iPhone New: Knights vs Knightesses... free!

Discussion in 'iPhone and iPad Games' started by Philipp, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. Philipp

    Philipp Well-Known Member

    You can now get my new 2-player iPad game Knights vs Knightesses... as my other games, two players play on a single shared iPad. Your feedback is welcome!

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    Here's the description:
    Knights vs Knightesses is a fun, real-time action battle game for two players. Played on a single shared iPad, you and your friend play a female or male medieval army and try to conquer the opposing village. (Ever since the Grey Goose incident, the male and female members of Fordunian society live in separation!) Strategic placement of soldiers like the Knight and Knightess, Berserker, Wizard, Archer and Unibird will be crucial to your win -- as will be a quick tapping finger to perform your battle attacks! Just put your finger on the action icon when it appears over your warriors, and you'll be able to trigger sword slashes, arrow shots, magic attacks, hold up a shield, or roll the drum to motivate your team. But keep your cool, or the opposing gender will enter your village, and then it's "Makra'r Bakk" for you (this Fordunian proverb roughly translates to "scrambled eggs in a broken pan", but be careful how and where you use it).

    YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YToJC2teqrM
     
  2. iAstonish

    iAstonish Member

    Nov 6, 2010
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    #2 iAstonish, Nov 12, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
    I downloaded it. The graphics are awesome, the vibrant colors look great on the iPad. The graphics have a cute charming look to them as well. The gameplay however, it not up to par with the rest of the presentation. The animation is laggy and the multiplayer only is sort of a downer.
     
  3. Philipp

    Philipp Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the feedback iAstonish. May I ask, did you give it a try with another player?
    My games so far are all strictly multiplayer (sorry for that).
     
  4. iAstonish

    iAstonish Member

    Nov 6, 2010
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    No need to be sorry haha and no, I tried it out controlling both sides. I will play it with my gf tomorrow and come back with a second opinion. I love the art style though, it looks awesome.
     
  5. Philipp

    Philipp Well-Known Member

    I would absolutely love if you let me know how the playing with your gf went. And thanks for the comments about the art!
     
  6. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2009
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    I am not sure this is a productive comment, and if not I appologize. However, I hate the name.
     
  7. Philipp

    Philipp Well-Known Member

    Every honest comment is appreciated!
    Can you explain why you hate the name?
    I'm not a native speaker of English.
     
  8. pka4916

    pka4916 Well-Known Member

    Jun 6, 2009
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    Yeah... give some details about how that went :p;)

    Lol, love the word combination here :D
     
  9. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2009
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    #9 ArtNJ, Nov 12, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
    One, its not entirely clear to me that Knightess is a real word. I do see it in one online dictionary. If you had asked me, I would have said a female knight is called a female knight. I might have been 100% wrong, but that is what I thought and I have read fantasy novels with knights.

    Also, words that end in "ess" are sufficiently uncommon, that one hardly ever sees the plural. I'm sure I have seen "preistesses" in print somewhere, but not recently. So, knightesses may be the correct plural form, but its not a plural form that feels natural or familiar.

    Ask 10 13 year old boys what a bunch of female knights would be called and...well I think you'll get a lot of blank stares.

    So anyway, "Knightesses" is an odd looking word to me, and Knights v. Knightesses struck me as an odd name for that reason.

    I havent actually played the game yet, but I'll try it when I get home.
     
  10. iAstonish

    iAstonish Member

    Nov 6, 2010
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    Lol.
     
  11. Philipp

    Philipp Well-Known Member

    Yes, you are right, I picked it for that reason... to be a bit nonsensically long and improbable word :) Thanks for the name feedback.
     
  12. h0130j03

    h0130j03 Well-Known Member

    Jun 28, 2009
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    #12 h0130j03, Nov 13, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010
    I like the art style as well. Gonna try it out.
     
  13. h0130j03

    h0130j03 Well-Known Member

    Jun 28, 2009
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    I have to agree with iAstonish, the animations need to be refined and it needs singleplayer. But all in all, the game is interesting.
     
  14. P0tent1al

    P0tent1al Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2009
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    And don't you dare change the name... I love it! :cool: very different and quirky.. Makes it stand out from the crowd...

    Will send you some feedback on the game in a couple of days time.

    :)
     
  15. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2009
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    I need to read the instructions to fairly comment, but I tried playing it with my son for 20 minutes or so.

    My impression is that the game play is a little off. Someone above said sluggish, I think I share that impression. Certainly my 5 year old son had no real trouble holding me off for what felt like an insanely long time even though he isnt yet remotely good at games involving any sort of strategy. Another issue is with the ranged shooters -- they are fairly hard to aim, and you can damage your own troops. Maybe Worms! vets will not have this difficulty, I dont know. But its really fairly doubtful the ranged units are worth anything at all to beginning players that dont play artillery games. When you can get what kinds of new troops is mysterious, but maybe the instructions clear that up.

    Bottom line, I didnt really have fun with it. Probably someone that is into artillery games would enjoy it a bit more. And, maybe reading the instructions would help.
     
  16. Philipp

    Philipp Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the feedback ArtNJ! Yes, archers can hit their own troops when the aim is off, I wanted to add an element of fun risk and aiming precision requirements to shots... sorry the game wasn't for you but thanks again for testing.
     
  17. djflippy

    djflippy Well-Known Member

    Mar 9, 2009
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    Pacing vs. Balancessess

    @Philipp - I love what you are trying to do with your games; multiplayer focused, quirky art style, whimsical presentation, and always free. I really want you to be a successful developer, but I feel like that may not happen until you direct your attention toward pacing and balance. Here's some feedback for you:

    As with Orgs, this game lasts way too long, with little or no feeling of progress. This issue is so extreme that I feel like most people will give up before their first game ends, like my daughter and I did. In our case, both of us ended with scores of zero. This could be for one of two reasons; either the core mechanics are improperly tuned or we, as players, "didn't get it" and couldn't determine the best strategy to win. Unfortuately, as the game designer, you need to account for either problem.

    If you know that there is a clearly repeatable strategy to win, that is the easier of the two problems. You simply need to focus on presentation, which is likely to be a combination of positive feedback when the player does "the right thing", negative feedback when the player does not, and some combination of tutorials, hints, and instructions.

    If, however, it is a problem of pacing and balance, it is a tougher problem to solve, but it is solvable. You have to allow players to make forward progress. Right now, I have a wall of troops that bash their heads against an opposing wall of troops. This feels like an endless cycle no matter what troops myself or my opponent deploys. This makes for abysmal pacing and it has the potential to make players feel like the game is pointless.

    The reason players are at a stalemate is that the game is too evenly balanced. I know that may sound ridiculous, because people generally think game balance means that the sides are exactly equal and nothing else, but this is not always the case. Your game needs success "swings"; moments when the player feels like he or she broke through the opponent's defenses and scored a hit. You need to add mechanics that allow for this. Players need to feel, at times, that they are better managing their resources and/or that they have figured out a better strategy (or are executing better tactics, but that is a whole other discussion).

    To accomplish this, you need to seed the game with abilities that are somewhat infrequent, but have the ability to break through the opponent's defenses, preferably that require some display of skill. You may have the right idea with the birds overhead, but their power is way too weak for that purpose currently and they have to be part of the tech tree. The first thing I would try would be to make the birds much more powerful and see what happens. They can't wipe out an entire lane, because that would make the normal hero powers meaningless, but the current single-unit swing is not enough to make a difference.

    • For the first step, what needs to happen is good management of resources, on the part of the player, which are currently time and space (you could even introduce a unit cost, but that shouldn't be the first step).
    • The next component is threat assessment and timing; the player needs to assess battlefield conditions and strike when they see a hole where the opponent is weak.
    • The final step is that, after the bird-borne uber-power is triggered, the player needs to quickly manage their troops in the lane to take advantage of this "swing" in power. This is sometimes called a "push".
    That list is only the first part of the equation. Once you've made changes that you are happy with and have tested them yourself exhaustively, you absolutely need players unfamiliar with the game mechanics test them, even non-gamers. You may learn something you weren't expecting. As a game developer, it's very easy to tune the game, based on your own knowledge of the mechanics, and then when the game is released into the wild, players have no idea what to do and their experience is not what you intended. I think this may be the case here.

    What I've outlined is not a magic bullet to improve your game, but I firmly believe that if you focus more on these types of solutions, you could have winner on your hands. Hell, just play a slew of games that you think work well, in this regard, and simply do what they did! That half of what game design is...but don't tell anyone. If it were me, I wouldn't release another game until I solve problems like this in my current games, otherwise I would just be repeating the same mistakes. I hope you take these criticisms in they way they were intended; constructive feedback to help make your games excel. Feel free to take it or leave it.

    Good luck, Phillip, and I look forward to playing what you come up with next.
     
  18. Philipp

    Philipp Well-Known Member

    #18 Philipp, Nov 15, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
    Thanks for the extensive feedback Dj, it's very interesting. Feedback in the style you provide it is actually a game maker's dream. (Another dream would be to have a test lab with dozens of players ready to test whenever I have a new version! Right now I go out to hand the iPad around and watch people play.)

    I will have to think about the issues a bit more over the next days. I think the stalemate you point out can indeed be an issue with two player games, because when two players hold a similar skill than "balance" is too good. Single-player design has the challenge of adjusting the computer AI to be of the right increasing difficulty, two-player design doesn't have this issue, but offers a whole set of different issues.

    By the way, there are unit costs at Knights vs Knightesses, namely the upper windows open slower than the bottom ones. I noticed though during my tests that many players will not wait for the top windows to open, or if they do, they rarely take the drummer/ flag bearer (which has the role of motivating the rest of the team to make them fight faster). It might be that the whole unit cost concept (the higher the window, the more costly) is not made clear enough visually.

    For Ogs, there are good winning strategy combos, but it's much less optimal if two players *play defensive*. Then you can end up with two players barricading behind defenses with not enough attack power on either side to get through. The time limit I put on both Ogs and Knights vs Knightesses to force to have the best player at the time win for sure is only a fallback solution.

    Similar to your advice, my goal for games like Ogs and Knights vs Knightesses is to:
    - honor good strategic decisions, and make this honoring obvious and visual (if you don't know and see you did good, you can't "follow" the game as a player)
    - favor combo-strategies over single-strategies (like using three different Ogs together to create a team that is more than the sum of its parts), and have no single-strategy (say, "just use a dozen Archers and nothing else!") ever be an easy winning strategy
    - have these strategies be discoverable in the game (ideally without the reading of any manual, but by playful discovery with the most intuitive motions)
    - have a right mix between luck and skill, i.e. randomization and reproducible events (the birds in Knights vs Knightesses are somewhat time-based, but still random)
    - have a learning curve that allows everyone to pick up the game, though not everyone to master it; ideally, though, even have a game with a beginner vs a master last for at least some time (some minutes)

    These are some of my goals. How to achieve them... oh that is a difficult question.

    Here's an example of a strategy thought train that worked well with one player: "When using the drummer/ flag bearer, wait until most of your team already just used up their strike power. Only then tap the drumer, because his drumming will give everyone strike power, increasing the usefulness of drums." (I didn't hear him say it, but I saw how he was waiting with his finger ready over a drummer, apparently careful to not tap him too early.) I want players to come up with strategies like these and be able to "tell the story of this move", and ideally, many of these moves might not have been anticipated by me, but just using the power of combinatorics creatively. When it goes wrong, however, then 95% of the players won't discover these moves, or perhaps there may not even be a whole lot of such options available in the first place.


    Right now players are sometimes very eager to put a lot of quick knights onto the field. Perhaps it's possible to add some fighter types which are absolutely necessary to progress (as a bit of a drastic example, if there was water in the way, then a bridge builder would be required once... or a fire-defense-warrior only useful for fire-attacks, a situation in which picking an ice-defense-warrior would be a sure loss; it's another challenge how to visualize this in order to make it understandable by players).

    Yes. There should be certain conditions in which say use of fighter type X is clearly superior to use of fighter type Y, even though at other times Y is better than X.

    I suppose that would require a kind of "weak runner" soldier type, of which the game doesn't have any so far, and it would require fighter casting energy to increase slower (because otherwise one could always quickly block a runner by throwing in a new soldier).

    Again, thanks!!
     
  19. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Interesting tid-bit: today, females granted knighthood in England are referred to as 'Dames'.
     
  20. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2009
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    That sounds right, honorary/land title wise. As far as what you call a woman that fights in armor, I tend to agree with wiki.answers.com which refers to "woman knights".

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Was_Joan_of_Arc_the_first_woman_knight

    From a google search, its pretty clear that "knightess" isnt a common phrase, even if I did see it in one online dictionary.

    Anyway, the main issue with the game isnt the title, its the pacing. It will be a fun little game when they get that right.
     

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