Author Topic: Observations  (Read 150979 times)

inkblob

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Observations
« on: October 17, 2013, 03:33:39 PM »
Hiya Lazy8  :)  I'm really enjoying ExtraSolar so far. The pace of the game is unique to me and look forward to getting my alerts, setting my probe off and then I'm done. There is only so much you can do in the game so it *can't* be a timesink. It's keeping the game fresh.

I have a few questions so far. With the planet status it has the time of day. Is this relative to your position, assuming you are going to be exploring other parts of the planet?

There is no way to untag photos right?

The email notifications are great, I don't feel spammed. The nature of gmail these days is it groups them all into one conversation thread. I mentioned this to Brendan earlier but should say here as well that gmail also sent the initial email with the subject 'Invitation to the Extrasolar Rover Program' went to the default 'Promotionals' tab, which is kind of a wasteland in my experience.

I like how the option to pay for extra features seems like it's part of the game experience instead of a real world transaction. This is one of my pet peeves in modern gaming how in game nags snap the illusion. If this was made even more concrete, I can't remember the flavour text right now ( and don't want to check because my rover is 30 min away from an audio bubble ), but when you drag the slider lower than 4 hours it could reinforce this with some sort of term or role, like the priority/restricted access. This is the first time I have *not* been bothered by in game upgrade reminders as it seems like a logical enough part of the company process.

I like how the classified photos have all the share buttons disabled, that is a clear way of saying this is in game only content. What about for game review purposes, sharing the different game windows via screenshots? What's your preferences as to what sort of content gets out there? Do you have some 'press friendly' screenies of the home, profile and map pages?

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Re: Observations
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2013, 06:34:20 PM »
Glad to hear you're enjoying Extrasolar!

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With the planet status it has the time of day. Is this relative to your position

Correct.  Though, for simplicity, as we write the next 2 seasons of content, we may restrict exploration along an approximate longitude to keep time of day consistent across locations.

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There is no way to untag photos right?

That's correct.  We've had tons of discussion internally about how many tags you get, if you can pay for more, if you can untag stuff... Basically, we decided to restrict the number of tags and prohibit untagging to keep the interface simple, make you think more about what you choose to tag, and give a little more consequence to your actions.  Also, from a logistics perspective, untagging is a nightmare that can cause things like un-earning achievements or un-completing missions.

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The email notifications are great, I don't feel spammed.

More fine-tuning notification options coming soon!

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I like how the option to pay for extra features seems like it's part of the game experience instead of a real world transaction.

Good.  This has been another area where we spent countless hours discussing design options.  It was critical that we keep the purchase within the fiction, but it's very hard to do that while still conveying what you actually get in exchange for your money -- and why that makes sense within the story.  Hopefully we've made reasonable decisions here.

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What about for game review purposes, sharing the different game windows via screenshots?

We have the CLASSIFIED tag to keep things spoiler-free, but of course reviewers will take screenshots of the secret stuff and we're totally fine with that.  Mostly, we just want to make it easy to share your profile and photos while simultaneously insuring that spoilers don't end up littering Twitter and Facebook.  The classification system is currently pretty aggressive, so we'll likely ease up on that pretty soon.

Have fun and thanks for the feedback!

inkblob

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Re: Observations
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2013, 11:24:08 AM »
All sounds good :)

The tagging is fun, I'm already memorizing some of the lifeforms ... 'oh, looks like more whalebark'  Love all the artwork!

One concern I have, and not sure if it's unfounded because don't know how far through I am ( and sometime today a big so and so will be unlocked ), is that it feels a bit like a fixed track at an amusement park in the regards that as the player I don't know what real impact I'm having on the course of events. Is it like Raiders, where if Indy wasn't in the movie... would it all just happen anyways? Right now I'm not feeling like there are any stakes or consequences to my actions. I'm still intrigued and happily planning out my routes, but when I went to go look at something interesting I was told to complete my outstanding missions which got me thinking along these lines.  Maybe this will figure itself out, but at this point ( just over a week in ), I don't sense that I have any choice in how the story unfolds. That's fine, I really like text adventures and Endless Ocean, but I was thinking with how the game so cleverly started that there would be some more risks, maybe if I screwed up with a security clearance check there could be warning shot across the bow.

zarf

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Re: Observations
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2013, 11:39:09 AM »
Having fun so far. (I'm playing in free mode, but I would definitely throw ten bucks at this when it's out of beta.)

Extremely arbitrary notes:

In the "they're lying" email, it would be niftier if the "Sent" lines were real-life timestamps rather than "3 hours ago", "4 hours ago".

The arrow-and-rectangle icon in the top right of each pane confuses me. The icon looks more like "email this" or "trash this" than "see all".

If I sleep my computer with the browser window open, then when I wake it up, it doesn't refresh properly. (The photo which came in overnight says "Waiting for probe data" until I refresh the browser manually.) (Mac Firefox 23.0.)

I get that "energy" is a limitation on how much travel I can program at one time. However, I haven't found an energy meter or an explanation of what takes how much energy. I don't think it needs to be a giant UI element -- it's not that important -- but some feedback somewhere would be nice.

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Re: Observations
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2013, 11:51:12 AM »
As for the storyline... I'm still at an early point, as I said, so I feel like I'm still "in the tutorial phase"; being on rails is okay.

"Rails" is the wrong term here, really. Most adventure games are "on rails" in the sense that the high-level plot line is fixed. The question is, does the player have an opportunity to feel clever every once in a while. Clever might mean an unexpected use of the rover camera; or a tactical choice between map-in-depth and dash-for-important-targets; or resource management (findable energy?); or going outside the rover UI entirely for some puzzle.

(I'm sure you've discussed this to death in your design meetings.)

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Re: Observations
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2013, 11:59:27 AM »
As for the storyline... I'm still at an early point, as I said, so I feel like I'm still "in the tutorial phase"; being on rails is okay.

"Rails" is the wrong term here, really. Most adventure games are "on rails" in the sense that the high-level plot line is fixed. The question is, does the player have an opportunity to feel clever every once in a while. Clever might mean an unexpected use of the rover camera; or a tactical choice between map-in-depth and dash-for-important-targets; or resource management (findable energy?); or going outside the rover UI entirely for some puzzle.

(I'm sure you've discussed this to death in your design meetings.)

These are very clear examples of what I was trying to explain thanks :) Almost every single game out there is on rails, good term. Like Disneyland though you are given the illusion of choice. There definitely is some camera play as you don't know what you'll get, and you try and line up a favourable shot based on an idea about the terrain, what you've seen so far, time of day and what you might be looking for. Then tagging is limited so you have to be careful, I think that's handled great. There doesn't seem to be any ~social~ tactics at this point which I was anticipating due to the nature of how you join the program.

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Re: Observations
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 07:43:15 AM »
Further notes:

"...your rover has traveled as far as light does in one nanosecond!" Er, that's twelve inches. I think you meant "one microsecond" (300 meters).

The "Identify 5 new species" task was marked complete when I submitted the tag, not when it came back identified.

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Re: Observations
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2013, 09:01:00 AM »
So I set off a bunch of popcorn in the game and it's mostly settled down. What I think really worked was a sequence trigger that created a character response. What I don't think worked was the initial map message saying that I had to complete existing messages before going into this curious area that I was getting glimpses of in the corner of photos. Why not have another red line there and have some sort of bureaucratic line why I can't explore quite just yet?

This game has a slow burn but once you get into the pace it's surprisingly engaging because it feels like an augmented reality, that your rover is out there doing these things while you are doing your things. I don't want to tell you how to butter your bread because I don't know what goes into all of this, but having a couple of streams of reaction choices would add a lot to the experience. If it was based on a sequence or a proximity map trigger that would twig my attention. I'm wondering if there will be any fallout from the first one I set off...

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Re: Observations
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2013, 10:57:56 PM »
I can't get into details without spoilers, but at a few points in the story, you have a choice about the order in which you complete your tasks and if you do things in an unexpected way, you'll notice characters responding.  If you are a heavy explorer and find key items early, the story will respond appropriately. (If it doesn't, report it here as a bug.)

You'll also find that your role in the story is a critical one.  There will be tasks that you'll be asked to perform and -- as the insider -- you'll be the only one who can do it.

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Clever might mean an unexpected use of the rover camera; or a tactical choice between map-in-depth and dash-for-important-targets; or resource management (findable energy?); or going outside the rover UI entirely for some puzzle.

(I'm sure you've discussed this to death in your design meetings.)

Indeed, we've spent countless hours on these types of discussions and in most cases chose the decision that best maintained the fiction of the world and kept Extrasolar as accessible as possible.  The tactical choices tend to fall outside of the main storyline -- choosing where to go and when to use a panorama or an infrared photo in your search for new species.  You'll find that the biomes are distributed in a scientifically sensible way.  You'll also find that as you dig into the websites that you come across, you'll find some interesting stuff, from a lot of real-world science to conspiracies that tie in to real-world news.

It's worth noting that it's been fun for us, as the development team, to watch players become better and better photographers as they learn to capture long shadows at sunset or both moons rising together.  From an aesthetic standpoint, your camera choices can have a big impact.

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I think you meant "one microsecond" (300 meters).

Good catch!  I'll fix that.

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Re: Observations
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2013, 11:48:14 AM »
I can imagine that it's a balancing act, there's several pots cooking in this game. I've already come across a great plot twist that had me grinning at the reveal.

Something that would really aid in the way I approach map strategy would be able to see the view cone of my *last* photo, which is generally the rover's current location when I start figuring out my route. I get a sense by looking at my photo, but I find it really useful looking at the data points on the map to see where the rover was looking previously.

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Re: Observations
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2013, 11:53:24 AM »
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to see the view cone of my *last* photo

You can click on your rover's current location to see this, but a couple people have asked for this feature, so apparently that's not very intuitive.

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Re: Observations
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2013, 07:37:22 PM »
You can also get this by selecting the last photo and hitting the "See on map" button above it.

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Re: Observations
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2013, 08:11:25 AM »
Woke up this morning, hit refresh on my browser (to get around the aforementioned "Waiting for probe data" problem), and was confused by the new-item counter.

Screenshot: (spoilers) http://eblong.com/zarf/tmp/five-things-extrasolar.png

The "Home" tab says 5 things are new, but there's one message, two photos, and one task. (No new discoveries -- the g-tree was discovered yesterday.) Don't know what the fifth is supposed to be.

Related: the "Messages (1)" label should go away when I click on the message, not when I click *away* from the message.




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Re: Observations
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2013, 07:46:40 AM »
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to see the view cone of my *last* photo

You can click on your rover's current location to see this, but a couple people have asked for this feature, so apparently that's not very intuitive.

Ok got it. I think what I was doing was long pressing the rover location, not a short click which pops up the window. Maybe if the last data point could have some sort of highlight, like a coloured stroke around it, and if it was a higher layer than the rover graphic?

Speaking on intuition, I found a feature that I didn't know was there and had a problem recreating it once I found it. You can see a yellow binding box of what the rover 'explored' though not necessarily what it took a picture of. You click the data point ( is that term you guys are using? ) and then if you click in the adjacent area, a yellow box shows up that is angled in relation to the camera's view point.

The skybox has some obvious dynamic elements such as lighting and moons. The clouds seem variable too, and wondering if weather will be a planned feature that the rover has to contend with, either for locomotion or favourable picture taking conditions?

I'm getting better at judging distances, but maybe XRI could provide a simple photo with a depth field in it to give rover operators a better sense of how far objects are in the distance?

It's worth noting that it's been fun for us, as the development team, to watch players become better and better photographers as they learn to capture long shadows at sunset or both moons rising together.  From an aesthetic standpoint, your camera choices can have a big impact.


Oh, then you'll love this masterpiece, it's the height of breathtaking scenic capture. I call it ... 'rover selfie'
https://extrasolar.com/photo/7iyDznEMAJsZO13L6oyWjz

zarf

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Re: Observations
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2013, 07:38:15 PM »
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What I don't think worked was the initial map message saying that I had to complete existing messages before going into this curious area that I was getting glimpses of in the corner of photos. Why not have another red line there and have some sort of bureaucratic line why I can't explore quite just yet?

I just hit this point, and I agree.