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I'd like to preface by saying that it is an honor to have my game featured on the front page. I'm really glad that Tom liked it. I started work on it when I first heard about the Stencyl Jam, and I'm pleased I was able to make a game like this in only a month. Huge thanks go out to those who provided my game's music, which allowed me to create the perfect mood for Fat Kid Falling Down Stairs, and also to the Party Skeleton for giving Jerry his lovable voice.
It seems that my game has received a considerable amount of low votes. Of course, if a person plays my game and concludes that, based on the game's merits and flaws, it deserves a score of only a two or a one or a zero, they have every right to vote accordingly, and perhaps even a responsibility to do so. However, based on several reviews on the game, it seems that many players failed to play the game. They failed so thoroughly that they could only come to the conclusion that the game was broken. The game isn't broken, of course; I've played it through several times, and each of my playtesters was able to complete it as well.
My conclusion: I need to work on my conveyance.
This is an issue that actually did come up during playtesting; one of my playtesters was unable to figure out the controls. And I will confess, they aren't entirely intuitive. In early versions, the Instructions option led to a manual, but I replaced it with an interactive tutorial mode, and believed that I had solved the problem.
Of course, not everybody bothers to look at the instructions.
In future game projects, I hope to avoid this kind of confusion, by one means or another. One option is the compulsory tutorial. If the instructions are built into the beginning of the game's first level, they're rather difficult to miss. For many game concepts, this works just fine, but I'm not a great fan of compulsory tutorials; in some cases they can strain the player's sense of immersion. In games with a strong focus on story, character or setting, it can be a problem.
I was raised on old-school games of the NES and SNES era, and for a lot of those games, it worked just fine to let the player learn by playing. These games had an advantage, though: the controllers only had a few buttons. We had 'A = Jump, B = Shoot' ingrained into our heads very early on. When you open a flash game on the internet, there's a lot of room for potential complication. You don't always know immediately if the game plays by keyboard or by mouse, or by some combination of the two. You don't always know which of the over 100 keys on your keyboard you need to push. This is information that a game should convey to the player before it starts trying to kill them.
If you have any insight on this matter, from the perspective of a developer or a player, please share your perspective in a comment