Author Topic: A beginner's impressions  (Read 4318 times)

Offline jabbahutt

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
A beginner's impressions
« on: April 13, 2012, 10:32:54 AM »
Hi all,

I'm rather new here, having just bought AVWW yesterday and started playing.

First of all let me say that for a beta product the polish level is very high, and the game is lots of fun.

Two things that bothered me a little:

1. wooden platforms - when running over the platforms, even if they are one near the other you can still fall to the acid below - ANNOYING.

2. difficulty level - I started playing using all difficulty levels at default, and I died many times before getting a little better at the game, but it's pretty hard at the beginning - no many healing options, too many enemies at some areas, some in areas where you can't manuever.

Those were my impressions from the Introductory mission.

Does anybody else feel the same way?

Jabba

Offline keith.lamothe

  • Arcen Games Staff
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,505
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2012, 10:48:14 AM »
Welcome to the forums, I'm glad you're enjoying the game :)

First of all let me say that for a beta product the polish level is very high, and the game is lots of fun.
Yea, we're glad to hear it's feeling polished.  Official release is in less than a week and a half, so we sure hope so :)

Quote
1. wooden platforms - when running over the platforms, even if they are one near the other you can still fall to the acid below - ANNOYING.
Yea, we heard that a lot at PAX East too, Chris is working on it :)

Quote
2. difficulty level - I started playing using all difficulty levels at default, and I died many times before getting a little better at the game, but it's pretty hard at the beginning - no many healing options, too many enemies at some areas, some in areas where you can't manuever.
Two things really:

1) Playing this game tends to involve a lot of dying.  We've made some recent changes to make it more obvious that this is ok :)
2) The default difficulty levels are still fairly challenging, but the lower ones should make it a lot less taxing if that's what you're looking for.


Thanks for the feedback :)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games? Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,423
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2012, 10:54:33 AM »
Cheers!

Funnily enough, just having gotten back from PAX East and watched about 300ish people play through the intro mission over the weekend, we had a lot of the same impressions in terms of the wood platforms and some other related things you didn't mention.  Definitely on my list for today.

For the difficulty level comment, that's actually one I don't agree with: we did see people die a lot, but only if they made extreme tactical blunders like trying to jump down into a mass of swirling robots.  This isn't a brawler, and if you close range to the enemies you can expect to die.  Whereas if you stay at range and fire, even people who were not great with the controls were doing really well.

The tricky thing on that one in particular is user education, I think, because people tend to want to rush right in; and with a lot of fantasy games that's a great idea.  To some extent a lot of folks were figuring out that on their own, but still perhaps 20% of attendees were not and would just repeatedly throw themselves into the mosh pit until we said something about it. 

To some extent I'm not sure how much of a problem that is; we couldn't decide, when talking about this after the conference.  On the one hand, I suspect that everyone would figure it out eventually, and it's more fun to figure out things on your own when possible.  On the other hand, depending on the level of frustration it causes it could lead people to not get to the point of figuring it out (and people are distracted by everything else they are learning new, as well as sometimes getting single-minded about trying to beat an area using a certain skill technique rather than using a better tactical position).

Curious on your thoughts on that, since you just went through it.  I think probably we need a little note somewhere in there, but I have to figure out where and keep it brief.  Maybe just a tombstone in a couple of those key areas with the icicle leapers and skelebots that has a brief message about using wooden platforms to create "deer stands" and so on.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Penumbra

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 464
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2012, 11:23:21 AM »
I know it's too late to change the into mission, but what if you have virtually the same room twice in a row. The first already set up with platforms in the right spot, and the next without. The user would then hopefully come to the conclusion to create them themselves, since the first room was so much easier.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,423
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2012, 11:34:36 AM »
That's true, something like that could teach without having to tell them.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline tigersfan

  • Arcen Games Contractor
  • Arcen Staff
  • Master Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,599
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 12:21:44 PM »
That's true, something like that could teach without having to tell them.

MEGAMAN! MEGAMAN! :)

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,423
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 12:25:52 PM »
(punches pink robot woman)

;)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Penumbra

  • Sr. Member Mark III
  • ****
  • Posts: 464
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2012, 12:31:32 PM »
No court would convict you.

Offline LintMan

  • Full Member Mark III
  • ***
  • Posts: 227
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2012, 01:55:30 PM »
1. wooden platforms - when running over the platforms, even if they are one near the other you can still fall to the acid below - ANNOYING.
Yea, we heard that a lot at PAX East too, Chris is working on it :)

I found falling between two adjacent platforms disconcerting also.  The trick right now is to not bother to try to make a whole walking path out of them, but instead space them out and jump from platform to platform.  Then there's less temptation to try to walk between them, with the side benefit of using less of your platforms.


Offline Hyfrydle

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 587
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2012, 02:13:28 PM »
I never even considered walking over them I just jump from one to the other.

Offline jabbahutt

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2012, 02:44:09 PM »
For the difficulty level comment, that's actually one I don't agree with: we did see people die a lot, but only if they made extreme tactical blunders like trying to jump down into a mass of swirling robots.  This isn't a brawler, and if you close range to the enemies you can expect to die.  Whereas if you stay at range and fire, even people who were not great with the controls were doing really well.

The tricky thing on that one in particular is user education, I think, because people tend to want to rush right in; and with a lot of fantasy games that's a great idea.  To some extent a lot of folks were figuring out that on their own, but still perhaps 20% of attendees were not and would just repeatedly throw themselves into the mosh pit until we said something about it. 

To some extent I'm not sure how much of a problem that is; we couldn't decide, when talking about this after the conference.  On the one hand, I suspect that everyone would figure it out eventually, and it's more fun to figure out things on your own when possible.  On the other hand, depending on the level of frustration it causes it could lead people to not get to the point of figuring it out (and people are distracted by everything else they are learning new, as well as sometimes getting single-minded about trying to beat an area using a certain skill technique rather than using a better tactical position).

Curious on your thoughts on that, since you just went through it.  I think probably we need a little note somewhere in there, but I have to figure out where and keep it brief.  Maybe just a tombstone in a couple of those key areas with the icicle leapers and skelebots that has a brief message about using wooden platforms to create "deer stands" and so on.

Chris,

Thank you for the comments. Basically, I understand your point of view, and actually the fact that you've said it made me understand that probably my approach was a bit too "head on"... I have to admit that usually when given the option I would go for the melee character classes (the barbarian in Diablo 2 for example), so that was the basis for my actions.
Another thing that pops to my mind is that in the past months I've played quite a bit of Terraria (which is awesome BTW) - and there the basic tools that you have require close combat.

So that got me thinking, perhaps you should offer some way to cater for different types of players (perhaps more powerful close range spells at the beginning?)

Oh and one more thing, even if dying a lot is to be expected, I think that most people connect that with failure, and you should be careful about frustrating your new players.
My suggestions here are either lowering the default difficulty level, or making the characters a little bit stronger (in terms of Hit points).

That's my 3 cents about it.
I'd love to hear what you think about it.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,423
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2012, 03:51:50 PM »
A few thoughts:

1. In general we're working on a litany of little tweaks (and a few not as little ones) to make the very early parts of the game simpler to intuitive grasp (because lots of people blow past tooltips and tombstones, etc).

2. You can definitely make more of a brawler-type character, but that requires a whole mess of customization.  Still, we had a player who managed to bring down an overlord using a lot of jump-related enchants, high health upgrades, and death touch.  I thought it was really clever, but it's also definitely off the beaten path for this game -- Metroid and such (where there's lots of firing-at-range) are more of a guide here than Terraria (which I've not played).

3. At the very start of the game, we're intentionally keeping player choice to a minimum so that they get the basics, and then it gradually ramps up from there on in.  Adding a lot of options to how they do classes and such would really kind of complicate it, I think.  That said, you do pick up 16 upgrade stones if you wish in that first building, so you can literally double your health with that.  On the version you were playing, most likely the tooltips were buried in the inventory rather than being directly on the action bar, though, so that's a great example of the litany of small things we're fixing based on our experiences at PAX -- those small things like that really added up to players hitting the same issues over and over and over again.

4. When it comes to death and frustration... to some extent I also don't want to be misleading about what the rest of the game is like, right?  In the version from last night we added some more words about explaining that death is not a big deal and what happens, though, so hopefully that will help.  But in general if I play something like Mario Bros, I'm going to die a lot (well, not me actually, I'm extremely good at those, but when I was new to them it was falling down a hole insta-death all over the place).  Part of the deal with death is making sure that it feels like the penalties are lower.  And that was another thing from PAX that people struggled with, because they were missing the warp gates.  We went to a lot of trouble to make that a lot clearer in last night's version as well, but I expect that was after your first playthrough.

5. As a general rule, one of my huge goals for this game was to have tactical combat.  And that means that your position and such actually has to matter.  By extension that makes things a lot harder when you choose a bad position, because otherwise any position is just as good as the next, logically speaking.  That's tricky, because so many people are just used to rushing in blindly.  It's kind of like what happened to the Quake II folks when Counter-Strike came out -- the Quake II fellas (myself included) all just went running and gunning out into open spaces and were instantly getting sniped.  It was frustrating.  But soon enough we learned what to do and what not to do, and I wound up putting way more hours into Counter-Strike than Quake II, all told.  It was such a more enduring game because it actually had tactics.  But until that "position matters in this game, unlike past similar games" idea clicks, there's definitely a potential for more frustration on the part of the player.  That's what I'd like to focus on mitigating, rather than just removing the tactics, per se. 

6. The reason I don't really like melee classes in general is that they are inherently tactics-free.  "Stand next to something and hit it" isn't something that has a lot of variance to how you can do it.  I say this without any meanness implied, because I really love a lot of games that use melee classes.  It isn't that those games are easy, it's that they are rewarding skill and dodging instead of tactics.  Here we also reward that with the ranged stuff, but we also reward tactics.  By the time you get into the position of making a melee build (if desired), you're forgoing a lot of other options to do so, which means you're actually making strategic decisions about your build that are interesting in their own right.  So for the people who are able to build melee classes in AVWW, and then have the skill to play them out, that's not something I'd ever want to block -- props to those folks, and I think that's super clever and really neat that they can do that.  But it's definitely one of the harder ways to play, kind of like being the guy with the knife in Counter-Strike; very possible and very epic, but requiring more skill than most other ways of playing.

7. At any rate, by all means the game is designed to cater to as many different kinds of players as possible, but in terms of the intro mission that flexibility doesn't come about until you reach the spellgem workbench down in the caves.  And by the time you reach that, you're almost done with the intro mission and ready to go out and use your newfound flexibility out in the wild.  I will say that the miasma whip is one of my favorite spells, and that's melee range (though whip-ranged rather than touch-ranged).  The intro mission is just trying to get across the idea that position actually matters before you get to that point, is I guess what I mean.  Even when playing a melee build (perhaps especially so), you shouldn't leap down into a mass of robots swirling about.  You have to leap near to them, then start attacking them, then have a way to go up and over them, etc.  You can technically do that right in the intro mission with fire touch, for that matter.  The difference is that you can't just jump down in the hole and hold down the attack button until they are dead -- there's not a build where that sort of skill-and-tactics-free button mashing works.

8. That sounds insulting, but that's not really how I mean it -- most games ease you in more, and so the first enemies tend to be pretty fragile bunnies.  So the expectation from a lot of games is that absolutely you can just leap down into a mass of slimes and obliterate them.  Makes sense to me, and I'm sure I've done it.  But AVWW is completely nonlinear once you get past the intro mission, and that means that any sort of training we want to give you about how the game works needs to come during the intro mission itself.  Necessarily that means that either the intro mission is fatiguingly long (which I thought was the greater of the two evils), or that the intro mission gets right to the point and tries to subtly guide you into seeing what is different about the game right away, but without the usual full grace period of easiest monsters.



Wow that was a long post, and I'm getting repetitive.  But I guess the bottom line was that what you were doing was valid so long as you actually had the skill to dodge the skelebots and not take any hits.  But the "skill to do that" also requires the knowledge to put up wooden platforms above since you can't just jump over the whole mass usually.  So that's kinds of the missing link: whether you want to get up close and personal, or whether you want to snipe from above, you're going to need to be placing wooden platforms or else the skelebots are going to flank you, period.  That's the missing link I feel like needs to be communicated to the player in a vastly more concise fashion. ;)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline jabbahutt

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2012, 04:08:49 PM »
Wow Chris,

that WAS a long post :-). It is very informative and I think that I now understand how this game differs from MANY other games that i've played.

I have only one remark on the subject:
Perhaps the tactics part should be more emphasized to the player? I mean I really didn't think to much about my position when I attacked the skelebots... Perhaps the user should be rewarded in some way when he uses a clever tactic? (for example attacking from a wooden platform high above the skelebot?)

Thanks again for your comments and insights.

Jabba

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Arcen Staff
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 31,423
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2012, 04:24:04 PM »
Cheers, and thanks.

In terms of rewarding the player for tactics, that's sort of a tricky proposition: if it's too artificial it just feels odd, and if it's too rewarding it quickly becomes the only way to play.  Right now you do actually have the option of several different ways of avoiding the enemies and either sniping at them or doing hits-and-runs with shorter-ranged stuff.  The only thing those varied approaches have in common is that, whatever else you're doing, you're also insuring that you are out of range of them hitting you back while you're doing it.

I should also note that you actually do get double damage when you headshot these enemies, and you can slow them by hitting them in the legs.  So that gives you some options right there, as well.  But it's not very clearly communicated in the game yet.

To be honest, I feel like all the raw mechanics needed are already there for the tactics to actually matter.  Not that we won't do more, but that's a larger subject and certainly not something that we have time to design, implement, test, and balance prior to 1.0.  The tricky thing is that what is there already just isn't blindingly clear to players when they start, and it needs to be.  The tutorial is meant to teach that sort of thing, and for some players it's demonstrably working already; but everybody thinks about things slightly differently, and there's a large contingent of players who we've observed first-hand "missing it" right from the start until we said something.

Making sure that all the segments of the playerbase see the possibilities of the terrain and tactics is something I'll have to think more carefully about how I'm doing it.  It may well be that I need to add another cavern or two, in the end, to really have time and space to show the difference of "your brain on tactics" and "your brain off tactics." ;)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Wanderer

  • Master Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,577
  • If you're not drunk you're doing it wrong.
Re: A beginner's impressions
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2012, 06:19:14 PM »
Just D/L'd the game and figured I'd toss in my own opinions.

* The opening screen of "A Valley Without Wind" where it was downloading updates shows a HUGE dust-storm.  That's hysterical.

* Hiding something in a dark corner on the first screen, very nice.  I have no idea what it does, but yeah, my first hidden treasure.

* I now have a bunch of logs.  I didn't even realize the trees were targetable until I'd paused, and then re-read the description for fire touch.  Now I have logs.  I assume they'll be useful somewhere.

* So I get past the acidic water and have no clue what I'm supposed to do in the next screen.  My 'platforms' don't sit in the air, apparently, so it's not like I'm supposed to use these for step-stones.  Explore a bit I guess, since I'm jammed here.  There's something under the water according to the map but I'd probably die before I reached it.

* Oh, hey, look, theres these... things... hanging out of the wall here just where I whacked the crates.  They hold platforms?  That's not obvious.

* Ah, okay, so the blue/grey stuff that looks like it's part of the background can hold platforms up.  That's handy.

* The Dungeon map is going to take some serious getting used to, after goofing around in the atriums and living rooms.  I still haven't figured out how to get at that first warp gate that I saw.

* Is it necessary to pop in/out of the warp gates to activate them?  Kind of annoying.

* So I'm exploring the cavern, and I run into these snipers that are just pounding on me if I get near the ledge.  Well, alright then, I figure out how to pop them and eat a bit of damage.  I get down lower and trying to evade one of the skeleton melee guys I jump and get stuck on his head, jammed between him and a small environmental ledge above him.  I can't move, can't jump out, I can't kill him in time with a buddy of his helping, and die.

Now, I know I'm gonna die, but getting jammed like that is horribly annoying.

* And after a glorious death I finally figure out how to get back to that first warp gate with the background vegitation.  The blue stuff inside is also platformable.  This is non-obvious from the original pickup point where you only can drop them on the acidic water.

* AH!  now that I've found the correct path and am not smacking my head in the wrong area, that will help.

* Cannot handle bats even with new spells. RogerDodger.  Pwned twice.  I'm running out of villagers here...

* LOL, found a 'side passage' into the batcave... and got whooped again. XD  Oh, hey, look, I've still got 6 generic options of what poor villager dies next.  Excellent!  I'm now playing a game of Lemmings!

* What would really be nice is if I could duplicate platforms in my inventory.  I find I use one set for traveling with lights and another for combat.  Being able to have platforms on both would be really handy.

* Is there a way to see information/chunk map without having to be in the chunk?

* Meh, there's no way to heal up without killing an enemy?  Baaaah.

* One of the things it mentions is to get tier 2 spells, and that critters won't be immune to more than one element.  Then again, I just faced that yellow glob with a red heart that was 99% immune to air and fire.  Hmmmm.

* So exploring, I go for a boss tower mission.  I'm exploring the little settlement/sheds/whathaveyou outside and I find some chests.  I pop them and these colored lights fly out and come to me... but I get no notification of what I just received.  What was that?

Map creation seems a bit screwy, IE: how do you get out of the attached image?  I had to abandon the character.  Also, do you really need all those cardboard boxes?  Yikes.

All in all, an interesting game, just minor things at this point I'd say.  I intend to keep messing around with the trial a bit but nice game. :)
... and then we'll have cake.