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Cecil

My playthrough of the prototype

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Just need to say it, WB team, well done. This is just so impressive. Unbelievable almost, to get so much done in just two weeks.

I really liked the feeling that you had different paths to take, and different ways to solve puzzles. As I understood it there is "just" 1 or 2 places that have different paths, but it did give me the feeling that they were available everywhere, so I spent some time looking around at ever new section I came to, to see where it might be possible to go. The windows were a bit distracting though, as the light from them gave me the impression that I could pass through them and go outside like some places in Ico, so at every available opportunity I tried to do that.

It´s quite obvious that this is a game that can be done without any Ico style combat, and just focus on dangers from the enviroments and the puzzles. I might have wanted another type of danger like the birds, but those pesky birds did almost push me down when I encountered them. The girl did manage to hang on to the ledge though, and made it up again!

Another thing I liked was that the face of the girl looked overwhelmed when looking around, but never scared. It gave the impression that she wanted to find out what was in the tower, and not just get out and home. That felt more interesting.

It is inspired of ICO of course, as the team has said but I think that the idea of climbing up the tower instead of getting out of it, multiple path and puzzles with different solutions, the colours of the enviroment, the enviroment dangers and the girl shows that it has it´s own identity and ideas.

I am honestly struggling to find anything to criticize here. If I´m to mention something it would be:

*The presence of the actual white birch isn´t that obvious in the prototype, you might have to read the pitch to be aware of it. It is shown on the title screen, but maybe a very short summary of the premise of the game at the start could be helpful? Not to much though, I do like the idea of leaving things open to interpretation.

*I was about to write that it would have been good to have one more example of enviroment/animal dangers, but while I was writing I came to the conclussion that you didn´t need more then the birds to get the idea of it. So never mind. :)

*I´m not sure why the girl has to climb through the small hole to get in. Is the regular entrance blocked, or isn´t there any regular entrance at all?

*There were som glitches in the camera and the animations of course, but that only showed what an effort it is to make a game like this.

Edit: And I want to be clear on that I only mean some glitches. The absolute majority of the animations and camera handling is really good and impressive.

*As I said before, the windows where a bit distracting.

To summarize: I absolutely want to play more of this.

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I agree, and the sheer number of aspects that are right in this prototype far outweigh the few glitches I have noticed. Those few glitches or omissions I understand that in a two week time period things have to be prioritized. But after following the development on the stream I just want to say a big "Thank You and Great Work to the White Birch team. There was just something that felt right about Double Fine doing an "Ico" inspired game. :)

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I recognize that you weren't able to pass through the windows in the prototype(I too fell for looking to go out one of them) for obvious time constraints, but if it becomes a full game, I do hope to see a section or two venturing outside with puzzles to solve out there. I can understand the confusion with the windows, as the bars doing up the the window did make it appear like you could venture outside.

I too was a little confused by the small entrance into the tower, once again I figure it's time constraints, but hope in a full version there would be more of an explanation for it(rocks fall across the entrance, or it's already blocked).

Those things said, and other frustrations I posted in the bugs and glitches thread, I am enjoying the game. The character has a lot of depth for the quiet, and having no defined story. The puzzles are fun and interesting though, for my poor puzzle solving skills, a little difficult. Hopefully there will be at least some puzzles that change, or have multiple modes of solving them.

I definitely agree the game needs no combat given it's current form, though it would be interesting in making a puzzle out of scaring off some form of pest that bothered you earlier in the game, so that they no longer are a threat(like a puzzle up to a raven's nest to scare them out the windows or something).

Congrats all around to the WB team! A great game and impressive scope given the two weeks! I too hope to see more of this game as it shows amazing promise for what it could be as a full game, and I must say my initial impressions from the proposal video were off terribly as to what this game would be, and I'm very pleased to be so wrong :D

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I actually did not have a ton of fun with this prototype. Aside from the heavy commitment to animations, general lack of character control, and jerky camera (all which can be forgiven for the prototype's sake), I found a lot of the design philosophies strayed significantly from its inspiration.

If we are using Journey here as a reference point, I found The White Birch to be pretty punishing (e.g. the majority of the puzzles lead you into a fail-state for going down the most obvious path). I died probably 8-10 times throughout a 10 minute prototype slice, and none of the deaths felt like they were my fault (either a camera, animation, or design issue). This would be fine if the goal was to make a punishing platformer, but I got the distinct impression that the experience was suppose to be an oppressively atmospheric climb rather than a trial-by-fire 3D platformer.

In any case, I really liked the protagonist, the cutscenes, the music and the environment. Aside from those movement animation quirks, the presentation was pretty spot-on.

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I'd pretty much echo everyone else in this thread. Naturally I encountered a handful of issues, i.e. camera control, visual glitches, choppy performance, but nothing that distracted terribly from the core of the game, which I enjoyed a lot. With the fine tuning that comes with a realistic development schedule (seriously, the amount achieved in two measly weeks is staggering), I think White Birch could become a fantastic downloadable title. Gotta give a shout out to the composer too, the music was amazing.

Incidentally, I'd love to know who animated the girl when she rides the metal see-saw bridge to the ground. I had immediate flashbacks to Brutal Legend, especially when she cautiously opened her eyes. Lovely touch.

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First, sorry if I make any mistakes writing. I'm from Spain and my english is far from being perfect.

Congratulations on making those projects in that little time. I never (almost I think) played a prototype (but the Xbox game. ho ho ho) before and I'm only sad about how short is! I know it is a prototype it's just only i want more. :D

Obviously animation isn't as good as anyone would like but it's quite good after two weeks of work. Better collision or animations, and better hanging system would be perfect. The ambientation is fantastic and I love the whole idea of climbing. I would like to see more "ground" puzzles, not only vertical but the Dragon's Lair kinda like puzzle style the thing i loved most. Having to choose between 2 sides that perform the same action or just other that leads you to success o failure would be perfect and might leas you to "others paths" to climb and may be resolve things?

Different puzzles as you go through the game again is nice and those puzzles leading you into other interesting zones would be awesome.

Nothgin more! Some camera issues like objects blocking view (the upper metal griders) or cameras staying in a steady position and not changing into another point of view because you didn't pass through a specific zone.

For a plataformer those are very important problems to fix (hanging, camera and animations) but I repeat this is so good for a prototype and I want more. Much more! :D

Hope your proyect would go on and become a full release. Who would get tired of playing ico? Keep going and congratulations again. :D

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thank you all for the feedback so far.

Sorry it feels punishing - that really was not the intent. Maybe too many rough edges add up if you play too hard? =)

Practice pays off; I obviously would have liked more time to present some of the puzzles sections more clearly; maybe that would have toned down the challenge?

peace

-A

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Yeah, I think the punishing difficulty is just a matter of controls and movement style. With polish and some helping hands (like automatically grabbing the rope if you're clearly jumping for it) that won't be as difficult. Primarily, I think non-digital movement speed would help... playing mouse+keyboard meant that she was running at full speed on a constant basis, even on tiny ledges. That's a recipe for disaster.

Also, the puzzles are a bit unintuitive. The primary path up to the bridge leads you into an inescapable-but-valid-looking attempt at climbing the thing; you have to change camera angles or backtrack to find the REAL path, and then you have to willingly tilt the thing away... and clinging to it while it falls it looks like she's gonna get smooshed in half on impact, but somehow survives...?

But these are largely polish issues. Iterations and playtesting can easily point out where controls are tricky or puzzles aren't making sense. Given enough development time it can shine on those fronts.

What shines right now, immediately, is the art style and atmosphere. Quality over quantity; one room and a tiny starting area and that's all you get, but what you DO get is high quality indeed. If this quality could be kept up across an entire game, it could be a heck of an experience.

I guess my only worry is that I didn't see any major gameplay mechanic which screamed "This is WHITE BIRCH and this is what makes it unique". Run, jump, scenery, puzzles... and that's it. But these are all typical components of an Atmospheric Puzzle Platformer, which is kind of a genre at this point. Some unique mechanic, like Braid's time manipulation or Journey's scarf-based flying or Ico's Yorda escorting would not be amiss here.

I did like the butterfly effect (ha!) on second playthrough. Achievement-based rewards for multiple playthroughs could be the unique mechanic this game shows off... awarding you for diligence and exploration, even if the basic run and jump and puzzle is straightforward. Branching paths, or collectibles, or different rewards based on how you solve puzzles... there's a lot of potential.

Overall I enjoyed the proto, even if I'm a bit vague on where it's going or what makes it stand out. I think it could work if given long-term development and consideration.

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Yea the run speed on mouse and keyboard is a bit overwhelming. That being said it didn't take much away from my enjoyment of this game, I thought the punishing aspects might be part of the game Dark Souls style where a player must learn from their mistakes to make it through.

The ambiance of the tower and the mysterious nature of the whole thing really did it for me. Wish this were a full game, hopefully one day soon.

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I quit in anger because I kept falling off due to the controls. I did that damn bridge like 100 times because thats where it spawns seemingly no matter how far you go ahead. I'll go back and finish.

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I quit in anger because I kept falling off due to the controls. I did that damn bridge like 100 times because thats where it spawns seemingly no matter how far you go ahead. I'll go back and finish.

Your comment about the re-spawning was definitely one I noticed; the game seems to respawn you based on where it thinks you've died, rather than the farthest point in the game you've actually reached. I imagine that wouldn't be a super difficult fix.

thank you all for the feedback so far.

Sorry it feels punishing - that really was not the intent. Maybe too many rough edges add up if you play too hard? =)

Practice pays off; I obviously would have liked more time to present some of the puzzles sections more clearly; maybe that would have toned down the challenge?

peace

-A

I think what you've said about the rough edges is spot on. With a little more time and polish I think the platforming issues could be cleared up, likewise the camera. As for the puzzles, I think all they really need is something to draw the eye; the two times I was stumped while playing were:

1) Trying to find a way to cross the metal see-saw bridge.

2) Looking for how to climb the metal claw.

...and both times the solution involved simply noticing a platform or a handhold that blended in quite well with the surroundings.

I probably sound hyper-critical, but really I think the issues are pretty tiny, and easily solvable under less ridiculous time constraints.

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I can't stress enough how much this game requires a gamepad to play. On the keyboard this was insanely frustrating. On a gamepad the jumping still felt rough, and the bugs were still very noticeable, but that's to be expected with two weeks of development time.

I think the tone of the game comes through pretty well, and the animation is beautiful. I desperately want this to be a full game, because I'm desperate for a new Ico, and I think you are all completely capable of doing it. I

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I actually did not have a ton of fun with this prototype. Aside from the heavy commitment to animations, general lack of character control, and jerky camera (all which can be forgiven for the prototype's sake), I found a lot of the design philosophies strayed significantly from its inspiration.

If we are using Journey here as a reference point, I found The White Birch to be pretty punishing (e.g. the majority of the puzzles lead you into a fail-state for going down the most obvious path). I died probably 8-10 times throughout a 10 minute prototype slice, and none of the deaths felt like they were my fault (either a camera, animation, or design issue). This would be fine if the goal was to make a punishing platformer, but I got the distinct impression that the experience was suppose to be an oppressively atmospheric climb rather than a trial-by-fire 3D platformer.

In any case, I really liked the protagonist, the cutscenes, the music and the environment. Aside from those movement animation quirks, the presentation was pretty spot-on.

I don't believe Journey WAS the reference point, inspiration maybe, but he clearly stated ICO and SotC as to what he was mainly drawing from, and watching the documentary episodes, that seems very clear.

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thank you all for the feedback so far.

Sorry it feels punishing - that really was not the intent. Maybe too many rough edges add up if you play too hard? =)

Practice pays off; I obviously would have liked more time to present some of the puzzles sections more clearly; maybe that would have toned down the challenge?

peace

-A

I attributed the difficulty to the rough edges, and yes they were frustrating, I do hope my point comes across how much I enjoyed the game, and that much of what I bring up, is more obvious fixes(like edge detection, and finer controls) that would come more with time than drawing the basic elements of the game world :)

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After finishing the prototype I can safely say with 100% accuracy that Dave was right - keyboard and mouse users are screwed! However, as a keyboard warrior I pushed through and still enjoyed the prototype. The only advice I can give is use the mouse for movement whenever possible (as in, hold W to move forward while moving the mouse to move left and right to simulate an analogue stick).

To me, a prototype is usually used to show the potential for what a game can be given enough time and resources. I can definitely see the potential in The White Birch. The atmosphere is fantastic as is the musical score. I can already imagine how the girl will be animated for different situations, angles and directions.

The prototype succeeded in showing the potential for what The White Birch could be and for that I applaud the entire team on a job well done. For 2 weeks it truly is amazing.

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After finishing the prototype I can safely say with 100% accuracy that Dave was right - keyboard and mouse users are screwed!

I had no problem with the mouse and keyboard controls, so I'm not really sure what he meant by that. But I think the controls are a little "slippery" in general having nothing to do with which controller you happen to be using. Still I got through it only falling once, and that was because I forgot that the bridge drops when you run across it.

My overall feeling about the prototype is a little bit mixed. I like the idea of a vulnerable female lead character. I think games have fallen into a pattern of making female characters tough bad-ass chicks, and while there is certainly nothing wrong with tough bad-ass chicks it implies that that is the only type of girl who could be a lead character in a game which obviously isn't true. I like the idea of turning that cliche around.

I wasn't too jazzed about the setting in the proto, however. Maybe I just needed to know more of the story, but I don't really understand the tower. I couldn't figure out what sort of tower it's supposed to be. It's strangely industrial, yet not functional -- what is the purpose of that giant claw at the top of the tower supposed to be? Is the tower part of a factory or a castle? It looked very good, especially for just two weeks of work, but conceptually I don't get it. I'd like to see the character from White Birch in a different setting, maybe trapped in a series of large natural caves or a crumbling old castle... something a little more organic. The jagged stone and rusted metal of the tower feels like the wrong place for a shy girl with butterflies in her hair. Maybe that contrast is intentional, but it didn't work for me.

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After finishing the prototype I can safely say with 100% accuracy that Dave was right - keyboard and mouse users are screwed!

It was hard but I beat it with keyboard, we weren't screwed. It's a prototype. Platformers take a long time to get right and the prototype has collision issues which are to be expected this early.

To be honest for 2 weeks I think the game moves quite well for as ambitious a prototype it is.

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If the intent of a prototype is to show off the potential of an idea, then The White Birch succeeded. I can imagine that it might become a very intriguing and atmospheric platformer indeed.

But the prototype itself is very rough around the edges. The platforming mechanics are as punishing and unfair as the Psychonauts Meat Circus Level multiplied with the whole of Evil Twin. Okay, that's an exaggeration - nothing can beat Evil Twin in pure keyboard bashing frustration - but put simply, it's damn frustrating.

Like the rope you have to climb. I always try to make a run for it, but everytime I do the camera perspective forcefully changes midway through, which means I have to readjust the angle I want to jump in. At least the first time around, when the sudden camera change is forced upon you, you will die. It's never a good idea to change the camera perspective while the player is preparing for a jump. Just...don't do it! ;)

And the damn bridge! Okay, most of the issues come down to glitches, not design, except one: when you balance on top of it, when it's in its vertical position, then you have to push exactly left to get it down on the side you want to without falling off. Yet the camera perspective is at such a skewed angle that it suggests you'd have to press diagonally left-down. That really bugged me!

Otherwise: bad checkpointing! Even after you got the bridge down, it continues to look like it when you are respawned at the checkpoint, but practically this isn't the case, meaning you have to climb up the platforms again, jump on its edge and get it down into its horizontal position again. And then the most frustrating part: I managed to climb up to the...claw thing, but then fell off and out of sheer rotten luck, landed on the bridge, but it was in its vertical position again. I managed to get it down successfully, but then I died, because I fell from such a great height. And then...ugh!

I see what you tried to do in the prototype, but regarding the difficulty this is some of the most punishing platforming I ever played! Which may not fit to the kind of meditative mood you want to get across.

Otherwise I can only chime in with the already mentioned positives: It looks gorgeous, it's amazing how much animation you got done, and you really nailed the mood in terms of graphics and sound (well, just not gameplay, like I said).

Edit: Man, the prototype really doesn't stop glitching! Couldn't beat it, and I really don't have the time to try it any longer. Oh well!

Edit2: You can tell I'm not good at acknowledging the positive aspects in my criticism, can't you? ;) I guess the best thing I can say is that I could imagine the prototype turning into a game that I would love to play. That wasn't the case with the initial pitch, so now you managed to convince me! :)

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I'm curious as to how many of you who found it so difficult or punishing are playing on a gamepad and how many are playing on keyboard? One major issue with the keyboard is the lack of a walk key. We didn't have time to implement and that's a flaw. Running around full speed the whole time means you basically lose the saving grab when you go off a ledge. The grab will save you if you walk off a ledge but not if you're running full speed. Controlling the camera with a mouse is tricky for a platformer too.

I really cannot recommend strongly enough to try and use a gamepad. Personally I hate playing platformers with keyboard and mouse. it's just not well suited IMHO and if it's at all possible you should try with the pad then you can analog walk/run and pass through the prototype at your own pace.

-A

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I was playing on a controller and the running seemed a tad off, I fell of ledges and missed jumps. The real issue is the resetting with the bridge still up, having to redo that part is infuriating. More frequent checkpoints for people like me.

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With a gamepad, but it was more the camera angles than anything. The camera sometimes places itself in a good place to make a jump, and sometimes it doesn't. I'm thinking of the jump from the bottom of the ladder, or the jump to the rusty crane.

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I played on a 360 controller, and I didn't find it too difficult. The ability to push the stick half-way for walking was extremely useful during the last section on the metal struts.

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I used a gamepad as well. It didn't feel punishing to me, but as I stated in the camera topic I feel like she reacts way too fast to any inputs. In my opinion you should really add some more inertia to the controls. This is not an action-game so you can get away with a lot of that (accelerating slowly, losing a lot of speed on every sharp turn,...), while things like being able to fly sharp corners during a jump feel off. Might even be enough to fake that by having something that remembers the last input direction and interpolates that with the raw input-data. I feel like that might help both with some of the camera-issues and the keyboard-difficulty. But I perfectly understand that while you can trust the player in finding problems you can't trust his analysis (and unfortunately I can't try my changes out), so sorry if I'm being rude by repeating something you can evaluate much better.

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I'm curious as to how many of you who found it so difficult or punishing are playing on a gamepad and how many are playing on keyboard? One major issue with the keyboard is the lack of a walk key. We didn't have time to implement and that's a flaw. Running around full speed the whole time means you basically lose the saving grab when you go off a ledge. The grab will save you if you walk off a ledge but not if you're running full speed. Controlling the camera with a mouse is tricky for a platformer too.

I really cannot recommend strongly enough to try and use a gamepad. Personally I hate playing platformers with keyboard and mouse. it's just not well suited IMHO and if it's at all possible you should try with the pad then you can analog walk/run and pass through the prototype at your own pace.

-A

Played with a gamepad. I have to admit though that I didn't make good use of walking. But then, I don't think that this was the source of my problems.

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First of all, to Andy and his team, a hats off to you for putting together something that left me awestruck when first entering the game.

While I had been following the forum occasionally, I tried keeping myself as much in the dark to how the gameplay and level design was going to be as much as possible, and I have to say, I liked what I have played. Obviously there are rough edges that were unable to be fully cleaned up, but for two weeks, I am astonished by what has been accomplished in that time and am very happy to have been part of this process, if only in a small way.

Slightly frustrating times due to slight bugs did not diminish the awe I felt as I progressed up each section and was able to look around, and I can not fathom what the team could have accomplished with more time, and that makes me want this to be fleshed out even more so. The tower was just beautiful, and with more time, the details that could be added would just make the whole experience grow.

I hope to hear some good news from Andy on potential development of a full title, but even if it does not happen, having this little gem to play through will keep me happy regardless.

Thanks again Andy and team, your work is beautiful!

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Allowing for the fact that it's a prototype and therefore there's quite a lot of stuff that's a bit "glitchy" in a way, like the controls being a little less responsive and some of the animations not being completely polished, I think what you guys have come up with in two weeks is pretty special. The atmosphere is wonderful and I love the idea of the game being truly environmental, and I would love to see this explored further.

My comments would be:

i) There's been a lot of talk of the game being like ICO, but to me it's far closer to being like Limbo purely in the way the puzzles appear to be designed. Now with such a short amount of time available to you there's only really two bits of puzzling here - the birds (which was a good puzzle idea but I couldn't work out if I was just supposed to press on and hope I didn't fall off anything or whether there was a trick to getting past them) and the bridge, the execution of which would undoubtedly be improved with more animation if time was available. The punishing difficulty of getting past the bridge in particular was far more in tune with Limbo's unforgiving trial and error gameplay. I realise puzzle design is extremely difficult, but I just thought it worth noting.

ii) While the animations are beautiful (really, congratulations to the whole art and sound team, the atmosphere is really something special), if this were to be expanded to a full game I'm not whether the... well, "cutscene" direction was tonally consistent with the gameplay. When the girl falls on the bridge and knocks it into place, the camera angles and her cheesy grin feel very DoubleFine, but not so much the wistful atmospheric solitude that the rest of the prototype conveys, if you get what I mean? Cutting in so close on the girl provides her with a lot of character to empathise with, but one of the characteristics of this genre for me is the slightly inscrutable protagonist. ICO and Wander have virtually no facial expressions; the boy from Limbo is a mere silhouette (same as Lost In Shadow for the Wii, for instance) etc. If the girl is full of curiosity then that's great, but the slightly cartoony way that's portrayed just felt at odds with the rest of the atmosphere.

I can't imagine what it must be like to have these short prototypes scrutinised by the public, so I hope no-one on the team (or any of the other teams) thinks we, the punters, are being horrible or anything!

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I didn't find the prototype hard, I flew through it 3 times, only dying 3 times, once in the first run, twice in the second, IIRC. Having seen the puzzles solved on the live stream I don't know how hard I would have found them, I would have definitely died on the bridge at least twice.

I wrote a script in AutoHotKey to get Psychonauts to work with a 360 pad before the patch, I used an original Xbox pad before that but when upgrading to Win7 I didn't have signed drivers to run it. The original Tomb Raider (1996) was fine on the keyboard, American McGee's Alice (2000) was fine with a mouse, I think if you design proper support for the mouse in a way that makes sense I can use either easily without any loss of precision. I don't see anything in this game that would stop it working with a mouse and keyboard, the camera and turning could be controlled by the mouse. Some 2D platformers are fine with a keyboard if they're designed around digital input, but I haven't come across many of those recently. Pretty much every platformer I play now are designed for gamepads, apart from first person platformers like Portal (using a gamepad for them is daft) because most of them are ports, in recent years from Xbox Live Arcade.

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I'm curious as to how many of you who found it so difficult or punishing are playing on a gamepad and how many are playing on keyboard? One major issue with the keyboard is the lack of a walk key. We didn't have time to implement and that's a flaw. Running around full speed the whole time means you basically lose the saving grab when you go off a ledge. The grab will save you if you walk off a ledge but not if you're running full speed. Controlling the camera with a mouse is tricky for a platformer too.

I really cannot recommend strongly enough to try and use a gamepad. Personally I hate playing platformers with keyboard and mouse. it's just not well suited IMHO and if it's at all possible you should try with the pad then you can analog walk/run and pass through the prototype at your own pace.

-A

I was having some difficulty while using keyboard and mouse. Since I don't have a gamepad for my PC I might wait to play this one again until I do.

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I think Team White Birch did a fantastic job with this given such a short development time, so kudos to you all!

I knew this was going to be a 3D platformer so I did use a 360-like controller. I actually felt it was quite frustrating to maneuver even with a controller so I can only imagine how much more difficult it must have been for people with only a keyboard and mouse. That said, I didn't really hold that against the game because I know it's just a prototype, and given more time those annoyances would have been solved as evidenced by Psychonauts and Brutal Legend (or any of the DF 3D games for that matter) where the controls and camera work just fine.

I think it does, however, illustrate the importance in making quick prototypes of doing either one of the following options:

Provide a camera lock button like in Zelda's "Z-targeting" which will lock the camera behind the player on a pre-set navigation path. The path would be like an invisible track to approach each puzzle, and all the user would need to do is keep moving within a defined range of that track to stay on course. This eliminates a lot of the issues with the camera angle being out of position in judging certain leaps. I would actually concentrate on adding this feature over animation sequences, as people understand (or should understand) that this is just a prototype, and the main ideas being conveyed are the general gameplay, theme, and story.

or

Just for the prototype use locked camera positions if it makes it simpler- a tracking camera behind the player while they are moving, and fixed "movie" set cameras for puzzles that require a certain angle. Again, it's fine since it's just a prototype and you could mention that in the full game a freely moving camera would be added like in Brutal Legend. However, it may limit showing some of the potential of the gameplay mechanics. I think it would give the prototype developers more time to work on other things though like tweaking the puzzles or polishing the animation sequences.

One key highlight that stuck out in my mind while playing was the absolutely amazing background music. Kudos to Brian Min on his work! I've always been a believer that music is a key part in telling a great story and it certainly shows here.

Other than that I came up with the following feedback (please take it as keen interest in great work rather than criticism!):

1. The setting of the prototype didn't seem to really attract me as a player as to what was inside. I think the allure of exploring in games like Shadow of the Colossus or Prince of Persia is that the environments seem either mysterious, beautifully grand in a dreamlike way, or foreboding in a nightmare sense. For example, the rusted mechanical setting didn't seem to portray what one would envision in a game called The White Birch. I think what would have been a much more interesting and attractive setting would have been an ancient monumental ruin full of huge collapsed stone statues. This makes the player wonder what was this monument's story and how was it destroyed.

2. Rather than focusing on platform puzzles which have been explored through many other 3D games, I think a more interesting prototype would have been one to emphasize more "archaeological" puzzles like aligning statues or mirrors of light. I know Andy specifically did not want to have block moving puzzles, but I think the challenges should have been representative of the theme and feeling of the game. If it's a game about mystery and exploration, the solutions to the puzzles should also be like solving a riddle or revealing something magical.

WhiteBirch_zpsada83fcb.jpg

"Here birdie birdie birdie! Why don't you come alight on my shoulder?

Jerk"

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I'm curious if anyone on The White Birch team would be interested in continuing to work on the prototype in their spare time. I know it's a lot to ask but it would be a great way to hammer out all the issues.

As a keyboard+mouse player I did have trouble but it wasn't necessarily from the keyboard controls. It was the forced camera that lead to many a death. For instance, when first approaching the rope near the entrance to the tower, I was able to move my mouse behind the girl and aim myself towards the rope. As I ran towards it, the camera shifted into a forced perspective and ensured that I ran towards a wall away from the camera. A solution to this problem would be to initiate the forced perspective after I grab onto the rope. From this perspective, I'm able to shimmy up the rope and jump left with no problems whatsoever.

Another camera problem was the bridge. As I approach the bridge I can line up my camera dead on, however the camera then shifts into a forced perspective and if I don't quickly hold W and D, I'll run straight off the edge. Again, this would be another scenario where the camera should only be forced when a player has latched onto an object. It makes it easier from a gameplay standpoint while still keeping the cinematic angles that adhere to the eeriness of the atmosphere.

As I typed above, I would love to see if anyone would be interested in continuing to work on this prototype. I would be glad to offer my feedback whenever possible. I see potential in The White Birch and I would love to see Andys' vision become a reality.

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