CtrlAltDestroy Apr 30 @ 11:54pm
My review of Chuck's Challenge 3D
As requested by Allack, posting my review here so it can be replied to.

Originally posted by CtrlAltDestroy:
This was hard for me to downvote. I love block puzzles and I think Chuck Sommerville is a master of puzzle design. His genius lies in the simplicity and elegance of the levels. When a level is so small and has so few moving parts, you can only blame yourself for not seeing that one small element you were overlooking the whole time. I love that. I thoroughly completed this game, gaining nearly all the gold medals and single-digit rankings on roughly half of the levels; cracking the code of the simple yet devious puzzle designs brought me hours upon hours of bliss.

Unfortunately, that's where the positive points end. Puzzle design aside, nearly every single aspect of this game is ruined by shoddy interface and fearsome bugs.

The ability to undo moves, while very welcome, is so horribly broken that dozens of user-created levels have been made to illustrate all the different ways it can be abused.

Various timing bugs exist in the game which make hunting for the #1 score on the leaderboard pointless. While it is welcome that the game rewards you for even tying the high score, the high score was usually acquired by someone’s lucky run where the timer skipped, started too late, or a rewind glitch was used.

Menus are clearly optimized for touchscreens and are downright difficult to control with a mouse, as an invisible timer will always cause the cursor to leap back to the beginning of the list every few seconds unless you use the mouse to "drag" the screen horizontally.

Thumbnail screenshots for user-designed levels are a disaster, as they frequently change, resize themselves, disappear, and even appear on the incorrect levels. Stats and leaderboards for user-created levels are inconsistent between the official site and the in-game browser; the same level will have different leaderboards and different star-rankings depending on where you look.

The level editor has an unforgivable bug which renders it incapable of telling the difference between a local copy of a level and the server-side copy. In common cases, especially when modifying a level locally after having uploaded it, you can load a level from the search engine and it will load a completely different version of the level for you than it will for other people.

While all that is annoying, the number one sin of this game is its in-game control scheme, bringing back terrible memories of slipping and sliding around in the NES version of Boulder Dash. While movement is tile-based like Sokoban, the main character moves smoothly from one tile to the next, which allows for time-based leaderboards to exist. Unfortunately, this means that if you want to make any kind of quick or complex movements, you need to press the keys a half second ahead of time. Hold the key for a millisecond too long and you’ll go sliding off your intended path and into a death trap. Whereas most Sokoban games (Like Chip's Challenge) use the keyboard buffer to delay your movements, or make the character move slow enough that you can mentally queue your movements, the main challenge of Chuck’s Challenge comes from just getting your character to move where you want, rather than the block puzzles themselves. Even though I conquered this game, I never completely got used to it, and it made in-game movements an unpleasant and frustrating experience from beginning to end. That’s just not what I want in a Sokoban game.

I’ll update this review if a patch fixes any bugs, but for now I’ll say that you should only buy this game if you appreciate block puzzles so much that brilliant level design outweighs bad controls and numerous other flaws. Everyone else should pass.
Showing 1-14 of 14 comments
< >
Allack  [developer] May 1 @ 1:28am 
CtrlAltDestroy this is really good feedback on the stuff we need to improve and very useful, so thank you. However I would say that most players are not going to notice a lot of these, as you are definitely a hard-core player having: played for nearly 20 hours, have the top time globally on several levels and created your own levels. Here’s the list of the items you’ve flagged:
  • Undo
  • Times
  • Touchscreen
  • Thumbnails
  • Level Editor
  • Controls
And here’s an update on these:

Undo & Times
We are re-working the game logic, as the game does have some exploits, but this is not a small job. In fact this is a massive job. It’s something Chuck is personally overseeing but it is going to take time.

Thumbnails
This has been on my personally wish fix list for ages, but we are a very very very small team. The good news is we are working on this currently, so it should be fixed in the latest update. However it's taken some time as it needs some game and server love from the dev guys.

Touchscreen
Chuck’s Challenge 3D User Experience was design 2 years ago and at that time we through Windows 8 would be the standard UX. Clearly we all now know that it is not, but that’s why it is the way it is. However we are just testing the latest update that should make scrolling better for mouse users. Hint, see YouTube horizontal video scroll system.

Level Editor
This is an annoying bug that we have seen from time to time. Are you able to repeat it every time? If so it be great to get a list of instructions (via the Steam Forum) on how to do this? If you can we can then try and fix it.

Controls
This might seem a simple thing, but I think I’ve been personally looking at controls on and off for Chuck’s Challenge 3D for about 4 years. It comes down to how people controls games today vs. on how they used to. Inputs have changed, player needs and behaviour has evolved and the biggest thing is we now need to support lots of control methods. I’ll have a look at keyboard again, as I understand your feedback and see what if there is something we can do on this one.
Last edited by Allack; May 1 @ 1:29am
random 8 May 1 @ 3:30am 
Originally posted by CtrlAltDestroy:
Whereas most Sokoban games (Like Chip's Challenge) use the keyboard buffer to delay your movements, or make the character move slow enough that you can mentally queue your movements, the main challenge of Chuck’s Challenge comes from just getting your character to move where you want, rather than the block puzzles themselves.

I have the opposite problem. In the Microsoft port of Chip's Challenge, i was able to adapt to the keyboard buffer system, but found it an annoyance nonetheless--especially when optimizing levels. The Tile World emulation of the Microsoft version of the game, on the other hand, does not have such a buffer system, although it has a similar learning curve of its own.

Originally posted by Allack:
Level Editor
This is an annoying bug that we have seen from time to time. Are you able to repeat it every time? If so it be great to get a list of instructions (via the Steam Forum) on how to do this? If you can we can then try and fix it.

With one exception, every time i attempt to load one of my own custom levels from the server, i get the local version instead. I can't view the leaderboards on my levels unless i go to the Chuck's Challenge website, and as far as i know, my times never get added (my likes and dislikes might, since i'm able to select those buttons after completing the level, but the buttons are glitched in appearance, so i don't know).

For the exception (Finite-State Automaton, levelid 15129), i really don't know how or why this one isn't affected, and it was like this before i uploaded the modified version (15137).

There's also computer.dat level 4 (15123), but i think this is because my default username changed when i reopened the game (this was before i started using 'random8').
Last edited by random 8; May 1 @ 3:57am
CtrlAltDestroy May 1 @ 8:50am 
Originally posted by Allack:
CtrlAltDestroy this is really good feedback on the stuff we need to improve and very useful, so thank you. However I would say that most players are not going to notice a lot of these, as you are definitely a hard-core player having: played for nearly 20 hours, have the top time globally on several levels and created your own levels.

I am really psyched for the update and I just want to say again that I'll retract all complaints that have been fixed. I consider this a sort of niche game, and I feel that my fanaticism is what is driving me to continue participating in the game. Newcomers to the genre or casual players, I fear, would be turned off by the excess of issues, which is why It'd make me happy to see them addressed.

Originally posted by Allack:
Level Editor
This is an annoying bug that we have seen from time to time. Are you able to repeat it every time? If so it be great to get a list of instructions (via the Steam Forum) on how to do this? If you can we can then try and fix it.

Create level
Play, save, share it.
Edit the level
Overwrite the old version
Go to "Search -> Latest" and find your level, and play it.

You'll get the newer version of the level, and everyone else will get the older version.

I understand this is probably a problem with the level IDs and the editor having no way of assigning an ID to a level until it's uploaded. But this might be easily fixable if level files have timestamps of when they were saved. Use the server version if the timestamp is earlier than the local version. Except if you're browsing "Local", then always use the local version.

(I made a series of easy puzzles and uploaded them in order to test for issues. Hopefully people will like to be a few more levels closer to the 99 achievement!)

Originally posted by Allack:
Controls
This might seem a simple thing, but I think I’ve been personally looking at controls on and off for Chuck’s Challenge 3D for about 4 years. It comes down to how people controls games today vs. on how they used to. Inputs have changed, player needs and behaviour has evolved and the biggest thing is we now need to support lots of control methods. I’ll have a look at keyboard again, as I understand your feedback and see what if there is something we can do on this one.

I agree this is a complex issue, if just because it's an action game as well as a puzzle game and all controls schemes need to be fair for the sake of the leaderboards. If I were designing this game and I were tasked with this puzzle, the biggest problem seems like it is the speed of the game. Woop moves very fast from one tile to the next. Slowing the game speed down by 50% would greatly improve controls, but it might feel astetically bad and arguably detract from the skill aspect. Even if game speed could be toggled, slow-mo players would have an unfair advantage on the leaderboards.

Some other options would be to allow the player to walk onto half-tiles, which was done by Adventures of Lolo and might improve precision. You also might consider auto-correcting player movement, which is done by many other similar games: if you try to change directions before crossing halfway into the next tile, your character will turn around and walk back to the previous tile before changing directions. This would make casual play much more enjoyable, but would make getting leaderboard times a complete nightmare because it'd reduce the window of opportunity to optimally press a key to change directions by half. Any more and you'd lose frames walking back. Still better than walking to your death and probably would still be faster than a rewind, though.

Perhaps there really isn't any way to fix it; perhaps the controls really are the best they can be, and the game's movement will just have to be fundamentally annoying to some people like me. Whatever is ultimately decided, I wish the team good fortune with their endeavors.
Last edited by CtrlAltDestroy; May 1 @ 8:56am
StingCleavage May 1 @ 9:23am 
Hi CtrlAltDestroy
I just played all the Levels you just uploaded and they were all different, were they all the same level for you?

Also i like your suggestion of slowing the game down. What would be really cool is if the game had 2 speeds, new players start at 50% Speed and Player looking to set top scores have the option of playing at full speed.
Last edited by StingCleavage; May 1 @ 9:30am
CtrlAltDestroy May 1 @ 9:26am 
Originally posted by StingCleavage:
Hi CtrlAltDestroy
I just played all the Levels you just uploaded and they were all different, were they all the same level for you?

Levels 1-4 appear to be showing up correctly for me. "Level II" is incorrect for me, as I edited it after uploading it and overwrote the old version locally. So I figure that's what the problem is.

The problem makes it seem as though it is possible to revise levels already uploaded to the server, when in fact they are revised only for you!
StingCleavage May 1 @ 9:34am 
Level I and Level II are different for me and they both looks like the thumbnails of the website

http://cc3d.chuckschallenge.com/Latest.php
Last edited by StingCleavage; May 1 @ 9:34am
StingCleavage May 1 @ 11:34pm 
Couple of suggestion on how i would like to see the menu system improved + 1 Bug

1) When using the mouse: Instead of having to drag screen, could the screen automatically centre on what icon the cursor is hovering over. Like it does when you are using the arrow keys to navigate the menu.

2) Playing the actual game works perfectly on my bad computer, once I have turned down all the settings. However the Menu system is very Laggy. My suggestion is that when you set the quality to simple in the settings it also reduce the quality of the back ground art on the menu.

3) In the search menu: There is a annoying bug when using the arrow keys, if you press the right arrow key slowing the cursor moves correctly and scrolls through the levels, but if you tap ket too quickly the cursor suddenly moves to the top menu bar and bugs out.
Last edited by StingCleavage; May 1 @ 11:41pm
CtrlAltDestroy May 2 @ 12:51am 
Originally posted by StingCleavage:
3) In the search menu: There is a annoying bug when using the arrow keys, if you press the right arrow key slowing the cursor moves correctly and scrolls through the levels, but if you tap ket too quickly the cursor suddenly moves to the top menu bar and bugs out.

Actually, a timer does that. Use the arrow keys or the mousewheel to move the menus around, wait a few seconds, and it'll do that. I hate it, too.
StingCleavage May 2 @ 12:53am 
Tapping the right arrow key bug only happens on the search menu for me.

The menu does not springs back on my PC, on any menu page.
Last edited by StingCleavage; May 2 @ 1:42am
Bad Dr. Naz May 3 @ 4:06pm 
@Allack I believe (and we all know from experience) that Windows 8 UI is not that great for non-touch devices. But I will say that the IDEA behind Windows 8 UI (and thus CC3D UI) is, indeed, correct in this day and age. The future of PC UI is one that works great with mouse/keyboard AND touch. One thing I like about CC3D is that I can use the touch controls on my Surface Pro tablet and get a great experience. i am tired of new PC games that have UI that is unusable with touch. A good UI is one that works with touch and mouse.

The CC3D UI as it stands today, however, works better with touch but not so great with a mouse (just like Windows 8 UI), but I have faith that as we mature the UI design onver time that we will strike the balance. My suggestion is to not scrap the current UI in favor of a mouse-friendly UI but at the same time redesign the UI that works with swipe and mouse scrolling (which works in the Alpha version); an UI that doesn't hide things on the side of the screen but the targets are big enough for touch as

The current UI is usable, so it's not in a dire need to be changed, but when you do get to change it, I would give touch and mouse equial love!

Oh, and a native Windows Store version, please for my surface tablet!
random 8 May 3 @ 9:33pm 
I think the mouse cursor should only revert to the keyboard cursor when a key is pressed, rather than on a timer.
StingCleavage May 4 @ 2:45am 
I now understand what you mean now, with the spring back problem, i never had the problem before becuase i always use the arrow keys.

I think if the following is fixed the menu naviagtion will work well for Touch, Mouse and Keyboard/Joypad

3 suggestion + 1 Bug

1) When using the mouse: Instead of having to drag screen, could the screen automatically centre on what icon the cursor is hovering over. Like it does when you are using the arrow keys to navigate the menu.

2) The mouse cursor should only revert to the keyboard cursor when a key is pressed, rather than on a timer.

3) Playing the actual game works perfectly on my bad computer, once I have turned down all the settings. However the Menu system is very Laggy. My suggestion is that when you set the quality to simple in the settings it also reduce the quality of the back ground art on the menu.

BUG) In the search menu: There is a annoying bug when using the arrow keys, if you press the right arrow key slowing the cursor moves correctly and scrolls through the levels, but if you tap the key too quickly the cursor suddenly moves to the top menu bar and bugs out.

+ 1) other minor suggestion there should be a shortcut key binded to the key I, to bring up the info about the level you are playing.
Allack  [developer] May 6 @ 12:13pm 
Originally posted by CtrlAltDestroy:
I agree this is a complex issue, if just because it's an action game as well as a puzzle game and all controls schemes need to be fair for the sake of the leaderboards. If I were designing this game and I were tasked with this puzzle, the biggest problem seems like it is the speed of the game. Woop moves very fast from one tile to the next. Slowing the game speed down by 50% would greatly improve controls, but it might feel astetically bad and arguably detract from the skill aspect. Even if game speed could be toggled, slow-mo players would have an unfair advantage on the leaderboards.

Some other options would be to allow the player to walk onto half-tiles, which was done by Adventures of Lolo and might improve precision. You also might consider auto-correcting player movement, which is done by many other similar games: if you try to change directions before crossing halfway into the next tile, your character will turn around and walk back to the previous tile before changing directions. This would make casual play much more enjoyable, but would make getting leaderboard times a complete nightmare because it'd reduce the window of opportunity to optimally press a key to change directions by half. Any more and you'd lose frames walking back. Still better than walking to your death and probably would still be faster than a rewind, though.

Perhaps there really isn't any way to fix it; perhaps the controls really are the best they can be, and the game's movement will just have to be fundamentally annoying to some people like me. Whatever is ultimately decided, I wish the team good fortune with their endeavors.

All good suggestions and things we've tried, tested and removed, here's why:
  • Speed this works for a way to help a new users, but quite quickly advance players find the game slow and then they want to speed it up. Here's where the problem starts you then have to hide the speed in the settings and people just don't find it. In an ideal world you'd have an analogue controller for everyone with 3 different speeds like in Mario 64.
  • Half Tiles this breaks loads of the more complex puzzles and players started to say why's it only half, not a quarter and so on and so on until you have full analogue controls. Then it's not a tile based puzzle game any more.
  • Quicker Stop this we have in the iOS version and it's called Emergency Stop. It's turned off by default, as the animation is horrid as Woop has to teleport back instantaneously. Plus it breaks the logic lots.
So the solution we do have currently is the Disco Dance Floor where the tile you are going to end up is lit up. With the idea that it's an early warning.
Last edited by Allack; May 6 @ 12:13pm
IHNN May 6 @ 9:39pm 
I figured I'd chip in on this-I find the movement in this game to be exactly what I would want-while Woop is moving from one tile to another, that's all the buffer time I think you would really need.

The timer is the biggest flaw for me, as someone who claimed 122 of the platinum medals at one point, and do sincerely try to retake any that I lose. Not counting the levels with obvious hacked times/large glitches involved, I believe I'm only missing less than 5. The fact that it can randomly skip frames (or add frames due to lag!) makes optimizing a bit more of a chore than it needs to be, as you not only have to play the level perfectly and get the random elements (thankfully few are far between) to go right, but also have the timer cooperate.

That said, the most recent update that improved the editor scroll speed and made the menus work a bit better is incredibly welcome, the level thumbnails are a minor annoyance.

One addition that I personally would really like to see would be the ability to play back your own solutions-and perhaps this could be used as an internal check for the leaderboards, mitigating some of the issues with hacking.

I would definitely reccommend this game to anyone who likes the genre, and I think you're relatively alone on the control scheme CtrlAltDestroy. Further, as someone who has many of the top times, I can say that none of mine use any undo glitches, and waiting for the level to load completely before moving makes the timer very stable. I will concede the local/server copies of levels are quite annoying, and are probably the main reason I haven't designed much for this game.
Showing 1-14 of 14 comments
< >
Per page: 15 30 50