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New developer looking for advice

11-30-2010, 11:01 PM
#1
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 44
New developer looking for advice

Hi,

I'm the developer of Tank Maverick, the Lite version of which is live in the app store. The reactions to this Lite version have been pretty mixed, because as far as I can tell the stats aren't bad* (please correct me if I'm wrong), but the star ratings are way down (avg 2 stars).

So I'm on a big feedback drive to try and work out how I can improve this game for the full version. I have put the call out in my original Upcoming iPad Games thread, but also wanted to check in here to get the opinions of some proper devs, all of whom will have more experience at this than I do (I'm an enterprise Java/Rubyist trying to escape).

So if anyone here would like to play it and give me a few insights that would be hugely appreciated.

Pete.

*
- 150ish in US for both subcats, not ranked in Games overall
- What's Hot both subcats over 60 stores
- 5000+ d'loads since Nov 1st

Tank Maverick for iPad - First person tank combat action
12-01-2010, 08:26 AM
#2
Joined: May 2009
Location: Tampere, Finland
Posts: 35
Hi Pete, I played your game and liked what you're creating. Here are my impressions and some things you might want to consider:

- Tilt controls: I like the idea how you can change between radar and landscape views by tilting, but it could be a little annoying. I personally would like to be able to play the game in any position. You could try to replace the tilting with up and down swiping, or make it an option at least. Or, you could integrate the radar in the HUD, so it would be visible at all times.

- Game should pause when you're in the options. (You could also add 'swiping sensitivity'-option)

- Visual messages and confirmations: You should know what's going on even without audio. (For example, when you're out of range)

- Floating texts over the landscape looked kind of substandard. You might want to replace those with simple 2D texts.

- Would be great if you could see the orientation of your tank and the turret from the HUD and the direction where you're getting hit, accompanied with a compass arrow pointing to the north.

- Tank movement is hard to control, and I wasn't even 100% sure how it works. If you want to stick to the first person view, you could simply put a control for tank's movement direction and other control for velocity.

- Are you less vulnerable when you're moving? Because to me it seemed that you just have to take those enemies before they get too close. You could also add more tactical aspect by splitting the health to different armors: front, rear, sides, turret

- I understand your limited resources, but the graphics and sound effects (also the lack of them) could use some work to make the game more appealing. You could compensate terrain blurriness by adding foliage, bushes and/or trees.

I hope this helps, good luck with your game

12-01-2010, 06:39 PM
#3
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 44
Thanks seventh, really good advice. I blanket agree with all of it, plus the following comments.

[QUOTE=seventh;1447493]
- Floating texts over the landscape looked kind of substandard. You might want to replace those with simple 2D texts.
[\QUOTE]

Yeah they are a bit pathetic looking aren't they . I might try beefing them up in blender, giving them some depth/style/colour, see if that helps as a quick fix, otherwise I'll try 2d text as you suggest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seventh View Post
- Are you less vulnerable when you're moving? ...
No, but you really should be huh. The reason you're currently not is that the projectiles are programmed to always hit their target, like homing missiles. This simplifies the gameplay and programming, but perhaps a little too much. I'll have another go at allowing shells to miss their target based on velocity and distance (I have previously failed at this but I have another idea). Failing that I could at least make the damage an inverse function of the target's velocity, but that seems like the cheap way out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seventh View Post
... Because to me it seemed that you just have to take those enemies before they get too close.
Are you saying you didn't see the point in moving at all?

Quote:
Originally Posted by seventh View Post
You could also add more tactical aspect by splitting the health to different armors: front, rear, sides, turret
Yes. That's awesome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seventh View Post
- I understand your limited resources, but the graphics and sound effects (also the lack of them) could use some work to make the game more appealing. You could compensate terrain blurriness by adding foliage, bushes and/or trees.
I should be able to add some short-range foliage if the device can handle it. I've painted myself into a corner a bit creating such large open maps (schoolboy error). Also I'd be interested to hear which specific sound effects you feel are missing. I'll have to see what I can do about the look of the menus, but it probably won't be much for the time being. I wasn't sure if that stuff matters so it's good to know.

Again thanks a lot I really appreciate it.

Pete.

Tank Maverick for iPad - First person tank combat action
12-01-2010, 07:49 PM
#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by carrytheone View Post
Hi,

I'm the developer of Tank Maverick, the Lite version of which is live in the app store. The reactions to this Lite version have been pretty mixed, because as far as I can tell the stats aren't bad* (please correct me if I'm wrong), but the star ratings are way down (avg 2 stars).

So I'm on a big feedback drive to try and work out how I can improve this game for the full version. I have put the call out in my original Upcoming iPad Games thread, but also wanted to check in here to get the opinions of some proper devs, all of whom will have more experience at this than I do (I'm an enterprise Java/Rubyist trying to escape).

So if anyone here would like to play it and give me a few insights that would be hugely appreciated.

Pete.
Hi Pete,

Firstly, I would say do not be discouraged - what you have made looks very promising indeed. Without corresponding written-reviews justifying them, I would ignore those few low-star ratings.

This Lite version is free, and from what I have read some people can be very quick to unfairly rate a free app 1-star and then delete it. I think this maybe a symptom of the old "rate on delete" (I can't remember if iPad 3.2 still had that?). At least that is gone in iOS 4.x!

Your terrain, sky and tank models/textures are great (although compared to the tank graphics in my game Lead Wars a CUBE would be great ;-) ).

My main frustration was I didn't know how to move the tank, I just felt like a sitting duck. Also, I could tilt up/down but had to use the touch screen to rotate left/right (that inconsistency is bad). Either all touch or all tilt (as far as the turret goes I mean).

So I can see how these small issues might put off people who want a quick go of the Lite version, and because they didn't pay for it aren't bothered about investing time into it. They rate it low, delete it and move on. Your Lite version has to be even more immediate than a full version (where people will be willing to read instructions and actually learning how to play it).

By the way, I really liked the 3D text on the terrain! I personally would keep that in (but maybe change the font to something more military)

My suggestions would be this:

* make it a universal app. There are loads more people with iPhone/iPod.
* Add Game Center online play - ideally 4 player. I believe you can use OpenFeint instead, either way, online battles are what a lot of people want.
* Add some obstructions in the world (as suggested above, trees and buildings etc.)
* use pinch to zoom in-out, no need for the magnifying glass. This is natural to iOS users.
* Use the compass to tilt the turret in both axes (at least on ones with a compass). Use touch for turret if no compass.
* Control the tank tracks using the lower-left and lower-right of the screen, with two vertical analog control sticks (defaulting to center) that each control one tank track, ie
- both sticks UP: move forward
- both sticks DOWN: move back
- left UP, right DOWN: turn right etc. etc.
- (sorry if it already works like this - as I say I couldn't see how to move!)
* Mini on-screen radar, that zooms in when you tilt flat (I really like the idea of tilting down to go to your radar - makes it more realistic)
* Look into getting proper shadows of the objects on the terrain - shadows really add depth.
* Polish some of the interface transitions -- scroll things onto screen and off screen rather than a hard swap.

So in my humble opinion, consider mine and other people's points and implement the ones you like/feel are most important. And don't be afraid to get v1.0 paid in the AppStore when you feel it is pretty much feature complete.

Paying players appreciate devs willing to listen to feedback (as you clearly do) and constantly improving it for updates, and are far less likely to give a 1-star rating with no explanation.

I'm looking forward to seeing how it progresses - stick at it!

cheers,
Jim

Apps: Lead Wars (TA Thread) | Super Grav (TA Thread)
DemonStudios Ltd | Indie Game Dev
www.demonstudios.com
Follow: Facebook | Twitter

Last edited by DemonJim; 12-01-2010 at 07:54 PM.
12-02-2010, 01:35 AM
#5
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 44
Hi Jim,

Thanks for your advice, it's useful and encouraging. I think you're right that the free + "rate on delete" thing might have played some part because 3.2 still had it. If that's the case I'm glad to see the back of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonJim View Post
My main frustration was I didn't know how to move the tank, I just felt like a sitting duck.
Cool, definitely reworking the movement controls. But also, since in the first battle you can't move (the option is hidden cos you haven't been taught that yet until the 2nd tutorial), did the feeling of being a sitting duck bug you then? I've done it this way to reduce the number of things the player has to sit through in the first tute before they can get some proper action. And it keeps the gameplay simple for the first little while. I'm actually thinking of adding several more 'stationary' levels to the beginning. Does that strike you as a bad idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonJim View Post
Also, I could tilt up/down but had to use the touch screen to rotate left/right (that inconsistency is bad). Either all touch or all tilt (as far as the turret goes I mean).
Another popular request, that's good. I'll definitely implement a full swipe option. Also currently you /can/ go into the options (spanner at the top) and turn on 'compass' mode if you have 3g, but personally I don't think it works very well, especially for targeting. If you can try it you'll probably see what I mean. I always end up using swipe at least for fine tuning my aim, at which point the compass tends to interfere. That has lead me to thinking that maybe the compass should only pick up on major movements, like turning 30 degrees or more to check what's behind you. Maybe your experience will be different though, I'm all ears if you've got the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonJim View Post
Your Lite version has to be even more immediate than a full version (where people will be willing to read instructions and actually learning how to play it).
Good point, so I might have a think about how I can make the first tute more interesting and game/like. I'm definitely conscious of dropping people into a classroom when they first open up the game, but I worry whether people will get it without at least some instruction.

Thanks for all the other suggestions you listed, they're all great. Very much hoping to add multiplayer cos that would be so fun, but it might have to be as an update, if only because I don't yet know anyone else with an iPad! Maybe Santa will sort that one out for me soon .

You and seventh clearly put a lot of effort into your responses and it's definitely very much appreciated, thank you.

Pete.

Tank Maverick for iPad - First person tank combat action
12-02-2010, 11:51 PM
#6
I would say how you drive the tank in a 3D first-person tank game should be obvious just from the OSD display (ie two levers at the bottom corners or whatever).

You can tell the player how to move/turn in lesson 2, 3 or whenever, but there is no harm in letting them move from the start if they see it for themselves (ie they already understand how tanks move).

The shooting is already obvious (both gun and cannon), as is the cooldown-timer mechanism which is good (maybe not the airstrike quite so much - I thought the icon looks more like it would open an Options screen).

So yes I think preventing the player from moving is bad (unless you make it really clear that they will not be allowed to move in that tutorial). Just my $0.02 though.

By the way, you can use the iPad Simulator with your iPad to play Game Center 2-player (Auto-Match, it is only via Invite it doesn't work). You can then implement 4 player and get either recruit some free beta testers from the forums, or alternatively there are companies that offer services for this sort of thing, like Sculpin QA (http://www.sculpinqa.com/).

Oh, and <cough>, if you really want to thank me for the feedback then please buy my game (see sig.) - given it also features tanks and war and stuff you might like it! ;-) ;-)

Apps: Lead Wars (TA Thread) | Super Grav (TA Thread)
DemonStudios Ltd | Indie Game Dev
www.demonstudios.com
Follow: Facebook | Twitter

Last edited by DemonJim; 12-03-2010 at 12:13 AM.
12-04-2010, 09:04 PM
#7
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonJim View Post
there is no harm in letting them move from the start if they see it for themselves
That's true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonJim View Post
thought the icon looks more like it would open an Options screen).
Hah, yeah you're right. Think I'll change it to a mortar shell, which I think is pretty recognisable.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonJim View Post
By the way, you can use the iPad Simulator with your iPad to play Game Center 2-player..
Top tip, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonJim View Post
<cough>
Absolutely intend to do that soon as I grab some more iTunes credit (it goes so fast already I'm scared to attach a credit card to it). My brother and I used to play these games all the time on the blackboard at home

Tank Maverick for iPad - First person tank combat action
03-06-2011, 08:55 PM
#8
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 44
Big Thank You

Well, Tank Maverick 1.0 is now 'In Review', so it should be ready for sale any day now! So I wanted to take a moment to say a very big thank you to everyone who took time out to provide feedback.

Through a combination of some very thorough feedback in this thread, plus some very important finishing touches put forward by the Test Mavericks, I was able to make the following improvements:

- Most projectiles are now non heat-seeking so you have a better chance of survival by moving quickly and keeping your distance. Similarly, taking down distant and fast-moving enemies is more challenging.
- Some basic foliage added to the terrain (as much as I could get away with on an iPad 1) plus some buildings to hide behind.
- Fully redesigned tank movement controls - separate levers for left and right tracks
- Full swipe control option, plus configurable swipe sensitivity
- Button as alternative way to view radar instead of tilting all the way town (particularly useful in full-swipe mode)
- Visual messages to compliment audio confirmations
- Orientation of tank and gun directions shown in HUD
- Pinch-to-zoom support
- Improved artwork in menus, with smoother menu transitions
- Engine sounds!
- More bug fixes than I wish to mention

As you can see, Tank Maverick has come a long way, so again - big thanks to you two for your help. Hopefully I will be able to implement more of your ideas in the future.

Cheers,

Pete.

Tank Maverick for iPad - First person tank combat action