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Author Topic: Thoughts on the demo  (Read 8250 times)

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GrandMasterJR

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Thoughts on the demo
« on: March 15, 2013, 01:39:21 PM »

Overall fantastic demo! Combat took a minute to get used to (kept mixing up left and right click for their intended use - so I found myself casting many spells in the direction I wanted to run, and running at the enemy, lol), otherwise it was interesting and fun. I can imagine that some really unique enemies/fights could be utilized by that system.

The only things that really stuck out to me... was that there was no explination of what the stats did. I would like to be able to mouse over the different stats and have a bit of an explination of how they affect D'arc explained. Along the same lines, when you level up, I would like to see both + and - buttons with a checkmark to confirm your changes. This way you could mess around a bit with how you'd like to place your stats, see what it looks like, change it if you want, and then save the changes.
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GameDevChris

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 02:05:31 PM »

Hey, thanks for the feedback!

Yeah, the stats will all have mouse-over text in the final game. It will appear in that box down the bottom of the spellbook GUI. Actually, it was going to be programmed in for the demo but we ran out of time. No worries, it'll be in the final game, though! ;)

As for the stat buttons, in the final game, you won't get that many points to assign at once. Perhaps only 1 or 2 every time you level up. We wanted to emphasize the point that players should think carefully about where to place them. But even if you mess up and place one in the wrong area, it's not the end of the world as your 4 stats will max out at a certain value. After that point, you'll have no other option but to add them to the stats that are lower. And with the addition of being able to equip gems to boost stats that you're lacking in, it all kind of evens out.
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Masonguitar

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 03:45:20 PM »

I played for about 5 minutes and I thought. Hmm I am really liking this so I better stop so not to ruin everything when it is finished. I am really looking forward to this! Great job thus far everybody. In Christ,

Mason
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jfrisby

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 10:05:53 PM »

Hey folks :)

Just played around with, and beat, the demo!  Really crazy awesome -- I was kind of shocked to see the 640x480 high-res, love it.  Takes a little bit of getting used to the olde sierra-like interface with that resolution - the labeling of things when hovered over is a helpful touch.  Great music, great look, interface worked well & made sense (despite being rather a lot of windows of stuff!).

The combat made sense, I did find myself mixing up the left/right as well, but that might go away with a bit more practice.  Got surrounded a couple times, and it felt a bit odd to find the right direction to run away.  I liked the mechanics though, maybe the ability to change key assignments, or a setup where spells always activate on keypress (so the mouse could just be used for movement and targeting)?  It was a bit difficult for my generally-non-combat-class self (two tries, only probably won because an enemy got stuck behind the bush while my mana regen'd).

Some other notes:
- Kinda miss the old Sierra speed-setting bar, the walk is a bit slow and "always run" kind of breaks the mood.
- On the icon bar, I kept miss-clicking... feels like the Inventory and Character buttons maybe should be swapped?
- "I shall pour the entire flask of water over the gem" sounded weird to me.  Non-narrator action text must be weird to write.
- Backgrounds felt just a tad evenly lit, hope there's some dark shadowy places around :)
(These are my trying-to-be-helpful-notes, sorry if they sound nitpicky.)

Don't know much about the story, but love what you did with KQ3 Redux - I think it hit a perfect balance between keeping the original stuff and wanting to polish and expand..  my only thought from the demo was "don't let it get too dense" -- whatever that would be  :D

So cheers and thanks for making this, hopefully I'll be able to up my pledge before the end!
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MusicallyInspired

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 10:40:35 PM »

You can also control the combat by running with the WASD and/or the arrow keys, swap the spellcasting to the left mouse button, and control Dar'c that way. Also 1, 2, and 3 selects spells, and 7, 8 uses potions. Personally, I like the WASD method best, but things are still being refined obviously. Feedback is the best source of direction we have now, so everyone's observations are equally obviously welcome! Assigning keys is also planned, I think, as it was something I specifically requested, among other members of the dev team. :)
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jfrisby

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 11:20:07 PM »

Hey MI!  Nice tunes!

I added a bit to my combat thoughts when I saw everyone was posting in the Kickstarter comments...
I sort of like that there isn't a difficulty slider, since it seems like the combat is a bit more central an idea to MI...  Seems worth working over and perfecting somehow, it could really shine -- I totally didn't realize there was WASD movement, even though I thought to myself "man, I wish I could use the WASD keys" I never tried :P

The best non-turn based suggestions seem to be the speed slider...  But it'd be interesting if you could borrow some aspect of the pause-mechanic from FTL.. or slow-time, or magic-up, potions that involved a quest, or work, to get (if you want easier combat you have to do this instead...)..  I haven't the faintest idea about balancing anything, really - I think I edited my QFG savegame last time around to give myself extra health, and I was a healer in WOW.  So I'm pretty bad at this fighting stuff. 

That's all the rambling thoughts I've got :D

Edit:  Just breezed thru the demo combat with WASD keys.  Can't say I felt particularly strategic about it, but it worked pretty quickly with one mana potion drop.  I thought it was nicely challenging for a demo, but understand peoples concerns..  This is probably where an army of playtesters, to watch playing, would come in handy - http://www.twitch.tv/jonathanfrisby/b/378348651 (that's my 3rd successful combat run, might not be helpful for what people are trying the first time thru -- maybe make a combat only looping thing to test with?).
:D
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 01:44:02 AM by jfrisby »
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GrandMasterJR

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2013, 09:07:12 AM »

I saw that there was ASWD controls but didn't really try them out yet, I also saw you could switch which mouse button did which control, but once again hadn't tried it out yet. To me if just seems like there could be some really cool boss fights using this system. If an enemy had an area spell that took them ~2 seconds to cast type thing (or whatever time is needed to allow you to run out). I really think it will be interesting to see what you guys have come up with for the different monsters, (and mage classes) to really give them a unique feel and playstyle and strategy involved.
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antipus

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 09:45:31 AM »

Thanks, all, for the fantastic feedback!

I suppose that something that we could have done much better was use combat more as a tutorial, explaining your different options and spells as the waves progress. The general idea was that the elevated archer can only be injured with the fireball spell, the next goblin (or wave of two) can be easily dispatched with a few well-placed (and well-timed) mines, and the final massive wave is a good chance to use the ring of fire together with the other two spells.

We will definitely work on the balancing the combat difficulty in the months ahead, and will most likely be including difficulty settings as well as allowing users to choose which keys do what based on their own personal preferences. What other suggestions would you give for ironing out the combat?
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DrJones

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2013, 10:14:36 AM »

Note also that the redcaps won't be the first enemies you'll fight in the game. They're just the ones we used in the demo, but they will appear much later in the game. The final game will have tutorials and a less step learning curve.

Additionally, please post your impressions after having tested the combat a few times. First impressions are important, but lasting impressions are far more useful. For example, I've playtested the combat many times and even find it a little easy right now, though maybe a bit fast-paced.
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xlynx

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2013, 01:35:43 PM »

Without any prior knowledge of the game whatsoever, I just played through the demo 3 times or so. Here's my thoughts (and I am being quite pedantic here because I figure the more feedback the better):

Things I liked

  • I love the art style and camera angles. The backdrops are highly detailed and I really like the lighting effects and animations. They work very well. I also appreciated the camera panning effects where there is layered foreground for that pseudo-3d effect. The characters are well animated and more detailed than similarly inspired games.
  • I also appreciate the higher backdrop resolution over similarly inspired games. I've lately been thinking "nostalgia is great, but if we really believe adventure games aren't dead we should use a modern resolution". I feel Mage's Initiation captures the desired aesthetic without resorting to self limitation.
  • Very well written character dialogue/information. The only part I didn't quite get at first was Varner saying "Better" as opposed to "I'll do Better".
  • The music works really well, as do the sound effects.
  • I like the "equip" panel layout, particularly with the gem placements on D'arc's hands. I hope we'll see ever increasing gem powers so we might have two +5 gems equipped well into the game. That would add a nice little RPG element to it.
Overall, the demo was much more imaginative, detailed and polished than I was expecting.


Bugs / Usability / Dislikes

  • I really hated the mouse acceleration. Fortunately it's not present in Windowed mode.
  • In the settings (etc) panel, why isn't the close button [X] in the top right corner?
  • Volume controls are non functional / fake - are they just placeholders?
  • When the camera pans, the screen redraw is not always smooth - It appears to be a vsync issue where a horizontal disruption scans down the screen (most obvious in random passageway after entering the wrong door code).
  • This was already mentioned, but I would like it if inventory items had the hot pixel rendered like the action icons do, so I wouldn't have to mouse hunt when using the bellows on the gem for example. Not a big deal, but I think small annoyances like this slightly disrupt the immersion.
  • Combat went fine, except I seemed to get blocked by the bodies while trying to run away, which was a bit annoying. It was also too easy to get snagged on the tree, or perhaps something else was going on here.


Suggestions

  • It would be nice if the characters could change in brightness as they walk through lights and shadows (not sure how feasible that is in the game engine, even if only rudimentary it would help with immersion).
  • D'arc walks partially through the seating in reading hall. Paths could be improved here.
  • When D'arc gets a door code wrong and reappears at the far side of the screen, the camera could pan rather than abruptly jump across.
  • Do we really have to wait for D'arc to fully enter the screen before we start exploring with the mouse?


Really good job guys. I'm honestly excited for your game.
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RogerXY

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2013, 05:18:37 PM »

Played thru the demo and information about what the stats do is really the only negative thing I can think of. Didn't see any bug at all and everything looked perfect. So that the only feedback I can give  :satisfied:
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FizzyMyNizzy

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2013, 06:48:34 PM »

I like the demo.

I wish this game could be played in full windowed mode.

The combat. When goblins hit you. It shouldn't stun you in a way that you have to spam the left mouse button to get out. Maybe even if they hit me once. I would like it that I could hold down the left mouse button and still move after being hit once. I got stun lock the first time.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 06:50:30 PM by FizzyMyNizzy »
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xlynx

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 04:15:46 AM »

I wish this game could be played in full windowed mode.

What do you mean by "full windowed"? You can activate windowed mode from the settings utility (under Himalaya Studios in the Start menu). Although, I could only get it to work up to 1280x960 with my graphics card, and would like to go bigger. Did you mean you want to play in a maximized window?
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GameDevChris

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2013, 06:03:27 AM »

xlynx:

Quote
I really hated the mouse acceleration. Fortunately it's not present in Windowed mode.

I do, too. But it seems to be something that's locked into the way the AGS engine works. Hopefully, one day the engine will allow mouse speed/acceleration settings to be customized so that we can set up options for this in-game.

Quote
In the settings (etc) panel, why isn't the close button [X] in the top right corner?

Originally, it was. But it turned out that moving the mouse to the top-right of the screen constantly was pretty frustrating. You ended up having to use up more energy to move the mouse up there each time you wanted to close the GUI. Since most GUI actions take place in the mid to lower area of the GUI, it's a shorter distance/more convenient to place the "close" button where it is. It was also done because the button needs to be perpetually visible on a part of the GUI that doesn't animate (eventually those book page animations will turn).

Quote
Volume controls are non functional / fake - are they just placeholders?

Yeah, we discovered an audio system glitch at the last minute. We decide to lock them in place since we couldn't find the cause. Will be fixed for the final build.


Quote
This was already mentioned, but I would like it if inventory items had the hot pixel rendered like the action icons do, so I wouldn't have to mouse hunt when using the bellows on the gem for example. Not a big deal, but I think small annoyances like this slightly disrupt the immersion.

This will definitely be added at some point.

Quote
Combat went fine, except I seemed to get blocked by the bodies while trying to run away, which was a bit annoying. It was also too easy to get snagged on the tree, or perhaps something else was going on here.

The getting-stuck-on-stufff glitch is definitely and annoying one. We've been aware of it for a while now, but tracking it down is proving to be difficult. We'll continue to try and investigate the cause and seek a solution.

Quote
It would be nice if the characters could change in brightness as they walk through lights and shadows (not sure how feasible that is in the game engine, even if only rudimentary it would help with immersion).

That's planned and it will be added at some point, too.

Quote
When D'arc gets a door code wrong and reappears at the far side of the screen, the camera could pan rather than abruptly jump across.

Ah, nice catch! That's actually the way it's supposed to work, but looks like it got broken in the latest demo build. Thanks for noticing. Will fix.

Quote
Do we really have to wait for D'arc to fully enter the screen before we start exploring with the mouse?

You can skip his entry by tapping the ESC key.
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sonofgaia

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2013, 08:29:39 AM »

Loved the demo!  Only problem for me was with the choice of aspect ratio (4:3) rather than the more standard (now at least) 16:9.  I realize this gives the game a more retro feel but I was wondering if you guys were considering eventually switching to other resolution/aspect ratios for future titles?  As it is, on my desktop linked to my LCD TV I have to run the game in a window.  Just adding the 1280x1024 resolution as an option would allow me to run it fullscreen.
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xlynx

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2013, 08:34:12 AM »

Loved the demo!  Only problem for me was with the choice of aspect ratio (4:3) rather than the more standard (now at least) 16:9.

It looks pretty decent in fullscreen on my 16:9 monitor (it's slightly stretched), but yes that's something I was just thinking about while reading the responses. Even smartphones (all brands) are 16:9 now. It seems the only thing that isn't 16:9 is the iPad.
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Anaxphone

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2013, 08:41:26 AM »

I think they said that the resolution matter was a fault of the engine being used and that they are trying to find some way to fix that.
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FizzyMyNizzy

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2013, 10:22:00 AM »

I wish this game could be played in full windowed mode.

What do you mean by "full windowed"? You can activate windowed mode from the settings utility (under Himalaya Studios in the Start menu). Although, I could only get it to work up to 1280x960 with my graphics card, and would like to go bigger. Did you mean you want to play in a maximized window?

-Windowed mode you still see that border around the screen, and is not the full monitor res. But you still could open a browser with out collapsing the game. You could run the game, and read an FAQ, or watch a video etc.,

-Full Windowed mode you wont see that border around the screen, and I could just hit the windows key on my keyboard to bring up my task bar, and it also works with alt+tab. It goes in and out of the game very smooth. Some games will still run on the background, while I have lets say chrome browser on top of it. Basically it has a mix of both window mode + full mode. You get the full screen with the benefit of during other stuff like windowed mode.

-Full mode. When you minimize the game, and when you click on the game again. It does like a splash screen effect. Also, when you alt+tab, some game will just pause the game.
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GameDevChris

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2013, 12:07:27 PM »

We'll be able to concentrate on 16:9 support and make it a priority if we hit the $120k stretch goal. The reason being that this is the goal that will allow us to port the game to various platforms, including smartphones (which, as mentioned, necessitate it).

I have already performed a few preliminary tests with a modified 16:9 version of Mage's Initiation on my Samsung Galaxy S1 and S3 phones and the wide-screen does look a lot better on these devices. But it will also require a tonne of reworking the game assets and things to make everything fit and function correctly. AGS doesn't make it easy to switch the resolution to 16:9 when the screens were originally designed at 4:3, so we've had to factor in the time and costs associated with tweaking and reworking that.

Suffice it to say that if we do hit $120k, then wide-screen versions are a given.
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jfrisby

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2013, 12:13:19 PM »


Quote
In the settings (etc) panel, why isn't the close button [X] in the top right corner?

Originally, it was. But it turned out that moving the mouse to the top-right of the screen constantly was pretty frustrating. You ended up having to use up more energy to move the mouse up there each time you wanted to close the GUI. Since most GUI actions take place in the mid to lower area of the GUI, it's a shorter distance/more convenient to place the "close" button where it is. It was also done because the button needs to be perpetually visible on a part of the GUI that doesn't animate (eventually those book page animations will turn).

GUI open/close is also wired up to the TAB key... which seemed more natural after I started to use the wasd/123. 
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Johnwwells

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2013, 07:11:14 PM »

I couldn't get it to work at full resolution on my laptop (a lenovo with a weird monitor dimension), but it was still gorgeous. The experience of the designers definitely shows in the UI options (I used the traditional right-click-to-cycle-icons rather than the verb coin).

The door dials are a wonderfully atmospheric system; all doors the same, all misleading to the outsider.

I'm not a huge fan of the use of classical elements in game magic, if only because it's been done so many times, but at least they're being executed with style. I'm still worried about how the dev team will distinguish their use in puzzles in interesting ways; maybe there will also be more abstract spells that use the elemental disciplines in a less literal way?

The combat was fun up to a point. The fire mine spell could stand to have a way of setting a delay so that enemies would only trigger the mine if they walked over it. That would add to the tactical coolness.

I think the main problem with combat in the demo is the sense of "running around in circles and shooting repetitively" I get from it. To be fair, this also comes up in action RPGs like Diablo, but the confined movement space combined with the relatively few short-range options in the demo makes it worse. That said, the ring of fire spell is great, and I'm going to bet that there'll be more close-range stuff in the full game.

I'm looking forward to this!
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Jaim

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2013, 12:28:47 AM »

Here's my feedback:

Graphics - I loved the art, the backgrounds and the character portraits.  I especially loved the parallax effect that you've created using foregrounds and backgrounds.  It adds a nice modern touch to an older style of game.  Hope to see more of that.  Also, D'arc is hot.  It's a shame he's sixteen.

Puzzles - The dial and the gem puzzles, although cute, were a bit simplistic and obvious.  I assume the puzzles in the final game will vary in difficulty, and that not all will involve some sequence or permutation of the four elements.

Dialogue - Mixed feelings.  I did chortle once or twice, so the wit is working well, but there were a number of phrases which seemed cliché or contrived.  (See below.)

Lore - Don't think it is fair for me to comment on this given the brevity of the demo, but see the dialogue examples below.  A game called "Mage's Initiation" with magic and a mage as two of its primary elements should have a fairly robust system of lore at least insofar as those two things are concerned.

Combat - Good, on the whole, but the forest felt cramped.  I enjoyed discovering which spells were more effective with which goblins.   I hope some of the unrevealed spells have longer durations, so that there is scope for combining them in different ways.  Once the goblin corpses started piling up, I had a lot of trouble moving around them, particularly when the corpses were behind the bush and I couldn't see how to navigate around them.  Loved the QFG-style battle music.

Gameplay - Loved the dial doors, and especially loved the bizarre surprise and confusion I experienced the first time I tried to return to the reading room from the training room without appreciating how they worked.  Loved the music, which perfectly captured what I imagined to be the feel and atmosphere in each room.  The brazier and the mortar and pestle in the training hall reminded me of KQ3; it would be fun to construct spells at some point.

Dialogue examples:

In the reading hall, when trying to pick up the hardcover book - "Better not.  Whoever left it there weeks ago might come back at any moment." - This is a bit contrived.  I'm quite happy for D'arc to decide not to pick up the book, but perhaps for a less spurious reason.  I was just told that "everything readable" in the reading room is protected by Bort's spell, so if this book isn't, why wouldn't D'arc the teenager want to sneak a look at it?

In the training hall - "Sphere of Knowledge" - This made me cringe a little.  But at least it's not a sorting hat.

Varner re the conductor - "It will channel your Element's Gifts" - Perhaps this will make sense when the game's lore is revealed, but for me it didn't really do anything to explain what the conductor was or how it worked.  It makes it sound like the conductor will work some kind of magic of its own.  And does my element (fire) have the gifts, or do I have the gifts?  The description of the conductor says it can "channel non-aggressive magic and shape it into raw martial power".  Not sure what that means either.

Varner re the gem - "It can be made to increase your magic..." - This sounded awkward to me.  Does it make sense for someone's "magic" to "increase"?  Is this an in-character reference to the 'magic' attribute in my character sheet?  Is magic a generic term referring to (eg) my ability to cast spells?  Varner goes on to say that I need to "activate the power stored within it".  Does it increase my magical ability in some way, or does it have some kind of power of its own, or both?  It felt like Varner didn't have a great understanding of these things.

Varner's instructions - "... the Clear Gem I have asked you to find can be Activated using the combined forces of our Elements" - Cringe.  This made me think of Captain Planet.

The comments above are nit-picking, but nit-picking is how a good game becomes a great game.  I enjoyed the demo and look forward to playing the full game.
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MacDon

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2013, 07:34:26 AM »


Dialogue examples:

In the reading hall, when trying to pick up the hardcover book - "Better not.  Whoever left it there weeks ago might come back at any moment." - This is a bit contrived.  I'm quite happy for D'arc to decide not to pick up the book, but perhaps for a less spurious reason.  I was just told that "everything readable" in the reading room is protected by Bort's spell, so if this book isn't, why wouldn't D'arc the teenager want to sneak a look at it?

In the training hall - "Sphere of Knowledge" - This made me cringe a little.  But at least it's not a sorting hat.

Varner re the conductor - "It will channel your Element's Gifts" - Perhaps this will make sense when the game's lore is revealed, but for me it didn't really do anything to explain what the conductor was or how it worked.  It makes it sound like the conductor will work some kind of magic of its own.  And does my element (fire) have the gifts, or do I have the gifts?  The description of the conductor says it can "channel non-aggressive magic and shape it into raw martial power".  Not sure what that means either.

Varner re the gem - "It can be made to increase your magic..." - This sounded awkward to me.  Does it make sense for someone's "magic" to "increase"?  Is this an in-character reference to the 'magic' attribute in my character sheet?  Is magic a generic term referring to (eg) my ability to cast spells?  Varner goes on to say that I need to "activate the power stored within it".  Does it increase my magical ability in some way, or does it have some kind of power of its own, or both?  It felt like Varner didn't have a great understanding of these things.

Varner's instructions - "... the Clear Gem I have asked you to find can be Activated using the combined forces of our Elements" - Cringe.  This made me think of Captain Planet.

The comments above are nit-picking, but nit-picking is how a good game becomes a great game.  I enjoyed the demo and look forward to playing the full game.

The comment about the book was obviously a joke and the joke being he has no real reason not to pick it up.
The gem amplifies the user's magic power(able to cast more spells in a shorter space of time).
I think the "lore" behind the conductor was explained in an update. Something about mages aren't trained/able to use spells for aggressive reasons and the conductor bypasses this. I'm not too sure about this so wait for the devs themselves to comment.
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Yukito

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Re: Thoughts on the demo
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2013, 09:45:17 PM »

I tried out the demo and really enjoyed myself. Thank you for releasing it even to non-backers. (I can't back, I live in Japan and PayPal is being retarded to me. I bought Al Emmo by paying someone else and having them burn and send it to me, and I imagine I'll have to do the same for Mage's Initiation.)

Here are my thoughts:

The quick and dirty - loved the classic adventure portion, tried to do everything I could possibly do in the demo it was so fun. Hated the combat.

The long version - I loved all the responses you prepared individually for looking, talking or trying to interact with each hotspot. I really enjoyed how many different hotspots you had in each room. I imagine in the full game we won't see any boring reactions like "A door." when you click on the door and that's just place holder stuff right now. I didn't notice the combination for the fountain hall was written in the note and figured it out by myself fairly quickly, which means to me, that you designed the adventure game logic of that extremely well. Kudos on that.

I do wonder if the final game will be more verbose than the demo. I thought you struck a nice balance between wordiness and detail here, but I wouldn't mind more detail in the final version. (I imagine there will be.) I think when you have so many possible hotspots and ways to interact with them, it can really bog down the pace of an adventure game for someone like me who likes to try it all and so a happy medium is an excellent choice. This isn't one of your remakes of an old game where I think many fans are happy to see you expand on games that were originally quite sparse in their storytelling, so I think the pace you have right now is close to ideal.

On the other hand, I do feel like adventure games do a great job of approximating the appeal of a good book, so tons of text is sometimes appreciated. One thing I always wonder in adventure games is, "If I don't interact with this now, will I miss the chance to enjoy all these interactions later?" So I think a good way to keep the pacing brisk and yet offer lots of incidental detail is to clearly signal to the player what is purely optional. In the demo clicking on the bookcases gets your standard description of them. Adventure fans like me know that we click again, we might get funny book titles or descriptions of different books, but how about first time players? Do they know that? How could you signal that to them in the text that clicking multiple might reward them with more flavor? This is my absolute favorite aspect of adventure games, being able to interact with them the environment in different ways and enjoy the text that bounces back. Himalaya and AGD always understand the importance of good writing in adventure games and it shows here. 

In Japan, our adventure games almost always have an impassive narrator response and characters who chime in for a conversation sometimes, on top of that narrator response. In Mage's Initiation, it seems you have chosen to have the main character be the narrator whenever you click on things, which is fine. Whenever I play a Japanese adventure game and a new character joins me for a while, I always go back to all the places I can and interact with them to get new dialogue scenes. If Mage's Initiation has any characters who are in the room or accompany you for a while, it would be nice if clicking on certain things started a dialogue scene after the initial description. So in the training hall for example. It might frustrate players who are trying to get information, but I feel Himalaya knows the right line to keep on that anyway. I'm not sure whether you have plans to do this, but its something I always anticipate in an adventure game and like if it is included.
 
On that line, sometimes I was very confused why I got the response I did with the mouth icon on some objects. It feels like sometimes the player character is trying to lick, spit or eat it and other times talk to it, and other times I'm not sure what he tried to do that would warrant that response. It was all enjoyable though, so I don't really care, but I thought I might mention it.

The other mages who would randomly appear in the meeting hall were a nice touch. The music in the fountain hall was gorgeous and my favorite piece in the demo.

I didn't think anything felt out of place or in-congruent with respect to the world you were creating and I really thought every part of it was amusing and exciting to explore. The atmosphere each room conveyed was impressive. I really felt like I was exploring a mystical world. There have been so many fantasy games released throughout the years, the magic can get lost for someone who has played a lot of them. It sucked me in from the first screen.

The interface, outside of combat, was impeccable and insanely well thought out for an alpha version. One example of that is how you can just choose to move to any room once you've found the code or click in the code each time. I don't have any issue with only running or only walking. I'm either not in a hurry or want to move around quickly, so two movement speeds are fine with me.

Solving the puzzles was a joy. There was just the right amount of feedback and hints without making me feel like I've been "Hey, Listen!"-ed (Ocarina of Time reference if you aren't into console games). When doing the multi-step puzzle, I especially liked how you described the reaction of each step, made it seem very magical and gave me a great sense of my actions making an actual impact in the game world, however small.

The parts I found the most memorable in the demo were:

- That big crystal shard thing in the ceiling of the fountain hall that seemed to be connected to some character or diety's moods or lifeforce

-That thingamajig that helped you level up. A talking crystal ball is a great idea.

-The implied antagonism between the way different types of mages seem to live and their varying outlooks on life.

-The Lord of the Keyrings, laughed out loud there.

-The Easter Egg-y fourth room in the mage's hall

-The idea that somebody likes pitting the suits of armor against each other

-Whoever Bert (I think that's the name, the guy who seems to manage the library) is, seems to be a character I'd want to meet

The combat, on the other hand, felt like it was for an entirely different game and a much less professionally made one at that. I didn't enjoy a single thing about it. I responded in more detail about in the Combat thread if you're interested in my verbose and useless feedback.  ;)

I'm not able to provide very good feedback because I am not a native English speaker, but I figured it was the least I could do for not only giving me a free demo, but four excellent remakes I didn't pay for.

Aside from the combat, Mage's Initiation shows a confidence in style or tone, a beautiful imagination and an overall professional atmosphere that few small game developers can match and I hope your name becomes more well known for it.
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