iPad Thinking about updating our game (Paper Airplane) - Feedback needed

Discussion in 'iPhone and iPad Games' started by lilasoft, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. lilasoft

    lilasoft Active Member

    Nov 24, 2008
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    #1 lilasoft, Feb 4, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
    Hi,
    long story short: I still believe Paper Airplane has been underappreciated. It is a very simple game, I know. But it is all about the gameplay and in my obviously biased opinion it is one of the most satisfying casual game playing experience on the iPhone.

    The fact is that since it came out I've got a lot of contradictory feedback about what people like and what they don't and I don't know in which direction I should go to update it. Of course, it's impossible to please everybody. It's always a matter of taste. But my fear his that there was a greter potential and that it hasn't been fully expressed.

    I'm in the middle of a game developer's block because of this game.

    Once me and my wife got the idea for the game, I started developing it in 2d (using sprites - static images) for the airplane (which wasn't even a 'paper plane' in the first prototypes) and the birds. But since I am a programmer by heart I soon switched to a 3d perspective (I was already using gl es - the opengl subset available on the iPhone) and started coding all the graphic elements by hand. I didn't use any kind of texture because it was more fun to program it this way.

    At some point, I decided that I wanted to give some more depth apart from the gameplay and thought about making the clouds (and then the mountains) procedurally generated: they're sketched - they're not realistic graphically - but their shapes and colors are always different. Like real clouds vs a static sprite.

    The 3d model of the airplane is hardcoded. The balloons are generated from an algorithm in 3d and the birds are in 3d too (these are just sketched too, four polygons, but in this way it was possible to animate the wings easily from the code). The balloons' strings are animated too.

    A lot of extra work. But it's been worth since I enjoyed it.

    Of course it's not easy to notice all these nuances since the gameplay is 2d and all the elements are rather tiny. Why didn't I make everything bigger? Simple: because it is more fun to play it in this way. You have more space to move. We knew that it would appear less appealing graphically, but we thought that the gameplay was more important for the player.

    It all started from the satisfying experience of flying this little paper airplane by gently tilting the device. Once we tried the gameplay we got hooked and we built the game around this.

    In the first versions you were only able to tilt left and right to control the plane. Then people from this forum (and some reviewer iirc) asked for the option to control the plane by tilting upward downward. Now, no matter how hard I try to explain to the people trying the game that the original setting is far better I can't convince them. Even if it seems unnatural to control the plane by tilting left and right (not clockwise counterclockwise, mind you, which is even worse) you have much more sensitivity and precision in this way. Once you've become accustomed it is far more pleasant.

    As I said, this game is all about the gameplay: simple but effective. No levels, since we wanted it to be a relaxing experience. No powerups (does every game need them? does tetris have powerups?) but each balloon color gives a different score and the probability with which a balloon appears is directly related to the score value. Overall the gameplay has been carefully calibrated since the very first version.

    This game has been ignored by almost all the iphone/itouch gaming websites/blog. But I'm not starting a rant. Again, the game is very very simple - and I wasn't expecting people raving crazily about how awesome it is - but it was done with love (and we're determined to keep working in this way). On one hand I applaud those making shovelware in a matter of hours. They're even supported by all the blogs, so probably they're doing it right. But seriously, it's really disheartening.

    Anyway, I've spent my spare time in the last three months (we're not doing this fulltime obviously) working on an almost full featured custom 3d engine. I have had a lot of ideas and we already have a lot of other projects going on but I'm still uncomfortable about how this tiny little game has been received. And I'm willing to keep working on it to make it better.

    Some have told me 'Please, don't ever change the retro style of the graphics', some keeps saying that they dislike it since it looks too pixelly. Some want powerups, a story mode, weapons to kill birds and a store to buy/upgrade them. Some think that even just a bit of added complexity would detract from the appeal of the game.

    Some think it is already great. But almost everybody else says 'Change this and that and it will be a huge hit'.

    So have you tried the game? What do you think it can be done to improve it? Do you like the graphics? Would you have preferred static images instead of the procedurally generated clouds if they were prettier and more in style with the main menu graphics?

    Thanks in advance to you all for your time. Here are 5 promo codes if you don't own the game and you're curious:

    TPPKHL9M4YAA
    AYYJNHTXT3EJ
    R4FJFRWJRH9T
    JRFT9T69E9PR
    WHLLMNPKYY64

    Cheers,

    -c.

    p.s. Sorry for my poor english.
     
  2. pante

    pante Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2009
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    somewhere
    thank you, i took one promo. soon post my views.
     
  3. McGill

    McGill Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2008
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    Florida
    Me Too..

    ...i got TPPKHL9M4YAA - let you know soon. Thank you.
     
  4. rIcHrAnDoM

    rIcHrAnDoM Well-Known Member

    Nov 17, 2008
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    Steelworker/Welder
    Indiana, USA
    I already have Paper Airplane, and yes, it's simple but it does exactly as is intended. It takes dull minutes and turns them into gliding, balloon poping, bird dodging.... oops better get back to work... Minutes:)
     
  5. darkhorse

    darkhorse Well-Known Member

    Jan 18, 2009
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    #5 darkhorse, Feb 4, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
    I took the third code, thanks.

    I actually do like the graphics. After playing for a while, I think that it can be pretty fun. It just that the things that I want to do with the accelerometer controls (in some cases), I can't really do them. Looks like I got to be very patient with them. Perhaps a touch control can be added on the side of the screen like those blockbuster games and control the plane that way as an option?

    Edit: Wow, looks like the x axis controls are a lot easier than the y controls for me. I enjoy it a lot more now. :)
     
  6. ip0dt0uch

    ip0dt0uch Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2008
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    Darn just missed it. All codes are gone
     
  7. superbad

    superbad Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    CEO. Reviewer. Beta Tester.
    You need to stalk me?
    lilasoft. the game is not bad. it's just that it gets burried in between UP THERE graphics and SPACE NINJA gameplay.

    the problem is with the graphics and the calibration of the airplane itself. it goes straight up and down too much.

    also, the balloon isnt rendered as it should be. The birds need to be a bit bigger because it looks like tiny dots.

    the background though works flawlessly.
     
  8. rIcHrAnDoM

    rIcHrAnDoM Well-Known Member

    Nov 17, 2008
    7,927
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    Steelworker/Welder
    Indiana, USA

    That is a good idea Darkhorse. Maybe touch like Platapus, where your finger is "locked" just behind the plane.
     
  9. yourofl10

    yourofl10 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2008
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    senicivty option the controls are to sensitive

    Sorry for my bad spelling
     
  10. superbad

    superbad Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    CEO. Reviewer. Beta Tester.
    You need to stalk me?
    i agree with your. try implementing touch controls..
     
  11. darkhorse

    darkhorse Well-Known Member

    Jan 18, 2009
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    Have you tried the x axis controls? I think that's a lot easier but I think a sensitivity option will be welcomed.
     
  12. lilasoft

    lilasoft Active Member

    Nov 24, 2008
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    Hi Superbad,

    I was already thinking about adding a setting to decrease the sensitivity of the accelerometer. Of course, I believe that being gentle when tilting is how to play it and you always have the possibility to do change direction faster when you need it.

    Ah, the balloons! I know, I know. :) I should switch to a texture then. More votes on this?

    Cheers,
    -c.
     
  13. lilasoft

    lilasoft Active Member

    Nov 24, 2008
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    Please don't! :) Read my explanation in the first post.

    A sensitivity option is definitely on it's way. Will submit an update in the next couple of days.
     
  14. superbad

    superbad Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    CEO. Reviewer. Beta Tester.
    You need to stalk me?
    how about this??? start the level with big balloons and big airplanes. as you go farther, the items get smaller and the amount increases as well.

    check out sneezies. they start big then go small.

    and yes, it's not more about texture than the pixelated look. i know you've explained why it's as such but it doesn't cut it to some people's tastes ;)
     
  15. darkhorse

    darkhorse Well-Known Member

    Jan 18, 2009
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    I'll probably go back to Y after the update.... Other than that I'm sticking with x controls :p. For some reason I like them that way.
     
  16. Donburns99

    Donburns99 Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    ColdFusion Web Developer
    Rhode Island
    #16 Donburns99, Feb 4, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
    I'm all for using programming to get visual aspects accomplished, as I'm not a graphic artist myself and often use a combination of CSS and XHTML to get the visual idea across in my own work.

    The first issue I ran across was the controls, they worked, but they weren't as precise as I'd have hoped for. That made the game less enjoyable overall in the long run.

    Another thing that bugged me, as we've already discussed privately, is that the splash screen / menu and actual game don't match up. At first your presented with a beautifully drawn and vibrantly colored screen, only to be thrown into a dull colored pixel environment. There is nothing wrong with the game play environment, but the inconsistency between the two gets pointed out and left me wanting more.

    This led me to make a contrast between the other games out there that are similar in game play and pricing. Two good examples have already been mentioned, Space Ninja and Up There. These are graphically pleasing games each in their own right, which causes this game to feel somewhat lacking.

    I personally am all for the retro graphics, but in the end I still felt that if the graphics rivaled Up There, this game would get a lot more attention.

    Of course, if the controls were perfected, I may have originally gotten sucked into the game play and never thought about any of these issues. Unfortunately, once the controls became the issue, I began thinking of other things.
     
  17. lilasoft

    lilasoft Active Member

    Nov 24, 2008
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    #17 lilasoft, Feb 4, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
    Hi Don,
    I don't understand what you mean when you say that the controls have issues. Really. I appreciate your feedback, but this is one of the strongest point of the game accordingly to most reviews. Some said that it is hard to play the first times, and I agree. But it is different to say that there are issues with them.

    If you're willing I'll give you a challenge:

    1 - try to switch to the Y axis setting (the default)
    2 - acknowledge that you don't have to get every balloon (they're infinite and the game doesn't increase in speed over time).
    3 - Try to make a score of at least 1000-1500 points in the 'normal' difficulty.

    Once you've done this - if you're willing - write me back (even privately) and tell me if you still believe there's something wrong with the controls.
     
  18. Donburns99

    Donburns99 Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
    1,866
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    ColdFusion Web Developer
    Rhode Island
    Added your request to my To Do list, will get around to it soon. ^ ^
     
  19. GDSage

    GDSage Well-Known Member

    Feb 4, 2009
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    #19 GDSage, Feb 4, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
    'Out there' suggestions

    Ok, I've not played this, so this is just going from screenshots and video footage. So do correct me if I'm off the mark.


    Presentation
    First off, consistency I feel is a must. I rather like the style of the front end menu so it is a shame that style isn't completely carried over to the main game, especially the clouds. I suggest the clouds in the main game to be redefined, and perhaps spread them about a bit in the distance of the background. You have all these clouds passing you but there's nothing going on far in the background. Far in the background, which neatly bring me to...

    Is it possible to include background art? Say in an endless mode, you could have the background transition from day to night (make sure the birds are more white at night, of course). A night scape would look particularly beautiful what with the yellow twinkling of small faraway stars. In addition how about including scenery, such as hills? By having transitioning backgrounds it would provide an extra sense of progression to the point scoring, as well as look nice.


    Gameplay
    With regards to gameplay mechanics, have you considered a looping mechanic for the plane, so it can perform loop the loops? Control-wise I would suggest a button on the bottom-left of the screen, which needs to be held. By holding it, the plane can shift all the way on its Y axis when tilted left, so it can then begin to perform a loop. This way the range and size of the loop could be controlled by the player by simply adjusting how far they tilt left as well as how much they hold on the button. If you're opposed to a button perhaps execute it by tilting the system up? Though I feel a button would be more accessible.
    This is a big thing to add so I can appreciate you not wanting to do it, especially with your intent for your game and wanting to keep it as true to that intent. However unlike asking for weapons and killing and such (how could people have asked for that?) I feel being able to perform a loop would add a nice little twist yet still keep the original intent of the game intact. You say you don't have to hit all the balloons, but with a loop menchanic such a goal isn't as impossible and it would provide an additional risk/reward system for those people that wish to go for it.


    Presentation and Gameplay
    Next, this falls in both gameplay and presentation but how about including hill caves into the gameplay? For example, most of the time you're in the free sky avoiding the birds but occassionally a large hill will appear in front, with a cave entry and you're tasked to navigate the more restrictive surroundings before being free to fly again in the sky. I'm not suggesting really restrictive cave passages. Have wide passages linking to large cave openings, so its just slightly restrictive. This could be randomly generated so the hill caves are unique everytime (of course guidelines will have to be coded so it isn't impossible to navigate). You can also still keep balloons in this part, just have them already randomly generated within the cave rather than just appearing. Keep the birds out of this section though.

    Overall, that is what I suggest. Most of it would be a lot of work but it appears you certainly have no qualms with working hard. I just feel what with the more simple game designs the little touches (even in just presentation) can make the whole world of difference in 'shaking things up'.
     
  20. lilasoft

    lilasoft Active Member

    Nov 24, 2008
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    Four more codes:

    N69WPEPH3XPX
    L7YJ34EHRJE9
    MKWANKWT9XX6
    FKNRE7MPTHA3

    I've submitted the update with the slider to set accelerometer sensitivity (and some other minor improvements) so I have some more codes to give in the next couple of days.

    If you miss these, keep an eye on the thread (but please, don't pm me for codes).

    Cheers,

    -c.
     

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