks the layout.. and would like to suggests replacing the menu button with something like
{l Code}: {l Select All Code}
◁ [Restart: Easy  ] ▷
in which clicking the arrows would change the difficulty.
This might be a bad suggestion if you were thinking of putting more controls into the menu.

Perhaps it would be just as well to use a menu, but place it above the non-map area.


Well, I can probably darken everything beside the menu when it's displayed, but menu itself is needed. It's a familiar way for users to start the game and will probably have more items later.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby Taldor » 22 May 2010, 00:56

Those are two very nice games! I especially like Evil Cult.

I have some suggestions for the user interface of Evil Cult though:
  • The end of the game is not clear enough. I'd blur the screen or the playing frame and gray out the conversion buttons when the game is over.
  • When the game is over, I'd add a very clear "You won." or "You lost." after the current game end messages. The first time I played it, I wasn't sure that I had won or lost.
  • The game sometimes displays two pop up windows over each other, which I'd try to avoid, because it overwhelms the user to much.
  • I'd show the full map at the end of the game (both when won or lost). Most players will want and expect to see it eventually.
  • The messages about who started a war with who seem useless. Using a pop up is intrusive for the players, so pop ups should only be used when necessary.
  • I'd be nice to see which nodes have been converted since the previous turn by the opponents. (E.g. by using italics for the node number.)
  • In order to convert a virgin to lowered awareness, the player has to convert to another resource first. I'd add an additional button to do this directly.
  • Using blurred or grayed out disabled buttons with a tooltip explaining why the button is disabled, makes the game easier to learn.
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Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

Postby starinfidel » 22 May 2010, 06:36

Taldor {l Wrote}:Those are two very nice games! I especially like Evil Cult.


Thank you.

Taldor {l Wrote}:I have some suggestions for the user interface of Evil Cult though:
  • The end of the game is not clear enough. I'd blur the screen or the playing frame and gray out the conversion buttons when the game is over.
  • When the game is over, I'd add a very clear "You won." or "You lost." after the current game end messages. The first time I played it, I wasn't sure that I had won or lost.


These are nice ideas, I'll do that.

Taldor {l Wrote}:
  • The game sometimes displays two pop up windows over each other, which I'd try to avoid, because it overwhelms the user to much.


  • UnfortunaeI can't think of anything

    Taldor {l Wrote}:
  • I'd show the full map at the end of the game (both when won or lost). Most players will want and expect to see it eventually.


  • Hmmm, opening the map at the end. Okay, I'll try it.

    Taldor {l Wrote}:
  • The messages about who started a war with who seem useless. Using a pop up is intrusive for the players, so pop ups should only be used when necessary.


  • They're not useless, information about a war is always useful. Though at some point I might move the log to a specific area on the screen.

    Taldor {l Wrote}:
  • I'd be nice to see which nodes have been converted since the previous turn by the opponents. (E.g. by using italics for the node number.)


  • Yes, that was done just a few hours ago. Take a look at new v3pre3 version http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre3/

    Taldor {l Wrote}:
  • In order to convert a virgin to lowered awareness, the player has to convert to another resource first. I'd add an additional button to do this directly.


  • I thought about it and while it is more convenient for the player but these are specifically separate actions not only in terms of gameplay but also in terms of game world. That's also the reason why there is no button for using virgins to lower investigator's willpower directly.

    Taldor {l Wrote}:
  • Using blurred or grayed out disabled buttons with a tooltip explaining why the button is disabled, makes the game easier to learn.


  • If you're talking about the status buttons, I chose the different approach - removing anything that cannot be used at this moment. I could potentially do that for when difficulty is set on easy but that would have to wait.
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    Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

    Postby qubodup » 22 May 2010, 14:47

    Taldor {l Wrote}:The first time I played it, I wasn't sure that I had won or lost.

    I had the same experience. The next round I paid much more attention to log messages than I usually would. :)

    Taldor {l Wrote}:The messages about who started a war with who seem useless. Using a pop up is intrusive for the players, so pop ups should only be used when necessary.

    I find these messages very useful, but all of the pop-ups disturb the flow of play. Some more, some less. I would definitely favor an area outside of the map for all messages or perhaps Icons. Things like
    2010-05-22-153534_1292x1181_scrot.png
    2010-05-22-153534_1292x1181_scrot.png (1.85 KiB) Viewed 13362 times

    Hovering the icons would reveal the full text. The spaces between the 'blocks' of icons mean that there is at least one round of time between these messages. The oldest is at the top? Not sure, maybe it should be bottom-aligned. and the older the message, the less opacity it should have perhaps.

    Taldor {l Wrote}:[*]I'd be nice to see which nodes have been converted since the previous turn by the opponents. (E.g. by using italics for the node number.)

    Yes, that was done just a few hours ago. Take a look at new v3pre3 version http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre3/

    I don't see it.

    Taldor {l Wrote}:Using blurred or grayed out disabled buttons with a tooltip explaining why the button is disabled, makes the game easier to learn.

    If you're talking about the status buttons, I chose the different approach - removing anything that cannot be used at this moment. I could potentially do that for when difficulty is set on easy but that would have to wait.

    That sounds like a good solution - too many buttons make for a cluttered ui :)
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    Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

    Postby starinfidel » 22 May 2010, 17:59

    qubodup {l Wrote}:
    Taldor {l Wrote}:The first time I played it, I wasn't sure that I had won or lost.

    I had the same experience. The next round I paid much more attention to log messages than I usually would. :)

    Taldor {l Wrote}:The messages about who started a war with who seem useless. Using a pop up is intrusive for the players, so pop ups should only be used when necessary.

    I find these messages very useful, but all of the pop-ups disturb the flow of play. Some more, some less. I would definitely favor an area outside of the map for all messages or perhaps Icons. Things like

    Hovering the icons would reveal the full text. The spaces between the 'blocks' of icons mean that there is at least one round of time between these messages. The oldest is at the top? Not sure, maybe it should be bottom-aligned. and the older the message, the less opacity it should have perhaps.


    That's a pretty nice idea. There won't be a problem with older messages - player can delete a message by clicking on it or click the button CLEAR on top of log panel or I could clean the panel automatically on next round. I'll think about it. The other idea is to use textual message area at the bottom or on top. The main problem with these is that I still want the window area to stay around 1024x768, and new UI blocks will either make the map smaller or make the screen bigger. As I don't have the scrollable map (I might have at some point), I'm reluctant to add new blocks to UI. Hence all the popups.

    Taldor {l Wrote}:[*]I'd be nice to see which nodes have been converted since the previous turn by the opponents. (E.g. by using italics for the node number.)

    Yes, that was done just a few hours ago. Take a look at new v3pre3 version http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre3/

    I don't see it.


    You mean you don't see these? What browser you're on?
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    Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

    Postby Taldor » 22 May 2010, 22:28

    starinfidel {l Wrote}:
    Taldor {l Wrote}:[*]I'd be nice to see which nodes have been converted since the previous turn by the opponents. (E.g. by using italics for the node number.)

    Yes, that was done just a few hours ago. Take a look at new v3pre3 version http://starinfidel.co.cc/cult-03pre3/

    These effects only appear for other players, which makes it difficult to understand what it means. I'd add the effect also for nodes that have been captured by the player, and for nodes that have been discovered by investigators. I think that would make the effect more clear.

    starinfidel {l Wrote}:
    Taldor {l Wrote}:[*]The game sometimes displays two pop up windows over each other, which I'd try to avoid, because it overwhelms the user to much.

    UnfortunaeI can't think of anything

    It happens at the end of the game. I'd just show the log after the winning/losing pop up, but not at the same time.

    starinfidel {l Wrote}:
    Taldor {l Wrote}:[*]The messages about who started a war with who seem useless. Using a pop up is intrusive for the players, so pop ups should only be used when necessary.

    They're not useless, information about a war is always useful.

    I don't see what's useful about a message saying that you started a war. I've noticed my opponents rarely start a war.
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    Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

    Postby qubodup » 23 May 2010, 08:05

    starinfidel {l Wrote}:As I don't have the scrollable map (I might have at some point), I'm reluctant to add new blocks to UI. Hence all the popups.

    I would recommend dropping the borders or reducing their intensity and space. They are distracting (bright and the double line makes them intense) and the space saved might be enough for icons.

    starinfidel {l Wrote}:You mean you don't see these? What browser you're on?

    Now I see it. :)

    add.png
    add.png (229 Bytes) Viewed 13317 times

    I found the green number confusing at first. I'd add a "of X" (X = total) tooltip.

    Taldor {l Wrote}:These effects only appear for other players, which makes it difficult to understand what it means. I'd add the effect also for nodes that have been captured by the player, and for nodes that have been discovered by investigators. I think that would make the effect more clear.

    I agree

    Taldor {l Wrote}:
    starinfidel {l Wrote}:
    Taldor {l Wrote}:[*]The game sometimes displays two pop up windows over each other, which I'd try to avoid, because it overwhelms the user to much.

    UnfortunaeI can't think of anything

    It happens at the end of the game. I'd just show the log after the winning/losing pop up, but not at the same time.

    I think it happens when you start the ritual as well in pre3.
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    Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

    Postby KIAaze » 23 May 2010, 09:51

    I have problems with the cursor in black obelisk. The highlighted cell is not always under my mouse cursor.
    It seems that going in from the top syncs cursor and cell correctly, but if I scroll down with the mouse wheel (because my screen is too small), the selected cell ends up above the mouse cursor, which makes it hard to play and impossible to select the bottom cells.

    Workaround: Zoom out with Firefox.

    edit: Nice game. Simple, but challenging enough to be fun. :)
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    Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

    Postby starinfidel » 23 May 2010, 22:30

    > These effects only appear for other players, which makes it difficult to understand what it means. I'd add the effect also for nodes that have been captured by the player, and for nodes that have been discovered by investigators. I think that would make the effect more clear.

    Sure, forgot about these.

    > It happens at the end of the game. I'd just show the log after the winning/losing pop up, but not at the same time.
    >> I think it happens when you start the ritual as well in pre3.

    Maybe darkening background would help like in the menu case.

    > I don't see what's useful about a message saying that you started a war. I've noticed my opponents rarely start a war.

    Well, starting a war is a big deal. All TBSs I can remember displayed something big and intrusive when the war started. I'm not convinced on that.

    > I would recommend dropping the borders or reducing their intensity and space. They are distracting (bright and the double line makes them intense) and the space saved might be enough for icons.

    Double lines mean a separate window. If made single they would intersect with single lines in status block. Though I could probably make them less intense.

    > I found the green number confusing at first. I'd add a "of X" (X = total) tooltip.

    I thought about that, but there's not much space there, also "X of Y" would stand out too much from "X"s for neophytes and adepts.
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    Re: Black Obelisk (puzzle), Evil Cult (strategy)

    Postby starinfidel » 23 May 2010, 22:31

    KIAaze {l Wrote}:I have problems with the cursor in black obelisk. The highlighted cell is not always under my mouse cursor.
    It seems that going in from the top syncs cursor and cell correctly, but if I scroll down with the mouse wheel (because my screen is too small), the selected cell ends up above the mouse cursor, which makes it hard to play and impossible to select the bottom cells.

    Workaround: Zoom out with Firefox.

    edit: Nice game. Simple, but challenging enough to be fun. :)


    Thanks. About the zoom, yes, I'll see what I can do.
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    starinfidel
     
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