Various Tidbits

Got a cool idea that should be in R'n'D? Let's hear it!

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LotBlind
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Various Tidbits

Post by LotBlind »

Sorry this is going to be a mess. I won't ever have the time to go through the known bugs and already listed IFIs though so better this than nothing methinks... Feel free to ignore all stuff that's been talked about endlessly already.

I'm a totally new player and the build I played was 4.3.0.1 in Win 10 64-bit, playing the two provided tutorials and some of the imported levels that it came with.

1) What's the point in having a "handicap" option at all and another option that lets you cancel its effect? Seems very pointless, instead whether or not you've solved a particular level before should be highlighted in a different way. Also, I don't understand why it's even called "handicap"? I thought it would mean something like I don't get as many points from the next level if I've skipped the previous one. Very confused about this one.

2) Can we make keypad ENTER behave the same as the other one since I like to use the keypad keys to move?

3) Some kind of indicator for when you no longer can complete a level when either you've destroyed the last exit or killed a penguin or some other trivial cases like that)?

4) Badly needs a display for dynabomb count and number you can place and on their side, length as well. The designs for the dynabomb power-ups could make it more clear which one is which BTW. In case they're copied from somewhere else... well, for a new player they're still not that helpful.

5) Supaplex levels are weirdly different from the original game but one of the tutorial levels at least addresses that. Lots of small differences such as pushing a stone one tile is sometimes faster, sometimes slower. So ignore this point unless somehow this wasn't known about.

6) Default volumes are too high! I set mine down to like 20%; Also if you set music down to 0%, it doesn't mute it. It looks like it is muting SFX correctly when set to 0%.

7) Because of variable lag or whatever, it's super-difficult to time actions right at the start of the level.

8) I generally am against being able to see other people's tapes without them explicitly sharing them because I think the competition is more fun if it's about who can find the best routes as well as the execution part. Ignore if you currently can't do this (I can't wrap my head around the tape features, can't even rewind the current tape despite reading the instructions).

9) The high score tables should definitely have thousandths / frame-precise times shown so you know how far exactly the times are from each other. Someone already asked for keeping just one fastest time in it instead of all the records by the same player.

10) I'm experiencing randomly stopping on some squares for a split-second even though I'm holding the movement button down. Seems to happen around sand in Niko Böhm's tutorial. Can't immediately reproduce... but I can try harder if this is new.

11) Could use a SFX pass to make the more annoying ones less so. It's partially a level design question of course... but you'd like to be able to make virtually any kind of level that doesn't get annoying because of SFX. Like do Yam Yams really have to make their noise on every step?

12) In level 38 of Niko's tutorial, there's invisible dirt for me where you form the bridge. That made it extremely confusing. (I have other complaints about the two tutorials as well in case anyone will be interested in going back to fix them potentially, so ask about them.)

13) EDIT: Forgot this one... I'm experiencing input lag specifically in the imported Emerald Mine levels (couldn't find any hits in the search for this which surprised me). It's the same in Niko Böhm's tutorial levels, just some of them, at least level 17 "Let There Be Light". It's very noticeable for me.

14) EDIT: Also the main menu itself could use the same color-coding of levels into ones you haven't played yet, ones you haven't beaten, and ones you have beaten.
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Holger
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Re: Various Tidbits

Post by Holger »

Hello LotBlind, welcome to the forum! :)
Sorry this is going to be a mess. I won't ever have the time to go through the known bugs and already listed IFIs though so better this than nothing methinks... Feel free to ignore all stuff that's been talked about endlessly already.
No problem at all! You are not expected to read the whole forum to post something you think is interesting or maybe helpful! :-)
I'm a totally new player and the build I played was 4.3.0.1 in Win 10 64-bit, playing the two provided tutorials and some of the imported levels that it came with.
That's good to know, especially version and platform, but also what you've played/tried/done so far. I always find it tremendously helpful to hear from people that have played R'n'D for the very first time (and even more if I have the rare chance to watch them playing R'n'D for the very first time), as I myself usually do not notice all these quirks anymore that may exists after those long years. :-)
1) What's the point in having a "handicap" option at all and another option that lets you cancel its effect? Seems very pointless, instead whether or not you've solved a particular level before should be highlighted in a different way. Also, I don't understand why it's even called "handicap"? I thought it would mean something like I don't get as many points from the next level if I've skipped the previous one. Very confused about this one.
The "handicap" option (enabled by default) forces you to solve a level before being able to play the next level. Both the word and the technique were used in earlier days of video gaming. As R'n'D is a game that brings back some retro games from the Amiga era, it uses them, too. As this may be frustrating for many players, there's an option to disable it (and to make it even easier, you are just asked if you want to skip to the next level, even with handicap enabled). You can decide for yourself what you prefer.
2) Can we make keypad ENTER behave the same as the other one since I like to use the keypad keys to move?
Yes, that shoudn't be a problem.I can add that. :-)
3) Some kind of indicator for when you no longer can complete a level when either you've destroyed the last exit or killed a penguin or some other trivial cases like that)?
That would be possible, yes. The problem that I can see is that when you show this indicator for the trivial cases, players might assume that the indicator will also be displayed for the less trivial cases, thinking that a level is still possible as long as that indicator is not shown.
4) Badly needs a display for dynabomb count and number you can place and on their side, length as well. The designs for the dynabomb power-ups could make it more clear which one is which BTW. In case they're copied from somewhere else... well, for a new player they're still not that helpful.
No, they're not copied from somewhere else, but were quickly created by modifying existing graphics, and that's the problem, I would say. ;-)

I agree that these graphics are a bit confusing; maybe I can change them to something better with little effort.

Regarding the display: The main problem is that there are too many game elements in R'n'D to display their corresponding values all in one game panel. (Emerald Mine already had this problem with dynamite count not being displayed, btw.)

However, for dedicated "dynabomb style" level sets, it would easily be possible to create a custom game panel that displays all relevant dynabomb values. (To see how this works, level creators can have a look at the custom game panel of the "Emerald Mine Club" level collection.)
5) Supaplex levels are weirdly different from the original game but one of the tutorial levels at least addresses that. Lots of small differences such as pushing a stone one tile is sometimes faster, sometimes slower. So ignore this point unless somehow this wasn't known about.
I assume that you mean "Rocks'n'Diamonds" when you write "original game", not the original Supaplex game (as the Supaplex engine in R'n'D is identical to the original Supaplex game).

Rocks'n'Diamonds is a meta-game that contains several classic game engines that, although somewhat similar, have a number of more or less subtle differences. Pushing objects is just one of them, playing bomb style elements another. (The most obvious (or: notorious) difference in the latter is that for both the Emerald Mine and Supaplex game engine, you need to keep the "bomb button" pressed for some time before the bomb element is placed, always including a good chance of blowing yourself up when not being careful enough.)

So, yes, these differences exist and are probably irritating for many people that do not know the original games.

This could be addressed by some intro text popping up when playing with a different game engine for the first time, summarizing the most important differences to the game engine played before (especially how to place a bomb).

[to be continued]
LotBlind
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Re: Various Tidbits

Post by LotBlind »

1) Ah, so you're "handicapped" in the sense that you can't freely move from level to level. I see. I appreciate that as a concept but in practice, I find too often particular levels to be too annoying or just not the kind of challenge I'm looking for to have the patience/interest to finish them, at least not first time. E.g. if you just see the first couple of levels of Snake Bite (as I did), you might think it's a pretty dry level pack. However, it introduces some very interesting stuff later on... I happened to find the TAS so I saw a lot of it that way. Also, I wouldn't have played nearly as much of the Boulderdash imported levels if I hadn't gotten to skip a large number of them along the way. Some are just much less interesting to me than others. I think this game's (RnD) strength is obviously in how much variety it has to offer. So I still don't necessarily support the idea of the handicap (or any idea just because it was a thing in the past) and with the current implementation it's always going to be at best a somewhat unfortunate (and confusing for new players who didn't know this about Amiga games) compromise.

I think when you bar off content, you're almost making the assertion that your level pack is perfect (for everyone who plays it). But the level packs are virtually all by amateur designers so the chances are too high the testing wasn't quite adequate. I know this is effectively the same debate as often rages on about save-anywhere vs. checkpoints/save points so not gonna wax lyrical here.

3) So instead of an indicator, a flashing text saying what the specific problem is?

5) I meant the original Supaplex is different from how the Supaplex levels appear in the tutorial. Based on what you said last time, I think I get what's happening: the Supaplex levels in the two tutorials aren't really Supaplex, just an implementation inside the base engine. The tutorials themselves should make it clear what's happening so I'm not left wondering why those differences exist. Maybe the same is true of the rest of the games emulated in the tutorials. So every time it goes into a new engine, it might as well explain "you're now in the XYZ engine" as you suggested.

Did you forget to post again here? I'm thinking of inducing this game into the Home of the Underdogs collection on June 1st so any major changes about to happen would be good to know about a little before that.
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Holger
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Re: Various Tidbits

Post by Holger »

I don't understand why it's even called "handicap"?
1) Ah, so you're "handicapped" in the sense that you can't freely move from level to level. I see.
After some more googling, I do understand now that nowadays nobody knows what this term even means in context of video games (or it means something different). :o

And you're not the only one who was confused by the name of this option. So I think I will change it to something like "Force solving levels" or something like that in the next version.
I appreciate that as a concept but in practice, I find too often particular levels to be too annoying or just not the kind of challenge I'm looking for to have the patience/interest to finish them, at least not first time.
That's exactly the purpose of this option, so you can just turn off that default behavior if it bothers you.
I think when you bar off content, you're almost making the assertion that your level pack is perfect (for everyone who plays it).
Nothing's perfect here. :-D
But the level packs are virtually all by amateur designers so the chances are too high the testing wasn't quite adequate.
That's why you can always skip single levels even with the default settings.
3) So instead of an indicator, a flashing text saying what the specific problem is?
Yes, that sound's very reasonable. There are some other situations in the game where a short overlay text message will be useful! I think I should add it!
5) I meant the original Supaplex is different from how the Supaplex levels appear in the tutorial. Based on what you said last time, I think I get what's happening: the Supaplex levels in the two tutorials aren't really Supaplex, just an implementation inside the base engine.
Yes, exactly.

The problem here is that many game elements exist both in the native/original game engines and in the main R'n'D game engine, with sometimes slightly different behavior.
So every time it goes into a new engine, it might as well explain "you're now in the XYZ engine" as you suggested.
The best solution is probably a message box, explaining the change of the game engine, together with the most important differences (mainly dynamite behavior) and a checkbox "[ ] do not show this dialog again" (for each game engine).
Did you forget to post again here?
Unfortunately, yes. :-(

I'll try hard not to forget to answer the remaining questions soon! :)
I'm thinking of inducing this game into the Home of the Underdogs collection on June 1st so any major changes about to happen would be good to know about a little before that.
R'n'D version 4.3.2.0 seems to be quite stable now, and no major changes are planned for the near future, so feel free to use that version. You might also want to consider adding a link to the browser version, so people can instantly have a look at the game without the need for installation.
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Eizzoux
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Re: Various Tidbits

Post by Eizzoux »

Holger wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 12:55 pm
I don't understand why it's even called "handicap"?
1) Ah, so you're "handicapped" in the sense that you can't freely move from level to level. I see.
After some more googling, I do understand now that nowadays nobody knows what this term even means in context of video games (or it means something different). :o

And you're not the only one who was confused by the name of this option. So I think I will change it to something like "Force solving levels" or something like that in the next version.
This actually gives me another little idea... How about adding a description bar on bottom of the playfield like in editor which explains the function you're pointing your cursor at? The last option/option list you highlit will trigger a short explanation of what you're currently looking at. Like when you highlight Handicap, then the bottom bar says something like "Locks level list, requiring you to complete every level before going for next one". Or when you highlight "Time limit" it says "If ON, whenever timer hits 000, you lose, if OFF, timer is ignored".
Example
Example
flmldkfsdf.png (56.36 KiB) Viewed 167 times
Nothing in here...*
filbo
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Re: Various Tidbits

Post by filbo »

This 'hover description' idea sounds excellent to me!

Could be in effect on all settings screens, possibly also the main menu.

On mouse / touch systems it could follow the mouse / finger until something's officially selected (clicked / touched); then follow the focus (highlighted item, like 'Count score' in the image). Obviously when navigating by keyboard, item selection and 'cursor' are identical...
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Holger
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Re: Various Tidbits

Post by Holger »

Indeed I already thought about such a functionality of a more detailed description of (at least) setup options! :)

And yes, I also thought about a descriptive text in a "status line" at the bottom of the screen, just like it is used in the level editor.

However, when you look at Eizzoux's examples (not on the screen shot, but in the text), you will notice that they would be too large for the status line (even with the narrow font), so there would be the same problem again as with the setup option texts itself: How on earth could I cram enough information into these few letters of text? ;-)

So I thought about a way to use a much more detailed explanation text for each setup option, without the need to limit it to X characters. For example, click on the option text with a modifier key held down (or, on touch devices, hold the finger on the option text for a little bit longer, like a second), and a message box pops up (like a standard envelope) that makes it possible to display a text that is a little bit longer, if needed.

The main problem would then be to tell the user how to access the setup option explanation texts. This could be solved by an initial information envelope that pops up when you enter the setup menu for the very first time. (I could even extend it with that usual checkbox "[ ] do not show this dialog again", so you cannot skip it by accident.)

I was also thinking about some more in-game help, like an additional sub-menu in the info screen menu, like some "tip of the day" envelope, which could pop up by default on program start (and which could be enabled/disabled in the setup menu, and which could be accessed on demand on such an additional sub-menu from the info screen menu).
filbo
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Re: Various Tidbits

Post by filbo »

How to show larger explanation text:

- by keyboard: hit '?', explanation of currently highlighted item pops up
- by mouse, long-click on item and explanation pops up
- by touch, long-press item

Explanations on the bottom line could still exist. If it's short enough, just display it. If too long:

Code: Select all

Locks level list, s…['?' to see]
Locks level list,…[click to see]
Locks level list,…[touch to see]
'?' or clicking or touching the bottom line would pop up the explanation box.

Explanation box contains the full explanation + finishes documenting the context-help system:

Code: Select all

... Hit '?' for explanation of highlighted item
... Long-click item for explanation
... Long-press item for explanation
(long-click instead of right-click since some systems have 1-button mice, or assign different concepts to left/right click, or just barely have right-click [some touchpads or 'nub' setups])

=====

But also, explanations can be short! 'Must solve level to advance' (even if 'must' isn't really accurate since you're always given the option...)
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