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Tobias
7142 48 89

MARDEK Android Open Beta! (EDIT 1)

Posted by A Tobias 2 years ago
...Moments after writing that other post, the Google Play link has suddenly become operational, meaning that I can finally do a mobile beta version! Gasp! If you have an Android device and want to be a part of this, then please keep reading!

Register as a beta tester

To be recognised as a beta tester, you'll have to join a Google Group thing I've made for this purpose; you can do that here:

∞ MARDEK Beta Google Group ∞

I only did that because it was necessary! It's set up like a forum, but I'd rather handle feedback here.

Acquire the app!

If you've joined that Google group, you'll be able to download and install the game from this link:

∞ MARDEK in the App Store! ∞

I can't seem to find it when I check the Google Play Store on my actual mobile device, so I had to view that in my browser and install it to my device from there.

Bug finding


4th of August update - you needn't worry about the Adobe Scout thing now. It's no longer needed!

There are currently critical bugs in the game that make it suddenly crash or become otherwise unplayable seemingly at random; like you'll be half way through episode 2, and then suddenly the menu won't open anymore. Restarting fixes it, but obviously I'll need to find the exact cause so then I can prevent it from happening in the first place!

And you can help with that! There's a (free) program called ∞ Adobe Scout ∞ which basically analyses what's going on in the game and records the causes of any problems in its log, which you can copy and paste to me so then I know what's going on.

You need to download it for both your PC and your phone for it to have any effect though, I think. The PC version shows a graph which details the current performance, while the mobile version basically just serves as a link between the two. I've linked to the PC version, but you'll need to find the mobile version in the app store yourself; search for 'Adobe Scout', and it should come up.

You should get and install the desktop version first. With that open, you'll need to get the mobile version, and tell it to detect other instances of Scout on the same wireless network. For whatever reason, my versions can't seem to connect to one another, meaning I'm not able to monitor what's going on in the mobile version, which is why I'm hoping other people might have better success with it.

With both versions of Scout up and running, start playing MARDEK! If you encounter any game-breaking problems, go to the desktop version of Scout, make sure you're looking at the graph thing for MARDEK (there'll be a list of everything it's monitoring in the lower left; you'll have to select the one called "*MARDEK" which is the LOWEST in the list; there might be multiple if you've restarted the game), and then go to File - Save. You'll need to send me the .flm file that it saved, somehow; it might be possible to add it as an attachment to posts in that Google Group, but if not you can probably send it to me as an email attachment; I'm tobias@alorafane.com.

I know this is a fairly complicated thing to ask, but I just hope that at least one person is willing to do it!

Known Issues

I'll keep a list of the bugs, missing features, etc that I'm already aware of here, and I'll update it as they're fixed (which they hopefully will be).

- There seem to be issues with saving for some reason. I don't know why; it worked alright in the development version. You should be able to log in to a cloud service from the title screen, which allows you to access your saves from anywhere, but in theory you shouldn't need to log in at all; it should store your saves even if you don't. And even if you do log in, that might not work?? Odd; I'll have to look into this.

- Deugan's 'walking' animations during 'battles' are buggy!

- The icon's unusually small for some odd reason. Weird!

- Currently there's no easy way to quit the game; pressing the Back button does nothing, so I have to press and hold the middle button and end the process manually. I'll need to work on this.

- If you switch to another app, minimise the game, or the screen goes off (this is called 'context loss'), many graphics might be corrupted or missing when you return to the game. They should restore themselves when you open or close the menu or move to a new area or something, but it's a bother, and something I still need to fix.

- Sometimes the menu doesn't open, and when you tap the screen, a bunch of blue dots appear instead. I don't know what causes this, and it's one of the things the Scout data would really help with.

- Sometimes a conversation or 'battle' is supposed to start but doesn't, or it just stops abruptly, or some similar thing. This is something else I'll need Scout data to understand.

- There's a scene where Mardek meets Rohoph in episode 2, after which some characters seem to disappear; again I don't know why, and it only seems to happen sometimes. This happens in the browser version too, it seems, so I might be able to track it down myself.

I'll add more to this section when they're reported to me!

Also, your thoughts!

If you do play this version of MARDEK, I'd love to hear what you think and feel about it!! Specific details you liked, didn't like, bits you feel could have been done differently, irritations, bits you were particularly interested by, and so on. How do you feel about the characters? Was it an enjoyable experience? That kind of thing. This is really my last chance to fix things before the proper release, so I'd really be able to use feedback in order to do that!

Now!

I'm going to play through the whole thing myself for the billionth time now, looking for issues and little bits I could change. It's exciting to be making progress at long last, and thank you for your patience getting to this point!
89
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48 Comments

16 United States
dgieedelman
0
Im trying to join the google group to start beta testing but im been pending for approval for a few days. Well maybe i check next week. I'd really like to see how the reboot turned out.
16 Netherlands ESTJ CSA MelancholicCholeric
Elias
0
It's a bummer that you've waited so long. Maybe try to contact Tobias via a PM?
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
0
Oh, sorry, I've not checked that in a while since the number of applicants seemed to have died down. I wonder if you'll provide feedback, though; most of the people who said they would didn't.
16 United States
dgieedelman
1
I recently just completed both chapters so I will tell you how i feel.
Cant think of any major things that are bad.
The battle system is very interesting (if a bit confusing to keep track of all of it at once, but I'm sure i'll get used to it)
Now some small issues i had
When trying to get input the poem fragments the bottom most one (when i had lots of them) would not respond all the time.
And it was really annoying that if you accidently picked one you already knew you put the right one in you could not back out. (you know the top one is correct and then you hit it and need to put them all in again since you cant go back to the line select area)
Since its supposed to be haikus you might want the 7 syllable fragments only viewable when clicking the center one (for less overload of choice)
But those are just small nitpicks
I really hope to see how it all turns out
19 United States INFP PhlegmaticCholeric
Will
0
I just applied for beta tester, and I'll make sure I provide feedback if you accept my application. (I don't know if it was suppose to be long, so if it was, I apologize in advance.)
24 Israel
ReesanVaine
0
Edit: Ignore this post.
24 Israel
ReesanVaine
0
I don't know if it's just me. but the game looks rather... uhm... awkward in the resolution of QHD (1440x2560). Otherwise. the game is fairly interesting. although for some reason it hides my virtual keys. so I have to turn off and on to get back to my normal screen!


It made me think though: What does summoning do? otherwise than small damage? It's rather confusing without explainations!!1
31 United Kingdom ENTJ scoaI SanguinePhlegmatic
DarkDisciple
0
ReesanVaine said:

What does summoning do? otherwise than small damage?


I think the damage is all. However, it needn't be small.

Depending on which miasmon you summon (its element and rune) and whether the miasmon you target aligns with that, and maybe if you get the reaction right, I think it can be quite effective.
24 Israel
ReesanVaine
0
Hm. I understand now. Thank you. Dark.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
0
Could you send me a screenshot of that resolution? I suspect it may be because the game scales according to a hard-coded table of resolutions which doesn't go that high, though a screenshot would allow me to confirm and fix this.
24 Israel
ReesanVaine
0
I don't really understand how to do a screenshot with the LG G4. I would in the moment I can do a screenshot.
23 United States INFP MelancholicPhlegmatic
UndefinedSnail
2
I applied to the beta testing group a few days ago, but only today did I actually find time to figure out the Scout thing so I could play the game... The saved file from the Scout data seems to be abnormally huge, though; for some reason it’s over 300 MB. Is that because of how long I recorded data? I don’t know and I can’t see an easy way to transfer a file that large... I've only played the first game so far, but I thunk a lot of thoughts while playing it, so I'd better write them down now.

I think I'll start by listing the things I really loved about the game! Because then that will make my later criticisms seem all the more devastating, surely. ;-;

First of all, the art style! Somehow, though I got a good look at it in the youtube trailer, it looks several times better in the game itself. It's been interesting seeing how you've integrated pixelated graphics into your games over the years, and this game has perfected the "modern pixelated" look, in my opinion. It's simple where it needs to be, but has just the right level of detail in the talksprites and though it's a clear callback to pixelated games, it doesn't look like something that could have been made back when pixels were the only thing available. I guess one could compare it to something like Shovel Knight, which I loved for feeling retro but still playing as smoothly and looking as good as a modern game.

Then there’s the music, which. I mean. I thought I really liked the music in old MARDEK, but this game’s music really blows that out of the water! Much like the graphics, I didn’t take much note of the music when I watched the trailer for some reason, but it really stands out in the game, and I hope you aren’t going to simply put the soundtrack for new MARDEK on youtube, because I think you could easily sell it separately as an OST. The thing I like most about the it is that while it still has all the qualities that make it recognizable as “your” music, it also speaks volumes about how far you’ve come as a composer in these past few years. This is also coming from me, a total music plebian, so if even I can tell how much you’ve improved from this game, I think it means there’s quite an impressive difference!

I also loved the level of detail and depth in the whole game, from the humorous comments that show up when you examine something to the wonderful characterization that made Mardek and Deugan’s parents seem like fully fleshed out characters even after the scant few minutes of screentime they got in chapter 1. Old MARDEK’s style of making small or irrelevant details into fourth wall breaking jokes was great, and I loved it, but I love this style of putting depth into everything even more. Plus, it seems there are still plenty of jokes to go around, which brings me to my next point.

Humor, of course, is a big factor in every game of yours (that I’ve ever played, at least), and I used to be worried that new MARDEK would be too serious and have no time for boob jokes or the abstract humor I’d come to love, which really seems silly now that I’ve tried the game! Of course, humor is still an element, and it’s just as good as I remember. I feel that this game has shifted a bit away from absurdity and towards subtlety in its humor compared to previous ones (it’s still barely subtle at all, though, which is probably good), and I feel that the change adds a sense of maturity to the humor. I was giggling sporadically all the while I played episode 1, but the jokes never detracted from the seriousness of the plot or made any of the characters seem less deep; in fact, it was just the opposite. A lot of the jokes helped develop the characters, which adds to my enjoyment of both!

Finally, maybe this shouldn’t really be its own bullet point, but the worldmap! ∞ LINK ∞ Look at it! I love it! Beautiful!!

I could probably go into even more detail on these things if it weren’t approaching 4 AM for me as of the time of my writing this, but I feel I should move on to comment on the specifics of the game mechanics. I have a lot of comments and I’m afraid they’ll overlap and blur into one another, so I’ll organize them a little based on how they cluster together in my mind, or something.

Text:

The standard font is easy enough to read, but it looks a bit distorted because the entire game is scaled up to fit the phone's screen. It is a tad on the small side on my phone's screen, too. I assume fixing either of those things would require a complete redesign of the game's UI or something, which sounds pretty time consuming.

The font used by the "gods" made a few uncommon words (“whiffling” and “tulgey,” anyone?) really tricky to read, and I can imagine certain people (for example, anybody with dyslexia) struggling to read it at all, which would make the game almost inaccessible once the "gods" start getting longer conversations and such. You could add an option to switch instances of the fancy font to the same one used everywhere else (perhaps still distinguished by a glowing effect?). That might seem like it'd ruin the intended experience of the game or something... But I think accessibility options like this can make quite a difference to people who otherwise wouldn't get to experience the game at all!

Controls/Interface:

I think I've seen an unnecessary number of criticisms for the controls on the comments I've read. I thought they were great! The fact that the D-pad appears wherever you tap is very intuitive, and I also appreciate that it doesn't matter where on the screen you tap to advance dialogue and open doors and such. Ah, but I did feel like the D-pad controls were a bit too sensitive. I kept walking past one space wide corridors by accident, and running when I was trying to walk… I think I would appreciate it if there was a bit more leeway for how far you move your finger from the center of the D-pad before you start to run.

I was never confused about where I should tap in the menus or in battle, though maybe I would have been confused by not being able to tap the monsters' sprites in battle if I hadn't read about it in these comments beforehand? In order to prevent any possible confusion, though, you could make a little tooltip appear the first time players encounter doors and/or in the first battle, perhaps a little icon of a hand tapping the screen or something?

About the menus, though, I did find the icons rather hard to tap accurately with my fingers, and I switched to using a stylus within a few minutes. I'd imagine trying to play the game while riding the bus or something would be rather annoying, and people do love to play mobile games while away from home. Somehow making the icons in battles and menus bigger and/or easier to tap seems important.

Additionally, there are some places where I didn’t appreciate needing to double tap something to use/select it, like the chat menu. It was great in the menus so I didn’t equip a monster by accident, but it was just annoying having to tap in the chat menu twice to talk to somebody.

Tutorial/Combat:

The first battle was something of an infodump, as others have said, but I actually found the mechanics really intuitive once I actually started just using skills and seeing which elements of the UI they affected. It's hard to say exactly how to improve the tutorial, and I know you've already started working on it, but it seems to me that if you want *maximum accessibility*, the thing to do would be to remove all random elements from the first battle and guide the player through it by forcing them to take certain actions and then explaining the effects of those actions, and so on. That way everything that happens in the first battle is "fixed" and players are just supposed to click/tap where you tell them and observe what happens so that they can understand the mechanics when they play "for real" in the random battles.

Another thing you could try is highlighting/focusing on certain elements of the UI as Deugan explains them, so that you can be certain the players know exactly what you mean by "rapport bar" and "runes" and such. I seem to recall Pokemon Firered/Leafgreen doing something like this in the first battle, if you want an example to refer to. This might be better than making the first battle “fixed” since MARDEK seems to be one of those games that sound really complicated when you explain them in words, but are fairly intuitive and easy to play once you just try things... So doing this might provide a visual explanation to help people understand faster, while letting them figure out the battle system on their own by letting them keep control.

Something that did confuse me a bit was that there was no introduction to or explanation of sentiments in episode 1, so I was sort of just guessing when it came to strengths and weaknesses, but I assume that will be explained in the second episode.

Oh, and I seem to recall reading at least one comment saying the Evil God was too hard a boss fight for the first chapter, but I didn’t have any trouble at all with it! It was good to see how longer battles play out, so as to not be surprised by a “real” boss later and not know how to manage things.

Glitches:

I didn't encounter any major bugs that weren't already noted on the blog post, just one little thing about the sprites overlapping. I only noticed this once we entered the Nexus, but when Mardek and Enki were walking up, Mardek's sprite would appear "through" or "on top of" Enki's every few frames. (Once I started paying attention, it seems to happen everywhere.)

Also, though this isn't a "glitch," the blog post says that the app's icon looks unusually small, but it looks completely fine to me! ∞ LINK ∞ Maybe that's just because it had already been fixed by the time I got the app, though?

To wrap things up, I enjoyed the content of episode 1 immensely, and I’m looking forward to playing the second one once I get some sleep. Mechanically, though, it looks and feels more like a flash game that was ported to mobile than a game that was designed for mobile from the start. Fixing the bugs related to crashing and saving probably won’t be enough to make the game “feel” completely like a mobile game, either, which I doubt is something fun to hear. I’m just saying how I feel about it, though, and the success of the game on mobile platforms might not depend much on details like the text not looking as crisp as it would at native resolution, things that bother me but seem to go unnoticed by most people.

So it's probably just me being picky when I say it "looks like a port" and it's really nothing to worry about. I do wish for the best when it comes to the success of the game across all platforms!
21 Netherlands INTP LII 5w4 rcUeI
BunaDomesticus
0
I have now finished the second chapter, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
It did take a while to get there though. It seems the blue dots bug has a high chance of happening after completing a "poem fight". The third time that it happened in the second chapter for me, it was after I got the last poem, so after restarting that time I decided to just ignore all the chests and skip all random encounters, and i went through it quite smoothly and quickly. From what I can tell it seems like the blue dot bug tends to happen primarily after battles and it always makes the game completely unresponsive and require a full restart.
I am considering installing the bug report software, but I'm not sure if I could get it to work considering that it works with devices on the same network. My phone is currently functioning as a wi-fi receiver, so my devices aren't directly connected to the same network. But maybe it would still work? I honestly don't know.

Deugan was adorable, definitely very different from the Deugan in the original Mardek games. And all the characters have so much personality to them! Even Steele seemed to have some. I'm quite excited to see Emeela and how all of their personalities will develop.
The gods were very amusing. Also, do I gather correctly that they gather their power from people believing in them, so just like the Discworld gods of Terry Prachett?

I liked the special versions of Miasmon that you could gather from collecting the poems. It seems to just be a visual thing though, as far as I can tell? It makes me want to equip them in the mind slot only, since then I can actually summon and admire them.

Another thing is that random encounters seem very redundant considering you only need a few of each Miasmon at most and you don't get anything else out of them. Of course you can easily skip them, but it still feels like the amount of random encounters is too high to me for something that gives so little benefit and doesn't add to the story. I did like the way that a fight can add to the story though, like it did with the anxiety beast that came after Deugan. I can imagine more of this sort of symbolism in fights, possibly with a less obvious strategy that requires some thinking. I could see myself really enjoying that.

One last thing... Someone mentioned a reaction window of some sort and the screen turning all blue. I did not come across this at all. In the original Mardek games, the reactions were quite obvious to me, but I have not seen any sign of them in this one, nor have I figured out how to do them. Is this a problem with the game or am I just missing something?
31 United Kingdom ENTJ scoaI SanguinePhlegmatic
DarkDisciple
1
Just to answer your one last thing (it's morning again for me and I'm on the run): That puzzled me too, the equipment slots mentioning reactions even though I didn't spot any. I got my answer from the help menu:

When you attack with a tameling, or are attacked when you have one close to your heart, you get to have a reaction, i.e. a darkish puff of smoke with an exclamation mark which is shortly visible (when you know when to look for it, you will easily notice it). Tap, and voilà.

I remember reading the suggestion somewhere that reactions were quite easy, and they probably are when comparing them to those used in a shooter, or when you just have good reflexes or something. Just saying though, I did miss a few reactions, so at least I did not find them completely trivial.
21 Netherlands INTP LII 5w4 rcUeI
BunaDomesticus
0
I've started up the game again and this indeed seems to be true. I can do reactions now, yay! So the "offensive" reactions only work when summoning them then... I wonder why that is. Considering most of the active skills simply boost effectiveness by a percentage, that also makes me wonder if monster summons have different base power values? This seems to be the case for skills, as Deugan's fret consistently seems to build very little rapport even with grave and excited targets. Monster summons in the first chapter also seemed to consistently build very little. There doesn't seem to be a way to view these values though other than trying everything out...
31 United Kingdom ENTJ scoaI SanguinePhlegmatic
DarkDisciple
1
I have no idea whether there are different base values, though I think at least strong differences might go against the basic idea that there is no better or worse, you just have to find the tool that's attuned to whoever you're facing? Deugan maybe just has different runes from most monsters encountered in the beginning -- indeed, in lvl 2 (which I still haven't completed yet), I had a battle where his was one of the strongest moves.

But this is all just very vague speculation of course. I'll stay silent now and let those with more insight speak.
31 United Kingdom ENTJ scoaI SanguinePhlegmatic
DarkDisciple
2
I've only come to the party yesterday evening and thus only played chapter one, but I have to say: I love love love it!

I love the dialogue between Mardek and Deu-...er, Enki and its excellent balance of explanation and comedy. I love the fantasy play within the game element (of course also present in part one of the original series) so masterfully presented, first hinted, then more and more confirmed and at least made explicit.

I thought the tutorial integrated really really well, and with its help, everything was easy and fun to figure out. (Maybe one or two words about the movement mechanics could be said - it's an excellent way to steer walking, but did not know it and spent quite a long time tapping the location where I wanted to go and wondering why I didn't move.)

I also love the new encounter system, and liked how Deu- ... er, Enki explained it and their skills -- both informative and entertaining.

I can't wait to get started on Episode 2 (though I have to, as I have to go to work now).
27 Finland INTJ ILE ARI MelancholicSanguine
MittenO
0
Played some of chapter two. All the NPC:s are delightful. I especially loved how the mum purposefully lampooned RPG mum tropes. She felt so ... sentient.

On my phone, pressing the back button always immeditely exits the game. Here are some suggestions for what it could do:

* If a menu is open, close it

* If a non-plot conversation is open, close it. It is annoying for the action that gets you out of the conversation (tapping) be the same action that opens the converstation so that if you try to scroll through the text, you may accidentally start it over again. I have this problem with old FF:s, too.

* If no menu is open, show a pause screen. (This would be a good place for the quicksave functionality I mentioned before, allowing you a transient save at any time)

* If the pause screen is open, exit the game
19 United States ENFP EIE 479 SpSo SLUAI AIE SanguineMelancholic
Phi01
1
I absolutely loved the Beta. Everything about it was amazing, really, and I didn't really see TOO many bugs or issues on my playthrough. HOWEVER, there was one major issue, in that the save system would not work. If this has already been reported, then sorry, but Redundancy is better than an unreported issue, right?
18 Poland ESTP LSE 1w9 SxSo RES CholericPhlegmatic
Popcioslav
0
So far I cannot even install the thing because Google Play hates me.
18 Poland ESTP LSE 1w9 SxSo RES CholericPhlegmatic
Popcioslav
0
It writes
"You haven't accessed the Google Play Store app (the white shopping bag icon) on your device with this email account."

But I did -.-
21 United States INFP SEI 629 SpSo RCOAN RSA PhlegmaticSanguine
Mesiagamer
1
I don't think that I can help with the beta test I'm trying to download it through Google chrome on my laptop but it says that the url is not available. If it's just that it won't work trying to use laptop or desktop to play it that's fine I try to use my phone instead.