Is it fun? Help me test my game!

I need your help; your subjective opinion - is it fun? Can it be more fun with more work? Is it bankrupt? Is the core mechanic ideas worth pursuing?

If enough of you think it is, then I'll keep going. If not, then I'll park it and move on.

DOWNLOAD HERE unzip and run the Cloudship exe.

What I am trying to achieve

I want a game where you build a base and go exploring with it while fighting off enemies. Eventually there will be quests and a story of sorts and little people moving around on the Cloudship.

How to give feedback

If you have a Lack-Of account, here is great. If you have a lapsed one, get in touch, I'll fix it. If you'd like one then let's have a chat. Otherwise, use whatever social media you like!

Things I'm not worried about yet

I'm not fussed about bugs (unless it fails to run). If I continue with Cloudship, they'll get sorted eventually and not in this order.

  • Exploring is largely pointless right now
  • Not enough buildings/flotsam/bases/enemy variety/environment variety
  • Key bindings
  • Art style and graphics (next phase)
  • Load/Save (needs improving)
  • Houses do nothing
  • You have to guess which buildings are which (this will need an update to the controller, phase 2)
  • Difficult to see wind direction when there are no clouds
  • Not enough different sounds
  • Menus are ugly
  • Low framerates

Tutorial Video

Edit! Here's a video I made during a spare hour today. Come see myself make a fool of... myself.

Thank you everyone. You've always been very helpful in times past.


How do you operate a cannon?

Just tried it on my work laptop with "medium" settings.

From a control perspective there is no "feel" of propulsion forwards. The indicator moves in the bottom left, however the acceleration is very slow, and there is no visual cue that anything has happened. My brain was looking for something (fire/smoke from the stack and engines, a forward tilt of the airship as it's momentum changed, a shudder etc etc etc etc). I never really got a sense of what was movement I was initiating, and what the wind/drift was causing. I couldn't work out if turn speed was linked to forward speed or not...again, I felt it should be a faster turn at lower speeds, but if it was, I couldn't feel it. Perhaps some roll as a turn occurs would help?

Camera - Is there a way to lock it a chase position? Then have a free-look option (hold right mouse-button to enter "telescope mode" as a first person view from the deck?) which then returns to chase afterwards?

Fun - it's not really a game at the moment, as there are no goals or more of a tech toy. I can see it as the tech basis for having a game narrative added to it (thinking along the lines of Sid Meiers Pirates! as a sort of explorative/combat game, though perhaps without the dancing), or (with a small map) some kind of strategic combat game...though I think the controls would need to be more responsive for that sort of thing.

Without the actual "game" element there, it's very difficult to judge. In terms of control and feel (which is where you are right now) I think that some more visual and dynamic feedback to the Cloudship movement will really help the immersive feel to it.

babychaos's picture

Thanks Pete! Delighted you gave it a try.

Completely agree with your comments on immersive/control feel. Left click to shoot! I don't mention that anywhere, thank you. There are no locks for the camera, great ideas. I'll add those into the ideas.

Adding a score would make it "a game" by definition but that's not the direction I eventually want to go in. I am going to add stats but only for fun (it's nice to know how far you've travelled but it's not an end in of itself).

I'm just sorting out a video tutorial, my first ever voiced YT vid, so that should be... interesting.

Would you say that it could be fun with questing or the Cloudship control had more feel?

brainwipe's picture

Would you say that it could be fun with questing or the Cloudship control had more feel?

Massive question.

Putting aside the control/feel thing for a second, and focusing on the "questing" section. This really is the game element...I think there are a lot of "games" out there that completely fuck up the sort of model you are looking at (if I understand correctly). As an example I'll use Sea of Thieves. They implemented a quest-based game, however was "fetch this". It might add in "kill this, then fetch that", but ultimately the "game" was was a single mission cut/pasted across a technical sandbox toy.

The selection and implementation of the quests will define the "fun" element of the game. The 3 stereotype quests have been done to death;
a) Fetch this
b) Kill x of these (and bring me their skins/treasures)
c) Escort me to here
Bonus stereotype;
d) Defend this location for x number of waves

I'm not saying these don't work as quests, however if they are thrown at the player with no narrative, then it's simply no fun. I actually had a huge reminiscence for Desert Strike (mentioned a while back). This was a game that nailed quests in a sandbox environment really well...the missions were fairly generic, but were linked into the narrative in such a way as they didn't just feel like make-work. As an example of the first level, the missions were (with the category in brackets)

1) Destroy Radars (kill x of these)
2) Destroy Power Station (kill x of these)
3) Destroy Airfields (kill x of these)
4) Command Bunkers (fetch this)
5) Secret Agent (fetch this)

Absolutely simple, however linked via a narrative (and you could also do them out of order, only there were benefits to doing them as suggested, like not having the crap kicked out of you by anti-air if you take out the radar first) made them much more relevant to the player...rather than simply doing a quest because some guy with an exclamation mark over his head told you to.

This also added in the option for the player to "self-define" quests (for example, capture Commander from task 4 first...which I remember required some tricky flying to winch the prisoner on-board).

So, with this in mind, YES, I believe it could be fun with the right questing and a more immersive control feeling. For better or worse I now have a sort of Desert Strike vibe associated with it, but thats not a bad thing.

babychaos's picture

I have written about 20 intros now and I am giving up, below is a basic rundown of my experience; please don't take anything to heart, this is meant as feedback not criticism.

The controls over the cloud ship are too disconnected and it just lead to frustration. As Pete points out, it really needs feedback, even something very subtle could make a huge difference.
The cloud ship felt under-powered compared to the wind, to the point there was little point fighting it.
Gathering flotsam to build was alright, the mechanics are working well, but it wasn't fun; without a purpose and with the controls it was fairly slow and frustrating when the wind and very slow turning made going after some flotsam painfully slow.
I never got to try out combat as after running away to get resource, then building a monstrous gun boat (this was very fun) with what I presume is a resource bug (at least one of the buildings is refunding more resource than it costs to build) I went in search of him, but the search was fruitless. I did find only a few cannons fired rather than all despite them all pointing the same direction, given how far away the enemy must have been I would have expected it to be within the firing arcs. But if it hadn't been for the bug I never would have gotten to enjoy the building part given how painful getting resources currently is.

Bigger Rob's picture

Wonderful feedback chaps, thank you! None of it taken to heart. All of it fascinating and I completely agree with everything.

I'm sitting on the sofa with Naomi roaming wild, so I might have to do this in bits.


Thanks for the Quest rundown. I'm going to do some research into quest/goal systems. I'll probably make a post/thread elsewhere with my findings. I am sure that there are games that do them well and do them badly. Fortunately, I know how to write a long story arc (I still have 3 from when I ran it as an RPG that I can ransack). With a long story arc nailed down, side-quests can be built to support that. I think I might have to implement the "sims" living on the Cloudship first so that I have people to pin the stories on but that's food for thought.

Big R

Thanks for persevering with two Boiler Chimneys! Legend. Feedback is high on the list; even if it is some dodgy quick-art to start with. I've not test with lots of cannons but I'll see if there is something obvious. Each cannon fires a ray to see if it is shooting "at" one of its own buildings but your layout looks fine. I know about the building bug, I found it while making the video! Such is life! :)

Thrust and Torque
I think a diminishing-returns feature for Boiler Chimneys is the way to go, the first couple giving the most power. Did you consider putting on a third chimney? The tutorial suggests to build 3 in all (2 at the start and then one later) and the menu screen Cloudship has 3. I'm not expecting people to follow the tutorial exactly, nor do I think what you did was unreasonable. I totally going to boost them. I'm interested in how your mind was working. Were you set on a lean fighting machine? I like your facing boilers, that might be the best way to get four on that base.

I'm going to make player cannons fire regardless of range and angle. I need to change how they find range when moving at speed, too. I found that high speed pursuits/getaways often took too long because shots feel short or sailed over. Bit of vector maths required for that but no disaster.

brainwipe's picture

Sorry for abrupt end, Naomi attacked!
(On phone, hiding under a blanket.... No, really)

brainwipe's picture

I gave it a go and here are my thoughts.

The ship feels very ponderous piloting it was less like I was in control of it more I was fighting it's controls picking up flotsam most of the time I sailed right past the thing missing it by a small amount as the ship oversteered or just got pushed off course by the wind and not having the power to correct for that. I liked the hook mechanic it worked pretty well but the control issues meant I often was circling the same bit of flotsam trying to line it up and missing over and over as I just skirt past it.

It didn't seem like adding more chimneys gave you increased power or improved control I tried 2 then 3 then 4 but it felt like it controlled basically the same. Maybe the difference is subtle.

The fixed camera (vertically) got a but annoying after a while to compensate for the ponderous handling I wanted to look further ahead but with a fixed pitch angle I couldn't really do that. Having a mouse wheel zoom on the camera would also be nice.

Maybe it's personal preference but the cloud layer being so close to the motion layer and ground layer made things feel small rather than big and occasionally got in the way or made things feel very claustrophobic.

The shooting was ok but complicated by the handling of the craft it also didn't have any weight to it the projectiles just fly off at a fixed speed like they are made of polystyrene. It wasn't very satisfying I just hammered the fire key and tried to keep my ship pointed at the enemy there was no feeling epic combat like firing broadsides into a enemy trying to out maneuver their firing arcs or position for ram, I had to try and get the thing in range and in line hammer the keys hoping to hit something sail past the enemy and then spend a while fighting to bring the ship back around it didn't feel like I had much control over the cannons and whether they hit or not.

Anyway it's a great achievement to get it this far but it still feels like it has a long way to go before it could be considered a game. The few things there are to do are not very satisfying at the moment. I know you wanted an indication of whether you should put more work into making it a full game or not based on if it is fun and I feel you've not yet at the point where you can make that judgement you basically have a system of three parts:

1) Building the ship with parts which works but it doesn't feel like there is enough in the way of options there to make a compelling sub game ie you make a basically functional ship you stop there is not much point in going beyond that.

2) Flotsam collection which is challenging because of the ship handling and since it's tied to the building mechanic it's something you don't need to spend much time on. Ie you get enough for a basically functional ship and you stop there is no benefit to proceeding beyond that.

3) Ship to ship combat which feels imprecise and unwieldy and at the moment not very useful you don't gain anything from it beyond not being harassed by the ai. Although it was pretty easy to just escape the ship and then it never comes after you.

It feels very circular you build the ship to collect the flotsam to build the ship to fight the other ships but to do that you need to collect the flotsam to build the ship.

Anyway some suggestions.

I assume you are going for the feeling that these are large vessels that can't turn on a penny and zip around at speed but it feels like you've overshot that. Tweaking it so the ships are more maneuverable but still feel heavy and with a lot of momentum would fix a lot of the problems I had.

The combat isn't currently very fun and feels disconnected from my control with the current system I might as well not have to hit the fire button at all just auto fire when in range as it's functionally equivalent. Maybe look at some naval type games to get some ideas there the recent assassin's creed games have had some fairly good naval combat with sailing ships broad sides you control adjustable sail speeds ramming different cannon shot for different effects and so on.

Since things are configurable it would be nice if that made more of a difference to the craft maybe you want to have the option for a fast lightly armed ship with a single cannon and a load of engines or a more heavily armed glass cannon which an enemy can rip to shreds if it gets in range or a broadside capable vessel with front/rear armor heavier less maneuverable but able to take a pounding and perform maneuvers like crossing the t.

If you could model some damage on the ships themselves instead of the health bar that would help a bit maybe a set of breakable hull pieces round the sides that gets blasted off as it takes damage. You could even make that part of the tactics making ships more vulnerable once the armor has gone and allow players to maneuver to present the more armored sides of their ship to the enemy guns.

The main problem is the lack of things to do the current game isn't really much of a game it's a set of mini games with no real purpose to them. You could make the combat the be all and end all but for that it would need to be a lot more fun on it's own and I think even then it would get old fast it needs some sort of purpose to it. What sort of game do you want it to be what sort of story do you want to tell with it. Something flexible with things like trading mining or combat as possible options or something fixed to a certain role combat or survival or somesuch.

It shows promise but I think it's not yet at the stage you can say if it's a fun game or not as it hasn't yet reached that point it's still a proof of concept a tech demo of sorts. I hope that helps

Evilmatt's picture

Brilliant, EMW, thank you! Great feedback.

I've checked out AC ship combat and I see what you mean. I think control of the Cloudship is my highest priority. This is a short comment for such a wonderfully detailed reply because I'm sitting here nodding and agreeing with everything. I could write "yes, good point, like it" over and over but that would get annoying.

It shows promise but I think it's not yet at the stage you can say if it's a fun game or not as it hasn't yet reached that point it's still a proof of concept a tech demo of sorts.

I think this has been a theme somewhat! :)

I'm going to keep working on the "game" until there's more there before making a call whether to stop. I'm going to park the graphics overhaul, attack the physics model and add just enough more graphics to fix the issues that you've all identified. I've spent this morning getting those into some sort of order. Here's a snap (they move about depending on time).

It's good to know that I'm not completely barking up the wrong tree. As much as it's more annoying that fun, the annoying bits can be fixed relatively easily and I'm looking forward to stuffing some more graphics in.

I'm off to fix a bug and give it more THRUST! :)

brainwipe's picture