Brazen Berry Bonanza

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Hopenager, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    Edit: The tutorial in this game hasn't been updated since the game-jam version, and even then the tutorial was pretty bare, so make sure you read the whole post before playing or it will be pretty confusing. Also, ignore the par number underneath the score. It was intended to start off at 20 but I accidentally left it at the value I was playtesting it at.

    For the 7DRL game jam a few weeks ago I made a game called Brazen Berry Bonanza (you can find it here https://ethanhoeppner.github.io/gamedesign/brazen-berry-bonanza.html) , which turned out pretty well, and I decided to continue working on it. Since then I've improved the gameplay quite a bit, and done a complete graphical overhaul. I'm probably going to release it rather soon (hopefully on mobile as well) for 99 cents or something, but first I figure I should get some feedback. The new build is more intensive than the old one, and it doesn't run well on html anymore, so you can download it for windows here: https://ethanhoeppner.github.io/gameFiles/BrazenBerryBonanza/BBB_build_2.zip

    [​IMG]

    One thing that I haven't changed yet is the tutorial, and even to begin with it, so sorry if its confusing. Here's the explanation of the rules I gave for the 7drl build:
    • When berries spawn, they do not give points. After they have been on the map for about 30 seconds, they'll ripen. They slowly get bigger while growing, and when they're ripe they stop growing and turn a brighter shade of red. Once they are ripe, walking over them gives one point.
    • You can only walk on plants, or on tiles adjacent to your own plants.
    • Pressing space grows a plant, but you have a limited number of seeds. This number is displayed in the top left corner, above your upcoming seeds. You can get more by picking up seeds on the map, they grow on yellow plants.
    • You can plant 3 types of plants: Green, Yellow, and Orange. Green grows in all directions and grows berries, Yellow grows in a straight line and grows seeds, and Orange grows over top of anything around it, destroying it. You can see the next 4 plants you'll plant on the left. The one at the top is the next one you'll plant.
    • It it possible to get stuck in a "no-mans land" of sorts where you can't move if you destroy a plant and there isn't another one around to walk near. If this happens, you can use a seed to plant a new plant. If you don't have any of those, it's basically a loss state unless you get lucky and something happens to grow towards you. (Maybe I should change it so that the game just ends if that happens...)
    • Every 60 seconds, several evil plants will spawn. There are two types of evil plants: Red and Purple. Red grows in all directions, and will take over other types of plants it touches. Purple grows in a straight line, growing over top of whatever is in its way.
    • Evil plants grow Evil Berries, which act similarly to normal berries, though they take longer to ripen. Evil berries are purple instead of red, and like normal berries become brighter when fully ripe. If there are 5 ripe evil berries on the map simultaneously, the game ends.
    • The rate at which berries appear is proportional to the amount of green on the map, so if you have 40 green tiles, berries will spawn 4 times as often as if you had 10. Seeds and evil berries work the same way for the tiles they grow on.
    • The number of plants that spawn in each "wave" of evil plants increases each time. On the first wave, 3 plants will spawn, and from there the number increases by 1 each wave. This prevents the game from going on too long, since the game gets arbitrarily difficult when there are like 8 evil plants spawning each wave.
    Since then, the rule changes have mostly been subtle, such as:
    • Purples take twice as long to walk through.
    • Reds now spawn in groups of 4 tiles instead of 1.
    • Evil plants do not expand for a period of time after they spawn.
    • You are now given an outline of where the evil plants will spawn to.
    • There is a visible timer displaying the time until the next wave.
    • Orange now spreads through all types of plants, not just the ones it originally touches.
    There are also countless little balance changes, and a significant new feature: special berries. Every once in a while, you will get a berry that is pink, or blue. Pink berries, when collected, cause all red plants to be pushed back, and stop expanding for 6 seconds. Blue berries, when collected, allow you to move through plants as quickly as you can walk through empty tiles.

    If anything is confusing, let me know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
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  2. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    Here's a new version of the game: https://ethanhoeppner.github.io/gameFiles/BrazenBerryBonanza/bbb_prerelease.zip. I'll be releasing version 1.0 soon (for, at least, windows and android), and this version is basically feature complete, so I'd love to get some feedback on it before the release.

    Stuff changed since the previous version:
    • There's a new type of special berry: the White Berry. When you gather one of these berries, 6 extra normal berries will appear, but so will a new evil plant (this is intended, somewhat, as an OCR). These work somewhat differently than other special berries in that there is always just one of these on the screen at a time. The first one spawns 10 seconds into the game, and after that, whenever the white berry is destroyed, a new one will spawn on a random green tile on the map.
    • Orange seeds now only affect red tiles. I did this because many beginners were confused by how to use this seed, and at first didn't realize they could avoid burning their own plants by just using it on a tile where it wasn't adjacent to anything. Once you've figured that out, you're able to find a way to use orange seeds against evil plants without burning any of your own the vast majority of the time, so this change doesn't make too huge of a difference in that respect if you're already experienced. I considered making it work on both types of evil plants, but that made it too easy to get rid of purple plants that had grown next to your other plants, so instead I think just working on reds is the right way to go. This does mean that its now more difficult to clear isolated streaks of purple.
    • The tutorial is now complete, and explains every important mechanic in the game.
    • The game now has some sound effects for various things, like planting plants, destroying plants, upcoming-wave alarm, etc. There is a slider to change the volume of these in the options menu, which you can find on the main menu. (There's also a slider there for music, but the music is not yet implemented)
    • The par is no longer permanently stuck at 73 :). It starts at 10, can't go below 10, but otherwise moves towards whatever you score each game.
    I don't think I'll be done with this game after I release 1.0, as there are still a bunch of things I want to try out (in particular, I'm thinking of ways for the player to have more control over where special berries spawn and what types they get, and of some other ways to have some more long-term effects on the map), but I think the game is fun enough in it's current state to call it a finished thing. I'll definitely continue to work on this, but I might be focusing more on other projects after 1.0 is released.

    Anyways, I'd love to hear some feedback on this. In particular, does the tutorial do its job well enough? Is it confusing, or is there anything that feels left out?
     
  3. richy

    richy Well-Known Member

    How would you say the player movement mechanism has turned out as a feature? I only ask because to me it seems a bit of an uncomfortable compromise between RTS and TBS. It feels like you have to really concentrate on precise rhythmic key presses to get fastest movement of the @, which distracts from strategy thinking.

    What are the pros and cons of the current method vs mouse control? (I.e. click the mouse where you want Atty to go, and it steps over there at its own pace like an RTS unit would.)
     
  4. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    I hadn't thought much about the movement recently, I'm able to move pretty effortlessly. Though it might just be that I'm so used to it, but unfortunately I can't think of anything I could do for it that would really help, other than just slowing down the movement entirely (which might actually be fine, now that I think about it, I had been considering slowing the game down somehow anyway).

    Though, just to clarify, you don't actually have to do "precise rhythmic key presses", you can just hold down the movement buttons. Perhaps I should clarify that in the tutorial?
    I don't think mouse controls would be feasible. Half the time you want to tunnel through an existing plant, and the other half you want to go around it, and that would be complicated to express that with a mouse-based control scheme. I guess left click could signal digging through, and right click could signal going around, but it would be awkward and hard to express exactly the path you wanted to take for more complex routes. Also, using mouse controls for the small, particular movements like collecting a patch of berries or seeds would be pretty tedious, and probably more error-prone than keyboard controls.
     
  5. richy

    richy Well-Known Member

    Yes the mouse scheme would definitely need waypoints, and I agree it could get fiddly. Also a "move around" order would sometimes hit the problem where plants had grown to obstruct the planned route in the mean time, so the @ would either need AI to adapt or have to stop and request new orders.

    Re. the tutorial and keeping keys pressed, no I think it's probably obvious enough. But I meant something like left,down,left,down,right,up where of course you can pre-key each one for zero delay, but it still has to be a precisely rhythmic sequence and you're kind of devoting at least some mental resources to handholding the relatively slow unit all the way. Some kind of waypoint system might let you key it all in rapidly, then have a second or two to think about other stuff while the unit works. I'm probably thinking too much in RTS terms though!
     
  6. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    I hadn't thought of using a mouse-based control scheme before and its an interesting idea, so I'm glad you brought it up, but overall I think it wouldn't be worth it. It would be much more complicated to learn for new players, and I think the key control scheme, while maybe somewhat difficult at first, becomes pretty easy to use after a while.

    As I said I've been thinking about slowing the game down a bit, and doing that might make the key control scheme a lot easier to deal with.
     
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  7. RyanRothweiler

    RyanRothweiler Active Member

    I've played maybe 15 minutes of it. Played the tutorial a few times and two matches. I plan to play more and get deeper into it but here are my initial thoughts.

    The menu and tutorial taught me that the goal was to get to the square box. But that's not the goal in a match. That was confusing at first.
    Tutorial was ok / good. I wrote a bunch of questions here with stuff I was confused about, but then played the tutorial two more times and it answered all my questions. That probably means the tutorial is too dense and should be spread into more 'scenes'. But also the tutorial was good and had all the information I needed.

    For some reason I really want a bar which shows how long I have to wait before I can move again after digging. I don't think the bar would actually change any strategy but I just feel like I want one.

    Overall I'm really interested in this. I'll report back after I've played more.
     
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  8. Akkete

    Akkete Member

    Digging through plants feels very counterintuitive to me too. I think it would be better if the movement delay happened before moving on the plant tile. It could even be communicated with some kind of animation. Also if the digging action could be cancelled, that would prevent misclicks. Otherwise the movement doesn't feel "laggy" at all anymore.

    I only played a couple of games, but purple plants feel way harder to deal with than reds, especially if no blue berries happen to spawn. Also, currently I take white berries whenever I happen to walk past them, instead of making a decision based on how well I think I can handle one more evil plant. White berries take so much time to ripen that I don't think I could overwhelm myself by taking too many.
     
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  9. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    I liked this idea, so I tried it out, but unfortunately I don't think it really works. If the delay happens before destroying the plant, it's a lot harder and more annoying to get the timing right for cutting off evil plants.
    If I were to do this, you wouldn't be able to starting hitting the direction you wanted to go to until the previous digging was done, which would add a lot of input error through timing. For example, if I want to dig through a plant to my right, then dig through a plant above that one, I can just hit right, then start holding up while waiting for the delay to end. If instead hitting a new key canceled digging, I'd have to wait for the delay to end, then hit the button as soon as possible after the animation finishes if I wanted to be completely efficient.
    I don't think red and purple plants necessarily need to be equally hard to deal with. Anyways, though purple plants may be a bit more difficult to deal with generally, they don't continuously take plants over, and so they aren't going to end your game most of the time; that'll be the red plants. If purple plants are causing you that much trouble, you can always cut them off when they're growing to prevent them from taking much ground.

    Technically you'll always get roughly the same number of blue berries, though sometimes they'll get destroyed by an evil plant before you see them, so it can feel a bit too random. I have a lot of problems with the way blue and pink berries are handled right now, and this is one of them. I'll probably making some drastic changes to the way they work in an update sometime.
    I thought this too for a while, but the challenge with the white berry isn't just "can you handle an extra evil plant right now", its whether or not the time it would take to do so is worth it. I find that if I'm too overzealous with taking the white berries, though the evil plants they spawn aren't enough to overrun me, the time that it takes me to deal with them gives me less time to collect berries and seeds, and I'll end up in a bad situation later on because I wasn't prepared for a wave as well as I needed to be (by not having enough seeds, having too many uncollected berries, having a poorly-shaped map, etc).

    Overall I like the white berries, but I think they're too disconnected from the rest of the mechanics. With the changes that I'm planning for the pink and blue berries, white berries might also end up getting overhauled.
     
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  10. Batlad

    Batlad Well-Known Member

    Here's another idea for movement inspired by the above comments. When you go to dig it immediately destroys the plant, but the player icon slowly moves pixel by pixel into the correct position (maybe with a simple tween) before they can act again. Combine that with matching sound length (maybe 2 discrete sounds a fast sharp one for the dig and a longer one for the shuffle.)
     
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  11. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Got a little time to finally play some of BRAZEN BERRY BONANZA today. It's really really cool! Definitely qualifies as a game that's really trying to do something new. Awesome work Hopenager. Here are some thoughts.

    First, I think in general the information horizon you have is good. The player generally has a good heads up on what new random information is coming. Good job on that. However I think the other aspect to "good randomness" is fairness, or uniformity, and I think you could do a lot better on that.

    Overall, I like the concept you have here, but I feel like it's too loose. Stuff can just sort of spread haphazardly and I find that there are these big random windfalls, and big random pitfalls too much. Part of this is because there's not enough fixed structure in the match. Stuff can just FLIP really quickly, like those orange guys destroy too much red stuff it seems to me, and the red stuff spawns randomly and it gets huge fast. The game state is just too fluid, overall. It would be great if I could place some things, and they would stay permanently.

    "Permanently" is a problem, though, if you don't know how long the match lasts... which... hate to say it, but this gets back to the whole uncapped match length/high score issue. A match could be really short, or really long, as far as I understand it? I don't know what the goal is - I assume it's to get 10 berries. I did that on my second match though because it just so happened that I got a SHITLOAD of red berries that spawned on some green area and I collected them all and scored 11.

    I think you have some good stuff going on but overall it feels kind of toy like, like Conway's Game of Life or something. Like I just sort of place down some stuff and hope that it spawns a lot of stuff and I wanna see how many red berries I can get. The worst thing is when you have a game with non-uniform randomness (sometimes shit just falls into your lap) AND it's high score stuff. Because then really you're just waiting for good rolls, Rogue-like style.

    Here are my recommendations:

    - Have there be a distinct number of berries you need to get, and have the match end when you do. 10 is probably okay to start. The best would be to do an Auro style single player Elo system, but if you don't want to do that, just increasing the goal every time you win by 2 or something is probably alright for now.
    - Once you have that, and an idea about what the match structure is like in terms of length, this will allow you to come up with some permanent thing that the player can put down. Or if not permanent, at least long-term. Maybe there's a rule for permanence on the enemy side, too, like: "red tiles that are surrounded by red tiles are permanent red tiles" or something - won't be harmed by Orange. So Orange only affects the outer layer of stuff.
    - Do something to make the randomness more uniform between matches. This is a big one, but something to think about.

    Maybe there could be some structure that even STARTS down, so that the map isn't just empty to begin with.

    Anyway will play some more later but those are my thoughts for now.
     
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  12. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    Glad to (finally :p) hear your thoughts, Keith!

    I see where you're coming from. However, I think it's worth mentioning here that I think the game feels a lot more random at lower levels than it does at high levels. A lot of the strategic development is learning ways to make the map resistant to the spread of red plants (for example: avoiding having large blobs of plants that the red can spread through easily, preventing purple plants from forming connections between different sections, etc.). So at higher levels of play, the game feels less random, though I agree that feeling so random at low-levels is a problem. For reference, I tend to score around 90-105, and the game doesn't feel at all too random to me.

    Also, in developing this game I've come to agree with you more on highly variable match length being a problem. I think that it's a big contributor to the feeling of randomness at low-levels, actually, since high-level games tend to last much longer. When the game is longer you rarely get super lucky or unlucky because you are getting a larger sample size of random rolls, so the variance is lower. I think in the future the games I make will just be fixed-length, or close to it.

    One thing I've been thinking of doing that might help somewhat with the inconsistent match lengths is changing the loss condition. Right now it's "5 evil berries ripe at the same time", but I'm thinking of changing it to "X evil berries ripening over the course of the entire game" where X is probably like 10-15, maybe. So there's like an "enemy score" type thing that increases permanently by 1 whenever an evil berry ripens. I actually think the current loss condition was a pretty big mistake and that the new system would be a lot better in many ways. I'm thinking of writing an article outlining why I think that is. But anyways, one of the big benefits would be that it would potentially make the match lengths more consistent by making it harder for low-level players to lose too quickly.

    I agree with your concerns about the lack of long term structure. That's one of the big motivations to the upcoming changes I'm planning for the way special berries work, and since I've alluded to that like 3 independent times in this thread I should probably just explain it:

    Instead of blue and pink berries spawning in random positions, there will be "blue/pink patches" that spawn randomly as a single blue/pink tile. To actually get a blue/pink berry, you'll have to expand the patch to be 5-6 tiles for it to grow it's berry (or maybe expanding the patch just makes it grow faster? This is still a pretty rough idea, lots of details to decide on). You grow a patch by using a special fertilizer seed, which isn't randomly distributed like the others seeds, but shows up every 8(?) seeds, of course with a bit of random variance. When you use a fertilizer seed, it turns into whatever plant was next to it, which of course will only be useful for one of the special patches.

    This'll mean the player has more choice over what types of special berries they get, which will be nice from a strategic perspective, and also add some important long-term stuff for the player to deal with. Of course I'm thinking of adding new types of special berries, but I can also make it so there are special patches that do things other than growing special berries, like there could be one that makes berries/seeds grow more quickly on adjacent tiles, or one that red plants can't grow through which you could use to kinda build a wall to defend a particular area.

    One other thing that might be good for long-term structure is a slight modification of the change to the loss condition I talked about earlier: evil berries that ripen make the square they're on indestructible, so you'll have to deal with permanent red plants to give the map some more long-term stuff. Or maybe there should be some other special thing that happens when an evil berry ripens, I haven't thought about this too much, and probably shouldn't until I have the special berry changes in place. Though I think the game is good enough as it is to call it 1.0, so the changes I'm talking about now probably won't happen until the first update.
     
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  13. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

  14. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    I'll currently working on version 1.1, and I have a build that I'd be interested in getting some feedback on, which you can download here (I didn't include the music file in this build to cut down on the file size). The tutorial isn't yet updated, so you'll have to read this post to understand the changes.

    Here are the changes since 1.0:
    • Yellow seeds now show which direction the plant will grow in.
    • Yellow plants are now 1 tile longer.
    • Updated player movement visuals to be more fluid.
    • The game no longer ends when 5 evil berries are simultaneously ripe, but instead when 20 have ripened over the whole game.
    • Evil berries grow slightly faster than normal berries.
    • Seeds are now dispensed by a new algorithm. Previously there was simply a 1/3 chance of getting each seed, but now getting a seed decreases your chance of getting the same one in the immediate future.
    • The way special berries are created is now different. Every 20 seconds or so, a new special tile will appear, in the color of a special berry. If you use a orange berry next to a special tile, it will also become a special tile of the same color. Once there are 3 adjacent special tiles, they will grow the corresponding special berry.
    • There are now 3 types of special berries: Blue, Pink, and Light Green (I ran out of colors so I have to start reusing them now :p). Blue is the same as it was previously, but pink has been changed. Pink now just pushes back the growth of the red plants, but doesn't pause their growth. The green berry pauses the growth of both red and purple plants, as well as all evil berries, for 12 seconds.
    The most significant of these changes are obviously the special berry changes and the loss condition change. I think the changes with the special berries have been pretty successful, but I'm not as confident on the loss condition change. The intention was to normalize match lengths and add to add some depth by creating another thing to pull at the player's intention ("Is it better for me to collect these berries, or stop these evil berries from growing?"). However, it's ruined some of the tension felt near the end of the game, as there now isn't as much you can do to stop the game from ending once your at 18 or 19 evil berries. I'm not sure what to do with regard to the loss condition now, I think the system I had previously is probably better than this one. I've also been considering a compromise between the two: the game ends when there are ~10 ripe evil berries, but if a ripe evil berry survives for a certain length of time, it becomes indestructible.

    Before 1.1 there are a few changes I want to make:
    • Graphical and sound effects for the new special berries and special tiles.
    • Change the way the par system works. Right now the par seems to lag behind new players as they advance, and so doesn't provide much guidance. It is also a bit too volatile, falling to much when you try out a new strategy that doesn't turn out well. Right now, the par moves 50% of the way towards whatever you score. I think it would be best if the score moved upward more quickly than it moved down. For instance, if you score above par, the par will move 80% of the way towards your score, but if you score below par, the par only moves 25% of the way your score.
    • Figure out exactly what to do with the loss condition.
    If anyone wants to give some feedback, there are a few things in particular I'm interested in hearing about:
    • What is your opinion of the new loss condition?
    • Is the build more or less fun than 1.0?
    • What kind of scores are you getting in this build, and what kind of scores did you get in 1.0? Personally, I'm only scoring around 60-70, whereas in 1.0 I could get 90-100 consistently, so the game feels a bit harder for me. I'm curious of how the perceived difficulty has changed across various skill levels.
     
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  15. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

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