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Indie Sonucido: The Mage - A turn-based Dungeon Crawler

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
My little language experiment seems to have paid off immediately. At least in Korea. Which is great!
I got 6 additional wishlists in one day from Korea and in the whole time before the localization I had 1 wishlist from Korea (that was from February) - so there seems to be an algorithmic change. I hope this trend will continue. I also got a wishlist from Japan but this could be random since I got a couple before. I'm very interested how the languages overall will perform so that I can plan accordingly for my next games.
It seems that many eastern keyboards also have wasd keys in addition to their respective language (or the other way around). Weird!
Also had a guy proofreading the simplified Chinese translation to ensure the quality is good and it apparently is.

Little improvement to the game: I implemented proper Azerty Keyboard support! They are used in France and Belgium. You can now play with ZQSD if you have to but Arrow Keys are also working.
The next couple of days I will implement all languages, a language selection selection screen and make small improvements to the demo. I think I'll redo the system requirements pretty soon.
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
Was just curious on the requirements is all.

Updated them!

System-Requirements_update.png


So! I did a bit of testing yesterday and something that got very clear was that the wiggle room I planned for was exaggerated. I took GTX 960, hooked it up to my Gaming PC and took the 4K screen of my fiancee and - to my surprise - it worked flawlessly. Averaging 80+ FPS with VSync off (which I only recommend for testing purposes) with a few dips to high 50, mostly 60 FPS. And this was with MSAA 8.
The RAM requirements and CPU requirements are mostly so that the OS or some background program doesn't get in the way and a smooth experience is ensured. If you run a light-weight Linux install or something you should get away with even less.

I wanted to put the GT 1030 into the high category but since there's a bullshit DDR4 version, I decided to go for the GTX 950 to not confuse anyone.
4K aren't the max settings anymore, since you don't really have any benefit going above MSAA 4. If MSAA 8 is 100%, MSAA 4 is like 99% and MSAA 2 75%. I couldn't notice any difference with MSAA 16 and when I tried to turn it from 8 to 16 that the framerate dropped to 30-40 with no improvements at all (on the 960 - on my RX 570 it worked flawlessly with well over 120 FPS but who needs 120 FPS for a turn-based game?)
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
Because this will give me more exposure To connect with the audience I'm really excited to announce that I'm livestreaming Sonucido: The Mage while the Steam Next Fest in a couple of days!
You can watch the guy who's making a Dungeon Crawler your favorite Dev playing his very own game. EXCITING!

Ask questions and get answers! See the Dev playing! Colors!

:hype:


Only on STEAM!
17th June 10 PM CEST
20th June 11 PM CEST
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
All languages are implemented! I still need to put in a language selection screen and want to change a few minor things but overall the demo is ready!

The demo will be online tomorrow 7 PM CEST / 10 AM PDT!

 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
Last edited:

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
Over 500 Downloads! I'm really happy about these numbers, let's see how this will change over the next days!

I added over a thousand additional lines of code in the morning (I changed the level-up system and created a language screen + a lot of small polishing stuff) but I tested the game a couple of times to make sure everything works. The game should run well on entry-level hardware and even older hardware but if you have any FPS-related issues I will improve the game further in regards to performance. Most importantly was polish and bugfixing before the release and afaik the demo is now very much bug-free.

SocialMediaShare_Partner_800x450.png
 

bionicman

Learned
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
473
I've just finished the demo. Here's some feedback:

- I personally think the art style is okay, although I'd like to give you some suggestions:
a) to me, this art style made me feel I was playing a light-hearted, cartoony game. A game which doesn't take itself too seriously, and possibly has elements of humor. Which in itself is not wrong, it's just that I think you should be aware of what kind of emotion the art style evokes in the player, and maybe take advantage of that, in other words, I suggest you add jokes to the game, e.g. that labyrinth puzzle/riddle in the game could be changed so it's funny. Like for instance, instead of the sign immediately saying that "grandfather turns right, but he is a liar" let it just say "grandfather turns right", and then if the player goes right he encounters some sort of creature and a dead end. And, so, when the player defeats this creature he finds a sign on the wall that says "I forgot to mention that grandfather was a liar". The game in general lacks text though; there are no descriptions of the items in the inventory etc. You could add a lot more flair to make the game have more character.
b) even if your artistic skills aren't the best, you can make your game look better through 'consistency of style'. This means for example picking one set color palette and sticking with it for all colors, or using one style for all graphics in the game (e.g. if you have pixel-art character sprites and pixel-art items, then your buttons shouldn't be smooth high-res images but also in the style of characters).
As an example:
ss_836774731de866d7cba5723248d92f7fa810c02f.600x338.jpg

West of loathing uses this sort of crappy stickmen 'art' throughout the whole game, but it works because it's consistent. If they had pixel-art items, and, say, 3d GUI, the game would've looked horrible.

- I found the combat to be too simple, and I think this is the biggest problem with the game:
a) The player and the character he is fighting are both movement-locked (unless I missed something), removing the possibility of any sort of kiting of enemies or fleeing from combat. I suggest you make it so the player can move around while fighting. This way you can also make it so player faces more than one enemy, and add some sort of floor traps/lava where player can lure monsters etc. Also, since the player would be able to kite the enemies now, having projectile weapons like bows or being able to cast fireballs would make things more interesting.
b) There was no info on what each weapon does, or how much a health potion heals me for, which I guess you could argue is fine because the player learns how each item interacts with different enemy through trial and error, but it's just more tedious than it should be. What I would do is show the player how much damage each item does and what kind of damage it deals, and then in the manual describe what each damage type does, and then maybe include some sort of journal entries (or those wall signs like you used for the puzzle) that give you a tip as to which damage type works best against some creature. These sorts of tips could work as a reward to the player for exploring the dungeon.
c) There is no loot (outside of health potions you find, monsters don't drop any loot, there are no chests), you should work on adding different weapons, weapon improvements etc.

- When it comes to the demo itself, the problem of there being no saves is a big one. I know you're aware of there being no saving system cause I was notified about this ahead of time, but I found it very tedious to replay the game over and over again. I assume most people will quit replaying the demo cause it gets too tedious. Not sure how difficult it is to add an autosave system of sorts in Godot, but if you can, maybe you should, since that way you may get more feedback about the demo and such.

Anyways, I hope you find this feedback helpful in some way. I enjoyed playing your demo, and don't get discouraged if other people say negative things about your game, since the process of developing a game is an iterative process, meaning: don't be afraid to backtrack and change things that don't work and as long as you're working on the game it's all that matters. The more you work on the game and the more things you add, the better it will be.
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
Thank you very much for your feedback! And thanks for playing!

no saving system

I didn't want to implement a save system in the demo since it's short and it requires a lot of testing - I wanted to focus more on polishing the existing stuff and make sure that everything is bug-free.
It's not that hard and I want to have an auto-save system implemented in the final game.


There is no loot (outside of health potions you find, monsters don't drop any loot, there are no chests), you should work on adding different weapons, weapon improvements etc.

This is an intended part of the core design. I generally dislike a couple of things - inventory clutter, inventory management (the usual tetris thing), and bullshit loot.
Loot outside of potions and bombs won't be found often. You will find a couple of weapons but no more than 5, which all have different strengths and weaknesses against enemies. Starting with something like 1-2 weapons and switch them in trial and error combat to see which is effective against a certain enemy is okay and going up to 3-5 is still okay but switching between like 20 different weapons would be tedious. I could implement a stronger sword for example, and an even stronger one but this makes the old sword useless and I want to avoid any stuff that could be useless.
That doesn't mean that there won't be any special loot but it will be an exploration or quest reward and seldom.

It's certainly a bit risky to design a game in this way but I want to try it.

:shredder:

I found the combat to be too simple, and I think this is the biggest problem with the game

I want to add a bit more to the combat certainly.

The basic options you have in combat are change weapon, attack, throw bomb, drink strength potion and drink health potion. I don't plan to add the possibility to flee from enemies - this could be interesting but I think it's better to design more parts of the game especially to this and I don't know if this fits. My aim is combat that is short (killing the enemy quickly or being quickly killed), has only two endings (kill/be killed) and has enough depth to be interesting for the whole game.
There are now a lot of different possibilities to add depth to this combat but I'm not decided yet how I'll tackle this. I certainly will add more to make it more interesting!


art style

The art style is really hit or miss for most people. I got comments from people who really like it, some people really hate it and many people are mostly it's okay or meh.
Something that you didn't mention but I want to improve is in regards to visual variety.
I know that there's a bit disconnect between the art style and the rest of the game and I still think about ways how to improve there. It's good that you mention it since I hoped that the ambience would do a lot to improve that but it's not enough.

I don't want to include a lot of humour - not because I dislike it - I'm just not that great in it in terms of games and it still needs to be translatable in many different languages.


I enjoyed playing your demo, and don't get discouraged if other people say negative things about your game

Generally, I want to design the game mostly for a certain kind of player (mostly me) and it's experimental in a lot of ways. I don't easily get discouraged since I know that this design will be divisive.
I want to address almost everything you mentioned in one form or another but even though it will be improved I don't think this will make the change from someone who completely disliked the concepts to someone who likes it.
(There are parts that weren't shown yet due to the short playtime of the demo, like decisions and you make and the consequences, side quests and a couple of other things but I don't know if this will move the needle. If someone likes it, I think he will like it even more when it is released, if someone thinks it's bad, I don't think he will like the released game)

Really appreciate the time and effort you took, this helps greatly!

Two questions - was the manual as a way to tutorialize the game good for you or did you find it weird and was the keyboard layout (or controller layout if you played with controller) good?

And thanks for everyone who watched the livestream. Peaked at over 1700 viewers. Next time at the 20th June, 11 PM CEST.

Also the website for my little studio was updated by my fiancee and looks a lot better now: https://smokesomefrogs.com
 

bionicman

Learned
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
473
I used the keyboard. The keyboard layout was good, the only thing I could nitpick about (but it's not that big a deal) is that the player can't access each weapon directly but has to cycle through them, i.e. it would maybe be more convenient if it were 1, 2, 3 for weapons and 4, 5 for potions.

If by manual you mean the GUI window which displays the controls, then yeah it's perfectly fine.

Anyways, sorry if I accidentally came off condescending or rude in my previous post, it wasn't my intention. As a fellow indie dev, I understand and respect your need to stick with your own vision of the game.
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
This Sunday evening I will stream Sonucido: The Mage another time! 11 PM Cest for around 2 hours.

Apart from the short demo I will also show a couple of other areas which are still work in progress and the simple escort system which resembles Daggerfall.
The demo was downloaded over 1700 times now which much higher than I anticipated. I will update it in a couple of days to fix some minor quality of life things and will release it also on Itch.

Since all the systems aside from the save-system are more or less complete I can focus on adding new areas, quests and more!
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
I released the new demo version today!

I improved the fights, the enemy reactions and your reactions should feel a bit snappier. Aside from that I changed a few minor things.

 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
I'm happy to announce that the demo has now almost 2500 downloads (2496). Yesterday, I streamed for even more people (2800+ viewers as peak) since there wasn't much competition.
In the next couple of days I will write a bigger post about the complexity of the sidequests since that's one thing that wasn't shown at all in the demo.
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
I'm streaming again for one last time for the Steam Next Fest. If you missed the other two you can join in 1 hour (3'30 PM CEST). It's on the store page.
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
This will be a longer post about the quest design in Sonucido: The Mage.

Aside from your main quest to find the mage there are a couple of side quests which all follow a couple of criteria:

- Quests should have different paths and endings
- There shouldn't be too much repetition in the side quests
- Player freedom is extremely important
- Being (mostly) bug-free is one of the priorities
- In most cases there should be lasting consequences of choosing one way or the other (even if they are small)

To demonstrate this I will take a simple quest which I was working on before I switched to work on the demo. It's not complete yet so some stuff might change but it gives a good overview over the complexity of the side quest system (and I will point out some flaws in this particular quest).

Obviously, there will be spoilers.


jorminu1280.png


Setup

The blind old guy that you are seeing is alone at this place but there are two simple "beds". You can also see a health potion besides him.

When you first enter the room he will simply ask "Jorminu?" and if you approach him you can either tell him that you are Jorminu or that you aren't him.
If you tell him that you are Jorminu, he will say that this isn't the voice of his son and that he doesn't want to talk with you.

When you pick up the potion, you are in fact stealing it from him and he won't be amused. You talk to him and give him the potion back - he's fine with it. If you don't have it anymore (because you drank it immediately) or don't want to give it to him, he says you are a liar and doesn't want to proceed talking to you.

If you manage to be on good terms with him, he will tell you that his son was searching for food for them but didn't come back. He asks you to find his son.

Somewhere in the dungeon you find the son, but he's hiding from a creature. After you killed the creature you can talk you have a simple escort quest (which avoids being buggy/annoying by using the Daggerfall system - you only have a portrait of him on screen and not a physical follower).

portrait.png

If you met the father before the dialogue changes slighty but in the end he asks you to bring him back. You can deny his request, go back to the father, and tell him his son is on the way.
When you decide to help the son and bring him back the father will be very thankful but doesn't give you anything right away. This is also possible when you didn't speak with the father before and will alter the quest slightly.

Now, if you are the murderous type of player, you can also kill both of them and if you want to be especially cruel, you can kill one of them, tell it the other, and see their reaction.
The old man says that you are a liar and avoids talking to you anymore. The son will attack you immediately.

The quest design at this stage is just the standard RPG quest but a bit more fleshed out, more nuances more possibilites but it still has a problem which I will discuss soon.


Time

Can you imagine Oblivion but time had actually an impact? Just doing the side quests and seeing how the world is being destroyed and more and more places become inhabitable? I think that would be pretty awesome.

This thought let me to the idea to use time as a factor in the game. It is represented by your turn count since the whole game is turn-based and not just the fights.

In this particular quest it influences two things.
If you take a very long time in the early game and come late to that place, the father will be dead and the son also. The son couldn't free himself and the father didn't have any food left, so they both starved to death.

In the case that you actually kill the creature that the son is hiding from he will return to his father eventually (or you brought him back because you are a nice person).
Later in the game, if you take long enough to get to a small place and take a particularly route, they will be both there. It's much later in the game and may alter another side quest or alter the situation there in another way.
It also can happen that the son is there alone, if you killed the father before but didn't tell it the son.

I will experiment with time in a couple of ways for this game but since it's a whole lot of work I need to keep it in check. Anyways, there will be more of these changes that are time-depended along the way.


Problem

The problem with this quest is two-fold. First, it's a relatively simple, bland situation and second, most players either will ignore the guys completely, help them or kill both of them and will never see the nuances of smaller decisions.
If you design a situation which is more interesting from the getgo this problem falls apart to an extend since more players are inclined to explore it (at least I hope so)

Another problem is cost. It is extremely time consuming to design a quest in this way; more lines of code, it has a lot of potential for bugs which means more testing time on my part, and so on and so forth. Another more subtle cost is in money. More words mean more localization costs and with the goal of supporting 10+ languages this could be a problem but thankfully I'm very concise with the writing.

The solution to this is simple. Not hundreds of side quests but a couple. That most players won't see some solutions is just the nature of these things and not a big deal.


Ambition

My goal is having a couple of side quests but all of them can be explored in different of ways (which will happen organically). The systems in the game are simple but in combination it gets more and more complex.

There should be a good mix between the more interesting quests and the simpler ones. The quest mentioned above is not representative for all the quests but for the low-stakes ones.

Why not design a game where every quest is high-stakes? I think the contrast is key. If everything is extremely important and needs your attention right now it loses all meaning.


I really want to play with the time mechanic and see what I can do with it. Unfortunately for different reasons I can't focus on one game for years, so these mechanics can't be used everywhere.

Stat checks are the next thing I want to implement, they will give the player more interesting outcomes.



I think that's a good overview for the ideas behind the quest design in Sonucido: The Mage - if you have any questions I'm always happy to answer them.
 
Last edited:

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
Improved the visual variety, added some new variations to the walls. Visual variety is an issue I'm working on occasionally but I don't know if I can tackle it in a way that will satisfy all players in the end (at least if I don't want to delay the game for months). Another 10% is better than 0% I think and I put it in more time than I initially thought. Always a trade-off.
Didn't mentioned it but I fixed a few irrelevant bugs in the demo that most people wouldn't even notice, mostly triggering stuff multiple times (didn't upload a new build yet). I want to upload the demo also on Itch in a couple of days/weeks for everyone who doesn't use Steam.

I have a couple of ideas for the game I want to explore but before I go on full speed I take a few days off to play the 5 games I bought at the Steam Summer Sale (Barro 2020, Dungeon Rats, Theseus: Journey to Athens, Gone In November and Jurassic Fantasy).

:takemymoney:
 

Moaning_Clock

SmokeSomeFrogs
Developer
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
471
Update_Screen.jpg


Back to work after playing through my Steam Summer Sale purchases in the last couple of days and I pushed a new update to Steam! I fixed some minor bugs and polished a few things in the demo.

Full Changelog

- Added a missing Spanish sentence
- Added a missing Portuguese sentence
- Minor changes to the English wording
- Minor improvements to the German localization
- Improved the shadows in the first level
- Small improvements to the visuals for everyone who has MSAA disabled
- Fixed a few minor bugs (some sounds could be triggered multiple times and it was possible to trigger a fight twice)
 

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