I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

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I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby Kingdom of One on Mon May 13, 2013 4:45 pm

I just killed the big bad boss man for the first time so thought I should write-up some (hopefully at least marginally constructive) criticism. This will be fairly general as I didn't note down anything while I was playing.

This post is fairly long and comes across as quite harsh in places. I would like to preface everything with the fact that I really like the game and it is certainly one of the best I've ever played.

I apologise if I'm repeating anything but I haven't really followed the development so far.

1) First impressions.
My first impressions of playing the beta were that it is worse than the alpha.
I couldn't really explain why I felt this but I did. I think it's because the alpha left the impression of a puzzle game that was new and refreshing and neatly packaged. The beta's first impression was no longer new (obviously) and sprawling/messy as opposed to neat. It shouldn't be too surprising that the kind of people that like puzzle games also like to have neatly arranged boxes to click on.

After this I went back to play the alpha and it was only then that I realised how many improvements have been made. The problem is that they're to the gameplay itself (and mainly only applicable for more advanced play). Unfortunately it is the UI that leaves the biggest impression.

2) Sprawling/messy Feeling.
I like the story of the kingdom and I like having the visual growth but the overall layout gives me this uneasy feeling of being surrounded by mess. It's worse on the dungeon map screen as this isn't as aesthetically interesting. I think a page with a neat layout of overall progress would help tremendously.

3) Kingdom Growth.
As I said I like the kingdom story and growth but the (almost) final form is very disappointing. My expectation playing a game in a fantasy setting was that there would be around 10 levels per building and the final kingdom would be this epic monster that looked nothing like its starting point. Instead, a few buildings appeared and there were some minor visual upgrades and then it was done.
"Wow - I wonder what the mage tower will look like in it's fully upgraded f… oh".
Maybe the art is on its way but I still expected more of a feeling of growth/accomplishment.

4) Puzzles.
These are (overall) really good. I like how they introduce different little tricks in a way that encourages the player to work them out for themselves (or at least feel like they have done so). I think there should be one with multiple altars for more advanced maneuvering between the gods (perhaps unlocked after getting pactmaker).

5) Class Challenges.
These are like the puzzles but even better. I like the ones where the classes theme comes across strongly. I haven't tried many of the gold ones yet (been saving them and some of the silvers) so can't really comment. The difficulty seems fairly well set so far (I'm assuming the gold ones will be tougher).

6) Preparations.
I think one thing that makes the class challenges nice is the lack of preparations. I also really enjoyed the (probably not actually very) final quest for the same reason. They clearly have their place though and allow for a feeling of personalisation and creating your own strategy. The implementation leaves me with that 'messy' feeling again but I'm stuck working out a way to improve that.

5) Early game.
My memory is not so good for this but I think the tutorial was generally quite nice. It would be nice if 'bet on boss' increased the difficulty of the early dungeons marginally by adding an extra boss or something. This should keep it more interesting for those that find it too easy.

I liked the feeling of exploration given by introducing new concepts/races slowly via sub-dungeons. The pacing for this seemed about right.

6) Gods.
I don't feel qualified to discuss balance details but I'm confused as to why there is no detail about piety gain/loss in-game (at least I couldn't find it). This is a puzzle game and that seems like an important piece of information to withhold. I had to check with the wiki every time I found an altar - there is no reason this information shouldn't be contained in the game - it isn't fun to find it out through trial and error.

7) Items.
The range of items is nice. There are some nice choices to be made with items with drawbacks however there are a few that seem a little off to me:

The Balanced Dagger - I don't get this. It seems pretty powerful with no interesting choices to be made. Most runs for me involve killing enemies 1-2 levels higher and then occasionally one of 3+ levels higher. With the dagger you get free experience of 1.5 levels higher whilst simultaneously saving all your resources so that the occasional killing of 3+ lvl higher enemies is easier. I'm sure it becomes too weak for the hardest dungeons but completely carried a dragon isles run with wonafyt at the starting locaiton (the only vicious dungeon I've attempted so far).

The worst part is that it makes the gameplay less interesting. Especially in its combination with wonafyt. Summon, kill, summon, kill, level up, summon, kill, summon, kill is not particularly exciting and almost always a good use of resources. If it reduced bonus experience from higher level enemies (while wielded) then it would lead to much more interesting decisions.

The guitar of some name - This also seems like a powerful item with little drawback/interesting choices. Maybe I'm overvaluing cheap experience gain but any time you can get easy access to a large amount of extra experience without expending any resources it seems like a no-brainer. I at least expected it to break after one use so that you can't also save on unexplored tiles if you want to use it effectively.

8) Late game.
I'm writing this after defeating the super evil bad guy for the first time so this probably doesn't really count as late game but the experience I've had so far has been great. It's fairly unbelievable the number of times you are in a seemingly impossible situation but then can come up with a really pleasing sequence of plays to turn it around and win as you use up your final resource.

Dragon Isles (the only vicious dungeon I've tried).
My first attempt (orc warlord) at this there was no way of knowing what I was going to face underground. The message didn't leave me feeling particularly worried so I cleared the main dungeon fairly absent-mindedly and was a little disappointed that I'd have had to start planning for the second part before I could have any idea of what it was. I don't think there is a way to reveal it that makes any sense but I'd expect the original message of the underground bit to be more ominous.

For comparison, once I knew what was there I cleared it on my second (orc warlord) and third (orc rogue - prepared balanced dagger plus wonafyt was discussed earlier) attempts. Having said that the difficulty seemed about right. The warlord game was beautiful and I was convinced I couldn't make it at one point but found a nice sequence involving tricks I'd never needed to do in order to complete a dungeon before. That game alone was enough to make this one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played.

I'm sure it's going to be an interesting challenge with the classes I am less comfortable with (are less overpowered) and trying to get badges. I'm looking forward to trying the other vicious dungeons.

The tower.
Requiring purist made it much more fun for me.

Another rewarding experience. It took around 10 failed attempts each time getting to his chambers and feeling completely helpless.

Warlord - "oh hi - you're annoyingly just sitting there without any special abilities or an intimidating amount of damge (a nice design decision btw) being completely un-killable.
Rogue/Warlord a few times - not close then down to ~40% but still didn't feel close.
Monk a few times - OK, maybe. But these dungeons with lots of magic damage dudes mean we end up with only getting him to around %50 - doesn't feel that close.
Let's try something different.
Elf Wizard - Seems to do OK but then having my late game conversions only get me useless max mana wasn't very good so…
Goblin Monk - Hmm, interesting. Still not quite there. Too many resources burnt on levels full of magic dealing enemies.
OK, let's try something completely different again.
Halfling Priest. Boom easy (relatively) - with piety and resources left over. I was a little surprised.

Conclusion.
A great game.
The in-dungeon gameplay is very good.
The overall progression seems a little off. I think the kingdom progression needs to feel more epic. It feels like a missed opportunity as is. The introduction of new features works well enough.
The UI feels messy. If a simple (neat) display of progress was added then I think the main problems with the feeling of the game would be fixed. This screen should also be able to be used to choose dungeons/preparations etc.
God information should be easily accessible in-game.

This is all just one man's opinion. Thanks for the game!
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby dislekcia on Mon May 13, 2013 6:45 pm

Wow! Thanks for the writeup. Really appreciate your view on the game :)

I loved the idea of a beautiful game of DD.

I'm hoping that the completed Kingdom graphics will help with the lack of progression you were feeling, I know the later buildings should be awesome. Similar thing with the map screen, which we're trying to tie into the quest progression as well.

Do you think it's the preparation icons themselves that made the menu feel messy, or is it something else? Did the shift to the paper panels make a difference?
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby Darvin on Mon May 13, 2013 7:18 pm

"Wow - I wonder what the mage tower will look like in it's fully upgraded f… oh".

Fully-upgraded mage tower isn't in yet, for the record. Devs have posted a screenshot, though (showing various revisions/improvements):

Image


I think there should be one with multiple altars for more advanced maneuvering between the gods (perhaps unlocked after getting pactmaker).

I'd like to see this one, too.


The difficulty seems fairly well set so far (I'm assuming the gold ones will be tougher).

Gold challenges are very tough, right up there with vicious dungeons in many cases. If you know what you're up against they're a bit easier than vicious, but figuring them out is part of the challenge.


I don't feel qualified to discuss balance details but I'm confused as to why there is no detail about piety gain/loss in-game (at least I couldn't find it).

You can view a log of your recent piety deductions/awards but that's it. There will be an encyclopedia (or "codex") in the final version. And yeah, I know the wiki is a lifesaver for the deities.

In terms of balance, I think you're in a better position than a lot of the regulars around here to talk. Our perspective is slanted based on end-game experience, whereas you probably have a fresh view.


The Balanced Dagger - I don't get this.

This one has already been discussed to death. It's actually been buffed repeatedly (don't even ask about its original form...) to get where it is, and it has the weird gameplay quirks you describe. Overall it actually works best on the hardest dungeons, where fighting higher-level monsters is tough and getting momentum difficulty.


The guitar of some name - This also seems like a powerful item with little drawback/interesting choices

Wicked Guitar is a nice item, but you do have to increase the power of all the visible monsters when you play it. It is double-edged. It's definitely a great purchase, but it's


The tower.
Requiring purist made it much more fun for me.

Another rewarding experience. It took around 10 failed attempts each time getting to his chambers and feeling completely helpless.

Gaan-Telet is all about efficiency. It's all about high attack damage, high resistances, and the secret spice that brings it all together: sanguine. Bloodmages work beautifully on Gaan-Telet, and anyone who can worship Dracul is going to rock out. Think about how many blood pools there are on this dungeon. Vampire would be an exquisite choice, but unlocking him is harder than beating Gaan-Telet in the first place.
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby berpdreyfuss on Mon May 13, 2013 8:18 pm

Nice writeup! One thing I like to comment on:

"The tower.
Requiring purist made it much more fun for me."

"I think one thing that makes the class challenges nice is the lack of preparations"

I have made the experience that often a purist run in any dungeon is a lot of fun. I think it should be encouraged more, apart from the badge. Without preparations you really have to work with the items or glyphs you find early and you start to do new things. My experience was from the time the trisword was overpowered and it made sense to me to prep it always. The discussion on the board about learning and strategies that prevent learning the important things made this clear to me.
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby The Avatar on Mon May 13, 2013 8:29 pm

Wow. Great right-up. Fortunately most of the mentioned issues will be gone by the end of the beta. I'll reassert what Darvin said. Please give your perspective on balance. The forum is so populated by supervets that the new player's perspective is always appreciated.

An idea for the balanced dagger would be to add back the one gold cost per kill.
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby Lujo on Mon May 13, 2013 9:32 pm

Love the writeup! The volume of it, all the times I've nodded my head in agreement, the nice observations... That's feedback!

The god swapping tutrial comments I agree with. and another indicator that the little pannels on the side of the screen where you can exit the dungeon and see piety gain can go unnoticed even by people whov'e finished the main quest. Or at least that's how I interpreted the god's bit. Aw, heck, I agree with a lot of it ^^
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby Darvin on Mon May 13, 2013 9:35 pm

An idea for the balanced dagger would be to add back the one gold cost per kill.

This item straddles the boundary between useless and overpowering. Because it has so many strategic drawbacks, there's a very narrow sweet spot. To be honest, I'm happy with how it works right now and don't think it needs changing. It's not a perfect item, but it's not the worst on the roster.
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby Bloggorus on Mon May 13, 2013 11:50 pm

Balance the balanced dagger by making it a large item?

It's an item which is a little too easy to just pick up in the outside chance that you might gain something extra from it. Making it big might make players only grab it if they are building a strategy around it.

I can see how it seems easymode in combination with wonafyt, but popcorn sure comes in handy. It depends on how you play, and what gods you are familiar with.

TT is a good example: requires popcorn, but i don't think many players are comfortable riding his fine line of piety.
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby Naoya on Tue May 14, 2013 12:51 am

Bloggorus wrote:
It's an item which is a little too easy to just pick up in the outside chance that you might gain something extra from it. Making it big might make players only grab it if they are building a strategy around it.


Balancing the balanced dagger. Heh, irony.-

Increasing its size would make it incredible niché - and we already have a few items like that. WHURGARBL, for
example, is rarely used by me due to size. On the other hand, burning strike is an awesome effect with no downsides - I'd most likely take it everytime if it were small. The dagger however, has both its down and upsides - it can give you an easy time leveling, but if you know your stuff you usually don't need it, and using it eats away your popcorn. It's no trisword, but its not useless either, so I think it's in a nice spot.

Out of curiosity, what did the dagger do in its original incarnation?
I suppose there is not a list where every item with all the changes they went through is listed, is there?
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Re: I completed the basic storyline - some thoughts (long).

Postby The Avatar on Tue May 14, 2013 2:23 am

It was +2 exp on same level kills for 2 or 3 gold (I forgot which).
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