Looking for games to LP!

Discussion in 'Maker Casual' started by Studio Blue, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hello everyone! In this channel update, we talk about the future of the Studio Blue YouTube channel, Let's Plays, and more!

     
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  2. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hello everyone! In this RPG Maker Let's Play, we explore the fantastic world of Everstone by Jai-R, another game by a rather prolific game developer. We're of two minds with this game, as you will see, and have both praise and criticism to heap upon it.

    First off, this game has so much going for it technically. The visual presentation is on point, the battle system is fair and balanced (we had only the smallest issue with the boss), the ally AI is well-constructed, and the maps are simply amazing. Jai-R's been making games for a while and this is, by far, his best so far.

    However, Everstone's weakness comes from the writing, both in context and execution. While the content of the story is fine (the opening hour shows it off as a cliche hero-saves-the-world adventure), the developer falls into the deadly trap of writer's convenience very early on, and never fully recovers. The main character and his companion don't show any development in the first hour of what is purportedly a five-hour game. Lastly, the grammatical errors are so plentiful that they make reading the dialogue a chore. A lot needs to be fixed from a story and text stand-point before this game can be ready to go Gold.

    Having said that, we've critiqued several of Jai-R's games and know he can do it, so we're not worried. Once those details are ironed out, we're sure this will be an amazing game, one that we'd recommend to anyone who likes action RPGs.

     
  3. koban21

    koban21 Villager Member

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    Hello guys. I've been away from the rpg maker scene for a few months. You may recall I had a game I was developing called Gybonis that was briefly discussed on your discord channel for a bit. I lost interest however and have left that project. But recently I've gotten a new idea and when the time comes I would like to submit the game to you guys to take a look at, that hopefully won't be totally awful.
     
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  4. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hello everyone! In this RPG Maker Let's Play, we enter the dark and mysterious world of Nocturne: Rebirth, an old RPG Maker XP game that has extremely high rankings on most download sites.

    From a presentation and visual standpoint, this game is five stars. From the title screen to the battle engine (so much fun!), to the simple movement and rotation of the character sprites, everything about this game is style, style, and more style. We can't say enough good things about how this game looks and feels. The written content is amazing as well, and despite it being obviously translated, the words flow like a river. Very well done!

    However, when you get to the meat of the game, it's design, and take into account the story flow, things break down very quickly. Severe writer's convenience plagues the game after the opening fight, and never quite leaves. The female lead, while an acceptable anime-ish trope, doesn't show any promise of development, and the main character is an unacceptable take on the quiet, stoic hero.

    But worst of all, the game actually rail-roads you through the opening town, forcing you on a linear path instead of allowing you to explore. This is unforgivable and ruins the experience. The player must have a degree of exploration and freedom, especially with the first town. This game fails to do that.

    Other developers can take note of how not to present a story and characters; inversely, they can take note of what to strive for in the visual and presentation department. By solidly writing out your characters and designing a participatory critical path, and avoiding writer convenience, you can create a strong game that will stand on its own. Now taking that and combining it with the stunning presentation of Nocturne Rebirth, you can create a game that will stand out above all others.

     
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  5. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I especially liked your commentary for this one, your suggestions for how to work the game differently were hilarious. I'd love to see you actually make a village of werewolves, blond vampire etc.
     
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  6. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    We were kinda hoping Teal's "guess" was right. A village of werewolves woulda been bad ass! XD
     
  7. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    Hard to get through the first couple of minutes, the writing in this game absolutely horrendous... :/
     
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  8. koban21

    koban21 Villager Member

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    I hope you guys will consider my latest project if i get it good enough to be presentable. My last game project basically was not good.
     
  9. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Which game are you referring to?
     
  10. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Which game is that?
     
  11. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hello everyone! We're joined by Toasty of RPGTime (https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCMVFXjnAFK_ofFa3rxpKVaA) as we color our way into the world of Rainbow City by Draw Mic Studio. This is a game that starts off strong... and quickly falls apart.

    The custom graphics in this game are amazing, and the music sets the tone perfectly. The story is unique and the characters are endearing. This game's presentation is A+ all the way.

    The writing starts off really well done, with only minor mistakes and translation errors. However, within 45 minutes, we noticed increasingly serious issues with the grammar and spelling. By the time we got to the end of the game, some of the text was almost unreadable.

    The battle gameplay is good, very imaginative, and fun.

    Where this game needs considerable remodeling is the puzzles. Most of them are just not good, and have serious repetition problems. The fetch quests in the early part of the game are not fun, and the 30 flowers quest is just infuriatingly annoying. We can't imagine anyone wanting to do these quests. We'd have put the game down at the forest entrance. No to the boulder push puzzle... just... no.

    Some of the later puzzles, like the one to get the white treasure box containing 100 pebbles, is well done. The developer needs to use puzzles like that instead of the ones mentioned above.

    Overall, while this game needs some serious rework, it has a solid premise and, if fixed, could be one of the most unique and fun games we've ever played.

     
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  12. koban21

    koban21 Villager Member

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    You won't find it anywhere on the forum, but it was called gybonis. I deleted all the game files and the thread here due to being overly frustrated. I had firmly believed I did as much as I possibly could with the game, and I thought it was great, then I show it to a couple people, and i'm told the game is nowhere near finished and I felt so upset and so defeated, I just deleted everything related to the game. I had been working for years on the story and was prepared to tell it. And for several people to tell me that what I thought was the absolute limit of my abilities was not only not good enough, but the end result is so bad, and so unfinished, no one would dare touch it, I just felt so defeated.

    I had worked on that demo for almost a year before showing it off. That demo was what I believe to be the limit of what I am able to do. I swore off traditional rpg making after realizing that apparently I don't have any talent for it.
     
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  13. VisitorsFromDreams

    VisitorsFromDreams Veteran Veteran

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    Sorry, I was referring to Nocturne: Rebirth. I understand the game was translated from another language but the dialogue feels like something a 14 year old who has just fallen in love with anime for the first time would write. The writing flows well, but the dialogue itself is some next level embaressing.
     
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  14. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Without seeing your game, we can guess that you are being too hard on yourself. No one is a great game maker out of the starting gate, regardless of how much work they put into a project. You have to learn, stumble, fall, skin your knees, get back up, dust yourself off, and go forward again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It takes time to get good at anything.

    That is why you offer your product up for criticism by others. Let them take a look at it and tell you both where it's good and where it needs improvement. Then you learn from your mistakes, revisit your work, and try again.

    Hopefully, this is making sense. You can't make a great game without first making crap, then turning that crap into gold.
     
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  15. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Hello everyone! In this RPG Maker Let's Play, we explore the short game that is Finding Chibae by RoooodWorks. This was a game made in a week, and we use it as an example of how and how not to create a short, contest-like game.

    On the positives, this game has great mapping and effects, with short puzzles that are easy to solve and an environment that is atmospheric. The characters (all children) are adorable and their banter is precious. The game's plot is simplistic (it's a standard dungeon crawl), but it has its charm.

    Critically speaking, though, this game falls apart with its balancing. The character levels, the weapons and armor, and the enemies do not scale in an appropriate way. This becomes very apparent in the second half of the dungeon when elements come into play. Moreover, since elements are so important, the game needs the ability to change equipment during combat. The fighters become useless, putting all of the burden on the mage; and the mage needs a holy-damage spell before the last battle. The villain's story doesn't come across as sympathetic. Lastly, the grammar needs lots of fixing.

    When you create a short game, especially for a contest, you need to be as tight as possible in your presentation and execution. Here is a check-list we developed from playing this game:

    1. Short, simple plot that has one or two twists at the most.
    2. Sympathetic characters and just as sympathetic villains.
    3. Simple puzzles presented as part of the map.
    4. A few ornate maps as opposed to a bunch of simple ones.
    5. Balance everything and check it dozens of times.
    6. For every strategic point (like element swapping) have a system in place to enable it (like changing equipment in battle).
    7. Grammar and spell check everything.
    8. Don't end on a cliffhanger. Give a solid ending.

    While these are just as important in a longer game, you have to cram all this into 30 to 60 minutes of a short game. That is the real challenge, and we recommend every game designer try it at least once. If you learn how to present a short, fun game, you will inevitably carry that into your longer, more epic games.

     
  16. Kato-A

    Kato-A Artist and developer Veteran

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    Hey!
    Thank you very much for playing my game.
    Sorry for the mistakes, the last part of the demo I added them at the last moment just so that you could play it, so I couldn't check the grammar, besides that english is not my first language.
    Too bad you felt that the puzzles were tedious. That of the 30 flowers was not so difficult, almost all were in the same place, but I understand, I will put less flowers.
    They were 5 minutes or less to finish the demo and if it stays in a super emotional part, it hurts that you didn't follow that little bit more.
    But thank you very much for all the feedbacks!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
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  17. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Thank you for the reply! :) We do hold our opinion that the demo should end right after the emotional scene between White and Red, and feel a splash screen with teasers on what's to come in the game (maybe go over some of the features) would be really good. Ultimately, though, you have to do what you think is best for your game.

    Good luck!
     
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  18. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    DISCLAIMER: We received this game for free to critique/review. Also, the thumbnail is broken. Will fix when possible.

    Hello everyone! In this RPG Maker Let's Play, we explore the labyrinthian world of Labyronia Elements, a game with a helluva a presentation built upon a shaky foundation.

    This one gets an A+ for presentation, from the custom artwork to the beautiful atmosphere to the haunting soundtrack. Everything about this game oozes a Dark Souls style that really resonates with us.

    There are a few minor issues, like calling the protagonist "Dark One" or using the lantern effect too much, but these are either quite forgivable or easily remedied.

    However, this game has several problems on a fundamental and philosophical level that inhibit it from being an overall solid project. We're going to list them out, one issue per paragraph, to best help the developer understand where the game isn't succeeding.

    First, the story is presented via two info dumps, one when the game is first loaded, and one when meeting the Goddess Areatha. The first one is perfect, as it serves as the game's opening cinematic, and sets the stage gloriously. The second, however, is a straight dump of information that is quite overwhelming. We've viewed the video twice and are still trying to figure out what 15 things we need to find along with 3 other things, 5 pendants, and 7 radiant ones. We're pretty intelligent people, and yet we're completely confused.

    The second lends itself to the first: the writing. The developer is trying to write eloquently and with a high sense of self, as many fantasy authors do, but the word choice and sentence structure make it into something rather heavy-handed. It's hard to take the characters seriously when every statement is a mission of dire importance or the vow of eternal servitude. While those are just two examples, it's how the text came across to us.

    Next, we have the characters you meet in the early stages of the game. There is zero empathy for the Dark One, the Goddess Areatha, or the plight of the world. It's so high-level and ethereal that us mere mortals cannot sympathize with the players on this vast, cosmic field. A game needs to create that player/character bond immediately, and this game doesn't do that.

    Lastly, we have the fundamental issue with this game: It's not the kind of RPG it advertises itself to be. It's a dungeon-crawling maze game with RPG elements, but the store page makes it look like a typical high-fantasy RPG that contains a few mazes. The entire game is a maze: The world map is a giant maze, and every dungeon is assumedly a maze. While there are some players who will enjoy this, the store page needs to be more honest with what they are getting into before they purchase the game.

    Here is the biggest issue: Tight-corridor mazes on their own is inherently bad map design. You can have one or two in your game, maybe even a large one if the game really sells it, but to have the entire game be reminiscent of a paper maze you solve in a Sunday paper is unforgivable. Labirynths can be open with rooms and hallways and secret passages and so many other things than a tight-corridor maze. That narrows down the player base significantly. What could be otherwise an amazing game is done a complete disservice, as it creates more frustration than excitement. And for a game like Labyronia Elements, which is 80+ hours long, the use of nothing but tight-corridor mazes as opposed to a myriad of other possibilities, all with could have been labyrinthine in nature, seems just plain lazy.

    It is only fair to point out that we played the game for less than an hour; however, you have five to ten minutes to hook a player into the game, and thirty to pull them into the main story. Every problem we've pointed out may very well be fixed as one continues to play the game... but we don't feel most players will give the game that much of a chance. We always try to help the developers with our critiques and have nothing but respect for a person creating a full game. It's extremely difficult, time-consuming, and monetarily draining. The presentation in this game is amazing and shows a real talent for storytelling. Our hat goes off to the developer, but until they fix these issues, we honestly feel this game will never be the best it can be.

     
  19. Labyrinthine

    Labyrinthine Artist/ Developer Veteran

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    @Studio Blue
    Thank you for your honest critique! There are a lot of things I want to comment and clarify, though! :)

    I have to say not nearly every dungeon or area in the game are mazes. The cities in the four elemental worlds are usually open areas with some puzzle elements, and there are some dungeons in the game with no mazes at all. There are also some worlds where these mazes are mostly absent, such as the World of Earth and Air (even though you can surely find a maze or two from every world). For example, the majority of content in the Air world happens in a completely open city full of NPC-given sidequests.

    I don't know, but I think some people might misunderstand the worlds-concept in the beginning because of the maps. Instead of the said worlds being different areas in this one map, they are actually completely different planets with their own equal-sized world maps. Perhaps this would've required further explaining than just putting an image of five planets in the intro.

    At any rate and as you stated, this statement is probably true in many instances of the full game: "It's extremely difficult, time-consuming, and monetarily draining." I can't really disagree with that (especially with the beginning being as hard as it is), or the one where you say the player needs to be drawn into the game immediately. I tried to do it with the direct opening battle against Scylla and the following scene with Areatha, but apparently the briefing for the story is still too heavy from the start, confusing the player. The worst thing is I actually knew this while creating the scenes and I was thinking about the classical "wall of text-issue" the entire time, but I just wasn't able to find a way to tell less and still give the player enough reason and momentum for his quest. That's why the Dark One kind of goes almost over the fourth wall saying "there is a lot to do, etc.". I was hoping the cutscene with the Pendant would lighten it up a bit by showing some stuff as I was telling it, but apparently the heaviness is still there, with way too much info for the player to handle in one sitting. I should've just told the player to go search for 3 Guardians in the beginning, to open the seal to one world, instead of the over-feed.

    I should've probably given the player less info in smaller chunks in the beginning, as you seemed to state. Also, in my own opinion and for my own critique for the opening, the hunting for the Guardians is somewhat repetitive after the intro scenes. Perhaps I should've given the player more immediate access to the elemental planets?

    I'm wondering whether the size of this game itself might drive some players away? I think someone stated people today have less time in their hands for larger games, especially if there are stuff like mazes in them. Also, today's players have gotten used to games with more linear fashion progression and clear quest logs, unlike in the heyday with the first Zelda and such where you had no idea where to go and kept on dying on at the start because of the difficulty.

    For the various reasons mentioned, I'll probably never create a game of this scale again, but rather try something smaller and more condensed next. Also, my games have a habit of always being too hard from the beginning, which is is unfortunately intentional -.- I kind of like difficult games myself :-D (and I know there exists at least some masochistic retro audience like me for this stuff.) At any rate, my next game will definitely be easier from the start. I wouldn't wanna drive half the player base away every time because of high early difficulty -.-

    About the characters, the main ones develop quite slowly in this game, so I think it's just natural for the player to not feel too much of anything for them at the first sight. Also, the Dark One is at least partly designed to be a blank slate-type of character to represent the player himself.

    In some worlds, different characters might be more sympathetic right from the start, since they have actual character unlike the Dark One. Then there is stuff like the Earth World, where dialogue is almost absent since it's more a survival in the jungle type of thing with just 3 player-controlled characters. This is very different in certain other worlds like Fire, where you have 6 playable characters with a heavy storyline full of cutscenes. What I attempted to do was create five different kind of experiences in one game, which sounds like a mess on the paper but at least this structure has been received quite well. In short, one world might be more based around puzzles and progression, while some other puts its focus on story. Of course, the underlying gaming mechanics with the element draining and gear points systems stays the same throughout the thing, for keeping the game's main mechanics consistent.

    About the writing, it's not all that highflown in all worlds. If it were, it would get tiring pretty fast. It would be almost as bad as playing "epic" music non-stop in every scene of the game including the quiet ones (looking at stuff like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow -.-) Mostly, speeches like this are reserved to the scenes dealing with the overall plot. The different stories in the worlds are usually a lot lighter to read, or at least I hope they are.

    Anyways, I want to thank you again for the well-made video and critique! :) It's very nice to hear you liked the presentation and the music, since I put very much effort on these aspects (with the great musicians and artists I worked with) :-D Some people in this thread seemed to not like the visuals too much, which is understandable because of different tastes, and the fact that moving images tend to look better in general. There's just that much info you can pack on a still image, especially if it's a part of a larger area not packed full of details.

    I noticed you seemed to like the game at first, but the tone went noticeably down at the briefing section with Areatha. So, I quite obviously concluded the info dump firstly, and the mazes secondly were your main problems. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to hook you in the game with the briefing because of the information overload. The part seems to divide the audience, but it's good to confirm it truly is a problem to some people, since I'm sure many feel the same way about it. Also, I wouldn't really recommend this game to anyone who can't stand mazes (since there are, after all, quite a lot of them too). I think I'm adding some kind of info about the labyrinths on the Steam page, though. I somehow forgot the entire thing, even though it's mentioned in the first game's description (by this I mean a game called "The World of Labyrinths: Labyronia.")

    Even though the critique deals with just a fraction of the game, I'll be taking notes for possible future improvements concerning said issues! No more over complicated briefings, too hard early difficulty and confusing starting directions! Here's to hoping I actually remember all of it this time, since I tend repeat certain mannerisms throughout the series... :-D (gotta feeling I've heard certain points of critique in this review, even several times, concerning my first games...)

    P.S. I'm afraid the mazes are such an integral part of Labyronia's world and story, they're here to stay in one form or another... I've heard there are some weird people liking them, after all xD
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
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  20. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    Thank you for your professional response. Let us respond to you in kind.

    Our general feeling, based on what we saw and talking to those who have played your game, is that there are too many tight-corridor mazes. If you want to keep that, however, for thematic reasons, you 100% have to inform potential players of that from the onset. That means the website and Steam page.

    Does that mean that the majority of the Air World is a large city? Or most of the action in the Air World takes place in a large city.

    We got that there are five planets. What we don't want to see (as players and critiquers) is five planets with mazes. We understand that is the thematic angle of your game, but it turned us away from the experience. We prefer that you design your mazes to be something other than tight-corridor mazes.

    If you cannot, please update your Steam page to reflect this.

    Yes. You have 5 to 10 minutes to hook the player (closer to five), and 30 minutes to pull them into the story.

    The opening battle only hooks in the action, not the story or the characters. The scene with Areatha is too much of an info dump to hook or pull. What is needed is something to make the Dark One sympathetic.

    If you knew this was an issue, why do it? There are a ton of ways to work around it. We're guessing here, but it seems likely that the problem is something along these lines: You wanted the game to start the game with a battle and a meeting with the goddess, but that would require an info dump. Instead of changing the way the game opens to match good game design, you're trying to force the opening to be a certain way that's not working. No offense intended, but we've seen designers do that before, and that's what seems to be going on here. You need to be willing to change how you write a scene in order to fit solid design decisions, not try to force a scene because it looks good in your head.

    WAY to much info! We still don't know what the 3 Guardians are... (please don't answer that!). The reality is you have too much coming out at once. It should come out in bite-size pieces over the course of the game, not be spoon fed from the start.

    A perfect example of how to do a gathering quest is "A Link To The Past". Part one is: Get the three crystals to retrieve the Master Sword. That's all there is. The complexities come out in the exploration and side quests. Then you go the Dark World and a whole other quest line is given.

    So for Labyronia Elements, have the main quest be: "Capture the five pendants, one in each world." Then in the first world, have it be: "Gather the 3 Guardians." That leads into getting the first Pendant. You can still have it be open where you do any world first, and you can still have your game be as expansive, but now you're giving the player pebbles instead of boulders.

    If hunting for the Guardians is repetitive, why keep it? Anything that doesn't move the plot forward should be cut. Anything that doesn't add value needs to be cut.

    As for immediate access, that's a great idea. You saw me go to those pillars after talking to Areatha. I thought those were stage selects like in Megaman. Wouldn't that be bad ass? Have the opening world be "heaven" and go to each of the five worlds through pillars of elemental awesomeness? That would pull me in!

    There is nothing wrong with large, big, epic games. Between the two of us, we've put over 1000 hours into Skyrim. Our game, Rosenhearts, will likely be a long, epic game. Just gotta do it right.

    Do what you gotta do, but we're not advising against for or against long games. Quality and game-play matters.

    Huge mistake. What makes Dark Souls fun is it's fair and balanced challenge, and Labryonia Elements is anything but fair and balanced. Not to be insulting, but your balancing needs serious work. Make sure you have that before rewriting or tackling anything new.

    There are not enough words to disagree with that sentiment. You absolutely must create a sympathetic character, or no one will want to play as them. Steel did a video on creating sympathetic characters. We highly recommend you watch it.

    Again, no attempt to be insulting, but this is irrelevant. No one will want to get that far and enjoy these amazing characters of yours if they cannot sympathize with the protagonist. Fix that first, please!

    Five different experiences in one game? So each world is it's own unique kind of story? That's fine. The Final Fantasy Legend series do that wonderfully.

    If you're saying that each world is a different kind of game, like one is a puzzle game and another is a traditional RPG and another is a dating sim, but each is connected by an underlying mechanic... that's a bad idea. People get a game to play one type of game, not to play others.

    Without us playing the entire game, we can't know. Our advice is to take the way people speak in the opening scenes... and only have one character talk that way. We suggest Areatha.

    You're welcome! Glad we could help! :D

    We enjoyed the visuals. We don't care for your screen shots in the Steam Page. But we like it when the game is running.

    The opening is amazing.

    Our main problems, in order of severity, are: Lack of Hook and Pull, Unsympathetic Protagonist, Second Info Dump, Balancing, Writing Style, Mazes. The mazes are last because you can have a maze-game... you just need to advertise it as such.

    Don't think about adding the info... add it ASAP. Let people know so those who don't like mazes won't play it.

    Never mislead your players, by accident or (heaven forbid) on purpose.

    Tell the story you want to tell. Make the game you want to make. Someone will play it.
     
    atoms likes this.

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