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Pharaoh - Solitaire Deckbuilder (Need Beta Testers)

08-04-2016, 01:07 AM
#21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadi View Post
I'd like a way to see what cards are in my deck and discard, it would really help deciding what to do when adding more cards to deck.
I've been thinking a lot about this issue. I've been going back and forth between "memory games are frustrating" and "perfect knowledge of your deck can lead to analysis paralysis and lack of tension".

I think I may have a solution that addresses both of those, and which reinforces the theme as a bonus: an imperfect view of your deck's statistics as a report of the various "silos" of your deck.

I have a prototype working, and it looks like this:



When you press-and-hold on a deck (either your discard or your draw), it pops up this dialogue and animates the histogram into place. Each card in the game is assigned to one of these eight "silos", such as industry, religion, military, etc., and the histogram shows the relative prevalence of cards in each silo in that deck.

This way, you can't know for sure how many you have of each card, but you can get a pretty good idea of what's coming up and what you've already gone through. It should also really help people survive the early game if they're agonizing over whether to buy that extra priest or something.

I'm still not 100% sure I want to include this. I want to play with it a good amount - and get everyone's feedback on it - before I commit. But it should show up in the next build for everyone to try out.

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, everyone! You're really knocking it out of the park on some of your ideas.
08-04-2016, 06:59 AM
#22
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 104
Thanks for listening!

I lost right after getting a temple and before I could see the cards it unlocks. The game is hard.

Honestly, it's nice just to be heard, I have no expectations that you'll change your game other then minor fixes.

re: long press, I've found myself accidentally clicking on a long press, its kinda scary to use.

I don't think you need 2 buttons for the "deal a new hand" action- just the discard pile is enough imo. Then you could use the deck button to give info.

I love the look of the information screen and I think it could help players balance income and reign. It wouldn't help me with my issues but I think those issues are part of your design- you want players to be unsure about whether to overgain reign because they're not sure if they'll be able to spend it.

re: giving info to players... a lot of that info is on those oracle scrolls, maybe have some of the more basic ones unlocked from the start? I have the first 2 rows unlocked and I think they're all info that could be given to new players.

Card unlocks- you might want to consider telling players how to unlock cards in the almanac (only after they have been acquired once). It took me awhile to figure out Queen's unlock even after getting her a few times, and I still don't know Vizier. I'm cool with the mystery though.

Boons- I hope there will be an on/off toggle for them, I think some players might prefer not to have an advantage.

Typo- plague misspelled in the locust's description.

Edit: Have you thought about free mode? reign requirements increase by 1 each year even if you overgained the year before. Reduces memory reliance significantly, but the game would be just as hard. ... maybe for players that buy a boon.

Last edited by Armadi; 08-04-2016 at 07:17 AM.

08-04-2016, 09:05 AM
#23
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
I've been thinking a lot about this issue. I've been going back and forth between "memory games are frustrating" and "perfect knowledge of your deck can lead to analysis paralysis and lack of tension".

I think I may have a solution that addresses both of those, and which reinforces the theme as a bonus: an imperfect view of your deck's statistics as a report of the various "silos" of your deck.

I have a prototype working, and it looks like this:



When you press-and-hold on a deck (either your discard or your draw), it pops up this dialogue and animates the histogram into place. Each card in the game is assigned to one of these eight "silos", such as industry, religion, military, etc., and the histogram shows the relative prevalence of cards in each silo in that deck.

This way, you can't know for sure how many you have of each card, but you can get a pretty good idea of what's coming up and what you've already gone through. It should also really help people survive the early game if they're agonizing over whether to buy that extra priest or something.

I'm still not 100% sure I want to include this. I want to play with it a good amount - and get everyone's feedback on it - before I commit. But it should show up in the next build for everyone to try out.

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, everyone! You're really knocking it out of the park on some of your ideas.
This is a great idea!
08-04-2016, 03:07 PM
#24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadi View Post
I lost right after getting a temple and before I could see the cards it unlocks. The game is hard.
Ooooh! That's tough! The temple is the gateway to another tier of play. The reserve that the temple gives you makes a huge difference in being able to achieve your goals quickly as your deck gets large.

Quote:
Honestly, it's nice just to be heard, I have no expectations that you'll change your game other then minor fixes.
Well, I'm always open to listen to suggestions. You weren't the only playtester to make some of these suggestions, so I felt there was something there. Like I said, it might not make it into the final shipping game if it makes the game less fun, but if it improves the play experience, it will have been a great addition.

Quote:
re: long press, I've found myself accidentally clicking on a long press, its kinda scary to use.
You can always tell whether you've activated the long press because the card turns blue when you've activated it. In the next build, the long press time to activate is significantly shorter, which ought to make it less of an issue to activate. It was a little long before.

Quote:
I don't think you need 2 buttons for the "deal a new hand" action- just the discard pile is enough imo. Then you could use the deck button to give info.
Well, what I've seen is that people like to use both buttons depending on whether they are left-handed or right-handed. Originally, I had it so that you only tap the draw pile to draw a new deck, and several lefties said that they'd prefer to tap the discard pile.

Quote:
I love the look of the information screen and I think it could help players balance income and reign. It wouldn't help me with my issues but I think those issues are part of your design- you want players to be unsure about whether to overgain reign because they're not sure if they'll be able to spend it.
Yeah, that push-and-pull between needing to conserve and spend reign is one of the main challenges of the game. The histogram, I hope, will help in those few cases where you need to make a decision that could potentially end your game, and you just don't remember because you went and ate lunch since you started that hand. We'll see if it helps. I'm looking forward to hearing what the playtesters feel about it.

Quote:
re: giving info to players... a lot of that info is on those oracle scrolls, maybe have some of the more basic ones unlocked from the start? I have the first 2 rows unlocked and I think they're all info that could be given to new players.
In the next build, I'm overhauling that tip system. The new build has targeted tips. I.e., there will be a scroll that says, "How do I build my pyramid?", and you can unlock that specific tip if that's what you're wondering right now. I'm also making it so that every "match" spin that doesn't result in an ankh results in a scroll. And I'm adding free tips that appear at the end of every game, leaving the scrolls for more in-depth strategy discussions. Hopefully, this system will be better; more free tips, faster unlock of the deeper strategy recommendations, and more targeted help.

Quote:
Card unlocks- you might want to consider telling players how to unlock cards in the almanac (only after they have been acquired once).
I agree. This is already implemented for the next build! All the almanac entries for unlockable cards now indicate the conditions for unlocking them, so that once you get them, you know how to repeat it.

Quote:
Boons- I hope there will be an on/off toggle for them, I think some players might prefer not to have an advantage.
Yes, that's exactly how it works. The game was balanced for the boons not being in play, so I put in an option to choose which ones you want to play with. That way, if someone is feeling really magnanimous and wants to tip the developer even without getting access to the boon cards, they can do so. I support that. :-)

Quote:
Typo- plague misspelled in the locust's description.
Nice catch! This will be fixed in the next release.

Quote:
Edit: Have you thought about free mode? reign requirements increase by 1 each year even if you overgained the year before. Reduces memory reliance significantly, but the game would be just as hard. ... maybe for players that buy a boon.
That's an interesting idea. Let me think about the ramifications of that. My initial reaction is that it would make the game trivially easy once you get to the middle game. One of my playtesters was up to year 60 or so and had a reign requirement of well over 100, and was still not really having trouble making reign. My impression is that, if anything, I need to ramp up the reign pressure in the late game. But maybe that soothing tap-tap-tap game loop would make for a nice casual player experience. It's an interesting idea. I'll percolate on it.

Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback! The comments I'm getting from my playtesters has been uniformly excellent, and I'm really humbled by the outpouring of thought and encouragement I'm seeing. It's really gratifying.
08-04-2016, 03:48 PM
#25
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 11,190
Initial Impressions

Just played a few hands, and this is an enjoyable game! It's quite playable/finished for a beta!

Forgive me if I repeat what others have said, but in no particular order here are my thoughts:

1) Can you implement sliders for the Music and Sounds?

I like the music, but wish I could turn it down about 25% so it doesn't overpower the sound effects.

2) The tutorial gives you great direction in how to functionally play the game, but leaves you not knowing a lot of things. The Almanac is great, but I'd much rather see the actual card text, and a few other facts such as what your deck looks like at the start of a game.

3) I'm not sure why you would want to clear either the Almanac or Achievements.

4) Where's the statistics? You've got some great calculator buttons on the title screen, but I'd love to see max years, games played/won/lost and perhaps averages like your 'silos' screenshot above. This would add a lot to the sense of progression.

5) Is it just me or do the Farmer (and others that sell cards) crap out pretty fast? Purchases don't seem to be per Farmer card, but per year - meaning that once a Farmer is 'sold out' all the others you draw will be as well. This puts a hard roof on expanding your deck (which may be intended. If so this should be explained somewhere on a reference page.)

6) It seems too easy to discard material cards when there's an appropriate card to use them with. Not sure how to fix that.

EDIT: Sandstone cards will discard, even if a Mason card is present. Passage gives you a Combine with which card? popup.

7) The 'not enough coin' and other popups could probably be smaller and/or dismissable by clicking anywhere, not just the X in the corner. Maybe with an OK button like you have when you earn a new card.

8) Similar to 7 - it would be a lot cleaner if you could choose cards to build/kick/use/etc from your hand at the bottom instead of bringing up the separate screen. Example: Guard card floats up to far left, all screen dims a bit except for cards in hand.

9) Seems like it is easy to accidentally draw when you don't mean to, but I don't seem to be doing it.

10) Memory vs analysis paralisys - I really think there should be a small counter under your draw pile showing how many Coin and Reign cards remain. No distinction between 1/multi coin/reign cards. Perhaps this could be an option.

11) I have had very little luck so far making use of sandstone cards. Seems a waste not to spend a few Realms on them in the first few years, but they tend to dilute the deck a lot leading to wasted hands - so far I've gotten further in the game by ignoring them, at least until I get a few Guards to kick cards around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
Squids!?

Worst idea ever!

Last edited by drelbs; 08-04-2016 at 04:28 PM.
08-04-2016, 04:24 PM
#26
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 11,190
One more trivial one:

Nile says "+1 Coin or +1 Reign" but when you Choose the bounty of the Nile the Reign card is shown first.

As with the other popups, if this could be made so that you can see your hand better while choosing, that would prevent me from having to Cancel once and come back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
Squids!?

Worst idea ever!
08-05-2016, 12:20 AM
#27
Quote:
Originally Posted by drelbs View Post
Just played a few hands, and this is an enjoyable game! It's quite playable/finished for a beta!
Glad you're enjoying it!

Quote:
Can you implement sliders for the Music and Sounds?
That sounds doable. It probably won't make it into this imminent build, but I have added it to my issues tracker.

Quote:
The tutorial gives you great direction in how to functionally play the game, but leaves you not knowing a lot of things. The Almanac is great, but I'd much rather see the actual card text, and a few other facts such as what your deck looks like at the start of a game.
If you've been reading this thread, you probably know that this issue of how to convey the nature of the game to new players is something I'm trying to work out in this current round of builds. On one hand, I don't want to make the on-boarding tiresome and full of intimidating detail, but I also don't want people rage quitting because they don't understand some key point.

I know from experience that people just don't read rules documents and stuff like that, so I'm not convinced that manual page like solutions would really fly. I think I'm already pushing it with the almanac and the strategy guides. But what to do instead, then? I'm hoping that the updated strategy guide approach will solve some of the issues, but it's experimental at this stage - I'll see what people say about it.

Quote:
I'm not sure why you would want to clear either the Almanac or Achievements.
Sometimes it's fun, after you've "beaten" a game, to go back to square one and do it over again. Those buttons are there for people who want to do that.

Quote:
Where's the statistics? You've got some great calculator buttons on the title screen, but I'd love to see max years, games played/won/lost and perhaps averages like your 'silos' screenshot above. This would add a lot to the sense of progression.
A statistics board sounds like it might be a worthy addition. I can see people being interested in that. Again, it won't make it into this imminent build, but I'll look into that for a future build.

Quote:
Is it just me or do the Farmer (and others that sell cards) crap out pretty fast? Purchases don't seem to be per Farmer card, but per year - meaning that once a Farmer is 'sold out' all the others you draw will be as well. This puts a hard roof on expanding your deck (which may be intended. If so this should be explained somewhere on a reference page.)
The rule is - across the board - that you can only buy one copy of any given card per pass through your deck. (Otherwise, your deck size explodes and it gets not-challenging fast.) If you've already bought a card this "year", then it will be marked "Sold Out". I've added an explanation of this mechanic to the Oracle Chamber - you'll see it in the upcoming beta release.

Quote:
It seems too easy to discard material cards when there's an appropriate card to use them with. Not sure how to fix that.
I'm fixing that by making them not discard when you tap them. The next build doesn't let you discard material cards like that. This has some ramifications for using the Temple with your deck, but I think it will far outweigh any frustrations you may encounter from this change; it's far worse to lose a Mason action than it is to have to wait a draw before playing something out of your temple.

Quote:
The 'not enough coin' and other popups could probably be smaller and/or dismissable by clicking anywhere, not just the X in the corner. Maybe with an OK button like you have when you earn a new card.
Some other play testers have pointed this out, too. I'm planning on making alerts be "tap anywhere to dismiss". Again, won't be in this imminent build, but that feature should definitely make it into the build after that.

Quote:
it would be a lot cleaner if you could choose cards to build/kick/use/etc from your hand at the bottom instead of bringing up the separate screen. Example: Guard card floats up to far left, all screen dims a bit except for cards in hand.
One of the main reasons it put it into a new dialogue is to have room to explain what's going on there and make it clear that there's a choice to be made here. But I kind of like the idea of still being able to see what cards are in your hand while you're in one of these dialogues. I have to be careful about screen clutter - especially on older, small phones, where screen real estate is at a premium - but it's definitely something I'm going to consider. Maybe I'll add little versions of the current hand down at the bottom of the screen while you're in one of these dialogues or something. I'll have to mock it up and see how it looks/feels.

Quote:
Seems like it is easy to accidentally draw when you don't mean to, but I don't seem to be doing it.
Some people had issues with that. I've added an option in the options menu to turn off auto-draw for those people who find themselves doing it a lot.

Quote:
Memory vs analysis paralisys - I really think there should be a small counter under your draw pile showing how many Coin and Reign cards remain. No distinction between 1/multi coin/reign cards. Perhaps this could be an option.
I think the new histogram feature kind of covers this functionality - there are "reign" and "income" silos that pretty much map onto that concept. It does get a little tricky in the later game as the role of some cards begin to blur a bit, so a straight-up "number of reign cards" / "number of coin cards" won't exactly work (for instance, would I count the "Scribe" card in that count?), but I think the histogram gets at the core idea of needing some metrics to help you make decisions. I'd like to hear your thoughts on it when the new build makes it out.

Quote:
I have had very little luck so far making use of sandstone cards. Seems a waste not to spend a few Realms on them in the first few years, but they tend to dilute the deck a lot leading to wasted hands - so far I've gotten further in the game by ignoring them, at least until I get a few Guards to kick cards around.
Well, I'll say this: Your construction silo is very, very useful in terms of your long-term survival in Pharaoh. In particular, the Temple card ushers in a whole new tier of gameplay once you acquire it. It's obviously not worth losing the game for, so it's still wise to keep an eye on how many stonecutters, stone, mason, etc., cards seep into your deck. but if you neglect construction too much, it's just as dangerous.

Quote:
Nile says "+1 Coin or +1 Reign" but when you Choose the bounty of the Nile the Reign card is shown first.
Nice continuity catch! This should be fixed in the next release.

Thanks for all the thoughtful consideration and comments! Some really nice suggestions and feedback here, and it's given me a lot to think about. Thank you!
08-05-2016, 10:40 AM
#28
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 11,190
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
If you've been reading this thread, you probably know that this issue of how to convey the nature of the game to new players is something I'm trying to work out in this current round of builds. On one hand, I don't want to make the on-boarding tiresome and full of intimidating detail, but I also don't want people rage quitting because they don't understand some key point.
Then I'd recommend one or two more screens in the tutorial that say "Here's what your deck looks like to begin with" and a nudge to "try to add additional cards to your deck so your reign will last longer..."

I would also place more emphasis on the "you will need X reign cards" during the New Year notification, and/or displaying the Reign as X of Y (instead of X; need Y) to make this more obvious. You could also color it based on where you are: red if X<Y, green if X=Y, yellow or orange if X<Y.

I haven't unlocked anything in the Oracle Chamber - I'm assuming some of these tips might appear there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
Sometimes it's fun, after you've "beaten" a game, to go back to square one and do it over again. Those buttons are there for people who want to do that.
Perhaps a single Reset Progress button under options might handle that better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
A statistics board sounds like it might be a worthy addition. I can see people being interested in that. Again, it won't make it into this imminent build, but I'll look into that for a future build.
At the very least I'd like to see a High Score / Longest Reign on the Game Over screen. A 'largest deck size' might be interesting as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
The rule is - across the board - that you can only buy one copy of any given card per pass through your deck. (Otherwise, your deck size explodes and it gets not-challenging fast.) If you've already bought a card this "year", then it will be marked "Sold Out". I've added an explanation of this mechanic to the Oracle Chamber - you'll see it in the upcoming beta release.
After playing this more, this feels right, it just needs to be explained somewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
Some other play testers have pointed this out, too. I'm planning on making alerts be "tap anywhere to dismiss". Again, won't be in this imminent build, but that feature should definitely make it into the build after that.
IMHO this will make play a lot smoother.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
One of the main reasons it put it into a new dialogue is to have room to explain what's going on there and make it clear that there's a choice to be made here. But I kind of like the idea of still being able to see what cards are in your hand while you're in one of these dialogues. I have to be careful about screen clutter - especially on older, small phones, where screen real estate is at a premium - but it's definitely something I'm going to consider. Maybe I'll add little versions of the current hand down at the bottom of the screen while you're in one of these dialogues or something. I'll have to mock it up and see how it looks/feels.
Makes sense - I'm on a 6 plus and am lucky to have the extra real estate. I'll download the game to my 6 and play there for a while.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
Some people had issues with that. I've added an option in the options menu to turn off auto-draw for those people who find themselves doing it a lot.
That's definitely it. When I'm really blitzing through the game sometimes I'll play the last card, the auto-draw will beat me to it and I'll draw again. Just adding a second or two where you can't draw after the auto-draw triggers would fix that.

Also regarding timing, I'm finding that if I play really fast I have to slow my self down a tad or tapped cards aren't getting played. Think it has to do with the tap vs hold on the card, I will have to experiment more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
I think the new histogram feature kind of covers this functionality - there are "reign" and "income" silos that pretty much map onto that concept. It does get a little tricky in the later game as the role of some cards begin to blur a bit, so a straight-up "number of reign cards" / "number of coin cards" won't exactly work (for instance, would I count the "Scribe" card in that count?), but I think the histogram gets at the core idea of needing some metrics to help you make decisions. I'd like to hear your thoughts on it when the new build makes it out.
I wouldn't count anything except for Coin and Reign (and doubles, etc.) in that count. Mostly just to have an idea on how many Reign cards I've burnt through this year.

Alternatively a summary on the New Year screen with number of each card type would be OK as a refresher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
Well, I'll say this: Your construction silo is very, very useful in terms of your long-term survival in Pharaoh. In particular, the Temple card ushers in a whole new tier of gameplay once you acquire it. It's obviously not worth losing the game for, so it's still wise to keep an eye on how many stonecutters, stone, mason, etc., cards seep into your deck. but if you neglect construction too much, it's just as dangerous.
I'm making it to year 14-16 so far with very little construction. I have no idea how that matches up with others. I've had good games adding very few cards as well as adding many to the deck. Need to play more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarkingDogInteractive View Post
Thanks for all the thoughtful consideration and comments! Some really nice suggestions and feedback here, and it's given me a lot to think about. Thank you!
You are welcome, and thank you for including me in this beta, this is a solid game and I'm glad to help make it better!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
Squids!?

Worst idea ever!
08-05-2016, 12:06 PM
#29
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 104
I just counted up my deck. I have 44 potential reign to generate, need 29 and have a surplus of jewels. It looks like I am infinite now? Shouldn't be a problem adding reign to deck each year and the jewel surplus prevents me from dying due to getting clumps of reign without gold.

re: giving players info of deck contents- I would want more than just reign/gold because the decision point that bugs me is overgaining reign to buy something later and then realizing that I can't buy whatever b/c I forgot I already saw the card needed. f.e. forgetting that all my priest cards are in the discard and gaining reign more than required to buy a temple guard- the extra reign gained ends up not being spent and becomes a penalty. It feels bad. This issue becomes less of a problem the longer I play though.

Edit: I think buying the altar card from the temple only costs 1 reign and not 2 as indicated.

Last edited by Armadi; 08-05-2016 at 02:39 PM.
08-05-2016, 01:16 PM
#30
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 11,190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadi View Post
re: giving players info of deck contents- I would want more than just reign/gold because the decision point that bugs me is overgaining reign to buy something later and then realizing that I can't buy whatever b/c I forgot I already saw the card needed. f.e. forgetting that all my priest cards are in the discard and gaining reign more than required to buy a temple guard- the extra reign gained ends up not being spent and becomes a penalty. It feels bad. This issue becomes less of a problem the longer I play though.
There really needs to be some sort of information available to the player aside from card counting. At the very least because of the nature of the platform - I have already taken calls and responded to email/texts while playing this game. You have a function to save/resume games, which works well but who's going to remember what's in their deck or what's been played an hour or a day later?

(Which reminds me - the text on the Continue Game? is inconsistent with the Quit Game, which asks a yes/no question.)

Near the beginning of the game, knowing the number of Coin and Reign cards left in the draw pile should help gauge this without giving away the contents of the draw pile completely - you can tell when they're all Coins & Reign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
Squids!?

Worst idea ever!