Private Demo Released!

Author Topic: All backers demo  (Read 3680 times)

Chris van Darg

All backers demo
« on: September 17, 2017, 09:38:25 AM »
So, I just came to play the demo (at least once, I might go throught it again).

Let me start with this: I LOVED IT! It felt really good, controls worked and came in quite natural (I am using a Logitech F710 which acts as an XInput Controller). I didn't even die once (I am so proud of myself right now :P), so you can say I got the basic grip of it.
As a kid born in the early 80's, I of course adore the art style you chose for Heart Forth, Alicia. Pixel graphics done right always get to me in a special way, as is the case with this prime example. Thanks for that! Also, the map is done pretty well, had that handheld Castlevania feel to it (like in Aria of Sorrow, for example).

I'd like to point out two (minor) things which I feel worth mentioning.
First, I got shown a wrong button symbol when picking up the Charged Strike. In the menus, it would show the correct 'A' button symbol for the strike attack, but the tutorial text for the Charged Strike put a red circle button symbol instead. I know this is just a demo and that it's probably already on the list but I thought I'd mention it nonethelss.
The second thing is kind of twofold, both parts being in regard to the dialogue / text message system. In the beginning, when the prologue text is shown, I would have liked the option (and actually thought it was done this way at first) to proceed with the text at my own pace. When the little sysmbol showed up in the lower right corner, I took it as a means of saying "this page of text is done and when you press a button, it will continue". Which it does, but it also went on automatically if I didn't press anything. Now I'm not saying that the display time for the text was too short, but for a slow or non-natural English reader it might be too fast anyway. If it only proceeded manually, you'd never run into that issue, of course.
In combination with that, I felt that the two (I think) different symbols in the dialogue windows were not quite consistent. What I mean by that is, I could not really tell what each symbol stood for exactly. I at least had the impression that, regardless of the symbol, text would sometimes proceed automatically (which, after the prologue, I thought would only be the case with the page symbol, not the block symbol). This impression might be wrong, I'd have to check that properly in a second playthrough. Still, I personally didn't feel the need for a second symbol overall but that's just preference, I guess.

Still, these two little things did not disturb the fun I had with the little demo and I was kind of sad when the end screen came up ;) This is really getting the look and feel of those 16 Bit Metroidvania games well done and I am totally stoked for the finished game. So, keep up the great work (and take your time, as HFA deserves to be awesome!) and make this as good as the demo suggests :)

Alonso Martin

Re: All backers demo
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2017, 01:09:02 PM »
Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback, Chris! It's great to know someone else enjoys the work you've been doing for years.

The gamepad icons are a problem we're aware of, we will release a patch soon to fix that.

As for the "next line" icons, one means "more dialog from the same character ahead" and the other one means "stop/end". I agree one could be enough. I think there's two icons because of Xenogears' and other JRPGs' examples. E.g. Xenogears opened and closed quotes when characters spoke, which hinted that the next dialog line would be another character speaking, or that the dialog was altogether over. Will think about it :)

« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 01:11:15 PM by Alonso Martin »

Chris van Darg

Re: All backers demo
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2017, 02:15:07 PM »
You're very welcome! I thought it only fair: You did some amazing work, gave everyone a demo (after the recent delay news, which, by the way, I am not too concerned about seeing how good the demo is) and so I said to myself the least I could do is give some feedback :)

Ah, so the symbols are used like that. I might have paid too little attention to that - my bad! Seems pretty rational and rather useful if you do it like that. Scrap that from my last post, then ;D
Then it's just the text speed / automatic proceeding of it.


Re: All backers demo
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 08:33:44 PM »
Hi, hopefully it's okay if I piggyback my own demo impressions in here, to avoid cluttering up the forum with extra threads; apologies if I accidentally mention something already in the works or that was already covered elsewhere.

- The game runs without any apparent issues on my non-gaming laptop, and there seem to be a good amount of options to tweak for anyone who does have trouble. It also sensed my third-party X360 controller just fine, though at the moment only analog movement/menu navigation appears to be supported; hopefully d-pad controls will be available as well.

- You probably hear this a lot, but the game looks and sounds great; the spritework and animation capably evoke fond memories of 32-bit 2D gaming. The more "realistic" character portraits took a bit of getting used to compared to the more cartoony/stumpy sprites, but I kind of like the dissonance, it gives the game a  bit more of a dreamlike, or "watching a performance" feel, assuming you were going for something like that, heh.

- My only minor complaints on the visual front concern overall visibility - I like the little emotion bubbles that characters sometimes sport, but they frequently cover the characters themselves, which is a bit distracting IMO, I might suggest placing them directly above characters rather than beside them. The colorful font is generally pleasing to the eye, but the relative lack of contrast can occasionally make keywords and other such elements a bit tricky to differentiate, so you may want to consider including at least one or two simpler/more readable text options, if only to accommodate those with vision issues and the like.

I also like the little fireworks displays whenever an enemy is defeated, but especially when dealing with a lot of small enemies (i.e. bats) the pyrotechnics can make it a bit difficult to keep an eye on everyone, so perhaps a smidge of toning down is in order. During the boss fight it took me a bit to realize that the smaller rocks that the bigger ones break into can't hurt you, so perhaps a visual cue to make that more obvious would be warranted. Finally, the way damage numbers flutter and arc for a bit before falling offscreen also adds to the visual noise, so an option to disable that would also be appreciated.

- Sound-wise, the only negative thing I could think to note was that I found Alicia's shout upon taking damage a bit piercing; no idea if anyone else has said the same, but to my ears it was just a little bit shrill. Maybe a slight lowering of its volume would do the trick.

- Controls also felt good to me overall, though the "quick 3-hit combo followed by lag" structure of the primary weapon threw me off somewhat, especially since the lag still happens even if you leave a bit of a space between attacks; it's hardly insurmountable, but off the cuff I tend to think I'd be more comfortable with a "steadier" attack rhythm, where every strike has the same amount of startup and downtime (once I got the charge shot I ended up using it most of the time, simply because I found it more "reliable", for lack of a better word). Mind you, this could be another personal quirk, so you might want to poll a wider range of testers on this, or perhaps include different weapons or an option toggle to cover all your bases.

- I liked the way the game didn't outright explain every gameplay nuance to the player, but hinted at or passively demonstrated them while leaving some room for the player to figure it out; the "trick" with the spitting enemies comes most immediately to mind. I tend to have kind of a thick skull when it comes to this sort of thing, so the fact that I was able to follow the breadcrumb trail in this particular case hopefully means you're on the right track when it comes to accessibility in this area, heh.

- Small bug: if the "play music in pause menu" option is enabled, the music will continue to play alongside/over the in-game music when the menu is closed. Setting "play menu music" to "off" easily fixes the problem, but figured I ought to mention it regardless.

Phew...I think that covers most everything I could think to mention from the demo. A lot of it is fairly nitpicky, but hopefully at least something in there turns out to be helpful; if you need anything expanded upon and/or clarified feel free to ask. Thanks for sharing the demo, looking forward to the finished product.

Alonso Martin

Re: All backers demo
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 11:03:36 PM »
Thanks a bunch for the detailed feedback, TwitchinSal! HFA was partly inspired by a couple of Square RPGs of the PS1, so it's great to hear that it reminds you of that 32-bit era of gaming :)

We're fixing the gamepad issues and will have a patch out soon. The earthquake that hit us left me without power for 8 days, so it's taken a bit longer than anticipated.

Most of the small details are things I'm aware of, but wasn't necessarily changing them because they'd never been brought up.
  • The sprite vs. avatar thing is a long story, but the dissonance is partly due to the long development span of the game and my improving skills since 2006, which is when I first came up with HFA's character designs. Unfortunately you have to force yourself to stick to a certain style for consistency's sake. Alicia's avatar is the only portrait I've heard some complain about. It's the oldest in the game, and I've considered respriting it. Haven't gotten around to it because she has 12 or 14 portrait variations that would have to be redone.
  • The emojis overlapping characters is something I've had on my to-dos since forever, thanks for bringing attention to it.
  • The visibility with enemy death effects is something that takes a bit of getting used to, but specific instances where it gets a bit too busy (like the boss rocks) is useful feedback I can apply easily.
  • I originally made Alicia's hurt sounds as the primary way to let you know you'd taken damage (the game has changed heavily over the years). Now that there's visual feedback of all sorts when you get hurt, I'll consider toning those sounds down.
  • The 3-hit whip window is an intentional way to encourage players to also use spells instead of relying exclusively on your whip. Unfortunately you don't get to play around with any spells in the demo. Like you point out, you can invest a bit more effort & abuse the charged shot to get over that 3-hit window limitation.
  • The menu music thing will be fixed in the patch!

The amount of people testing the game right now is small for its amount of content, so we plan to bring in some people with a keen eye later on. Let me know if you're interested in helping out with feedback & bug reports on longer alpha builds, and send me an email to mail -at- alonsomartin -dot- mx so we can reach out to you when we have something to test. Thanks again!

« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 11:12:28 PM by Alonso Martin »

Guardian of Irael

Re: All backers demo
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2017, 03:49:37 AM »
The 3-hit whip window is an intentional way to encourage players to also use spells instead of relying exclusively on your whip. Unfortunately you don't get to play around with any spells in the demo. Like you point out, you can invest a bit more effort & abuse the charged shot to get over that 3-hit window limitation.
It was one of the point I wanted to underline (others already did that). As it is now more than a way to disempower the whip/melee attacks it seems a bad design mechanic of gameplay even if intentional. I mean there is no visual or sound indicator, the player always expects something like "ok, now after a little pause I wait for that bat and I whip out is face with a perfect blow!" Bim! You press the botton and nothing happens (no indicator, not a nice thing) and bim again the bat bite your face. Here is a bat, but (:D) later in game it could be something more dangerous even with one hit one kill and it isn't good not having a fast base attack to spam in those cases. Magic is fast as it is designed and polished, but I don't think it can be as fast or better as "common/basic" as a whip attack.
^ ^

It is the entire fact of no response after expecting something. I don't know if later in game you can grew addicted to that without problems and I don't know if it is possible to use the same mechanic with a visual indicator or something like that, probably is the broken base of 3 attacks that give that not pleasant feeling.
Try to retake that in consideration. Did the testers pointed out anything about that combo?
^ ^
^ ^

Alonso Martin

Re: All backers demo
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2017, 11:30:18 AM »
Thanks for the observations, Guardian. Some things might still change in the final game, but rest assured we've tested, tweaked and put a good amount of thought to each mechanic throughout the years :)


Re: All backers demo
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2017, 04:24:49 PM »
File    Size    Date   52.60M   2015/04/02 11:38

ZIP PASSWORD: *****************
Download the Private Demo of Heart Forth, Alicia!
Contents: Alicia's adventure begins, taking her through Brenia & Bottomrock!   10.06M   2015/02/20 22:45
Four gorgeous, backer-exclusive, Heart Forth, Alicia wallpapers in HD 1920x1080 goodness, featuring the beautiful artworks our illustrators are creating for the project!

This is the only thing that is showing up in the backers HUB area but i can see in my email this morning that 7.5.9 is live

But as you can see there is no such file ?

Any help would be welcomed ?

Alonso Martin

Re: All backers demo
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2017, 04:50:44 PM »
There's a green button in the "All backers demo download" section. Just click on that header to roll it down and sign up for it. That other demo is the $50 private demo released a couple of years ago.


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