Criticism on the game

For discussion about Trine, firstly released in 2009 for Windows and on PlayStation Network.
Mithaldu
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Criticism on the game

Postby Mithaldu » Wed Jul 15, 2009 5:12 pm

Didn't see any other way to send some feedback directly to the devs, so I'll do it here.

Bought the game on Steam and it works pretty good. I like the aesthetics, the story-telling and generally everything that makes the game's outside shell.

However, what i did find sorely lacking is that which it advertises itself as. It claims it is a physics-based game.

My problem here is, while there are physics ingame, they are floaty and glitchy and more often than not hindered by the animation system taking precedence.

This expresses itself in the inability of the knight to fluidly go from shielding to attacking, often leaving him standing around stupidly. It expresses itself in how physical objects or NPCs performing animations push the playing character around with impunity, oftentimes off ledges and to doom. It expresses itself in how bats are able to magically stick to a set distance to the player no matter how much they run around and also in how bats are able to completely ignore a huge amount of physical obstacles. It expresses itself in how the thief, swinging from a rope, comes to a dead stop when bumping into a skeleton instead of her inertia smashing it clear across the room. It expresses itself in how often NPCs managed to inflict damage without even playing any animation.

I'm sure this list could well be extended much further.

This combines with the fact that, while all puzzles required some work, none of them required any effort in figuring out how to solve them, resulting in a game that even on hard is generally easy and only frustrating when the ugly physics rear their head.

Dear Frozenbyte devs, when you next time attempt to make a physics game, please spend a bit less time on dressing it up all gaudy and more on making sure it's core allows for solid gameplay that can actually be made challenging without devolving into a pointless exercise in frustration.

If you got this far and didn't close in indignation or started writing an anger-filled retort, i thank you and applaud you for being real artists and developers.

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FB_Lauri
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Re: Criticism on the game

Postby FB_Lauri » Wed Jul 15, 2009 5:34 pm

The forums are the correct place for feedback, as we love to have open discussion with the players.

Even the possibility is small, I have to suggest that your negative experience may be boosted by incorrectly working physics. Other than that, most of your points are valid and are present in the game, while some certainly should not be and can be result of incorrect physics interaction or result of incorrect observation.

However, if the game feels all bad, I'd suggest to check if your PhysX drivers are somehow working incorrectly (that's achieved by uninstalling and installing again the drivers). Some people have reported nasty issues which have been caused by the physics drivers not working properly.

As for issues certainly present in the game (for which we didn't have time to fix or didn't feel they are major), I must point out we have provided quite lot of video footage as well as fully playable two level demo of the game. Anyone who is very picky with games should first play the demo before making the purchase.

While I don't feel we are doing our future games entirely following these guidelines (and while I personally also disagree on some of the points), I'm sure we will improve a lot of things to avoid disappointments like this. Nevertheless, thanks for your feedback! :)

Ceracryst
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Re: Criticism on the game

Postby Ceracryst » Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:00 pm

Most of the points are valid. The only one I didn't personally experience was the swinging Thief stopping on contact with an skeleton -- in my experience, she did in fact knock it clear across the room (there's an achievement tied to this, "The Cool Way").

I'm jumping to FB's defense not because I think things are just spiffy and perfect the way they are, but that without new emergent technology like the Euphoria physics engine, these issues are a result of animation-based games crashing headlong into physics-based games. The way to fix these things would be for the coders to go in and manually add in specific scripts for these moments.

(I do so hate it when a skeleton jumping onto my bridge plank pushes me into the abyss, though)

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Mr. ShadowStealer
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Re: Criticism on the game

Postby Mr. ShadowStealer » Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:27 pm

Also Mithaldu, you have to realize that the puzzles indeed are easy and quite fast to go through if you want to have an easy game and are just casual gamer who play games to throw them away next day.

The idea behind the easiness of the puzzles is that this way there can be a lot bigger variety of players with different abilities to resolve the puzzles. If you feel like the puzzles are just way too easy all the time, play the game through only using knight. ;)

The point in the puzzles is that you, yourself use your imagination to make them harder and because you make the puzzles harder they are still fun.

So... Basically I agree with you that the puzzles are easy and fast to get through but I also disagree with you that they should have been teeth grinding hard. I like the way how you can use your imagination to make them harder and if that way didn't work you can always just use the basic way to get forward if you got tired to trying. ;)
Not all of you have äää's and ööö's :P

Mithaldu
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Re: Criticism on the game

Postby Mithaldu » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:36 pm

Thought-out discourse on a video game forum, i am impressed. Especially thanks to Lauri for handling it perfectly.

Now, for the content:

Physx drivers didn't need updating, as Steam updated them when i installed Trine. However on trying it again due to Ceracryts's suggestion i did notice that one thing did in fact work, just had a few differences from how i thought it should work.

When swinging against a skeleton, it is important which way the thief faces, hitting it with your back stops you dead. Additionally, hitting it front on just makes it crumble instead of imparting it the proper momentum (hitting a climbing skeleton made it flail wildly, without damaging it though). Still, good to see you thought of it.

Also, i was overly negative in expressing my post. I didn't dislike the game as a whole. I merely think that the issues mentioned serve to cheapen the experience down from what could be a perfectly experience to one that often made me curse the game in frustration for doing The Wrong Thing.

Shadow, thanks for your insight too. I'd like to mention that i specifically played on very hard, expecting it to have an impact on the puzzle design. Instead it only affected damage, it seems, which created unnecessary frustration due to things happening wrongly due to how the physics work, instead of any mistake on my part. I would have preferred to be able to slowly think my way through, instead of most of the challenge being in quick reactions and anticipating the animation system. As such I'll actually be trying out your suggestion of restricting character selection. Playing through only with the Knight does indeed seem more like something of what i'm looking for. (Aside from bats.)

Lastly, as a suggestion to Frozenbytes, if you can spare the time, please look up the following two games: God Hand, for a perfect example of how to do hard, while never making the player feel as if the game messed up. Men of War or Faces of War for amazing use of a physics engine.

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FB_Lauri
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Re: Criticism on the game

Postby FB_Lauri » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:47 pm

Thanks for the further feedback and specially thanks for actually investigating the issues :)

In my opinion the Thief should have her kick also when swinging backwards, but this has been simply a communication issue during development (we've had so many other things to repair this never was done).

If you have any suggestions and/or examples of your own how Trine should work, it would help a lot. While this level of feedback is rather unique, I'm still very interested of how we could made Trine a bit harder without losing the magical touch we have now.

As for the physics, I still don't understand at all what you are looking for, so I guess I have to play that game you mentioned :)

Mithaldu
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Re: Criticism on the game

Postby Mithaldu » Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:12 pm

FB_Lauri wrote:Thanks for the further feedback and specially thanks for actually investigating the issues :)
Sure, can't criticize things without being able to back it up. :)

FB_Lauri wrote:In my opinion the Thief should have her kick also when swinging backwards, but this has been simply a communication issue during development (we've had so many other things to repair this never was done).
That's actually two issues.

The real problem here is that characters ONLY turn around when the player runs into the appropriate direction, instead of following the mouse cursor at all times. This is made worse on the rope, as the left/right keys are suddenly used to impart momentum, meaning it is completely impossible to turn around on the rope.

The other issue, which i touched on earlier is simply that the kick is not a physics reaction (speed + weight = force; force > x : kill npc), but only an animation.

This is a more general game issue though and what i meant in my original post. Personally I'm of the opinion that as few things as possible should be done via animation at all and most importantly, physics need to be able to cancel animations.

FB_Lauri wrote:If you have any suggestions and/or examples of your own how Trine should work, it would help a lot. While this level of feedback is rather unique, I'm still very interested of how we could made Trine a bit harder without losing the magical touch we have now.
Some suggestions for changes I'd do:

Most importantly: The game needs inertia and mass. No object whould be able to just displace another one, not through being instantiated nor to moving inside its frame. Objects that are solid on the ground should not be able to be pushed aside, due to the friction between them and the ground. Best two examples for this are:
1. Boxes falling down and displacing the player to the side. As the knight, the box should bounce off the player. With the thief it should fall as if she'd touch and control it so it rolls down in front of her and with the mage it should slightly damage him but behave as like with the thief.
2. Skeletons climbing up ledges, pushing the player aside. Similar as above, this should never be possible. The knight shouldn't budge at all (in fact, the skeleton shouldn't even try) and the thief should maybe get some damage, with the mage hopping back slightly IF there is space.

Also, as mentioned before: Enemies can deal damage without even performing the attack animation. Can be observed by standing near a ledge skeletons are trying to climb on top of. If the player is at the right distance to the ledge they'll go up to the height, deal damage and instantly drop back down.

Knight is too limited. Fixing the transition from shield to sword animation should make him an actually viable combatant.

Bats are horrible enemies due to being able to ignore physics and impossible to sensibly target. Thief's bow is way overpowered with the 3-arrow thing, i literally had her do all the fighting as the knockback effect was more important than any damage. I'd change the bats to do no or little damage and instead have them disrupt the thief's use of the bow. Both of these would change in strength with difficulty levels. Also, change the bow to have a knockback depending on the strength of the pull.

The mage is overpowered as well, especially once he gets the triangle with wood attribute. I'd introduce "no magic" areas that increase in size and/or effect as the difficulty level changes.

Using the restart points is too easy and i often abused them. I'd make them cost one experience point which gets removed from the player and placed back in the game at higher difficulties. Of course, this requires that the player has very good control over the characters and doesn't die unnecessarily.

FB_Lauri wrote:As for the physics, I still don't understand at all what you are looking for, so I guess I have to play that game you mentioned :)
I'll distill it down to two basic rules that i use to judge how well done a game is in my opinion:

Difficulty should always result in the player thinking "I messed up.", never in "The game/controls messed up."

If there's physics, nothing should be able to break the rules of the game physics at all.

Okay, i think that's enough :words: for now. :)

kolorabi
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Re: Criticism on the game

Postby kolorabi » Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:33 pm

My biggest criticism so far is the respawning enemies. It's a bit annoying to have to kill the same ones over and over again so I can get some peace to "do my thing" (which usually involves a combination of building stuff with the mage and climbing with the thief).

Overall, I love the game, though. It is pretty much what I hoped it would be.


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