Download And Play Vertex Dispenser Demo

By Jim Rossignol on June 16th, 2011 at 11:46 am.

Currently I’m writing something about how much I like Vertex Dispenser (as well as offering a couple of criticisms). But I’ve just realised that it will be much easier for people to join in and/or ask questions in the comments that follow if they’ve played the demo. The demo is on Steam. The game is a fairly complex action puzzler that you will probably enjoy. The download is tiny. Play it.


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  1. westyfield says:


    • westyfield says:

      Hmm, it’s rather lovely. Not sure about having move forwards and fire on the same key, especially when you have to be careful about which vertices you capture if you want to get ‘higher’ colours. Quite nice, though I’m terrible at it.

    • Wunce says:

      I completely agree with move and shoot being on the same button, but my other issue with pressing the same key 30 times a minute can be resolved as easily.
      I found the game had some great concepts but it was way to hard to manage when a bunch of enemies are tearing down everything you make. Maybe I’d get into it if the difficulty meter made an observable difference.

    • brog says:

      Wunce: Try holding down a key rather than pressing it repeatedly.

  2. Armante says:

    umm. No, didn’t like it. Maybe I’m just too tired but I didn’t get into that. Idea seems interesting, but my fingers didn’t keep up with what my brain was trying to do.

  3. Terry Cavanagh says:

    This game is super cool. Still trying to get my head around node colouring!

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Tried this back at the weekend or so, didn’t care for it. The controls are horrible, especially the unpredictable the way the ship will rotate when reaching a boundary, and while I realise the 3D third-person camera allows them to make topologically funky maps like spheres and toroids, it completely throws my ability to get a proper sense of place to do any of the higher-level thinky-stuff required for the colour tricks—for that a plain old non-rotating top-down 2D view would be way better.

    Basically I might have liked this if it was the early ’90s and made of early ’90s technology (it strikes me as something I’d have fond memories of if it were a 2D puzzler on the Atari ST—or even spend a distracted afternoon playing it as a ad-supported Flash game) but right now it’s simultaneously kind of shallow and kind of overcomplicated by the 3D era. Oh, and way too frantic for something so fiddly.

  5. Hexanol says:

    It feels like there’s tension between the puzzle aspect of farming high-quality vertices and the action aspect of growing your territory in the face of the enemy. It’s also nigh-impossible to think strategically when you can’t see 80% of the map. Having to activate each edge to claim a triangle is a bit taxing, too.

    I like the innovation here, but I feel it could have been realised better with a different interface- why not more standard click-based interaction, rather than confining the player to a single respawning agent, and then giving them AI allies?

    • LionsPhil says:

      There are AI allies in some of the demo maps, but they pretty much act as as bots in a team deathmatch game, going off and doing their own thing, making you question how much you ultimately contributed to victory (or how much they let you down in defeat).

      Also, yes, having to touch each edge is a pain in the everything. I was expecting something Painter-like where any bounded area would be claimed (and vulnerable to disruption if not segmented!), or implicit edge formation from claimed verticies once I got that they (and their colours) were the important part.

  6. Chris D says:

    It’s certainly a clever concept. I’m not entirely sure it’s fun, though. I think the issue is that the design is based around a positive feedback loop: Gain vertices you grow more powerful, lose them and you become weedier. That’s never an easy thing to balance. I suspect games are won or lost in the first minute.

    At the moment it feels really unforgiving to try to learn the game. I want to like it but it feels to frustrating right now. I’ll give it another try later and see if I warm to it.

    What’s that? Turn the difficulty level down? But I am a man! You’ll be having me ask strangers for directions next!

    • brog says:

      It’s a worthwhile criticism, but there are factors balancing the feedback loop. There are diminishing returns from having more vertices, and the vertex colours mean that it’s not all about having more – you can be in a stronger position with fewer vertices but better colours. When the teams have a relatively similar skill level, there tends to be a phase of expansion followed by relative stability, until one team can get the advantage, at which point the feedback loop helps drive the match to a conclusion. (With very unequal teams, certainly games can be won or lost in the first minute – I don’t see this as a bad thing.)
      So to your first point, basically: trust me for now, get back to me about balance once you’ve played more.

      To your second point: how is it unforgiving? Any suggestions for making it less so?

  7. Chris D says:

    This was supposed to be a reply to Brog

    Ah, you’re the developer. Firstly, congratulations on a really interesting concept. I think it has a lot of potential, just not convinced it’s quite there yet. These are very much first impressions, a more in depth repsonse will have to wait a while yet.

    I think my second point is linked to my first, once you start losing you’ll probably keep losing. I take your point about reaching a stable state, but while that may work once you know the game it doesn’t really give you any breathing space to learn how to play in the first place. Now this is something which is also common in most competitive RTS’s, but that’s also a very love it or hate it genre. Perhaps also worth noting that most of them use different mechanics for single player campaigns.

    My problem, and I’m mostly basing this on my experience with the final level, was that for a while I’d be travelling around taking territory, blowing stuff up, thinking I was doing all right, but then I’d notice that I was in less control of the board.The other team was taking territory faster than I was and there was no real indication of what I should have done better to prevent it. Probably the circular level design didn’t help it. There was no obvious point of strategic importance, no way to see where I should be concentrating my efforts. A loss is always easier to cope with if you can tell why you lost, but here it was just a sense of being overwhelmed. Again, these are just first impressions but if you’re trying to sell a game from a demo then first impressions are important.

    I think maybe a more indepth tutorial might help. At the moment it introduces the game mechanics quite nicely but doesn’t really give any indication as to strategy. If you gave a few basic tips that might help the player to get more of a feel for what they should be trying to do. Perhaps also a few more battles on flat maps first, so you can get used to fighting with a definite front line rather than threats on all sides. Maybe also don’t throw the player in against a whole opposing team quite so early, flatten the learning curve a bit more.

    Can I also ask why you went for the keyboard interface. At the moment it’s press left or right to rotate and then up to move/shoot. If you were using mouse control you could do all of that in one click, which would make it quite a bit less fiddly considering how often you have to repeat that sequence. IS that something you had already considered and decided against?

    It feels like a really interesting design but it’s just getting a bit lost at the moment but perhaps just a little but more polishing could make it really stand out.

    • LionsPhil says:

      At the moment it introduces the game mechanics quite nicely but doesn’t really give any indication as to strategy.

      This is a very good point. When I beat the last demo level it felt more that I did it through spamming powers and verticies more effectively than the AI, rather than that I out-thought them.

    • brog says:

      OK, looks like the demo needs work! The full game has a more in-depth tutorial, but my idea with the demo was to give more of a vertical slice; to get you to a full elimination-battle quickly without getting bogged down in tutorial.

      re interface: I prototyped other options and this felt best to me.

  8. Easy says:

    Well I bought the game because it looked really promising. And it has lots of potential, but I am somewhat struggling having to deal with…10 special power keys in real time… e.g. I fumble like hell to get to the right key when I try to defend against an AI robot. Dunno… I will play it again no doubt, but it hasn’t grabbed me by the cojones. One more ellipsis just for kicks…

  9. Longrat says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the demo, but I really do wish that the game had a mode which had static vertices. It’d allow for faster gameplay, and it’d really help out dummies like me who can’t really figure out the strategies required to make those pesky cyan vertices!

  10. brog says:

    The demo has been updated; is now quite a bit larger and has a more gradual tutorial to it.

  11. ZenoParadox says:

    I can happily say that I have played this game for about 12 hours and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am currently writing a detailed walkthrough/strategy guide on Gamefaqs for the game.

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