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Old 12 June 2019, 20:10   #1
turrican3
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sotb playability ? what happened ?

Hi guys i wanted to ask this to coders,
do you know,or have an idea why sotb 1 has a bad playability ??
This game is beautifull, it was a pionneer in gfx department but the playability is not really good but why ??? Is it because : all the amiga power was taking out by the gfx tricks ?? or is it because they rushed to show the world what the amiga was capable of ?? Is there enough resource left to the amiga to keep a good playability with so much effort in gfx ?? I'm curious to know what you think or what you know about this ??
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Old 13 June 2019, 01:21   #2
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Psygnosis were known for flashy demos disguised as games

Just look at Microcosm!
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Old 13 June 2019, 01:25   #3
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My personal guess is that they either ran out of time or money, or that they had a clever technical idea but didn't think enough about how to make it into a game. Or some combination of the two.

The third in the series is actually decent fun, though obviously still not the greatest game in the world.
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Old 13 June 2019, 01:37   #4
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I don't know; Shadow Of The Beast was absolutely amazing at the time of release and blew anything out of the water graphically / aurally on any computer / system

Yes, it's a very difficult game, but I don't see how it "has a bad playability ??".

...and I really don't understand turrican3's original post. Playability has nothing to do with not having "enough resource left".
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Old 13 June 2019, 01:40   #5
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Well, the collision detection was pretty poor and the level design was again, pretty poor. Enemies spawning from the floor and ceiling at random interval, instant death if you touched certain bosses etc.

Perhaps it's because I didn't play the game on release but instead as one of the last games I played on the A500 before I got my shiny new (ok, second hand as it was 1996) A1200.
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Old 13 June 2019, 01:43   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
Perhaps it's because I didn't play the game on release but instead as one of the last games I played on the A500 before I got my shiny new (ok, second hand as it was 1996) A1200.
Well, most definitely then...

Compare any other 1989 games to SotB then: http://hol.abime.net/hol_search.php?Y_released=1989

Nothing came even remotely close.
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Old 13 June 2019, 01:48   #7
turrican3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamienD View Post
I don't know; Shadow Of The Beast was absolutely amazing at the time of release and blew anything out of the water graphically / aurally on any computer / system

Yes, it's a very difficult game, but I don't see how it "has a bad playability ??".

...and I really don't understand turrican3's original post. Playability has nothing to do with not having "enough resource left".
That's why it was a question for coders and not an affirmation.
I know now your pov. I felt like if the beast doesn't respond fast enough when i turn or when i try to punch or it could be that the monsters come too fast.It makes it in my view one of the most difficult game. It could be because they rushed or because like some said, they just do beautifull games with no care for playability or perhaps they took so much of the amiga power that the control didn't respond fast enough, i really don't know that's why i'm asking.
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Old 13 June 2019, 01:48   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamienD View Post
Well, most definitely then...

Compare any other 1989 games to SotB then: http://hol.abime.net/hol_search.php?Y_released=1989

Nothing came even remotely close.
Well, if I had to choose an early Amiga game or two, I'd probably call out Menace and Hybris. Other genres, but still IMHO better games from the playability & level design perspective. I'm sure that I can probably find a few more.

Or 'wait one year' and just play Turrican - though that is cheating

However, I'll immediately grant that no game at that time looked like SOTB - I still think it's beautiful even today.

Quote:
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That's why it was a question for coders and not an affirmation.
I know now your pov. I felt like if the beast doesn't respond fast enough when i turn or when i try to punch or it could be that the monsters come too fast.It makes it in my view one of the most difficult game. It could be because they rushed or because like some said, they just do beautifull games with no care for playability or perhaps they took so much of the amiga power that the control didn't respond fast enough, i really don't know that's why i'm asking.
I don't think it's a lack of resources. Later games did more than SOTB (even though they may not always look like they are) and had no problems.

But... Programming for technical excellence takes a lot of time and commercial development has deadlines. Which is why I still hold it probably was some mix of 'lack of experience making games' and 'focussing too much on the looks/sound'.
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Old 13 June 2019, 06:20   #9
turrican3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
I don't think it's a lack of resources. Later games did more than SOTB (even though they may not always look like they are) and had no problems.

But... Programming for technical excellence takes a lot of time and commercial development has deadlines. Which is why I still hold it probably was some mix of 'lack of experience making games' and 'focussing too much on the looks/sound'.
It seems a good analysis to me.
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Old 13 June 2019, 19:42   #10
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Shadow of the Beast is a dull game when we talk about game mechanics or an actual gameplay. Looks like Psygnosis didn't have enough skilled people to create more than a simple 8bit mechanic at that time. Reminds me a lot of C64 games like Beyond the Ice Palace, only with much better graphics and music.

Other genre: But Battle Squadron was released around the same time like SotB 1. And the gameplay/mechanics are much more advanced and polished.

Last edited by Retro-Nerd; 13 June 2019 at 19:53.
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Old 17 June 2019, 02:25   #11
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Because good programmers usually aren't good game designers and good game designers usually aren't good programmers. Most Amiga-native games came out of the bedroom coding culture of Europe (the UK in particular), where your entire "team" consisted of 1-3 people. The end result was you usually got games that were impressive from a technical standpoint, a presentation standpoint, or a gameplay standpoint, but rarely all three at once.

The Japanese game industry in particular did well at putting together teams of good game designers with good programmers and good artists, but the Amiga was basically unknown there so they never developed for it. When a Japanese game did get ported to the Amiga, it was usually via a UK developer paying pennies to a bedroom coder to do it with virtually no support (or even source code) provided and a ridiculous deadline.

A lot of these bedroom coders eventually went on to create great, playable games when paired with a design team and a good budget, but that would be on global-market consoles and PCs.
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Old 17 June 2019, 03:04   #12
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I think the major problem was that they couldn't judge the difficulty level very well, too easy and it would have been completed in under 25 minutes, too difficult.... well, remember Beast when it was first released was £35 with the T-Shirt, and thats a lot of money to ask for a game if it ends up being completed on its second attempt.

I think they simply got the difficulty wrong, trying to make the game last longer so people wouldn't feel cheated.

Theres a surprising amount of game given how much disk space the sound takes up.

I get the impression that Reflections showed Psygnosis Beast when it was very nearly completed, so i'm guessing it didn't get as much examination.
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Old 17 June 2019, 04:49   #13
005AGIMA
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Was shadow of the beast really really hard?

Yes

Was shadow of the beast all about perfect timing by the player?

Yes.

Was shadow of the beast "bad"?

No.

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Old 17 June 2019, 05:55   #14
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Shadow of the Beast is without a doubt, the most overrated game on the Amiga. Graphics might be decent (they're not as good as everyone makes them out to be), but the gameplay is simply appalling.
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Old 17 June 2019, 10:42   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turrican3 View Post
[...] I felt like if the beast doesn't respond fast enough when i turn or when i try to punch or it could be that the monsters come too fast. [...]
SotB playability is excellent as is perfectly adapted to game's type.
Indeed some may need to get used to the game but it's a game where ALL characters have the same 'speed' and thus making at the end very well balanced in difficulty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
Well, the collision detection was pretty poor and the level design was again, pretty poor. Enemies spawning from the floor and ceiling at random interval, instant death if you touched certain bosses etc. [...].
The collision detection is good as soon as you have succeeded in controlling the game. And it's easy. In my point of view, no enemy is "spawning from the floor/ceiling" at random intervals ; quite the opposite.
You can "learn" where each and every enemy is going to appears and thus progress in your way to the beast after each play.

Of course it's not the only one, but at the end, in addition to be beautiful in every way, SotB is also a good game to train your memory and reflexe's timing. And we should not forget that the brain is a muscle that requires training... .
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Old 17 June 2019, 11:04   #16
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It just seems like bad game design to me. The perfect timing required to punch the enemies is too tricky and is tedious, the random traps popping up from the ground is just a boring memory exercise and the level design is dull. It all adds up to very mediocre gameplay. None of these things are coding or hardware limitations.

It is stunning to look at and listen to and I would regularly load it up just for those reasons. It probably sold a shed load of Amiga's with it's aesthetics alone.
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Old 17 June 2019, 13:44   #17
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The collision detection is good as soon as you have succeeded in controlling the game. And it's easy. In my point of view, no enemy is "spawning from the floor/ceiling" at random intervals ; quite the opposite.
You can "learn" where each and every enemy is going to appears and thus progress in your way to the beast after each play.
I'm sorry, but I don't agree here. Here's my opinion on SOTB:

Normally, games telegraph what is going to happen to the player before it does. Either by showing the new danger in such a way it can't hurt the player first, or by making it very obvious that something bad is going to happen.

Given the above, the level design is very poor - enemy placement is not easily predicted because, for all intents and purposes, it's completely random. Properly designed games have 'rules' for where what enemy is spawned and when.

Not in SOTB, were (nearly) invisible obstacles can poke out of the floor without any warning. And simply running too far in one direction actually causes an immediate game over. That is not good design. Nor is giving the player a health bar but still putting in enemies that instantly kill you (without any warning this is the case) 'good design'.

Note that these two things (telegraphing/clear rules) are done even in very hard games so difficulty is no excuse here.

The maze like structure of some of the levels is also pretty poorly thought out. There are no clues as to what the correct path is and inside of each specific level, it all looks alike. Coupled with the clunky movement of the beast, this makes navigation a chore rather than a joy.

To top it all off, the main weapon of the player (it's punch) is far too short ranged - to fight enemies, you're forced to put yourself into far more danger than is reasonable given the number of enemies and the amount of health the player has.

It's all pretty meh.

The collision detection is also bad. It's seemingly totally random whether or not your punch connects to the enemy or not. I've had it clearly hit the enemy and still not 'count'. I've also had it miss the enemy entirely and count as a hit. Similarly, you're insanely easy to damage - get touched by as much as a pixel and you get damage. That is bad. Period.

Difficulty alone is no excuse here. It's perfectly possible to create insanely difficult games that are still fun to play. SOTB isn't one of them.

None of this changes that the game looks wonderful, but it took Reflections until part 3 to get a game that also played adequately. It's such a shame, I so want to like this game but it's just no fun to play.
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Old 17 June 2019, 19:33   #18
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When I completed SOTB for the first time recently, the buttons I assigned on the gamepad to quick save and quick load got used far more than the attack button. Afterwards I did't feel like I had beat the game, but rather that I had just survived it.

Save yourself the pain and just watch a decent LP of it on Youtube.
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Old 17 June 2019, 20:18   #19
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I don't know about SOTB 1 but SOTB 2 iirc had random enemies cycles and random stuff coming up from the ground etc and if I remember you could pull switches that made it uncompletelable without any indication this had happened.

So the majority of people probably played it a few times and just gave up and that was it.


Real shame because the Music and graphics are great and there were some real great ideas in there shame it can't be salvaged in some way?
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Old 17 June 2019, 22:18   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
I'm sorry, but I don't agree here. Here's my opinion on SOTB:

Normally, games telegraph what is going to happen to the player before it does. Either by showing the new danger in such a way it can't hurt the player first, or by making it very obvious that something bad is going to happen.

Given the above, the level design is very poor - enemy placement is not easily predicted because, for all intents and purposes, it's completely random. Properly designed games have 'rules' for where what enemy is spawned and when.

Not in SOTB, were (nearly) invisible obstacles can poke out of the floor without any warning. And simply running too far in one direction actually causes an immediate game over. That is not good design. Nor is giving the player a health bar but still putting in enemies that instantly kill you (without any warning this is the case) 'good design'.

Note that these two things (telegraphing/clear rules) are done even in very hard games so difficulty is no excuse here.

The maze like structure of some of the levels is also pretty poorly thought out. There are no clues as to what the correct path is and inside of each specific level, it all looks alike. Coupled with the clunky movement of the beast, this makes navigation a chore rather than a joy.

To top it all off, the main weapon of the player (it's punch) is far too short ranged - to fight enemies, you're forced to put yourself into far more danger than is reasonable given the number of enemies and the amount of health the player has.

It's all pretty meh.

The collision detection is also bad. It's seemingly totally random whether or not your punch connects to the enemy or not. I've had it clearly hit the enemy and still not 'count'. I've also had it miss the enemy entirely and count as a hit. Similarly, you're insanely easy to damage - get touched by as much as a pixel and you get damage. That is bad. Period.

Difficulty alone is no excuse here. It's perfectly possible to create insanely difficult games that are still fun to play. SOTB isn't one of them.

None of this changes that the game looks wonderful, but it took Reflections until part 3 to get a game that also played adequately. It's such a shame, I so want to like this game but it's just no fun to play.
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