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  • Feedback on Christian Treasures

    Posted by Michael Herrera on April 8, 2023 at 10:54 pm

    Overall, Christian Treasures is nicely made, functional game that’s mostly polished and only needs a few tweaks (if desired). The aesthetics are pleasing, it has a functional and (mostly) intuitive UI, good audio (props to Matthew Pablo) with controls to mute / adjust volume, and it’s easy to play / understand. I found no major bugs that needed fixing on both my low end laptop and my Android phone.

    This game reminded me of two other similar games that you should check out (if you haven’t already):

    Stained Glass (http://www.stainedglassgame.com/), a Christian Match 3 game by Lightside Games, and Jewel Quest (https://www.jewelquest.com/), a (very popular) secular Match 3 game by iWin.

    YOUR CONCERNS

    #1 – In addition to my PC Windows laptop, I did try out the game on my Android (LG-US998 V30 using Android version 9 software) and it have a very slow load time (about 3 minutes). The second time around seemed faster, except it stalled towards the end of loading. The Trophy (Verse Cards) Screen was similarly slow to load as was accessing the Settings. I support your idea of object pooling and texture compression.

    #2 – In terms of game retention (interest / challenge), I would offer the following:

    · Match 3 games by their very nature are repetitive, suggest that after every 7 levels you add an animated cutscene to break things up. Perhaps based on Matt 13:45-46 (Pearl of Great Price)?

    · It may not be apparent to the Player the benefit of completing the “Featured Match” (below and to the left of the pause button in game). I’m not sure it adds any points. I ended up ignoring it. Perhaps separate that mechanic from the leveling functionality, wherein leveling clears and resets the board with new pieces and completing the Featured Match adds a new Verse Card to your collection (and may want to increase number of required matches to 20 or more)?

    · The game balance may need tweaking. In the beginning it’s easy to play (as it should be in beginning levels), but it remains such with little new challenges introduced. Consider variations such as: changing the size and shape of the game board, adding spaces that cannot be used / moved into, adding covered pieces that appear only after first horizontal or vertical match 3 (and requiring a second match to remove from the board), or introduce / use timed levels.

    · On the other end of the spectrum, the game becomes increasingly hard to play as the levels progress because Players often run out of moves. I’ve never made it past Level 21 (and not for lack of trying, I played over 2 dozen times), which leads me to my biggest criticism: there’s no way to gain extra lives (present icons). And given the often abrupt ending (“Level # Failed”), I imagine it’s a sore point for many Players.

    · I like that you save the High Score between play sessions. Have you thought about adding a Leaderboard to foster competition (think arcade game leaderboards with 3 letter initials, level, and high score)?

    #3 – I’m not put off by the text sizing or placement on the screen. I tried playing on a small windowed screen on my laptop PC and it looked fine / professional. The same with my Android phone. And surprisingly, I did NOT encounter the Fat Finger Problem (interactive items too small to be accurately selected via touch with a Player’s finger).

    PAIN POINTS

    · There doesn’t seem to be a way to complete the Verse Card set (or it’s very difficult to do so). Most Players will give up in frustration (and replay value goes to zero once Players realize this). I continued playtesting because I wanted to see if there was a payoff / reward animation once the set was completed (or if you had an artistic “Game Over” followed by running the credits). Still don’t know. Still need Card #11, #15, #17, #19, #21, #23, and #29.

    · When you run out of lives (presents), the “ending” is abrupt and disconcerting. There’s no Game Over. You’re just suddenly starting at the beginning again (with no “Want to Play Again? Y/N”). Additionally, the Player is never told that the Verse Cards they’ve already unlocked are still unlocked (they just see grayed out images of the same Verse Cards they already unlocked), so that may need to be explained to the Player.

    · I found the False Idol icons to be problematic on three levels:

    1) Their functionality wasn’t apparent (it wasn’t mentioned in How to Play) and initially I thought it was a bug that they were not removed from the board upon matching 3 of them together

    2) There is no practical way to remove them from the board (You can use the Cross swap function, but only if it’s adjacent to the Cross)

    3) They’re hard to distinguish from the Ark of the Covenant piece/icon (both Yellow colored), so consider giving them a different colored background to the square they occupy

    Suggest adding the ability to remove False Idols by either:

    a) False Idols that reach the bottom of the board fall off or disappear, or

    b) False Idols that are match three in a row are removed from the board.

    TO CONSIDER

    · Use of the Present Icons (Lives) is not apparent for a long time in the game. Consider adding to the How to Play section.

    · The excellent background music in-game suddenly stops and only restarts after a significant pause. Consider adding fade out / in and reducing the time between the two.

    · In the Trophy Screen (where the Verse Cards are displayed), it’s not apparent that clicking on the small card advances the deck to the next card. Consider adding an affordance as well as a text UI, “Unlocked ## of 29 Cards”.

    · Not sure of the function of the blue boxed ? below the Level UI display (top left between yellow buttons). Seems like a button, but nothing happens when you click it. I assumed it would take you to How to Play. Consider removing and adding that functionality to Paused popup.

    · In How to Play, you explain that Cross Swapping can be used “with any other piece on the board”, but don’t mention that the piece has to be adjacent the Cross icon. Consider updating the functionality or changing the wording in How to Play.

    · Some pieces in-game are hard to see because of their shape/size, specifically David’s Sling and Crown of Thorns. Consider adding thickness or lighter color to make them more distinguishable.

    · The game credits are hidden in Settings. They also don’t contain any copyright or legal language. Consider relocating the credits to the Main Menu and adding legal language.

    · I understand the need to reset the board with new pieces / placements, but doing so has an effect on gameplay that should you should be aware of: Players rely on pattern recognition (especially in Match 3 games) to match the pieces. And you’re changing the pattern almost every level. You also lose any Cross Swap or Activated icon/piece on the board. Consider adding new pieces in batches every 3 or 4 levels? And instead of activating an icon after a 4 piece match, just eliminate that row / column instantly? Cross Swap can be solved by creating an icon outside the game board that Players can click on to eliminate the next mouse clicked piece (and all similar pieces). Cross Swap icon persists until used, even if level is completed.

    · I’ve noticed that the Verse Card Numbers don’t correlate with the level numbers. They seem to have some order, but not a numerical one. Consider putting the Verse Cards in numerical order.

    · Finally, but not least in importance, I notice that you’re NOT using a revenue model (e.g. premium, free to play with ads, in app purchases, subscription). Is that for a reason? Especially, given that your game is available on mobile, Players have come to expect some nominal cost. Want you to know it’s okay to charge for your work and then use that money for other things.

    SOME LAST SUGGESTIONS (WISH LIST / NICE TO HAVE)

    · Add bonus points / reward for cascading sets of matches of three times or more (e.g. in one move you match 3 Ark of Covenant, 4 David Slings, and 3 Crown of Thorns because the pieces cascade)

    · Add audio dialogue for the Card Verses (Narrator reads the Scripture) and use the same animation for each piece that you use in-game (or custom ones).

    · When a Player does not click on a piece/icon for a long time (because they don’t see a move), show a suggested move by flashing two pieces that are swappable for a short time.

    So those are my suggestions. It’s a lot, I know. Hope that helps.

    P.S. I noticed you haven’t created a page for your games. Feel free to create one for each. If you need help with that, ask Admin.

    Tom Jolin replied 1 year, 1 month ago 2 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • Tom Jolin

    Member
    April 29, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you! I did not realize you had replied. Thank you for the amount of time you took to look at this! There is alot to unpack, so I’ll need to review more closely.

    I can answer a few of the points:

    1) Yes, working towards this. Load times from the site it is hosted on do impact the loader screens. The app loads some of the assets during the load screen, but after reaching the main menu it begins to fetch assets in the background and will not proceed to settings, the awards or the instruction screen until those additional assets are loaded. Moving the game to a GameJolt will probably improve load times, but I can also place a load screen between levels to break up the asset loading into segments. As for handling sprites and performance it seems like using several tweens with alpha changes in ‘phaser’ simultaneously may not work great in all scenarios. Working on improving this for several of my games is a priority.

    2) All of these are good points and I’ll look at making those changes. Thank you!

    3) Thanks!

    /* PAIN POINTS */

    – Some of the cards can only be achieved when the conditions are just right, or when something happens for the first time in the game. i.e. Playing on Easter…. , Completing the game with no lives lost

    – The grayed out cards should only appear for the artifacts for the first few levels because those are the pieces you are playing with from the get go, but you haven’t technically earned them yet. They should no longer be gray after they are unlocked, so that is probably a bug.

    – Idols:

    Will add instructions about them during the ‘How to Play’ section. Thanks!

    An idol should be destroyed if two crosses are swapped witth each other, If a cross is swapped with the idol, or if it is in line with a four of kind match column or row. So that is another bug if it isn’t destroyed in all those scenarios. I might have broken something in the last update.

    Good ideas on how to handle idols! Maybe not the the three of a kind idea removing them though – because they are bad. Perhaps if you happen to get three of a kind of an idol, you get something worse like a ‘strong hold’ piece.

    I’ll repond to the other section in a bit.

    Thank you for the review!

    -Tom

  • Tom Jolin

    Member
    April 29, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    continued…

    -The blue “?” button shows you an available move when pressed. This is handled by a service worker and it might not be configured with the right path for the server I put this on. I will be posting this to GameJolt and I’ll make sure the worker is referenced in ‘parcel’ correctly.

    -As for charging money, I have no intension to do that at this stage with these games. The artwork provided is strickly for non-commerical usage and the artist an I would like to provide the games for free. Grace games for the Gospel of peace. However, runewable lives and awards for usage is ok. The leader board idea is awesome, I think I could probably host that on firebase for free.

    I look at implementing just about all you mentioned. Thanks again! Lot of good info.


    These are some areas of dev where I think I come up short and probably need help:

    – Colors / layouts & dialogs

    – I do not know how to create character animations. I can animate sprites, I just can’t create the artwork.

    – Story lines and progressive game play. So your tips should help.

    I will inquire about how to setup of the game page on this site. We have plans to make additional games, but they are backed up a bit due to time constraints. If anyone is interested in helping, I’d love to work with other people.

    Shooting Promises: Space Shooter Game where you shoot worry and fears with God’s promises

    Epistle: Psuedo 3d chariot racing game where you have to bring the letters to the early church. Based on an open source javascript project.

    Daily Grind: Pacman clone where you are chased by the enemy while collecting scripture as you progress through the books of the bible.

    Card Shark: Card games featuring biblical characters on the cards.

    Bible Quest: Fanasy game where you complete a quest by playing mini games: Word Search battle, character match, spiritual warefare (closing doors on the enemy, opening doors for blessing), slide puzzles, etc…


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