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MR2 Beta Phase 1 EXTENDED!

2012-07-04 12:24:34 by revolverroach

Trouble already. Ah well. Beta is Beta. More than half of the testers haven't confirmed yet. We're also getting a few invite errors. Let's get a few more people in before we roll into Phase 2. So again...

= = = = INSTRUCTIONS = = = =
To JOIN send me a PM through Newgrounds with the title JOIN MR2 BETA. I will reply by sending you an INVITE within the next 24 hours.

Here's how the beta INVITE will look from your end!

1) Go to your Inbox. You will have a "Pending Request" with Madness Retaliation 2 in the title. Clicking on it will take you to the project. DON'T DO THAT! Instead...
2) Look to the right, it will have buttons [Approve] [Deny]. Click [Approve]... Unfortunately, the request (and its link to the project) will disappear. So last step is...
3) Go to http://www.newgrounds.com/projects/games/582064/
preview

If you got through those steps then you're in the Beta!!

= = = = END OF INSTRUCTIONS = = = =

For those who've confirmed by sending the "secret message" no need to resend. I have your names neatly tabulated in a spreadsheet. Hopefully we get at least 50% of the testers confirmed tomorrow. But even if we don't, we'll still proceed to Phase 2.

MR2 Beta Phase 1 EXTENDED!


MR2 Beta Phase 1: ROLL CALL!

2012-07-03 12:38:00 by revolverroach
Updated

= = = = UPDATE! = = = =

OK! Here's how the beta invite will look from your end!

1) Go to your Inbox. You will have a "Pending Request" with Madness Retaliation 2 in the title. Clicking on it will take you to the project. DON'T DO THAT! Instead...
2) Look to the right, it will have buttons [Approve] [Deny]. Click [Approve]... Unfortunately, the request (and its link to the project) will disappear. So last step is...
3) Go to http://www.newgrounds.com/projects/games/582064/
preview

4) ??????
5) PROFIT! (no, not really)

If you got through those steps then you're in the Beta!!

= = = = original message = = = =

Not gonna lie. I've never used NG's beta-testing feature before. Heck, I've never used the project management system before. These awesome new features were not around when I made MR1.

So our first phase, ROLL CALL!! I've added over 30 people to the beta tester list. i don't know what the limit is. As long as there's space, I will add people. Again...

If you want to JOIN the beta, SEND ME A PM through Newgrounds. Why am I doing it this way? Cuz you need to be an NG member to beta-test. This is a rule of the system. RULES! OBEY!

Now to discuss. Dear Testers, there will be no gameplay in this phase. I know it's disappointing but hear me out. I had to insert this ROLL CALL phase because I don't yet know how to check if people are able to view/play a test project. I don't even know what a beta invite will look like. So for now, if you got your invite and see the current beta, respond in the way it tells you to. Good luck!

MR2 Beta Phase 1: ROLL CALL!


MR2 Open Beta Details

2012-07-02 00:55:56 by revolverroach

So this week I'll be putting the game on beta mode. I have to study the NG project system a bit so expect the beta to release tomorrow evening (July 3). I've got a list of people who want to beta test. Send me a PM if you want to join up. I'll check every evening so please don't spam if I don't reply immediately.

What to expect in the Beta
- LIMITED GAMEPLAY. The priority of this beta is to catch bugs. The beta will have specific chunks from the game and the goal of the testers is to BREAK IT. Limiting the beta allows me to find the bugs more easily.
- MULTIPLE UPDATES. As the beta progresses I will put changes, additional scenarios for testing, and probably remove old ones too. Again, limiting the scenarios is to help my bug fixing. These updates will come every other day (T, TH, S)
- NO SPOILERS (MOSTLY). Obviously I want to keep some elements as a surprise for the final launch of the game so I'll try my best to keep the beta spoiler free. However, I will have to reveal some mechanics because obviously I want them to be tested.
- OLD ART ASSETS. Most of the art/graphics will be from MR1 and is not representative of the final game. I'm doing this on purpose to, again, minimize spoilers. Besides, the beta focus will be on GAMEPLAY.
- FEEDBACK. Can't fix something if I don't know it's broken. The beta client will generate reports which users can copy-paste, then email to me. Not the most elegant solution, but it's simple.

This'll be the first time I'll run a public beta so I expect hitches along the way. Recommendations are appreciated. We'll figure it out as we go!



Updates! Good news! Spending the rest of this week finishing work projects and then I'll be taking a 2 week break. And by "2 week break" I mean that I'll be working on MR2 for 2 weeks with no work to distract me. Glorious!

Actually I've been planning to do this for some time. Working on MR on weekends has been slow and frustrating so I decided to save up some cash so that I can afford to skip a few projects. Big thanks to the people who've donated, you know who you are :D This lil' cash buffer will let me finally get this project out the door.

Anyway, the plan is as follows.

- Week 1 - June 25-30 : Production
- Week 2 - July 2-7: Open Beta
- Post - July 9+: Adjustment

And yes, I take Sundays off. Gotta sleep sometime.

Current status is that most of the art assets and sound effects are done. I'll have to take a day or two to sit down and pick out BGMs from the audio portal. I've got a definite direction for the music and hope that I can find some NG-made music that matches.

STILL can't promise a release date since I'm sure after Beta I'll have to do difficulty and equipment balance changes. By that time I will also be back at work (hopefully I'll still have a job) so development will slow down again. On the bright side those will just stat changes that I can finish in a weekend or two.

Now I shall leave you with a picture that reflects how pumped I am to go back to game production. WRYYYYYY!

MR2 to be Back in Production


MR2: On Focus Testing and Game Difficulty

2012-05-20 12:04:33 by revolverroach
Updated

Jeez, over three months since my last post. Project Nexus came out; Played up 'til the MAG Agent in the final stage then got my ass handed to me. Great stuff! Diablo 3 also came out. Abstaining from that 'til I'm done with MR2. On that note, back to topic.

Last time I posted I was doing some closed-group testing. The fine folks that participated caught a ton of bugs, most of which have been fixed. They also gave me a lot of feedback on a topic that I wrestle with constantly: Game Difficulty.

Anybody who's reading this has probably played MR1. A lot of the complaints I got for that game was from people getting stuck. "Exploding clowns keep killing me" or "Can't kill the monocle guys (Saucy!)" or "Can't find Keycard 2" and so on. People were getting stuck, not because the game was particularly hard, but because they were missing a clue. To survive the clowns you have to figure out their blast range. To beat the Saucys you have to notice that they say "OW" when hit by the same type of weapon they're holding. And my favorite, the area with Keycard 2 can be found if you look at the background and realize that there's a breakable wall.

Those things were deliberate. They were put there to challenge the player. Challenge makes the game interesting, whether its combat or exploration. As a designer, I want the player to struggle, yes. But I also want the player to succeed. I want the player to feel the satisfaction that comes from beating an enemy that seems over powered. That is the point of Game Difficulty.

But there are limits to what the average player can handle. My testers tell me that I am making the game too hard. From my perspective, every situation I present them with is winnable. Do I stick to my guns and leave it, knowing that it may turn a player off to the game? Do I compromise my design and make it easier?

It's a struggle for sure, but a struggle worth having.

Right now I'm building a version for public testing. As many of you know, I can only work on this on weekends so I expect that the test version won't be out for about 2 or 3 weeks. But for those who are still waiting, thank you for your patience and support.

-RevolverRoach

IMAGE: A combat scenario that most of my testers failed to beat and my notes on how to make it easier. And yes, I do most of my planning on paper. I've got math notebooks full of these things.

MR2: On Focus Testing and Game Difficulty


MR2: Bugs, bugs and more bugs.

2012-02-02 22:58:43 by revolverroach
Updated

As usual, I'm posting here to show that I am, indeed, still alive. Also, I am posting because at the moment I am incredibly frustrated with ActionScript.

WARNING: Programmer rant ahead.

MR2 is in the testing and bug fixing part of production. The small group of people I have testing the game have been doing an excellent job breaking it and exposing all the bugs. 80% of the bugs are related to saving and loading data and I'm finding that these bugs are the hardest to catch.

Here's an example of an easy fix. Let's say that out of 10 testers, 5 find the same bug. I can compare their 5 game states, see what conditions they share, and from that I can deduce what the bug is. This is about a 2-3 hour process of coding and retesting. In the grand scheme of things, 3 hours is not a lot of time.

Now an example of a hard fix. Let's say that out of the same 10 testers, only 1 guy experienced a bug. With just one error log to work with, I have no point of comparison. Worst case scenario: he can't re-create the bug. I have to go over each of his save states until I find the one where the error appeared. This can take hours or days, depending on how obvious the problem is.

And it's not like I can write it off as a fluke. 1 out of 10 is still 10%. In the first game I wrote off the zombie hands bug. When people started complaining about it, I heard loud and clear. But try as I might, I could not figure out what was causing it. If I can't recreate the bug then I can't fix it. Simple as that. To this day that bug is still in there and people still email me about it. I don't know whether that's my failing as a programmer or just one of those annoying quirks of Flash. Either way, debugging sucks.

If you have read any articles on programming with SharedObjects please point me to them. I have spent hundreds of hours reading through forums and tutorials and found very few to be helpful.

It seems that the only thing people can agree upon is that SharedObjects are a clunky, ugly, unreliable way to save data. It's fine for simple games. A game with level select only needs to save the number of levels you've unlocked and maybe a rank/high score for each level. Examples of this are Super Meat Boy and most tower defense games. A game with progression (a.k.a. levelling) needs to save which skills you've unlocked/bought and how much experience/money you've earned. Examples of this are Toss the Turtle and Sonny.

Those examples I gave may over-simplify, but the point is that as long as you keep your data to a minimum, SharedObject works fine. If you all your tracking is a player's progress and unlocks, SharedObject works fine. Once you start allowing a player to customize, that's when the system starts breaking down.

To illustrate, MR1 saves the following info.

1. Equipment of each character
- Headgear
- Weapon 1
- Weapon 2
- Armor
2. Map Exploration
- 1 Boolean (true/false) for each of the 200+ rooms
- 1 Number of the room of last save location
3. Uncollected Items
- 1 Array (up to 3 items) for each room with a locker
4. Collected Items
- 1 Array for Headgear
- 1 Array for Weapons
- 1 Array for Armor
- Number of Flashbangs
- Number of Smoke Grenades
- Number of Medkits
- Saved PID Energy
5. Special events. 1 Boolean (true/false) for each:
- Savior Boss
- MAG Zombie Boss
- Tricky Boss
- Final Boss

For a flash game, that's a pretty long list of save data. The upside: I was able to make a game with exploration and character customization. According to emails and reviews, those were the two best aspects of the game. The downside: I tended to lose track of data. Even with a ton of error checks built into the program, sometimes I'd just miss things.

For example, the zombie hands bug happens when the game can't read your Weapon1 save data. It defaults to '0' which in the game engine is the number assigned to zombie hands. That's as far as I got on that bug. I don't know why it screwed up only Weapon1 and no other equipment. Suffice to say, the more complex you make a game, the more likely things will go wrong.

There are some very good, complex flash games out there with character stats, skill trees, inventory, randomly generated dungeons, etc. Of course most of them bypass the whole SharedObject issue by using a SQL database. I'd love to do the same but that requires you to use some site's API (ex:Mochi, ArmorGames) which IMO are poorly documented. I looked into the NG API but there's almost no info on that.

Bah. Grumble. Blargh. It's just frustrating all around.

So yeah, the final word is that MR2 is still alive, mostly done, but incredibly broken. Also, I want to announce that once the game is in a more stable state, I'll do some sort of closed beta test. I'll slowly filter people in from NG forums because honestly, I've been working on this game for so long I've lost perspective. I have no idea if the public will see it the same way I do.

Peace out,
- Revolverroach

P.S. Have you guys played Abobo's Big Adventure? That game took me on a trip down memory lane. Too bad the non-NES generation won't understand why that game is so awesome. Nostalgia is one of those things that you can't pass on.

MR2: Bugs, bugs and more bugs.


MR2: The Time it Takes

2011-10-11 22:01:46 by revolverroach
Updated

Q: When is MR2 is coming out?
A: When it's done.

Made the mistake before of promising a deadline and didn't make it. Not gonna do that again. On a lighter note, here is a sneak peek into the making of the game's art assets.

STEP 1] Hand sketch of a background, character or doodads
STEP 2] Scan sketch, choose color palettes
STEP 3] Re-create in flash using vector shapes

The whole process takes around 5 hours as long as I don't make too many mistakes. I'm doing this to over 100 sketches which contain the BGs and doodads that will be used to build the 300+ "rooms" in MR2. Do the math.

MR2: The Time it Takes


MR2 Background Sketches

2011-09-28 09:13:17 by revolverroach
Updated

Sketches I'll be using to make the backgrounds in MR2

MR2 Background Sketches


MR2 Sketched Animation Keys

2011-09-23 13:50:51 by revolverroach
Updated

A few of the sketches I use to plan out keyframes for animation.

MR2 Sketched Animation Keys


Happy Madness Day 2011

2011-09-22 03:12:16 by revolverroach
Updated

MR2 > Status: Not dead
revolverroach > Status: Working

Happy Madness Day 2011