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Z.O.H.R.N
Daggorth Apr 13, 2013 @ 4:01pm
Some Suggestions for the Developer
I won't lie, right now your game looks just as dynamic and exciting as a session of Solotaire.

Let me try to be a little more constructive. Some features you might want to implement could be:

1. Crew/Staff Management: I doubt that the Rosetta-Z facility where the player's character apparently lives and works out of can be staffed by just one man. You may consider adding a crew system in which the player can manage his staff. For example, you could spend money to hire workers who can upgrade/repair your drone(s), biologists who can develop more efficient means of extracting Obsadon from the Zlugs, etc. Hell, maybe the staff could gain experience after each mission which will magnify the perks they grant to the player.

2. Greater Zlug Variation: Perhaps you could give the zlugs natural defenses which they use to keep the player at bay? Aside from these Albino Zliders which appear to be symbiotic defenders, the zlugs seem to have nothing going for them. In addition to giving them different color schemes, maybe you could give certain types of zlugs things like projectile spikes, corrosive mucus trails, etc.

3. More Environments: I for one, would eventually get tired of looking at the same Blue-Green Alien Planetscape. You may wish to try adding different environments with more diverse color palettes.

I can't believe I just typed all of that... Anyway, good luck with your game. I hope it turns out well.
Showing 1-15 of 24 comments
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¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 13, 2013 @ 6:56pm 
Thanx a lot for your feedback.

> Crew/Staff Management ...
I put your entire paragraph to my backlog for Z.O.H.R.N 2.0, ;-) Especially the one about repairing the drone.

> Greater Zlug Variation/Attack/Defense

I had plenty of stuff on a list like

- tremor shock waves
- mega godzilla laser beam through the big front of the zlug
- mechano-tentacle zlugs like http://www.zohrn.com/wp-content/uploads/Drafts/zlugtentacle.png
- firing eyes
- Albino Zliders acting like face huggers to drive the drone mad
- Kamikaze Zliders
- confused drones from a last session chasing you
- toxicshorooms : http://www.zohrn.com/wp-content/uploads/Drafts/toxicshroom.png

At the end I had to skip a lot of things, because this is just a "one-person" project, so I have to think twice introduing a new element including the modeling, rigging, texturing and programming. But that does not mean, that you are not right with your suggestions, and the game gives the feeling that there is not enough flesh on the bone.

On the other hand when playing the game, if the Zlugs are not on a flat area, its rather tricky to fence them and asks for good fps player skills. On one field I switch of the Albino Zliders, cause it's to hard to set the poles when interrupted second by second.

If it turns out to be too easy to fence a Zlug, then I start to increase their velocity, the amount of Albino Zliders, reduce the maximum distance from one pole to another, and make grounds like spicky egg cartons.

3. More Environments

Good point. I'm working on the shape, look and feel of the next five fields right now. The main color will remain blue/green, but I'll vary the mood with the coloring of the clouds and the fog, depending on the weather condition and time. And reading your suggestions, I don't see any good reason not making for example a lava field or a Honey Moon Zlug Sauce style field ;-)

-

Man, thanx again. Input like this show me that this greenlight stuff is a good thing.
Even this game might be a bit too small for the big STEAM basket.
Sgt.Psycho Apr 13, 2013 @ 7:01pm 
Here's my take.

A potential success if treated well, this game has surreal elements that intrigue, and some pretty fun Battlezone-style action elements in the Zlug round-up.

I agree with Daggorth above, and here's a few things I'd like to see in the game to make it a little more enjoyable and have more depth.

I'll go straight to the sound. The retro-scape is great (hell, I listen to SID music[en.wikipedia.org] at work a lot) but it's just so constant and wearing, it becomes annoying after mere seconds. It's the spaces between notes or effects that make them stand out. Yes, the ominous noise of the Zlug is good, but the rest needs a total overhaul imho. The drone is the worst, and sounds almost exactly like a 1980's racing game
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzEPhwr6-UY

Once the SFX are toned down a bit and honed to suit, look at soundcloud, bandcamp, etc and get a muso onboard to really give your game some atmosphere. Take a look at these entries and see how the music really makes the game 'click'
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=127184234
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92915716
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=108218615
All of this music was done by the team, or by indie musos, and adds so much to the game. Take the music away and you have a much lesser game.

Check out soundcloud chiptunes for something that might suit your retro sound theme. Here's a sample:
https://soundcloud.com/fco_rmz/chibinoize-trashed-computer

1. Adjust the ZHOD traction so it behaves more realistically on the slopes. Make them hard to get to, and make some slopes unnavigable, so the players has to use thumpers to to get the Zlugs out

2. Make the game more tactical through thumpers not drawing the Zlugs, but scaring them away (and maybe can be used as a defence against a Zlider swarm?). This makes the player think more about how to use the thumper, in line with above. I suggest giving three in stock, and the thumpers have an inverse square effect on driving Zlugs, and large multiplier on line of sight. i.e.: You can drop one far away and it has little effect, close by and it has large effect, but if you put it behind a hill it has little effect. This makes it much more challenging, especially if you have multiple thumpers to place to drive the Zlugs where you can zap them.

3. Get rid of the 'collect x Zlugs bet' and have instead 'collect x obsadon per outing'. Maybe the drone is very expensive to run, or the neural link hardware (per Avatar) so the corp demands maximum return per trip. Now make different kinds of Zlugs that have different quality Obsadon in them. Maybe the flatlands Zlugs are huge and easily caught, but have low-quality Obsadon that does not sell for much. The smaller Zlugs of the highlands are much more nimble and harder to trap in their eyries, but have concentrated obsadon. It doesn't matter which ones the player goes for, they just have to get X value of obsadon before the drone's fuel runs out (hence time limit). Maybe also make the drone use more fuel on slopes, again, adds tactical depth.

4. The world is lifeless. Add some plants/fungus (what do these huge Zlugs eat anyway?) and some trees or something to make navigation and trapping harder. Maybe the obsadon is extracted from the soil by the plants, then eaten by the Zlugs and other herbivores. So if you're desperate to finish off your quota in dying seconds, you might zap some trees or minor Zliggies instead, or drive the Zlugs into the undergrowth to 'harvest' them all at the same time. Naturally the Zlugs would be the prime source, and trees might offer only 1/100th value (hence ZHORN being the point of the game) but offering alternative to the player adds depth.

Agreed the Zlugs need more defences, maybe they get angry and rampage if not trapped quickly, smash the drone and half-built fence, roll over, throw acid/spikes or thick mucus that bogs the drone down. They need to be a lot more challenging as they are a bit boring right now. Maybe different zlugs have different attack types and defences, making the action more tactical again

Where are the predators? Maybe there is a unique kind of creature which hunts the Zlugs, and by eating them concentrates obsadon in itself, or in droppings near it's nest, which it defends rabidly. The player might choose to hunt the predator as well, judging high risk against high reward.

5. If going down the obsadon quota route, make the fence more tactical. At the moment you get the same no matter what size it is. Maybe the physics of roasting apply the inverse square law once again. Setting down a huge fence is easy to do, but means not that much force is applied to the roasting, and delivers quantitatively less obsadon than a fence tightly woven around a Zlug. Naturally the latter is far harder to do, but is much more rewarding. The player then needs to think carefully (and quickly) about the terrain, the zlug type, the defences to overcome and how much time they use to extract the maximum amount of obsadon possible to fulfill the quota. Tactical depth once again.

Maybe placing fencing does not 'aggro' the zlugs nearly as much as using weapons, so once again the player needs to balance weapon use against the danger of the zlug freaking out. Do you go for a quick large fence and low reward, or go in guns blazing, trying to disable the zlug and it's defences as fast as possible to get a small fence in for maximum extraction value? It's your call.

6. There's no long-term replayability. I understand resources are slim, but I'd like to see some kind of story, even if only in text panels, emails, notes, circulars etc. What is Obsadon? Why is there a black hole eating the universe? What is the character's story? Why does he need the money so badly? A lot could be done here, all though the computer console, no other assets required. I personally love the idea of a Sunshine-based idea. Star-crossed lovers/friends or family exchanging email across the great divide. Look at Cargo[www.imdb.com] for a great example. I'm not expecting Solaris or Moon-level storyline, but something captivating would keep me coming back for more. Hell there's a tower defence game with a good story!
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92932076

If not intersted, go arcade. Use the money earned to buy better drones and upgrades. No need to have icons such (but would be nice), but just upgrading lasers from Type I to Type II, with some very simple visual effects (different colour is simple) and adds depth and strategy. Maybe there can be deployable one-use stun grenades that help you fence that tough beastie, but cost heaps, or maybe there's a Zlug siren you can get that irresistibly draws Zlugs and can be used in combination with the thumpers for tricky terrain. Take a loot at Elite, etc. You can do heaps with very little effort.

If it's a Steam game, now add Steam Achievements for all the difficult kinds of things you might do in the game "Zap two Zlugs together" "Extract 10kg Obsadon in one roast" "Drive Zlugs 1km before roasting them" etc. People go mad for this stuff.

If you did all the above, you'd have a solid contender for Greenlight, and one I would have no hesitation in buying and recommending.
Last edited by Sgt.Psycho; Apr 13, 2013 @ 8:39pm
¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 14, 2013 @ 6:50am 
@Sgt. Psycho: You really make me think ...

Sound: I counted now all the voices for the sound. This is a big lack, and a main source of complaints. I was underestimating this totally. Thanx for the links, watched them all, and see that I'm far behind. I'll try to find a sound engineer to help me with this stuff and improve my skills.

1. Agreed. The Zlugs can sneak everywhere, but why not let tumble the drone in some areas. I already had toxic lakes in mind where the Zlugs hang around like hippos. Slippery' bumps on the hill could be funny.

2. Damn, that's really a missing point. One of my friends was complaining that it takes too much time to separate a mob of Zlugs with two or three Thumpers. Setting a 'Scare'-thumper in the middle of a group, that's the trick, a lot more efficient. Will implement this for sure.

The line of sight for the thumpers is a good idea. At the moment the reaction of the Zlugs to the Thumpers is to slow and makes the player waiting, so he gets bored. But if I would speed up the Zlug when in the line of sight of the Thumper, that would have a very cool dynamic effect. I just have to slow them down again when they are close to the Thumper, otherwise it's almost impossible to fence them.

Another idea is to keep the Thumpers on the field, even when the player is going back to the terminal (and to another field). Like this he can reorganize the Zlugs on the fields in a way that he can harvest them faster, even in the next round. He is forced to harvest from one field to another, being more tactical. I already store the Zlug positions on a field and restore them, even after a restart of the game.

So I see, I need an equipment store to buy Thumpers and Poles. Not just charging the player with a penalty, when he forgets to bring them back.

3. Agree on this idea. I'll start playing with the scaling of the Zlugs. The fuel and a rental for the terminal was an initial idea, but I skipped it because of the missing store. I shouldn't have done this.

Highland and flatland Zlugs, great, see Trollhunter[www.imdb.com].

4. The Obsadon is actually the essence of the planet, like the blue gaia stuff in Final Fantasy[www.imdb.com]. Sucked up by the giant Zlugs, they concentrate it to the black Obsadon ball, like a big gall stone of spice (Dune[www.imdb.com]). The Obsadon ball
is the Zlugs source of power, to move its tremendous body.

Hmm, the Obsadon should really be sucked up by the planet again when it's on the floor, say after 30 seconds.

The big Zlugs are already smashing the fence when rolling over it. And they kick away the drone for 100-200 meters, if the drone hits the Zlug. But a bull rage
mode where they change color and speed could be very funny. As long as one Zlug is in rage, its better to change to another from the same group.

Predators: Could be something like 'Black Zliders', a slightly bigger version of the Albino Zliders, totally in black, Obsadon highly concentrated. They fall
over the big Zlugs like army ants, scare them away and attack the drone. Like the evil, black swarm of crows from Resident Evil Extinction[www.imdb.com]), hard to kill with the laser. Showing up from time to time, chasing you, when you have an Obsadon on board.

5. Good ideas, I'll think about it. Players with less agility skill still would have the chance to do some harvests. Experienced players can go to the limit. Setting a 'tight' fence gives a super fast roast, the player can save time and the gameplay is more dynamic.

6. The long-term replayability is a lack at the moment. Equipment and material stores, terminal rental, accommodation, upgrades and repairing would give a purpose of gaining credits and motivates the player. At the moment all of this is missing, and for sure a reason that a couple of people call this game boring. The decision is made, I'll change that. I think the story develops pretty fast and easy with the improvements
to the facility and terminal. I've a writer on hand who will help me with the background story.

Cargo, for sure, as a Swiss, that would be a shame not having watched that movie.

-------

Sgt.Psycho, thanx a lot again for taking the time to review my game and making all this suggestions and comments. Your interest and your ideas show me, that it's worthy to keep putting effort into the whole thing.

I'll go over many things now and think about the way and timing off the final release of the game. Which is for sure not in two weeks nor in two months. I think I organize the development in a more open way. People who are interested in the game, shall have access to a discussion board, give feedback and pickup the latest 'full' beta version. I'll keep it on that state, till Z.O.H.R.N is polished enough, to survive in the STEAM pool.
Last edited by ¡EvilBad¡; Apr 14, 2013 @ 7:05am
Sgt.Psycho Apr 14, 2013 @ 8:23am 
Originally posted by ¡EvilBad¡:
@Sgt. Psycho:
(lots of snippage)
Sgt.Psycho, thanx a lot again for taking the time to review my game and making all this suggestions and comments. Your interest and your ideas show me, that it's worthy to keep putting effort into the whole thing.

Hey, it's your game and your vision, I'm just throwing ideas on the walls and seeing what sticks. I have this great vision of a high-tech hunting game, with an interactive world, highly tactical trapping action, a functional marketplace/economy, and an unfolding story. Yours may differ, as is what's possible to do.

I had the classic 1980s sci-fi art book Tour of the Universe[ski-ffy.blogspot.com.au] in mind when writing the above, with the idea of very strange aliens and futuristic hunting. That's what your game immediately reminded me of - a story looped around a single, surreal image.

Good to see you like some of those ideas and want to build up your game. Whichever way you go, if you add complexity to challenge the player, a long-term game design to keep them going, and some kind of tech-tree exploration or story development to keep them amused, you should do well.

What you've got is 'nice' with some polishing, but to develop it into a fully-realised game will take some more effort.

Good luck with it and I look forward to seeing where Z.H.O.R.N goes.
¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 21, 2013 @ 8:18pm 
Tour of the Universe, thanx for the tip. I had Enemy Mine[www.imdb.com] and Dune[www.imdb.com] in mind, when starting the implementation. But things changed a lot since then.
Last edited by ¡EvilBad¡; Apr 21, 2013 @ 8:30pm
Sgt.Psycho Apr 22, 2013 @ 1:37am 
Originally posted by ¡EvilBad¡:
Tour of the Universe, thanx for the tip. I had Enemy Mine[www.imdb.com] and Dune[www.imdb.com] in mind, when starting the implementation. But things changed a lot since then.

Classic, awesome movies, also kudos for choosing the classic original Dune. I practised for ages until I could do the Drac guttural noise. :)

By all means, take inspiration wherever you can, mold that into your game and breathe 'life' into it.

More feedback:
Glad to hear there's more zlugs and an upgrade system planned for the obsadon. That gives players an incentive to do well.

I don't mind the terminal interface, but please do make help easy to find and have autocomplete, otherwise it can become frustrating.
Last edited by Sgt.Psycho; Apr 22, 2013 @ 1:49am
Sgt.Psycho Apr 23, 2013 @ 6:00pm 
Originally posted by ¡EvilBad¡:
(ping!)
Just a quick note:
You may want to look at re-branding this game. I was totally unable to find it in the Greenlight game search engine due to the periods in the name 'Z.H.O.R.N' freaking it out. Similarly, when I typed it into Google, I get about six pages of a popular software company with that name, but not your game. With and without periods, and even as literals in quotes, nothing. Even 'zhorn game' gave nothing.

I was only able to find it because I'd favorited it in Greenlight.

I realise this is important to your game design, but I think that you need to optimise for maximum searchability. After all it does no good to have a great game if no-one can find it.

Consider dropping it back to ZHORN for now, and see how it goes with the search engines.
¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 23, 2013 @ 6:16pm 
Hmm, that's strange. Because I have very good results from google:

When I search for z.o.h.r.n or zohrn I get immediately the following first hits:

http://www.zohrn.com/wp-content/uploads/various/google01.PNG

http://www.zohrn.com/wp-content/uploads/various/google02.PNG

I also signed out from the google account and removed any cookies.


What was the exact search pattern you used in google?
¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 23, 2013 @ 6:21pm 
And here the results in the Steam seach:

http://www.zohrn.com/wp-content/uploads/various/steam01.PNG
http://www.zohrn.com/wp-content/uploads/various/steam02.PNG

Z.O.H.R.N and Zohrn works.

Aah ... lol ... you wrote ZHORN ...but its ZOHRN ;-)

¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 23, 2013 @ 6:25pm 
I almost had an heart attack (when thinking of all the locations where I would have to change the brand) and I know how important it is to be found in the index. And not ending up on a black list.
Last edited by ¡EvilBad¡; Apr 23, 2013 @ 6:57pm
Sgt.Psycho Apr 23, 2013 @ 8:05pm 
Originally posted by ¡EvilBad¡:
I almost had an heart attack (when thinking of all the locations where I would have to change the brand) and I know how important it is to be found in the index. And not ending up on a black list.

What an idjit I am. Sorry there for the panic I've given you. Yes, it works a hell of a lot better if you spell it correctly! *slaps self*
¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 24, 2013 @ 9:46am 
No problem, man. It would not be the first time, that something like this happens. In that case it's better to take the bitter pill fast and turn the ship, than to wait and watch how it's sinking, no matter what effort you make.
¡EvilBad¡  [developer] Apr 24, 2013 @ 9:57am 
Hey Daggorth, just to keep you up-to-date with the latest development:

Originally posted by Daggorth:
I
...
1. Crew/Staff Management: I doubt that the Rosetta-Z facility where the player's character
...

I developed a new story for Z.O.H.R.N, it's not a Crew/Staff Management like you describe. But I introduce a main character and a background story, please read the new description of the game. There will be a store system to upgrade and repair the drone. I also plan, that the main character interacts with other Z.O.H.R.Ns in the facility (like trading, steal equipment, etc).

Originally posted by Daggorth:
...
2. Greater Zlug Variation:
...
Development in progress. Screenshots/videos for Lava Zlug available. More Zlug types to come like Flatlander, Highlander, Black Zlugs.

Originally posted by Daggorth:
...
3. More Environments:
...

Seven fields now available in the Tech Demo. Lavasun field for the Lava Zlugs shows a variation, more to come. Fungus under development.
Last edited by ¡EvilBad¡; Apr 24, 2013 @ 9:58am
Daggorth Apr 24, 2013 @ 10:07am 
Awesome. Looks like this game is really coming together now. Keep it up. :)
The Most Zealous Sea Cucumber Aug 29, 2013 @ 2:56pm 
It looks like your game is a lot more compelling with a goal to work for, which is to say saving your brother. I think that some players (like me :D) will find it *more* satisfying if your story becomes a bit deeper. I think it will sell well if you can pimp out your equipment, but at the expense of your family. You can either make it simple or complicated, but having an external obligation can be a pretty big deal. I found myself very sad in "Papers, Please" when my son died shortly after his birthday; I had been saving up and trying to keep him warm, fed, and medicated, but to no avail. It was more sad because I was sacrificing my mother-in-law's health for it.

I think you might draw a lot more people in if you tailor that to the player, though. Some ideas that have been really interesting to me are the "quiz" system in the Elder Scroll's series (pre-Skyrim) that helped you to determine how your character came out. You may be able to do something like that to let the player pick whether it's mom, dad, brother, or sister in jail, what sort of relationship the player and the relative had, etc. You may also find it beneficial to expand the story to have multiple family members in jail; this sort of thing can mean that part of your family is rescued, but part is not (sort of like Sid Meyer's Pirates!, but with your own take on it). Maybe dad needs a shank in jail, or your mom needs extra medicine, or you have to pay off one of the guards to stop from harassing your family until you save up enough money to pay ANOTHER prisoner (or prison gang) to attack that guard. The interface can be as simple as letters from them, which are especially great if you can personalize them with the player's name, etc. I have more ideas here if you want to hear them, but this one would be the least graphically-intense.

I think that your game has room for a compelling side story if you want to write it in there. I understand that your game started out with the Zohrn-harvesting concept, but a good story hook really reels people in and can help lift a lot of weight for a game if you want to have a fun but repetitive main action part of the game. My favorite part of the MechWarrior games was the storyline, but the storyline would have been stupid and boring without the Mech combat that made up the majority of the time spent, you know? :)

Also, what are the Zohrn like? Do they feel pain? Do they like people? Do they hate them? Are they plotting against people? Do they think like people or are they on a totally different morality level? Are they even sentient?

I hope your game is progressing well. I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I hope it's not unconstructive.
Last edited by The Most Zealous Sea Cucumber; Aug 29, 2013 @ 2:56pm
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