Start with 4 elements and mix them to discover new elements. As you progress you will need to buy more elements to keep exploring.
The game is mouse-only. Click on the options to select what you want to do.
Thanks a lot, mampee. Yeah, I know about the graphics. As I went through it, I had started to think that I should try to put at least some color (as you could see with the Pick Onions button) but I was too focused on trying to implement everything in to return and play with the colors. If I make a bigger, better version of the game (which I am looking at since it is something that I can get a few hours a week in with decent progress), I will most likely try to get an artist in with me to give the game at least a decent look.
Mhm. Ran out of money and quitted.
Why even have the money part in there? It is not like it improves gamplay.
The goal of your game is to make gold. You make it, by combining ingredients at random.
That is your main gameplay. Mixing at random.
Does this sound like a good and fun way to spend your time?
I could be. Maybe. Not for me tho.
Next time, try to think about what you would want to play. Think about how low it will take for somebody who knows nothing and is dumb as shit to play your game. Try to think as them and play as them. Then fix everything that does not work in that way. Because every gamer is different, but we are all pretty stupid.
Still, a good atempt for a game made in just about 48hours. Keep it up!
It had been countless hours since the alchemist had vanished into the lab. The local market in Lett, Tac, Mitota Acid and Clareo Acid had boomed, and the marketplace was now overflowing with enormous piles of onions.
But he had finally succeeded! After toiling in the lab for what seemed like an eternity, repeating the same basic formulae again and again in endless combinations, the alchemist could finally hold aloft the result of his exertions: A Magnum Opus of substance transformation recipes, and a small amount of the purest gold!
…or, in an alternate interpretation, I just spent several hours of my weekend, filling out the blanks in an Excel-sheet listing fictional materials, with 90% of that time being spent on repeating actions I'd already performed multiple times before :-)
So, to first answer your questions: Yes, I made it to the end. The included features are enough to reach gold, although I have some suggestions for additional "quality of life" features. And I used an Excel-sheet to keep track of which combinations I had already tried, and which of those were successful.
I liked the core concept of the game very much, i.e. combining elements to discover new elements, which in turn can be combined into even more new elements. I especially liked how you have taken the time to describe the reactions between the materials in detail. However, in its current state, I don't think that many players will complete the game. As mentioned, the game desperately needs some essential "quality of life" features. I will elaborate a bit on this in the following (I hope that you are not averse to walls of text ;-) )
In its current form, I don't think that the limited resource/shop mechanics mesh well with your core gameplay. Since the focus of the game is on experimentation/discovery, with 231 different combinations to explore, I think that the current "having to replenish materials, and wait for onions to grow" mechanic serves more as a barrier / slowdown to this core game loop, rather than enhancing it. Even if the player starts the game already knowing the "path" to the gold recipe, it takes almost 15 minutes to complete the game.
Out of these 231 combinations, only 23 are meaningful, i.e. moves the research forward by either discovering a new element, or by winning the game. Also, when an attempt is made, the materials are usually lost. And finally, losing an advanced element means that you have to spend time on rebuilding that element from more basic elements (using processes you have already discovered and followed previously), just to get back to the point where you can continue your research from the point where you left off.
This has the side-effect of making your progress slow down, the closer you get to your goal. In the worst case, where you guess the wrong element to combine with Pyrite Acid, you lose the equivalent of 49 basic elements, with a value of 220 gold, and not only do you have to buy these elements again, you also have to repeat 44 transformations (in the right order) which you have already mastered and performed previously. And if you take a systematic approach to solving the game, you will have repeated countless transformations already, before reaching this point. Right now, this literally make the research phase of the game take hours to complete.
In other words, right now the game has experimentation as its core mechanic, but punishes the player severely for experimenting :-)
For your post-jam version, my suggestion would be, that you abstract out the need to manually assemble previously discovered elements. If you decide to remove the "element quantity" mechanic, this will of course no longer be an issue. But if you keep the "element quantity" mechanic, a solution could be to allow the game to "auto-transmute" if you click on an element with a quantity of 0, and deduct the money automatically for extra base components which are needed for these transformations, if any. "Failing" an experiment will then still have a consequence, but it will purely be a resource loss.
Another suggestion, which would require a bit more work, would be to rework your lab-interface a bit, to remove the need for having to track your progress out-of-game. You could instead display it as a table/grid on the screen, with the columns and rows being labeled with the element names (for discovered elements) or "?" for elements to be discovered. And clicking the intersections (i.e. the table "cells") would mix the corresponding row-element with the corresponding column-element, and display the result. Much like the "Battleship" board game, this would allow the player to visualize his progress, and thereby make the discovery process more compelling, with more direct feedback about "hits" and "misses" in the combinations. And if you were so inclined, you could even build on top of this, by introducing and visualizing "patterns" of element interactions, allowing the player to make educated guesses about other "correct" combinations, from the hits and mises he has already encountered (i.e. changing your element combinations a bit, so they would visually have "shapes" like the ships in Battleships).
As for the resource management part, an alternative to removing it could be to expand upon it, so that it becomes more than a time-limiter: Perhaps unlocking specific materials unlock new shop-features or events (the side-effect of this would be that the player feel he is making progress continually, in addition to the "large" end-goal of reaching gold). It could also to be able to sell specific elements for a profit (to counteract the greater losses when guessing wrong with advanced elements). To be able to buy "hints" about where to focus your research (which could even be visually marked in the table overview somehow, if you implement that feature). Or even to be able to build "upgrades" to the lab, for instance less wasted materials when guessing wrongly (or a better green-house for faster growing onions :-D )
I'm impressed with the complexity of this game, considering it was made in only 48 hours. I hope that the above suggestions will be useful to you! And if you make a post-jam version, I'll definitely try it out!
will discover the secret.
But the path is long.
Wow, great review, @Somnium !
I played this game as well, but I didn't track my experiments, and the game doesn't list failed experiments in the recipe book - which is fine, but I think you do need to track everything somewhere, like @Somnium did!
I like that you can get "free gold" although it might require a lot of patience to experiment your way to gold if there indeed are 231 combinations! In the end I took a pause from the experimentation and looked at your page where I read the above comment and decided to quit :)
But yeah, that's a long game for a 48h compo, so well done there. And it is very appropriate for the theme. Perhaps the UI could be improved - I was already getting frustrated at scrolling up and down the list. Maybe I'm not just cut out for alchemy? :)
@KorbohneD: Thanks for the review. Sorry if my game frustrated you, I did my best. I have been looking into correcting the money part of the game as I do agree I half-assed it too much. I wanted to include it so the game didn't feel like a "Doodle God" too much but I guess it was too much for 48h. I will try to fix in further jams.
@Somnium: Wow, man! Thanks for the massive review. It will be kept in mind as I keep going. As for comments on your suggestions, I will be explaining further in the Post-Mortem (I have been pushing too far by now) what I planned to do about it. But if I had to push one thing further, it would have been adding more hints on recipes (like I did with the Termotik + Quicksilver).
PS: Mind if I steal that last quote? I love it.
@dollarone: Short and sweet review. You do hit on a couple of good point. I will have my work cut out for me to improve the Interface, especially that the entire game revolves around the place interfacing with a single type of UI. I probably should have put more time into it. If I can say one thing about the length of the game is that I tried my best to guess how long it would take but I missed the scale on the long side and it tipped way further than I evaluated.
Extra hints could definately make it easier to guess the later combinations. And for that matter, alternate versions of the "didn't work" text could bring some variety to the many failing combinations.
Your Post Mortem roadmap looks good. I'm looking forward to playing the improved version!
And sure, I wrote the Haiku specifically for your game, so feel free to use it!
Everything I intended to say has already been said (especially the GUI issues, one of my favorite topics). Challenge hasn't been mentioned too much though.
There is none at the moment. This is an excercise in pure patience, spend time and you will get it guaranteed! No problem solving skills required, just memorization and trial and error. This is not for me then.
Here's an idea. Keep the quest for the magnum opus as the main goal, but to get there you need to earn money by creating substances and artifacts that people want to buy (the onion farm is cute, but meh). Waste too many resources or sell the wrong products to the wrong customers and you'll be a gonner, bankrupt.
A segmented turn order would work well here. Spend most of the day at the shop mixing things for the customers and then some time afterwards trying to make gold! Or spend more time on gold and risk losing customers. Memorization would still be advantageous when playing again, but even that could be removed by randomizing all or some of the combinations.
A wildly different project this, of course. Just something that popped into my mind.
10 for effort (too bad it isn't a rating category), other aspects not that great.
O 5, G -, A -, G 3, O 3, T 8