"You should really get into golf," all my friends told me. "Golf's great! No, seriously, come out and hit the links with us, you'll have a blast." Being the highly impressionable and socially needy person that I am, I relented.
Eleven years later, all I have to show for my hundred and twenty dollars is a dusty set of golf clubs and traumatically bad memories of mud traps (yes, mud traps, not sand traps), and the things that lived in them.
What I needed was something that could tilt things in my favor. What I needed, besides a few thousand hours of golf lessons, was the ability to manipulate each hole such that it catered to my personal playing style. What I needed was Putt Base.
A sort of physics-based puzzler in the same vein as PuzzPinball, Putt Base tasks you with holes that would make a mini-putt master balk, and then asks that you complete each with a hole-in-one.
Sound impossible? Don't worry, to your credit you get to edit the course to your liking with a limited number of several different blocks that can change the direction your ball travels, give it a little boost, or nullify the bounce while increasing momentum.
Further, while there is a reward and demerit system at work in Putt Base, you effectively have all the time in the world to map things out just right. No need to throw your clubs, though I can't promise you won't eventually end up splayed out on the course screaming, "Why don't you just go home?!"
Analysis: When I first picked up Putt Base, two things jumped right out at me that allowed this game to stand apart from an already pretty well stocked field. The first was the fact that it wasn't gravity based, and the second was the fact that you received full control of the ball's direction when you first set things in motion.
In all of the variants of this style of game I've played before, there's always gravity, and the opening direction of ball travel is almost always straight down. That Putt Base alters these two seemingly minor factors in gameplay really opens up the field of possibilities for anyone willing to explore them.
Because you are no longer constrained by gravity, and forced to deal with the opening direction as it is given to you, each level has a plethora of solutions just waiting to be discovered. It's all about you, what you see, and how you plot out a path to the hole. The one downside to this is that occasionally the game will devolve into pixel hunting, but this shouldn't be too common of an occurrence.
Beyond this, Putt Base remains pretty straight forward. The types of blocks available is a little bit meager but gets the job done, and the fact that you can't rotate them can be either a blessing or a curse depending on if you see this as an added challenge, or an annoying oversight.
I would have also liked to have seen a little more variety in the aesthetics; the visuals are nice, but a lack of variation can get a little on the repetitive side after a while. But beyond some cosmetic shortcomings, and a general desire for a little bit more of everything, there's not a whole lot to complain about with Putt Base.
The point and advancement system takes a little getting used to but is ultimately fair, and gives you just enough incentive to go back to try completed levels again while at the same time forcing you to put a little effort into reaching the next level.
All in all, if you're a fan of this style of game, Putt Base will definitely be a welcome addition to the growing library already out there. If you aren't, there just might be enough new offered here to change your mind.
Hmm, well, the physics here confuse me a bit. Fun, although I think it deserves maybe 3.5 stars. It's not bad, and I like the graphics. The physics are just odd, that's all. Fun though, although I just got annoyed by level 3 or 4 or so and quit.
Which part confused you? I'll admit the jelly blocks take a little bit getting used to, but that's mainly because when I think jelly, I think bouncy. The jellies here kill your bounce, but give you a little bit more of a lateral boost.
I don't know if I'm the only one, since the rating is so low, but I liked this game. The same fun as The Incredible Machine - one thing, it's quite easy (if you don't play for points) and it's short... I cross fingers for a second part!! :-)
It's frustrating that almost every level ends up being a pixel hunt for the "correct angle".
For example, I succeeded on one level, and after about a minute, I got it to go in with 2 blocks. But the time bonus was 50s. So, I retried the level, putting the blocks back where they were originally. But I just couldn't get the ball in the hole again. I kept adjusting the angle by tiny amounts, but the ball would be too far left or too right, after just 3 bounces.
I think if they had instead made the time bonus based on how fast you got the ball in the whole after clicking start, it might be a lot more interesting. Then the goal would be getting the optimal placement, not rushing to get the pieces on the board.
Anyway, it has the potential to be fun, but it's not quite there yet to me.
kind of a fun game...got a bit frustrated after a while, but oh well.
Also, how do you get more keys?
Mano - Ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. Many people use the ratings as a weapon, not as an honest assessment of the quality of a game.
For example, I've noticed Mac users vote 1 on Windows-only games. And I'm sure those who hate all room escape games vote 1 on anything like it. Hardly fair or considerate to the developers.
Still, eventually the cream does rise to the top, which is why we keep the ratings system. Once a game receives a large number of votes, the rating generally becomes a fairly accurate indication of quality.
I liked this game a lot at first, but then I got to the point where I solved one of the levels, but I didn't make the key score. It took me a long time to come up with the solution though, so I figured if I tried again and did the same solution I'd get a big time bonus. Well... For some reason the same set up that worked before stopped working, and I couldn't get it to work again.
I think the problem is if you're slightly off with the initial angle of the ball it can cause radically different things to happen, especially when bouncers are involved.
I am going to write a negative analysis, so let me offset the analysis by saying that I really like the game. My analysis has to do with the review and with the point scoring system of the game.
I really have to disagree with your statement that
The point and advancement system takes a little getting used to but is ultimately fair
The point system is actually very skewed for the game model.
The game style is contraption based which demands time to figure out your very own rube goldberg. Very similar to the "Fantastic Contraption" game.
1) However, the point scoring is significantly based on time.
This means you have to play around with your setup, test it a few times to have it work, and then restart the level to run your setup with a shorter time.
... a real discourager for your player
2) The point scoring *deducts* for travel of the ball.
The point then becomes "shortest distance travelled"
Instead of "what crazy way can I get my ball into the hole?" which is what the game mechanics beg for.
3) Point scoring *adds* for not using pieces.
If the points are meant for ingenuity, then it should be weighted toward the extremes rather than just the fewest pieces used.
That is, more points for using *all* or *none*
The current scheme on encourages the user to play a normal putt-putt game and avoid actually using the pieces given.
How to solve all of this?
-Remove the timer... you want the player to think.
-give points for all or none piece usage to encourage both the simple trick and the rube goldberg
-Add points for ball travel rather than subtract. Its actually harder to make the ball go further and encourages the rubes.
Sorry, B-Cell, but you're way off base in terms of the scoring. Just because you have a contraption-based game, the goals don't have to immediately be oriented around Rube Goldberg devices. What's wrong with giving points for efficiency as opposed to waste?
I'm not going to criticize the rest of your post, simply because it's all based on the flawed premise that you should be building a Rube Goldberg device.
After achieving the #1 all-time score in the game, I think I can say that the scoring is fair to the extent that it allows you to easily move ahead. As for those of us that want to squeeze every point possible out of a puzzle, shortest-path point assignment makes for quite a harsh mistress. The time limit means that you need to be quick on your feet to recreate whatever setup you had before that seemed to work (but unless you're closely monitoring the number of pieces you used and distance traveled on your best run, you'll have to work within the time limit each time or just kind of hope for the best).
Trust me, there are so many possibilities in any given possible. The best advice I can give someone playing this game is to remind them that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you keep this in mind and STILL aren't looking for ways to make 90-degree turns, then let me say it again:
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Hint on beginner's "Z" map:
That giant "Z" in the map? That's just a matter of hitting a 90-degree turn and shooting straight down the middle! The path you're taking isn't a "Z", but something more like this (the periods are just there for spacing:
I should apologize for not communicating well. I agree that scoring should not be all about the rube. You make good points, and I agree with what you have said. Efficiency is a good goal and should absolutely be part of the system. I would like to see weighting towards both efficiency and complexity. I think this would encourage players to come back and play a second time. 1 play-through for efficiency and 1 play-through for complexity.
I know you disagree that the game is not about contraptions. I guess what I see is a dichotomy in the design. On one hand, the scoring is all about efficiency, but on the other, you have early levels like "Push Push" and "Exam" where I feel that extra blocks and extra zones on the screen (areas not in the straight line path) are just begging to be used. I saw this repeated in the other levels as well.
You mention playing and replaying a level "hoping for the best" and I saw this as a key frustration. It was also mentioned by OverZealous in his post. This timing & chance is the other element that I struggled with for the frustration/challenge. As a developer, I think that you want the player to be "challenged" instead of "frustrated". I see this as a fine line and likely one people will see differently. For me it was frustration and I would that the frustration was not there. :)
(BTW, good job on getting #1. I played to get the stars & golds on each level, but I am pretty sure you did much better than me.)
I agree that for those that want to do no more than casual play, you can definitely achieve the unlocks and at least play the levels. And, I agree that the dedicated players can focus on the efficiency and do very well as you aptly demonstrated. My overall point is the dichotomy & frustration, which I feel could be pretty easily removed and improve the overall attraction of the game.
Has anyone else gotten a glitch where all of the levels suddenly become unlocked and your name is "undefined" with all of your points as "undefined" as well?
It happened like this:
I started for the first time last night. My name was Ninjaz. I played 3-4 levels including the tutorial. Then I closed it out. (I dont know if me putting my laptop on hibernate, turning it on, then reseting it might have anything to do with it). The next day, I go to play again and the glitch happened.
Interesting game, not really anything groundbreaking.
The major problem with this game, and what to me just killed it and made me not want to play any more, is the awful physics model. Even on "hard" surfaces, the ball doesn't bounce correctly. It's neary impossible to plan your attack ahead of time. Angles don't make sense, the ball bounces weirdly and awkwardly. The game is nothing more than a laborious task of trial and error. Takes most of the fun out of it, at least for me.
I completely agree with you there. I think two types of play modes should be available, at least, with just different scoring methods being used. However, I think the point behind the longer route on any given map is to serve as A) a red-herring to those that know better and B) a means of completing the level for those that don't. It allows for differing levels of difficulty, but the stars won't be going to those that don't see or don't know how to use the absolute shortest paths available to them. If that doesn't shout "Play me!" to the casual gamer, then I don't know what does.
You take from the game what you put into it. If you think it's all a matter of pixel-hunting, then that's just all you're doing. For the majority of my playing, I was setting up different block arrangements. Sometimes it's better to get the ball setup in a path that you like and then work from that shot, rather than setup the course and try to get the ball to follow it. Also, as I played, I realized that what you think might be the VERY OBVIOUS optimal solution isn't. You can't break outside that mindset without picking up a few tricks through the levels, though. Once I found them, I made a couple of passes through the levels again, reapplying what I'd learned until I felt I maxed the scores out.
The hitch to any game that doesn't seek to replicate reality in its physics is to figure out what the physics of the game implies. While launching the ball at a wall may not mean it comes off the wall at the same angle, what does it mean?
I think there was one level where I obtained a fairly high score by firing the ball at a row of jelly squares to minimize the distance the ball had to travel. That's the point here...to discover the physics in this independent system and exploit the mechanics behind it.
A real eye opener for me...
was when I launched the ball at a corner of a ramp and the ball shot off in a 90-degree angle! That meant turning a corner didn't require a scoop, but just needed a box with a corner!
Some people may call me a fanboy for my defense of the game. I agree. I think, though, that I really like games that provide me with a challenge and something to heavily analyze. A 3rd-person shootemup with a ragdoll main character that jumps/moves around with w-a-s-d and aims/fires with the mouse is not challenging in and of itself. But when a level is laid out so that you have to use the physics of the realm to pass, that's where the challenge lies.
I will say this: the game is not for everyone :)
I love this game! I played it the last four days and it's great!
for all of you having problms with the angle:
don't try to get your cursor to close to the ball. you have to click the ball and then move the cursor to a specific point on the map e.g. a cross formed out of the lines on the field. with this method you don't have to hunt pixels - it may took a while but then you can easily rebuild your levels over and over
I'm glad i discovered Putt Base, it gave me a very nice time. (and also i made a new highscore^^)