Cyborg Earthworm»Blog

Early Access

I have finally released the game in Early Access on Steam:
Simon Anciaux,
I tested the demo on steam for about 1 hour (you should mention there is a demo in the post, as it's not always very evident on steam).

Here is a little bit of feedback:
- It doesn't look good. The early access description doesn't mention improving the graphics as an objective (or I missed it) and I think it's a problem. While graphics wouldn't make the gameplay better, it would make the experience more enjoyable and put me in a better mindset when approaching a game I don't know. I doesn't need to be supper fancy, but have some kind of art direction. TIS-100 is not fancy but has a style and is consistent across the different screens.
- I would like to be able to see more patterns (in a grid for example) and reduce the "game" area. The game area doesn't have much information and it taking most of the screen isn't useful. I think it could just be a small preview in a corner of the screen and have most of the space dedicated to editing patterns (e.g. Making the whole thing look like an IDE with a small game preview, the emphasis should be on the programming part I think).
- Based on the two previous points, you could make a professional style GUI (maybe stylized like in TIS-100, or Shenzhen I/O) with a small ASCII preview of the game in one corner.
- The fact that the ground tile changes when the head move above it seemed weird to me.
- I played up to level 11, but level 11 runs at 10 fps on my machine (i7 860, radeon r9 280) without any pattern (just loading the level). I checked previous level, and even the first few levels run at about 45fps. Level 11 is really not playable as the UI doesn't react well.
- This is probably related to the frame rate, but I often had buttons from the UI not activate when I clicked them.
- The full screen handling isn't great. When I wanted to alt tab to take some notes, the window was minimized.
- At some point in level 10 I wanted to start fresh (deleting all patterns) but didn't know how to do it. The only way I found was to add enough pattern for a "grid" icon to appear and in that menu, there was a trashcan icon that cleared all patterns. But it wasn't clear that the button would do that.
- In the patterns, the tile bellow the "head" should be allowed to be marked as dirt (at the moment it doesn't work because the body of the worm is there).
- Instead of having a sound when a pattern matches (which I found annoying), you should highlight which pattern is matched in the list of patterns.
- In addition of stepping one tile at a time, I would like to step until a pattern is matched or the worm is stuck.
- I would like to be able to edit pattern directly in the "pattern list" without passing to an editor.
- Some UI buttons could have tooltips. For example what does the ">|" button do exactly ? Step until stuck ?
- I want to be able to create a pattern from the current position of the worm. For example if the worm is stuck, I would step back to some position, press a key and it would grab the 3x3 or 5x5 grid around the worm head and place it into a new pattern so I can edit it. It's especially useful as I don't want to have to think about how the worm is oriented to place the correct tile at the correct location.
- A thin grid (barely visible) in the pattern editor/list would help reading/writing patterns.
- Is there an order for recognizing patterns (I assumed left to right) ?
- The tutorial texts were not always clear, highlighting screen regions would be useful (Although in a game like that, discovering how it works might be an interesting thing, so maybe the tutorial isn't necessary if the UI is clear enough ? Maybe go for a manual like in TIS-100 ?).
- When changing the size of the grid, the layout of the editor change a little bit (there is a line when the dropdown is active).
- The big levels are scary at first. At first I though it would take a lot of patterns to be able to finish them but it turned out I had to think more about the general algorithm instead of handling every problem (programing an worm AI for the level, instead of trying to create an AI for the local issue). But I only have done two "big" levels and level 11 seems more complicated. A question I had was: Is there a way to achieve 100% run completion on each levels ? In other word is there a correct solution for each level ? It felt weird to think that maybe there wasn't.
- The exit game popup isn't centered.