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Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Posted 2007-04-03 22:04:50 »

As most should have seen by now, the games are not going to be rated by judges this year. I understand woogley's decision on this, and I support it (even if I don't like it). However, some people would like detailed feedback on their games instead of just anonymous voting, so I'm going to open this thread to give some detailed feedback for all games. I'll have the next two weeks of and I wanted to take a close look at every game anyway, so this isn't really any additional work.


Why should you be interested in the rantings of some random person you don't even know?

You don't. If you don't like what I write, you are perfectly free to ignore this thread.


Who is this UlfJack guy anyway?

I'm a PhD student currently pursuing my PhD in northern germany, with occasional visits to the UK (where my wife-to-be does her PhD). I've studied computer science in Germany and the US. You can (or rather will be able to, *cough* *cough*) see my full vitae on my homepage: http://ulf.ofahrt.de/

I'm an avid gamer and have also written a couple of games of my own, Conquer-Space.net (http://www.conquer-space.net/) and submitted a 4k game (aichess4k).


How's the rating going to work?

I start every game with a short summary. Then I give marks in the three categories graphics, technical, and gameplay. Marks range from 1 to 4, with 1 = lacking, 2 = good, 3 = very good, 4 = exceptional. I also add points or take points off for other things. I also give a short explanation of every mark I give. If I encounter technical problems, I give a description below that. Technical problems usually do not influence (or rather I'll try not to let them) the games marks, except if it makes the game unplayable, as noted.

As far as I have seen, the games this year are all very high quality. However, don't expect to get full points in all three categories. It's a 4k contest after all, and such a small game will have to make a tradeoff between the three categories.


What's up? My game is noted as 'doesn't work', but it works perfectly well!

Calm down. If you think your game should run on machine X with configuration Y, let me know. I'll see if I can make it happen.


What's up? I think my game should get another point for X!

Calm down. Make your case. If you convince me, I'll give it another point. Remember, however, this is my personal rating, and I have the last word. If you don't like it, feel free to ignore this thread.

Ready? Here we go!
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #1 - Posted 2007-04-03 22:05:58 »

The player controls jack, a stick figure, that has to reach the topmost level in a house of moving floors. Jack can jump from one floor to the next through holes in the floor. He can also fall through holes when they move underneath him. Jack can move left/right and jump.

This game doesn't seem to work correctly here. I was able to jump up at a point where there was no hole in the floor. The top 4 layers have no holes at all. Furthermore, the game stopped after a while of playing and didn't react to input anymore. Last, the text at the bottom is partially cut off (linux problem?). I'll try to run it with Windows when I get to it.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #2 - Posted 2007-04-03 22:06:38 »

The player controls a little spacecraft with the aim to shoot down an armada of attacking spaceships. Movement is left/right/up/down and fire. It reminds me of the old raptor game for DOS.

Category: shooter

Graphics:  4 the graphics are excellent for a 4k game
Technical: 2 the game is well executed, but not exceptional;
Gameplay:  2 it's well executed, but not exceptional
Other:    -1 for inaccurate collision detection
Total:     7


Problems:
Sometimes, shots do not hit enemy ships. Sometimes all enemy ships suddenly disappear, and new ones appear (by design?). After some playing, the game throws an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException.

Remark:
SubPar is a downscrolling shooter with a focus on very nice graphics. It manages to squeeze (how many?) ten (?) different spaceship images into 4k, which is quite an achievement. However, this does not leave as much space for an involved game engine. Overall, it's a very nice space shooter.
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
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Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #3 - Posted 2007-04-03 22:08:36 »

The player's goal is to help tiny dots, the pixelmins, reach the goal through a level of obstacles. To do that, the player can set walls and ladders at certain points in the level. Game control is through the mouse and left clicking to select tiles and places to put them. The game reminds me of lemmings.

Category: puzzle

Graphics:  2 the graphics are simple geometric shapes
Technical: 3 it has multiple styles of obstacles, ladders, water, stamps
Gameplay:  3 the gameplay is challenging
Other:    -1 for technical problems (time below 0, unsolveable doesn't stop game)
          -1 it only has one level
Total:     6


Problems:
The top row is cut off under linux. The time can count below 0. The game doesn't stop when the level is unsolveable due to loss of pixelmins. There seems to be only a single level.

Remark:
Pixelmins is a lemmings clone in 4k. It features quite a number of different obstacles and compelling gameplay. On the downside, the graphics isn't as good as in the original. Overall, it's a very well executed lemmings clone.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #4 - Posted 2007-04-03 22:11:52 »

The player controls a diver swimming through an underwater world with the goal of collecting (what is that?) donuts. Game control is left/right/up/down.

Category: collect

Graphics:  2 the graphics are good looking procedural graphics (except the diver)
Technical: 3 procedural graphics are not easy to implement
Gameplay:  3 the game is quite addictive
Other:     1 loading screen
          -1 some donuts are impossible to collect
Total:     8


Problems:
The game sometimes crashes with ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException. The game controls seem too fast on my machine.

Remark:
Abyssal Cave 4k is a collect game that features nice graphics through animated procedural graphics. It tops this technical feat with addictive gameplay. Overall, it's very well done.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #5 - Posted 2007-04-03 22:12:39 »

The player controls a helicopter that can shoot missiles (and does the whole time). Attacking enemies are helicopters and other elliptical objects that can both shoot missiles. Game control is left/right/up/down.

Category: shooter

Graphics:  3 the graphics are pretty good
Technical: 3 the game is very well executed
Gameplay:  2 the game is well executed
Other:     1 for procedural background/smoke
          -1 for technical problems (see below)
Total:     8


Problems:
You can die when you killed the last enemy and a shot is still flying towards you. The 'level finished' screen comes up and you can't steer the helicopter anymore.

Remark:
Blackhaw4k is pretty cool. It combines gorgeous graphics with a very good game engine. The only downside (to me) is that the gameplay just isn't as exciting as it could be - although I couldn't say right now how to improve it. Overall, it's a very coherent and well executed game.
I think the score is more like an 8.5 than an 8.
Offline woogley
« Reply #6 - Posted 2007-04-04 06:53:28 »

thank you for this volunteer work ulfjack. it is much appreciated Smiley
Offline Guarmigue

Junior Member


Projects: 2



« Reply #7 - Posted 2007-04-04 12:00:55 »

Yes, Thank you for the volunteer work and thank you for commenting Abbysal Cave4k ! Smiley you have cheer me up with that mark  Grin

The player controls a diver swimming through an underwater world with the goal of collecting (what is that?) donuts.


lol, I had to reduce some graphics and story because of the lack of time and space. They are suposed to be some kind of medical algae that you have to collect in the dangerous deep waters.

Graphics:  2 the graphics are good looking procedural graphics (except the diver)

The diver was an experiment with monocrome images wich turned to be a little odd between all those procedural graphics.  Roll Eyes

Thank you again! I'll keep an eye on the rest of your feedback
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #8 - Posted 2007-04-04 15:02:26 »

The new review is further down.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #9 - Posted 2007-04-04 15:02:59 »

The player controls a volley ball player with the goal to get the ball back on the other side, which is controlled by the computer. Game controls are left/right.

Category: sports

Graphics:  2 the graphics are simple geometric shapes
Technical: 2 the game engine is rather simple
Gameplay:  1 the gameplay seems rather repetitive
Other:     1 the gradients give the graphics more depths
           1 ai opponent
Total:     7


Problems:
The window is resizable, but the graphics don't adapt to the window size. Furthermore, under linux the score is partially cut off. There doesn't seem to be a way to influence the ball's direction (therefore only 1 point for gameplay).

Remark:
vBall4k is a casual sports game - easy to grasp and easy to play - with rather nice graphics and well chosen gradients. Overall, it's well executed, but lacks in the gameplay department.
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
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Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #10 - Posted 2007-04-04 15:05:33 »

In Cosmic Dodgeball, the player controls a ... well ... sphere-like vehicle with the goal of hitting the blue walls and avoiding the red ones. This is made more difficult by the fact that every time one hits a blue wall, another brownish sphere thing is put into the room. These are moving around and when they hit the vehicle, they can push it off-course - or towards the next blue wall if done right. Game controls are left/right/top/bottom. Game is over when the vehicle runs out of fuel.

Category:

Graphics:  1 the graphics are simple geometric shapes
Technical: 2 the game engine is essentially just collision detection and response
Gameplay:  4 see remarks
Other:     1 resizing the window gives a bigger arena
Total:     8


Problems:

Remark:
Behind the seemingly simple mechanics of Cosmic Dodgeball hides a game of considerable depth. You have to simultaneously avoid the brown spheres, get towards the blue walls, and use as little fuel as possible. It's easy enough to start, but if you want to get to the really high scores, you better bring some patience. Overall, the simple graphics are more than made up for by the excellent gameplay.
Offline Rick

Junior Member


Projects: 1


Java games rock!


« Reply #11 - Posted 2007-04-04 23:16:48 »

Thanks for offering feed back on the games. You are to be commended for stepping in and making a positive contribution instead of just complaining and flaming as is happening in other threads. I enjoyed reading the comments on my VBall4k entry. Just thought I would point out that the direction of the ball can be controlled by moving the target spot before hitting the ball.  This is controlled with the mouse not the left/right keys. In this way you can pass the ball and achieve a set up for a spike. Not quite sure how you were able to play the game if you were not using this feature. The speed of the ball is also controlled by the timeing of the hit. The higher the ball is hit the harder it will go. Thus let it fall low for a soft set or jump and hit it high for a hard spike.

Thanks once again.
Offline kappa
« League of Dukes »

JGO Kernel


Medals: 74
Projects: 15


★★★★★


« Reply #12 - Posted 2007-04-05 00:08:20 »

great job with the reviews Ulf, still missing some of my fav 4k games this year Smiley but good so far.
Offline Rick

Junior Member


Projects: 1


Java games rock!


« Reply #13 - Posted 2007-04-05 01:04:46 »


Woops!  Embarrassed Please ignore my previous comments about Vball4k. I did not realize there was another vball game. Sorry for the confusion. Looking foward to the review of mine. But I guess I will need to wait a bit as it looks like you are reviewing in the order on the javaunlimited site and mine is very close to the end.

Keep up the good work.
Offline rdcarvallo

Senior Member


Projects: 5
Exp: 15 years


2D Java games forever!


« Reply #14 - Posted 2007-04-05 03:15:52 »

About your comments in Road Fighter

Space to start and Escape to exit...  (maybe you need to focus)
The controls  are UP Accel, DOWN brake, LEFT & RIGHT steer.

I have to say that  I thank for your comments about the others entries. Hope your idea gets followers. Maybe if I find time to try games I will post some ordered feedbak like yours.

   Rafael
Offline Morre

JGO Knight


Medals: 2
Projects: 10


I'm Dragonene on IRC.


« Reply #15 - Posted 2007-04-05 12:13:12 »

UlfJack, this is fantastic. I support your decision to add these comments, and if I find the time I will join in and do the same. It'll be some time, though, because I'll not be home the next few days Smiley

EDIT: Grammar.

Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #16 - Posted 2007-04-07 20:17:30 »

In Scorch14_4k, the player (or players, as it has multiplayer support) control tanks that can shoot at each other. It's a 4k take on the classical 'scorched earth' game. Game controls are left/right to aim and up/down to adjust the power. Additionally, the player can modify the map with his mouse before the game starts.

Category: shooter (round-based)

Graphics:  4 the graphics are very well done (antialiasing, background gradient, smooth ground, two different tanks, random maps)
Technical: 2 the game engine is solid
Gameplay:  2 gameplay is solid, but not particularly exciting
Other:     1 ai opponent
           1 multiplayer support
           1 map editor
           1 ingame menu with help text at top of window
Total:    12


Problems:
Tanks can fall below the lower edge of the window, at least on Windows XP.

Remark:
Scorch14_4k is exceptionally well done with an amazing number of bells and whistles. However, the gameplay itself doesn't knock my socks off. Overall, it is an extremely well executed scorch clone.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #17 - Posted 2007-04-07 20:18:16 »

4kSudoku is a 4k java implementation of the popular sudoku game. To solve a sudoku, you have to enter numbers into a 9x9 field, such that every row and column contains every digit from 1-9 exactly once. Furthermore, the field is divided into 9 3x3 fields, which also have to contain every digit. Game controls are mouse move (and optionally click) and 1-9 keys.

Category: puzzle

Graphics:  1 simple lines and text
Technical: 3 an integrated sudoku generator with multiple levels of difficulty
Gameplay:  2 gameplay is solid
Other:     1 funny text hints (sight into the abyss?)
           1 bonus fields with chain bonus
           1 toggle between mouse click and point to focus
Total:     9


Problems:
Typo "any where" should be "anywhere". The hint text is cut off (text font here seems to be slightly larger than windows default). Window is resizable and outgame area is just gray - it should either make it not resizable or resize the game area in response. (I would have given an extra point for a resizable game area.)

Remark:
4kSudoku is a nicely done sudoku implementation. The bonus field and bonus chaining make the game considerably more interesting than the normal version. Sudoku isn't a game that distinguishes itself through excellent graphics, but that is made up by the additional bells and whistles. Overall, it's very nicely done and quite addicting.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #18 - Posted 2007-04-07 20:19:03 »

In Choppacide, the player controls a helicopter with the mission to rescue the inhabitants of a city that is invaded by aliens. The area is limited by a force field. Additionally, sentinals are flying around and occasionally shoot at the helicopter. Game controls are left/right/up/down for movement and space to shoot.

Category: shooter

Graphics:  1 simple geometric shapes
Technical: 2 a simple collision detection engine
Gameplay:  3 the rescue missions make the gameplay interesting
Other:     -
Total:     6


Problems:
Typo in game & game description "sentinal" should be "sentinel". Another typo, missing colon and space in (e.g.) "sentinals7". Also, the top is partially cut off under linux.

Remark:
The gameplay is decidedly more interesting than in the other shooter games, however, the game could do with a bit more polish.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #19 - Posted 2007-04-07 21:00:15 »

In 4k Penguins, the player controls a black penguin jumping from ice tile to ice tile collecting fish; a tile disappears when a penguin leaves it. The game progresses in turns against computer controlled penguins. The game is controlled by clicking on ice tiles.

Category: puzzle

Graphics:  3 the graphics are very well done (animated water, penguins)
Technical: 2 the game engine is solid
Gameplay:  3 the idea is funny and engaging
Other:     1 ai opponents
Total:     9


Problems:
I have not encountered any problems.

Remark:
4k Penguins is a fun and engaging game which is quite polished. It's also easy to pick up. Overall, it's very nicely done.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #20 - Posted 2007-04-07 21:18:32 »

In ApoSheep4k, the player controls a sheep with the goal to get to the other side of the field, without hitting any of the dogs. However, the sheep will always just run ahead and the player can only control whether to run diagonally upwards or downwards. The game controls are thus very simple, just space to toggle between up and down.

Category:

Graphics:  3 sheep, dogs, fence, and background are images
Technical: 1 no particular challanges in the technical department
Gameplay:  1 the gameplay is not particularly challanging
Other:     1 semi-transparent overlay with text instructions
Total:     6


Problems:
I have not encountered any problems.

Remark:
It's a very well executed and appealing game with a coherent look. The game is rather simple, as reflected by the score.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #21 - Posted 2007-04-10 23:04:12 »

In Cube Atck, the player controls a cannon that sits on a ring and can move around on the ring. From the inside, differently colored and sized cubes fly outwards towards the ring. When a cube hits the ring, it becomes thinner and the cube gets stuck. When the player shoots eight consecutive cubes of the same color, the ring becomes thicker. To remove stuck cubes, one can stop shooting and move over the cube. Game control is left/right and space to fire.

Category: shooter

Graphics:  2 animated geometric shapes
Technical: 2 basic collision detection
Gameplay:  1 the gameplay is rather simplistic
Other:     1 ingame start screen with instructions
Total:     6


Problems:
I have not encountered any problems.

Remark:
Cube Atck is a very well executed game with a nice coherent look. However, I just couldn't warm up to the gameplay. At first, it seemed overly difficult to survive for more than 30 seconds, until I found out how to remove cubes that got stuck - which additionally makes the ring thicker again (kinda zero sum: you loose some, you gain some). It looks very nice, and it features a unique gameplay idea, but I still don't like it.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #22 - Posted 2007-04-10 23:04:55 »

In Bullets4k, the player controls a white dot, which is followed by a number of little white dots according to the law of gravity. The goal is to guide the little white dots (at least 50 of them) to the red target zone. Game controls are left/right/up/down. Additionally, one can press ctrl to move the dots closer to the guide, but this uses up power. Power can be recharged in the green power zone. The game has a time limit.

Category: action-oriented gravity maze puzzle?

Graphics:  1 simple geometric shapes
Technical: 2 basic collision detection
Gameplay:  1 see remark
Other:     1 dynamically generated levels (or at least a lot of levels)
           1 nicely colored trails for the particles
Total:     6


Problems:
I have not encountered any problems.

Remark:
Bullets4k is a very well executed game with a nice coherent look (ever heard that before?). It is a unique gameplay idea, but ends up just twiddling the direction keys (maybe mouse would have been easier?).
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #23 - Posted 2007-04-10 23:05:32 »

In Vector Racer 4k, the player controls a racing car in a turned based competition agains ai or other human racing cars. Each racing car has a 2d velocity vector, and in each turn the player can choose to increase or decrease the velocity in either x- or y-direction (or both).

Category: turn-based strategy

Graphics:  1 simple geometric shapes
Technical: 2 basic collision detection
Gameplay:  2 challenging
Other:     1 random track generation
           1 ai opponents
           1 multiple ai strengh levels
           1 text menu
           1 colored trails
Total:    10


Problems:
I have not encountered any problems.

Remark:
Vector Racer 4k implements a game idea I've alreay heard about (and implemented) over 10 years ago. That said, it implements it very nicely with randomly generated maps and a coherent look. It also features ai opponents and a text menu. The difficulty of this game is in looking ahead. The player has to estimate the current speed and how long it will take to slow down to get around tight corners, and how much one can speed up before one has to slow down again. It's extremely well implemented and features a large number of bells and whistles.
Offline Morre

JGO Knight


Medals: 2
Projects: 10


I'm Dragonene on IRC.


« Reply #24 - Posted 2007-04-10 23:24:54 »

I must admit to being slightly confused. I am overwhelmed by the comment on Scorch, but slightly disappointed about what you thought of Bullets. That is, I think Bullets is the better game. It is, of course, a matter of taste. Note, by the way, that Bullets does not dynamically generate levels; there are some 7 or 8 in total.

Glad to hear your thoughts, it might well help me create better games in the future. I really do appreciate all the work you're doing here. Smiley

On a side note, I've reviewed slightly more than half of the games according to this system, and I will publish my thoughts once I've reviewed them all (except for my own ones, of course).

Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #25 - Posted 2007-04-11 00:44:47 »

Bullets has more inventive, experimental gameplay.
Scorch has proven 'old' gameplay, but implements it with a lot of bells and whistles.
Maybe I was just too tired to give it a chance.

*puts bullets on the list of games to look at again*
Offline nva225

Junior Member





« Reply #26 - Posted 2007-04-11 03:31:11 »

Gonna have to agree with the re-review on the bullets thing. It was one of my favorite games, and I thought it deserved at least a 2 or 3 for gameplay, and maybe 1 extra point for being original. My opinion though.

Otherwise great job doing the reviews so far  Smiley
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #27 - Posted 2007-04-25 21:12:27 »

Ugh, no internet for over a week. I need to get some more reviews done.  Sad
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #28 - Posted 2007-04-25 22:49:00 »

In ApoFall4k, the player controls the left-right movement of a ball, trying to survive as long as possible. Impenetrable clouds are scrolling upwards the screen with holes at random locations. The game is lost when the ball hits the top of the screen.

Category: fall?

Graphics:  2 image-based rendering, but rather simple shapes
Technical: 1 no particular challenges here
Gameplay:  1 the gameplay is rather repetitive
Other:     1 semi-transparent overlay with text instructions
Total:     5


Problems:
The font on linux is slightly larger than on windows and the help text doesn't fit. Also, the top of the screen is cut off under linux.

Remark:
Although the game is rather simple, ApoFall4k has a very nice coherent look. I'm a bit sad to see it go with so few points, but I must say that 'fall' style games aren't really contenders for the top 5. That said, it's a nice casual game and I can imagine that some might find it very addictive.
Offline ulfjack

Junior Member





« Reply #29 - Posted 2007-04-25 22:49:47 »

The player directly moves a blue sphere around with his mouse, avoiding the red spheres, and collecting the black squares. For each collected black square, a new red sphere is spawned (i.e. it gets progressively harder). If a red sphere is touched, the game is over.

Category: dexterity

Graphics:  1 simple geometric shapes
Technical: 1 no particular challanges here
Gameplay:  3 see remark
Other:     1 semi-transparent overlay with game results
Total:     6


Problems:
I have not encountered any problems.

Remark:
The gameplay is solely based on dexterity and concentration, and as such, it is rather challanging. It also very satisfying to beat a previous highscore, my current high score is 185. Cheesy
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