MAGS June "Tourist Attraction" (OPEN)

Started by Stupot, Sat 01/06/2024 00:30:18

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What is your favourite game of MAGS June?

The Zoo by4KbShort
Carnival of Shadows by GooseKult
The Stew of Las Moras by Babar and jfrisby

Voting closes: Today at 08:39:58

GooseKult

Quote from: 4KbShort on Wed 26/06/2024 13:52:57
Quote from: GooseKult on Tue 25/06/2024 13:07:48



Carnival of Shadows: https://goosekult.itch.io/carnival-of-shadows

Can be downloaded or played in browser (Though it seems kinda laggy).

Story:

A group of four unlikely companions arrive at an abandoned amusement park, drawn by the promise of a unique experience. They quickly discover that the park is haunted by the restless spirits of those who perished in a tragic accident. To escape, they must solve puzzles, confront supernatural threats, and uncover the park's dark history before they too become part of the shadows.

I have a lot to learn about making games but hopefully someone will get some enjoyment from it! I had a laugh making it! Thanks for having me.


I played through it for a bit, but got stuck after installing the first fuse. (this is a me problem, not a game problem I think)
I did have some difficulty hitting the hotspots for screen transitions and had to "wiggle" around the edges to move to the next area sometimes.
I really like the Maniac Mansion/DOTT idea of using your friends for things and how easy it was to acquire/leave them behind.
Sounds are great, animations are good and, though I'm taking a break due to the above stuck-ness, I will be coming back to finish the game because I do want to see how it ends!

Great work! Highly recommended for people who are better at playing Adventure Games than I am!  :grin:

Thanks for playing! I'm terrible at trying to explain what to do subtly and my puzzle making skills aren't great so if you are stuck it is definitely my fault!

4KbShort

Quote from: GooseKult on Wed 26/06/2024 14:44:43Thanks for playing! I'm terrible at trying to explain what to do subtly and my puzzle making skills aren't great so if you are stuck it is definitely my fault!

Not at all! When playing adventure games I tend to play until I get stuck then step off for a minute due to my ADHD and "Time Being Used Appropriately" stresses pulling me to do other things (usually not even half as constructive).
Your game explained the mechanics and I know what I need to find/get/do I just have to find the right puzzle piece to do it and that's exactly how an adventure game should work!
It would be "bad" if I had no urge to go back. IE: Telltale's "Secret of Monkey Island" had such an obscure puzzle to get an item LAYING ON THE GROUND that I quit, uninstalled, and never went back. THAT'S bad game design.  :grin:
I have a website: https://www.fordabble.com/
I've made some games: https://4kbshort.itch.io/
I've made some videos: https://www.youtube.com/@encouragingthings
And some game videos: https://www.youtube.com/@4Kbshort

Babar

There's trouble brewing at the oldest stew in the world, and it is up to you to help Moby figure out how to fix it all!
A game by @Babar & @jfrisby
Download here: https://bani-gala.itch.io/stew-of-las-moras

Tried making an AGS DB entry this time, but the site does not allow it.
The ultimate Professional Amateur

Now, with his very own game: Alien Time Zone

Stupot

That looks like 3 entries to me. Good job everyone.

I'll rig up the poll etc tomorrow, as I'm busy today, so there's still time to sneak in a late entry before then.

jwalt

Trying to play them. Made it through Zoo but currently stalled out on the other two. Made it into the Fun House in Carnival but seem to be stuck there. I suspect I've missed something. Also haven't hit on the right combination of stuff in Stew.


GooseKult

Quote from: jwalt on Mon 01/07/2024 17:07:09Trying to play them. Made it through Zoo but currently stalled out on the other two. Made it into the Fun House in Carnival but seem to be stuck there. I suspect I've missed something. Also haven't hit on the right combination of stuff in Stew.



I don't think you've missed anything, just pay close attention to what the guy on the couch says! Thanks for playing!

jwalt

Quote from: GooseKult on Mon 01/07/2024 17:45:53I don't think you've missed anything, just pay close attention to what the guy on the couch says! Thanks for playing!

That was the nudge I needed. And thanks for making a very enjoyable game! May be a bug if you click on the fuse box a second time after getting the Ferris Wheel to move. Seems to lock up the mouse movement and stall the game.

GooseKult

Quote from: jwalt on Mon 01/07/2024 18:20:35
Quote from: GooseKult on Mon 01/07/2024 17:45:53I don't think you've missed anything, just pay close attention to what the guy on the couch says! Thanks for playing!

That was the nudge I needed. And thanks for making a very enjoyable game! May be a bug if you click on the fuse box a second time after getting the Ferris Wheel to move. Seems to lock up the mouse movement and stall the game.

Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the info. I will look into fixing it after the jam ends!

jfrisby

Quote from: jwalt on Mon 01/07/2024 17:07:09Trying to play them. Made it through Zoo but currently stalled out on the other two. Made it into the Fun House in Carnival but seem to be stuck there. I suspect I've missed something. Also haven't hit on the right combination of stuff in Stew.


If you know what you're missing, I can give hints!

One general hint:
Spoiler
A couple things require that you right-click 'look/examine' them to trigger progression.
[close]

GooseKult

Quote from: jfrisby on Mon 01/07/2024 19:57:44
Quote from: jwalt on Mon 01/07/2024 17:07:09Trying to play them. Made it through Zoo but currently stalled out on the other two. Made it into the Fun House in Carnival but seem to be stuck there. I suspect I've missed something. Also haven't hit on the right combination of stuff in Stew.


If you know what you're missing, I can give hints!

One general hint:
Spoiler
A couple things require that you right-click 'look/examine' them to trigger progression.
[close]

Both of our games start with riddles lol! Very original...

jfrisby

Quote from: GooseKult on Mon 01/07/2024 20:20:57Both of our games start with riddles lol! Very original...

I saw that! haha.. I liked the manual keyboard input you did there! :)
Still need to finish playing the other games, only just started Carnival of Shadows last night.

Stupot

Quote from: GooseKult on Mon 01/07/2024 18:53:44
Quote from: jwalt on Mon 01/07/2024 18:20:35
Quote from: GooseKult on Mon 01/07/2024 17:45:53I don't think you've missed anything, just pay close attention to what the guy on the couch says! Thanks for playing!

That was the nudge I needed. And thanks for making a very enjoyable game! May be a bug if you click on the fuse box a second time after getting the Ferris Wheel to move. Seems to lock up the mouse movement and stall the game.

Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the info. I will look into fixing it after the jam ends!

It's fine to go in and fix game-breaking bugs during voting, so feel free. We want people to be able to finish the games.

jwalt

Quote from: Stupot on Tue 02/07/2024 01:43:17It's fine to go in and fix game-breaking bugs during voting, so feel free. We want people to be able to finish the games.

That Ferris Wheel/fuse box thing I mentioned may not be an actual game breaker. Not much reason to revisit the fuse panel in the normal flow of the game. I appeared to get stuck inside the Fun House and decided to recheck the areas outside a second/third time.

I managed to get through all three entries this month. All had their good points.

OneDollar

Three games is a good turnout, and they're all really solid entries too!

I was trying to write feedback notes while I played through them all, and they accidentally turned into mini essays. Here's some heavily spoilery feedback (and some bug reports) for each game if you'd like it:

Carnival of Shadows
Spoiler
I liked the idea of multiple characters with different views of the world and different abilities, but I couldn't see any reason not to just have them all follow me constantly. It would have been nice to see this mechanic expanded on, like needing to leave certain characters in certain areas to solve a puzzle, or not being able to complete certain puzzles if a character was with you (like maybe you need to talk to a ghost but they won't appear around Tim the skeptic or something). It might have been interesting to have to ask/use specific characters to solve puzzles so that you have to think about their abilities and personalities, rather than them just helping automatically if they were with you. I liked that conversations happened differently depending whether characters were on screen or not.

The art feels like it's been pulled together from lots of different sources. There's different styles, and most noticeably different resolutions which can leave some of it quite blurry and unclear. It's definitely not the prettiest thing to look at, but I think it does fit well with the game's atmosphere. The music is a bit disjoined with some awkward loops, but again I think it fits the game quite well.

Adding riddles adds an interesting variation to the puzzles, though the game immediately gave me hints that I didn't need because Tim was on screen. I also think I would have preferred it if the game started dropping increasingly helpful hints after I got the answers wrong a few times, or gave me the option of asking Tim for a hint if I decided I needed one.

Most of the inventory-based puzzles in the middle were pretty obvious and didn't provide much of a challenge, either because it's clear from context (put fuses in the fuse box), or because the game outright tells you what to do (collect objects that appeal to children and put them on the bench). Again I think some of this could have worked better if the mechanic with the different characters was a bit more fleshed out. Needing Luna to tell you about the child ghosts wanting toys could be a good part of the puzzle chain, but at that point in the game there's no reason why the player wouldn't have Luna with them so it's effectively automatically solved. One inventory puzzle that I did think worked well was having to use the box on the dumpster, as that wasn't obvious and took me a while to figure out.

I liked the maze puzzle at the end, that was fun and again something a bit different to the standard inventory puzzles.

In summary I really like the setting and the concept. There's a lot of interesting ideas in the game, not all of them work as well as they could, but for me that's better than a boring game that doesn't try anything new. It's quite rough both in terms of graphics and bugs, but I still had a lot of fun playing it. I think I wrote so much about it because there's a lot that really works for me, and the bits that don't are interesting enough that I can see glimpses of how they could work with a bit more time to develop them. A really solid MAGS entry.

Bug reports:
I've got some bug reports for you, mostly because I ended up playing through a couple of times to see what would change if I did or didn't have characters with me at certain points.

Game breaking:
 - You already know about the bug with clicking on the fuse box a second time. I stupidly triggered this on my first play through, despite having seen it being discussed  :-[
 - I got a crash at the end after destroying the watch and freeing the ghosts: "The character 'Luna' could not be displayed because there was no loop 2 of view 33". I'm pretty sure this is triggered by causing Luna to follow you before clicking the watch (either by clicking Luna while she's holding back Mr Grins, or I think if you enter the final room without Luna following you she gets set to follow mode when she appears in the room)?
 - If Luna isn't with you when you place the last offering on the bench the game gets stuck in a loop of Maria saying "That's all of them".

Minor stuff:
 - You can use the fuses on the fuse box and turn on the power without needing Tim to open the door first (Maria will still comment that the door is closed after turning on the power).
 - I think the logic is backwards on the hint for the second riddle as you only get it if Tim isn't on screen.
 - I left my friends in the main carnival area (with the Ferris wheel). Exiting and re-entering the carnival by the main entrance makes them appear in the area with the carousel again. I assume this is a bug, though arguably they could have just wandered back there themselves :D
 - There's something odd going on with character baselines or z-depths or something as a character standing behind another will often be drawn on top of them instead - I'm not sure if this is an AGS bug or something in the game's code
 - Everyone comments on the newspaper even if they're not on screen.
 - The first time you click on the carousel it will spin and Luna will give you the explanation about offerings, this still happens even if you click on it after you've already placed all the offerings and moved all the ghosts.
 - Using the combined two end pieces of the key on the handle piece doesn't do anything, though it does work the other way around so the game isn't soft-locked.
 - One of the wrong doors in the maze at the end (I think heading south to the bathroom first then taking one of the two exits there?) takes you to the carnival entrance rather than the start of the maze (this might also be intentional?)
[close]

The Zoo
Spoiler
I haven't see The Twilight Zone, though the premise rings a vague bell so I might have heard of the episode before. Either way the game does a good job of quickly setting up the situation the player finds themselves in and the goal of escape.

The presentation is very good. Clear, black and white pixel art and good music. I'm not sure if the main background loop comes from The Twilight Zone or not, but it fits very well with the atmosphere. It's a consistent world and is interesting to explore.

There's some OK inventory-based puzzles. The fire setting puzzle was a little odd - the books are inflammable for some reason, so you soak them with alcohol, but you can't light the alcohol directly on fire or pour it over the couch and set fire to it with a cigarette or something. It seemed a little convoluted to me. I got stuck for a while figuring out what to do with the burning book - I assumed I'd have to put it in the fireplace then block the flue somehow to make smoke in the room - but after taking a break to play one of the other games then coming back I found it almost straight away. Otherwise interactions and puzzles generally made sense to me. I wondered if it would be possible to softlock by not taking the sign, so I tried it on a second play through and the answer was no. Kudos for handling that. I also appreciated there were two different endings to the game.

My main critique of the game would be that there's a lot of objects and hotspots, but many are missing interactivity for some, if not all, of the cursors. Some of these are especially confusing, for example there are four cupboards in the kitchen but you get no response when trying to use any of them. I find the lack of feedback a bit immersion-breaking as it makes me question whether I misclicked the object. There's a hotspot for the kitchen wall, but I couldn't see why this would need to be interactive and couldn't find anything to do with it. Conversely there's other objects in the background that look like they should be intractable but aren't. There's what looks like a doorway on the north wall of the living room, but it doesn't do anything, and there's a door in the hallway next to the kitchen which again can't be clicked on. In my opinion adding some extra interaction text, even if it's along the lines of "It's empty", "It's out of reach", "It's locked", would help a lot with keeping the immersion and justifying why the interactions aren't available.

The other part that feels a little odd is the score. You get points for solving the puzzles, and there's some more for actions that aren't strictly necessary which is a nice way of fleshing out the interactivity of the world. I like this and think it's fun. The main puzzle chain isn't that long, so having extra items and hotspots that aren't just red herrings but give you bonus points is a great idea. In theory it also adds replayability for players who want to try and find all the points. However from what I could see the game doesn't ever tell you the maximum number of points, or give you any kind of score recap at the end, so there's no way of knowing whether anything was missed. For the record I think my highest score was 13.

Overall it's a good little escape room puzzler with a cool setting and atmosphere. It feels a little unfinished in some areas, but otherwise it's a well put together game, and definitely worth playing.
[close]

The Stew of Las Moras
Spoiler
What immediately struck me about this game was the world building. I love the idea of this ancient stew that 14 stew masters have overseen, the collection of bizarre characters lining up to eat, and the villain who's content to just stand there and laugh while you try and clean up his mess. Oh, and Moby is here too.

The artwork really shines too. It uses a stylistically limited pallet with a good colour choice and everything is clear to read. I really like the character designs too (and that whale is incredible) and I appreciate that while there's very limited amounts of actual animation the characters bob about while talking. There's other small touches too, like after the scouts leave the other characters move up a place in line. It's stuff like that show a lot of effort went into the feel of this game. There's also quite a bit of (I assume) custom music in the game. I like that talking to some characters will give you different music tracks.

I like the puzzles. They make sense in the context of the game's world, but they do need a bit of thinking about. I particularly appreciated the desert sequence deaths - failing it gives you a fun narrative about what went wrong and, most importantly, you're given a retry button rather than just ending the game.

It's a fun game with a great sense of world building and is very funny too. It does something interesting and unique with the theme, and kept me engaged and guessing where the story was going.

Bug reports:
 - Unlocking the right case in the gift shop plays the bending down animation, but not the standing back up animation and breaks Moby's walk cycle.
 - Pretty minor, but if Moby has to walk through the gift shop to interact with something (e.g exit the stew scene, then use the water trough) the gift shop wall will start but not finish fading away as he walks through, leaving it in a semi-transparent state.
[close]

When the poll is open I'm going to vote for:
Spoiler
The Stew of Las Moras. I really enjoyed all three entries, but the combination of world building, artwork, puzzles, and humour swayed it for me.
[close]

Stupot

Sorry for the delay with the poll. Keep your eyes peeled

GooseKult

Quote from: OneDollar on Sat 06/07/2024 13:56:16Three games is a good turnout, and they're all really solid entries too!

I was trying to write feedback notes while I played through them all, and they accidentally turned into mini essays. Here's some heavily spoilery feedback (and some bug reports) for each game if you'd like it:

Carnival of Shadows
Spoiler
I liked the idea of multiple characters with different views of the world and different abilities, but I couldn't see any reason not to just have them all follow me constantly. It would have been nice to see this mechanic expanded on, like needing to leave certain characters in certain areas to solve a puzzle, or not being able to complete certain puzzles if a character was with you (like maybe you need to talk to a ghost but they won't appear around Tim the skeptic or something). It might have been interesting to have to ask/use specific characters to solve puzzles so that you have to think about their abilities and personalities, rather than them just helping automatically if they were with you. I liked that conversations happened differently depending whether characters were on screen or not.

The art feels like it's been pulled together from lots of different sources. There's different styles, and most noticeably different resolutions which can leave some of it quite blurry and unclear. It's definitely not the prettiest thing to look at, but I think it does fit well with the game's atmosphere. The music is a bit disjoined with some awkward loops, but again I think it fits the game quite well.

Adding riddles adds an interesting variation to the puzzles, though the game immediately gave me hints that I didn't need because Tim was on screen. I also think I would have preferred it if the game started dropping increasingly helpful hints after I got the answers wrong a few times, or gave me the option of asking Tim for a hint if I decided I needed one.

Most of the inventory-based puzzles in the middle were pretty obvious and didn't provide much of a challenge, either because it's clear from context (put fuses in the fuse box), or because the game outright tells you what to do (collect objects that appeal to children and put them on the bench). Again I think some of this could have worked better if the mechanic with the different characters was a bit more fleshed out. Needing Luna to tell you about the child ghosts wanting toys could be a good part of the puzzle chain, but at that point in the game there's no reason why the player wouldn't have Luna with them so it's effectively automatically solved. One inventory puzzle that I did think worked well was having to use the box on the dumpster, as that wasn't obvious and took me a while to figure out.

I liked the maze puzzle at the end, that was fun and again something a bit different to the standard inventory puzzles.

In summary I really like the setting and the concept. There's a lot of interesting ideas in the game, not all of them work as well as they could, but for me that's better than a boring game that doesn't try anything new. It's quite rough both in terms of graphics and bugs, but I still had a lot of fun playing it. I think I wrote so much about it because there's a lot that really works for me, and the bits that don't are interesting enough that I can see glimpses of how they could work with a bit more time to develop them. A really solid MAGS entry.

Bug reports:
I've got some bug reports for you, mostly because I ended up playing through a couple of times to see what would change if I did or didn't have characters with me at certain points.

Game breaking:
 - You already know about the bug with clicking on the fuse box a second time. I stupidly triggered this on my first play through, despite having seen it being discussed  :-[
 - I got a crash at the end after destroying the watch and freeing the ghosts: "The character 'Luna' could not be displayed because there was no loop 2 of view 33". I'm pretty sure this is triggered by causing Luna to follow you before clicking the watch (either by clicking Luna while she's holding back Mr Grins, or I think if you enter the final room without Luna following you she gets set to follow mode when she appears in the room)?
 - If Luna isn't with you when you place the last offering on the bench the game gets stuck in a loop of Maria saying "That's all of them".

Minor stuff:
 - You can use the fuses on the fuse box and turn on the power without needing Tim to open the door first (Maria will still comment that the door is closed after turning on the power).
 - I think the logic is backwards on the hint for the second riddle as you only get it if Tim isn't on screen.
 - I left my friends in the main carnival area (with the Ferris wheel). Exiting and re-entering the carnival by the main entrance makes them appear in the area with the carousel again. I assume this is a bug, though arguably they could have just wandered back there themselves :D
 - There's something odd going on with character baselines or z-depths or something as a character standing behind another will often be drawn on top of them instead - I'm not sure if this is an AGS bug or something in the game's code
 - Everyone comments on the newspaper even if they're not on screen.
 - The first time you click on the carousel it will spin and Luna will give you the explanation about offerings, this still happens even if you click on it after you've already placed all the offerings and moved all the ghosts.
 - Using the combined two end pieces of the key on the handle piece doesn't do anything, though it does work the other way around so the game isn't soft-locked.
 - One of the wrong doors in the maze at the end (I think heading south to the bathroom first then taking one of the two exits there?) takes you to the carnival entrance rather than the start of the maze (this might also be intentional?)
[close]

The Zoo
Spoiler
I haven't see The Twilight Zone, though the premise rings a vague bell so I might have heard of the episode before. Either way the game does a good job of quickly setting up the situation the player finds themselves in and the goal of escape.

The presentation is very good. Clear, black and white pixel art and good music. I'm not sure if the main background loop comes from The Twilight Zone or not, but it fits very well with the atmosphere. It's a consistent world and is interesting to explore.

There's some OK inventory-based puzzles. The fire setting puzzle was a little odd - the books are inflammable for some reason, so you soak them with alcohol, but you can't light the alcohol directly on fire or pour it over the couch and set fire to it with a cigarette or something. It seemed a little convoluted to me. I got stuck for a while figuring out what to do with the burning book - I assumed I'd have to put it in the fireplace then block the flue somehow to make smoke in the room - but after taking a break to play one of the other games then coming back I found it almost straight away. Otherwise interactions and puzzles generally made sense to me. I wondered if it would be possible to softlock by not taking the sign, so I tried it on a second play through and the answer was no. Kudos for handling that. I also appreciated there were two different endings to the game.

My main critique of the game would be that there's a lot of objects and hotspots, but many are missing interactivity for some, if not all, of the cursors. Some of these are especially confusing, for example there are four cupboards in the kitchen but you get no response when trying to use any of them. I find the lack of feedback a bit immersion-breaking as it makes me question whether I misclicked the object. There's a hotspot for the kitchen wall, but I couldn't see why this would need to be interactive and couldn't find anything to do with it. Conversely there's other objects in the background that look like they should be intractable but aren't. There's what looks like a doorway on the north wall of the living room, but it doesn't do anything, and there's a door in the hallway next to the kitchen which again can't be clicked on. In my opinion adding some extra interaction text, even if it's along the lines of "It's empty", "It's out of reach", "It's locked", would help a lot with keeping the immersion and justifying why the interactions aren't available.

The other part that feels a little odd is the score. You get points for solving the puzzles, and there's some more for actions that aren't strictly necessary which is a nice way of fleshing out the interactivity of the world. I like this and think it's fun. The main puzzle chain isn't that long, so having extra items and hotspots that aren't just red herrings but give you bonus points is a great idea. In theory it also adds replayability for players who want to try and find all the points. However from what I could see the game doesn't ever tell you the maximum number of points, or give you any kind of score recap at the end, so there's no way of knowing whether anything was missed. For the record I think my highest score was 13.

Overall it's a good little escape room puzzler with a cool setting and atmosphere. It feels a little unfinished in some areas, but otherwise it's a well put together game, and definitely worth playing.
[close]

The Stew of Las Moras
Spoiler
What immediately struck me about this game was the world building. I love the idea of this ancient stew that 14 stew masters have overseen, the collection of bizarre characters lining up to eat, and the villain who's content to just stand there and laugh while you try and clean up his mess. Oh, and Moby is here too.

The artwork really shines too. It uses a stylistically limited pallet with a good colour choice and everything is clear to read. I really like the character designs too (and that whale is incredible) and I appreciate that while there's very limited amounts of actual animation the characters bob about while talking. There's other small touches too, like after the scouts leave the other characters move up a place in line. It's stuff like that show a lot of effort went into the feel of this game. There's also quite a bit of (I assume) custom music in the game. I like that talking to some characters will give you different music tracks.

I like the puzzles. They make sense in the context of the game's world, but they do need a bit of thinking about. I particularly appreciated the desert sequence deaths - failing it gives you a fun narrative about what went wrong and, most importantly, you're given a retry button rather than just ending the game.

It's a fun game with a great sense of world building and is very funny too. It does something interesting and unique with the theme, and kept me engaged and guessing where the story was going.

Bug reports:
 - Unlocking the right case in the gift shop plays the bending down animation, but not the standing back up animation and breaks Moby's walk cycle.
 - Pretty minor, but if Moby has to walk through the gift shop to interact with something (e.g exit the stew scene, then use the water trough) the gift shop wall will start but not finish fading away as he walks through, leaving it in a semi-transparent state.
[close]

When the poll is open I'm going to vote for:
Spoiler
The Stew of Las Moras. I really enjoyed all three entries, but the combination of world building, artwork, puzzles, and humour swayed it for me.
[close]

Thanks for playing Stupot!

I use gimp and a broken mouse to make my assets and I'm not an artist so my visuals are a bit limited! I have switched to aseprite for my latest project, and I'm learning about how to make proper pixel art at the same resolution, it is something that bugged me as well. I guess most of the downsides can be blamed on the amount of time it takes me to get the script side of things working... A couple months ago I didn't know what an if else statement was! But I will persevere and hopefully improve!

jfrisby

Quote from: OneDollar on Sat 06/07/2024 13:56:16I was trying to write feedback notes while I played through them all, and they accidentally turned into mini essays. Here's some heavily spoilery feedback (and some bug reports) for each game if you'd like it:

Thanks for the kind and long review, OneDollar! This made my day :D 🥣
Spoiler
We knew the giftshop wall could be finicky (and it was my stupid idea to not just make that an interior screen :P), but didn't catch that right display case!
[close]


I finished both of the other entries and have been meaning to write something, I enjoyed my time with both!

The Zoo:
Spoiler
Really loved the b+w, and the idea of putting a happy ending on a twilight zone episode is somehow really nice... in a subversive way haha..  I love that TZ had those uncomfortable non-resolutions... but there could be a whole series just tying up all those endings too... 70 years later :D
[close]

Carnival of Shadows:
Spoiler
I liked the multiple character idea, that seemed like it had a lot of potential! I noticed the other characters seemed to take a few seconds to catch up to you when you left the screen, and that seemed impressive, if it was intentional :D The maze was fun!   

Possible Bug:  I restarted this once, because I think I somehow searched the dumpster but didn't get the item there... I kept trying to take Jake to help search it, and I'm pretty sure Maria started saying "there's nothing else I need there" without having the bear(I think it was a bear?)...  But I didn't try to reproduce it. 
[close]

heltenjon

Here are my thoughts this month:

Carnival of Shadows:
Spoiler
As I said in the game's own thread, I got Five Nights at Freddy's vibes from this. I like the crazyness set in a place usually there for fun. Visually appealing, especially the ghosts of children. The idea of commandeering your friends with different abilities is a good one, although it doesn't get much time to shine in such a short game. The best solution seems to be to simply let them all tag along at all times. I'd have liked it if they weren't all available or if it caused trouble if the wrong one was present. Now, to be fair, I ditched them on my own, but that was by clicking on them by mistake or trying to make them respond to something. I wanted the big one to look in the dumpster for me, but when he did nothing, I clicked on him, resulting simply in him staying put. (Nice that he acknowledges that the main character could have asked him after solving the puzzle in another manner, but still...) I found the controls a bit fiddly, and had to resort to the keyboard movement (which I'm not a fan of) to be able to switch rooms in an easy manner. Small gripes aside, I liked the game and found the ending satisfying. The strong suits are definetely atmosphere and how you build it throughout the story. Difficulty: fairly easy (but riddles can be hard for us non-native speakers).
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The Zoo:
Spoiler
Nice black and white to set the Twilight Zone mood. This plays out like an escape the room game, with (somwhat) logical puzzles and enough hand-holding to make me see what's intended easily. (Well, I thought the fire should start in the fireplace, but as I always try other things first, I found the solution before trying that.) I liked the two endings, too. Good storytelling there. I think this game works better for someone familiar with the story or concept, because there could have been more backstory baked into the descriptions. However, there are limits for how much to include in a jam game on a deadline.
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The Stew of Las Moras:
Spoiler
Oh, this was so brilliant. The premise is so funny it kept me laughing about it and talking to friends and family about it for days. The limited palette works well here, as well, giving the game the same sort of instant familiarity as the other games by this duo. We recognize your games at a glance now.  ;-D  The music changes, giving each character their own theme, which i felt worked very well. Subtle does it! The characters are varied and funny, and the puzzles are challenging, but fair. I guess the treks into the desert are text-only for time reasons, but the writing is good, so it doesn't matter much.
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I will vote for
Spoiler
the giant Stew Pot.
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4KbShort

Quote from: OneDollar on Sat 06/07/2024 13:56:16Three games is a good turnout, and they're all really solid entries too!

I was trying to write feedback notes while I played through them all, and they accidentally turned into mini essays. Here's some heavily spoilery feedback (and some bug reports) for each game if you'd like it:

Carnival of Shadows
Spoiler
I liked the idea of multiple characters with different views of the world and different abilities, but I couldn't see any reason not to just have them all follow me constantly. It would have been nice to see this mechanic expanded on, like needing to leave certain characters in certain areas to solve a puzzle, or not being able to complete certain puzzles if a character was with you (like maybe you need to talk to a ghost but they won't appear around Tim the skeptic or something). It might have been interesting to have to ask/use specific characters to solve puzzles so that you have to think about their abilities and personalities, rather than them just helping automatically if they were with you. I liked that conversations happened differently depending whether characters were on screen or not.

The art feels like it's been pulled together from lots of different sources. There's different styles, and most noticeably different resolutions which can leave some of it quite blurry and unclear. It's definitely not the prettiest thing to look at, but I think it does fit well with the game's atmosphere. The music is a bit disjoined with some awkward loops, but again I think it fits the game quite well.

Adding riddles adds an interesting variation to the puzzles, though the game immediately gave me hints that I didn't need because Tim was on screen. I also think I would have preferred it if the game started dropping increasingly helpful hints after I got the answers wrong a few times, or gave me the option of asking Tim for a hint if I decided I needed one.

Most of the inventory-based puzzles in the middle were pretty obvious and didn't provide much of a challenge, either because it's clear from context (put fuses in the fuse box), or because the game outright tells you what to do (collect objects that appeal to children and put them on the bench). Again I think some of this could have worked better if the mechanic with the different characters was a bit more fleshed out. Needing Luna to tell you about the child ghosts wanting toys could be a good part of the puzzle chain, but at that point in the game there's no reason why the player wouldn't have Luna with them so it's effectively automatically solved. One inventory puzzle that I did think worked well was having to use the box on the dumpster, as that wasn't obvious and took me a while to figure out.

I liked the maze puzzle at the end, that was fun and again something a bit different to the standard inventory puzzles.

In summary I really like the setting and the concept. There's a lot of interesting ideas in the game, not all of them work as well as they could, but for me that's better than a boring game that doesn't try anything new. It's quite rough both in terms of graphics and bugs, but I still had a lot of fun playing it. I think I wrote so much about it because there's a lot that really works for me, and the bits that don't are interesting enough that I can see glimpses of how they could work with a bit more time to develop them. A really solid MAGS entry.

Bug reports:
I've got some bug reports for you, mostly because I ended up playing through a couple of times to see what would change if I did or didn't have characters with me at certain points.

Game breaking:
 - You already know about the bug with clicking on the fuse box a second time. I stupidly triggered this on my first play through, despite having seen it being discussed  :-[
 - I got a crash at the end after destroying the watch and freeing the ghosts: "The character 'Luna' could not be displayed because there was no loop 2 of view 33". I'm pretty sure this is triggered by causing Luna to follow you before clicking the watch (either by clicking Luna while she's holding back Mr Grins, or I think if you enter the final room without Luna following you she gets set to follow mode when she appears in the room)?
 - If Luna isn't with you when you place the last offering on the bench the game gets stuck in a loop of Maria saying "That's all of them".

Minor stuff:
 - You can use the fuses on the fuse box and turn on the power without needing Tim to open the door first (Maria will still comment that the door is closed after turning on the power).
 - I think the logic is backwards on the hint for the second riddle as you only get it if Tim isn't on screen.
 - I left my friends in the main carnival area (with the Ferris wheel). Exiting and re-entering the carnival by the main entrance makes them appear in the area with the carousel again. I assume this is a bug, though arguably they could have just wandered back there themselves :D
 - There's something odd going on with character baselines or z-depths or something as a character standing behind another will often be drawn on top of them instead - I'm not sure if this is an AGS bug or something in the game's code
 - Everyone comments on the newspaper even if they're not on screen.
 - The first time you click on the carousel it will spin and Luna will give you the explanation about offerings, this still happens even if you click on it after you've already placed all the offerings and moved all the ghosts.
 - Using the combined two end pieces of the key on the handle piece doesn't do anything, though it does work the other way around so the game isn't soft-locked.
 - One of the wrong doors in the maze at the end (I think heading south to the bathroom first then taking one of the two exits there?) takes you to the carnival entrance rather than the start of the maze (this might also be intentional?)
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The Zoo
Spoiler
I haven't see The Twilight Zone, though the premise rings a vague bell so I might have heard of the episode before. Either way the game does a good job of quickly setting up the situation the player finds themselves in and the goal of escape.

The presentation is very good. Clear, black and white pixel art and good music. I'm not sure if the main background loop comes from The Twilight Zone or not, but it fits very well with the atmosphere. It's a consistent world and is interesting to explore.

There's some OK inventory-based puzzles. The fire setting puzzle was a little odd - the books are inflammable for some reason, so you soak them with alcohol, but you can't light the alcohol directly on fire or pour it over the couch and set fire to it with a cigarette or something. It seemed a little convoluted to me. I got stuck for a while figuring out what to do with the burning book - I assumed I'd have to put it in the fireplace then block the flue somehow to make smoke in the room - but after taking a break to play one of the other games then coming back I found it almost straight away. Otherwise interactions and puzzles generally made sense to me. I wondered if it would be possible to softlock by not taking the sign, so I tried it on a second play through and the answer was no. Kudos for handling that. I also appreciated there were two different endings to the game.

My main critique of the game would be that there's a lot of objects and hotspots, but many are missing interactivity for some, if not all, of the cursors. Some of these are especially confusing, for example there are four cupboards in the kitchen but you get no response when trying to use any of them. I find the lack of feedback a bit immersion-breaking as it makes me question whether I misclicked the object. There's a hotspot for the kitchen wall, but I couldn't see why this would need to be interactive and couldn't find anything to do with it. Conversely there's other objects in the background that look like they should be intractable but aren't. There's what looks like a doorway on the north wall of the living room, but it doesn't do anything, and there's a door in the hallway next to the kitchen which again can't be clicked on. In my opinion adding some extra interaction text, even if it's along the lines of "It's empty", "It's out of reach", "It's locked", would help a lot with keeping the immersion and justifying why the interactions aren't available.

The other part that feels a little odd is the score. You get points for solving the puzzles, and there's some more for actions that aren't strictly necessary which is a nice way of fleshing out the interactivity of the world. I like this and think it's fun. The main puzzle chain isn't that long, so having extra items and hotspots that aren't just red herrings but give you bonus points is a great idea. In theory it also adds replayability for players who want to try and find all the points. However from what I could see the game doesn't ever tell you the maximum number of points, or give you any kind of score recap at the end, so there's no way of knowing whether anything was missed. For the record I think my highest score was 13.

Overall it's a good little escape room puzzler with a cool setting and atmosphere. It feels a little unfinished in some areas, but otherwise it's a well put together game, and definitely worth playing.
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The Stew of Las Moras
Spoiler
What immediately struck me about this game was the world building. I love the idea of this ancient stew that 14 stew masters have overseen, the collection of bizarre characters lining up to eat, and the villain who's content to just stand there and laugh while you try and clean up his mess. Oh, and Moby is here too.

The artwork really shines too. It uses a stylistically limited pallet with a good colour choice and everything is clear to read. I really like the character designs too (and that whale is incredible) and I appreciate that while there's very limited amounts of actual animation the characters bob about while talking. There's other small touches too, like after the scouts leave the other characters move up a place in line. It's stuff like that show a lot of effort went into the feel of this game. There's also quite a bit of (I assume) custom music in the game. I like that talking to some characters will give you different music tracks.

I like the puzzles. They make sense in the context of the game's world, but they do need a bit of thinking about. I particularly appreciated the desert sequence deaths - failing it gives you a fun narrative about what went wrong and, most importantly, you're given a retry button rather than just ending the game.

It's a fun game with a great sense of world building and is very funny too. It does something interesting and unique with the theme, and kept me engaged and guessing where the story was going.

Bug reports:
 - Unlocking the right case in the gift shop plays the bending down animation, but not the standing back up animation and breaks Moby's walk cycle.
 - Pretty minor, but if Moby has to walk through the gift shop to interact with something (e.g exit the stew scene, then use the water trough) the gift shop wall will start but not finish fading away as he walks through, leaving it in a semi-transparent state.
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When the poll is open I'm going to vote for:
Spoiler
The Stew of Las Moras. I really enjoyed all three entries, but the combination of world building, artwork, puzzles, and humour swayed it for me.
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Wow! Thanks for the big feedback. I completely forgot about the kitchen wall when I was working on everything else. It was supposed to be a look point with a reference to the episode and... oops. XD
As for the puzzles and such I had a lot of ideas and I half-implemented a lot of them, but with leaving those pieces in I didn't use I can see how it would cause confusion PLUS how alternatives could be implemented. I wanted to do that in this game (similar to Conquest of the Longbow), but it seems like I was still thinking inside my own little box.

Thanks for all the feedback!
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Stupot

Time to vote

Very sorry for the delay in getting this up. I just haven't been able to squeeze out a moment with my laptop.

Hopefully you've been enjoying the games and thinking about your favourite one.

Please vote using the poll above:

The Zoo by4KbShort
Carnival of Shadows by GooseKult
The Stew of Las Moras by Babar and jfrisby

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