Author Topic: First play feedback  (Read 1298 times)

Offline Hearteater

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First play feedback
« on: March 13, 2013, 09:43:03 PM »
FIRST, amazing game.  Love it and can't wait to get to all the other stuff.  So please take all of the below as constructive with the full intent of helping you make this game super amazing.  I wrote it all as I went, so if you hear any frustration in it, that's what I was feeling at that moment.  This is very sequencial feedback.  I went back to clean up my thoughts a bit, but otherwise it's pretty raw.  I also have had extremely little time to do much, so I really have barely touch the game.

The is my first experience with Shattered Haven.  I bought and installed it.  Playing fullscreen on 1920x1080 resolution, Windows 7.  I'm starting with the base download version which I think it 0.800, and I patch up right after install to 0.803.

Installation Experience
The game "crashed" after initial install when I left the "Launch after" box checked.  More accurately, it failed to launch with an error message.  I was able to run the game by clicking on the executable itself and got no problem.  Can't recall if I made the desktop shortcut or it happened at install.  Had one beta update to install (brought me to 0.803), and the "Launch after" check box worked fine after that.

For your troubleshooting please: I changed the install path to a folder that did not exist on initial install.  So instead of C:\BlahBlahBlah\SH I made it D:\Games\SH (D:\Games exists, but SH did not).  It did install into D:\Games\SH.  The error message, which I'm ashamed to say I didn't catch because of outside distractions, appeared to mention something about a file it couldn't find to launch the game.

As a side note, how come your installed doesn't say it's from Arcen Games on the Windows security pop up?  It says Unknown.  Noticed AI Wars does this too.

Play Experience
I was immediately stumped because Enter doesn't advance dialog and neither does Space.  After a minute I tried the other Enter and that worked.  So it turns out Num-Pad Enter doesn't advance the dialog.  Very confusing at first.  Num-Pad Enter is my go-to Enter most of the time I'm not actively typing.  It's right on the edge of the keyboard and very easy to hit.  Unless there is something that prevents it, I'd strongly recommend space work on More/OK prompts.

A brief comment on the Music.  The default volume seemed pretty loud.  Awesome, but loud.  I had to turn it down from 70 to 20 for something reasonable.  Also, during the opening dialog sequence (which includes the keyboard/gamepad/mouse commands) I noticed the music had a rough spot in it.  I'm guessing right where the music loops, but I could be wrong.  I heard it twice so I don't think it was a caching issue, but the track seems long enough I wasn't able to nail it down for sure.

I think dialog text could benefit if the speaker's name was always colored.  This actually causes me a storyline issue later (I didn't realize there is a speaker change).  Specially, I'd like a different color for Player 1, Player 2, and everyone else.  That would help me identify who I'm playing, and when with someone else, we could tell what each of us were saying much easier.  And actually, even though it may sound too console-y, it might not be a bad idea to have a (P1) or (P2) icon in front of their name.  That really pulls you in more when you realize at the start of the dialog who you will be playing.  For example, I totally didn't realize I was going to be playing either kid, much less the boy.

The keyboard command help dialog is...interesting.  For player 2 I see "8 4 5 6" to move, and the next line says "Home and End and 4 and".  Umm, and what?  And why is 4 there twice?  Player 1 is odd too.  My items are "1 and 2 and PageUp and 3".  PageUp?  Basically I'm going to have to ignore this completely for the following reasons:
1) They aren't accurate
2) They span multiple pages of the dialog and I can't go back to check them out
3) There are two many of them.  I get Player 1 Keyboard, Player 1 Gamepad, Player 1 Mouse, Player 2 Keyboard, Player 2 Gamepad, and Player 2 Mouse.  Overload!

The title info in parenthesis (Next page is Gamepad) and (Next page is mouse) is unnecessary.  I've got no choice but to proceed, and it makes the title longer and more awkward.  I feel a KISS approach to this title would be cleaner and less apt to make people over-think.  Not to mention you are already overloading me.

Speaking of overload, do I really need Player 2 commands to confuse me when I'm solo?  That info can pop up if I add a second player later.  Not to mention if I add a second player much later, I certainly won't remember the commands, so I'd want a pop-up anyway.

During the intro, I noticed I get the prompts "...More,  More, More, Ok, More".  More is for multiple "pages" of dialog, but they are functionally equivalent through this whole section.  It would probably be best to combine them so OK marks the end of the opening section, not having multiple sections.  Also, it would be hugely helpful if some pages allowed me to navigate back (specially the command help pages).  Maybe it was because they are so confusing right now, but I was flustered when I went to the next page and realized I didn't have the commands memorized.

(This is an added thought: I realized I didn't need several of the initial help screens for a little bit.  For example, inventory.  It might be better to space out the game commands to right before you start needing them so I get used to each.  I think you sort of do this with Inventory actually, but see below for how that caused confusion for an entirely different reason)

"Empty-handed action" is an awkward phrase for E, especially since "Interact" is a pretty common term used in games for that.

I can't mouse click on MORE/OK.  It probably wouldn't hurt for them to have a tooltip when I hover saying "Press Enter to continue," whether I can click them or not.

Oddly I can stand a little behind walls (they cover up my feet and waist) but a Door blocks me and I need to go around.  Just a touch jarring.  Speaking of movement, I'm feeling a touch of delay in response to movement.  Is this intended to be momentum?  It is just enough to make tight control difficult.  I really notice this later when I'm actually around dangerous stuff.  It feels a touch more like lag than a momentum system.

Doors vanish...that's...odd.

An icon appearing for going down stairs would be good.  Actually, more E interactions (unless they are supposed to be hidden) should have an icon pop up.  Only one interact icon should be on the screen at once though, so I always know what will happen when I press E.

Why two (?) bubbles in the basement?  Before I only had one from the girl, but in the basement my character produces one too.  Odd.

Also, the interact bubble from the girl should probably stop appearing until she has something new to say.  E could still talk to her, but this way I'd know when something new came up.  As is, I talked to her in every room to see if she had something to say about each thing.

Animate the Zzz for sleeping?  Would make the father feel more alive, rather than an inanimate object.

Warning from girl when I get near the chasm.  It is the very beginning of the game :) .  Yes, I did walk off.  Although if you wanted to reinforce the danger in the game, a post-death "I said to be careful didn't I!" from Lela would also work very well.

When I die, a tutorial pop up should probably appear  telling me what effect it had.  When I walked off the chasm I had no idea what my death meant.  It seemed to mean nothing.  The girl didn't even seemed concerned.

Those grey arrows on the right path could be brighter.  Maybe green.  I seriously spent at least 5 minutes walking around and didn't notice them until I actually stepped on them.  Maybe they could be green until I've travelled in that direction once.  So one bright color means unexplored direction, and after that they go to grey.  At some point I see double-arrows.  I still don't know what the difference there is.

This wall thing, with walls letting me walk a little behind them, but objects like trees/door blocking me, it is really hanging me up in a lot of places.

Wall on the second screen of the initial mission looks a touch too much like a road.  I didn't realize it was a wall at first.  Then I saw a door in the middle of it.

Would be nice to have an escape out of long dialog sequences.  I'm having flash backs to insane cut-scenes that never end from the 90s.

Encyclopedia: Parent seems an odd choice for what could be better named Back or Previous.  Specially because I thought it might be used to go the actual parent of Lela.

Re-loaded my game from last night.  Quick Load did not do what I expected at all.  I started from the beginning, including full intro sequence, although I appear to be "injured" still.  Maybe quit should be more clear what "saving" really means.  I was a few screen into the game when I saved.

I had trouble crossing from the first screen to the second this time.  I went there pretty directly, but it appeared blocked.  I went and read the sign in front of the house, and when I went back I had no problem.  Odd.  Maybe some of that hang up problem with the walls.

Got the Scythe, and as I go down to where I'm cutting, a dialog opens.  It says my inventory controls are 1 or Z or 10 or (Unbound) or 10.  That's...confusing.  And contradicts what was said last time with "1 and 2 and PageUp and 4" and what I see when I open my inventory panel (which shows 1, 2, 3, 4).  After fiddling around I realize it wasn't telling me what button uses an item, but which opens my inventory!  I'm going to blame this on overload.  I though it was repeating the previous help info, especially because the I looked like a 1.  (Here I would have benefited from not having had the other info about inventory yet.  Also, I'd suggest just mentioning I to open inventory, even though there are alternate choices.  KISS)    And the page breaks on these control pages made this worse since I couldn't back up to re-read it.

Also, why does it say to move my inventory around?  I've got everything picked up I can find, and without moving anything I can still press 3 to use the Scythe.

When with the squid, Lela has a speech bubble, but won't talk to me.

When controlling Darrel, in the north of the forest with the first portal, the chick has a speech bubble, but won't actually talk to me.  Also, this would be a time when the (P1) and (P2) would have been nice to mark for me who I was going to be controlling.

The Portal thing and later "quest" was a little confusing.  I didn't go through the portal made by the shadow guy (don't know if you can).  But I think I got some info about my inventory and what would have happened if I had gone through.  Seriously, I'm not going to remember that.  Tell me when I go through one.  Then, I get to some quest area with snakes and land mines and grays.  I get some more odd info about my inventory, something like "you get to keep your inventory".  Uh, I kind of expected that! :)  Then it says "unlike in portals" or something.  Gah...again, I think this can wait until I actually enter a portal.  I starting to wonder if I wasn't supposed to have missed that portal.

OUT OF ORDER: I can't remember when this happens, but when we open the gate for the random dude and the grays come in, I had some issues.  Basically, I was confused.  You have two "Moms" in the story at this point, so through that entire time I thought we were talking about Lela's mom.  Needless to say, I'm still not sure what the heck happened there.  Part of this was when it switched between speakers I missed it, part of it is I think the writing needs to be very clear about which Mom.  For example, where the heck is Lela's Mom?  I think we're looking for here at the farm, but didn't she say were she was going?  I feel like we are partly expecting to encounter Lela's Mom there, but then meet the boys?  Maybe?  Basically the issue of where Lela's mom is in terms of the game (I know she went for water) is unclear and muddies the arrival of the other mom.

And that's how little time I have right now.  Wish I could do more, and I will try if I can.  Sorry this is so disjointed.  Really looking great guys!  Thanks.

Offline x4000

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Re: First play feedback
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 01:51:02 PM »
Whew, lots of stuff in here.  Some of which is actionable, some of which is not.  I'm still working mainly on critical bugs and then actually finishing out the story and overworld bits right now, but I'll be into the more polish-y things more hopefully tomorrow and definitely over the weekend.  One thing thus far:

* The names of the characters in speech tags are now always colorized.  Specifically:
** Darrell: Same red as in the comic panel cutscenes.
** Mary: Blue
** Pierce: Orange
** Lela: Yellow
** Key NPCs (Willis, Jake, Arlene, and Jackson): Light purple
** Everyone else: Light cyan.


Also, regarding the installers not saying they are from Arcen, that's because we have not digitally signed our installers.  So from a security certificate standpoint, the Unknown is correct.  And regarding the music, I think that varies by speakers to be honest.  It's not any louder than anything else on either of my machines (windows 7 and OSX), and I've not heard anyone else mention that thus far either.
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Offline Hearteater

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Re: First play feedback
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 02:02:48 PM »
Keep up the great work.  I was pretty sure you were drowning in disarming nuclear deadlines at this point, but I thought I'd throw out  what I could so you could see what was useful.  I certain don't except you to turn all that rambling into a checklist :) .  Very glad to hear the names are colored though.  As soon as I actually get time to breath I'll try and play more.  Sadly my current AAR for AIW is being done on my lunch hour, because that's as much free time as I have.

I wouldn't be surprised if it is speakers.  I do seem to turn music down a lot in general.  But I figured I'd thrown in my 2 cents and so if you had a lot of complaints you'd know it was something, and if not you could happily ignore it for some piece of flaming code that requires more urgent attention.

Offline x4000

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Re: First play feedback
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2013, 02:28:16 PM »
Cheers, I appreciate it, and thanks for the kind words!
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Offline zespri

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Re: First play feedback
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 05:38:11 PM »
I was just wondering, Chris, you've been answering "we won't have time for this before the release" on a several occasions now. This got me a bit puzzled. Sure, you need to make the release and sure you need to concentrate on the features for that release. That's granted. But aren't you going to look at the stuff that you don't have time to look at right now after the release? Or more simply put, what are you plans for this game after the release? Is it going to be done and dusted, or are improvements and possible expansion are going to be done?

Offline cupogoodness

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Re: First play feedback
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2013, 10:28:04 PM »
I was just wondering, Chris, you've been answering "we won't have time for this before the release" on a several occasions now. This got me a bit puzzled. Sure, you need to make the release and sure you need to concentrate on the features for that release. That's granted. But aren't you going to look at the stuff that you don't have time to look at right now after the release? Or more simply put, what are you plans for this game after the release? Is it going to be done and dusted, or are improvements and possible expansion are going to be done?

Jumping in for Chris, our post-launch plans for the game depend on how it sells. Same as Valley 2. We have a lot of cool ideas for additional content, but we have to feel out if it's a financially sound decision (versus working on other projects that could potentially be a better use of the developmemt time).