Wut. I've been tagged. I've been tagged?! @kimo The story in this game is a little hard to follow at points; I have a rough idea what is going on, but I'm not 100% certain. I'm still playing through the demo and seeing if the story becomes more obvious later in the game. I'll have words for the dev on it later - not that I'm scary at all, @Reinarc :3
I'm just really enjoying the combat of this game, honestly. That's where it shines in my opinion. The characters are cute, and seem to have individual personalities. I don't think the story itself is the issue, I think it's the pace of which it is presented. But, I'll get back to that soon enough ^-^
Oh, and kimo...
Get the aoe barrier of Quinten's. And use the aggro bars. Nobody in my party gets hit if I don't want them too ;P
Juuuust kidding (unless too many people mention how OP it is )
The story itself is a slow burn, but will start to pick up slowly after the demo ends. The release was more to get feedback on the combat system, mapping, dialogue, characters, etc. Although I'm definitely open to how you feel about it when you finish!
Edit: Some recent updates...
The Alter system is now level gated. You'll still unlock all the abilities fairly quickly in the grand scheme of the game (every level unlocks a new option). This was done to prevent confusion when you first are introduced to the system (gradual release) and to also add value to leveling up early on. There may be some visual bugs such as unavailable abilities not being dimmed, but mechanically it should be just fine. I've done several test rounds, but won't be able to fully test until later this week.
Alter abilities all have unique names now! This way done for flavor.
Descriptions in the alter menu have been standardized and I (hope) will be more easy to digest.
I've trimmed some unnecessary dialogue and scenes (such as the very first scene of the game) to quicken the pace. This is a work in progress.
Combat Guide added to the download folder.
"Efficiency" is now changed to Ice Smash. Ice Smash is a physical ice skill, and since Kara is highly physical in the beginning this should help her be much more powerful.
"Earth Slash" has been changed to Earth Spike. This better reflects that the ability is a magic ability (new action sequence, too).
Mana Crystals no longer attack on the Spider Boss. They still recharge the enemy formation's MP.
If you are using an old save, please unlearn all Alter skills before transferring over by clicking on the skill you are actively using (has a green checkmark). You will get some visual bugs if you don't, as you might be using a skill that is now level gated.
Looking forward to doing more work on the demo. Especially looking for places to trim down the dialogue and cutscenes. I'm a wordy person when I write, geez!
Some initial observations now that I am starting to document my experiences.
Pauses within conversations are way too long. Yes, I read your previous comment re: this. But the same thing applies to scene changes (blackouts?). As long as the text box requires input to close, I don’t see an issue without having pauses.
When trying to enter the Mountain Path leading to Hrelda without having first inspected the seal, a comment could be included along the lines of, “I don’t think going to Hrelda is a good choice right now.” After party inspects the seal, and the Mountain Path becomes accessible, maybe a comment(s) could be added to the entry point that comments on what to anticipate when traversing the mountain. Or maybe a humorous comment like [insert humorous comment here].
Well, I'm off to climb a mountain after downloading the update and trying the Alter crystal again and again and again...
Alrighty, I made it to the end of the demo. Here, have some walls of text that one might call feedback :3
I'm still playing the first version you uploaded. I wanted to experience the demo you first uploaded as it was, without changes from feedback. Original state and all that, if my reasoning makes any sense.
Belai’s reaction to being followed was so utterly human and appropriate for the situation
I just wanna say how much I love the party battlers. Belai’s is adorable! Whoever drew them did an amazing job!
I’m just curious, are you using any sort of enemy AI plugin? The enemies seem to focus fire on element-revealed party members, which is good behaviour for enemies. If you aren’t using an AI plugin, please do, your combat system deserves it. If you are using one already, then oooooh boy, the things you could make bosses do with your element mechanics…
Thank you for reminding players to use the alter crystal after getting Belai. I wanted to do that in the attack, but alas, you sealed off the crystal… I mean, good on you, but, boooo I wanted to use the crystal!
Alright, you got me. I laughed when the mage hunter/thief on the mountain ran and abandoned his partner!
Now I’m getting more and more into aoe abilities into your game, and they’re well done. Not allowing aoe abilities to utilize your element reveal and aggravate system was a great call, and keeps them balanced. Still very useful, as all aoe abilities are in games, but not crazy broken. Good job on balancing overall. Enemy HP is the only thing to watch for in your combat, but it’s not at the point it’s a problem…yet. Keep it that way ^-^
Robert was a good fight. I enjoy how all your bosses have a different combat mechanic in them, but it’s not overriding the battle system you’ve already set it. Just adds a little extra to it. I beat Robert with : A – lvl 11, K – lvl 10, Q – lvl 10, and B – lvl 12. A had overhead strike as an alter. K had the chillwind and earth strike alters. I had the warrior tome on her so she could do turn manipulation with Wither as needed. Q had aoe barrier alter and the Rescue + Recover tome. B had Storm, Prolong, and Burst alter. Once she stacked the burn DoT, I used her to keep Renew on A while he maintained max aggro bar spamming Overhead strike on wind reveal. I pushed the torches for fun, but didn’t need them to be honest. Between Renew and the aoe barrier, and keeping A’s aggro bar the highest so only he would get attacked (the aoe Hunger skill aside), nobody in the party went below 75% health. Use that info how you need to in terms of balancing.
You use fade out screens a LOT. There are many cases I’m noticing where you could use move routes to move players and events instead of fading out the screen and teleporting players. The outcast camp was the biggest offender thus far. It had 3 fade out screen effects in very rapid succession. That breaks immersion for people. And all those screen fades didn’t need to be there; you could have used move routes for the player and events instead of fading and teleporting. Yes, it’s more work to coordinate, but it looks better, the game feels smoother and more immersive for that extra mile
Adding to this point as I play on, I just killed Belai’s father. The fade out screen there killed the mood, totally. That should have been a very dramatic scene, but having text boxes on a black screen didn’t do it.
Aarlin says they met a mage named Belai; how does he know she’s a mage? She never used any magic? Do mages have the power to sense each other in your world? If so, show it somehow. Aarlin could instead say ‘We met someone named Belai. I sense a lot of magical power from her…’ or something along those lines
The Focus skill Shattering Throw can be selected outside of combat
Belai’s on-map sprite disappears after first battle with her on the party, yet the cutscene continues as if she’s there on map. It's odd, visually
Is it : sticky feet, a new mage spell, or a tileset issue?
Oof, Kara made a huge leap in logic there about the seal when Nani brought it up. That’s easily fixed with Nani saying no one knows about the seal because they haven’t seen one and someone she knew recently returned to town from that way and mentioned no seal
Attracting Brews. Ahhhh. How do I approach this…I can use them to wreck combat balancing completely. No longer do I have to manage who hits what and who kills what to maintain the highest aggro on my tank. Now I can spam attract brews on the tank and have them guard constantly. Please, please carefully consider the whole construct of attract brews. I am not saying they are good nor are they bad at this point, though that opinion of mine may change as I play. For now, I am bringing them up as a point of concern. Your combat mechanics are great, and without a doubt the highlight of your game so far. I’ll have more on the attracting brews later for sure, but for now, I just ask you keep them in mind and really consider any possible implications they may have for your combat system
On writing overall: Stories fall into one of two categories: character driven and plot driven. From what I’ve seen, you’ve got a character-driven story rather than plot-driven story. Your characters are good, have personality, and obviously you’ve put thought into their backstories. You have an idea what you want in your world, and how it’s set up.
The issue is, players don’t. The world can be confusing sometimes, especially with a lot of name-dropping, and the characters motives and arcs happen so quickly. I’ve seen this problem in writing before (before I did game dev as a hobby, I did a LOT of writing ^-^ ) so I’ll give you the same advice I’ve given others before : don’t be afraid to slow down. Do not rush the story; take as long as it needs to be real. You can slow the pace of the plot, of the character introductions, and focus on world building a little. It won’t turn people away – quite the opposite! Giving players time to truly feel your world and your characters will draw them in even more! Take some time to expand on your world and characters (since, again, this gives very strong impressions of being character rather than plot driven). The Belai arc, for example. I want to care more about it. It’s just, it's so swift it’s confusing. I met Belai, then I meet her father, then I intervene, then I protect the town, and now I kill Belai’s father. Slow down a little, let me get to know the two characters. Let me sympathize with Belai, and let me hate her father. Or maybe the other way around? See the problem; I don’t know which way you want me to feel about the two characters because I haven’t spent enough time with them. The one-on-one fight between them is powerful, and should have so much more emotional impact than it does. All because I didn’t have enough time with the characters to know and care about their stories.
I know I just threw a few whole paragraphs at you on your writing, but please don’t take it as an insult or an attack. I only typed that much because I want to know your characters and your world. I tried to point out where the writing needs work for the player’s sake, and give a specific example on what I mean. If I wasn’t this interested, I wouldn’t have gone that in-depth, I would have just said ‘story pacing needs work’ but the truth here is I see you’ve put a lot into the world and characters. I want in. Players will want in. Let them in ^-^
Aww, I saved the town, and they still charge me for an inn room? XD
So if Yendel the Mad in the tower is supposed to be a mini boss/ boss, he’s great as is. If not, and he’s a regular enemy that can appear again, mind-numb is…not okay. For a boss, the skill is fine. For a regular enemy, the skill is over-powered. Lowered the infliction rate (looks like 70%?) and lose the bonus action is gives players. With mind numb, everyone gets two attacks. I watched my whole party, including Belai, hit Belai for a grand total of 8 times. It was very funny, and I’m glad I let it happen, but if that’s a regular enemy, that’s a big no-no haha!
Overall, I'm going to be watching this. I'll be back when you release the next part of the game. I had a fun time playing your game. Yes, it does have areas that need polishing, but nothing at the point where I'd put it down and say 'nope'.
For a reward, I put a cookie in this box here - no, no, I swear it's not a trap. I have no plans whatsoever to hold you hostage in exchange for animations and action sequences...
That's because your just ridiculously good at my game, and I'll need to make a hard mode for you. Lol. I REALLY appreciate how much time you took to write this up. I'll go over it more thoroughly and see what I can change. Some things (tileset bug, Belai glitch) have been fixed. The Alter level gate fix will change some strategy (you won't have all of those alterations available to you immediately) but generally I'm pretty happy with the balance. The attracting brews I'll have to think about. Reason being is that while I want the game to feel hard, once you've mastered the combat system and have designed good synergizing builds (as you have), I don't want the main story bosses to be super hard. That's why I implemented optional mid-way bosses (not sure if you fought the Mistress yet, she has a little bug with her in the initial release), and tough monsters (Yendel the Mad is a unique tough monster, noted by red eyes) for people who wanted more of a challenge. I also have several super bosses in mind for the end of the game. I want to up the challenge with story bosses, but then I risk alienating people. Tough line to walk.
For the story:
I really love writing as well, this is my first venture into game writing. I did clean up some things (the introduction scene with the random people is gone, for example). Once you leave Tella, I walk a fine line: I want to immerse the players in the story, but the player knows Jardak is following them. Thus the urgency to some extent. I even debated on putting side quests in Hrelda for that reason. Although from your feedback, I think I can write an additional scene before the fighting breaks out where the party meets Belai again in Hrelda. Maybe she even invites them in to her house and they chat briefly. That could work.
Side Note: You beat the last boss without using any torches!? Can you write a guide for me that I can use to play my own game? My lord...I always have to use at least 1-2 LOL.
I'm good with a hard mode! ^-^
The balancing of your game overall is fine! I just...tend to do this in most games I play... I find strategies that allow me to breeze right through bosses significantly under levelled and under equipped. That generates challenge for me, to create viable strategies, and that's how I enjoy games. So if I ever say 'this fight was too easy!' take it with a grain of salt. :3
I'm not saying anything in particular about the attracting brews right this moment; just asking you keep them in mind. I'm already exploiting the heck out of the aggro system. Now you gave me a shortcut Not that I'm using it; in fact I sold all the attracting brews, and the reduce-aggro brews (forgot the name, sorry)
Balancing is an extremely fine line to walk, always. Some people want a forgiving combat system, so they can experience story, characters, world, etc. Some people want a brutal, soul-crushing combat system - like me! And some just want an in between! You'll never please them all; that's essentially impossible. Think about what you want, and make that. It's your game, at the end of the day, and you need to be happy with it
Going from writing books to writing in games is a bigger switch than I thought it would be haha! Pacing in games does not always relate to the amount of text, or lack thereof. It's hard for me to give you explicit examples on what I mean without me going into 'this is how I'D write YOUR story' territory, and I find that rude to do to people. I'll continue to give you whatever feedback I can with the next update.
Well, I did use the torches just for fun haha! I pushed all 4 in a row, because I liked...setting...it...on fire...? I'll test my strategy to make sure it works without any torches, but since I dumped all 4 torches at once, it should work just fine.
Use the Alter skills and tomes I mentioned in my last post. Important Note: Aarlin has the headband that adds 10 and 10% Agility
Start the battle with A's Overhead Strike to pump up his aggro bar and wind reveal Robert. Q should go next, and use his fire spell to inflict burn. B can set up Renew on A right away, or she can start stacking the burn DoT with her Flame spell. K can Wither to get turns if she acts first; if not, Ice Molotov for damage. A should spam Overhead Strike until wind reveal is off, then he guards. At this point, his aggro bar was full and everyone else's was empty. B can keep casting Flame, but Q should only attack. The next reveal to go on is from K's Ice Molotov. A continues to guard while ice reveal active, and K spams her ice skill. During this time, boss always used his Hunger aoe, so I made sure Q had MP for Barrier and B kept Renew on A, since his aggro bar was still the highest, even when K uses her ice skill - this is why it's so important he has the headband so he can go first. K could switch from ice to Wither for turn manipulation if needed, on the unlikely chance Q didn't have MP for Barrier.
Once ice reveal was off: B on Flame, Q on Rescue on allies (to heal from aoe) and Recover on himself for MP, and K on either ice or guard, depending on her mp status. When A's turn comes up, Overhead Strike for wind reveal. Spam that skill as long as wind reveal is active. B keeps Renew on him, and Q should have plenty of MP for Barrier. By the time A is out of MP, Q has Recover back off of cooldown to restore him. K can keep using her ice skill for bonus damage, or throw Witch's Brew (MP item) on B or Q.
Rinse and repeat ^-^ Just keep Burn active at all time using B's Flame, and keep Q's MP above 50 so he can always throw out a barrier if you slip up and Robert manages to deal large damage to someone. Then B can use Renew and heal.
I used 1 Witch's Brew the whole battle, and no potions.
HOLD IT! Is that a cookie I see up there? Did you bring enough for everyone?
*In his best Star Wars voice* "Oh no! It's a Trap! It's a TRAP!"
First, about what @Cythera says re: getting to know characters. The best writing I have ever experienced has been when I felt sad about a character's death because I became attached to them in the game. Making that emotional connection matters a lot.
I am offering observations as I play because I want them to be fresh in my mind in case you have questions. And I don't categorize them like the cookie lady does.
I just found out there are more than 6 save slots because I accidentally used the “down arrow” key. It’s probably a good idea to include that info just because I’ve been playing for 3 hours now. I have played games with only 4 save slots that keep players from saving every few minutes and just assumed I was limited to 6 slots.
Cave portion to right of the Rude Mage is not clearly marked; a very good idea if purposeful. I found a few other unmarked branches in the cave, so I assume it's purposeful. The only place i could not travel indicated it was blocked by a rock/stone. Is this truly impassable (why would a comment be made) or did I miss something? Also, the lighting in the cave is better than many I have seen.
Game documentation should include Threat bar info. I wasn’t even paying attention to them until mentioned by another player. Possibly expose the player to that aspect after entering the mountain pass, but before entering the caves?
What do the small icons at the left side of enemy “feet” mean/represent? Is that the enemy’s attack element?
I had originally thought “Aggravate” was a function of the attack and therefore a major cause of my confusion.
Screen shots follow:
Passability issues in cave.
Gender mismatch. Or is dad a queen instead?
There are a few places where characters do not seem to be walking behind an object.
I believe this has been an ongoing tileset issue. Since the counter tiles are not being used, the party cannot talk to anyone across a table (where the "X"'s are written). And there is no conversation where the "?" is indicated
Minor spelling error.
You can complete the witches game without talking to the writer, or even answering incorrectly (Lied).
@kimo yes! thank you for that! Those little finds are so hard to catch when you've been working on your game for so long (also yes, king is actually a queen. I did mention I had a LGTBQIA+ cast didn't I? ) (that was a joke for the record) . I have been considering moving the threat tutorial to the mountain pass. While it does make the spider boss somewhat easier, I didn't feel it was necessary to be successful yet.
Also, you may unfortunately run into a issue in the final dungeon. It's been fixed, depends on the version you're playing. I made some events for the bookshelf and set it to "same as character" by accident. Fixed it quickly, hopefully won't be in your version.
@Cythera yessss I love that strategy. I may do some slight adjustment to quinten's aoe barrier (maybe 10 more MP), but overall I like him. Not to do too much of a spoiler, but his magic scales poorly compared to Belai later in the game. My design goal was to make him a utility mage (note his passives) while Belai would be the main dps mage. (Them Blitz crits on Ice Revealed targets though).
@kimo Did you just call me the cookie lady?! >.< No cookies for you now! Bleh!
@Reinarc Noooo, not my low-cost, OP barrier skill!!
Ah-hem. The MP honestly wouldn't be a factor. Since you give MP on turn, and more MP on guard. I'm seeing a good chunk of combat is MP management, so 10 MP wouldn't make a huge difference, really.
Yes, I see your intended team dynamic already. A as tank/healer, so paladin type class. K as physical dps. Q as support. B as magical dps.
I see it. And I deny it :3 A is my physical dps, K is my magical dps, Q is barrier caster, and B is healer+support.
Hey, at least B is useful! I recall an RM game I played a few years ago, before I had an account here, and the black mage was absolute dead weight. My tank out-damaged her ._.
So thanks for giving my black mage usage, even if it's not the use you intended!
Actually, if you were curious (and some of these will only develop later on as more skills unlock) the potential builds will be...
Aarlin: Physical Tank/healer/physical dps/magic dps (with deliverance) - most versatile.
Kara: Magic Tank (later on with Null Brew and Giantheart Elixir), physical or magic dps, healer (items and Eden's Breath)
Quinten: Utility barrier slave and FP battery. Pretty to look at.
Belai: Dps/off heals
Another character will come along that can tank/dps/heal as well, so you have 3 tank choices and 3 healer choices.
Also cookies! I forgot to mention that. Chocolate chip and I'll do 1 action sequence D:
EDIT: You know, in regards to difficulty I was just thinking (inspired by your game, actually!) that I could do an achievement system in boss fights. It wouldn't be nearly as complex/awesome as yours, but I maybe a "challenge" at the beginning of the boss fight. The last demo boss would be "defeat *spoiler* without using any torches* that way, people who like a challenge can have it while others can be a little more carefree. There'd be a reward of some sort, naturally.
Yes, I did read about the LGBT+ cast when downloading and my reference as the King being a "queen" was a joke because of that.
Making the spider boss easier should not be a concern. That took a bit over 20 minutes of my life and at least one dead character. But you gave enough forewarning, a revert crystal, and a new skill to identify enemy traits that made it less frustrating by offering specific advice. I would never had completed the battle if I hadn't understood the battle system better.
Quinten's barrier spell is fine the way it is at 50MP. It's still hard to "keep it up" and "Q" seems to be the only one who doesn't need it. I tried the other version (1 character, 2 hits) and reverted back because the MP cost wasn't worth it to me.
I am playing the newest version, so I didn't encounter any issues with that building when reading the 5-6 volumes.
I don't know what you're talking about. I'd never call you the cookie lady. You have been so helpful with your advice and I know you could kick my virtual butt by making QTE's just for my enjoyment. To borrow a line from this game, "It must have been someone impersonating me!" Besides, I make one serious macadamia/white chocolate cookie for when cookies become the Bitcoin for paying developers.
I've been using A, K, Q characters the same as you except I probably have Kara a bit more armored than you might.
I only have peanut butter cookies, @Reinarc !
Though I'm happy to see I'm inspiring nifty ideas! ^-^ I would be totally down for added challenge to the boss fights like that.
@kimo D-did you really...type @cookielady and cross it out...I... *sigh* That's it. More QTE for you.
Also, what is armour? ;P I'm running the starting armour on my team; all I've done is get new weapons and an accessory or two!
Peanut butter? Oh my god *gives all enemies insta kill moves and hands copy to Cythera." And fine, just have them run around with no armor then. Rude. D:
@kimo the bookshelf bug is in the final dungeon. It was an oversight, it's fixed in the most recent one I uploaded yesterday I believe. I think I have enough general feedback to make a few more changes, playtest it again, and then put it to rest and start polishing the next part.
Only if it made you chuckle laugh out loud.
What @Cythera says about the armor is quite true. I can see weapon upgrades, but have had no real reason to spend somwhat limited funds on armor either. Potions, on the other hand, are what I spend most of the money on.
I have a question about the Quest where you need to clear out the Mage Hunters in the mountain pass/caves. I didn't know it was time sensitive so I went back a full hour of my life and am trying to accomplish it now. I encountered the 2 guys trying to rob the widower and 1 of them ran off. I was watching the storyline that mentioned he was probably in the cave. Where? The Mage Hunters (black flame) respawn every time I leave and return to area, so I assume I am supposed to find that singular enemy. At what point is success possible for this quest?
EDIT: okay, I just found that tiny little boat I walked by twice. This is when someone in the party could have mentioned when getting close, "Hey! Where did that little boat come from? It wasn't here before."
I finished the demo (I for sure didn't do everything you could do, but I did finish it), so I'm just gonna lay my thoughts out here. I'm gonna break it into the two most important categories of games: Story and Gameplay. So let's go!
First things first, I want to recap the story/plot from how I viewed it. I want to do this to give you an idea of how other people perceive it. even if it's just my own view. We as the player don't know all the ins and outs, we don't know what will happen, or character personalities traits that have yet to appear, etc. So knowing how someone sees it fresh can really help. Long winded explanation aside, here's how I took the story:
(and obviously this is from the version I played. Please ignore things you've changed)
Yes there's a spoiler inside a spoiler
Apologies if I get any names of people or places wrong.
The game begins with people?? And I have no idea what was going on. I think I read you got rid of this? So anyway that happens!
Then we meet Vadaj and his buddy Darius from a town hidden in the woods. From what I got everyone was hiding there because they were Hallowed and people don't like them for some reason I never actually understood why? Vadaj and Darius explore the forest with some Iona person and we learn to fight and collect stuff and there's a weird portal thing and the next day evil villain destroys our home! Then some cool stuff happens were Vadaj gets...possessed? and I assume kills Darius. That's pretty cool.
Then we meet our heroes Aarlin and Kara who are basically fugitives because Aarlin is a Hallowed and people don't like them. We head to Tella to find a place to sleep for the night, do some favors to get on the people's good side, and finally get to rest. But our rest is short lived as Jardak has found us and wants us DEAD. We run and hide but he finds us anyway and he turns evil into a monster for some reason. Turns out they wanted us ALIVE but Jardak wanted to kill us and only Jardak. We kill him but he doesn't die and we meet Quinten and Quinten is great by the way I don't know why but he's my favorite character. He is nice and wants to get us to Alavon safely and we hide inside of Fish but we get derailed and go to a place I forgot the name of Hfadala? or something.
Meanwhile there is a King and his daughter and the daughter REALLY HATES Aarlin but we never saw her again still interested in that but alas. We continue on but there is a a seal in the way, so we climb a mountain, fight a spider boss, and eventually reach the magic city of Hreald. Belai is there and we lived next door to her for years. She is upset and Aarlin wants to help her because he is a nice guy so we follow her to the outcast camp where people were exiled for literally stealing a book and other petty crimes. Nothing amounts to it but we go back and the next day the town is under attack! The outcasts attacked the city and the useless Pride Mages kept the gate close to protect themselves.
After we save the town we head to the outcast camp and Belai's dad is there and he turns into a monster too, just like Jardak?? What is going on here! Either way eventually Belai joins us and we go back through the mountain or rather use the Alter Crystal to skip everything and head to a small town I forgot the name of where the party just takes a break. That was nice. And we move on to Aark a nice lush area full of---dead trees and people. Well...oops. We go to a tower I guess and after exploring the place find Pride Mage Robert and he turns into a monster as well and had some secret agenda. In the final cutscene we return to the King Falke and...is that...it's Vadaj!!
If you read all of this, bless you kind sir.
The story of this game is...fast paced. I think that's my biggest issue, is that everything just seems to happen too quickly. And there are times were things should be moving quickly, but it just feels like everything goes quickly. The characters and the party are just kind of whisked from event to event without much downtime. There is some of course. The sidequests in the mage city, the town where the party stops to talk for a bit. Things like this are nice to help slow the pace a bit, and give the player and characters time to breath, and this game could really benefit more from those.
Slowing down also gives the player a chance to get to know more about the people and towns. The floating city that was attacked and caught on fire? Even Vadaj's town in the beginning? It sounds harsh but I didn't really care all that much, and the problem is that we, as the player, didn't get any time to get to know the place and develop an attachment to it. I know the characters do, but we as the player don't. We are there a few minutes, and then it's gone.
I think a remedy to this would just be give us more exploration for towns. Let us talk to more NPCs, get to know their lives, more about them. Help them out, etc. I noticed for the shops in the mage city, there wasn't even a shop. Just fades to black and a shopping screen pops up. That's fine, there's nothing wrong with that, but it's so detached from the town it's not a personal thing, it's just an object.
I've been hard on you, but there's stuff I really like about the story as well.
The characters are great. They sound like real people, they behave and have flaws like real people. They are interesting and clearly have a lot of history between them. I like when they get involved with the people and Quinten makes great remarks. And I really want to see Aarlin and Vadaj meet and that only happens when you create characters that you care about and can anticipate their reactions.
This whole people turning into monsters thing? I still don't get it, but I'm intrigued. And I don't have to get it yet, either. When it first happened with Jardak it was just a thing. But then with Belai's father and Robert it becomes more than a thing and there's a lot of mystery to it that I really want to learn and mystery is good in story because it gets people to keep playing (so long as you don't string them on too long).
And overall I just like the world. Yes, I myself don't get why everyone seems to hate the Hallowed (though Johanna kind of hinted at it?) but I like the idea of that. Aarlin is the last good Hallowed left and he can change the view and we still don't really know Kara's backstory. The town of mages we learn from Quinten that they aren't all that great. I feel the world, it feels alive. That's good, and as the story goes we can learn more about it.
Lastly for story, I just want to touch on your inclusion of an LGBTQIA+ cast. I love the passion behind that, and I think you pulled it off well. When I first read it, I was afraid it would be very cheesy and everyone over the top, but you don't do that at all. You portray them as real characters in a real fashion and just as who they are and not as some overbearing plot device. Just well done on that front.
Okay I am nowhere near a gameplay buff like apparently Cythera is but I'll try my best.
I love the gameplay. It's extremely fun and unique. It took me a second to "get" it, but once I did it was a ton of fun and really rewarding to know how to play effectively. Reveals and Aggravates are fantastic and a nice way to let the player adopt to the fight. Do they go for the weakness, or use Aggravate to inflict a status and restore MP? It is a bit slow at first, given that you don't have many options, but by the end of the demo you have a ton of choices and the fight with Robert really shows that, letting you Reveal and Aggravate at your own desire to do what you want to do.
The Alter Crystal is a great idea as well. Letting people customize their skills to fit their playstyle or the situation is so good. And it's balanced fairly well too. You can opt to get some AoE attacks, but at the cost of Reveals and Aggravates. You can have better effects, but at the cost of higher MP use. There are for sure some really powered options (I think you know by now what I'm talking about) but overall it works well and let's you experiment with new playstyles.
The Focus points are alright. I loved using Recover to get full MP and I used Radiate against Robert and holy hell that thing is powerful. They're fine I think, at least from what I played I didn't see much to change about them.
My biggest complaint with the battle system is oddly enough the tutorials. They just come so late. I know you said you fixed some of them, but we learn about things way later than we probably should. It is a good idea to spread tutorials out, but also your battle system is so damned good that it's a shame that we aren't told the basics at first.
I'm reluctant to say that enemies/boss have too much HP, cause they really don't. I think Cythera said earlier that it's fine, but you're on the edge of them having too much. Just something to watch out for. For other things, I only upgraded my equipment at the first town at the port. After that I only bought potions and KO restoring drinks because that's all that mattered. The Oils are a very cool idea, especially since they can remove a Reveal. I feel like they lose value later on, when you have more options available to you. Would have been nice to see them earlier? Also some enemies (like Robert) get two actions in a row? despite the fact that the bar doesn't indicate that. (it literally just shifts his picture ahead).
Overall, I think the game was very well balanced. I never got a game over once, nor did I ever think the game was too hard, or too easy. Obviously this is just my take on the difficulty, but it was very fair throughout. I felt appropriately leveled for each main fight, I felt like I had a chance and was never doomed, but I also never felt like I was just breezing through battles without paying attention to what I was doing. That's a hard level to reach but you did it decently.
Sorry for the extremely long post, don't feel like you have to read everything. I really liked this game, and I'm glad you're taking everything and applying it. This is a fun game and I had a lot of fun playing it, and look forward to what comes next.[/SPOILER]
@Meowsticks don't worry about being too harsh. I don't mind, the fact ya'll take so much time to write
and post pictures is really heartwarming.
On story: totally can see your point. I don't necessary want you to care about Vadaj's village/villagers. That piece was merely to introduce you to Vadaj, who
You see at the end of the demo. I hope I projected well enough that he is in fact not a good guy.
Hrelda, on the other hand, I do want you to care about. So I will definitely review that whole sequence to see where I can add stuff. I already added an extra scene with Belai after she confronts her father the first time. When you return to Hrelda, she's at the front door of her house. I may consider adding more. For the shops, honestly that's a preference of mine. In any RPG I play, I really don't care about the inside of shops, at all. I go get my stuff and leave. Of course, if there's story or quests in there it's different. Thank you for your compliment about the characters. Honestly I feel like this is more of a character based game. I put a lot of work into designing them. The story will pick up, and I really feel like you will enjoy it once you learn about why things are the way they are. Writing the final scenes of the game, I was legit in tears the first time. Hopefully I can make others feel the same way.
On balance: Thank you! I hope I can find a decent balance between challenge and access. That was my design choice with unique tough monsters (red eyes) and mid-way optional bosses (The Mistress, I'm hoping she was more challenging than final demo boss was). Although I've heard all of you note that aoe barrier is OP, sooo it's going to have to be changed. Thankfully Cythera is done with the demo so I won't be outcast. Lol
@kimo sweet! I swear I play tested it. Many of those typos are from stuff I added after. You're awesome. Also, when I read Belai's typo I laughed out loud. I imagined her saying that in a goofy lisp. Which is like the opposite of her character.
I downloaded the game a little more than an hour ago, so I'm fairly certain I have the latest version. The prologue, at least the ending of it was.... disturbing. I'm assuming that was your intent, so, yeah, it works. I'm now in Tella and not quite so disturbed.
Pro-prologue scene: Within the battle, following obliterate, ???? says "What chance to do have?" What does this mean?
Upon seeing the Sealing rune for the first time, Vadaj's text gets cut off
"...before you came here, didn't yo"
consider 2 lines of text instead of just the 1
While I'm hoping for more play, less cutscene right now, I will say that I thought the battle technique was well explained by Iona. It's certainly different.
@Lady_JJ oh yes, it's definitely dark fantasy (destroyed by the chibi sprites, but it's out of my budget nor can I find a spirte artist who is willing to redo my entire sprite collection *shrug*), but there are more scenes that can generate that feeling (1 more in the demo). Just as an FYI. You'll definitely start getting into more fights reaching Tella. Thanks for the download. Very curious to see how you feel about the difficulty of mechanics/fights, as it's been quite divisive in that regard.
Ack, I forgot to change ??? to Georhan's name. He was implying that the White-Haired Soldier had no chance of beating him. Good eye on the text cut off.
Edit: Changes being uploaded in a new version tonight.
Threat tutorial has been shortened and moved to the first boss fight.
Attracting Brew still raises threat, but no longer applies Taunt.
Quinten's Barrier has been reworked.
Barrier (regular) 30 MP - Reduces damage by 30% on one ally for 2 turns. (cost effective)
Barricade 60 MP - Reduces damage by 50% on all allies for 2 turns. (mitigation option)
Fey Barrier 60 MP - Reduces damage by 25% for all allies for 2 turns. While the barrier holds, MP cost is reduced by 50%. Quinten does not benefit from this skill. (dps option)
Enfocus 5 FP - One ally has 100% mitigation to one attack and gains 3 FP.
New Boss HP bar in the spoiler below!
Adding two new scenes to Hrelda.
I think the barrier changes will go over well. They're still very powerful and make Quinten a niche character, and now each Alteration has a niche as well. Fey Barrier I may need to tweak the numbers as I'm still concerned it may be OP. Enfocus will be fairly useless until level 30 when you get the Arcane Focus passive, but the rest will work nicely.