[SA Game Jam 2018] Mr Robo's Proving Grounds

Project Name: Mr Robo's Proving Grounds
Level of experience: Hobbyist
48Hr Entry

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The game is focused around slowly building up new forms of movement, starting from basic movement and looking around, to getting the ability to jump and climb things.

The higher you get in the level the more powerups you'll find, enhancing your abilities and giving you entirely new ones sometimes.
You can learn to chain them together and keep momentum as you work your way farther and farther upwards, until you reach the top towers.

There's also a sandbox mode that unlocks everything right off the bat, though you can still collect powerups to get ludicrously fast.
All accompanied by my brother's High Tech / Drum and Bass sound design, it's rather fun to jump around in for a while, let me know what you guys think!

Download Link (Windows 64bit): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uKNrNukmolTeyF0ehAV8d0_ZhQ-NiICQ/view?usp=sharing
To play, extract the files and run Free_Lives_Escal_Pos.exe

Rough system Requirements:
Windows 64bit
1GB Harddrive Space
3GB GPU
2GB RAM (not sure about this one? again, rough estimate)
If your system doesnt meet these requirements, feel free to try it anyway, I'm just going off of readings from HWMonitor

Made By Samuel Burnett (Code, Visuals, Design) and Scott Burnett (Audio)
Some textures used from Unreal Engine's starter content

Comments

  • I've played through part of this and I really love the feeling that it's a hyper-condensed Metroidvania/Mirror's Edge mashup. In a small time and space you've really created quite a miniature movement-based puzzlebox. Really good!

    My only wish is that you had a little more time to further refine the controls and some aspects of the level design, but I think it's a really good show for competition and I super clearly see the potential.
    Thanked by 1Desktoy
  • This looks amazing! Would love to play it. Any chance you could create a Mac build?
  • edited
    donderbos said:
    This looks amazing! Would love to play it. Any chance you could create a Mac build?
    I could try to when I get home later this evening, I'll edit this post if it works, check back tonight :)

    Edit: Unfortunately it looks like I can't package on Windows, and I don't have access to a Mac to do it from, really sorry homie. If anyone knows a workaround I'd be more than happy to do it.
  • Wow! This seems really good. This is another well polished entry that has a lot going for it. There are many things that are really well done. I like the visuals. I love the HUD and how it's presented to the player. I really enjoy the music track and the sounds. I believe that the music track speeds up as you do as well, which is a really nice touch.

    It's a little bit unfair to do this to a jam entry, but everything else was done so well that I feel like I can hammer on this a little. The controls do not feel good enough for this style of game. Now I might be a bad player, but I had trouble controlling certain aspects of the character while trying to traverse the world. It was especially difficult for me to do side wall jumps.

    It felt like a three part problem for me:
    Firstly, the first person camera makes it difficult to see where I'm going. Unless my objective platform/ledge is already in my field of view I have to find some mark that I need to react to while I'm trying to perform a jump. There didn't seem to be a lot of "landmarks" that I could use for the purpose though.

    Secondly, I didn't feel any weight in my jumping animations. I felt like I couldn't find a rhythm for jumping since the wasn't a compression period where I would be leaning into the wall preparing for the jump off of it. This made it feel like I just had to spam and hope for the best, which greatly detracted from the "jumping puzzle" feeling that I think the game was going for.

    Thirdly, there was no audio feedback for jumps. Now, it can be argued that you shouldn't rely on audio but I think that putting in audio cues for the player for when they make contact with terrain will make a world of difference. A lot of what you do in a jumping puzzle is rhythm based and since we generally don't have a haptic element in games we have to go for our next best thing.

    Those are my thoughts and perceptions on it. Hopefully someone else can add some better insight. This is definitely my favourite entry so far and will probably be my favourite of the jam.
    Thanked by 1Desktoy
  • Wow! This seems really good. This is another well polished entry that has a lot going for it. There are many things that are really well done. I like the visuals. I love the HUD and how it's presented to the player. I really enjoy the music track and the sounds. I believe that the music track speeds up as you do as well, which is a really nice touch.

    It's a little bit unfair to do this to a jam entry, but everything else was done so well that I feel like I can hammer on this a little. The controls do not feel good enough for this style of game. Now I might be a bad player, but I had trouble controlling certain aspects of the character while trying to traverse the world. It was especially difficult for me to do side wall jumps.

    It felt like a three part problem for me:
    Firstly, the first person camera makes it difficult to see where I'm going. Unless my objective platform/ledge is already in my field of view I have to find some mark that I need to react to while I'm trying to perform a jump. There didn't seem to be a lot of "landmarks" that I could use for the purpose though.

    Secondly, I didn't feel any weight in my jumping animations. I felt like I couldn't find a rhythm for jumping since the wasn't a compression period where I would be leaning into the wall preparing for the jump off of it. This made it feel like I just had to spam and hope for the best, which greatly detracted from the "jumping puzzle" feeling that I think the game was going for.

    Thirdly, there was no audio feedback for jumps. Now, it can be argued that you shouldn't rely on audio but I think that putting in audio cues for the player for when they make contact with terrain will make a world of difference. A lot of what you do in a jumping puzzle is rhythm based and since we generally don't have a haptic element in games we have to go for our next best thing.

    Those are my thoughts and perceptions on it. Hopefully someone else can add some better insight. This is definitely my favourite entry so far and will probably be my favourite of the jam.
    Thank you for the feedback! Really appreciate it, some of those things had occurred to me, some not, I'll explain.

    1. The map I'll agree was a bit samey and confusing to look at when moving quickly, if I had more time I definately would have refined it more, but alas, game jams are often rushed and I had to finish with what I had. I think it would also be more confusing to others playing it than it is to me, as I created it and know it, so I can sympathise with this.

    2 & 3 These were issues I was tackling at the end of development, but eventually had to cut because they weren't working and I had to publish the build. The audio for jumping, sliding and running was working and did help, but I was encountering a strange bug where if I spammed actions then the music would cut out and not come back the entire play session, so I had to make the choice, and I chose to keep the music as I felt it helped the feel more. I haven't played much with audio in UE4 so I really had no idea where to start in fixing it.
    The camera shake was nearly implemented to complement every jump and impact, but again, it was a system in UE4 I hadn't much used, so I was unable to solve bugs it created in time, and thus it was cut. The indicators on the Right and Left of the HUD were the only indicators

    Not trying to make excuses, just letting you know that those issues were next on my list but timing was unfortunate, if I maybe had one or two hours more they likely would have worked.

    Thank you so much for the feedback, I really do appreciate that you took the time and effort to give a well thought out critique, and I'm glad you liked the game despite some of the issues :)
  • What felt good:
    - Music (although a bit distracting at time) was different and interesting.
    - The scenery, looked interesting and adventurous.

    What felt bad:
    - Lack of audio feedback for actions.
    - mashing space bar to perform stunts, hoping the jumps will stick.
    - Uncertain pathways and difficult spacing for certain jumps.

    The Unreal Engine polish shines through nicely and is an ideal engine for this style of game, but the controls and jump spacing needs more newbie-proofing. And Audio feedback is sorely missed.
    Thanked by 1Desktoy
  • edited
    This looks and plays like a AAA studio game. Its still rough and I have my own set of gripes, mostly very minor.

    The parkour aspects are amazing as is the "feel" of the level. I have never been good at these kind of games though... Dying light, Mirror's edge, Assassins creed etc, but I do enjoy them.

    I would remove the [ ] characters from the menu text, I know right! Konman that is sooo minor! Shuttup konman!

    The mouse sensitivity could be increased a bit too, you could easily address that in a controls config menu though.

    Overall the music, sound and graphics are wonderful and I look forward to see what you can accomplish with this in the next couple of months seeing what you have been able to produce so far in a 3 day jam.

    Extremely well polished and technically a very advanced entry in this jam. I like it a lot. I also like the fact that it is brothers who are teaming up. We don't stand a chance :)
    Thanked by 1Desktoy
  • edited
    This is a really cool idea! I take it you've played Refunct then? This feels like it could be a really rad contender to Refunct.

    The parts I didn't like was how the level was so vertical, and this meant the potential for losing all your progress was very high. Some of the things that are really enjoyable, like the powerful wall bounces, become real liabilities once you're up high. If you want to keep the vertical level with this amount of potential progress loss, then I would have liked more predictable/reliable controls.

    I did appreciate that getting up from the bottom became easier and easier as my powers grew. I didn't find a use for the crouch ability (but I assume those pipes are involved somewhere). And I picked up something that said something about "pulling" but I don't think I ever got the grapple (I didn't get to the top).

    I felt like the dark gritty art style, combined with pretty powerful motion blur, made it very difficult to see what was going on. It might be possible to improve the game just by making sure it's all reasonably well lit and then colour coding sections (to that you can see where the red area is in relation to the blue area and that way be able to orientate yourself easily).

    Something closer to the Mirror's Edge lighting/colouring setup I guess is what I'm suggesting. Though I don't mean that you should lose the cyberpunk theme, just light the darkest areas better and separate materials by colour more frequently as a dark grey pipe on a dark grey block isn't very recognizable.

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    I didn't figure out yet how to use the air hover. By the time I got it I was quite high up and I REALLY didn't want to experiment (as I was high up) and when I used the hover it seemed like I could wall jump out from the air and that immediately caused me to fall to the bottom of the level.

    Basically, I think this has a ton of potential with a bit of tweaking. I think it might be too unforgiving at the moment (maybe a bit developer hard). I'm not sure that the slopes work well in the game, given the game treats them sort of like ledges and sort of like wall jumps sometimes, and it's not exactly clear what's going to happen when you press space against one of them. I think adjusting the game to read better visually, and thereby play a bit more reliably, would make this really shine (along with some tweaks to the level design).

    I generally enjoy games like this (like Refunct) so I'm pretty stoked by this entry! I'd be keen to try it again if you work on it some more.
    Thanked by 1Desktoy
  • This is a really cool idea! I take it you've played Refunct then? This feels like it could be a really rad contender to Refunct.
    I haven't played it before! but it looks really interesting, gonna buy a copy for myself and give it a whirl this weekend, thanks :)

    The parts I didn't like was how the level was so vertical, and this meant the potential for losing all your progress was very high. Some of the things that are really enjoyable, like the powerful wall bounces, become real liabilities once you're up high. If you want to keep the vertical level with this amount of potential progress loss, then I would have liked more predictable/reliable controls.
    The risk of losing progress was one of the main ideas, I wanted a high risk/ high reward scenario, with little goodies to find in every corner that you're willing to risk getting to. Though I will admit, it was a bit too punishing at times, in all honesty I made a bunch of prefabs for obstacles and didnt have too much time to refine the actual design and flow of the level, I would have definately liked to put more "Safe areas" in,where you can experiment without too much risk of falling so far

    I did appreciate that getting up from the bottom became easier and easier as my powers grew. I didn't find a use for the crouch ability (but I assume those pipes are involved somewhere). And I picked up something that said something about "pulling" but I don't think I ever got the grapple (I didn't get to the top).
    Grapple isn't right at the top, its just before the level opens up to the "Top", though I will admit it was the hardest powerup to get in my playthroughs, I should have added more options to get to it. The slide and air stall didnt come much into play either, I wrote them in the initial design doc but didn't plan the level to encorporate them too much (Air stall is more a way to save yourself if you fall)

    I felt like the dark gritty art style, combined with pretty powerful motion blur, made it very difficult to see what was going on. It might be possible to improve the game just by making sure it's all reasonably well lit and then colour coding sections (to that you can see where the red area is in relation to the blue area and that way be able to orientate yourself easily).

    Something closer to the Mirror's Edge lighting/colouring setup I guess is what I'm suggesting. Though I don't mean that you should lose the cyberpunk theme, just light the darkest areas better and separate materials by colour more frequently as a dark grey pipe on a dark grey block isn't very recognizable.

    image

    Motion blur I kinda forgot to turn off. it was on by default and I guess I just got used to it over time, I completely agree that it's distracting and confusing.
    Brighter colour palette is definitely something I wish I could go back and change, I tried to make things a little bit colourful with different shades for the prefabs, but when all the post processing and lighting was added the colours really got lost in the shadows. Colour coding areas is also something that I could have done but slipped my mind, I'll keep it in mind for next time though!


    I didn't figure out yet how to use the air hover. By the time I got it I was quite high up and I REALLY didn't want to experiment (as I was high up) and when I used the hover it seemed like I could wall jump out from the air and that immediately caused me to fall to the bottom of the level.
    Air hover was [Left ALT] I agree it's a little sketchy to experiment when so much progress is on the line.

    Basically, I think this has a ton of potential with a bit of tweaking. I think it might be too unforgiving at the moment (maybe a bit developer hard). I'm not sure that the slopes work well in the game, given the game treats them sort of like ledges and sort of like wall jumps sometimes, and it's not exactly clear what's going to happen when you press space against one of them. I think adjusting the game to read better visually, and thereby play a bit more reliably, would make this really shine (along with some tweaks to the level design).
    Yeah, the slopes were yucky. I didn't really have enough time to figure out a way to slide down them, I wanted the player to be able to crouch on them and build up speed, but I couldn't figure it out in time.

    I generally enjoy games like this (like Refunct) so I'm pretty stoked by this entry! I'd be keen to try it again if you work on it some more.
    Thank you! I have done a little bit more work on it, but unfortunately my job has got me bogged down a little so I haven't had as much free time for it as I'd like, so who knows if I'll be able to update it, thank you for playing and for the feedback!

  • edited
    Thanks for taking my feedback into consideration.

    Refunct is worth playing if you haven't already. What's weird about the game is that you can complete it in about 9 minutes even on your first play through, yet it has somewhere over 300,000 sales.

    I believe people actually really like first person platforming when they can get into a zone and jump around and experiment with improving their routes. Refunct obviously supports this with it's clean visuals and pleasant audio palette and very forgiving level design. It isn't difficult to complete Refunct, but it is difficult to complete it well.

    One thing Refunct does that you might want to consider incorporating is colouring the path that the player takes. This feels like a small reward for progress in the game, and I suspect it triggers completionist urges in some players.

    For the type of game Robo Proving Grounds is currently, I think Refunct is the most successful competitor. It seems to me that there is an audience for minimal relaxing high-skill-ceiling experiences, with games like Superflight being very popular as well. If this zen experience is a part of the reason for their popularity, then I can imagine the hardcore aesthetic of Robo Proving Grounds to turn away the players that enjoy Refunct. Obviously copying Refunct's aesthetic to produce a zen-like feeling would feel derivative, but maybe there's a way to achieve the best of both (and possibly something like Mirror's Edge sits near that peak).
  • @EvanGreenwood Thanks! I think the best course of action for this would be to start a new level from scratch, maybe I'll give that a go this weekend.
    If I put up another build would you check it out and give further feedback? I understand the jam is over, but I'd still like to improve and your feedback is much appreciated
  • edited
    Yeah! I think that's a good course of action and I'm interested to check it out. I think you've got an interesting set of mechanics in Robo Proving Grounds and I think there's a lot to be learnt from reconfiguring the level design (level design is in my opinion a the most fascinating part of game design).

    I hope some other folks here are interested as well!
    Thanked by 1Desktoy
  • edited
    Just a heads up, I haven't given up on the project, it is still being worked on. I've roughed out a new level design based on a few beginning testing chambers, similar to Portal and then opening up into a freeroam environment.

    I have the assets ready, quite a few modular pieces with much brighter colour schemes and materials set up in a way that they can change once the player lands on them, showing where you have been already.

    I've also added a checkpoint system so if you want to mark off a "Safe zone" you can travel back to there if you fall too far, hopefully this encourages more daring routes. Though the system can't be abused to mark it off every time you land, you need to travel to certain areas. This still means there's reasonable risk to jumping around all crazy like.

    I've changed the feel of the grappling hook a little, it will adjust your camera roll to make it feel like you're being pulled more in one direction, I feel as though this helps the feedback on the players current movement state, but I will make it optional as I feel like it could cause motion sickness to some people.

    Still to do before the next build:
    Build up new level from made assets
    Fix audio bugs
    Proper audio feedback with distinctive sounds for different actions
    Main menu rework (I personally don't like it, I just threw it together at the last moment)
    Options menu for some aspects (Might be pushed back to the following build as I haven't really tried that before)


    Oh, and also, the reason for the delay is that I've been asked by my work to make a VR prototype, so my UE4 time has been going to that almost exclusively, and when I get home I can't bare to look at the editor for longer
    Thanked by 1EvanGreenwood
  • Rad! Looking forward to trying it out.

    Also, that sounds like a cool opportunity with that VR prototype at work...? Will you be able to share that?
  • I can share a little bit of the VR I think,
    Here's a preview of it. Keep in mind it's still WIP so things will look quite incomplete and I didn't manage to test everything before recording so there are some glitches (IE, the fridge)

    For Mr Robo's Proving Grounds, I just recorded a little update in case you're curious, you can check it here

    Will update this thread with more stuff as it continues
  • edited
    The progress looks rad! The lighted bits that change colour are a nice touch that keeps that cyberpunk vibe.

    Those first sections do seem to lack the open world puzzle solving that the original prototype had. I'm keen to see the bit when the game opens up, as that first section seems a bit weaker than how the original started.

    I'd love to see it lit as well!
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