Universal Dream Quest (by Peter M Whalen)

Discussion in 'iPhone and iPad Games' started by PeteOzzy, May 14, 2014.

  1. Jorlen

    Jorlen Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2009
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    These are great ideas! Seconded!
     
  2. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
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    I was also a little skeptical to try this because of the art, but I'm also glad that I got over that and decided to try it. The gameplay itself is the best that I have played for this type of game in a while.

    I think this is a perfect candidate for a kickstarter campaign. The game is already "done" and awesome, so they would just need to raise the funds to get some good art. I think with the right art, this game can be a hit.
     
  3. Sythys

    Sythys Active Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    I've played a few hands, a few turns. I really like this game. The only problem I have with it is with my poor a$$ eyes. I can remedy that with my iPad, but there's others out there that may not have that option. Think maybe Dreamquest could get optimized for the 5 series?

    I've noticed that some people have an art issue with this game... But I find that it adds to the flavor. I was an avid player of Shandalar and been looking for another game like that. This feels my urge and I'm glad to have help funded this developer.
     
  4. Ayjona

    Ayjona Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2009
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    Stockholm, Sweden
    Game Impressions

    The mechanics really are splendid, and the sense of progression once the player starts to unlock achievement bonuses between games, and more powerful cards in each game, is enormously satisfying. Dream Quest might have some of the most motivating character development mechanics I have come across.

    But, I'm sorry to say, the interface borders on terrible, and *very* frustrating to use.

    My issues with the UI has nothing to do with graphics or limited resources. While I too would have preferred another art style within the same budgetary limits, such as vector graphics or simple but high-rez icons for actions, the visual design is certainly not enough to detract sigificantly from the excellent mechanics.

    No, what bothers me are design choices made.

    Most of all, the interface is just too small in general. The upgrade dialoge boxes are especially ridiculous, squeezed into a small section of the middle of the screen, with thrice the space available around the edges of the box, and no UI element that needs to be interacted with or accessed outside of the upgrade box (which means that a larger window would not have obscured any relevant info,). But still, the window is so small player has to tap extremely carefully to succeed in selecting cards.

    Buttons are (unnecessarily) small on my iPhone 5S, and their clickable area seems to be even smaller. In some cases, I have to hammer the button area of the screen repeatedly to select certain choices. And I have yet to come across a single instance where there is not LOTS additional of screen real estate for larger buttons, or where a larger pop-up window would have obscured any relevant info.

    When plaing prayer cards, the turn timer circles are miniscule, when they could well have been the size of my thumb without interfering with anything. The "Are you sure you want to end your turn?" pop-up has buttons which are hard to select as well. Status icons/passive abilities have to be tapped over and over for the explanation pop-up. The small icons beneath Mind Blast are the most ridiculous yet, so small that I can barely see the pierce icon, and that selecting either icon is almost a game of chance. And it is beyond me why the x:s used to close windows are so minimal.

    There are also a few inconsistencies in UI operation, such as that cards can be dragged to be played, but not to be discarded. More significantly, when the player is asked to select several cards for a beneficiary action, such as an upgrade, if only one card is chosen no warning is given when the player accidentally or stupidly closes the dialogue box. Lastly, tapping enemy equipment moves them to the middle of the screen, but does not display their text. The card has to be tapped again to display the card text. The extra tap and animation seems to serve absolutely no purpose.

    Sadly, lots of these oversights or design choices gives me the impression of laziness, much like the stick figure art. It seems like the developer designed the board game of the century (for yeah, the mechanics relly are that good), but had little effort left to invest in digitalizing it.

    I did not think a bad UI could ruin an excellent gaming experience so completely, but above issues are enough to make me shy away. Tapping the same UI elements over and over without results rapidly becomes so supremely frustrating, and totally undercuts the joy from the very innovative and rewarding mechanics.

    Dev, what gives? Why would you make tapable elements so absurdly small, when there is SO much screen space to spare, even on an iPhone? I can imagine the current interface works decently on the iPad, but I cannot imagine this design is by conscious, well-planned choice in the case of the iPhone.

    Since we never interact with anything outside of the current selection box/card choice/etc, since there is hardly any important info that can be obscured, and since there is A WEALTH of screen space to spare at any givent moment in the game, might you at least consider just blowing up all boxes, text, buttons and other interactable elements?

    A few other assorted reports of possible bugs and balance issues:

    The randomized elements might also need a little more balancing. At one point, I found myself on a dungeon with 4 level 7 elite mobs, one level 7 boss, while I was at level 6. Needless to say, success against any of these monsters was not feasible.

    The Samurai (and possibly other advanced classes) do not seem to get access to the Protean card. Is this intentional?

    Healing tiles are consumed even when at full health. If this is intended to punish careless or thoughtless players, I can dig, but with the finicky interface, it is entirely possible to regularly mis-tap and consume heals.

    Also, this is probably purely bad luck, but before I powered up enough to make my way past the first floor regularly, I consistently died 14 times against the boss on the first floor on the very last turn before I would have struck the winning blow. Probably a peculiar random draw. But if there is some sort of AI rubberbanding at work, it is patently obvious.

    Lastly, I'll say that the game opens up SO much on second floor and beyond, when the player has a large hand of cards to draw upon, the possibility to customize strategies in detail (by forgetting cards, ec), and the game offers greater tactical depth through equipment, special abilities and card combos. Peter, perhaps you might consider a way (a very rare achievement) for veteran player to jump directly to further floors, with an approximation of the spoils and xp from floor 1 (and possibly 2) automatically bestowed? In the long run, I think playing the first (and perhaps second) floor over and over just to get to the good stuff might lose its appeal.
     
  5. kennfusion

    kennfusion Well-Known Member
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    Dec 2, 2008
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    This is a gem of a game. Really fun so far.

    I agree with Lord Gek on all points he has made about high scores.

    I cannot play on my iPhone, the text is all just too small for my old eyes.Plays great on my iPad though, so that is what I am playing on. It is great on there.
     
  6. LegendaryFerret

    LegendaryFerret Well-Known Member

    Dec 22, 2009
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    #66 LegendaryFerret, May 16, 2014
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
    @LordGek: Definitely per-class scores. Hard to compare between them since they work differently.

    @Mike32: Thanks for the suggestions.

    The first one is a good idea; I've tried a couple versions of it in the past, but there are some technical challenges and a design challenge I haven't gotten over. I like that people experience the cards for the first time in-run - I could just show the cards you've seen, but it's really overwhelming and a little hard to digest. There are a lot of cards - the 300 I estimate in the description is low. More likely would be showing the card you just unlocked on the unlock page. Which I should probably do. Let me think about that - won't happen for Saturday.

    Length of the run: don't want people to burn out on a deck they're bored with. I could scale the monsters and let you go for a while, but let's talk more after more people have beaten it. You may find the solution already in place satisfying.

    Max Mana: There's basically no max (there is, but for technical reasons. It's something like 9999? 99999? Don't really remember since no one's hit it in a long time and if it becomes an issue, I'll raise it). If people are regularly running into it, there could well be some underlying thing that's bad. You'll never finish that bar - after you have 9 mana, I think it just stays the same.

    @Sapphire: If you'd like to try out a demo, there's a PC/Mac one at
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0unrb9y37ebji0a/DreamQuestDemoWin64.zip
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/5qxk4njksszs4f3/DreamQuestDemoMac.app.zip

    @Sythys: Which things in particular are you having trouble seeing? I'll see what I can do to help =)
     
  7. LegendaryFerret

    LegendaryFerret Well-Known Member

    Dec 22, 2009
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    Ah, I missed this before I replied. First off, thanks for such an in-depth review - I know you accused me of laziness, but it really helps to have another perspective. I've played a bunch on my iphone 3s, but I'm also very used to the game. If you're interested in testing some future versions to see if we can clean up the interface problems, shoot me a PM and I'll add you to TestFlight - it'd be very helpful for me to have someone who'll complain about these things.

    @Upgrade dialogue box: You're talking about at a blacksmith or the level up thing? I think the answer is to have fewer cards in a column on iphone - I imagine that would help a lot. It'd also let me grow the size of the cancel buttons for those.

    @Prayer popups: Sure, I can grow those if they're hard to hit; there's a bunch of space, so no real cost.

    @Buttons: Specifics help; most buttons on the iphone have a much larger clickable area than visual, so it's easy to grow it further; I just need to know which you're having trouble with.

    @Drag to discard: You can drag to discard if you're just doing it during your turn. When you're forced, this was easier to undo, though I could implement dragging instead. This version is more consistent with the other spell effects (like searching your deck or exiling cards from your hand). Might have to think about this more.

    @Multi-upgrade: I could add a warning if you don't use your full allotment. Is this a thing that happens a lot?

    @Enemy equipment: Bringing to the center lets you pick which one you want to pop up. If there's only one, I could just pop it up directly, but I liked having the consistency.

    @Screen space: There's not that much extra space on the iphone (or at least on the 3S, I'm not sure about the 5). The main issue is vertical space not horizontal since most of the elements are square-ish. If you've got specifics, I can work on those; again I'm pretty used to it, so I don't notice as much.

    @Hard floor 2: Yep, that can happen; it's rare, but tough. You can beat a 7 elite at 6 (depending on which one - some are easier than others), but you'd need to blow both cooldowns most likely (depending on your class), so you'd want to do it as soon as you hit 6 so they come back before the boss.

    @Samurai with Protean: I think Samura's not terribly likely to get protean (thief and thief-like classes are the most likely), but every class can see every card, some just less frequently than others.

    @Healing tiles: Yep, that's intentional. I wanted a mechanic that prevented the natural behavior of "explore everywhere and then analytically decide how to sequence". It increases the amount of analysis you have to perform a lot and takes away from the fun. I tried versions that punished you in various ways (and there's one still in), but the healing packs have been a good way to limit exploration while still feeling like you're making choices.

    @Dying on floor 1 boss: There's nothing weird with the randomness (at least not intentionally); the balance is just really tight around that point. Also, the monsters play by the same rules as you, so if you haven't seen their good cards towards the end of their deck, they're probably coming soon =)

    @Fast start: This has been a problem in the past which is why floor 1 is really short. We tried a "fast start" talent in the past which just wiped floor 1 and gave you the exp and gold for having done it with a late unlock, but it took some of the fun out even for people who'd played 100's of times. It is, however, why the first floor is much smaller than 2 or 3 and the monsters are disproportionately more valuable. Also, the ability to spend achievement points on an extra life helps a lot for this.

    In all seriousness, thank you for the review - it really is helpful and I'd be happy to work with you on getting the UI to be more accessible. On the other hand, I'm glad you've done so many runs since you seem to be enjoying the game =)
     
  8. Jorlen

    Jorlen Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2009
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    As for the interface issues, on my ipad mini I have no problems. Some of the windows are a bit small but I can imagine on a phone it might be problematic.

    Question for you guys - I'm not a big card game player so this might be obvious to most... If I discard some cards does that use up my turn? Is there a way to access all the cards in my deck? I just keep using the ones I'm dealt but since i'm not very successful I figure I'm doing something wrong.
     
  9. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
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    You shouldnt be discarding any cards without playing them, at least at the beginning. Just tap on play all if you are unsure what to do, but eventually you will want to play cards in a certain order.
     
  10. Jorlen

    Jorlen Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I played the rogue last night and I could tell that certain cards work better with specific conditions (like backstab for example) so there's quite a lot of strategy involved. I'm just.. new to the "card genre" so I feel like I might be missing some things.

    I also don't get the warrior's weapon cards. Where are they supposed to go?
     
  11. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2012
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    Waeapons are equipment cards, which you play and then you get the benefit of it for the rest of that fight (as long as that card stays in play). The warrior starts with the sword card, which does an extra point of damage for every two attack cards used.
     
  12. Jorlen

    Jorlen Well-Known Member

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    Thanks man. That actually makes a lot of sense now. Cheers :)
     
  13. Joeavery

    Joeavery Active Member

    Sep 27, 2009
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    Really like the game, but I have to echo the sentiment of ridiculously small buttons.

    Also in shop I'd like to see how much gold I have.

    Great game besides the small buttons!
     
  14. LordGek

    LordGek Well-Known Member
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    Feb 19, 2009
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    To me the toughest aspect to master for me in most build your deck as you play games like this, Ascension, and Dominion is the power of proper editing of your deck. While you can probably fake it for a while in this game just grabbing any card you can, eventually you'll need to visit a monastary to cut out some dead wood (cards that don't combine well with the rest of your deck or make it tougher to pull off your deck's core combinations).
     
  15. kennfusion

    kennfusion Well-Known Member
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    Dec 2, 2008
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    Hey LegendaryFerret, I just realized my dude on the screen looks like a Disco Bandit....are you a KOL player?
     
  16. Citronaut

    Citronaut Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2014
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    Played the Mac demo and saw enough to jump in. Really clever game. Looking forward to digging in.

    If you're on the fence I definitely urge you to check out the PC/Mac demo linked to earlier in the thread.
     
  17. LegendaryFerret

    LegendaryFerret Well-Known Member

    Dec 22, 2009
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    Ha! Yeah, I played a ton of KoL years and years ago - I was a pretty serious speed runner (and I'm still in Alliance from Hell, though my last serious run was over a year ago). I played again last year for the Avatar of Jarlsberg path and had some fun and then messed around in Dread a little when it came out, but have just been too busy to sink much time into it. It's a great game though - if I ever find myself with enough time it's always on my list of things to go back to.
     
  18. limmyfox

    limmyfox Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2011
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    Game Impressions

    My quick impressions:
    Remember card games such as Spectromancer, Ascension etc. ? They have tons of replayability and it becomes more complex the more you play it.

    Dream Quest definitely remind me most of Shandalar (where you walk around rogue-like and attack creeps for more cards for your deck and level up for more abilities) and definitely has a lot of replayability (A LOT) and unlike it's horribly simplistic stickman art, it is a pretty complex game that requires you to think about your deck and not just walk anywhere, pick up anything and battle anyone you like.

    When I first saw the description for Dream Quest I was like woah, I need to get this game, especially when it listed Shandalar as one of it's inspirations. And then I saw the screenshots and I thought that it was pretty lame and extremely disappointing (pretty much there's no way I would pay that much for a game that looked like that). After waiting for some initial impressions, I finally caved in and gave this horrible stickman-art game a try (mostly due to good impressions on the game itself minus how it looked, and the developer's passion and conviction for his own game).

    After playing a few times, Dream Quest is definitely money well spent and I can happily say that this game will remain a mainstay on my phone as long as, if not longer than Spectromancer and Ascension. If you like playing in short burst, this game is great for that too, though I can imagine one to be completely hooked onto it and keep trying to get more achievements (in order to unlock more abilities, in order to keep getting stronger for future games). So yeah, there's heaps of achievements to do that are of actual value and not just useless trophies, and also 9 different character classes to explore with, and from what I've read there are people who are still happily playing this game with only ONE class.

    Now for the bad stuff. The game looks horrible, the cards look horrible and there you go. But after playing it a few times, I kinda got used to it and it's not as jarring as I thought it would be. I would like to add that the horrible stickman iconography on the cards are actually decent in a sense that once you're familiar with it, you'd be able to recognise cards easily without clicking on them to read (this is important in cards games, you do not want overly good graphics to take centrestage and end up making it difficult to decifer those pretty cards rendering them impractical). So cardwise: good iconography, but ugly stickman.

    Someone in the forum wrote a really long impression on the game's interface and I agree with what he/she said. The interface is horrible and unfortunately feels unfinished and beta-like. Why do you need X (a really small X for that matter) to close the window when a simple touch outside the window to close it would have been sufficient? So yeah, a lot of improvements can be done because these little bits and bobs can end up being really annoying in the long run.

    HOWEVER, that being said, just as the graphics are being as horrible as but still remain practical, the interface is as horrible as but still not a really a detraction from actually playing the game. This is a card game (Shandalar-like), and the most important thing is still the game play. And if me and many others have said again and again that the game is REALLY GOOD and well worth buying for the game itself, even with the horrible graphics and interface, then Dream Quest's gameplay must be really, really good in order to compensate for it's other unfortunately glaring weaknesses.

    So yeah, buy it (especially if you're looking for a Shandalar-like game). I don't post impressions (this is my first), but I felt the need to here in order to let people know that Dream Quest's gameplay alone is well worth the price. And as long as the developer keeps working hard on improving this game, I'm sure that I and many others would be more than happy to keep promoting it.
     
  19. WildBastion

    WildBastion Active Member

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    #79 WildBastion, May 17, 2014
    Last edited: May 17, 2014
    Ok, first off: well done!! The gameplay is fantastic and is quite engaging. Nothing more needs be said about the art style, its been thoroughly discussed.

    On to improvements that can be made!

    On my 3GS the text is rather small and sometimes downight hard to read. Some of the buttons are not obviously buttons, and some of them are quite small (Haven't had trouble tapping them, but it could cause frustration.)

    Honestly the only thing this needs to be on the level of tactical warrior in terms of a deep amazing game wrapped in a wet sack visually, is polish. Polish the hell out of this game! Please!
    Make menus and windows nearly the size and shape of the screen, increase font size by a few points and add a next page/tab button(s), and make all the buttons big and inviting and friendly so that you want to press them. ....and now that I re-read that last statement it sounds sorta dirty.

    =|

    (Btw, Tactical Warrior and Mage Gauntlet are nearly the only two games that have been on my 3GS since I first obtained it. Freaking awesome stuff there.)

    Thanks for the game, I am eagerly awaiting updates!

    (If art is ever changed even though not needed, what about a community event in a way, where people offer graphics or icons to be used, and you pick your favorite to put in? Even better, Make tilesets which use varying graphics like older roguelikes including cards and whatnot? Most importantly, if you change the art, make an options page where you are able to set the graphics back to current, never lose it. :p

    Ok thats enough, I'm done for now. lol
     
  20. nortikdos

    nortikdos Member

    May 15, 2014
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    Let's Play Video

    Hi all,
    I made a Let's Play video in case you want to see what the game is like (or if you're new and are struggling to make it past floor 1). You can watch it here:

    Let's Play Dream Quest
    Part 2
    Part 3

    Hope this is helpful!
     

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