Monday, August 10, 2009

Build 30: Epic Changes

It's finally here!

I'm sorry it took so long to get Build 30 out, but I really had no choice. Exactly two weeks ago I put out Build 29, and things started changing so much that the game was relatively unplayable until just recently. I put in a final few touches tonight and I am left with a product I am happy to release.

I also wanted to make it a big one, since I'm turning 30 this year, and 30 is a big round number, and I'm hoping to have the game in a releasable state 30 days from now... It's just a nice convergence of numbers.

Here's the gist of things:

- Complete UI do-over. All the major graphics and art have been updated and replaced. This was the biggest speedbump - I couldn't release a game if you couldn't sign in!
- Replays. Yep, you can now record and playback your victories!
- A lot of gameplay changes - nothing incredibly major, but important nonetheless.
- New website uploaded.
- New forum software installed and re-built. Also hacked to accept user registrations right from the game.

I thought the old graphics were hot, but this new hotness is just... on fire. I love it, I love it to bits. I especially like how it looks sitting pretty in the new website. The notification boxes and level save boxes are all in place now too, and I've implemented handy new features like URL-copying-to-clipboard and other fun stuff. The entire graphical user experience is simply doublegood now.

It's getting pretty late here so I'm going to sign off for now. Updates and new builds should come more frequently now, and the changes will become smaller and smaller in scope as we start ramping up for launch day. Thank you, Alphanauts, for helping us get this far.

Check out the brand new website at
Check out the complete changelog for Build 30 at this forum post. (It's a big one!)

1 comment:

  1. Andy,

    Nice work! Here are a few comments from my first playthrough:

    1) Since the controls are a little nonstandard, it would be helpful to have bigger, more obvious help about them. That is, when I see [UP/DOWN] aim, [x] fire, my eyes glaze over because it looks like code. Instead of text, try using pictures that look like keyboard keys with arrows nearby.

    2) Consider putting movement on arrow keys (up, left right), and putting aiming and shooting on a different set of keys (z and c for aim, x for shoot; or z/x for aim, space for shoot). The reason is that just about every flash game in the world uses arrows for movement.

    3) I'd strongly recommend making your character's arm/gun thingy much more prominent and obvious. I've been playing your builds ever since you finished space squid and I didn't notice the aimer until now. I seriously had no idea you could even aim.

    4) On level 3 or so, you are introduced to Hydrogen. It's a neat level, but there should be a ramp or something to let you get back up to the hydrogen if you fall to the bottom level. At the moment it's possible to get stuck down there with no way to win, which is no good in a tutorial level. Or any level, really.

    5) I think it would be better to introduce the three types of bonds in three different levels.

    6) I have a tough time telling the difference between the explody atoms and the ones I'm supposed to grab. The colors are too similar. The explody ones should have a different shape or some danger lines or something.

    7) I also can't remember the mapping of element name (oxygen, etc) to visual representation (greenish circle, etc). Could there be a bit of text that pops up when you hit them (Oxygen collected!) to help me learn it?

    8) Shouldn't the bonds poof away when one of the atoms on either side is destroyed? The current behavior doesn't make sense.

    9) "Aluminum" isn't what I think of when I think "super heavy thing that can kill me". How about Iron or Lead instead?

    10) The "hold down z to wall jump" hint was great. I'd recommend making it even more prominent, like the "build to the pipe" sign on level 1 of World of Goo.

    11) The help text about "falling off screen is deadly" was confusing to me. The point of this level is to teach the user that he can drop nitrogen off-screen to destroy it. But why are we destroying nitrogen, when we can leave aluminum behind? How about just make it so you don't have to destroy nitrogen to win a level? And then protonaut's mission becomes much, MUCH easier to explain: collect gases.

    12) I'm only just now noticing the help text below the game screen. I think most people ignore stuff outside the game screen because it usually useless stuff like ads.

    13) Final Exam: Ack, it's possible to miss a ball a the top and then be stuck at the bottom with no way to finish! Also, there are a few "leaps of faith", where you have to jump into the unknown.

    14) Can jump be made to work continuously when held down? It's great when you are wall jumping, but it should also work that way when walking.

    I hope this is helpful. IM me sometime; I've got plenty more to talk about.