Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Vertex Dispenser updated

I've updated Vertex Dispenser. Main changes:
- added mouse control for selecting abilities: scroll wheel to select colour, left/right button to activate ability. (also middle mouse to delete vertices; if you're using this instead of the alphabet keys you'll probably want to set movement to WASD instead of arrow keys.)
- slightly improved how it handles lag. (still some work to be done here.)
- fixed crashing on startup on some Macs with MacOS 10.5.
- small balance tweaks: Damage All does +2 damage to objects, Roaming Mine does +1 damage on a direct hit, vertices captured by Local Capture are invincible for a short duration.

A lot of people complaining about the large number of keys used for abilities. This really surprised me, because nobody mentioned it as a problem in playtesting, and because the keys are laid out in a really clear logical manner. I added an option ("Horizontal") to display the abilities across the bottom of the screen instead of to the right, so their positions map directly to the key positions - I find this a less convenient position for seeing when they're charged, but the option is there if anyone wants it. And now I've added an option to activate abilities with the mouse. It took quite a bit of experimentation to find a system for this that felt vaguely okay, and this is the result.. moving the mouse to select abilities didn't feel anywhere near as good (even with visual and audio feedback) as using the scroll wheel. It seems a bit inelegant to use the mouse just for buttons and scrolling, and not for the main thing that a mouse actually does (continuous movement), but I guess that's what you get when the game is discrete. The option is now there if you want it.

I doubt that this will make much difference to anyone. The game has been pretty unsuccessful, and small fixes like this aren't going to change that - I'd have to make it a completely different game, something I'd like less, something much closer to what's gone before. (Preferably a puzzle-platformer, that's how you make a successful indie game, right?)


  1. Dang, dude, I'm sorry your game didn't sell too well. It was a great concept and i thought it was really beautiful. But I have to admit I only have the demo myself. I don't know if you want to hear about this from some randoms users, but I found the learning curve just too steep; I had a good time learning my way around in the tutorials, but as soon as I got to the end of the demo --- the first "real" level, I think --- I got totally stuck. I think I just couldn't get the hang of the strategy. I'm pretty sure that if I could figure out how to play I'd buy Vertex Dispenser and recommend it highly; I really want to like it.

  2. I updated the demo a couple of weeks after release so I'm not sure exactly which level you're referring to - if it's the "Mythic Portal" level, just be more aggressive, go straight for the target rather than trying to clear out the enemy completely, use Guided Bomb + Star Attack to clear a path.

    Learning curve's definitely been an issue. I spent quite a long time playtesting the levels to try and smooth that out, but it's still left some people stuck.
    Maybe I have the wrong philosophy - I personally don't like to be told how to do well at a game, I like to figure that out myself. I don't like it at all when someone's explaining the rules of a board game and they mix in strategy advice with the rules (sometimes they don't clearly distinguish advice from rules, and that's even worse). But maybe for this it would have been better to give more strategy advice in the tutorial rather than just teaching the rules.

    Ah well, I'll make some more games, maybe one day one of my crazy ideas will resonate with other people.

  3. I happened to see some youtube footage of this and the visual style of the game is what initially got me interested. I like how the graphics are simple, but colorful and when combined with the music this game feels really relaxing. I've never used steam before because I hate any sort of drm, but I downloaded the program to try the demo of this and I really want to support you despite my hate of drm. I'm sad this sold badly. I am going to buy this game on steam. I had a lot of fun playing the demo and playing online multiplayer sounds very fun too.