Frontier - Space trading/combat game.

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  • well, I had just written a whole load of feedback, but for the second time the website decided to say I don't have permission to post here, and wiped everything I'd written! Arrrrgh!

    I will try and remember what I said, and comment later when I'm on my tea break.

    Though in short: text descriptions on planet data could do with being larger, two types of text comes up and overlaps when being almost fatally attacked, making it tricky to read. Stations could do with some sort of marker making it obvious which direction to fly to find them. Really like the new Korelos title!

  • Kongregate is a bad idea though. I've noticed this before with Kongregate - you'll get 1/5 ratings from people if there's a bug or technical issue, regardless of the game. If you put up a simple game which works well, it'll get 3 or 4 stars, just because it works. If you put up a better game which has technical issues, you get the hate votes. Everybody is claiming there are bugs but it works fine on mine, so I'm not sure what they're seeing that I'm not.

    Thanks for the feedback. Some of the scaling issues are a problem. I initially designed it on full-screen (it's full screen on but 800x600 on Kongregate). Shrinking it down to that size was a problem as it's really not designed to work on such a low resolution. I'll increased the text sizes as there's plenty of space there for a larger text size.

    There is a big X on the radar for the station but maybe it needs to be clearer because the radar is too cluttered now too.

  • farflamex

    Shame that Kongregate's not working for you, though at least the game's out there, I suppose (and you'll be able to gradually figure out which places are the best to promote your game through trial and error).

    I think there's always going to be people encountering bugs and giving bad reviews - it's a very fragile balance trying to get one game to work on such a wide variety of computers. I can appreciate how frustrating it can be when it's through no error of your own. Incase you're not already aware of it, F12 (or Ctrl Shift J on some computers) can bring up a very handing debugging console which might let you know where things are going wrong. I've discovered a 'CS Runtime is not defined' error in my own game, which may explain why it works once and needs the cache to be refreshed before working again (If I could just work out what the error actually means, I might be getting somewhere!)

    If it's any consolation, I haven't discovered any problems or glitches with your game yet but will be sure to let you know if I do.

    Right, let's try and recall a few things I said the last time before I was denied access to posting comments.

    I really like the way the ship gets crippled by enemies, and you get that note that your crew are dying. I felt nice and helpless, though it might be a nice touch if you include the ability to send out a distress signal when close to death (which can, if lucky, summon allied ships to your aid. If less lucky, it could summon more pirates).

    I still haven't encountered a second mission yet, as I got cut apart by pirates before I could locate another station. I'm keen to find out what sort of missions are on offer, and will definitely play more. Out of curiosity, is there a larger campaign style mssion at work behind the scenes, or is the game mostly about flying around trading, killing and upgrading?

    Anyway, keep soldiering on! You've made a great game, and I'm sure some people will that when they've given it a longer play.

    • Dave
  • Thanks Dave. It is pretty disheartening when people give bad reviews, but that's inevitable as you say. It's even worse when the game is running perfectly on mine and the 1-star rating was given on the assumption that I've just released a bug-ridden game, which isn't the case. I worked long and hard to fix every bug and it's pretty much bug-free. It just doesn't seem to work very well on Kongregate for some reason.

    These technical issues are frustrating. It's like the issue with your Board Horde game not working on my PC. Can't work out why it will load in and it's probably not anything you're doing wrong. But it's the sort of thing that will lead to hate-votes, so it can be annoying. Live and learn :p

    Glad you discovered the crippling effects on the ship. It can be quite scary as different parts of the ship shut down. For example if you just lose your thrusters, you can fly around but not steer and you need to shift repair crews to them quickly and the ship will slowly start to turn again (very slowly). The fires work well too and will slowly spread from compartment to compartment, eventually burning the whole ship down unless you fix it or get back to a station.

    I was originally planning a distress signal effect because it's basically game-over if you lose too much control and you're on fire. I was thinking of having them drag you back to a station but I couldn't think of a good way of doing it - besides, there needs to be a way to lose somehow. But I do like the idea of calling in allied vessels for help and that'd be very easy to implement (probably).

    There is a larger campaign going on. The number at the bottom of the screen shows you how strong the enemy have become and you need to make sure it never reaches 1000. It speeds up, so eventually the only way to stop it is to visit enemy systems and smash up their supply lines (which is also very profitable). Mind you, it's also a very good way of getting killed so it's a gamble.

    Thanks again for the encouragement and it's nice to know at least one person has seen some of the math at work :)

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  • By the way, thanks for spotting the planet description font, I've made it a set 16, which works even on the smaller screen - there's plenty of room.

    Try playing it here Korelos - you can see the difference the screen sizes make. For one thing, it's MUCH easier to play at this size. I think you may need to look into this with Board Horde right from the beginning - try to get it working on 800x600, because it's a right pain trying to move down to that size later.

    I've pushed to the Firefox store (very easy through, took about 2 minutes), and am gonna do Chrome later (much fiddlier, I tried with a different game) and am upgrading to W8 later, so I'll try the W8 store. Will report when I have some details, might come in handy later if I do more games, and at least I can pass on my experiences.

  • farflamex

    I'm hoping to try your game out again later on Kongregate to see if I have any issues playing it there (I will report back to you).

    I think W8 (and possibly Chrome, though paid games dont seem to get many downloads there) is likely to be a better market for a game of this depth, as the majority of web game surfers are just looking for a quick fix and won't experience the masses of depth hidden away there.

    What keeps me coming back to Korelos is that there's always something new to discover; you've created a very nicely functioning Elite-style eco-system within which to play the game (trading, factions,'s all there).

    The thing that excites me most about Korelos is the ship damage system, and what you describe about different parts of the ship shutting down and having to combat fires internally; this is very 'FTL' in scope (if you haven't played that game, it's quite cheap to download and well worth a look) and probably needs promoting a bit more as people may not be aware of it at first glance (I just sat there, burnt up and died a bit!) and it's a really nice feature.

    The only thing that (in my opinion) currently lets the game down a bit is the combat (this may get more exciting when your ship is kitted out a bit more, but to start with it's a bit dull). To explain how I handle combat: enemy ships come towards me, and I stay in one position and shoot in one direction until I finally kill something. The thing is, the game's almost encouraging me to play like that, as it's difficult to aim for the ships (hence firing in one direction) and there's no real feeling of speed or manoeuverability, which would probably prompt me to fly around more during combat. Although Korelos is far more than a shootemup, it might be worth looking at shootemups for inspiration, as if you can capture the sheer manic nature of a dogfight properly (one thing I do love about the combat is the way the enemy fighters bob and weave about) your game will have three major selling points; an elite style trading/exploration eco-system, FTL style internal ship management with do-or-die consequences, and fast-paced and dynamic combat.

    Anyway, I realise the suggestions I've given aren't quick fixes and you're more than welcome to ignore them. You're made a rather marvellous game here (probably the most in depth Construct game I've played so far) and I'm sure it will get better and better as you iron out the wrinkles.

    All the best,

    • Dave (ps, the Board Horde link might be working now. Turns out the problem was caused by some sort of dropbox security change)
  • farflamex

    Kongregate test 1:

    Browser Used: Internet Explorer 9.

    The first issue I experienced upon loading the game was it quit almost instantly, and my machine froze. After a short while the freeze stopped, and I was returned to Kongregate to find the game loading. An Ad Choices ad popped up in the top far left corner of the game, obscuring some of the buttons and causing a nuisance! Also, there was no sound whatsoever (I stopped playing after about a minute, as that's probably what any 'normal' user would do upon encountering that problem. I will try it for longer a bit later, and see if there's any other issues).

    I'll give it a go in Chrome once I've finished eating me sarnie!

  • Chipping in to say I gave you a rating and my comment on

    I'm happy that you made this in construct 2. Trade simulation is also what I'm working on and there are so few of those around. The trade gui could use a bit more polishing, it's not bad now but if it is monetized, people might complain that it feels cheap.

    As mentioned in my comment I personally don't like how movement works in this game but I won't down vote you further on that. Gives me a purpose to make a version that I'll like XD

  • Kongregate test 2:

    Browser Used: Chrome (On same desktop PC as previous result)

    Much better results; the game loaded fine, and the sound effects were all there. The Ad Choice advert was still there throughout, obscuring the game and ruining the experience; if there's any way of moving this, or perhaps having it only appear on menu screens etc then this would be a wise choice (I realise that ads are the only way to make money on many of these social gaming networks, but if it puts people off the game and makes them rate it lower then it probably won't make you much money anyway as no one will ever play it).

    One other text related issue I discovered; if you dock with the space station and have all the commodities text up, when you click the missions button the text comes up white and is almost completely obscured by the other text (most other menu options come with a text box that helps make the text stand out).

    Also, I'm guessing some sort of Auto Save feature is in operation? As there's a load button and no save button, it might be worth changing 'Quit' to 'Save and Quit' so that players are more aware they can continue where they left off.

    Anyway, I will try and test the game on Firefox at home, though it probably won't be until tomorrow (I'm sure you already have plenty to digest!)

    • Dave
  • Thanks for the input. I should have looked for more input whilst making the game as I could have avoided some of the problems maybe. It's why I'm keen to help with Board Horde as I realise how valuable input can be. The thing that's most frustrating about the Kongregate crowd is they just say 'Loads of bugs', give it a 1 rating and then don't answer when you ask what the bugs are.

    I sort of agree with you about the combat. Once you get good at it, it's actually much better to fly away from the enemies and have them chase you, which forces them to fly straight at you and they become easier targets. The 'fun' part of that is that you have to keep rotating to keep your stronger shields facing them (gives a Star-Trekky sort of feeling of 'starboard shields failing'). But overall I'd agree that the combat isn't quite right and let's the game down a bit. Worse of all, it's the bit that people see first and they just assume it's a combat game and could easily lose interest. The problem is, due to the movement style of the game (i.e from above and free to go in any direction) I'm not sure how to alter it. In a standard shoot-em-up, you're going in one direction so the enemies can be given paths and stuff.

    By the way, interestingly, the ships have no AI at all. It's a strange quirk of the movement system that they constantly appear to dodging and weaving around, but it's just because of the way they move. Sometimes they even seem to retreat when they're damaged and come flying in for hit-n-run attacks but it's not programmed that way. They're just given a random location close to your ship and they attempt to reach it constantly, and occasionally change the location. All of their behaviour stems from that. I was expecting to have to work for weeks on the AI and it all worked with like 1 command xD

    I did notice that it doesn't work on IE9. Not at all on my PC, it just loads up and freezes. Not sure how to fix that. It's dead on Kongregate now - 2 star rating, although if I knew what all the bugs were I'd fix them, delete it and re-launch it there because Kongregate DOES send you lots of traffic (about 300 hits in 2 days).

    Incidentally, host your games on I'm not sure if the advertising revenues are broke but I made $2 from 300 plays, so almost 1 cent per play. That's huge in my experience.

    I'll tweak the other stuff you mentioned. You can't actually save the game until you're in the station by the way. With the new C2 feature, I could probably change that to save the entire game now, even out in space.

    Rosareven, give me a shout if you need any help with your game. It might be something I could help with if you're making something similar. I should say that C2 was fine for this game and I didn't experience any major obstacles, other than the ones everybody else probably experience (my pet-hate with C2 is the inability to tweak and object after it's created until your next top-level event, that caused me loads of problems).

  • rosareven - By the way, I don't see any comment or vote on, are you sure it went in correctly?

  • Aw man, I could have swore I did type it out. It was the same things I mentioned in this post anyway.

    I'd love to get some help one way or another in the near future. Right now the game I'm making is for student contest and it's about to end in two days. I've been soloing the programming (using public domain assets so I only do the programming) and I'm on my last minute rush right now. After the deadline is over I'll start looking for help publicly to either improve that game or start a new project. I got so many ideas. And I'll let you know when that happens.

    The game I'm making has no action element (or for now at least). It's sort of a mix of math puzzle and trade simulation that relies heavily on dialogues, very much like Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale. I'll post some screenshots later when I get my core mechanics sorted.

    Yeah I know, I don't have much time left for the contest...!

  • Kongregate Test 3:

    Just had another go in Hard mode, on Internet Explorer and I discovered a bug (which may be related to IE, but I thought I'd better mention it).

    I was several minutes into the game, flying around and shooting asteroids, then after a moment the controls stopped functioning properly; the ship started to spin round and round on its own and I had to hold two keys down at once just so I could get it to fly in one direction.

    further tests will follow at some point.

  • Yeah, that's the only sort of bug I have identified, and it's something to do with the browsers and the way they work with Kongregate. It doesn't just happen on IE, it's happened to me on Chrome, although I think I fixed the Chrome version by forcing the browser to have focus whenever there's a mouse click.

    I might try to fix it to work better on IE. My main gripe with IE is that it doesn't work with the setcolor function, so all the pretty laser colours are ignored and they're just always green. But I can't do much about that.

    I'll have a crack at fixing it on IE, but I do think the other complaints about bugs seemed to be more than that. I can remove the ads at least, and maybe fix these, and repost it, see if it can get more than 2 stars :p

  • That's a really ambitious project, very impressive. It's worrying that your are having problems with Kongregate though, so am I right in thinking Kongregate just acts as a portal and doesn't actually host your game at all? Does that mean the game is hosted on or on your own site? I'm hoping to put some stuff on Kongregate soon so it's good to read about other people's experience with it.

    I agree this would be great as a standalone .exe file, although how does saving work with that? Would clearing your cache in your normal browser potentially delete your save from the .exe? Anyway sorry for straying slightly there, great work on the game.

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