TumbleSeed Developer Admits The Game Is Probably Too Hard

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According to its own description, TumbleSeed is a "deceptively deep roguelike". But according to the developers, it's just straight up too hard - so much so that the company ignored review requests for the game because they knew what reception TumbleSeed would get.

If you haven't played TumbleSeed, it's basically a puzzler with cute monster pals where you tilt a seesaw-esque thing to move across the screen. It's funky and a bit weird, and you can see Heather play through the game below.

As you can see in the first twenty minutes of the game, TumbleSeed isn't as simple as it first seems. And Greg Wohlwend, one of the designers on TumbleSeed (who also worked on Threes), explained that it's been a problem - so much so that the studio has been ignoring review requests for the "last few weeks".

Wohlwend intimated that "influential press and streamers" had stopped enjoyed TumbleSeed after reaching a certain point, primarily because of the game's mechanics, or the challenges built around them.

It's a little heartbreaking, partially because TumbleSeed does try to do something different. And for the most part, the reception hasn't been especially savage. From the critic side of the equation, the game has a 79 aggregate score on MetaCritic. On Steam, the game has a 80% user rating - but it also only has 40 reviews, and the highest amount of concurrent players since launch is a measly 46.

It's a rough spot for a developer to be in: you have total faith and belief in the quality of what you've built, but the world around you doesn't seem to be giving the game the time needed to fully understand the machinations of what you've created. And in a world where there are thousands of games and little time to consume them all, it's a hard sell.

It's not yet finalised what exactly will happen to TumbleSeed, although the early indication is that either easier difficulties will be added, or modes will be implemented that introduce movement challenges later in the game.


    The main issue I've seen with it is the game's controls are wonky in that you don't have precise control over the seed and it can snowball quickly if you move too fast. When you combine that with aggressive enemies that chase you down until one of you is dead it means you need to move fast...but you can't move fast because the controls...See where I'm going?

    Hence I rate this game poorly. Any game with a bad control scheme where you fight the controls more than the enemies rates very poorly with me. It's also why I don't like Flinthook. I don't want to spend 10-15hrs playing just to get the hang of the controls and how the character moves.

    Hell, even Dark Souls (one of my favorite games of all time) has wonky, bad controls but not enough to put me off playing completely. To me that's why the game becomes so much easier in the 2nd half - because by then you've played enough that you've adjusted to the movement and timing.

    Many indie titles seem to suffer from this, without access to massive publisher testing. Look at the development of Darkest Dungeon, which spent several iterations designing exclusively to the the tastes of beta-testers and developers had already developed proficiency if not mastery of the systems over months to years of testing... making it utterly impenetrable to first-time-players. Brigador, Hyperlight Drifter, the same. Some players (and even devs!) apparently feel betrayed that the 'purity' of the experience might be sullied by giving people an easy mode option.

    Devs and sometimes even beta-testers spend so long on the game they get blinded to the fact that they've become one with the code, which utterly divorces them from the reality of what a first-time player learning curve should be. Sometimes they go down the wrong path and get defensive about it, "Making the game we want to play, not what the public wants," then wonder why they're languishing.

    Props to these guys for recognizing it.

      I heard Bridagor had tough controls at launch, but I assume they've mostly been corrected in the new release. Played for about 10 hours and it's a blast

        First couple months the dev was lamenting on various interviews that people weren't taking the time to get with the controls and 'master' it Dark Souls style. Brigador looks RIGHT up my alley, though... but I haven't been playing much PC lately due to all the crazy console launches this year. I do follow them on Steam, and in the last week or so they've had an update with easier difficulty modes and a TONNE of content. (Something like 30 new vehicles? New soundtracks, missions, etc.)

        Anyone who likes isometric mech shooty stuff should definitely give it a look.

      Your right on the money with your comments

      It's akin to an artist doing something so obscure and obtuse that they get upset when other people can't see their genius.

      Good assessment. I think this is something that Nintendo has mastered since the inception of the now legendary SMB 1-1 (though it could be argued that their games have comparatively fewer levels where they crank the difficulty on the mechanics they have created to their maximum.)

      I think the problem of the "purist" devs you mention is that they think of those necessary first few levels of reduced difficulty as "easy mode" as opposed to "learning". It's not simply a matter of dumbing down the mechanics for "n00bs", but rather of purposefuly creating increasingly difficult goals which demand of players to master a skill to a certain level or gain a deeper understanding of the game's more nuanced mechanics

    I bought the game... and enjoy the interesting mechanics... but yeah it's really hard. I've only made it to the second world twice and I understand it gets much harder after then.

    I gave it a good go, but then got drawn back to Has Been Heroes and haven't revisited Tumbleseed.

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