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Asteroids Chasers - Lynx 2020 Programming Competition entry


Fadest
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Hi,

 

Here is my entry for this year's Lynx Coding Competition hosted by AtariGamer.

Asteroids Chasers 600dpi.png   

Download link

(cartridge sticker made by KevinMos3)

 

Asteroids chasers is a boardgame based on tiles (the most eminent representant of this kind of game is Carcassonne), based on Cheese Chasers, a free print & play game by Bran McMillin :

kqtV3C.png

 

This is a little tactical game, easy to understand, hard to master...

The game has a tutorial, it is best to see it at least once before playing.

It is display before every game (use left/right to switch between screens). Once used with the game, you can skip the tutorial in option.

 

Your goal is to get the biggest score, but you will get a score only if you manage to complete the game.

You win if you put every tile of the game.

You lose if you get 3 active mines in play, or if you have no move left.

 

In Easy game, there are 3 mines, so you only need to deactivate 1 in order to win (be careful of the other condition).

There are 4 mines in a Basic game, and 5 in a Plus game.

 

The game manage all the rules : placement (green shadow = legal move, red shadow = illegal move), activation / deactivation of mines and probes.

The score is calculated on  2 levels : a ingame score depending of the placement of the tiles, a bonus calculated at the end of game, based on the size of the asteroids fields you manages to surround.

 

Note : as the game uses EEprom to track progress, it is better to play it on a real Lynx with an EEprom enables cart, or with an emulator which emulates EEprom.

Tracking progress enables :

  • high score boards
  • full stats (number of play, win, winning streaks, total score, total number of mines deactivated...)
  • progression via achievements unlocking new feature such as :
    • High score
    • Plus mode with some nice additions (bigger asteroids for bigger points, hyperscape enabled probe to move elswhere around the gaming area)
    • Undo last action
    • Mini map
    • New musics
    • Beautiful artworks (if you manage to unlock 1, press Option 1 on main menu to see it)
    • New backgrounds. Come on, it is better to play with this gorgeous background rather than the original purple one, isn't it ?

IMG_0437_sm.jpg

 

You can follow your achievements progress via a dedicated screen, which gives you also some indications on your progress.

And yes, some of those achievements are secret, try again and harder if you want to complete them !

 

You can download and rate every game of the competition here:

https://itch.io/jam/lynx2020/entries

 

I hope you'll enjoy all of them - 6 great games, 6 different flavours of gaming !

N.B.: The competition depends on public votes, so be sure to rate all entries !

Edited by Fadest
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Played all the compo games intensively tonight and here are my impressions on Asteroids Chasers.

 

Please don't make my mistake, read the rules, it takes just 2 mn, and the game is actually very simple to understand - but hard to master. This kind of puzzle games was missing on the lynx (ok there is ishido but I never understood it ^^). Unless you don't like puzzle games, there is a great chance that you're going to love that one. Apart from the starting background (an empty one actually) and the annoying starting music (you can unlock much better one very easily), everything is super polished.

 

So is there anythign I'd like to see in this game? Well first, since it's a board game based on a grid, I would like to have the option to display the grid (or not). I think it helps for visibility. But more importantly I would love to have a bunch of other cards to add more strategy and actions to the game, and to avoid lassitude in the long-term. 

 

TLDR; Great puzzle game with a never-seen-on-the-lynx level of polishing (achievements, srsly!?!).

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Thank you for the feedback, the more we get, the best the final games will be...

 

The Plus mode is intended to answer your wish (more cards, more strategic options) but it is not complete now (4 new cards, only 3 effective : big asteroids & hyperspace probe).

The grid is a good idea, a better map (unlockable via the 21 mines achievement) is also definitively needed.

 

Asset is a tough question. It was a risk to enter the competition with a game that require to read a tutotial in order to be played. It is a bigger risk to assume to enter it with the less appealing assets (music and background) by default.

Of course, this is more appealing to play with this kind of backgroud :

snap11.thumb.png.b9c8436235d1b1bdf1516740516d2f91.png

But you'll have to make some efforts in order to unlock it (and an EEProm eneable emulator of card in order to save progress and option).

And the game requires 5 background (including the - empty - starting one) and 6 music. I'm not an artist (graphical or musical guy) so I on ly managed to create quickly 3 "OK" background, plus the Templeton one from Space Shoot, so I left the first one empty (it was intended to be the 1st unlockable one). My musical skills are even worse, so I reused 2 ABC themes from @rygar's first tries he gave me years ago, the one I made for Space Lock (adapted from a @karri's song IIRC), and the 3 one @Turbo Laser Lynx made for Space Dance as placeholders.

 

And yes, my second motivation for making this game was to make achievements-like system in a Lynx game. This is a thing I wanted to do for years. But being a 1 game only, just giving points (or trophies) is not fun (writing this, I regret I did not included it in Yastuna 1, with an EEProm feature), so it turned into a more classic reward system.

 

 

 

 

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Solid puzzle game! I can see people getting sucked into this and into the mood of the game. ? Nice touch with the achievments too.

I know game music isn't your favorite thing, but it'd be a nice detail to have the music tracks be the same volume. When I listened to the music tracks in the options it seems my songs "bug out" sooner or later. Song C bugs out really quick.

Anyway, great work overall man!

Edited by Turbo Laser Lynx
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Unlockable background, music and artworks have been added at last minute. There were the achievements that could unlock them, but not the assets to unlock.

So in order to show something and make a link between achievements/gifts and stuff, I added them.

Artworks come also from other games (but I guess that apart @KevinMos3, nobody will see them), so did music.

Your songs for Space Dance were not intended to loop (the tracks were shorter than the song), so adding a loop bug them as each track do not have the same lenght. Once again, it was just to "show" that you can unlock new songs.

I'm not sure the game will get enough attention to deserve a new version, but if I do it, I will definitively need to add/make 6 others (loopable) songs and new graphics.

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And remember that when playing with an EEProm, if you unlock an asset and select it in option, your choice will be saved on EEprom and reused next time you boot (same if you choose to inactivate Tutorial).

So, the problem with volume is present, but only when you are in the option menu to select a song (personnally, I do not have this problem because my Lynx is nearly always on level 0 for volume :D)

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1 hour ago, karri said:

sequence of pirate, pirate, mine, mine. 

It's better than pirate,mine,pirate,mine. In this case, you can do nothing <ith the 2 mines (a mine just before or just after a probe cannot be inactivate)

In your case, the lastest mine can be inactivate (if you put it directly in an empty space already surrounded by probe, or via 4 new probes)

2 mines in a row is not a big issue, just put them in diagonal and try to put probes afterwards.

 

Yes, the game can be unfair, just like the real physical game if the draft is not good for you. But with real tiles, you can cheat of course (and it is more difficult to check rules and count points).

But a game is quite short, and I have something like 80% victory in Easy mode and a bit more than 50% in Basic mode. It's quite good in my opinion.Adding a cheated rule to avoid unluck game is not really needed (this is a draft board game where luck is a part of the game, not a fully strategic game).

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Quick poll about secret achievements.

 

There are 15 achievements in the game (in fact 16, but 1 is not coded yet), 10 of them are quite straightforward (play/lose/win x games, score x points, inactivate x mines) but 5 of them are secret achievements :

  • Oops, I did it again !
  • Only victory is important
  • The big thing
  • It was so close...
  • Stupid is as stupid does

They are a bit different than other ones, and usually occurs when a special event is triggered by player (for instance, th not coded one could be something like "Play a game with every music" - so it would need to unlock all 5 musics, and play at least 6 games).

Do you think it is a good idea to have secret achievements, or would you prefer more classic one ?

I can't give more clues about them, but for people who already unlocked them, what do you think about them ? Which one do you prefer, which one do you think is useless ?

 

 

Edited by Fadest
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Still stuck at "The big thing" ?

On achievements screen, there is an indicator of progression for many achievements, including this one. In this case, you should also see this value on High Score screen...

 

The hidden clue is in "Big"

As said previously, it has to be done in "B"asic mode and Big has 3 letters ;)

 

Maybe this one should be non secret after all...

 

 

Edited by Fadest
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On 8/17/2020 at 10:13 AM, Fadest said:

You can download and rate every game of the competition here:

https://itch.io/jam/lynx2020/entries

 

You need to create an itch.io account in order to vote for the games.

Then you go on game page, and cast vote on these criterias :

  • Creativity
  • Implementation
  • Gameplay
  • Replay
  • Overall
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Playing it a bit more, I came to realize that there might a flaw in the design.

 

When you draw a mine and then a pirate ship (or the other way around) you are guaranteed that you wont be able to turn the mine off, which is a bit irritating. 

 

What do u think Fadest? Is this something you could fix maybe?

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Yes I know, I lost many times on the Excel or Lynx version due to this.

On 8/24/2020 at 8:29 PM, Fadest said:

It's better than pirate,mine,pirate,mine. In this case, you can do nothing with the 2 mines (a mine just before or just after a probe cannot be inactivate)

It's just like in a classic game of Solitaire, if cards are not well drawn, you just cannot win whatever you do. with real cards, you just redraw, on computer, you lose.

 

Remember you only need to inactivate 1 mine in Easy, 2 in Basic and 3 in Plus mode. So once you get this, you don't really mind about other mines (they don't give points)...

Of course, the draw could be oriented in order to never get this kind of behaviour, but the game would probably become too easy (I have more than 75% in Easy, kind of 50% in Normal).

Maybe I could check that there is not 3 sequence pirate-mines or mine-pirate in a game. This would raise up the victory ratio but not put it to 100%.

 

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12 hours ago, LordKraken said:

When you draw a mine and then a pirate ship (or the other way around) you are guaranteed that you wont be able to turn the mine off, which is a bit irritating.

It does happen a LOT.  I've played 7 games in a row where each mine that appeared was either before or after a pirate.  There were games before and after this where the pirate+mine combo was only broken up by another mine, totalling probably 10 unwinnable games in a row.

 

This might seem a bit extreme, but it ultimately all comes down to odds.  I guess you could say the odds of getting n number of games (let's say 20 for an extreme number) in a row that are unwinnable is x%.  But that could mean that some number of games down the road you could also get n number of wins in a row.  In the meantime, it hasn't been very friendly to me, but overall, I'm averaging around 40% win rate on Basic mode.  Well, this was before I started quitting unwinnable games.  I was never able to get 5 games in a row to unlock the winning streak achievement until I realized that quitting a game doesn't count against your streak.  Someone else could play and win their first 5 games.  That just isn't how the odds worked out for me.  It took me many, many... many games to get over 100 points, yet after I did, I was able to do it again the very next game for 2 in a row scoring 101 pts.  Then my next five games were unwinnable again.  I've probably played around 300 games so far.  My official count is well over 200, but I have no idea how many I've quit (which doesn't count in your tally of total games).

 

I had suggested modifying the rules to prevent the unfair combos or at least limit their frequency... but the quit feature kind of takes care of that frustration factor in a way.  It still stinks when it happens, but at least I can save a little time by quitting and starting a new game.

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Right now, the drawing algorithm is very basic : I make a card stack (n asteroids followed by n pirates, ...) and swap 2 of them maybe 500 times (for the 1st relesae, I changed the value to 200 to keep swithcing time lower IIRC and things were worse - not enough switch to get enjoyable games) and that's all, my goal was to had a playable stack and not allways the same in order to work on main engine. Then I switched to all the extra stuff.

This can of course be optimised, if I make a new release, I will definitively work on this.

I'd also like to improve Plus mode in order to give an option to inactivate a pirate (maybe a 3 in a row probes inactivates pirates on both side)

 

And yes, starting a game does not count in your statistic. This is because I did not want people to start/quit a game in order to unlock the "addicted..." achievements too easily.

 

Over 300 games !!! I do not have my personnal count as I played a lot on Handy or on real Lynx before the EEProm management was on. And erased a lot my EEProm while defining its structure. But I guess I am a bit lower than that. On Excel, I probably played more during years but there is no count.

 

Beating the 100 limit is "quite easy", if you are lucky enough to inactivate 2 mines soon in the game, an asteroids field with 3 asteroids will give you something like 75 points (60 bonus points + something like 15 points in game), a 4 asteroids field is nearly 100 points. If you add some isolated asteroids surrounded by probe, you can go over 100.

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One "simple" idea, that could help and (maybe) add some strategy: What about the possibility to save a card for later?

You start with an empty slot where you can put your current card. You can play the card in the slot at any time. If you haven't use the card in the slot when you draw the last card, you still have to play it.

(bring some new UI/UX problem, I'm well aware of that :D)

 

sorry to come up with idea, but I like this kind of game so I care :)

(I played it with project argon on my mobile phone actually, but it doesnt handle eeprom save yet unfortunately).

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Just like in Carcassonne, there are several variants to limit the hazard that could fit.

- chose between 2 or 3 cards each time (but this one would make games too easy)

- save a card for later like you said  (you could never lose in easy game)

But in my opinion, a better drawing algorithm is the way to go

 

Bad combos are not reserved to the Lynx version: 

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/395657/unbelievable-start-two-games

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/848248/double-mousetrap-cat

 

(remember : mouse = probe, cat = pirate, trap = mine, cheese = asteroid)

 

Also, seems like the best score you can achieve is 226 points (but this is quite improbable) https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/394182/220-max-possible-score

 

Right now, the Basic game is just the real game like intended by original designer (apart that when playing with real physical cards, you can cheat if you want). Bonus the fact there is undo option (but only for 1 move right now).

Easy mode is just a training/shorte games.

So I guess that gameplay enhancements should be for the Plus mode.

 

But right now, there are 9 votes on itch.io (considering the fact that probably some of the other participants have vote, that leads to probably less players than developpers who voted), and notes on Atari Gamer are not so good (but going up slowly), so is there really a need for enhancement / new version ?

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Fadest said:

probably less players than developpers who voted

Yep. Exactly my thoughts also. At least I did vote for all games except Titan as I am not allowed to vote for my own games.

 

At Silly Ventures they passed ballots to everyone in the hall and you could write in your vote during the presentation. The good thing is you get lots of votes. The bad thing is that the votes are just impressions for the 3 minute presentation of the game. So any game that lasts longer than 3 minutes will just show a fraction of its potential. Anything except "shoot everything" game does not even have time to explain the rules (like SillySis last year).

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On 8/26/2020 at 5:17 AM, Fadest said:

Quick poll about secret achievements.

 

There are 15 achievements in the game (in fact 16, but 1 is not coded yet), 10 of them are quite straightforward (play/lose/win x games, score x points, inactivate x mines) but 5 of them are secret achievements :

  • Oops, I did it again !
  • Only victory is important
  • The big thing
  • It was so close...
  • Stupid is as stupid does

They are a bit different than other ones, and usually occurs when a special event is triggered by player (for instance, th not coded one could be something like "Play a game with every music" - so it would need to unlock all 5 musics, and play at least 6 games).

Do you think it is a good idea to have secret achievements, or would you prefer more classic one ?

I can't give more clues about them, but for people who already unlocked them, what do you think about them ? Which one do you prefer, which one do you think is useless ?

 

 

First one I remember getting was "Stupid is as stupid does:, which was perfect for the situation. I like the secret achievements more, because I never really try for them if they are revealed anyway.

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