Mod tests and reviews

Jul 30, 2016 at 8:11 AM
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Hey, Hiino. I was wondering if you could do an in-depth review of Cold Core as it currently stands?
I'd appreciate it a lot if you did, and here's the link for the current version. (This one has some minor tweaks and the like that will be included within the next demo, which will add a new zone and the like. I didn't put this on the regular thread because I thought that it would just be better to wait it out.)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/il8g2egef0dnnu6/Cold Core Hiino.zip?dl=0
 
Aug 1, 2016 at 4:32 PM
The Preacher
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Sure, I'll be busy (again) this week, and I'm working on Tpcool's beta-test, so I'll try to be done by August 10th, 2016.

As a side note, I'm noticing that most people here ask for a review. I find this a bit curious, as other formats might have been more interesting for some of those mods.
 
Aug 29, 2016 at 6:24 PM
The Preacher
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I'll try to be done by August 10th, 2016.

lol
let's stop trying to predict completion dates from now on





Review - Cold Core (v3.hiino?) by Bionicobot


Unrelated to Cave Story, but still similar, Bionicobot's third mod is extremely short: Around five minutes of gameplay, two challenge maps and one boss. It is hard to form an opinion in such conditions, but let's judge what I can.


Assets

The mod presents itself with lots of original graphics, new songs, and a custom-made boss fight. Their quality is above average, and I especially like the new critter sprite.
However, the player character's sprite is a bit underwhelming. It's very tiny, and I don't feel like it fits the original Cave Story's graphic style, which this mod is still very similar to.
The customized intro and title screens (and title screen music) are a nice touch, as always.
I also really liked the boss music.

While not groundbreaking, these edits are on the right track; they look and sound pleasant but not overwhelming.

Score: 5.5/10


Story

Cold Core follows the story of some guy getting throw in some sort of facility by what seems like an alien, who then seals the entrance. This is a very vague premise, and some background might have been appreciated. However, the mod seems far from complete. I am confident that such plot elements will come in due time.
That said, I feel that the mystery in both the premise and the events (basically, the intro before the title screen and the encounter with the person (?) using the loudspeaker) is not romanticized enough; adding something (a dialogue in the shadows, more logs, etc) to cultivate the player's curiosity about the identity of the alien (?) or the facility guardian (?) might serve the mod.

There isn't much content in terms of story in this mod. What is there is too vague to be of importance. Developing that aspect further in the following areas of the game would be appreciated.

Score: 4/10


Game design

There is barely anything new in terms of game design in this mod. The only part that plays differently is the boss fight, but I will talk about it in "Difficulty and balance". Hence, I will not rate this category.

As a side-note, the 60FPS hack has been applied to the mod, which makes it feel a bit faster than usual. I'd consider this a good thing, as the game becomes more responsive and less floaty that way (not to mention faster-paced).​


Level design

The second challenge map contains lots of paths that are blocked off by force fields. Computers are standing behind the fields, allowing the player to deactivate them, thus opening a backtracking path.
This is good design indeed, although the lack of automatic saving forces the player to manually backtrack everytime in order to use the save point at the beginning of the level if they want the way to stay open after they die.
Related: there is a bonus health capsule somewhere inside the map. It cannot be opened without a key, which is dropped by the last critter of the map. Conveniently, there is a force field close to that critter, but alas, the health capsule is far away from that return path, forcing the player to explore a significant part of the map a second time in order to obtain it. Putting the health capsule closer to that force field would have been excellent.

Also, I can't go back up here without hurting myself.
I would understand preventing the character from going back, it's a design choice that may or may not be a good decision. I also understand putting a spike there if you're supposed to be able to come back up. But this is a situation where you can come back whenever you want, BUT you have to lose health to do so, without any justification.
Of course, it's not like you need to be able to go back, and later on you get to open a return path that allows you to backtrack. Still, this is a weird design choice.

Score: 7/10


Difficulty and balance

This is a very easy mod, although this is understable since only the first maps are implemented for now.
My experience playing the original Cave Story betrayed me, as bats deal more damage and are harder to kill than critters in this game. Nonetheless, I was faced with no real challenge, and reached the boss in a breeze.

The boss fight contains interesting ideas: there are three enemies, which are floating and aiming at the player, and the fight becomes harder the more bosses die, as the area becomes filled with generated mooks, until all bosses are killed. The problem is that a clever player will think of killing all bosses at the same time in order to avoid dealing with the mooks, as the bosses are very slow, predictable and easy to dodge.

Now, the rest of the mod isn't really that much harder than the boss; but what I expected would be a slight rise in difficulty turned out to be a downgrade instead, which is too bad given that this was the end of the mod.

Score: 4/10


Misc

My friend the softlock is here and stronger than ever. It's also VERY easy to find (I actually did it by mistake on my first playthrough): if you use the door when the green missiles attack you at the beginning of the game, the person behind the loudspeakers will not act again, and won't remove the force field that prevents the player from advancing. Worse, the player can save in that state, forcing them to restart the game from the beginning.
There are lots, LOTS of typos, repeating words, grammar mistakes, and the like.
Thanking yourself (in the readme) is kind of in bad taste, you should use the term "credits" instead, that's what it's for.
No version number, anywhere. You should consider adding one. It would help you, beta-testers, and players.
A Config.dat is included in the download, for no reason.
The error.log file shows an error upon starting (Cold Core\data\Loading.bmp,0) which might be related to the following point(s).
I have seen screenshots of the "official" third version. Mine does not have any facepics, and the background does not have those shiny yellow lights everywhere (as you may already have seen in the screenshot earlier). I'm not sure what's happening.
Maybe related: sometimes the inventory menu glitches out by quickly blinking.​


Conclusion

This extremely short but technically savvy mod shows appreciable level design and boss fight made from scratch. The storytelling is lacking, and there isn't really any challenge, but both of those points could change in the upcoming rest of the mod.

There isn't nearly enough content to be satisfied with this mod; however, I would like to see what Bionicobot could do on a larger-scale project. All in all, very mixed feelings.​


Overall score: 5/10


 
Last edited:
Sep 8, 2016 at 11:36 PM
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Hello, Hiino! I'm PonStefon, modding noob and forum lurker. I've been working on an off on a little project of mine for a little while now, and I'd like it if you could give what I got a quick test. Mainly what I'm looking for is opinions on the visual style and basic aspects of level design.
Regarding visual style, I'm going for a pointedly over-simple look. I'd like to know if you think this style works on a conceptual level, and if it doesn't whether you think I should tweak it or abandon it altogether.
On level design, I need to stress that I'm making this mod with some friends in mind, friends who've never played Cave Story. As such, there isn't much in the way of challenge. What I'm really looking for here is whether or not this intentionally easy early segment works as an introduction to the gameplay; I want to know if the level design teaches the player the basics of how to play the game adequately.
You can get the mod here.
One last thing I feel the need to say is that this mod is very incomplete. I only have 3-and-a-half-ish maps and a single enemy among them, and there are a couple of scripting and visual errors that I caught but didn't feel like fixing because I'd already uploaded the thing when I was typing this. That's why I only want a quick test; I want to know if I'm heading in the right direction before I continue this project.
 
Sep 13, 2016 at 11:34 PM
The Preacher
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You asked for a quick test, but seeing the state of your mod (literally a prototype) and the way you're talking about it (and what you're asking from me), I decided to do a prototype test instead. If you really did want a quick test, just ask me again and I'll do one.




Prototype test - Robot-Man by PonStefon

This mod showcases an original, minimalist art style very different from Cave Story, and seems to play like a metroidvania. Two things I am quite fond of, to be honest.


Art style

The graphics are very minimalist. Minimalism can be interesting despite the "lazy" feeling it often gives, and as far as I know, there aren't even that many CS mods going this way.
This mod's style, however, feels pretty bland, in that it lacks a distinct kind of uniqueness that would make it original and enjoyable. That is to say, it's really generic, and I believe you can totally do minimalist art without it looking generic.​


Metroidvania

This prototype seems to show signs of a metroidvania-like style of gameplay. This is very appreciable because I absolutely love this genre, and I don't think there are a lot of metroidvania CS mods. It's too bad (and strange) because CS' assets, its style and its gameplay are perfectly adapted to the vania aspect.
There isn't much to work on in this prototype, of course, but you seem to have grasped the main elements of modern metroidvania games (mostly, multiple closed paths that open with the right items). Vanias are hard to make, though, because your level design skills need to be on point. I'm not really sure where you're standing in that regard (again, what I'm seeing isn't enough), but just in case, may I advise you to read what I had to say about level design in my other reviews (or perhaps better, find resources online, see how the pros do it, or even take a course on the subject)? Don't forget backtracking and shortcuts!​


Also

I'm guessing you are aware of this and that it's only here because the mod is still in a prototype state. Still warning you just in case: regular CS-like assets like those sprites can't work with the art style you've otherwise chosen. This mod calls for 100% new and well-matched graphics.​


Conclusion (where I actually answer your questions)

Overly simplistic looks aren't inherently bad, but you gotta make your graphics look a little more unique than that.
This beginning doesn't really "teach" controls or anything (there's no tutorial or anything, how to move, how to interact with things, etc), but it can certainly help a new player get familiar with them. I'd say it's fine.
This prototype is still too short on content for me to draw anything more than this very short and vague opinion, but it still feels like one of the most potentially interesting CS mods I've played. So I'd say you're on the right track.

Keep on rolling!​


 
Nov 1, 2016 at 8:26 PM
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@Hiino Can you test my latest mod? It's a Halloween mod, rather short. I'd like a full review of it. You can find it here. Not many people have played it and I'd like to know how I did with it.
 
Mar 13, 2018 at 3:41 PM
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Hey Hiino.

I'm glad that you brought this thread up in the MAGCSL thread since I completely forgot this existed. I don't know if you've played Ordeal Pillar yet, but I would like to take you up on the thread's offer of a thorough review for the mod if you're still willing.

The mod can be found here.

Your reviews in general have been fairly well-detailed and of good quality, so it'd be awesome if you could give my passion project a go.
 
Mar 14, 2018 at 1:44 AM
The Preacher
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Jeez this has been dead for a long time now, I've been busy with life and then kinda forgot to keep this up and then I felt bad about not answering SuperJaws and I kinda dropped the whole thing.

Anyways thank you Seasons for reviving this. I'll make sure to keep both you and SuperJaws (if he's still interested) updated.
 
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