Lars A Gundersen
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+1

Gla reviewed on 09 Dec 2009
A very good effort, and a very playable game!

Yes, I played the original arcade Astroid back in the 80's, but for me the inevitable yardstick for this genre will always be Ambrosia's Maelstrom.
So how does it measure up? Quite good! Certainly, the audio is much better, and the resizable window is a nice feature. The graphics are nice but need a few more iterations of polish to really stand out.
As for playability, definitely good! The only thing I wish for is a mode with no (permanent) black hole in the middle, making it a more 'classic' experience. The 60 minutes play limit in the demo is reasonable and the price ditto.
[Version 1.3.1]



burypromote
+6
Gla commented on 26 Oct 2009
I've used ScreenFlow 1.x for a long time, for many screen casts. There are many aspects of this application that are fantastic. And probably, for what it has been created for, producing slick screen casts, it is the best there is.
However, there are certain things about it that are maddening, and from what I can see version 2.0 does not fix them.
Where it is most lacking is in the video/audio editing department. It is an application meant for full cycle, from start to finish. So it must have a capable suit of editing tools. It doesn't.

Example: You shoot your screen cast. Fine. It comes up in SF as one long video/audio strip on the time line. First rough cut, you want to trim to get rid of the bad parts, the parts you had to do again or where you went "Ehhhh, and then, eeh..." First offence, there is no trim. You can't select part of a clip in the middle and go delete. You have to split the clip in three to get rid of a bad middle part. Ok, to live with. Now you have your rough edit down. So now you want to add a few zooms and pans to focus on the important areas of your screen. SC has beautiful zoom, the trouble is getting it to behave when you have many clips in your time line. For one thing, a video action cannot occur across a clip cut.
AND THERE IS NO MERGE CLIPS COMMAND.
Once you have cut a clip in twine, forever shall the two be apart. Yes, there is undo of course, but for crying out loud! Now, to get the new screen viewport resulting from the zoom propagated to the next clip you have to select the next clip as well as the one where you want the video action to occur, and *then* perform the video action where you want it on the first clip (I hope you already can see how messed up that is, from a conceptual standpoint. But that is not even the point.). In fact, you have to select multiple clips until you are certain that all the clips are selected where you will want the screen to be zoomed in. If you are lucky, that'll do the trick. If you are unlucky, the zoom will only 'take' on the first clip, or the first few clips, or there will be one clip in the middle where the zoom didn't take, or that simply for some reason now displays black. It's just gone black. Nothing there.

Ok, so now I've staggered into the realm of bugs. Maybe those have been fixed in version 2.0. But the fact remains that the way video actions work, not to have a merge clips command is bordering on insane.
The lesson of course is: "Kids, do your video actions first, before you make the rough cut". What kind of hopeless editing software forces you into such a workflow? Well, not forces, as much of teaches you, after your first two attempts to make that screen cast has been reduced to a mess of time line cuts, broken zooms and clip offsets.

"But aren't there numeric controls to set zoom and pan, so that you could line up clips, one after the other?", you might ask. Yes, there are numerical controls for zoom/scale and rotation. But as a cruel joke, there aren't any for offset. So you have better control over clip rotation than clip offset. Talk about having your priorities right. You can drag/offset the clip visually, of course, and it's suppose to snap to the edge of the viewport. But good luck with with. If you are happy having clips jump 1-3 pixels in a random direction across clip cuts, by all means go ahead and try that. Well, maybe all this too has been fixed in version 2. But it wasn't mentioned in the "New features" PDF, so I'm doubtful.

The point is it shouldn't work like that. There is so much promise in this app, and other aspects are so beautifully executed that these criminally bad omissions and bugs (and there are more of them) seem like, well they honestly seem like a few brilliant developers with a few too few testers to challenge the way the developers think that everybody are using their software.

What version 2 really should have focused on was the editing weaknesses. Not transitions and YouTube export and other marketing department features. Too bad.
[Version 2.0]


5 Replies

burypromote
-1

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Gla replied on 27 Oct 2009
CRAIGSEE: Fail. read what I wrote again. Don't you think I've seen the trim function in the Edit menu? Seriously. But it doesn't do what I was writing about.
If you need to delete the middle part of a clip, you need to split the split in three, in effect. Cut in two at the beginning of what you need to remove, then cut the remaining in two at the end of what you want to remove. Then delete what is now the middle clip. Whether you use the trim function on the remaining clip instead of cutting that in two is a completely moot point, because the number of steps to actually perform the edit you are after are almost the same.

This is *not* how it works in most editing apps. In iMovie, for instance, you can just select the clip, then drag the in/out markers inside the clip to encapsulate what you want to remove, then hit Delete (Backspace). This trims the clip and retains it as a single clip. *That* is how it's supposed to work. But this is impossible in SF, because there are no in-clip in/out markers to drag. You'd think the developers had looked around what editing capabilities exist in other entry level video editing software?
Before you make illinformed comments next time, maybe you should do a little research first? Just a thought.
I didn't see any review of SC 2.0 in Macworld, only a short article based on the press release from Telestream. But regardless, unless you can point to actual factual errors in my assesments above, I stand by them.
But see the first paragraph of my original review again. I did not say it wasn't the best. Only that its shortcomings in the editing departement was maddening. I didn't give a rating since I haven't used 2.0. I stated that clearly. I do not write for a magazine and did not mean to write a full review, I wanted specifically to point out its weaknesses and not write about what actually does work.

I gave a very positive comment about SF 1.x over a year ago, here on MacUpdate, like many reviews, I'm sure. The difference is since then I've actually used it many more times, for real, critical work.
burypromote
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Gla replied on 27 Oct 2009
CRAIGSEE: To be fair, I stand corrected on the mark in/out feature. I had overlooked that in more recent versions. However, this was not really part of my central critisism. This makes the in-clip ripple delete (yes, I know the difference - I was using trim in a loose sense, not really targeting an audience of editing pros) into a better experience. But the result is still two clips surrounding the edit, and so apart from the method of arriving there with fewer clicks, the rest stands and it is still maddening for the reasons stated. And if the Macworld review didn't spot that, so be it.

Hm, I see now that they did in fact notice the lack of merge clips (kudos!), but didn't really see how badly that impacts your workflow if you want to do many zooms/offsets, and the other things I wrote about. So a typical "I'll run down the list of features and test them, but I haven't got the time to actually put the tool through some hard work on actual projects" kind of review.

Good for Telestream, bad for the users.
burypromote
-1

-1
Gla replied on 29 Oct 2009
CRAIGSEE, shouldn't you in all fairness indicate your affiliation with Telestream? I notice you have a "By dev" tag on other postings regarding Flip4Mac, Episode etc. I was kinda wondering why you were defending ScreenFlow so "enthusiastically". I wonder no more.

Anyway, it kind of goes without saying that implementing merge clips and the other issues I was addressing (yes, there were others) takes development time and therefore development time away from other things, don't you agree? I develop commercial software myself, and that's the way it works, so what's the point of bringing it up? I was specifically expressing my disappointment that you guys had chosen to add what I consider more marketing department features to version 2. When the two headline features in the new features PDF you publish are transistions and YouTube export, well, I rest my case.

So the feature is hard to implement. Good, then you'll have another competitive advantage for implementing it. If it was easy, any dofus could have done it. What's your point again?
Comparing the editing capabilites of SF to iMovie is inevitable and fair and is just something you'll have to take.

Again, before you started adding fluff like YouTube export, which can be accomplished so easily with other software after you have your master produced in SF, you should really have made sure the app had a solid workflow down for the majority of its pro users. I obviously can't speak for all of them, all I know is that for me it's &%$#%& frustrating when the first part of the process is super fluid (recording), then it completely breaks down in the middle (editing), but if you manage to get past that it's all sunshine again (wicked good mp4 export with small file size and crisp images).
In a word: Maddening!
burypromote
-2

-1
Gla replied on 29 Oct 2009
Yes, just cling to that "REVIEW" (Professional! Balanced!) :-) if that's what floats your boat.

You write that you just wanted to keep people "INFORMED", to point out "WHY" things where like they were. Oddly enough it took you five replies to get to that.

But sure, silly me for pounding on issues that don't work like they should. How rude of me! We must all be nice to the developers, and just gladly accept what nuggets they decide to throw to us, the unwashed and ill-informed masses. I sincerly apologize! I mean, if an important feature is "VERY DIFFICULT" to implement then we must be understanding and just wait. Because we care for the developer's emotional state. We just have to work around the problem and hope for the best. "Maybe next version" we can think softly to ourselves. But we must never express frustration, and especially not in a public forum. That is bad form. Because, after all, that important feature is "VERY DIFFICULT" to implement. And also, there is a very positive, balanced and professional REVIEW. So what do we know? Nothing. That's what. We only have over a year's worth of real-world usage under our belt. No big deal. That was a professional REVIEW, son.

Really? Is that what you think? It is important to explain why that important feature is not there? And the answer is that it's very difficult? But YouTube export is there? Ok.
In my world, version 2.0 should be a mature product with core functionality completely nailed. If the internal process in the company dictates, for the version 2.0 release, to prioritize development of transitions and YouTube export over implementing core functionality, then there's something very wrong. In my world, you implement the difficult features that form core functionality as soon as you can and definitely within the 1.x release cycle or at the very least in the 2.0 version, to give your users a solid experience and scare off competitors. But maybe that's just me.

You can explain and inform and tell us why and point to the (professional and balanced) review all you want. But: I don't care why and I don't think users should ever have to be explained why something that seems like core functionality isn't there. If you have to do that, there's something wrong with your product. Also, if the explanation you deliver with a straight face is "it's very difficult!" and you're at version 2.0, then there's something wrong with the company.

I'm not trying to flame, but there you have it.

And when merge clips appears in SceenFlow, I'm going to take full credit. Cos you know that shouting helps. Why do you think I do this? It's not because I enjoy trouncing you, I can assure you. That's just added bonus. :-)
burypromote
-6

-1
Gla replied on 29 Oct 2009
Ah, you're so funny!
If ScreenFlow wasn't the best app for what it's supposed to do, I wouldn't have used it, would I? If you think that is what we're discussing you haven't paid attention to the discussion. So I think I'm going to leave it there.

PS. I'm obviously not shouting at *you*, I'm shouting *to* Telestream, indirectly, by addressing these issues in this very popular forum for downloading and discovering software.
burypromote
+1
Gla commented on 12 Sep 2009
1995 called, and it wants its ISDN line back.
I bought this and am d/l right now. It's a 7 GB - seven Gigabytes - download, and is coming my way at a very pedestrian 128 kB/s. 15 hours left, at 1/15 of my line's capacity. Come on, give me some bandwidth, I just *bought* a 7 GB game from you!
[Version ]



burypromote
+2

Gla reviewed on 16 May 2009
I am an absolute fan of the graphical adventure game genre, thinly populated as it is of late.

I have now completed the demo of this game, and I have to say it seems to be the best I have seen in a long time. The sound and graphics are as good as can be, with well-lit outdoors combined with sharp details, and believable real-time effects, all immersed in non-annoying sounds and gentle background music. Pretty darn good.

As for playability, there is a lot to like. Moving around works like in later Myst titles, where you move between preset locations, wherin you are free to look around 360°. You can pick up and manipulate certain objects. Unlike the Myst series, you have an inventory system in a separate screen, and here you can also comine certain objects to make new objects or modify one you have already. This then works as mini puzzles: figuring out which obejcts can be combined can sometimes be tricky. The environment is frictionless to interact with. The invenory a bit less so, but with a little practice this also works well.

My biggest gripe? Unlike in the Myst series, you take on a specific character, called Thomas, apprentice to Akkod, Cleopatra's astrologist. This really hampers the immersive experience so crucial in such a game, IMHO, and is one of the main reasons Myst succeeded: This total immersion you get by playing as yourself and without any distractions on the screen is key in such a game, much more than it is in a shooter type game, for instance.
It would really have helped the game if a 'simple' backstory had been made where you, as yourself, for instance timewarp to the time and location where this game takes place. The in-game vocal hints provided by Thomas, assumingly idiotically talking to himself (yourself? After all, you are supposed to be Thomas), would have to be dropped, and you'd just have to figure out how things worked by, well, by figuring out by yourself, just as if you had really been there. This would have had to force a slight redesign of some of the puzzles so that they would have been more logical within the context of the situation given in that point of the game. All in all, it would have helped the internal logic of the game, which would have helped the immersive experience further.

As it is and works, it is still a valiant effort, and deserving of success, from what I have seen in the demo. It is to be hoped that a good story is to be found in playing the rest of the game, as that is another crucial aspect of making such a game work. The demo is too short to provide a good feel for the story, but the setting certainly provide story potential in abundance. Who wouldn't want to roam around Egypt in the time of Cleopatra? Here's to hoping the rest of the game fullfills the promises of the glimpses provided by the demo!
[Version 1.0]



burypromote

Gla reviewed on 15 Feb 2009
A concept with potetial, but needs a lot more work. The artwork is crude and the sound effects ditto.
Moreover, the controls need to move the ship much, much faster to get to the right pace of a space shooter. And the whole 'space cage' concept, where you are confined to a cube, really limits the feeiling of space.
This seems to be a one-man development, and as such it shows great promise. Just keep working at it.
[Version 1.4]



burypromote
Gla commented on 22 Apr 2008
ZANGIEF: Fail. I'm a long-time Snapz Pro user, but ScreenFlow is targeted for a different use and has different features. Snapz records your screen. Full stop. But Screenflow is so much more. Not only does it record your screen action impeccably, but it has a complete authoring anvironment to author the screencast after you've recorded some action. A really effective authring env. Great for tutorials, demos and thelike.
[Version 1.1]



burypromote
Gla commented on 25 Jun 2007
Great fun for showing off! Pretty much a one trick pony, but a nice trick at that.
[Version 1.0]



burypromote

Gla reviewed on 29 Apr 2007
Simple to use, quite interesting concept which is well executed. Would like to see more texture on branches/twigs, and more natural branch shapes.
[Version 1.2]



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