RMMV Fidel & The Pauper's Paradox

TheAM-Dol

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Story Introduction:
Fidel has found herself in a strange and unfamiliar world after spending 12 months in a coma, but that doesn't matter to her - she's got a wicked cut she needs people to see. The mysterious "Pauper" has told her that she is required to finish his "test" and to deal with the nefarious figure that calls himself "The Maker", but Fidel would rather cheer up the lonely people of the small town she woke up in. But one question keeps being asked: What does it mean to be an 'asset'?
Friends.png
The Maker's rampage has closed the tiny community of Crossroad Commune off to the rest of the world, and with it's closed roads has come unrest and unhappiness amongst the sad and lonely people.


  • Fidel is the ray of sunshine the town needs in its current misanthropic state.
  • Make friends with each of the townsfolk by mending the source of their sadness and past mistakes.
  • Transform Crossroad Commune from a lonely town to a place full of delight by helping the people, cleaning the town, and repairing the roads that lead into the small community.
Obstacles.png
Explore the 3 major roads that intersect at Crossroad Commune and solve the mystery that has sealed the road to further travel; from the mountain's sickness, to the sea's anger, or the forest's unrest. Fidel can tackle these mysteries in any order she wants.
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  • Obtain powerful tools to assist Fidel's exploration.

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  • Use the tools to get an edge over enemies in combat.

Confidence.png
FireBlob.gifBuild Confidence in order to to unleash the elements to deal damage in a simplified turn-based combat system.ShockBlob.gif

  • Fidel can gain confidence from every action; from guarding, to attacking, to receiving damage.
  • Stack elemental damage to ramp up damage output.
  • Or risk all of the stacks you built to deal massive damage by juggling the elements. Mastery is knowing when to stack and when to juggle.
Change.png
Completely alter the game through Game Rules, editing mechanics, adding or removing functions, and change the formulas the game uses for calculations. The player is free to tailor the game the way they want.
GameRules.gif
(More rules and formulas have been and will continue to be added as development progresses)
  • Chose a simplified Game Rules Preset for a deeper, more well-crafted difficulty option than your typical game's difficulty slider.
  • Use Game Rules to refine difficulty to your personal preferences.
  • Use Game Rules to set up challenge runs or to breathe new life into the game after you have completed it. Replaying is encouraged!

Additional Info:

  • Planned release date is sometime 2023 (but, obviously, subject to change)
  • Expected play time is roughly 7 - 8 hours for 1 play through (again, subject to change)
  • The game is non-linear and non-compulsory, resulting in story and events being either missed entirely or changed depending on what order you do events.
  • The game will be a commercial game available on Steam (and likely Itch, but this is unconfirmed)
  • More images (particularly still images) will come as the game progresses. Currently a battle UI is being programmed. Once complete, battle screenshots will be added.
  • Pronounced fɪd(ə)l (fi-dle), not fiˈdɛl (fhi-delle).
  • This page looks better with the dark mode theme.

Preview & Beta Testing:

The soundtrack has been written and composed by myself and has received positive recognition. A partial preview of the soundtrack has been made available publicly for everyone to listen to.

(why yes, indeed, this is the video that Adobe Premiere thought was too intense resulting in crashing not just Premiere but also my graphics drivers that I made a status post about yesterday, rather livid. You can clearly see with all of this intense editing that I was totally out of line for my anger. Totally.)


Beta testing is now closed. Thanks everyone for your feedback.

If you weren't able to join the beta test, but curious to know more about what the beta contained, you can read about it here!




Special thanks to Somon, my artist who has done all of the CG art for the game.

Progress and development is streamed on my Youtube channel, which you can find here:

Thank you everyone, and I am very excited for this games release. I hope you are too.
 
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ShadowDragon

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I can try to help you out if needed, as it looks awesome as well.
 

RCXGaming

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You know what? I'll bite. Giving extensive point-by-point analysis is one of my favorite things to do, especially since we seem to be kindred spirits in the whole "using tools on the overworld" thing.
 

TheAM-Dol

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Thanks everyone,
I have sent you a message.
 

RCXGaming

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@TheAM-Dol You have quite a promising game here. I played up to two hours analyzing everything in depth just to give you the fullest critique I could possibly give.

PROS:

+ So the first immediate thing I like is Somon's artstyle, it's the one thing that stood out the most during all of the dev streams of your game.

+ Good menu SFX. That's an understated part of sound design that most people gloss over.

+ Good music all over. You're really talented if this is your own work.

+ I've been looking forward to seeing all of the options you've put into your game and I can't say I'm disappointed. A few sub-points:
+ All of the "gameplay modifying" options are interesting because it reminds me of the Cheat Shop from the later Disgaeas. It gives a lot of freedom to the player on how they can play, and it's fascinating to see that you actually disabled the player from changing their options mid-game just in case it would mess with anything.​
+ Tutorial disabling is always a plus.​
+ I like the keybinding option as well as the presets you gave. I'd like to see this be more of an option for peeps who use RPG Maker.​
+ How did you get little icons before your options?​

+ Ah, you can see who goes first in combat. I'm always fond of that plugin.

+ YO, that ambient shaking screen effect in the cave is sick.

+ I do like how the game looks quite a bit - the maps are very nice. The lava glow in particular is interesting and helps build ambiance.

+ I like the blue wisp that shows up when you're facing something that's interactable, like the fish especially since that's a good indicator you can catch it.

+ Throwing a fish to make a walkable lava platform is pretty interesting as far as puzzles go. I do like the warning sign that pops up when the platform is about to dissapate.

+ So I'm extremely glad you thought about the probability of the player getting softlocked on the fish-throwing puzzle, since it's very likely they would get stuck on an island where there's no active pond + no fish to throw.

+ Fidel is adorable and I love how she sometimes says things wrong because she's a literal child.

+/- While the puzzles are quite easy overall, I do feel they need a little tutorial box beside them whenever you find a new variation of a puzzle (that can also be disabled with the switch in the options) that demands more out of you than what was previously established.

EX. I almost didn't realize that the Amber Gem room was a "put the gems in the right spots" puzzle and almost waited out the timer trying to escape from the room until I put them in the statues on a whim.

Also, the lever puzzle where you have to control three ponds of water? That one genuinely stumped me until I realized I could take a fish from the top pond and activate the bottom pond.

It seems simple in hindsight, but not having the bottom pond activate genuinely had me stuck for a second because my thoughts were "what lever combination haven't I tried yet to activate the bottom pond?" and not "I should take a fish from the top pond and go to the bottom pond when it's activated."

+ The parts where the game gets quiet and it's only the ambiance are VERY well done.

+ Holy hell that boss art is SICK. I've never seen it before, is it custom?

+
The meta jumpscare upon beating Bool was amazing! Legitimately got me because I was in fullscreen mode when it happened.

OBSERVATIONS:

= Diagonal movement (specifically Moghunter's Diagonal Movement, since that doesn't need extra sprites) would help make Fidel's movement feel smoother, unless it interferes with plugins you're using.

= I would suggest looking up a damage pop-up function for weak/resisted hits. This is primarily because the battle log message that shows up is pretty awkward looking and a pop-up would display the same information in a quicker fashion with more flair.

I say this because RPG Maker has to wait when battle log messages show up, and enough of the "enemy is susceptible to [x] element!" message I feel would add up if you started throwing AOE attacks at enemies.

CONS:

- No dash option?? Boooooooooooooo. Fidel is slow and the maps are pretty big. Also, you can't outrun enemies that are gaining on you without using the electric rod, which is a bit cheap.

- Why are the healing items battle-use only?

- "Incorrect Player RID. Wrong RID." ?????? This happened when I tried to throw the fish in places that weren't the exact spot needed.

- The enemy name font is way too dark to see in the lava background. Maybe make it just plain white with a backdrop?

- Are you meant to be able to get on top of these two structures?

- ConP is a very clunky term for MP. CFP (ConFidence Points) would work much better in my opinion.

I would also put (MP) after every ConP notifier in the Game Rules section of the options menu, since without context a new player has no idea what it even... means?

My first impression was that it had something to do with constitution and not your MP until the tutorial told me otherwise. This is largely because the "Con" prefix in most other RPGs stands for constitution.

- That section where you have to hop around a maze to get random loot before fighting the boss is asking a lot.

Your progress being reset because you're not in the middle of the map is a strange mechanic and not in a good way, since it's already enough that you're trying to get random equipment on a timer and are being hounded by enemies that waste your time and you can't run from. At the very least move the player to the center when time is complete, since doing that section over again just... well, wastes time.

It's repeating content for no good reason, which I would urge you to remove from your game since it's taking away from your gameplay.

- "Fidel doesn't have enough confidence" when I tried to use the "create a stone statue" function with no slabs. Oops.

This is easily the roughest part of the game as it stands.

- It is an active detriment of the game that you can waste turns by clicking options that you don't have ConP for. I feel it would be extremely important for you to have options like these grayed out and un-usable so the player doesn't wind up wasting their turn for no reason - which has happened to me quite a bit.

- Sober Stabilizer should not cost anything since it's already a "shows up during special situations" skill. Also it should heal some HP.

- Having Attack bunched in with the rest of the elemental attacks and not as a command separate from the rest is a bit awkward.

Is it to psychologically push the player to use the elemental skills? Or to keep the battle commands menu at 4 choices? Because it's a bit messy as is.

- So I don't normally ask people to do this for their spells, but I'll say it for Fidel since your game seems to revolve heavily around using special skills.

Not having your ConP naturally regenerate per turn makes fighting extremely awkward. Yeah I get that you have it regenerate when you're hit or when you guard, but I've found myself in the position of "Fidel doesn't have enough confidence" a lot more than I want.

This was with the Confidence Regen Accessory on too, by the way. A count of 4 ConP per turn without accessories would help speed things up a lot.

- Not being able to see enemy HP is definitely a minus here when put together with all of the other complaints, given that visible HP bars is one of the big things I always talk about in regards to progressive functions for RPG maker games.

Giving the player the option to turn HP bars on and off would be very useful and stay on message with your "giving players options" mantra.

- The fights are *very* slow and not in Fidel's favor. There's a few reasons for this:
- Fidel is often going up against two or more enemies with no crowd control other than a statue she can summon to tank hits for her.​

- These enemies do not die in less than three hits, even when there's elemental stacks put on them. Generally fodder trash monsters should go down in less than five turns, even in a group - and ESPECIALLY with modifiers.​

- There is no AOE attack to deal damage to groups of enemies. I can imagine the reason for this is so you don't make this the optimal strategy, but that can be side-stepped by giving the AOE a 2+ cooldown via Yanfly Skill Restrictions plugin.​

- Not a fan of how the cockatrices can attack you twice in one turn.​

- Also, please do not set your ConP to 5 at the start of every fight since that's 1 point less than what you can use to cast skills. Having to waste a turn normal attacking / guarding is not good for the pacing.​

- Speaking of elemental stacking. I find it interesting that if you keep hitting an enemy with elements, they gradually become more vulnerable to that element...

But I thought it straight up wasn't working until I realized it was ONLY to make enemies vulnerable to an element they would have otherwise resisted/been immune to.

Cockatrices consistently take 7 damage no matter how many times I use the wind or shock attack.

In light of this, I feel a more traditional elemental weakness/resistance system would better exemplify this.

The attacks are largely the same barring the wind one going first, so it really does seem to be a "pick your favorite flavor" system over one that has actual strategic depth at the moment.

My suggestion would be to give each one a status effect on top of their stack effect. If you feel the stacking system is important enough to your planned gameplay structure, then have enemies who are weak to a certain element take EVEN more damage to a stack.

I see it as an effective way to add an elemental system while promoting the player to keep up a stack, since if they have to hit the enemy with a new stack due to a state that alters their elemental weakness as a counterattack. That way the player is forced to switch their moveset around and not use the same answers to every fight.

I see that being more exciting in the long run.

Also stacks should make the enemy take super near-instant kill damage unless they're a boss.

- Bool is a huge boss that doesn't seem to do anything interesting. You have this huge honking fleshy skeleton alien with crystals growing in his back, real Digimon stuff here.

But it just fist-pumps and doesn't use its huge physique to do anything more than 5-7 damage.

Yeah, there's the crystals that swap in and out when you hit them, but they were kind of a non factor since the debuffs didn't seem to do anything. My damage was already naturally low to begin with.

- In general the combat loop is very lacking because you're chipping away at each other bit by bit instead of having to out-strategize the enemy by taking advantage of status effects and weaknesses in their armor. As well as paying attention to their patterns instead of the usual RPG randomness.

It gives a lot more agency to the player if they can dismantle an enemy's set-up instead of having to slowly empty out a large HP pool.

EX. Big wind-up phases where Bool is about to hit Fidel with a super-mega-ultra-punch on turn 3+3x so you have to use wind to blow away the flame connecting his arms so he doesn't punch, so instead he shoots you with his laser eyes which are far less powerful.

In practice this would take the form of having the Wind Attack (via Victor's Action States) blow away the charge-up attack state away and add a "laser eyes" state. It might make the fight a bit simple, but if you're using this as a demo to get people invested in your game then going a bit easy would be recommended.

As it stands, fighting him takes a lot of time with not much actual player investment. To put it in perspective, if I'm going full berserker with little regard to my safety barring the occasional heal and not paying attention to what the boss can do... and the boss doesn't immediately trounce me for being reckless or die in less than 10 turns, give or take?

That's a pacing problem.

Specific answers to the questions:

* How well did you understand where to go & what to do?

It was simple. There weren't that many obscure paths and the experience was linear, which is a good thing because these are big maps with no run button!

* How difficult were the puzzles?

There was only one that stumped me but the rest were simple because they followed a consistent logic.

* How did you feel about the overall length of combat?

Slow with not much happening.

* How did you feel about the overall frequency of combat?

FIghts are at least reasonably paced between the puzzling and the exploring.

* How well do you understand confidence?

Once I realized it was just MP with a fancy name it helped me settle in. I still don't know what ConBal is, and Sober Sterilization wasn't much help because even the one time I wound up using it... I got another status effect immediately after, nullifying it as a move.

* How well do you understand element stacking?

It's simple. Use enough elements on a dude and they get a weakness to that element. As it stands it's not engaging without cranking up the numbers and a proper elemental system.

* How well do you understand element juggling?

... It was a different thing?

* Did you die/fail a puzzle?
If so, why? (For combat: did it feel unfair? For puzzles: did you understand what to do?)


Puzzles weren't a problem, even the one I got stumped on.

But combat? I died a lot on Bool because he hit hard and I was stripped of my restoratives. I've tried to run and get items in the random loot maze, but I got stuck/lost due to how large the map was and the time wasting enemies were too good at their job. It didn't help that if I wasn't using the electric rod overworld tool, they would chase me at 5 speed and I wouldn't be able to get away.

Needless to say it dissuaded me from trying to optimize and I just wound up fighting Bool with a boring sword and nothing else.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

There's clearly passion put into this project and the art and music are the best parts about it. Fidel is adorable, and I can never say no to a game that has you use tools on the overworld.

But the combat needs a lot of work. Again, you're mainly chipping at each other instead of making decisive plays where the enemies will kill you if you don't counter their plays in time.

ConP being too limited as an MP source is also a huge factor of this, and the elemental stacking system doesn't really change anything as far as I've noticed.

(For reference, this is without changing anything in Game Rules to get the "intended" experience.)

But with tweaks I can see the elemental stacking & juggling system being an exciting way to play the game if the numbers are boosted + there's a system in place to make sure it doesn't trivialize bosses.

I wish you the best for your game and I hope more people catch on to the options you want other RPG Maker games to adopt.
 
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TheAM-Dol

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@RCXGaming Wow, thank you for the in depth feedback! I'd like to address a few things, but first I just want to preface this that sometimes when devs go through point by point it can come off defensive, so I just want to get this out of the way to prevent any misunderstanding; in no way am I being defensive, and if my player didn't understand something then the onus on me to ensure that the information is given clearly. There is a lot of valuable feedback here for improving my game that I am eager to implement, so thank you so much.

To address some of the points:
+ Good menu SFX. That's an understated part of sound design that most people gloss over.

+ Good music all over. You're really talented if this is your own work.
Yes, to both. I've designed nearly all of the sounds (still some RTP hang over in some places, but its rare) and written all of the music for the game.

+ I like the keybinding option as well as the presets you gave. I'd like to see this be more of an option for peeps who use RPG Maker.
Me too *flashbacks of every stream where I ranted and raved about missing Keyboard config*

+ How did you get little icons before your options?
It's a default in the Option Core plugin. Just typing \i[icon number] does it. The icons used are a combination of original designs by myself and Avery's icons.

+ Ah, you can see who goes first in combat. I'm always fond of that plugin.
I'm glad you like it, I've considered removing it simply because the turn order is defined very simply: Fidel always goes first. I suppose it's useful to know which order enemies will attack in, but I personally haven't found much tactical advantage in that.

+ So I'm extremely glad you thought about the probability of the player getting softlocked on the fish-throwing puzzle, since it's very likely they would get stuck on an island where there's no active pond + no fish to throw.
If only I could say I had the foresight to implement the soft-lock fix before I even made the map. Soft-lock fixes are the result of my overly-obsessive play testing behavior. It might slow development down a lot, but at least it's resulted in finding a few problem areas.

Also, the lever puzzle where you have to control three ponds of water?
Actually, I'm quite happy to read this. I think a good puzzle is one that makes you go "OoooOooOoOoh!" Once you solved it. Glad it tickled the brain a little.

+ Holy hell that boss art is SICK. I've never seen it before, is it custom?
Nah, that is Hibiki Katakura's art, part of the official DLCs.

The meta jumpscare upon beating Bool was amazing! Legitimately got me because I was in fullscreen mode when it happened.
:LZSevil: Perfect.

= Diagonal movement would probably help make Fidel's movement feel smoother, unless it interferes with plugins you're using.
Agreed, but without diagonal sprite art, I wouldn't be satisfied with the results, and unfortunately that's not on the table with my already-thinly-stretched budget. Buy my album and maybe there would be more money to go around :LZSlol:

= I would suggest looking up a damage pop-up function for weak/resisted hits. This is primarily because the battle log message that shows up is pretty awkward looking and a pop-up would display the same information in a quicker fashion with more flair.
This is a good point, I'll look into it.
(I'm not going to call out each point of yours I am looking into, just calling attention to this one mostly for myself :LZSlol:)

- No dash option?? Boooooooooooooo.
To address this point and another point you made later about combat: If it feels like there is a gap in the player's utility, then there is likely a solution found somewhere else. Remember, you played a catered linear portion of the game, but the full game is non-linear, so the items you have in certain levels all depends on what levels you did before that point.

"Incorrect Player RID. Wrong RID." ??????
This is debug information that was left in the beta for the fish throwing mechanic. Glad to know you tried throwing the fish in an incorrect area, lol.

- It is an active detriment of the game that you can waste turns by clicking options that you don't have ConP for.
I agree with this. This is an unfortunate result of not having the custom battle HUD implemented yet. In hindsight, I should have disabled the plugin that does this for the beta test, but since I had grown so accustomed to it, it just didn't cross my mind.

- Sober Stabilizer should not cost anything since it's already a "shows up during special situations" skill.
This point and I believe one of the other negatives you brought up have a similar answer to it: if I make it easy for players to avoid a part of my game, then I am encouraging them to disengage with a core mechanic. Dealing with stacks is a core part, and if I made it easy to remove stacks then players would no longer have to contend with a core mechanic of my game. That said, I do think there should be some stack resistance after using Sober Stabilizer so you can at least have some breathing room after using it. So thank you for bringing this up, this is definitely something I want to implement.

- Not being able to see enemy HP is definitely a minus here when put together with all of the other complaints, given that visible HP bars is one of the big things I always talk about in regards to progressive functions for RPG maker games.

Giving the player the option to turn HP bars on and off would be very useful and stay on message with your "giving players options" mantra.
Including the second paragraph of this point because I wasn't on board with this idea until you brought up my "giving players options" mantra :LZSlol:
I'll add this to my game, but probably not in that way. What information you do know and don't know can radically change people's strategies. It is part of the tactical element that health bars are not shown. However, I had already considered adding a third "armor" slot for augments. Items that don't directly benefit stats, but give boosts in less direct ways. An accessory that adds the ability to see enemy's health bars feels acceptable as: the player would need to acquire this item first so it's not always available, and second, they must sacrifice the slot it takes in their load out in order to see health. (I'll have to think about it some more)

- Also, please do not set your ConP to 5 at the start of every fight since that's 1 point less than what you can use to cast skills. Having to waste a turn normal attacking / guarding is not good for the pacing.
Your starting ConP is dictated by the "Starting ConP" formula. By default, this is based on Fidel's level. Game rules allows you to change this.

But I thought it straight up wasn't working until I realized it was ONLY to make enemies vulnerable to an element they would have otherwise resisted/been immune to.

Cockatrices consistently take 7 damage no matter how many times I use the wind or shock attack.
This actually sounds like a bug, so if you have a chance could you go into more detail?
The intended way this should work is after applying a stack, elements of the same type will increase in damage. So repeatedly using wind attacks will boost the damage of wind attacks. Most enemies don't have resistances with a rare few exceptions.
From my own play testing I had never experienced a bug where stacking was working incorrectly, however the plugin I am using is known to be buggy so maybe something went wrong during your play through. I currently have someone rebuilding the plugin from scratch to correct some of the bugs.

My suggestion would be to give each one a status effect on top of their stack effect.
There is :LZSblush: It surprises me that you never saw the status effects. Wind drains ConP, Shock has a chance to paralyze, Fire does damage over time (though I do think the formula is borked in the beta build, so it does tick "damage" every turn, but it will just tick for 0)

- Bool is a huge boss that doesn't seem to do anything interesting.
I'm a little confused by this point, so I hope I can get to the bottom of it so I can correct it. First you say that he doesn't do anything interesting, just a punch and boosting his ConP - making it sound like it wasn't challenging. But you later say that you died a lot to Bool. Could you describe your experience in a little more detail?

To address the crystals in the fight:
You can build Fidel in 2 ways: prioritizing your physical attack, or prioritizing your magic attack. There are permanent stat upgrades, allowing the player to prioritize the way they enjoy playing (obviously not present in the beta build). However, in Colosso Caldera, any and all equipment is taken away, and you are stuck using whatever equipment you can find - which may not be the optimal equipment for the way you have built Fidel. The purpose of the crystals is to switch the crystal to the one that affects your current build the least (It's also in line with the whole theme of his name :LZSangel: Bool)

(For reference, this is without changing anything in Game Rules to get the "intended" experience.)
And just to clarify, not changing Game Rules is the intended way :LZSsmile: Game Rules make it clear that you are affecting the games intended balance. While I definitely want everyone to engage with Game Rules, which is why it's part of the game's marketing, I want players to know that...there is no way in hell I could play test every possible combination for balancing :LZSlol: Some of the major mechanic changes I've play tested a little (such as enabling ConBal for enemies and changing the ConBal type) but there are so many possible combinations (and more to come) that I'm putting the resonsibility of "balance" on the player if they dare to change any of the settings. However to make it less scary for first time players, I plan to implement preset profiles which will be play tested to ensure they aren't horrifically unbalanced. The intent is that with first time play throughs, players can select a preset just to get a surface taste of the power, and then if they chose to do a second play through, they can dive deeper and set up their own Game Rules profile. Preset profiles for Game Rules hasn't been implemented yet, though. Will many players actually use Game Rules beyond presets? Probably not. Does it delight me to no end that there is going to be 1 weirdo who will fawn over having this kind of control over my game? Absolutely, and is the motivator behind it's further development. This one's for the weird kid.

Anyways, I really can't say enough how much I appreciate your thorough analysis. I've taken quite a few notes, and as I mentioned at the top of this, eager to implement some of these adjustments and changes.
 

RCXGaming

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@RCXGaming Wow, thank you for the in depth feedback! I'd like to address a few things, but first I just want to preface this that sometimes when devs go through point by point it can come off defensive, so I just want to get this out of the way to prevent any misunderstanding; in no way am I being defensive, and if my player didn't understand something then the onus on me to ensure that the information is given clearly. There is a lot of valuable feedback here for improving my game that I am eager to implement, so thank you so much.

:kaoluv: I live to help out others. I've cultivated reviewing skills for this exact purpose and a lot of my own advice is given from a place of "I was in this position once, let me tell you what I learned".

To address this point and another point you made later about combat: If it feels like there is a gap in the player's utility, then there is likely a solution found somewhere else. Remember, you played a catered linear portion of the game, but the full game is non-linear, so the items you have in certain levels all depends on what levels you did before that point.

... Dashing on the overworld is... a perk your player can get? :LZSskeptic:

I dunno, it just seems like a bizarre choice to gatekeep behind an accessory or a forced learn segment instead of having it be a thing you can enable/disable on your menu.

I agree with this. This is an unfortunate result of not having the custom battle HUD implemented yet. In hindsight, I should have disabled the plugin that does this for the beta test, but since I had grown so accustomed to it, it just didn't cross my mind.

See I knew it was something weird because even base RPG Maker blocks you from using skills you can't cast, no? I hope you get that fixed!

This point and I believe one of the other negatives you brought up have a similar answer to it: if I make it easy for players to avoid a part of my game, then I am encouraging them to disengage with a core mechanic. Dealing with stacks is a core part, and if I made it easy to remove stacks then players would no longer have to contend with a core mechanic of my game. That said, I do think there should be some stack resistance after using Sober Stabilizer so you can at least have some breathing room after using it. So thank you for bringing this up, this is definitely something I want to implement.

Well technically speaking you're already including options in Game Rules that would allow less honest players to brute force their way through the game (EXP multipliers, etc.), hence why I mentioned the Cheat Shop option from Disgaea.

Changing Sober Sterilization to heal a little HP wouldn't hurt, since as far as I'm concerned it was already a skill that only showed up in special situations.

Stacks in particular I see as a mechanic to help reward a player who is persistent versus one that just gives up easily. If they keep going their damage output is higher versus one that gives up and uses another element.

In fact, I would have found it interesting if using stacks and then pulling out into another element would temporarily do big damage before dispersing it into another stack and resetting back to normal damage.

EX. The tutorial made me think the elements were "Shock -> Wind -> Fire" and then back around.

How this would work in practice is that you have two(?) wind stacks for 2x damage then pop a shock attack that does 3x damage and then reset it back by removing the stack, but using fire would remove the stack with no extra damage since it's at the wrong end of the element cycle.

It would help add some spice to the stacking system, since the player has to leverage what option they want the most right now (stunning, MP drain or damage over time).

Since there's only three elements, there's only so many combinations... which would help streamline things for the player.

Including the second paragraph of this point because I wasn't on board with this idea until you brought up my "giving players options" mantra :LZSlol:
I'll add this to my game, but probably not in that way. What information you do know and don't know can radically change people's strategies. It is part of the tactical element that health bars are not shown. However, I had already considered adding a third "armor" slot for augments. Items that don't directly benefit stats, but give boosts in less direct ways. An accessory that adds the ability to see enemy's health bars feels acceptable as: the player would need to acquire this item first so it's not always available, and second, they must sacrifice the slot it takes in their load out in order to see health. (I'll have to think about it some more)

I think this out of everything this is the point we need to focus on the most.

Let me put it like this: how does your gameplay actually change by having HP bars toggleable without it being tied to an accessory slot?

What in your skillsets for Fidel will force the player to change up their strategy if they can see how much health enemies have before they keel over?

You could say you want to have the "surprise" X factor of a player edging out a boss by killing them when everything seems like it's about to go sideways, but I've seen this be an extremely unreliable sensation since not everyone will see it the same way... and will probably just get frustrated that the enemies aren't dying after like four turns of straight attacking, especially if you're still only on one dude out of three.

Here's my points for pro-health bars:

I asked around in the circles I frequent how peeps feel about deliberately obscured information like this. In particular the question was if they want to fight enemies in an RPG where they can't see the health bars.

The common consensus I got was a blend between:
- "No, that sounds like a pain"
- A compromise like "if the enemy is at 50% or below HP, I want to see the enemy turn into a 'bruised' sprite."
- "Paper Mario did a thing where you had to scan enemies to see what HP they had and the effect was permanent."

To quote someone I know:

"It really depends. For enemies that reliably drop in a small number of hits? It could be fine. Ideally 1-3, but so long as I have a solid sense of what it takes to drop an enemy.

Like, if I'm 6-8 hits in, the enemy hasn't dropped, and most importantly I don't know why, that could be very frustrating.

At that point I'd be wondering, "Am I doing this wrong? Is this form of attack ineffective against this enemy? Is this a fight I'm meant to lose, and I'm just wasting time and resources?

Attack! Little red "5" flashes above the enemy! Is that... good? Or am I ineffectually flailing at something with hundreds of hp?"

(This topic might need a thread for itself to be honest, just to see how many people feel the same.)

Your starting ConP is dictated by the "Starting ConP" formula. By default, this is based on Fidel's level. Game rules allows you to change this.

I think my real question is why it's a feature you can't change after the game actually starts.

At the very least make it the only Game Rules option you can modify during the game itself and make it something the player can utilize.

I dunno, for a section where you have to stay at low ConP otherwise the enemies get a buff?

This actually sounds like a bug, so if you have a chance could you go into more detail?
The intended way this should work is after applying a stack, elements of the same type will increase in damage. So repeatedly using wind attacks will boost the damage of wind attacks. Most enemies don't have resistances with a rare few exceptions.
From my own play testing I had never experienced a bug where stacking was working incorrectly, however the plugin I am using is known to be buggy so maybe something went wrong during your play through. I currently have someone rebuilding the plugin from scratch to correct some of the bugs.

Well... I kept using the wind attack on a cockatrice. The little icon showed up over its head, so I knew the stack was applied.

But every time I kept using said wind attack, it didn't go farther than 7 damage. My expectation was that it would be like 7 -> 14 -> 21, etc.

There is :LZSblush: It surprises me that you never saw the status effects. Wind drains ConP, Shock has a chance to paralyze, Fire does damage over time (though I do think the formula is borked in the beta build, so it does tick "damage" every turn, but it will just tick for 0)

I definitely noticed the Fire Stack was doing damage over time, and that Bool being Shocked had him occasionally not move... but the Wind one was completely lost on me.

I'm a little confused by this point, so I hope I can get to the bottom of it so I can correct it. First you say that he doesn't do anything interesting, just a punch and boosting his ConP - making it sound like it wasn't challenging. But you later say that you died a lot to Bool. Could you describe your experience in a little more detail?

Challenge and spectacle are two completely different aspects of combat design. :kaoblush:

I found him hard, but not in a interesting way. He only did those two things, but just those two things messed me up since I didn't have much in the way of answering them other than the heal I (thankfully) had.

Just getting punched by him didn't make for a thrilling fight, since we were doing that back and forth for like... ten minutes straight? It was almost a quitting point, because that and not being able to see his HP made it feel like I was chipping away a wall with little success.

It's not like I had to pay attention to a pattern that allowed my skills to do something other than their base status effects - re: why I mentioned having to use Wind attacks to blow away his arms so he doesn't do an attack that does Fidel's entire health bar in damage or at least 90% of her current HP to scare the player.

Let me put it like this: hitting Bool at a critical point to deal extra damage that he wouldn't otherwise take in addition to a stack is a great way to reward the player for paying attention that they wouldn't get if they were fighting blindly.

It's kind of the same reason everyone here disparages HP sponge bosses, and I personally think that if a boss is shorter but with more meaningful decisions... it tends to be more memorable in the long run.

To address the crystals in the fight:
You can build Fidel in 2 ways: prioritizing your physical attack, or prioritizing your magic attack. There are permanent stat upgrades, allowing the player to prioritize the way they enjoy playing (obviously not present in the beta build). However, in Colosso Caldera, any and all equipment is taken away, and you are stuck using whatever equipment you can find - which may not be the optimal equipment for the way you have built Fidel. The purpose of the crystals is to switch the crystal to the one that affects your current build the least (It's also in line with the whole theme of his name :LZSangel: Bool)

See, that's interesting. But I think it would also be nice to give the player the ability to permanently delete them if they're going to keep doing that annoying debuff thing.

Them resurrecting constantly unless you figure out the elemental stack that properly superkills them. This helps the player feel like their choices in combat are meaningful.

That said. At the end of the day, you are the person in charge of your game. You're free to disregard any advice of mine if it doesn't fit with what you want to create.

And just to clarify, not changing Game Rules is the intended way :LZSsmile: Game Rules make it clear that you are affecting the games intended balance. While I definitely want everyone to engage with Game Rules, which is why it's part of the game's marketing, I want players to know that...there is no way in hell I could play test every possible combination for balancing :LZSlol: Some of the major mechanic changes I've play tested a little (such as enabling ConBal for enemies and changing the ConBal type) but there are so many possible combinations (and more to come) that I'm putting the resonsibility of "balance" on the player if they dare to change any of the settings. However to make it less scary for first time players, I plan to implement preset profiles which will be play tested to ensure they aren't horrifically unbalanced. The intent is that with first time play throughs, players can select a preset just to get a surface taste of the power, and then if they chose to do a second play through, they can dive deeper and set up their own Game Rules profile. Preset profiles for Game Rules hasn't been implemented yet, though. Will many players actually use Game Rules beyond presets? Probably not. Does it delight me to no end that there is going to be 1 weirdo who will fawn over having this kind of control over my game? Absolutely, and is the motivator behind it's further development. This one's for the weird kid.

I admire the hell out of this, tbh.

Anyways, I really can't say enough how much I appreciate your thorough analysis. I've taken quite a few notes, and as I mentioned at the top of this, eager to implement some of these adjustments and changes.

You're welcome! I figured you wouldn't get defensive based on how you carry yourself in general, so I genuinely did not hold anything back when talking about Fidel, especially since you want this to be more than a typical RPG Maker game.

Not gonna lie, the enthusiasm to put what I said to work in your game is both heartwarming and kind of intoxicating. It definitely makes me feel like doing this reviewing stuff is worth it from time to time lmao.
 
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TheAM-Dol

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But I think it would also be nice to give the player the ability to permanently delete them if they're going to keep doing that annoying debuff thing.
You could say it's..............................................................................................................
Boolshit?

....a real response to your reply will come soon...it just had to be done.


*real response*
(sorry for the wait, I've had a lot of communication going on about this game (among other things) and had a wicked headache yesterday too.)

Concerning the health-bar debate. Now, I have some hot takes below, but read all of it before you write a reply (because I think, in the end, you'll be happy with my decision)

I have a spicy hot take on Razbuten among other "video game mechanics" analysts that will get me shunned, so basically, I'll keep that to myself, but a sample size of 1 (also from an biased party) doesn't really mean much for the debate :rswt though it is interesting the premise of the video.

- "Paper Mario did a thing where you had to scan enemies to see what HP they had and the effect was permanent."

It's sort of funny you bring up Paper Mario. Granted, it's been a few years since I played the game, but it's one of my long time favorites. I've replayed it a number of times over the years and have enjoyed Stryder's break down of it's logic (rip Stryder).
The first party member you receive has a skill called "Tattle" which does do exactly what you have described. However, the format of Paper Mario is a bit atypical compared to most other JRPGs...I mean...atypical compared to your RM type of games (my game). Your party consists of Mario + 1 partner. Each partner only has 1 skill + basic attack (if I remember correctly, they can later be upgraded to have 1 additional skill, but those upgrades are rare and can only be used once, the purpose being to prioritize the party members you prefer to use). So, effectively, you are giving up your one and only party slot to a partner that has very minimal damage output. You can change partners mid-combat, but that's a waste of a turn, and when enemies (as you prefer) die fairly quickly, it's sort of unnecessary to be swapping party members in the middle of trash-mob combat. So this is all to say: to me, and every play through I did of the game, Tattle always felt like a useless skill, especially because: Paper Mario's "badge" system.
In Paper Mario, you have a very basic equipment system called Badges. Basically, Mario has Badge Points. Each "Badge" uses a certain number of Badge Points in order to be equipped - depending on the badge and it's effect it could either use a large number of badge points, or use very little. Badge points could be increased with each level Mario gains. The reason I bring this up is because one of the badges you can acquire somewhat early on is called "Peek-a-Boo" which allows you to see enemy health bars so long as the badge is equipped, effectively making "tattle" functionally useless at this point.
My aforementioned concept of adding an additional auxiliary equipment slot is based loosely on this same concept - except without the whole deep and interesting Badge Point side of badges. Basically auxiliary equipment is equipment that doesn't directly benefit the player, and some players might even prefer to have nothing equipped in their auxiliary slot.

Anyways, all of that is pointless as far as the debate around my game goes. Maybe it's something you want to bring up in the overall discussion around visible HP bars, but after thinking about it some more, and I am dead serious about this, you saying it's part of my whole "give players options" mantra sold me on the idea.
My idea of implementation is this: It will be a game rule (fite me), which means you must decide at the start of the game whether you want to turn it on or not, once decided, you won't be able to change this. I haven't decided it's default behavior, though currently I am leaning towards it being disabled by default. That said, I may change my mind later. I already want to make a "Dev's Preferred" Game Rules preset, which will set Game Rules the way I prefer playing the game (ironically, such as reducing the scaling on the starting ConP formula; that one thing you, Mr. RCX, want to be able to change any time and to increase.)
Now I just have to find an HP bar plugin that can be disabled/enabled mid-game either through switches/variables or plugin commands....

Challenge and spectacle are two completely different aspects of combat design.
Fair point. 2 things I'd like to say about this:
First, you explanation told me something about the fight. You sort of made it boring? :rswt This is definitely something I'll look into changing, but... it sounds like you were using Wind attacks on him, so you were draining his ConP constantly, which effectively made him unable to use any of his skills. Fist pumping happens to restore ConP so it only happens when his ConP is low. If he was using it a lot, then that means he had trouble keeping his ConP up.

Second, probably to your disappointment, I think your concept on weak points is outside the scope of my game. Maybe in the next one it's something I will consider.



This weekend I plan to do a stream about my beta. I'll discuss how I have ingested the feedback, what feedback I have chosen to listen to and what has been ignored (and why it was ignored). I will show off some changes I have already implemented, and also I will do a play through of my own beta test to commentate about decisions and to show off how a dev would play. (I sometimes feel when playing games I am just not seeing something the dev sees or understanding something the dev knows, so always interested to see how the dev would play. Not sure if others would feel the same)
 
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RCXGaming

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Fair dues. I occasionally get migraines that stop me in my tracks, so I know how it feels.

Concerning the health-bar debate. Now, I have some hot takes below, but read all of it before you write a reply (because I think, in the end, you'll be happy with my decision)

I have a spicy hot take on Razbuten among other "video game mechanics" analysts that will get me shunned, so basically, I'll keep that to myself, but a sample size of 1 (also from an biased party) doesn't really mean much for the debate :rswt though it is interesting the premise of the video.

I mean, I brought it up because it would make a good talking point if you were to bring it up to anybody else.

Video game analysists on the internet tend to have some bizarre takes, often because they are not video game developers themselves and often consume games without doing proper research so I always have to take what they say with a grain of salt. (Raz himself in particular just kinda threw his wife into the deep end instead of easing her in with games that would be good for beginners...)

Truthfully the fact I even had one piece of evidence that happened to line up with what I wanted to say was a miracle. Felt like extra credit more than anything else.

It's sort of funny you bring up Paper Mario. Granted, it's been a few years since I played the game, but it's one of my long time favorites. I've replayed it a number of times over the years and have enjoyed Stryder's break down of it's logic (rip Stryder).
The first party member you receive has a skill called "Tattle" which does do exactly what you have described. However, the format of Paper Mario is a bit atypical compared to most other JRPGs...I mean...atypical compared to your RM type of games (my game). Your party consists of Mario + 1 partner. Each partner only has 1 skill + basic attack (if I remember correctly, they can later be upgraded to have 1 additional skill, but those upgrades are rare and can only be used once, the purpose being to prioritize the party members you prefer to use). So, effectively, you are giving up your one and only party slot to a partner that has very minimal damage output. You can change partners mid-combat, but that's a waste of a turn, and when enemies (as you prefer) die fairly quickly, it's sort of unnecessary to be swapping party members in the middle of trash-mob combat. So this is all to say: to me, and every play through I did of the game, Tattle always felt like a useless skill, especially because: Paper Mario's "badge" system.
In Paper Mario, you have a very basic equipment system called Badges. Basically, Mario has Badge Points. Each "Badge" uses a certain number of Badge Points in order to be equipped - depending on the badge and it's effect it could either use a large number of badge points, or use very little. Badge points could be increased with each level Mario gains. The reason I bring this up is because one of the badges you can acquire somewhat early on is called "Peek-a-Boo" which allows you to see enemy health bars so long as the badge is equipped, effectively making "tattle" functionally useless at this point.
My aforementioned concept of adding an additional auxiliary equipment slot is based loosely on this same concept - except without the whole deep and interesting Badge Point side of badges. Basically auxiliary equipment is equipment that doesn't directly benefit the player, and some players might even prefer to have nothing equipped in their auxiliary slot.

I've always found it odd that Peekaboo obsoletes Tattle's function of showing HP.

(Also the thing you linked doesn't lead to Stryder's channel for some reason.)

Anyways, all of that is pointless as far as the debate around my game goes. Maybe it's something you want to bring up in the overall discussion around visible HP bars, but after thinking about it some more, and I am dead serious about this, you saying it's part of my whole "give players options" mantra sold me on the idea.

Haha gottem. :cool:

My idea of implementation is this: It will be a game rule (fite me), which means you must decide at the start of the game whether you want to turn it on or not, once decided, you won't be able to change this. I haven't decided it's default behavior, though currently I am leaning towards it being disabled by default. That said, I may change my mind later. I already want to make a "Dev's Preferred" Game Rules preset, which will set Game Rules the way I prefer playing the game (ironically, such as reducing the scaling on the starting ConP formula; that one thing you, Mr. RCX, want to be able to change any time and to increase.)
Now I just have to find an HP bar plugin that can be disabled/enabled mid-game either through switches/variables or plugin commands....

There's not enough ghost peppers in this post to count as a hot take, sorry.

All jokes aside - truthfully I would have been fine with "no, I'm not going to do it no matter what you say" because this is the internet and I'm an outside party giving insight on a project that isn't theirs.

So you know, seeing my words have any effect at all is a pleasant surprise.... but at the end of the day, what you do with your project is what you do with your project.

Fair point. 2 things I'd like to say about this:
First, you explanation told me something about the fight. You sort of made it boring? :rswt This is definitely something I'll look into changing, but... it sounds like you were using Wind attacks on him, so you were draining his ConP constantly, which effectively made him unable to use any of his skills. Fist pumping happens to restore ConP so it only happens when his ConP is low. If he was using it a lot, then that means he had trouble keeping his ConP up.

What made the fight boring wasn't that his MP was drained and he was only using his regular attack. His regular attack really did kill me when he put that fire stack debuff on to drain my HP.

It was that he had too much HP to chew through and made the fight overstay its welcome. Which in hindsight might have been because the element stacking wasn't working properly to make the damage keep going up so it doesn't feel HP Sponge-y.

Second, probably to your disappointment, I think your concept on weak points is outside the scope of my game. Maybe in the next one it's something I will consider.

I agree it would be wise to save it for the next project instead of trying to retroactively put it into this one... since you said Fidel is only like 5 hours long and you intend there to be replayability aspects to it.

Any idea that doesn't get used is always prime material for a new game, I always say.
 
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Lunacero

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I really like the concept and the music is stellar! Best of luck on this!
 

Michael Primo

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I'd like to try it too, if it's possible!
 

TheAM-Dol

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Here is the stream where I went over the feedback and also play tested my own beta test. I had technical difficulties at the start, and as a result, unfortunately OBS defaulted my microphone to my webcam instead of my normal mic. Sorry about the audio quality. (You can use the time stamps to skip to when I begin playing. If you don't see the time stamps, load the video on the Youtube page itself, instead of watching the embed.)




@RCXGaming thanks for letting me know about Stryder's video. Something weird has happened. I tried copying the URL directly from Stryder's channel and pasting it back in and it would always take me to an entirely different youtube channel. So, I have changed the link to his most popular video instead.

@Lunacero thanks for the comment! I hope you will play it when it is released (or at least give the full soundtrack a list, hahaha)

@Michael Primo I'll send you a link tomorrow. If I forget, feel free to remind me.
 

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I like the changes you made there though, but I also wonder why
the fish pool levers turn at the same time if you do it on the top,
as the bottom one does only that one.

as I always turn them off as it could drain to the next one if pulled.

I didn't watch the entire stream where I wasn't able to get there yet.
but I got more time tomorrow to bughunt for you :)

and write down all positive/negative feedback to you.
 

woootbm

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Heyo. Guess I'll put this out here for community discussion. Sorry I kinda took notes in a slapdash manner.

I'll start with some quick high-level notes:
  • Hey, this feels like an actual game with game design and ideas. Nice!
  • I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would (I had warned the game looked like it wouldn't be the type of game I like).
    • There were still some points I didn't like but I'm not bringing them up because I can safely say these points are 100% coming from genre bias and would not be useful feedback.
  • I beat the demo in something like 2 hours. I guess I'm slow.
So now I'll get down to the nitty gritty points:

  • When using the "Show Choice" event, default choice should be "none" sometimes (like during tutorial so you don't hit the first choice again once you've read enough and are mashing out). Not sure where else this might come up later. But I think it's a good piece of QoL
  • No timing needed to grab fish. You can just mash. If you want this to be harder you'd want to lock out the player for mistimed interacts.
  • Any chance the water lever puzzle could have a separate switch to reset it? Or maybe reset right after use? It's a minor QoL thing but it was a little confusing why the levers would reset sometimes. Although I did figure out they just reset automatically after an attempt.
  • Why does this error message use an acronym, "wrong RID?" Don't know what this means (Edit: read your post, so it's left in debug. I'm just leaving this bullet point in case it's good to know how many people encounter this?)
  • Random suggestion: different tones for jump sound effect. Either randomized or some sort of pattern. I get a little tired of hearing this sound over and over
  • What is the point of combat? I don't get xp, and enemies respawn. There was a really big enemy placed near a save I was glad to avoid (A cerberus and friends). I went back and fought him but got nothing for it. I guess you get musical notes which are money(?) but I was quickly thinking they're worthless. And if they are worth something, why not pick the optimal one to fight for grinding?
  • Not a fan of the blue screen gag, heh. Thankfully I was pretty sure it wasn't real so maybe I'm being a baby that much more. I just have a lot of anxiety about this kinda thing.
  • Is there a way to get the combat log to stay on the screen longer? Seems like there's some important text in there, and it's pretty hard to catch since the combat animation speed seems to be slightly higher
  • So I lose all the stuff I worked for before the arena fight. I guess this is a rug pull but man I'd expect to just skip all side content after this happens to me. I'm not sure how this plays out in the full game, though.
  • Bad luck: Was having trouble navigating the arena to find stuff. So I just cut a run short after getting 3 chests. I got no equipment, only items. And...
  • ... the slabs don't work on the last boss? Apparently I didn't have enough ConP? I used the item from the item menu
  • Why am I able to use abilities I don't have enough ConP to use?
  • Are there elemental weaknesses? I'm not sure I saw much point to using anything but Wind. Damage upfront and a status that's 100% instead of a small chance like Shock. Maybe I should have tried shock more.
  • Not being able to see enemy health makes it harder to know who to prioritize. I did kind of get a notion eventually, but it meant I never wanted to use Fire because they could be dead well before I even get a proc if I'm unlucky.
  • No health bars also makes it hard to perceive if an attack will end a fight sooner or later. I go from dealing 6 damage to... 8? It's not really palpable that any choice is winning more efficiently.
  • As a result, fighting didn't really have much strategy. Just dealing damage and then healing.
  • Poise often felt more worthwhile than attack. But maybe that's the point.
And for this little questionnaire:
How well did you understand where to go & what to do?
  • Once I realized how much I needed to figure out on my own I got the idea.
How difficult were the puzzles?
  • Fairly easy. The water lever one took the most poking around to get.
How did you feel about the overall length of combat?
  • Too long. For the level of simplicity I expected like half as many turns to win.
How did you feel about the overall frequency of combat?
  • Maybe a lot for others? I like combat, so it was good for me.
How well do you understand confidence?
  • Pretty well. I just question the usefulness of ConBal.
How well do you understand element stacking?
  • Not sure how useful it is in execution. Seemed like just hitting things was only marginally less effective.
How well do you understand element juggling?
  • This seemed the least useful. Why lose my stacks (which also buff damage) of status effects for... what like +2 damage?
Did you die/fail a puzzle?
  • The arena.
If so, why? (For combat: did it feel unfair? For puzzles: did you understand what to do?)
  • Was too far in. Couldn't find my way back to the center.
If you stopped before reaching the end of the beta, what motivated you to quit?
  • I made it to the end!
 

TheAM-Dol

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Hey folks,
with the conclusion of the beta test I wanted to go over some of the changes that have been or will be implemented to address some of the issues with my game. This won't be a common occurence on this thread, as I see no reason to constantly push changelogs when there is no publicly available demo. However, considering some folks did experience the game and may want to know how I have addressed the criticism, I will discuss those below. (Some of these points were already discussed in the stream, but I'll reiterate them here)



The "3 Pools" puzzle room seemed to be a great puzzle, but did lead to some confusion. This was partly due to players not having enough information present as well as some of the red-herrings making things too confusing. I have made the following adjustments to draw the focus more on solving the puzzle itself and less about figuring out what the puzzle is.
  • The overall map has been crunched down slightly, reducing the number of tiles between each tank by around 3 tiles each. The purpose of this is for the next point:
  • Now when the player steps near the 3 locks (levers), the camera will pan and zoom out to frame all 3 tanks into a single camera frame. Due to the way Terrax Lighting draws the "shadow" canvas, the shadow canvas must be de-rendered when the camera zooms out. The result makes it difficult to tell when the lamps next to the ponds have been illuminated. That brings me to the next point.
  • When a lock is set, an ! indicator will flash above the lamp next to the lock. This is to help draw attention to which lock has been set.
  • Finally, I had 2 red-herrings built into the puzzle to intentionally mislead the player. However, one of those red-herrings was more of a nuisance rather than actually benefiting the challenge of the puzzle. Whenever the player filled the pools with water, the player could still adjust the locks of the pools. Whenever the player drained the pool, all the locks would reset. This lead to confusing random lever switching and even after understanding the puzzle, sometimes impatient players (including myself) might adjust the locks before draining the water. Whenever the player drained the water, the locks they had just set would get reset. To correct this confusing behavior, it is now impossible to change the locks whenever a pool is filled with water. A message will pop up saying that the water needs to be drained first.
  • Not implemented yet, and undecided whether I will implement this or not is a new Game Rule for "Puzzle Difficulty" or maybe "Puzzle Hints". By enabling it, a hint stone or some fairy dust will appear on the map to give some more hints.
Next, I would like to address the overall level design itself.
  • Some players complained about excessive jumping, particularly in one of the rooms just after acquiring the tool of the level. I have restructured the map and cut down on the overall amount of jumping necessary.
  • Though it seemed rare for players to get lost in the main portion of the dungeon, I have used stone tiles throughout each of the maps to provide a subtle hint as to where to go. (Along with adding these new stone tile detailing to the maps, I have added some other decoration and detailing to the maps)
  • There is a soft-lock prevention mechanic built into any puzzle that has the potential to get the player soft-locked. Originally this mechanic would trigger a timer whenever the player was within a specified region of the map. After enough time had passed, some fairy dust would appear and the player would be able to reset their position at the cost of some health. One problem with this, however is that certain positions of the map would be "outside the region" and therefore, resetting the timer, even though the player was still softlocked. Some adjustments have been made to this: First, the soft-lock prevention timer is no longer tied to a region, instead it is triggered by carefully placed events the player is funneled into. Second, the soft-lock timer now has a built in pause function. Whenever the game thinks the player may be "solving" the puzzle (this is determined by the player interacting with certain puzzle elements), the timer will pause for a little bit. This doesn't outright reset the timer, meaning that if my presumption is wrong, the timer will continue from where it left off.
On the note of systems and mechanics, let's talk about optimization and a new mechanic:
  • The downside of having a powerful PC is not being able to tell what the general consumer will experience with performance (subtle flex?) . I will admit to being blissfully unaware of some of the performance problems I had created by using excessive parallel events. Many of these parallel events have been either outright removed completely by integrating them smartly into player/event-touch events, or otherwise the parallel event has been consolidated into my primary "DoOnce" event (which now has a somewhat misleading name) which handles setting up map-specific game elements. In addition, upon loading each new map, there tends to be a brief dip in frame times (this was present even on my own machine). To smooth out the the frame-timings, I have added a load-buffer upon transitioning to a new map. That sounds pretty technical, but it's not: The player is set to wait while the game loads each map-specific element, then there is a short wait buffer in case there is any other hitches, and finally the player is released and free to move (and this is all masked behind a black screen). This results in map transitions feeling much smoother overall. (It's funny, I had implemented this load buffer in my previous level. I don't know why I neglected to do that for this level.)
  • Another concern that came up was the number of empty deadends. On the one hand, making every route of the map serve a purpose towards the game just feels inauthentic and immersion breaking. However, I also understand the frustration of going out of your way only to find...nothing. Most games have different rewards depending on how far out of your way you had to go, where crafting materials being a low-value reward that still effectively rewards players for going out of their way. The challenge is that my game doesn't have a crafting system, so I wasn't sure how to solve this problem. The solution I came up with is the "Present" system. You will be able to find abandoned present boxes scattered throughout the levels. These present boxes can be gifted to any of the NPCs in town for a small reward. Depending on who you give it to, you will receive either a reward of Notes (money), Player experience, or Community experience. The reason I like this solution is 2 fold: 1) This nicely marries the level exploration stuff with the town in a game-play focused way, rather than narrative focused way. 2) There is a consistent theme of "choice" going on throughout my game, and the ability to choose which NPC to gift the presents to to get different types of reward lends creadence to one of the core philosophies of the game.
Finally are 2 things I haven't decided how to approach: Combat, and Caldera Colosso.

First, Caldera Colosso. I want to share this image with everyone:

The Green circles indicate chest locations.


Caldera.png


Unfortunately, not many players managed to make it all the way to Caldera Colosso. Those who did all reported getting lost. I am conflicted on this. The main goal of Caldera Colosso is to keep a mental map of the route you travel. The further you travel the harder it is to keep that mental map and the longer it takes to return to the center. This is the risk-reward system built into it. However, aware some players might get lost, I used subtle sign-posting to help players navigate home. The purple tiles are always painted on the main route. As you get closer to the center, the frequency of pillars/torches/decorations increases. However, it still seemed players weren't picking up on that. I am not sure the best way to provide subtle sign posting that doesn't break the original intent of Caldera Colosso, while still providing enough information for players to figure out where to go.


Finally:
Combat.
Combat is a no go for this one, chief. Gonna have to work overtime figuring this one out.




It's clear I still have a lot of work to do. I may adjust the release window for this game as it seems like I have at least another month's worth of work in the Cave before I can even think about moving on to working on the next level.
I have also adjusted the expected play time of the game. Most players spent around 2 hours playing this dungeon, and when I recorded and timed my own play session I spent an hour and a half, so clearly my time estimates are just...off base.

Anyways, take care, and see you in the next one!
 

ShadowDragon

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I didn't know that the map was THAT big though, but pretty impressive.
and no, I couldn't get all the green chest, which I might have looted 6 of them
and trapped on my way back on 2min which I hoped to reach out.

but nice map though :)
 

SGHarlekin

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The Caldera colosso is something I would expect to be an extra challenge, some side content that can give amazing rewards. For seomthing that requires this good of a memory of the map to be in the main plot, is an absolute no-go imho.

Seeing the whole map makes it look easier than it actually is. The amount of lava all over the screen (mind you the walkways also look similarly animated) just makes my vision blur after some time. Repeating it to even get the layout of the map is frustrating, and if you happen to not beat the boss afterwards, tough luck, do it all over again.

Loot in the chests is randomized too, so you might just be screwed even if you actually manage to loot some.

All this will just make the player quit (as it did me). I do like the concept, just like the rest of the game's concept, but this seems too hard to be a main plot thing.
 

TheAM-Dol

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The Caldera colosso is something I would expect to be an extra challenge, some side content that can give amazing rewards. For seomthing that requires this good of a memory of the map to be in the main plot, is an absolute no-go imho.

Seeing the whole map makes it look easier than it actually is. The amount of lava all over the screen (mind you the walkways also look similarly animated) just makes my vision blur after some time. Repeating it to even get the layout of the map is frustrating, and if you happen to not beat the boss afterwards, tough luck, do it all over again.

Loot in the chests is randomized too, so you might just be screwed even if you actually manage to loot some.

All this will just make the player quit (as it did me). I do like the concept, just like the rest of the game's concept, but this seems too hard to be a main plot thing.
It's not going to be for everyone, and I am okay with that. It's intended to be frustrating and challenging. If it didn't evoke some sort of emotion, it wouldn't be very memorable.
 

ShadowDragon

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I can tell it doesn't let me quit the game, as I like challenges like that,
as if you get better, you can loot more, but you have luck or no luck,
but as long the boss can be beaten, I'm fine with it.

loot is more to make the boss battle easier or harder on the loot.
so I love that challenge :)

@TheAM-Dol did you check the jump block where I got stuck? which
I was around the center part again, but blocked.

I hope you did fix it or shouldn't be there if I need to walk further around.
but keep up the nice work, the gameplay is really, really good :)

I love the mechanic you placed there, but to bad you changed the
lava puzzle for the tool which was really easy to navigate as it wasn't
that big though, but I look forward it to help you further testing it if you need it.
 

TheAM-Dol

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I want address a few more points about Caldera Colosso too. I wrote the pervious update last night at 1AM on a work night :eek:
So I was sort of rushing the the post and therefore didn't provide enough detail.

First of all, my pervious reply to SG Harlekin might be controversial. Frustrating game play is usually not perceived very well, so why would I deliberately make something frustrating? There is inherently a disparity between a beta tester and a general player. A beta tester didn't pay for the game, and they are playing the game without the expectation of getting invested into it. Progress won't be persistent, story is limited, bugs expected.
However, money changes a lot. Once someone has paid for a game they are inherently invested into the game immediately because they have spent money. This makes it much less likely players will simply quit just because they don't like one section of the game, because quitting will effectively mean throwing away money. Though I don't have any data for this, I bet if you were to compare free games to premium games, the retention rate for players is going to be higher than free games. Does a premium price tag outright stop players from quitting? No, of course not, but the immediate monetary investment means players are more likely to stick it out through tougher parts. Which brings new to why it's frustrating.
Ironically, I'm usually someone who takes the side of having accessibility through difficulty options in the "Dark Souls difficulty" debate, but Caldera Colosso is different in this case. Dark Souls is the whole game, Caldera Colosso is only one part. And the underlying crux of the dark souls debate for those who DO NOT want difficulty options often comes down to the satisfaction of overcoming a difficult trial. I agree with this. (just not for the whole game). Caldera Colosso is difficult, and the point is overcoming that difficulty. However to prevent this debate being misunderstood as me saying "it's absolutely perfect in every way!", there are flaws with it. I don't want it to feel frustrating because it's unfair. I want it to feel frustrating because it's difficult. Unfair and difficult are not the same thing.
As I eluded to, Caldera Colosso is only one small part of the overall game. It is not the whole game, and the only other portion of the game similar to it is the room where you acquire the tools (called Sulfarata Piccolo). And the only reason why these 2 rooms are similar is because Sulfarata Piccolo is intended to be a tutorial for Caldera Colosso. You may have noticed they both require the player to explore a map quickly and return to the center before the timer ends. (you'll also notice parody between the names)
When a game becomes predictable, it begins to feel boring. If my game is always "go to map. Solve puzzle. Kill enemy." it becomes boring. Caldera Colosso is intended to be an unexpected surprise. As Mr. Orc had expressed in his stream, he had begun to feel fatigued of the level, which is exactly how I wanted it to feel. When you exit the cave and enter the path to the peak of the mountain, you get a brief moment of respite, then you are sent back into the cave, but it's intended to be misleading. You'll notice the camera stays focused tightly on Fidel as to not provide the least bit of a hint where you are. When you crash into the mountain and see more of that goddammed purple dirt, I want players thinking "Oh my God, more of this?", but as they begin to move the audience becomes louder and the purple dirt makes way for the dazzling arena, becoming an unexpected surprise. Maintaining unpredictability with spikes in difficulty and/or player mood is going to leave a longer lasting impression. It may not pay off in the short term, but I do strongly believe that the pay off will be far bigger and valuable in the long term.



To address @ShadowDragon ,
Sorry, I just downloaded your information yesterday, but I've been swamped with work. I know some other folks have been waiting for my reply too so I hope everyone will have some patience. I have a queue of people to reply to that I'm going through one at a time.

To clarify, however, I haven't changed the room where you acquire the tool. Sulfarata Piccolo is still the same. One of the rooms right after Sulfarata Piccolo had way too much jumping in it (the room with the 3 enemy groups). I reduced the overall amount of jumping necessary for this room. You still need to jump, just not as much.
 

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So I managed to scare my chief. Between shifts I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, so prior to it I'd told him "If I ain't coming today, they've kept me there.". Then as I was asleep, my phone died. So I overslept and through the entire time I was unreachable.
I spent so much time toiling in VX Ace frankensteining scripts together only for MV to come along and just... have everything.

The overworld tool system in particular I thought was gonna take me a million years to recreate, but nope. Thanks Moghunter.
Going to go live way earlier than usual tonight, pretty much in 20 minutes, purely because I'm bored. :LZSlol:

So... I'm gonna be a parent... XD

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