Lostcast 156: Jackhammer Weeding


  • LDG

    The first episode named by Geoff (mostly)! We talk about design problems, how to solve them, and the soft-lanch of our new Lostcast Patreon.

    Show notes

    Also I haven’t had a chance to check email and new posts here at the forum yet but just wanted to say thanks a lot for the initial Patreon support and all the feedback. SHIPPIITTT


  • Tiger Hat

    Dang, lots of exciting tidbits in the notes here. Obviously I haven’t listened to all of this Cast yet and I missed the last one but it’s exciting to see some of these things. Patreon! Remixes! AWL design discussion! I gotta catch up!

    Also Shipit strikes me as particularly funny now.



  • Hei guys i am still listening to the episode as i am writing this. But I would have a suggestion you could use for your button problem. You could do the tailwhip (i hope i am writing this correctly) whenever you run out of mana. This way you only take away the possibility to use the tailwhip to save mana but you still can do stuff when oom. Another thing you could do is just using existing any button for interaction only when you are near the object you want to interact with and the room is clear, i should probably give an example. Lets say you have a door in the room, once the room is empty and you approach the door you could popup an A button, which tells the player that he is able to interact right now with the door in this way. This way you do not have to change as mutch and still need less buttons. I hope this helps and great show as always, you rock ;)


  • Jammer

    Guy love the cast.

    Hearing you guys go back and forth about monsters, input, complexity, simplification, etc. highlights many of the difficulties of dealing with people in general- game dev is basically a study in anthropology.

    I have followed AWL 2, in many ways, from its inception and I have played multiple hours of AWL 1. Those things being said I feel I am properly prepared to play this game with all of the inputs and complexity currently in place. But I understand, “what about those people who are interested in twin stick shooters, or the people that are coming from the like Zelda side of things, who haven’t been following AWL development?” and all I have to say is, f-coin noise 'em…

    JK guys jk.

    I fully understand that everyone needs to be taken into consideration, and I am probably not the poster-child for who games should be made for.

    I have grown to really be excited about the current game in it’s current state, but I could absolutely see myself really enjoying the game leaning towards one extreme or another, or better yet embracing a leaner more dedicated control scheme, and the game being built to compliment that control scheme. So I am eager to see what you guys come up with.

    I do have some concerns though. Will giving monsters wand abilities diminish the “WOW” factor of using a wand you really like, or using wands in general? Could having all of the monsters using the wands clutter up the play space, and remove some, or a lot of the good feelings around having a powerful, unique to you the hero feeling of, well, being the hero? When you are a hero in a game, your abilities in many ways set you apart from the monsters themselves, they create an experience that feels different from many of the other beings in the game, and solidifies some or all of the player identity.

    I would say that as an individual I am split between two opinions of what this would become:

    1. I imagine a room full of chain lightenings and pumpkills, firing off, feelings very cluttered. If I had pumpkill, or chain lightening I would be less attracted to using either because, well it’s everywhere in this particular dungeon/monster layout. Possessing a monster, or having a wand would become samey- it would potentially belittle possessing a monster because you could literally just get a wand that would create the exact same, or very similar experience, aside from monsters having other properties like float, etc…

    2. I imagine a room full of gas cloud monsters and fire finger monsters, blowing everything up- done well, this could be super cool. Especially if you had a handful of combo monsters, with other monsters that could be easily cut down as to give the player a sense of urgency to defeat the combo monsters so the situation doesn’t get out of hand. I feel this could definitely give the player a glimpse of abilities to come, or to give the player more familiarity with the abilities the monsters are wielding, as the player has used them himself.

    Still though, looking closer at these situations, more concerns come to mind around further need for enhanced curating. If you walk into a room with too many combo monsters everything might just explode, or chain lightening will be striking everywhere. No player likes to feel as if they took damage due to an impossible, or nearly impossible situation. I am sure this is all doable, but I feel you’d be trading the problems of “too many buttons” for problems of, more curating, limiting monster abilities to wands, and more than that limiting wands to what can viably be used within a monster. Certain very interesting abilities may just be better suited for the player, and others may just be better suited for a monster. Limiting this, may benefit ease of development, but may also bind you to having less interesting or depth-ful interactions between player and monsters.

    Maybe a conglomeration of the two paradigms could be used.

    Maybe this word dump does not help. Maybe it just adds more clutter to an already cluttered situation. But I would like to state that I like tail whip. I like having many options. I like the idea, albeit I’ve never played AWL2, but it seems intriguing to be going through a dungeon, know I’m going to be facing the boss soon, wanting to save my mana and tail whipping everything and saving my double ice combo for the boss. I like the idea of having all of these options, but you guys know better than I do.

    @Josue said something that I thought was very profound here. The gist which he summed up in a following post, was basically take the complexity away from the player and put it into the world. I like this, but I am a player who grew up on games like Starcraft1, played extensively just about every MOBA in existence, and am constantly itching to play something new that offers me many options and meaningful choices as a player. Maybe you can have both? But maybe trying to have both has caused more problems than it solves.

    I ramble, obviously, but in summation; I really like what I see thus far in AWL2, and am keen on it going in its current trajectory, but have no clue if that is what is best for the game, or LDG as a whole. I have some concerns about samey-ness, or blurring the lines between Raga and the monsters you posses, but all that being stated, I trust in you guys, and am constantly impressed with each iteration AWL2 goes through, so I have confidence that the game will continue to be interesting and impressive.

    As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for being so transparent and excepting of feedback.

    And of course it’s-

    PLAY TEST WEDNESDAY!

    So I am looking forward to that.

    Ramble over… for now ;)


  • Patron

    Well, I see three possibilities here…

    • No more dual-stick:

    AWL1 doesn’t feel fast paced enough for me to completely justify the dual-stick shooter controller scheme but, at the same time, it’s fast paced enough to make switching between the face buttons and the right stick a bit of a PITA (mimicks, I’m looking at ya!). Because of that, I think ditching the Onslaught side of AWL and embracing its Zelda side instead could be a good idea.

    Bastion seems like a great example of how that can be done: the PC port has keyboard+mouse support, but playing with the controller+autolock feels much nicer.
    The player’s focus is not on hitting things anymore. They now have time to really think through their strategy, how are they gonna traverse through a room.
    That’s also great because it allows you to focus on creating more complex enemy AI and interesting interactions between them.

    • Keep both sides of AWL:

    You also make the controls better and simpler, while still maintaining the dual-zelda-shooter thing going on.

    Just the kind of simple things you guys already mentioned: ditching the “interact” button, ditching the dedicated tailwhip button (I mean, HELOOOO, two weapon swtiching buttons is all you need) and, FOR THE LOVE OF ANYTHING, MOVE THOSE CONTROLS TO THE SHOULDER BUTTONS!

    This seems like the hardest-to-get option, but also the most interesting. If you simplify the controls enough, you could really take advantage of all the possible combat paces.
    Make enemies that require you to react fast and be precise but also create situations where the player has to think things through and be patient…

    If anything, double-tapping/button combinations still seem like better alternatives to having a dedicated button for each action.

    • Make Onslaught 2:

    Of course, simpler controls don’t necessarily mean a simpler game (well, at least not as simple as Onslaught) but, if you decided to discard the “auxiliary mechanics”, capitalizing on the dual-stick shooter aspect of it would be really important.

    This is probably the option I would enjoy the most, as the dual-shooter aspects of AWL1 weren’t as interesting/challenging as I expected. That could be the main focus in AWL2.

    Overall, my feeling is that trying to stay in the middle-ground did more bad than good for AWL1. The enemy behaviour and the puzzles aren’t complex enough to make it very interesting as a Zelda-like while the generosity in the enemy speed/cooldown time makes it not as interesting as a dual-stick shooter.

    Or… maybe I’m missing something…? Maybe that’s how a Roguelike is supposed to feel? Maybe I just don’t like Roguelikes? Well, I kind of enjoyed BoI, tho… Might be because of the Danny B. goodness…


  • LDG

    @Elite said:

    Dang, lots of exciting tidbits in the notes here

    oh good, thanks! I was concerned they might have been too anemic this week. When we talk in person I tend to forget to take notes as much.


  • LDG

    @PartTimeIndie said:

    Hei guys i am still listening to the episode as i am writing this. But I would have a suggestion you could use for your button problem. You could do the tailwhip (i hope i am writing this correctly) whenever you run out of mana.

    Ah I see, like a fallback, interesting. That’s a pretty good fit because we kind of added the tail whip as a fallback, to be used primarily when you’re out of mana or want to save mana.

    I hope this helps and great show as always, you rock ;)

    It does for sure, thanks for the thoughts, high five!


  • LDG

    @Vox said:

    game dev is basically a study in anthropology.

    Hey that’s quite an insight. People make games, for people, people people people! Sometimes we get so lost in the tech and the design that we lose sight of the human element or whatnot. Games are made for people to play! I’ll be thinking about this.

    Will giving monsters wand abilities diminish the “WOW” factor of using a wand you really like

    That’s a good point, it certainly could. I guess the sweet spot might be when monsters have abilities, and they seem cool or useful, but in the right hands (the player’s hands) they could be really cool, since monsters have simple behaviors, but players are smart and have full spacial movement. Definitely a difficult line to walk.

    Maybe this word dump does not help. Maybe it just adds more clutter to an already cluttered situation. But I would like to state that I like tail whip.

    haha no it’s good! And I agree about the tail whip. We’re definitely axe-hungry right now and will be cutting some features, but tail whip is cool. Even if it does get cut, we might see it resurface as a wand perhaps.

    @Josue said something that I thought was very profound here. The gist which he summed up in a following post, was basically take the complexity away from the player and put it into the world.

    Yeah that was a great point, we were discussing that yesterday. @Josue is really smart and we’re lucky to have him around :)

    As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for being so transparent and excepting of feedback.

    Thanks for your thoughts and the encouragement. Our energy level is high and it feels like we’re getting closer to a solid, cohesive design. Alpha vid coming soon!



  • Thanks for answering my question about what you miss and don’t miss about Unity! Much appreciated. That was great. I completely agree with the reasoning and understand your guys’ decision. If you wanted to beat the dead horse a bit more, I’m curious to get Geoff’s take on component-based architecture with regard to game engines. I’ve been researching it a bit myself lately and didn’t realize Unity was component-based. Perhaps that is one of the things that makes it appealing. I think Geoff may have even mentioned it on a previous podcast. Just wondering if there are any component-based design features you are working into the AWL1 engine or perhaps it was designed that way from the start? Thanks again! Rick


  • LDG

    @Josue said:

    embracing its Zelda side instead could be a good idea.

    Yeah it feels like we should have embraced the Zelda long ago, as it’s always been our primary source of inspiration. I think partially we’ve been afraid of making a game that feels too samey but WOW did we miss that mark because the general gaming populace definitely pegs AWL as an Isaac-like.

    FOR THE LOVE OF ANYTHING, MOVE THOSE CONTROLS TO THE SHOULDER BUTTONS!

    haha yeah we talked about that yesterday. Sounds like fun and a solid way to go.

    • Make Onslaught 2:

    !!! that sounds fun to me. Sometimes I do miss those early (naive?) days of design where things were just easy and we were just making a game that we thought was fun. These days there’s a million things to worry about, and what games we want to play too often gets put on the shelf.

    Overall, my feeling is that trying to stay in the middle-ground did more bad than good for AWL1.

    Yeah agreed, the middle road goes nowhere interesting. It’s the fringes where excitement happens.

    And I hear you about roguelikes, I don’t like that many honestly. All these slight variations in gameplay and variance and especially progression really add up, and drastically affect the overall experirence.

    Thanks for your thoughts, great insights.


  • Patron

    @richtaur said:

    @Josue is really smart and we’re lucky to have him around :)


  • Jammer

    You mentioned links awakening in terms of controls. I played through that so many times. I picked it up on nintendo 3ds virtual store, i need to play through once i beat links awakening :).

    Also the comment of describing a game by saying what it’s like. Reminds me of “It’s like skyrim with guns!”


  • Tiger Hat

    @Akirikku said:

    @salmonmoose’s take on component-based architecture with regard to game engines. I’ve been researching it a bit myself lately and didn’t realize Unity was component-based. Perhaps that is one of the things that makes it appealing.

    It’s odd, Unity is built around a component based architecture, but they don’t tend to use it in their examples, at least regarding scripts.

    So one day you discover that you can attach multiple scripts to the same object, and you discover that you can just build single behaviors into scripts, and you get to tear down the finite state machine you built because “You’re doing it wrong™”.

    This is compounded by the fact some of the pre-built components Unity ships with are built in such a way you can’t have multiples attached.

    At the end of the day, it’s a great way to work along the DRY principle, and is generally pretty well implemented, although, occasionally, you’ll get into knots from race-conditions, or problems in the order of script execution.

    I disagree with @geoffb’s criticism that Unity doesn’t ship with things like tile-map tools, these are non-trivial systems, and if Unity shipped with one (say Tilemap) then you’d be pushing people towards a single implementation - and as he pointed out, he was fighting against that particular implementation. Far better Unity supplies the elements to allow people to build their own tile mapping system, and put it on the asset store (which is what that is there for in the first place).

    I’ve hit this myself - I need an infinite terrain, and due to limitations of Unity’s terrain system, I can’t use it. But because it’s all rolled up in a “terrain” object, I can’t use ANY of it, and have to implement my own versions of all of its components, rather than just rebuild the height-mapping (in this case, mesh-generation, tesselation, geometry instantiating, and LOD).


  • Patron

    You know, I’m actually in favor of Youtube streams.

    Not only because of Hangouts On Air, but their streams are also MUCH more reliable than anything else I’ve used.


  • Jammer

    @salmonmoose

    That sounds like a coupled design of their terrain system. They could for example create the height map class or whatever to be exposed, where it’s used by their own thing, but can be used by others if you wish.

    I have to agree with Geoff on Javascript. I like it, and it is expressive, but is it ever easy to break your own code. Static typing with a compiler is really great to have. I’ve been wanting to check out flow type to potentially use at work.

    I’ve still been working on the libgdx jam entry, and yeah java is just nicer to work with, having generics and types. It’s great. I look forward to trying something with Rust, and see if that helps me prevent more bugs with things like immutability and safety.

    But yeah HTML5 has pretty good portability, all things considered. Yeah you guys ran into issues with NW.js, but i’ve heard about weird things with unity exports as well. it took the devs at my work a bit of time to get a stable ios build working when android was going fine. We ran into issues on melonjs with audio a couple times, as mobile operating systems had major updates. But hey, we deal with it, and we fix it :).

    This is where I do rather love libgdx, the platform support is pretty damned good. Only thing is the web export doesnt have audio support for mobile phones :(


  • Tiger Hat

    @agmcleod said:

    That sounds like a coupled design of their terrain system. They could for example create the height map class or whatever to be exposed, where it’s used by their own thing, but can be used by others if you wish.

    Exactly, Unity’s terrain is a closed box of magic - it works against the philosophy they’re exposing elsewhere with the component system.

    Look at a physics object, you get a transform, rigidbody, collider, mesh, and a few other things, and you can swap them all out.


  • Tiger Hat

    @Josue said:

    You know, I’m actually in favor of Youtube streams.

    Not only because of Hangouts On Air, but their streams are also MUCH more reliable than anything else I’ve used.

    the impression I get from other streamers is that Youtube is majorly hampered by TOS problems, and streams can suddenly be terminated because it thinks you’re playing copyrighted material, sometimes because you are (but have permission), sometimes not.

    I’d like to move to YT, and I use a restreamer, so it’s a click of a button away, but the hassle around it seem too much at the moment.



  • @salmonmoose Good to know and interesting. Thanks for sharing.


  • LDG

    @salmonmoose Good points about the tilemaps in Unity. However they choose to structure their tilemaps, it’ll likely leave something to be desired by some amount of developers. That said, they do seem to be adding more default 2D tools anyway (such as tilemaps). Although, that post was from April 2015 and I haven’t kept up with any updates.

    I should have mentioned the Asset Store as something I miss from Unity, because I do think that it’s pretty awesome. However, there weren’t actually that many tilemaping choices when I was looking for them. I’m excluding all the 2D systems which were created before Unity introduced basic 2D support with sprites, etc.

    @Akirikku I’m a huuuuuge proponent of ECS. And I’m a big fan of Unity’s basic entity/component structure, to be honest. After using it for a few months, it changed some of my thinking for my own systems. In specific, Unity components are instances of a class. They have methods, can fire events, have internal state, and so on. Previously, in JavaScript, I tended to keep my entities as “dumb” objects or bags of data. You pass these bags of data around to various systems and let them modify the state. I don’t think this is a bad approach, though, it’s just one of many ways to skin that cat. Both methods have their ups and downs.

    AWL1 (and 2) both use an ECS for the game simulation.


  • LDG

    @agmcleod said:

    Yeah you guys ran into issues with NW.js, but i’ve heard about weird things with unity exports as well.

    It seems like most of these systems that output to JavaScript create massively bloated code. I remember @dannagle posting examples of some very bloated HTML5 exports from Unity.


  • Patron

    @geoffb said:

    @agmcleod said:

    Yeah you guys ran into issues with NW.js, but i’ve heard about weird things with unity exports as well.

    It seems like most of these systems that output to JavaScript create massively bloated code. I remember @dannagle posting examples of some very bloated HTML5 exports from Unity.

    Indeed. Here is the post:
    http://forum.lostdecadegames.com/topic/355/unity-5-publishing-metrics


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