Nova Golf Beta

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Joined: 2002.05
Post: #1
Anyone interested in testing Nuclear Nova's newest game Nova Golf? This is a total 100% new game, not just an updated version of GL Golf. Everything has been revamped from scratch, we're trying to keep the same simplicity while vastly expanding the depth of the game and improving the physics/graphics. We're hoping to submit for the Mac App Store in a week or so, then on iOS a few weeks after that once we test/optimize on all the supported devices.

Most things are done, however we do have a few textures that need finished and balancing the game/courses is a work in progress. Still, we'd love to hear ANY suggestions you have. Specifically we're having a hard time balancing the game, the two artists and I have been practicing so long we've gotten really good at the game and we don't want to make it to difficult for new players. Also we have limited testing configurations so we're not positive the defaults will run smooth on all systems. There are a lot of graphical options that should make the game run smooth and look its best on all systems, but it's hard to know for sure without testing on EVERY Mac.

Thanks in advance for any advice and feedback, I hope you enjoy it the game! (Requires 10.6.8+, 32/64 bit Intel)
[Image: ngsc1.png]
[Image: ngsc2.png]
[Image: ngsc3.png]
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Post: #2
First thing I noticed was that it looks like a 4:3 game stretched to be wider. Just to be sure I popped it into photoshop to confirm the minimap wasn't square:

I'll probably give it a try after work, if I get a chance

Howling Moon Software - CrayonBall for Mac and iPhone, Contract Game Dev Work
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Post: #3
(Apr 16, 2012 09:22 AM)AndyKorth Wrote:  First thing I noticed was that it looks like a 4:3 game stretched to be wider. Just to be sure I popped it into photoshop to confirm the minimap wasn't square:

I'll probably give it a try after work, if I get a chance

Thanks, I'll square up that minimap right away. Looking forward to hearing more
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⌘-R in Chief
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Post: #4
Nice to see a "new" game. Wink

Some thoughts with no suggestions, though I could provide many.

  • The aspect ratio of everything looks wrong. The whole window is like at 1.2 something which makes no sense, and all of the buttons and text looks squished. Actually, when resizing, the window tries to maintain an aspect but it doens't do it well. I can get squishing both ways. Overly wide and overly narrow.

    Like this:
  • When going full screen, it's not quite full screen and leaves an unrendered gap at the top where the menubar normally would be. The aspect is also weird.
  • The guy on the title screen looks like he's rendered with a lot less light than the scenery in the background.
  • Is there a reason you can't enable FSAA by default?
  • Font choices — I can understand why you picked a monospace font, but Monaco isn't the right font to use for a game.
  • Can't read orange text at bottom of start screen
  • The club picker is not obvious which is picked and not picked. To me, DR, 2I, and 64 are the ones picked, not unpicked. That should be a lot clearer.
  • I noticed "Balls: Generic, 1000" and wondered if I could change it. I click on it, it's a button (to my surprise, actually), but it's not changing. I guess in practice it's always generic, 1000. (This goes for several other things.)
  • I also see "Mode: Full 18". Click on that, and it switches to "Practice". Uhh... I thought I already _was_ in practice?
  • Profile is above that, I see "No-Name". Not sure what a profile is (maybe it's for career mode?), but I click on it, and it doesn't do anything either.
  • Lastly, I click on the course name, which changes courses as I expect, but why is there no course preview image? Shouldn't I see the little map at least?
  • When showing the course at the start of a round, it zooms from start to end, but the endpoints are slightly off? IOW, when it zooms to the hole, it actually zooms to the very far edge of the green rather than the center, or on the hole itself (which I expected).
  • While it's zooming back and forth, I can press the arrow keys and immediately pops into what I'll call "player view." I actually want to cancel and go back to the main menu so I press Escape… which does nothing. I look around for a button… there isn't one. No menu item… So how do I go back? You can't?
  • Quit and restart, practice again, this time instead of hitting an arrow, I see the View button. So I click on that. Ooo... another view. Click another, Click another, want to skip, so I hit space. Now I'm at player view again, but it already started the strength selector. That's not what I wanted.
  • In game, pressed zxcvbn to switch views, but none of them are the player view. Clicked View and it continues cycling through those six views until it finally gets to the player view. Do I really have to keep *clicking* to get back to the player view? (A few tries later I realize clicking outside of the View button goes directly to the player-view. Helpful, but not obvious.)
  • The HUD could be a lot prettier. There's a lot of information, and I understand that you're going for the pro-features capability, but does this really need to all be *words* everywhere? Can't you use symbols for many things? • Why is Save and Score so prominent? (Tab does not bring up Score like I immediately thought to try thanks to FPSes). • The color of the wind indicator disappears into that green grass easily sometimes. It has a pretty harsh black shadow at the bottom of it and the rest is washed out. • Does Unplayable Lie really need to be there? Can all of the stats at the top be hidden? The buttons to switch between clubs, fades, lofts, are kinda big. • These indicators — they totally look like the forward/backward buttons from a slideshow on a website made in 1998. Sorry.
  • Clicked on Save to see what that does and it took me back to the main menu. Weird. I thought it killed my game, and I didn't see anywhere to get back to it so I clicked on Practice etc and then tried it again. This time I saw the Resume button next to Career and thought maybe that's what that was for so I clicked on it - sure enough there it is. I've quit and relaunched this game so many times already I was used to that being there and thought it was for resuming Career mode. It wasn't clear to me that was for resuming my practice game. Speaking of which, why is Career Mode clear? Any why is Resume next to it and also clear?
  • The grass in a couple places looks like a simple solid color, and in other places (the rough) it's much nicer looking.
  • Nice.

The music is nice. The ants for the putting surface is nice (never seen that before), though it seems like they could be at least antialiased.
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Post: #5
(Apr 16, 2012 09:29 AM)Jake Wrote:  Thanks, I'll square up that minimap right away. Looking forward to hearing more

Well, I noticed it first on the model of the guy, then I thought the text looked stretched. I just checked the minimap in photoshop to be sure.

It's probably your glortho, or whatever you're doing to set up the viewport.

Howling Moon Software - CrayonBall for Mac and iPhone, Contract Game Dev Work
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⌘-R in Chief
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Post: #6
A few more:

  • When you click on Controls/Settings, the screen slides left. When you click on Close it slides left again. Shouldn't it slide right?
  • The Settings button has a word, while Controls does not, and Settings is bigger than Controls. Those should be balanced.
  • The bottom right corner has some overlap. Everything is also really big, and it gets cramped around "Other Games"
  • "Other Games" should be somewhere else, not inside of Settings. It should also be a little clearer what "Other Games" means.
  • "Challenge" opening Mail was a bit weird. I thought it was going to offer me challenges, not ask me to challenge someone else.
  • In-game, sometimes it seems to get darker, or perhaps it's just inconsistent between holes. This is really dark: but at other times it looks perfectly fine and bright. (Chris Dillman and I discovered my older Apple displays have a different natural response curve than newer ones so the low end of the "dark" spectrum tends to look much darker to me than it does on new displays, but that's not solely what I'm seeing — there's something dynamic going on. Perhaps it's just the sun being super directional and ambient light being pretty low?) More specifically, the shadow of the guy on the grown makes the grass darker, but visible, yet the face of the strength meter looks almost entirely black to me on screen. Also the front of the guy looks very very dark to. Compare it to this image:
  • During the "Press The Z,X,C,V,B,N Keys for various views of the hole" -- odd capitalization there -- it's weird to see the button under the other button. Couldn't you just morph the existing one? Also, it forces me to press each of those keys instead of just one of them before it moves on. That's not clear.
  • I'm still not sure what the gizmo in the bottom left corner of the window is supposed to be. Is it a suggestion? It's not reporting what my settings are, because it doesn't change as I change them…
  • I assume Unplayable Lie needs to exist in some circumstances, but couldn't you detect when it might and when it definitely wouldn't be? It's kinda icky having it there all of the time.
  • The player apparates during transitions.
  • Hmm. Simply clicking the button does the purchase? That seems very unfriendly. I thought there might be some display of what I was going to get. If you're trying to take my money here, this screen should be a lot sexier. (That applies to the whole game too.) The Layout of this screen is really suspect too. Also, what would "Restore Purchases" even do? I click it and it opens MAS, but I have no idea what for. Redownloads IAPs?
  • Playing with the profile creator, adding, deleting, entering name, re-entering name, etc, I crashed it. Not exactly sure the process I went through, but at some point the text field was not showing any of my typing, and when I clicked Enter, it crashed. Return nor Enter actually presses that Enter button, and Enter seems like a weird name. I'm done entering. It should just be OK or Done.

Generally, you seem to have all of the functionality that would be wanted, but the presentation and organization is off the mark. It's a step up from GL Golf, but it's a small step. I'm sure you can do better. The time put into reworking and polishing the display will be well worth it.
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⌘-R in Chief
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Post: #7
Also, the sum of those .raw files is huge. Do they really need to be raw?
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Post: #8
No luck here:
Process:         Nova Golf [3387]
Path:            /Applications/Nova Golf
Identifier:      com.nuclearnova.mac.novagolf
Version:         ??? (???)
Code Type:       X86 (Native)
Parent Process:  launchd [226]

Date/Time:       2012-04-17 00:04:26.546 -0300
OS Version:      Mac OS X 10.6.8 (10K549)
Report Version:  6

Interval Since Last Report:          74677 sec
Crashes Since Last Report:           2
Per-App Crashes Since Last Report:   2

Exception Codes: 0x0000000000000002, 0x0000000000000000
Crashed Thread:  0

Dyld Error Message:
  Library not loaded: /System/Library/Frameworks/StoreKit.framework/Versions/A/StoreKit
  Referenced from: /Applications/Nova Golf
  Reason: image not found

Binary Images:
0x8fe00000 - 0x8fe4163b  dyld 132.1 (???) <4CDE4F04-0DD6-224E-ACE5-3C06E169A801> /usr/lib/dyld

Model: MacBook1,1, BootROM MB11.0061.B03, 2 processors, Intel Core Duo, 1.83 GHz, 2 GB, SMC 1.4f12
Graphics: Intel GMA 950, GMA 950, Built-In, spdisplays_integrated_vram

(StoreKit is not available on 10.6.8)
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⌘-R in Chief
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Post: #9
Some thoughts…

[Image: NovaGolfMockup1.jpg]

Without tutorial on there... Also show and hide that tip(?) info vs carry info, depending on timing etc.
[Image: NovaGolfMockup3.jpg]

I didn't have time to finish this one:

[Image: NovaGolfMenuMockup1.jpg]
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Post: #10
I echo all of Seth's comments.

Especially about polish.

The play balance didn't seem all that off to me. However, the presentation needs help. It feels like we're stuck back when GLGolf first came out.

The engine itself is obviously much better than GLGolf and provides for nice features like much fancier trees, nice lines on the green, LOD grass chunks, moving water, etc. But the meaning and feel of it could stand for some extreme benefit, as Seth points out.

I know you are tempted to release the game now. However, I would really recommend you wait to release the game until it's more polished, using the suggestions by Seth. I'm happy to help with more ideas and fleshing out more of what Seth has suggested, too.

With the correct polish in the user interface and presentation, it may even catch the eye of Apple who may feature it... giving you a sales bump worth any delay in launching the game right now.

And it will move your average reviews up from perhaps 3 stars to 4.

And everybody who plays GLGolf will go "whoa, they *really* improved this game!"

So please... wait to release it. Polish. Please Smile

Also, who is this game for? Casual gamers? More hardcore golf gamers? Right now it feels like it falls somewhere in the middle of who it would be attractive to, which means it may be a little too confusing to casual gamers, and a little lacking for people who want Links Pro (do they still make that?) / Tiger Woods.

A few comments overall:

* Am I hearing an airplane? A lawn mower? I expected the background sound effect to go away mores as the ball moves, but it seems like the lawnmower or airplane keeps tailing me...

* Add ease in/ease out to the camera movement. It will make the camera movement so much more professional looking.

* When putting, there is a blue, yellow, orange, and red marker. This seems to relate to relatively how much power I'll need to hit the ball that far... correct? If so, the power meter itself should have these colors on itself somewhere, otherwise the connection is not really there for the player to make.

* The camera follows the ball in closely after a putt. Unfortunately, the path of camera travel always cuts right into the player model. Swing the camera out and away from the player (either up, left, or right) so there aren't a bunch of polygons being shown as the camera moves (which will happen every time)

* When I move the aiming left and right, the arc the ball will travel doesn't keep up. This completely threw me off, and though it doesn't make the game feel sluggish (the frame rate is rock solid on my i7 MacBook Pro), it makes it feel very, very strange.

* The controls... when I get it right in the middle, it seems to drift off to the side, away from the arc. I assume the first (vertical) bar should be hit as close to the top as possible, and the second (horizontal) bar should be hit as close to middle as possible. Correct?

* Why does it keep saying "Press The XVC..." keys? That little tidbit of info is not helpful beyond me doing it the first time... many people will never figure that out. Also, "The" shouldn't be capitalized.
Also, I don't want to sound negative - I just want to help make this game go from good to great!

Honestly, it's pretty great just to see more sports games.

KB Productions, Car Care for iPhone/iPod Touch
All too often, art is simply the loss of practicality.
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Post: #11
Wow guys, thanks for the responses! Way more help than I could have imagined. Some of the suggestions seem so obvious now, but I've had tunnel vision for some time now so I never noticed the simple things. I agree 100% that this game needs more polish before we release, now that the features are added I'm going to start working on it. I definitely started this post a little earlier than I should have based on my progress, but I didn't expect such quick responses!

I went through and read every bullet/suggestion and put them on my list (which already had 17 entries from a local friend and 9 entries from myself), 43 new ones just from this thread now haha. Too many to respond to each one but here are some quick answers to the questions/comments. If I didn't give a response it just means I agree and it's on the list to fix, which is the case for the majority of the comments. Seth I really like your mockups, I'm going to work on the layouts today.

-I'll have to adjust the viewport when the window aspect ratio is re-sized instead of just stretching everything
-I must have strong linked Storekit, odd it didn't crash on my 10.6.8 system
-FSAA is too slow to default on most computers, it does default to 2x on anything with >= 1GB VRAM
-RAW files need to be that size, I got them down from 8MB to 3.1MB, but they compress into almost nothing during the .zip archiving. Interestingly I just noticed I'm wasting 40+MBs on 16-24 bit WAV files for ambient sounds, just re-saved them as MP3s. Not sure how those slipped by so long haha
-My font system will render monospaced unfortunately, but that font is a placeholder and any font can be used, we use several custom ones in our pinball games and barnyard blaster
-IAP pop-up is handled by the OS so I can't really make that screen prettier, I could just use another screen before Apple shows that one. Definitely re-working that proshop menu though, I'm not a fan of how it's laid out right now.

Okay back to work now, lots to do today!
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Post: #12
-Lawnmower and birds come in from time to time, that's what you're hearing if the ambient preference is checked.
-Its targeted at both casual and more hardcore golfers, it's definitely hard to make it work for both but I think its possible.
-The ball doesn't follow the preview perfectly until all the stats and equipment are upgraded, then it mostly follows the path but there is still variation.
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Post: #13
You really need a proportional font. Monospaced text always looks gross, and proportional text is very little harder. You can make the texture and metadata file with something like slembcke's glyph packer: or one of the tools on the MAS.
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Post: #14 or (though bmglyph doesn't support proper kerning)
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Post: #15
Yeah, I should do that, it wouldn't take much work on my font class to give each character its own width while keeping my ascii texture atlas the same
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