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Mikki Saturn

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About Mikki Saturn

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  1. It sounds very plausible! I'll go along. April 28th!
  2. I think the issue is more that it's just really difficult to balance for difficulty in adventure games. I think there was another episode earlier on where Tim was talking about that exact part, and he says something like that he didn't want to remove frustration from that section because that was sort of the point, but he also didn't want it to become a bad sort of frustration. And that is a problem with all adventure game puzzles. They're not difficult in the same way as, say a platform game, where you're trying to complete a tricky sequence of jumps and you're failing but each time you're getting a little better at the controls until finally you overcome the challenge. The difficulty curve of a puzzle isn't really a curve, but more of an intuitive leap 'Ah! I see what I have to do.' The problem with intuitive leaps is that they're notoriously hard to predict when they will happen from one person to the next. So while sometimes there are those notorious puzzles that EVERYone seems to get stuck on, but largely speaking everyone gets stuck in different places. A puzzle that takes me 30 minutes to work out, the next person might see the solution for instantly. So that makes it really difficult to figure out whether puzzles are too easy, too hard or what. So the approach in Broken Age was to do quite a lot of testing because they wanted to remove the MOST frustrating layer of puzzles from this game, the one that nobody gets because it's just a plain poorly-thought-out puzzle. I don't think there's anything wrong with trying for that, but I think what happened as a result is that they overcompensated a bit - you can tell they overcompensated because, for example, there are a lot of dialogue hints in the game, for example, that often gave a puzzle away before we even knew it was a puzzle. It's understandable that they overcompensated because usually the thing with making games is that you completely underestimate the difficulty. Beccause you're an expert in your own game, what seems like a simple thing to you could feel really crushingly hard to someone that didn't make it, so that's another way that it's hard to get right. So the tendency is to be a bit cautious with difficulty. The important thing is that they seem to realise that they overcompensated and seem to be taking seriously their options to improve this. The tricky part will be to improve the difficulty in the next part without it just being a really jarring upswing. I'd like the first puzzle to be more difficult than anything in Act 1, but just a little and then the next one to be a bit trickier than that, and so on. Otherwise I don't think the game will flow well for a newcomer, from start to finish. Some of what you're saying makes me wonder about the efficacy of play-testing, in general, past a certain point. I've wondered about this for a while now - as games gain more acceptance as an expressive art form, does the practice of play-testing with a random sampling of strangers need to be diminished? I'm a visual artist, and one thing I know for sure is that it's super difficult to paint a successful painting when you are self consciously making it for a specific audience. And the broader and more vague that audience is, the more difficult it becomes. If the audience is "fans of adventure games" that's bad enough. If the audience is "everyone, hopefully" then it's impossible. As a creator you can't think that way (or I certainly can't, anyway). It might be better, then, to playtest less, but choose very specific playtesters. A carefully chosen group of representative playtesters, or else friends and colleagues that you know are reliable judges (and I know they did a bit of that with Broken Age) might yield much better results than a wider, more general sample. I know some really small indies do exactly that but would that make sense for larger "mid-tier" studios like Double Fine? It seems to me like it would; at any rate it would be more analogous to how other creative mediums work.
  3. I'm not so concerned about the episode (that'll get here when it gets here) but I am curious to see a project update. Double Fine, you're so mysterious! What are you doing back there? What's that sound? Is that game development that's happening back there? Talk to me Double Fine! Talk to me pleeease!
  4. Like others are saying, I switched at all the major story breaks. I started with Vella, switched when I got to Meriloft, played Shay until I got to the part where he has full run of the ship, switched back to Vella, played until the lumberjacks house, switched back to Shay, finished him up, then back to Vella and finished that up. Vella's part was definitely more broken into discreet areas, so it was easy to find good stopping places. Vella's part also seemed longer. But is that just due to the variety of areas and extra characters (more time spent walking and talking)?
  5. Okay, this is interesting to me. I find it fascinating how reactions to the difficulty could vary so much. I don't have a long history with adventure games, as I did not really play any PC games back in the day. I played most of the classics eventually, but years later. I backed this project mainly because I like Tim's writing and Double Fine's whole style so much, and wanted them to get to do whatever they wanted without publisher interference. So having said that, you may not be surprised to learn that I was pretty satisfied with this in every way, including the difficulty. I chose "Slightly Difficulty (Just Right)". However, I want to clarify that I did that knowing full well that Act 2 will be harder and taking that into consideration. In other words, I'm saying that I consider the game "just right" for the first half of an adventure game. *****SPOILERS*************************************SPOILERS******************************************************* I did get stuck a few times. The Riddle Yorn had me for a while and I felt genuinely pleased with myself when I figured it out. I wasted a lot of time trying to get past that Snake. I got stuck briefly in Shay's area because I missed the whipped cream gun and so I was trying to solve the puzzle with insufficient items. The funny thing is, there's a nice red herring in the form of the trash bin which it tells you will propel whatever's in it out to space. So when I first tried to leave without the gun/jetpack, Shay says "If I only had some form of propulsion" and I was sure you were supposed to somehow get into the trash bin. And it tells you that only the sweeper bot can open it. And I was SO sure that that was right that even when I found the dang gun/jetpack I tried to use it to make a mess which I thought might make the sweeper bot appear. Boy I felt silly when I finally figured that one out. At the very end of Vella's act, when fighting Mog Chothra, I was stuck for a while. I actually consulted a walk through but only because I thought I was encountering a bug. No bug. I just hadn't figured it out. *****END SPOILERS********************************END SPOILERS**************************************************** On most of these I was stuck for maybe 15-20 minutes and on the Riddle of Yorn maybe more like 30 minutes. My full play through was a little over 5 hours. I can say that, personally, I would not have enjoyed being stuck for much longer than that. When I played Monkey Island, which was when the Special Edition came out on XBLA, there were times when I was stuck for much MUCH longer than that (2+hours), and I was pretty frustrated. In those cases, when I would figure it all out (and often times it was more or less what I knew I needed to do but I just couldn't figure out the right combination of commands to do it) I did not really feel pleased with myself in that desirable way when you solve a good puzzle. My reaction was more one of relief, like "Finally, Jesus!" So again, recognizing that this was the first part and that it will only get harder from here, I was pretty satisfied. It is easier than Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle but that is okay with me. If Act 2 picks up right where this left off then I may be stuck for 15-30 minutes on every puzzle from here on out, in which case Act 2 would also take me much longer to complete.
  6. I'm impressed at the anti blu-ray commitment. I have to say, I have a similarly principled idea that intangible digital products should be a lot cheaper than they generally are, but I am somewhat of a hypocrite in that I go ahead and buy digital goods all the time... I just complain about it.
  7. Okay, here goes: How Making A Game Is Like Decorating A Christmas Tree by Mikki Saturn Making a game is like decorating a Christmas tree. First you have to decide what kind of game to make. What do you think of this game? "No, too small and sad." What about this one? "No, no, too big for the living room. Plus it won't fit in the stand!" What about this one? "Douglas Fir?! UGH!!" Once everyone has given up on making the game they wanted and compromised on something reasonable, you take the game home all wrapped up in that plastic net and you set it up in your living room (or what not). Then you get all the boxes of lights and ornaments out of the closet and at this point everyone is excited because they are imagining how great this game is going to be. So you start putting some graphics on first, because you pretty much need some form of graphics in order to see if anything is working. And some people are purists and they only the like the plain white graphics, but other people are crazier and like the multi-colored flashing graphics (except there's always that one bit of graphics that just won't flash right). But anyway once the lights, I mean graphics, are on you have to start hanging up all the little gameplay bits. No wait, let's call them gameplayments. And as you unwrap each delicate little gameplayment from it's tissue paper your excitement gradually turns to horror because DAMN that's a lot of gameplayments. How did you get so many anyway? Oh hell are you still hanging on to that old gameplayment you came up with in grade school? And you realize that there's no way your game can hold all of these gameplayments. So everyone starts fighting and people are scurrying to put their favorite gameplayment up in a good spot. Some people, once they hang up their favorite gameplayments, kind of lose interest and after that they only sort of pretend to work on the game anymore, but really they're mostly watching TV. But sure enough, little by little the game starts coming together and in the end you have a pretty nice little game, even though that one bit of graphics still doesn't flash right. Everyone is tired, but some people are very dedicated and start throwing tinsel on the game just to make sure it really sparkles. But then again, this can be nerve wracking because sometimes the tinsel is too much and gets all over everything and you can't really get it off again (sloppy tinsel is a real pain to clean up). And there! Your game is done! Unfortunately every year some people put way too many lights on their game, or else they put it way too close to the fireplace, and it catches fire. And sometimes this can actually burn the whole house down! Also no amount of gameplayments and graphics can change the fact that your game is shaped a certain way because that's the one you picked out all the way back at the Home Depot. Like if there's a big hole on one side, and there are no branches to hang gameplayments on? You can't really fix that, but maybe you can turn it towards the wall or something. But even if your game is not the perfect, ideal game shape, it is still precious to you and your family because of all the work that went into setting it up. And think of all the memories you made! And that's why every year you go pick out a new game and start all over again, even though you know decorating it is going to be frustrating and annoying. After all, in the end, it's worth it......... probably. The End
  8. Ok, so I was chuckling (like others in this thread) about the juxtaposition of Highlights and Playboy, but now that you've pointed it out...what the HECK is that in the middle back?Well, Google, thanks for that. But be ye warned before clicking: turns out, at first glance "Girls and Corpses" is EXACTLY what it sounds like. What in the... But I'm still afraid I'm missing a joke here. What kind of magazine is "Highlights"? It's a children's magazine.
  9. This. So much this. Along with a couple of other game devs as well. Ditto. TableTop is a great show.
  10. Some of that dialogue seriously made me laugh. Oh, man, I really have a feeling this game is going to be good.
  11. I walk out of every episode inspired, sometimes on multiple levels. It's absolutely one of the highlights of the month.
  12. Not a game but this project deserves support: "The Untold History of Japanese Games". It's a book project by this guy who writes for Hardcore Gaming 101 and Retro Gamer Magazine. He wants to go to Japan and interview a bunch of developers to get their first hand story written down. Here's the Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1748556728/the-untold-history-of-japanese-game-developers?ref=home_popular I also made a youtube video talking about why I think this is an important project:
  13. I got one. Hope it's satisfactory. I tried to keep it brief, but it's hard for me!
  14. I think it has to do with how the music is written. Some game soundtracks (and film soundtracks) are written almost like songs - Megaman comes to mind and Castlevania. But other times, and especially recently, the music is much more of an ambient accompaniment to the visuals and the gameplay, and I don't think that works as well as just music. It's like you say - it sounds like Muzak without the game to support it.
  15. Fear that people will react this way is exactly why many games don't even get announced until later in development. It's hard to maintain hype for 18 months straight.
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