Inofficial Feedback

As most should have seen by now, the games are not going to be rated by judges this year. I understand woogley’s decision on this, and I support it (even if I don’t like it). However, some people would like detailed feedback on their games instead of just anonymous voting, so I’m going to open this thread to give some detailed feedback for all games. I’ll have the next two weeks of and I wanted to take a close look at every game anyway, so this isn’t really any additional work.

Why should you be interested in the rantings of some random person you don’t even know?

You don’t. If you don’t like what I write, you are perfectly free to ignore this thread.

Who is this UlfJack guy anyway?

I’m a PhD student currently pursuing my PhD in northern germany, with occasional visits to the UK (where my wife-to-be does her PhD). I’ve studied computer science in Germany and the US. You can (or rather will be able to, cough cough) see my full vitae on my homepage:

I’m an avid gamer and have also written a couple of games of my own, ( and submitted a 4k game (aichess4k).

How’s the rating going to work?

I start every game with a short summary. Then I give marks in the three categories graphics, technical, and gameplay. Marks range from 1 to 4, with 1 = lacking, 2 = good, 3 = very good, 4 = exceptional. I also add points or take points off for other things. I also give a short explanation of every mark I give. If I encounter technical problems, I give a description below that. Technical problems usually do not influence (or rather I’ll try not to let them) the games marks, except if it makes the game unplayable, as noted.

As far as I have seen, the games this year are all very high quality. However, don’t expect to get full points in all three categories. It’s a 4k contest after all, and such a small game will have to make a tradeoff between the three categories.

What’s up? My game is noted as ‘doesn’t work’, but it works perfectly well!

Calm down. If you think your game should run on machine X with configuration Y, let me know. I’ll see if I can make it happen.

What’s up? I think my game should get another point for X!

Calm down. Make your case. If you convince me, I’ll give it another point. Remember, however, this is my personal rating, and I have the last word. If you don’t like it, feel free to ignore this thread.

Ready? Here we go!

The player controls jack, a stick figure, that has to reach the topmost level in a house of moving floors. Jack can jump from one floor to the next through holes in the floor. He can also fall through holes when they move underneath him. Jack can move left/right and jump.

This game doesn’t seem to work correctly here. I was able to jump up at a point where there was no hole in the floor. The top 4 layers have no holes at all. Furthermore, the game stopped after a while of playing and didn’t react to input anymore. Last, the text at the bottom is partially cut off (linux problem?). I’ll try to run it with Windows when I get to it.

The player controls a little spacecraft with the aim to shoot down an armada of attacking spaceships. Movement is left/right/up/down and fire. It reminds me of the old raptor game for DOS.

Category: shooter

Graphics: 4 the graphics are excellent for a 4k game Technical: 2 the game is well executed, but not exceptional; Gameplay: 2 it's well executed, but not exceptional Other: -1 for inaccurate collision detection Total: 7

Sometimes, shots do not hit enemy ships. Sometimes all enemy ships suddenly disappear, and new ones appear (by design?). After some playing, the game throws an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException.

SubPar is a downscrolling shooter with a focus on very nice graphics. It manages to squeeze (how many?) ten (?) different spaceship images into 4k, which is quite an achievement. However, this does not leave as much space for an involved game engine. Overall, it’s a very nice space shooter.

The player’s goal is to help tiny dots, the pixelmins, reach the goal through a level of obstacles. To do that, the player can set walls and ladders at certain points in the level. Game control is through the mouse and left clicking to select tiles and places to put them. The game reminds me of lemmings.

Category: puzzle

Graphics: 2 the graphics are simple geometric shapes Technical: 3 it has multiple styles of obstacles, ladders, water, stamps Gameplay: 3 the gameplay is challenging Other: -1 for technical problems (time below 0, unsolveable doesn't stop game) -1 it only has one level Total: 6

The top row is cut off under linux. The time can count below 0. The game doesn’t stop when the level is unsolveable due to loss of pixelmins. There seems to be only a single level.

Pixelmins is a lemmings clone in 4k. It features quite a number of different obstacles and compelling gameplay. On the downside, the graphics isn’t as good as in the original. Overall, it’s a very well executed lemmings clone.

The player controls a diver swimming through an underwater world with the goal of collecting (what is that?) donuts. Game control is left/right/up/down.

Category: collect

Graphics: 2 the graphics are good looking procedural graphics (except the diver) Technical: 3 procedural graphics are not easy to implement Gameplay: 3 the game is quite addictive Other: 1 loading screen -1 some donuts are impossible to collect Total: 8

The game sometimes crashes with ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException. The game controls seem too fast on my machine.

Abyssal Cave 4k is a collect game that features nice graphics through animated procedural graphics. It tops this technical feat with addictive gameplay. Overall, it’s very well done.

The player controls a helicopter that can shoot missiles (and does the whole time). Attacking enemies are helicopters and other elliptical objects that can both shoot missiles. Game control is left/right/up/down.

Category: shooter

Graphics: 3 the graphics are pretty good Technical: 3 the game is very well executed Gameplay: 2 the game is well executed Other: 1 for procedural background/smoke -1 for technical problems (see below) Total: 8

You can die when you killed the last enemy and a shot is still flying towards you. The ‘level finished’ screen comes up and you can’t steer the helicopter anymore.

Blackhaw4k is pretty cool. It combines gorgeous graphics with a very good game engine. The only downside (to me) is that the gameplay just isn’t as exciting as it could be - although I couldn’t say right now how to improve it. Overall, it’s a very coherent and well executed game.
I think the score is more like an 8.5 than an 8.

thank you for this volunteer work ulfjack. it is much appreciated :slight_smile:

Yes, Thank you for the volunteer work and thank you for commenting Abbysal Cave4k ! :slight_smile: you have cheer me up with that mark ;D

lol, I had to reduce some graphics and story because of the lack of time and space. They are suposed to be some kind of medical algae that you have to collect in the dangerous deep waters.

The diver was an experiment with monocrome images wich turned to be a little odd between all those procedural graphics. ::slight_smile:

Thank you again! I’ll keep an eye on the rest of your feedback

The new review is further down.

The player controls a volley ball player with the goal to get the ball back on the other side, which is controlled by the computer. Game controls are left/right.

Category: sports

Graphics: 2 the graphics are simple geometric shapes Technical: 2 the game engine is rather simple Gameplay: 1 the gameplay seems rather repetitive Other: 1 the gradients give the graphics more depths 1 ai opponent Total: 7

The window is resizable, but the graphics don’t adapt to the window size. Furthermore, under linux the score is partially cut off. There doesn’t seem to be a way to influence the ball’s direction (therefore only 1 point for gameplay).

vBall4k is a casual sports game - easy to grasp and easy to play - with rather nice graphics and well chosen gradients. Overall, it’s well executed, but lacks in the gameplay department.

In Cosmic Dodgeball, the player controls a … well … sphere-like vehicle with the goal of hitting the blue walls and avoiding the red ones. This is made more difficult by the fact that every time one hits a blue wall, another brownish sphere thing is put into the room. These are moving around and when they hit the vehicle, they can push it off-course - or towards the next blue wall if done right. Game controls are left/right/top/bottom. Game is over when the vehicle runs out of fuel.


Graphics: 1 the graphics are simple geometric shapes Technical: 2 the game engine is essentially just collision detection and response Gameplay: 4 see remarks Other: 1 resizing the window gives a bigger arena Total: 8


Behind the seemingly simple mechanics of Cosmic Dodgeball hides a game of considerable depth. You have to simultaneously avoid the brown spheres, get towards the blue walls, and use as little fuel as possible. It’s easy enough to start, but if you want to get to the really high scores, you better bring some patience. Overall, the simple graphics are more than made up for by the excellent gameplay.

Thanks for offering feed back on the games. You are to be commended for stepping in and making a positive contribution instead of just complaining and flaming as is happening in other threads. I enjoyed reading the comments on my VBall4k entry. Just thought I would point out that the direction of the ball can be controlled by moving the target spot before hitting the ball. This is controlled with the mouse not the left/right keys. In this way you can pass the ball and achieve a set up for a spike. Not quite sure how you were able to play the game if you were not using this feature. The speed of the ball is also controlled by the timeing of the hit. The higher the ball is hit the harder it will go. Thus let it fall low for a soft set or jump and hit it high for a hard spike.

Thanks once again.

great job with the reviews Ulf, still missing some of my fav 4k games this year :slight_smile: but good so far.

Woops! :-[ Please ignore my previous comments about Vball4k. I did not realize there was another vball game. Sorry for the confusion. Looking foward to the review of mine. But I guess I will need to wait a bit as it looks like you are reviewing in the order on the javaunlimited site and mine is very close to the end.

Keep up the good work.

About your comments in Road Fighter

Space to start and Escape to exit… (maybe you need to focus)
The controls are UP Accel, DOWN brake, LEFT & RIGHT steer.

I have to say that I thank for your comments about the others entries. Hope your idea gets followers. Maybe if I find time to try games I will post some ordered feedbak like yours.


UlfJack, this is fantastic. I support your decision to add these comments, and if I find the time I will join in and do the same. It’ll be some time, though, because I’ll not be home the next few days :slight_smile:

EDIT: Grammar.

In Scorch14_4k, the player (or players, as it has multiplayer support) control tanks that can shoot at each other. It’s a 4k take on the classical ‘scorched earth’ game. Game controls are left/right to aim and up/down to adjust the power. Additionally, the player can modify the map with his mouse before the game starts.

Category: shooter (round-based)

Graphics: 4 the graphics are very well done (antialiasing, background gradient, smooth ground, two different tanks, random maps) Technical: 2 the game engine is solid Gameplay: 2 gameplay is solid, but not particularly exciting Other: 1 ai opponent 1 multiplayer support 1 map editor 1 ingame menu with help text at top of window Total: 12

Tanks can fall below the lower edge of the window, at least on Windows XP.

Scorch14_4k is exceptionally well done with an amazing number of bells and whistles. However, the gameplay itself doesn’t knock my socks off. Overall, it is an extremely well executed scorch clone.

4kSudoku is a 4k java implementation of the popular sudoku game. To solve a sudoku, you have to enter numbers into a 9x9 field, such that every row and column contains every digit from 1-9 exactly once. Furthermore, the field is divided into 9 3x3 fields, which also have to contain every digit. Game controls are mouse move (and optionally click) and 1-9 keys.

Category: puzzle

Graphics: 1 simple lines and text Technical: 3 an integrated sudoku generator with multiple levels of difficulty Gameplay: 2 gameplay is solid Other: 1 funny text hints (sight into the abyss?) 1 bonus fields with chain bonus 1 toggle between mouse click and point to focus Total: 9

Typo “any where” should be “anywhere”. The hint text is cut off (text font here seems to be slightly larger than windows default). Window is resizable and outgame area is just gray - it should either make it not resizable or resize the game area in response. (I would have given an extra point for a resizable game area.)

4kSudoku is a nicely done sudoku implementation. The bonus field and bonus chaining make the game considerably more interesting than the normal version. Sudoku isn’t a game that distinguishes itself through excellent graphics, but that is made up by the additional bells and whistles. Overall, it’s very nicely done and quite addicting.

In Choppacide, the player controls a helicopter with the mission to rescue the inhabitants of a city that is invaded by aliens. The area is limited by a force field. Additionally, sentinals are flying around and occasionally shoot at the helicopter. Game controls are left/right/up/down for movement and space to shoot.

Category: shooter

Graphics: 1 simple geometric shapes Technical: 2 a simple collision detection engine Gameplay: 3 the rescue missions make the gameplay interesting Other: - Total: 6

Typo in game & game description “sentinal” should be “sentinel”. Another typo, missing colon and space in (e.g.) “sentinals7”. Also, the top is partially cut off under linux.

The gameplay is decidedly more interesting than in the other shooter games, however, the game could do with a bit more polish.

In 4k Penguins, the player controls a black penguin jumping from ice tile to ice tile collecting fish; a tile disappears when a penguin leaves it. The game progresses in turns against computer controlled penguins. The game is controlled by clicking on ice tiles.

Category: puzzle

Graphics: 3 the graphics are very well done (animated water, penguins) Technical: 2 the game engine is solid Gameplay: 3 the idea is funny and engaging Other: 1 ai opponents Total: 9

I have not encountered any problems.

4k Penguins is a fun and engaging game which is quite polished. It’s also easy to pick up. Overall, it’s very nicely done.