Off-topic and Chatter: The Jolly Boar Inn => General Gaming - The Arcade => Game Reviews => Topic started by: Jubal on February 14, 2015, 02:51:40 AM

Title: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on February 14, 2015, 02:51:40 AM

Game Type: Free Online Play
Genre: Puzzle/Skill

Link: http://hemingwaygames.com/ (http://hemingwaygames.com/)

Graphics rating: (http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)
Gameplay rating: (http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)
Immersion rating: (http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)
Overall rating: (http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)(http://exilian.co.uk/forum/Themes/Exilian/images/staradmin.gif)

Yes, Postbug. It's like a postman, except it's a bug. Or more accurately, a ladybird, which a friend informs me is taxonomically very much not the same thing. But that's probably missing the point.

The point is that this is in many ways a simple digging game. The setting is an odd mix of cute and terrifying, in that you're an adorable little bug that dies. Frequently. You're trying to deliver mail around a bizarre invertebrate town where the recipients are usually dying as soon as they leave their houses, and where your role quickly shifts from mere postbug to one-man guerilla army, civil engineer, thief, and battlefield commander, as you try to avoid getting killed by the myriad enemies that are frankly everywhere. I'm pretty sure that logically the ratio of spiders to non-spiders is such that they should be dying of starvation or eating each other by now. Nonetheless, there's a job to do, and you've got to prove you're bug enough for the task. Even if there's nobody alive to read it, the mail's got to get through.

One of Postbug's key features is that you don't know most of the rules when you start out. It's intentional that you're somewhat wandering around in the dark (this happens literally in one of the levels). I like this, and feel that the experimentation aspect of it provided a lot of fun - the levels are well designed, too, to give you some rough idea of what's going on, but with a fair number of tries often needed before success is achieved. This is in many ways what gives Postbug its interest - you're constantly working out ideas and strategies to get through the game, looking at what order to complete different areas in, and formulating wider strategies (as to which boosts should be used where) as well as the skill-based play on any individual level.

So, into specifics. The minus points and suggestions first:
And a spoilered one:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

And then a list of particularly neat points:

In general, I think Postbug provides a pretty fun game, and for a first offering from its creator Hemingway Games it shows a lot of promise. There has been mention of a possible level editor in the works, which would add a great deal of new potential to the game. It'd be nice to see more expansion of the idea (I feel like a dragonfly could make a good boss level somewhere in the mix), certainly. Overall I felt very positive about it, and it was just about the right difficulty to give a few hours of testing and challenging gameplay without being eternal or life-absorbing on the one hand or mind-numbingly dull on the other. A good rating for a neat little game. :)
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on February 15, 2015, 02:30:55 PM
Thanks for writing this review, Jubal. Your constructive feedback means a lot; including the time you spent analysing and finishing the game. I loved your humour and the way you described the Postbug world. This has been a very interesting read and I am very grateful.

I'm glad you like the game. I've gone against some game design best practises as it's advised to incrementally train the player as they progress through the game (eg first step is to learn how to jump or avoid an obstacles); whereas in Postbug, the player is thrown in the deep end and it’s left up to them to determine how they fit into the world. A playtester asked whether fish were dangerous and another deliberately walked into a spiderweb to confirm whether they would get caught. These are the types of questions and experimentation I wanted the player to explore. It’s also interesting to watch how children play because they’ll map out areas they feel comfortable with and slowly increase their comfort zone with time.

I share the game design concerns you listed in your review, Jubal. Red bugs are more common and powerful than blue bugs and shields which are more difficult to gather. I liked the idea of the 2 stage blue bug and crushing crabs to get shields, however this creates the imbalance as you mentioned.

My biggest design challenge has been working out what to do with the other ladybirds. I feel they need to be there in order to populate the homes. They however provide no other purpose, they get in the way, and they cause confusion with the players. I assume players have tried to talk to them, and one player felt sorry for them and tried to herd them back into their homes. Poor little suckers.. I feel that if there were additional objectives around the ladybirds (eg bonus points for performing certain tasks) it will complicate the main objective of delivering the mail. Another solution is to strip the game back by taking out the homes and the ladybirds to create a more traditional arcade game.

I’m very keen to get the level editor up and running. Hopefully this will help the game reach it’s full potential as people build their own levels and focus on areas you mentioned with puzzle design and civil engineering. It would be good to see what could be created in that space. I also think a lot more can be done with the water and lava in the level design. I also plan on adding more features which include giant spiders, a giant queen bee (which would have been perfect for the Hive) and I think your dragonfly idea would fit in nicely.

If anyone else is interested in this game, please give it a go and I’d love to hear your feedback. It’d also be great to see your name of the Pioneer Hall of Fame if you’re up for the challenge. My biggest challenge with this game has been finding an audience to appreciate Postbug’s level of difficulty. Good luck :)
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on February 16, 2015, 08:38:28 AM
I'd prefer increased complexity to removing the ladybirds, I think.

Also, fish can be surprisingly dangerous: I got trapped underwater and drowned by one at least once!
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on February 16, 2015, 01:16:44 PM
It would be a shame to see the ladybirds go. Maybe they can take a more active roll and instead of being victims, they can be used to defend their area (so homes become safe havens)..

I'm planning on allowing postbug to push fish and (the body of) jellyfish in the water similar to how he pushes boulders. It can be annoying to wait for them to move out of the way, expecially since they like to camp out a bit. I'm also thinking about ways how postbug can get past other ladybirds, bees and blue bugs because getting stuck by these bugs is also annoying.

Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on February 17, 2015, 11:29:37 PM
Ooh, that might be an idea. I never really went anywhere near the jellyfish, somehow being electrocuted always seemed worse than other methods of death.

I think the ladybirds probably either need to fit into the category of "defend me and get a bonus" or "can defend their homes", aye. Not sure which would be better.

I keep thinking of new creatures that could go in, too: I'm sure woodlice could be in there somewhere. A creature that you could "set off" and which would lumber through and barge enemies out of the way could be quite fun, though not sure what that could be yet. We also haven't explored ants; a level with two duelling ant colonies that you have to get around could be fun.
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Battledrone on February 20, 2015, 02:06:25 AM
‘Going that one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life’ – Rocky Balboa, Rocky 4.
This could not be truer for Post Bug, a game where giving up will get you nowhere. Persistence, courage and ‘going that one more round’ will provide you the tools to get through a labyrinth of puzzle and death to give you the ultimate prize of a feat of significance.

It is a very unsuspecting game which has multiple layers providing depth and intrigue to a world which requires different methods of survival that only you learn as you play the game. The more I played, the more I wanted to win which provided some colorful language for the neighbors to hear upon death.

If you have no cognitive skills, Will or strength of character you better stick to another game - this game is for the hardened warrior!
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on February 20, 2015, 02:13:35 PM
Hi Battledrone, welcome to Exilian :)

And yes - Postbug is in some ways like Judge Dredd but combining *even more* roles than judge, jury, and executioner :P
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: TTG4 on February 20, 2015, 06:27:09 PM
combining *even more* roles than judge, jury, and executioner :P

Judge, jury, executioner and postmen. Heck I'd watch that. I might give this a try sometime, but I feel like I should make sure I can devote a few hours in one go!
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on February 20, 2015, 11:25:18 PM
Hi Battledrone, this is one the funniest reviews I have ever read. Thanks for posting your thoughts on Postbug; it's very much appreciated.

I love the 'going that one more round' Rocky 4 quote and I can relate when you use words such as persistence and courage. When I designed the levels back in June, I had no idea whether the game could be finished. I had to finish the game myself to tick off the test case, and every time I started over (going that one more round), I felt like I was Mad Max preparing mentally for his confrontation with Nightrider.

Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on February 20, 2015, 11:58:29 PM
Hi TTG4, don't worry too much about the difficulty level. The game was primarily made for its explore and experiment aspect. It's possible to traverse the small world and avoid most of the dangers. If however you wanted to finish it, then yes, you'd have to put some time aside. If you do get around to playing, I'd love to know what you think :)

Ha ha this is great: "Judge, jury, executioner and postman"
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on February 23, 2015, 10:08:48 PM
Possible to traverse some of the world - getting through Jungle safely is pretty damn hard :P
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on March 17, 2015, 02:15:31 PM
I've just written a blog post on Postbug's game design objectives: Postbug is a game which encourages experimentation, exploration, and strategy building during gameplay. An aim of Postbug was to create an emergent system consisting of objects with a diverse range of attributes and behaviours. These objects include grass, dirt, rock, water, lava, bugs, eggs, spiders, fish, and crabs. In order to survive, players will need to experiment with their environment to learn how these objects behave and interact.

More details here: http://hemingwaygames.com/blog/postbug-game-design-objectives (http://hemingwaygames.com/blog/postbug-game-design-objectives)
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on March 17, 2015, 02:19:47 PM
You might be interested in this one, Jubal: I've recently released Postbug Canvas which allows you to create your own levels and experiment with the Postbug system. Currently you can play with one level at a time and the ability to save and share levels will be available soon. You can find the level editor by clicking on the > Canvas nav item in the game.
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on March 17, 2015, 11:55:59 PM
Ooh! *heads off to play with the canvas*
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on April 11, 2015, 02:12:35 PM
A new blog post on my experience exhibiting Postbug at the Melbourne iFest Games Festival

http://hemingwaygames.com/blog/postbug-ifest-games-festival (http://hemingwaygames.com/blog/postbug-ifest-games-festival)


Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on April 11, 2015, 10:45:04 PM
Nice! :)

We're just starting planning ExiliCon in earnest, so I'll message you sometime soon about whether we can get fliers or some form of Postbug there. :)
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on April 12, 2015, 06:24:44 AM
That's amazing that Exilian has its own Convention. Good luck organising the next one, and please keep me updated on the news :-)
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on May 11, 2015, 02:33:44 PM
My new blog post on the Freeplay Independent Games Festival and exhibiting Postbug at the Freeplay Fete ‪

http://hemingwaygames.com/blog/postbug-freeplay-fete (http://hemingwaygames.com/blog/postbug-freeplay-fete)

Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on August 14, 2015, 02:32:26 PM
Hi Exilian team, thought I'd let you know that I've just published Postbug on Kongregate.

http://www.kongregate.com/games/HemingwayGames/postbug (http://www.kongregate.com/games/HemingwayGames/postbug)

This new version includes a Premium mode which includes new bugs to play:

Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on August 14, 2015, 03:15:26 PM
I feel the greenbug and orangebug should perhaps be more recognisably other species? Maybe a shield bug for green and a dung beetle or something for the orangebug.

Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on August 15, 2015, 04:25:42 AM
Good point, Jubal. The orange bug is based on the crab (armour and gills) - which I think you've pointed out with the shields. Btw I've taken the shields out of the game to reduce the number of powerups you can collect in the game. There was a bit of confusion on how they worked, so I decided to consolidate the options.

I've tried a number of new features over last 3 months. They included a rework of the levels (so that there were 3 smaller levels with varying difficulty) and giant spiders. I've pulled this work out because I feel I need to simplify the game instead of making it more complex. I've even pulled out the canvas for now. Btw, I have mixed feelings about the levels atm.

I think the aim now is to lock down Postbug and release it on a number of platforms. If I get enough interest, I'll then look at extending it. Your suggestion of different bug types to play is at the top of my list of new features.
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on August 15, 2015, 01:54:58 PM
I guess the thing is that Postbug could be a number of things - to be a good short-play online arcade game, simplification is good, but the engine I think certainly has a lot of potential for other stuff as well. Possibly fork it into a locked down "Postbug" and an advanced "World of Postbug" that includes the canvas and lots of modification options, different bugs, and different levels and suchlike?
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on August 20, 2015, 08:00:56 AM
World of Postbug.. I like it :) All of the objects in the game are data driven so there's potential for a high level game editor. Next step will be the level editor and I'll authenticate users user the Kongregate platform to store the data.

Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on December 14, 2016, 02:37:11 PM
Hi everyone, I've just released the level editor for Postbug. Click on the Level Editor link from the game's title screen and sign in with your Google account to create your own levels.

http://postbug.hemingwaygames.com/ (http://postbug.hemingwaygames.com/)


Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on December 23, 2016, 11:53:08 PM
Lovely, I've started working on a run :)

Is there any way to share runs with others once they're done? Being able to name the rooms would be a cool feature too.
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on January 19, 2017, 07:57:21 AM
Hi Jubal, the plan is to allow sharing in the next release. I'm thinking of having a publish button and supplying a URL that can be shared for each published level. I also plan on having a featured area within the game. I'm more than happy to put your level up as Postbug's first feature level :)

I'll also look into room name edits. I'll need to consider how I'm going to moderate the content.
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on January 19, 2017, 10:53:32 PM
Awesome! I've just finished building my run, all 16 chambers done now :)

I guess you could let people share their own by link regardless, and have a moderated selected list of "featured" ones?
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: HemingwayGames on January 24, 2017, 12:16:43 PM
Hi Jubal, FYI I've added Room Titles to the Level Editor. The World/PostRun title is at the top left and the Room Title is at the top right of the Level Editor page. Just click the text to edit. Cheers.
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Jubal on January 24, 2017, 02:55:41 PM
Wonderful - my level is now all fully named, and I've done a couple more edits to help make it more playable too :)
Title: Re: Postbug
Post by: Glaurung on February 08, 2017, 12:16:50 AM
For those interested, Jubal is now creating Postbug maps of his own - see this thread (http://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5060.0).