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Caravel Forum : DROD Boards : Architecture : Bongthro Begins (Tribute to GatEB)
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azb
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File: Bongthro Begins 4.hold (145.9 KB)
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icon Bongthro Begins (+4)  
This hold is more straightforward combat, like the first two holds, and as the GatEB tribute, is intended for beginners, although it becomes much harder near the end as the hold gradually introduces monsters and elements.

However, the similarity ends there; this hold introduces all of the DROD elements in the GatEB engine instead of just the handful the official hold did. Because of this, the hold is not just canon-size; it is 30 levels long whereas the original was 22.

However, it is still divided into 3 chapters and gradually builds a plot for The Blank Dungeon and Secret of the Blank Dungeon. There is also more much more secrets in this hold than the previous two combined.

EDIT 6/10/2019; fixed:

* First and second levels requiring tactics that were beginner unfriendly

* Fourth level backtracking issue

* Confusing scripting in Sixth level secret room

* Insufficient checkpoints in one room in sixth level

* Insufficient checkpoints in one room in third level

* Excessive amount of golems in sixth level

* Excessive amount of wraithwings in fifth level

* Excessive amount of serpents in seventh level

EDIT 6/10/2019; fixed:

* Excessive roaches in first level

* Excessive queens in second level

* Fiddly room in Town Hall 2E

* Excessive guards in tenth level

EDIT 6/11/2019; fixed:

* Unintended entrance in Boggy Brewery: 1W

* Unintended entrance in King Azb's Castle: 3N1E

* Unintended solution in King Azb's Castle: 1N2E

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[Last edited by azb at 06-11-2019 01:49 PM : Fixed later lavels]
06-10-2019 at 12:44 AM
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Kaelyn
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File: Bongthro Begins1.demo (28.4 KB)
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+3)  
I've attached my victory demos up through the first few rooms of Town Hall Basement. I think I've gone through even secret room so far, but I won't know until I conquer the hold.

I didn't try to break any rooms, so I won't have any unintended solutions. I hope the demos are useful anyway.

I'll provide more detailed commentary later.

[Last edited by Kaelyn at 06-10-2019 03:22 AM]
06-10-2019 at 02:19 AM
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+2)  
Hi azb,

I appreciate the effort to make a beginner-oriented hold; we could always do with more of those. However, I feel this hold needs a lot of work before it's suitable for being presented as beginner-friendly. I would like to go through it carefully and make some detailed posts on where I feel it needs improvement -- but before I really start this, I have to ask: are you going to take this feedback seriously and make improvements where necessary?

Anyway, I'll start with the issues I've noted so far, after playing through the first few levels.

Budkin Household

1N: There's too much going on here for the very first combat room. The roaches start out too close, so the player doesn't have time to absorb all the information being thrown at them. A better introduction would have the roaches (or a single roach) away behind some walls or doors so the player can choose when to start combat. (See GatEB : Outer Walls : 1S3E.)

Force arrows are introduced here, even though they are only a structural element and you don't use them in any puzzles on this level. That's too much information for the first room. It would be better to have a separate room for force arrows, and use them as part of the puzzle so the player can clearly see how they affect both player and monster movement.

1N1W: Also too much for the second room. There is a linchpin here (tidy the roaches up so you only have to defend two adjacent tiles) but imagine a beginner playing this as their second room ever! I get the impression that you're trying to think about what a beginner would need to learn in terms of element behaviour, but forgetting that learning combat tactics also takes a slow start and a gradual build-up.

1W: Somewhat better. At least there is a clear focus (retreat under cover) and the room becomes simple once you do this.

1S1W: Now the lesson is to use tunnels as cover, but because there are so many roaches and movement order is so chaotic, it's not at all clear how to lead them to avoid being attacked from both sides. Also, the tunnels are effectively walls here -- the player isn't going to learn about moving through tunnels, unless they happen to try it out after clearing the room. If you want to introduce tunnels in the first level, it's worth spending more time on them, showing first a simple room where you have to move through tunnels, then facing the correct direction to kill when moving through a tunnel, then avoiding have two roaches adjacent to an exit, and yes, somewhere in this you could show using tunnels as cover.

1S: The player has to move north so that the roaches thin out into two lines. It would not be easy for a new player to grasp why being north works and being south fails, when you haven't said anything about movement order; and this linchpin has nothing to do with the pressure plate lesson the room is supposedly about!

(Also, the scrolls are wrong for anyone using 3.0 pressure plates.)

1S1E: The linchpin is to let out only a few roaches at a time so you can deal with them before letting out the rest. The fewest it's possible to release at once is nineteen. That's too many for a complete beginner to handle in open space.

1E: Here, the linchpin is to start with a pressure plate between two vertically aligned groups, because these are further apart so you have more time to deal with them. I'm okay with that. But because of movement order, it doesn't work if the player attacks a north group first -- the room looks symmetrical but isn't, because of hidden information.

Now I should be clear, I am not suggesting you teach the player all about movement order on the first level! I just think it would be much more beginner-friendly if you changed the puzzles so they don't depend on movement order.

1N1E: No checkpoint.

Budkin Attic

Entrance: So the new player gets here and sees a tooltip about how roach queens move opposite to a roach. There are 12 queens in the room, and none of them are moving! Of course, you and I know they are on force arrows, but you never taught the player that monsters can be on force arrows or how to right-click to see what's on a tile.

In any case, the new player needs to be introduced to queen movement with a room in which a queen is actually moving.

1E: The player must enter from the west, so that enough queens stay at the north end that the roach swarm doesn't get unmanageable. They must kill as many queens as possible before the first spawn. Then they have to progress south against roughly 20 roaches per spawn cycle until they can reach the south queens and start killing. This is aimed at beginners? :?

1N1E: A bit more like it. Kill as many as possible before the first spawn; the room is simple after that. However, it's perfectly possible the player went west first and went round the whole level clockwise, so they would enter this room from the north and have a very bad time.

2N1E: A bit tedious, but at least this is a genuine beginner-friendly room that I could imagine being in GatEB.

2N, 2N1W, 1W: Not too bad.

1N1W: I entered from the north, and that meant I had to time the queen's release so she was blocked on her own spawn, which is much too advanced for a player's first time ever seeing roach queens -- especially when it looks like a horde room and the player has no reason to suspect an advanced trick will be involved.

Entering from the south, the room is much fairer -- but if both 1N1W and 1N1E expect you to enter from the south, as it appears, then you are expecting the player to play partway through the level and then backtrack, instead of carrying on to new rooms.

Budkinville

Entrance: Pretty easy, but could be very annoying if you mess up and have to start over and watch the cutscene again. Couldn't you have the cutscene in a separate room to the north?

Other rooms: Okay, but there's a lot more you can do with evil eyes other than just using them for more horde rooms. Nothing here was as bad as Attic 1E, but I still wouldn't have liked this to be my first introduction to evil eyes as a new player. 1S1W should have, at least, extra checkpoints at (15,11) and (26,20).

Abominable Arboretum

Backtracking issue: if you clear Entrance and exit south, you can't access the rest of the level.

Rocky Road

1N1E and 1N2E are good rooms. 2N is okay. The other rooms... well, again I feel there are more interesting things you can do with rock golems than put the player in front of a large horde. 2N1E needs checkpoints further north. In 1N, the gaps in the pressure plate aren't strictly necessary but a nice time-saver, so thank you for that.

1N1W: Lit-up floor tiles don't suggest "scripted exit" to me, so I was stuck here until I messed around to see if anything happened. Definitely suggest adding a tooltip. The room itself was fine.

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06-10-2019 at 03:14 AM
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azb
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+1)  
You are right in retrospect; the early levels shouldn't involve as much advanced combat tactics as I involved, so I will fix accordingly.

However, the main reason I didn't fully implement the changes in the other holds is because it felt like you were personally having a pet peeve with too much combat rooms because it wasn't your play style (which even though most of your comments are helpful, the Rocky Road comments in particular suggest), despite that being the main theme of my holds, rather than ones that were actually tedious.

However, I'm not angry or upset; I enjoy you providing constructive feedback as you playtest throughout the hold. :)

Although I must confess, the beginning of the post that asks "please tell me: are you going to take the criticism seriously" felt as if I were treating it flippantly, which was slightly concerning/frustrating. Just because I don't implement every change demanded doesn't mean I'm outright ignoring you or not treating criticism seriously.

I also understand, however, the previous holds actually did have grindwork in them rather than combat that makes you think, so I tried to avoid that to the best of my ability here. The caveat to that, is that grindwork can be hard to discern because it is relatively subjective; what is grindwork to a master DRODDer can be challenging to a beginner. (IE: in Secret of the Blank Dungeon, Fifth Level 1N2W was obvious because it involved dropping lots of trapdoors, but Fourth Level 1S1W, while involving a lot of rock golems behind broken walls, still involved a slayer chasing you and it wasn't entirely grindwork because you had to keep the slayer in mind).

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[Last edited by azb at 06-10-2019 01:11 PM]
06-10-2019 at 11:09 AM
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azb
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+1)  
Okay, I implemented the changes to the best of my ability. If you are still concerned that the first and second levels have puzzles unfriendly to beginners or other issues, please let me know.

However, the third and sixth levels are left relatively as-is with a few less monsters in the sixth level; the theme of this hold is explicit combat, rather than clever lynchpins. If you would like me to change them because they are not beginner-friendly or because of technical issues such as backtracking (although I think those particular levels are good there), I can still do that.

Perhaps think of it as even though it is a tribute to GatEB, it uses JtRH-type old-school combat?

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[Last edited by azb at 06-10-2019 12:43 PM]
06-10-2019 at 11:56 AM
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Kaelyn
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+2)  
Some comments on the new version:

Budkin Household:
Click here to view the secret text

Budkin Attic:
Click here to view the secret text

Budkinville:
Click here to view the secret text

Overall, I'm pleased with the changes so far. There's a few more things you might want to do, and I absolutely recommend getting someone who's never played the game to try it out.

"Bongthro Begins" feels much closer to KDD than GatEB. Once I changed impressions, I enjoyed the hold much more.

I'll keep playing and commenting. (I want to post the new demos, but I don't know how to disentangle them from the old demos.)
06-10-2019 at 07:56 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+1)  
You are right in that even though I posted it is like GatEB, it is intended only to be in terms of difficulty; the actual presentation style is more similar to KDD with its combat style and simple aesthetics, although that theme was also prevalent in my previous three holds as well.

First Level Entrance: Instructed the player on basic movement.

1N: Introduced walls to allow more time to react.

1N1W and 1W: Reduced roach count.

1S1W: The rate I am introducing elements is fairly intentional, as the elements introduced in particular are basic/not much needed to learn about.

2S1W: I agree that it is not as straightforward/slightly lynchpin-esque, but I made it intentional to show the importance of using tunnels in monster fighting.

2S: Solutions not involving using the tunnels are intentional here; they are meant to be used as cover.

1S1E: Added a roach in the northeast corner to get the player to avoid either them or the roach stepping on it.

1E: Renamed the scroll to be more neutral, because as Nuntar pointed out if you use 3.0 plates the description doesn't make sense.

Budkin Attic:

1E: Reduced count of roach queens.

2N2E: I think this makes sense as a reference to the official GatEB hold, too, since in the first few levels the secrets required more thought than the required rooms.

2N1W: The reason I introduced green doors was because as Nuntar pointed out, it can be impossible depending on the direction you approach certain rooms in the level, so I made it a linear difficulty like the previous level instead.

1N1W: Amount of roaches in NW fixed.

1W: I confess, in the rest of the hold arrow rotator tokens aren't used very frequently anyway, so perhaps I could just introduce them later in the hold?

EDIT to above comment: I decided to remove the arrow rotator tokens and introduce them later in the hold.

Budkinville: The openness of this level is intentional, since I wanted to introduce players to the concepts of both open-ended levels giving them more choice on what rooms to do first and reducing difficulty depending on what entrance you take.

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[Last edited by azb at 06-10-2019 08:49 PM]
06-10-2019 at 08:25 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (0)  
I also introduced a tooltip in Budkin Attic 2N about backswiping, as I believe it is the first room to actually require it for an efficient solution (the rooms before it and the level before it allow the player to succeed with just swinging tactics).

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06-10-2019 at 08:39 PM
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Aquator
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File: Bongthro Begins demos.demo (142.4 KB)
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+2)  
All rooms are clearable. :)
I'm attaching a full demo set just in case that's useful somehow.
06-11-2019 at 01:01 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Bongthro Begins (+1)  
Okay, I can see that you found an unintended solution in King Azb's Castle: the adder was supposed to eat the citizens. I will fix it accordingly.

I will also keep most of the levels as-is right now, but the other change I will implement is added green doors in King Azb's Castle and Boggy Brewery to prevent accidental solutions from alternative entrances.

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06-11-2019 at 01:46 PM
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