Wanted: Constructive Criticism

While surfing the intertubes I bumped into this Miyamoto interview cover: Miyamoto gives advice to game-design hopefuls. Basically he had two advices for us wannabe game designers: get a good well rounded education (on topics other than games) and seek criticism for your games early and often.

So now I remembered that it’s been a good while since I’ve reminded you all that I’m actually seeking harsh constructive criticism on my games. Usually the amount of comments a game gets is my only true indicator how well I did with the game. More comments equals better game, less comments equal crappier game. Just look at The Divorce, it got one comment and one trackback before I revealed that it was an April Fools joke.

I’d actually love to hear what you think of the games, even if it’s not pretty. Don’t threat my games lightly just because they were created in less than seven days. On the contrary I hope you’ll feel more secure at bashing them, because I’ve only invested seven days with each one. It’s not like I’ve developed them for years and go all crazy when somebody says they suck.

Even if I don’t continue the development of a particular game, I’m still interested how would you improve the game to make it more fun to play. Or if there was something that irritated or bothered your gaming experience.

Actually I consider myself lucky that up to this point I’ve gotten two great reviews, where my games were critiqued in constructive manner. One was on the Moby Games for The Truth About Game Development by General Error. The other was on the Fun-Motion -blog for Pluto Strikes Back by Matthew Wegner. I’m grateful for both of the authors for taking the time to play the games and for writing the reviews.

Note: If you have game specific criticism, please write it in that game’s original post. Since there are multiple game posts pointing to this post as an example on what kind of feedback I’m looking, it’s sometimes a bit hard for an outside reader to figure what game you’re talking about.

74 Responses to “Wanted: Constructive Criticism”

  1. Kloonigames » Blog Archive » Crayon Physics Says:

    [...] Here’s my tenth done-in-under-a-week game. I would have liked to spend few more days with the game, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time. As usual the game is open to critique. [...]

  2. Enter Says:

    This game is very good, but it has too few levels. Please, can you add further ones?

  3. petri.purho Says:

    @Enter: I assume that you meant Crayon Physics :)
    Thanks for the feedback. I can’t promise that I’ll release new levels, but I’ll try to do that if I have enough free time.

  4. Guillaume Says:

    Crayon Physics is AMAZING !!! As a beginer in programming, I’m really ashamed that it only took you like a week to make it…

    If you don’t want or don’t have time to add some levels, could you at least explain how to add one ? I saw in the directories that you use .xmls and images to do it, so I’m pretty sure everything is editable. A level editor would have been really great, as a DS version would has been the greatest choice. :)

  5. petri.purho Says:

    @Guillaume: Thanks. The programming wasn’t that bad, because I used the Box2D physics engine by Erin Catto and I also had my own graphics engine to use.

    Yes all the level files are editable. The level structure is stored in the .xml -files. The level_end.xml is pretty straight forward example on how thing work. You can edit it quite easily. If you want stuff like the ball and the stars, check the level_04.xml for a very simple level, that quite easy to edit.

  6. mdlake Says:

    This was very good; the concept was the first I’ve seen here deserving a much fuller exploration. If you can scrape together the time, you might consider brushing up these shortcomings:

    1. Unpredictable behavior of boxes interferes with the player’s sense of control. Sometimes, a partial box gives a wonky c-shape, sometimes a regular rectangle; sometimes, a diagonal line becomes a thin diagonal box, sometimes a rectangle with opposite corners at the endpoints. Especially, a box appearing where it can’t fit bounces wildly–better not to draw it at all, possibly with a blink or even a buzz to indicate the problem.

    2. The music track is on too small a loop. It’s very ethereal for a while, but soon becomes tiresome, even irksome when the player is having trouble.

    3. Some initial elements are immobile; others can be knocked off the screen. A designated color for fixed elements would be nice.

    4. You could explore multiple stars further, especially requiring all stars to be captured without losing the ball off-screen.

    5. More screens! Lots.

  7. petri.purho Says:

    @mdlake: Wow, big thanks for the critique and improvement suggestions.

    They are all valid points and I agree with you on most of them. Only one I have to comment is the first one, because I tried it out during the development. The result was at least for me that, it seemed more frustrating if all drawn shapes weren’t accepted. So I think the proper solution to that would be to improve the shape detection and implement custom shapes to the physics engine.

    The color coding is a good idea, I thought about it during the development, but I then forgot it. Also there could be something else that signals when something fixed or not. The fixed elements should definitely be communicated to the player somehow.

    Thanks again for the feedback.

  8. ben Says:

    WOW! great game but you shuld add more levels and a level editor.

  9. petri.purho Says:

    @ben: I’ll try to release the level editor at least. The maybe other people then me can also create some levels for the game.

  10. a Says:

    brilliant

  11. it.managa Says:

    Your game is excellent!!! The idea, the implementation! Wow! ;)
    I think at this stage of the development the music is not so important, but better shape recognition and more levels are really wellcome. You should post your game to http://lifehacker.com/ their readers (just like me) will love this mindgame!

  12. petri.purho Says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll try to do that when I get the new release out.

  13. Schwallo Says:

    Cryon is an amazing game, it’s very funny and has a great physic!!! I love it, please keep on building more levels!!!

  14. mikiqex Says:

    Fabulous game! Just not enough levels, it was done-in-under-a-10-mins… :) Anyway, excellent job!

  15. rhun Says:

    i really enjoy to play your game “crayon”. too short for now but under construction i hope.

    The musique suit perfectly to the game. that’s a good point too.

    for critisism.
    I tryed to make other form than square but i cant. it would be usefull.
    I can make the ball roll by creating 45° line juste at the base of the ball. if i do that quikly i can made the ball climb. is it an exploit ?
    I cant erase line. box can be erased but line cant.
    I can also make the ball jailed into an object.. it give strange move and it isnt really “physics”.
    I can make object between the ball and the floor. It makes some levels really easy.
    I can eject some object if i draw an other one into the first. is it an exploit ?

    advancement :
    Solide physiqs is also about surfaces. You can make some higly grip surfaces, or highly slide ones. You can also change the elastic coeficient to make bumps (solide can be twisted). You can make breakable object. The density is a parameter you can change. if we paint a objet, it can weight more…

    and when you ll be tired about classique mecanique, you can add electric field n magnetique field :) (path of charged particules in magnetics fields are circular…)

    Thx for the work :) Rhun

  16. petri.purho Says:

    @Schwallo: Thanks for the kind words. I’ll try to get some level pack together so people can try them out.

    @mikiqex: Thanks. Yeah the game is a short one. But it was meant to be a prototype so…

    @rhun: Wow, thanks a lot for the list. There were some completely new ones for me. I didn’t know that you can make a ball climb by drawing lines :) And thanks for the suggestions.

  17. pedro Says:

    It is a REVOLUTIONARY idea! Really amazing!!! It is the best free game I have ever played.
    PLEEEEASE, find some time for the editor…

  18. kikoolol Says:

    exellent!!!!!!!!!!
    more levels ! more!!!!!!!!!!

  19. paul Says:

    great game. very creative. wish there were more levels. you should sell this idea to nintendo for their ds. why cant I make a triangle??

  20. petri.purho Says:

    Thanks everybody for the positive feedback. You can get more levels from here.

  21. Jon Says:

    Crayon Physics is an artistic, relaxing exercise in physics puzzling goodness.

    I can honestly say that is a superb stoner game. The first game I’ve ever played to deserve such a title. The relaxing, sensual music calms and draws the player into the paper-bag art world of our youngest years. It’s simple, familiar, and provides a unique game of thinking.

    The wonderful thing about it is that you can’t lose. You just think until you win. And for once there is a puzzle game where trial and error is not just an empty, space-filling bout of frustration. Every time you draw a shape and drop it, you see the effects as gravity pulls the world.

    Intentional or not, the fact that you do not get reset when the ball falls off screen (resetting the stars) is an excellent touch. There is no disappointment in this game.

    It’s the perfect example of the kind of artsy stuff I’m starting to see come out of the indie gaming scene. With some refinement, I would really love to play this game again, it has an intoxicating simplicity and a calming structure. A+. This game deserves at least five more days of work!

  22. petri.purho Says:

    Big thanks for the feedback, Jon. I’m glad to be the creator of the first game ever to earn the title of “superb stoner game” :)
    Yep, it was intentional that the level wouldn’t reset if the ball dropped off the screen. And I’m glad you noticed that little detail, because I tried it also with the reseting and that was really frustrating.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write the comment.

  23. Jeannot Says:

    the game is great, really fun to play.
    it’s too bad not being able to draw triangles but it seems to be a limitation of box2d.
    and as said before, a level editor would really, really be great! we noticed with a friend that the elements are declared in a very neat way using xml, but how come these objects have to be drawn on the level bitmaps?

    anyway, thanks for creating what i would call a game that’s fun to play, like bridge builder :)

  24. Andy Says:

    THis game is amazing, especially considering you made it in under a week. The graphical style adds SO much to the game, as does the music (great choice there). The only criticisms I can think of are:

    a)Too few levels (i realise you were working to time constraints).

    b) The shapes “snap” to boxes or rectangles (a limitation of the engine I know). If you were to “recode” this somehow so that any shapes could be drawn and used, I would pay for it. Seriously.

  25. Kanarticho Says:

    This game is awesome ! Thank you very much !

    Here are a few feedback :
    - As many other people say before, more levels would be great. I think the most difficult part would be to keep a difficult challenge, maybe it is possible to imagine a limited number of rectangle that can be drawn, new obstacles like bumpers (i love the idea of rhun about magnetic fields), bigger levels (with scrolling)…
    It is also possible to imagine levels with multiples balls (red ball must join red star, yellow ball must join yellow star…).

    - What about a time challenge, with a table of high scores for each challenge ?

    - New levels are cool, maybe making groups of levels could be a good thing (order by difficulties, or atmosphers : the icy levels, the paper levels… like in Lemmings).

    (Sorry for my english…)

  26. Linda Says:

    I would love to play more levels :o) More more more !!!

  27. Léo Says:

    Amazing !!!

    What a good idea !
    It’s a childish as we love.

    New levels are very hard. Goodddddd !

  28. Ryan S Says:

    I’m really enjoying The Amazing Flying Brothers. The only thing that I wish I could do that is not there now is skip having to watch falls by hitting spacebar or something… You know, for those tosses that you obviously missed. Other than that, I think that this may be my favorite of your games. Very nice job.

  29. petri.purho Says:

    @Jeannot: Yes, you can edit the files and create new one by editing the XML files. But there’s also a level editor out there, which you can use to create new levels. The reason why the graphics are in bitmaps, was that it was the quickest way for me to do it. It is a prototype and I really wasn’t looking for the most elegant solutions.

    @Kanarticho: Thanks a lot for your suggestions. You’re right about that it’s pretty difficult to make challenging levels. I mean there’s a lot of stuff you can do after you learn the basics.

    Btw. I really liked the multiple stars and balls idea. I’ll probably use that if the game gets developed further.

    @Linda: Thanks for the comment. It’s always nice to hear that people have enjoyed my games.

    @Léo: Thanks for the feedback.

    @Ryan S: I actually had that in the development version of the game, but I had to remove because of the one button restriction :( .The detection of when a new guy is needed could also work a bit better, because it could also realize when you’ve missed, much earlier than it does now. I think that could also help.

  30. Crayonist Says:

    That, my friend, is a work of genius. i would willingly pay for that, you should look into a publisher to make it a fully fledged game! 25/10. well done!
    Also, any chance of a level editor for release 2?
    Thanks for a great 14 and a half houurs. (and counting ;) )
    btw i like the ideas that Kanarticho posted 2.

  31. Bone Says:

    More levels would be fantastic. It needs 50-100. ;-) A level editor would be amazing.

    I noticed different sized stars in the data folder. Could you set timers to the stars to get certain ones before the timer goes out?

    Different shapes would be neat such as circles for “wheels” and triangles for “pivot points”.

  32. Crow Says:

    Amazing and innovative. Demonstrates the promise of physics based gaming.

  33. Agrippa Says:

    This could be bigger than Linerider. You ought to put a lot more time into this, this has potential. What I wonder is, is this an unique idea or is it borrowed from some console game? If its unique I am amazed, but then probably someone will steal this idea and make money on it =(

    I tried to do trampolines to move the circle but it did not work as I wanted =(

  34. witsd Says:

    A beautiful game, and very, very enjoyable! Could do with a reset function, and many more levels.

  35. morgan settembre Says:

    please don’t’ lose time: this game is great for Nintendo DS. Why you don’t’ transpose it on Nintendo console?

  36. MArco Says:

    I’d like to draw twist to create kind of pendulum

  37. jimmy Says:

    Love all your games. Got a bug for you though. On The Amazing Flying Brothers there is a spot on the right side on the ceiling that if you swing fast enough through your guy will never die and it won’t tell you you went through the roof. Endless flips and points while doing this.

  38. Bleh Says:

    Hello. I’m waiting for Deluxe, should be interesting to see, maybe you’re already working on changes with these things =]

    My view of the game:

    I love the idea of drawing your own things to use in a game. However, I think it’s a bit of a novelty which quickly wore off for me in the case of Crayon Physics - The gameplay seemed very lacking.
    - I didn’t feel I had much of a goal: I didn’t feel any need to get the star. After the fun of making circles and squares wore off, it felt like a bore to collect each star. There wasn’t much variation was the problem.
    Now, there are a few things I can think of to help this problem out a lot.
    1: More complex level design, more thinking involved. Just more variation. Maybe a few challenge levels, with limits on amounts of crayon, or time. Another approach, which would be quite interesting, could be a game where there were no levels- Just an ongoing adventure for more checkpoints?
    2: Focus more on the fiddling around, to bring more creativity in to play, almost make it like a sandbox game with a goal? So far on deluxe I’ve seen the anchor point used for the “golf” level. That was a great idea in my opinion, now add some more things like that in. Ropes, maybe even elastic would be excellent additions if possible. timed bombs maybe?

    Good luck, looking forward to your deluxe version =]

  39. Ryo Says:

    Hello! I’m a big fan of your Crayon Physics game, and I’m wondering if you will either develop a Linux version or publish the code. Neither are even expected (I’m fine running Vista or using Wine), but I was just curious. Actually I was wanting to show it to some Linux buddies of mine….

  40. Ron Stard Says:

    It’s a wonderful game, Mr. Petri Purho. The only inconvenient it’s the difficulty to draw exactly what you want: sometimes, while trying to draw a rectangle, you obtain an absctract figure, and vice versa. A solution to this may be a code-color: choose one color when you want to draw a rectangle/square, another color for abstract buildings, another for single lines… Or, better think, the Ctrl key + mouse click could draw ONLY regular forms (or vice-versa).

    Did you consider also the possibility of allow more than one circular figures int the screen? They can be guided to many stars, and/or there can be the possibility that only one kind of balls can hit only one kind of stars in order to solve the levels.

    Last, I want to suggest one interesting action: drawing hanging squares/other figures, that can be swing, and thus hit the ball or other objects to move them.

    Thank you again! I hope more levels in the near future ;-) !

  41. leonalchemist Says:

    critiques? what critiques? this game is just lpain perfect, im not that much into puzzle, but as though i can be sometimes, and my analysis skill for games are quite good, but ‘unfortunaly’ i can’t find a darn flaw in this game ^_^

    ok, wait! here’s one… Its too freaking perfect!

  42. some guy Says:

    hey, will the crayon physics game be for macintosh? please respond!

  43. Michele Says:

    This is amazing! I love the idea, the music, the gameplay, and the fact that I have to use my head to play a game. It’s not your fat and lazy type of game. I can’t wait to see it all done. My kids already want it! You have won 3 boys ages 6,9, and 11 on a game that makes you think… but is fun! You ARE deff the future! Keep up the great work!

  44. Neil Sutherland Says:

    Excellent teaching resource. Do I have your permission to use it in class?
    Keep up the good work. (Note the report card/teacher speak bit)

  45. George Musser Says:

    Seems like a great concept - if only there was a Mac version.

  46. Joe Gasper Says:

    That was a blast. I enjoyed the music during the game, I wasn’t reaching for mute.

    I took some screen shots while playing:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gasper/sets/72157604168882310/

    This game jogged my memory of an old one I used to play called The Incredible Machine.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incredible_Machine

    Thumbs up!

  47. Amanda Says:

    I think it’s great. How does one get a larger version like what is on youtube?

  48. Kristian West Says:

    Linked to you in my indie game blog post today: http://www.fz.dk/blogs/wildwest/p=30

    Cool game! Keep up the fine work on this one, Petri

    Kind Regards,
    Kristian West
    Editor in Chief
    http://www.fz.dk ::#1

  49. Van Says:

    Loved it! I did every level and found it very pleasurable!

  50. Andrew Says:

    hey man i cant get my computer to play the game after i download it it just shows it a a folder and i have no idea how to get it to start.

  51. Shaneeda Quit Says:

    Full screen option doesn’t work and the background music is downright annoying. It would be an interesting game with more stars.

  52. Mom and Kids Says:

    Our constructive criticism….
    This is the coolest game! We love it.
    Yep, total addicts.
    We can’t wait for whatever you do in deluxe.

  53. ebola Says:

    Thank’s a lot for this fantastic game. I’m just waiting to play the deluxe version.

    Just a question : would’nt it be nice (do you think of, or do you plan) to develop a version of this game for the wii (either a full version (as World of Goo does) or for the wiiware service). I think the wiimote would be excellent for the drawings.

    Keep going with the wonderful game and thanx again

    ebo

  54. toolboy Says:

    I loved the game, can’t wait for deluxe.

  55. cory Says:

    Hey

    i haven’t played crayon physics (i’m on mac), but i really like the idea. i think it would be even better if there was more room for creativity with the drawings. i don’t if more image options could be incorporated into the gameplay, but they might make cool easter eggs. say if you draw fire, the level goes up in flames. if you draw a house, a little guy comes out. if you draw a plant, it starts to grow. if you draw a bomb with a number on it, it counts down and explodes. obviously you couldn’t have someone draw something obscure as the solution to a level, but maybe as a short-cut on a timed level? but i think a list of things to choose from would detract from the creative feeling of the game

    more ideas:
    sun and sunlight
    ghosts
    rainclouds
    some sort of animal (a square with four sticks underneath) that walked back and forth after you drew it
    wind
    if you drew a big pair of eyes in the sky, they’d move back and forth watching things

    maybe they could interact somehow?
    and this game would be awesome on the wii

  56. T. Says:

    Do you have, or are you planning a version for the Mac??? If so, please let me know when and where I can get it.
    Best, T.

  57. Taryon Says:

    Great game! really! For a weeks work….it’s awesome! I’m gonna try to make some new levels for it:D I may even make myself a level editor:D:D

  58. Taryon Says:

    As I said, I made 4 levels for the game. Download the pack here:

    http://www.morpheussoft.110mb.com/soft/levels_tayron.zip

    Have fun and I hope they’re good;)

  59. BlackAxe Says:

    hmm i think the third lvl or fourth lvl (cant remember where the ball is in the left ”up” corner and the star ”down” corner) is impossible (i have read that this isn’t the same as the youtube movie) but i cant complete it because u cant do a bridge or something…pretty hard..

  60. Taryon Says:

    They’re all totally possible to complete. they just require a bit of thinking and engineering;)

  61. Geoffingeorgia Says:

    Wonderful, fantastic, brilliant game. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY too short. I beat all the levels (what were there, five? Six?) in 35 minutes. I could do this all week!

  62. Geoffingeorgia Says:

    Oh, and no offense, but the music was lame. Maybe allow itunes to play through, even have the background act as a visualizer somehow?

  63. amy Says:

    Found your game via a mention in the May 2008 issue of Fortune. It is engrossing, challenging, and fun. I have never played an internet game that I wanted to share (b/c they all bow to the least common denominator), but yours is great. Thank you!

  64. Murray Says:

    Please write to me at the above address because I am looking for somone with advanced graphics programming caoabilities for a challenging commercial assignment. I want to do something like Doppler radar maps like you see on the nightly weather but for construction project management. Or call at 248-652-9298

  65. John Says:

    I liked this game, but it was way too easy. The last level in the game can be beat with three shapes. I like the “The End” ball at the end of the game. After reading a few other comments, a level editor would be awesome. Great pre-release type game!

  66. joe Says:

    i love this game, i have a mod of it on my iphone and i think it would be an awsome addition to the soon to be app store in itunes. please!!!!
    not sure if this is by you but here is a video of what i have on my iphone.
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=2Phz8D9XmKA

  67. Luke Says:

    Creating a box so that the ball is inside it causes strange movements which can result in the ball travelling the length of the box, falling out the bottom or getting stuck in the middle of the box.
    The final level - the one with 2 stars can be beaten by getting one star, letting the ball fall off and then getting the other star when it respawns.
    Possibly resetting the ball should reset the stars as well?

  68. Greg Says:

    You really need to figure out how to get the first or the second version of Crayon Physics on the iphone! I think I would have so much phone trying to do this with my touch screen iphone and would pay money for it. I see others have asked… I really hope you do it. Not sure how hard it would be on the iphone but I think it’s worth a try! Great job.

  69. Tom Hall Says:

    In the game Jimmy’s Toilet paper,I found that it is hard to move Jimmy into a exactly place.It means that Jimmy can’t move a small step。The floor is smooth.It makes my controlling a challenge.If it is your decision,It is not a good decision.

    But I should say I love your games~!

  70. Tom Says:

    Is this project still active? I can’t express just how great my feelings are on how innovative and attractive this game format is, and I have been looking forward to it’s release ever since i’ve seen the prototype.

  71. Matt Says:

    Yea, I was searching for some cheesy free games…. cause I get my kicks out of them
    Needless to say I downloaded this one. It took me about 10 seconds to figure out what I was supposed to do… But then COOOOL!

    You’ve done a very good job with this one. It’s addicting and amazing! I love it!

    It didn’t take long to go through the levels, but now I go back through to see what kind of Rube Goldberg stuff I can make to get the ball to the star…

    Amwesome man! very good. This could have a cult following if we can make new levels.

  72. Matt Says:

    HAHA! I beat the third level with TWO SHAPES! One to get the ball on the first lever and a huge box to LAUNCH IT into the air! it went off the screen and landed on the star.

    Wow. Ya, I got too much time.

  73. MumsInpuppy Says:

    Hi folks

    Just wanted to share here a great site I’ve found for Wallpapers etc. is Esnips.com I’ve found everything on my list…

    let me know what you think!, Hope this helps ;-)

    I’m Out

  74. vitamin Says:

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    Kloonigames » Blog Archive » Wanted: Constructive Criticism…