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Help me playtest my new demo for In Retrospect! It’s almost finished and I need some real feedback!
Hey all!

Believe it or not, In Retrospect, my nearly 7 years in the making musical action platformer / runner game, is nearing completion! It might even release this year! (More likely is next year, but I’m trying to be optimistic.) I need to get some serious feedback before I can finalize some things and pull the trigger on a release.

So try out my new demo! It has 4 “story” stages and 4 “challenge” stages (and the challenge stages have leaderboards, so you can compete against other NWers for the top spots!) The demo story mode will probably take most people 15-30 minutes to complete. The challenge stages add another 5-10 minutes or so, if you only play them once.

Unfortunately I only have a PC build at the moment. I do still plan to make a Mac version but I'm focusing on getting this done first. (And yes, eventually I'd love to release on consoles, but... we'll see.)

There are two places you can access the demo, Steam and Itch. (If you have do not have a Steam account, anyone can access the Itch demo without an account.)

Demo on Steam (click the "Download Demo" button on the right-side menu a bit down the page, launch through Steam)
Demo on Itch (click the "Download" button near the bottom of the page, unzip the file, and click the .exe to launch)

And if you REALLY love me, you will fill out this short feedback form after playing through the 4 story mode stages (or giving up, if you can't finish them.) And also get a screenshot (or at least copying down the information) of the screen you see when finishing the story mode (you can also access it at any time in the main menu under “STATISTICS” if you forget to screenshot it when finishing the story mode.)

Feedback Form

But even if you don’t do the form, you can add your feedback here. The main things I am looking for feedback on:

1. Any bugs you may find
2. Any unclear or confusing parts
3. Whether the default difficulty in the story mode feels right, and whether the difficulty feels like it progresses stage to stage

But really, any feedback is appreciated!

ALSO, after you create an online username you will see an option to join an online community (it’s really just a way to filter the leaderboards so you can also see just your community’s scores.) If you're part of Negative World, the code for the NW community is: nw999

Thanks in advance to anyone who helps me out here, and let me know if you have any questions about anything!

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Posted: 07/11/20, 22:00:22  - Edited by 
 on: 07/11/20, 22:15:10
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Bump for Zero!

It's almost the weekend, so I bet some of y'all can squeeze in some playtesting and leave feedback. ;) It really helps!
Posted: 08/07/20, 16:33:05
@PogueSquadron You mean, the proportions were fine? That helps a lot actually, I've never really been able to test on anything with a larger resolution than 1920x1080.

@J.K. Riki It does! Look at my completed list, the recent entries are pretty much all stuff from this thread! I also toned down stage 4 (the falling / spinning stage) a bit (of the few people who tried the game almost no one got past 4) and made it a little easier and a little less spinny. Going to tone down 6 and 7 as well. I already kind of knew the stages are a bit too crammed with stuff, maybe give a few spaces to just breath and collect things without chaos everywhere. Try to make sure that anyone in the press who actually tries the demo won't get stuck right away.

Posted: 08/07/20, 20:44:20
I didn't detect any scaling issues, no. I should have probably tested at 1440p though. 4k is just a straight 4x scale of 1080p, so you probably won't see any scaling issues there.
Posted: 08/07/20, 22:31:03
BTW for people who play with controllers on PC, there was a suggestion earlier to have the escape key leave the application on the title screen, which I set up, but do controllers players have an expectation that there would be some way to do this on the controller itself, or are you just used to using the escape key for this as well?

@PogueSquadron Hmm, does 4k happen on the machine end or the TV end though? If it happens on the machine end my code still needs to handle it, and apparently it... does? For lower resolutions I did a lot of tweaking to find a good balance, but for the higher ones (anything above 1920x1080), mostly because I couldn't test, I just did some straightforward math and hoped it would look ok.

Kind of curious what 1440p would look like, I don't even remember how I set up the code to handle higher resolutions that aren't straight multipliers. I know I didn't do 1:1 pixels because well, how would that even work? Camera would end up in a weird spot.
Posted: 08/07/20, 22:54:54  - Edited by 
 on: 08/07/20, 23:00:19

I never expect the controller to work as the Escape key when I play on PC with a controller. I know I have to reach over to the keyboard and hit ESC if I want that function.

I'd say the same holds true for consoles, except now with Home buttons. I never think about a game giving me an ESC feature on the controller, but when I play Switch I treat the Home button now as an ESC key of sorts. I think you'll be A-OK keeping ESC on the keyboard and leaving controller options to be simplified and streamlined.

EDIT: Though I do expect the Start button on a controller to pause/bring up options, and from there there is usually a Quit or something.
Posted: 08/08/20, 14:23:52  - Edited by 
 on: 08/08/20, 14:24:48

On Steam, yes, you do need to let the player quit the game (and do everything else) with just a controller in order for your game to be labelled as having "Full Controller Support." Steam's "Big Picture Mode" for TVs is geared towards games that have Full Controller Support, so if your game has that it might get featured in some extra places on the store.
Posted: 08/08/20, 19:37:06
@Secret_Tunnel Hmm. I'll have to think about that. It's easy enough to implement but there are probably also other things I'm missing for "full controller support" considering I just made the game work for 360 controllers and then moved on without thinking about it much.
Posted: 08/08/20, 21:47:32
Finally got a chance to try it out. Looks good, overall! I like the music. The controls and sounds are good. And the Menus are nicely tactile.

For reference, I played with a wired Xbox 360 controller on a jank-ass old AMD IdeaPad laptop.

Okay, feedback:

1) Can you add analog stick support? For digital movement.

2) Maybe make the prompts change when you have a controller connected? Not sure how well that would go for non-Xbox controllers, though.

3) The framerate vacillates between 30fps and over 200fps. And the scrolling is a bit choppy. Is there a way to lock it down? (This might be my laptop.)

4) Level 4 is way harder than Level 1 on Standard. Especially since the framerate is less consistent (on my shitty laptop). I'd prefer the hitboxes on the black holes to be smaller. And maybe have more health pickups between sections?

5) If the player dies too many times on one level, maybe lower the damage factor?

6) Should jump also activate switches?

7) Should Up also be jump?

8) A bit more invulnerability on damage? Otherwise, everything can go South pretty fast.

9) Checkpoints (with an option to bypass)? Everything after the first level is pretty challenging on Standard. Since the levels are fairly long, dying at the end is frustrating.

10) Restart Level option in the pause menu?

I made it to the middle of Stage 6. It's good! Consistent theme, graphics, and sound, and a lot of interesting ideas and concepts. However (and this might be due to unstable performance on my laptop), I think that it's too hard. Honestly, if I die more than a few times on a level in a demo, I'm usually going to bounce on that demo/game.

Is the intent to be masocore? How many lives do you want people to use on standard difficulty?
Posted: 08/16/20, 02:22:32
Thanks for all the feedback!

It's not supposed to be masocore! I've just played it so much that everything feels super easy to me now! But that's the point of outside feedback. I've definitely been making the stages easier since I posted this demo and trying to make sure the "get hit once and it snowballs into getting hit a bunch of times" doesn't really happen as much, or at all.

Framerate shouldn't be too all over the place, and I thought I had it fairly locked in, but I'm an amateur programmer, so maybe not.

Checkpoints is a common thing asked for and... it's probably the biggest thing this game really needs, but man, I can foresee a lot of work to make that work consistently based on how I coded things. Hmm. Maybe I'll get around to it, but I'm so sick of "big" programming stuff on this game and this would be pretty big.

Restart level in pause is a great idea, and should actually be pretty easy! I think?! I mean, it's basically just what happens when you die now, but purposely selecting it.
Posted: 08/21/20, 06:28:14
Zero said:

Checkpoints is a common thing asked for and... it's probably the biggest thing this game really needs, but man, I can foresee a lot of work to make that work consistently based on how I coded things. Hmm. Maybe I'll get around to it, but I'm so sick of "big" programming stuff on this game and this would be pretty big.

Add it to a future game. That's the point of doing multiple games, you get to know what needs to be in from the start "next time." :) And no game is ever going to be perfect, and every single game will have a laundry list of "you should have added X" features.

Heck, with our latest card game I am getting so much feedback from players on what to add. It's like, "yeah, that's a cool idea, and also would have caused this to be delayed until 2021" lol. So onto the list for future.
Posted: 08/21/20, 16:45:34  - Edited by 
 on: 08/21/20, 16:47:59
True. I do need to balance things, but it's also something that would clearly benefit the game a lot at this point. And I'm probably overestimating how much work it would take, it might not be THAT bad. But the whole syncing music with everything complicates things, because I wouldn't want to do checkpoints in the middle of a riff, so there are only a handful of specific places I'd even consider putting them in, but they might not always work out nicely in those places, blah blah blah.

Definitely the kind of thing that would be easier if I had planned it from the start. At this point, it's probably not happening.

Can you guys believe that this game was originally going to be perma-death? And honestly the only reason I had for that is it fit the story I was trying to tell. But eventually I was like, this will absolutely just piss everyone off. So even getting to restart at the start of each level was a fairly recent decision and is me giving the player a lot more than I had originally intended to, lol.
Posted: 08/21/20, 17:22:34
With one life?? Wow, it's a good thing you changed it!
Posted: 08/21/20, 19:58:08
@Anand Well, my original idea was also only 4 stages (childhood, young adult, middle age adult, elderly) and I planned to make them all "easy" but yeah. The narrative concept was basically that life comes at you fast and that you see how far through life you could get until you die.

But somewhere in there I was like well, narrative concepts are rubbish if they make the game less fun. Unfortunately I had already gotten pretty deep into development, but I did change some things to make, I think, a funner game. If maybe slightly less narratively cohesive.
Posted: 08/21/20, 20:50:04  - Edited by 
 on: 08/21/20, 20:56:57
Hey guys, just wanted to let you know... I made a BUNCH of changes based on the feedback I got here (and some other places) and will be planning to release another demo soon. Of course you don't have to try out the new demo, but I think getting the opinions of people who tried out the old one would be very helpful. Would get to see if my changes are actually for the better.

Some of the changes that I made:
+Added checkpoints to the stages - Yep, this is the BIG one. Also, this kind of automatically makes the stages a lot easier, so I think the difficulty will be manageable now? Maybe even too easy, and I was tempted to start making stuff harder again, but I think maybe this will hit a good balance. Demos should probably be easy-ish anyway, unless you're specifically trying to sell your game as SUPER HARD, which I'm not.
+Balanced the difficulty in some other ways, for the most part making it easier
+Removed or modified some stuff that wasn't working very well / consistently (black holes, quicksand, etc.)
+Added visual indictor of how much time you have to make choices in the in-between-stage choice parts.
+Added a way to restart stages from the pause menu
+Changed dialog pacing of some parts, so it doesn't feel as slow. Hopefully?
+Made the "Press Y to Skip" stuff only flash a few times before disappearing
+Possibly? Maybe? Sort of fixed the line over the player head glitch? At least, I did on my machines, not sure if it will still happen on other's.
For the most part anyway, I still get some MINOR tiny graphical glitches that are hard to notice if you aren't directly looking for them that I'm going to try to figure out.
+A bunch of other tiny stuff

Anyway, the new demo isn't quite ready yet but within the next week or so I will try to get it ready to post and would definitely appreciate feedback again.
Posted: 10/08/20, 18:23:13
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