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nightguard

Lengthy Critique of Academagia Year One

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There is only a couple of adventure that do have it but they are not really that noticeable, and they merge back into the final event after 1 or 2 separated adventure section.

 

Also, there is Neutral route, so it's awesome.

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That perspective of the game only measuring you on your grades, so you only play for your grades, is something I'm hoping a little more emotional investment in the characters around you would help move the game away from. If you really cared about the other people in your college or clique, I can definitely see the player making the choice, "I really *should* study, but [student] needs my help in resolving something... Which is more important to me?"

 

I'm not sure whether I made it clear in my post, but I completely agree with you on this.

 

Personally, I don't feel that there needs to be any more 'free time' to complete anything. The limited amount of time you have, which you can decide how to spend, is actually one of the places where the game does a good job of giving the player meaningful choice. Again, it's a decision of "What is more important to me." In fact, you can always choose to spend time that you should be at class doing other things, but there's always the risk of detention if you do that too much. Adding more time, particularly time where you're restricted as to how you use it, would lessen the significance of those choices.

 

I'm afraid I might not have explained myself well enough in my last post. I'm not sure I'll do much better this time - I'm really tired - but I'll give it a shot. (Before I get started, let me preface this by saying that whatever suggestions I make pale in comparison to yours in regards to NPC character development. That is, beyond a doubt, what Academagia needs most right now. It's not my intent to diminish that).

 

I certainly don't expect the developers to give players time to do everything in a single playthrough. I do, however, think it's unreasonable to suggest that a student can't succeed (or even excel) at his or her academics while also having an active social life. (Many of us managed that even without magic!) The point I was trying to make was that, while it's probably possible to do both, in my experience you need to have an advanced understanding of the way the game works, and then really exploit the system through the use of spells, etc., to boost your results. Perhaps if I played through the game three more times or so I'd learn more ways to improve upon that, but it brings me right back to my problem.

 

As I pointed out in my last post, I spent almost every single action my first game in my academic development, and my scores at the end of the year (compared to others in my class) were average to below average. Now obviously, there are game mechanics in place that make it unnecessary to spend your entire year studying to pass your exams, but until you've spent a few games learning them, it makes for playthroughs that are relatively dull by comparison. Once you do learn them, you've seen a good share of what the game has to offer (at least by way of random encounters) - I find myself clicking through certain encounters with a sense of 'been there, done that'.

 

There are a few problems with this: The first, I believe a player should just be able to enjoy the game from the start without having to spend a few games learning the system. A free social action would help to draw the player into the game (and its cast), particularly if the developers take your advice about making the characters feel more alive/real. And, as someone else pointed out, many social actions really wouldn't take up much of a person's day. I wouldn't be opposed at all to limiting such a free slot to certain types of interactions (a date, for example, would take a bit longer than telling an anecdote). Making players spend one of their time segments to accomplish more demanding social actions is entirely reasonable.

 

My other big problem with the way the it currently works is that - to me - it felt like I was being pushed to master the nuances of the game's mechanics just to get anything accomplished - to the detriment of actually just enjoying the game or my character's development. Once I'd gotten enough understanding of the mechanics, a good share of the immersiveness disappeared - in a way, it was just me wrestling against the engine and the time limit. It's not really anything I can quantify, and I realize it's entirely subjective, but that was my takeaway.

 

On a final note, as someone else pointed out, my reasoning for the 'free' social action was simply that many of the social actions available would use very little actual time. The weekly 'free' adventure action - which, to be fair, I was never as set on as the social one - I considered somewhat reasonable as well, seeing as students (particularly at this age) might very well adjust their sleeping schedules to work in an adventure on most weekends.

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Actually, there is an option to 'overwork' for an additional chance of success at a task. At least, there was last time I played. It's not made very obvious, but in activites that use a success test, you can choose to 'spend' a number of stress to get a bonus on your test. Sometimes that's the only way I've been able to add people to my clique.

 

As far as ethical choices, I believe Legate and team were doing everything they could to try and encourage the player (and by association, the character) to make ethical choices in all of the events. True, there were some where you could try something underhanded, but success in that avenue didn't necessarily give you any greater rewards than success through any of the other options. Given that there isn't any long-term tracking of good/evil in Year One, I can understand that decision. It has been implied, however, that they may change the model in year two in that regard. We will just have to wait and see.

 

Your comment about the camp stories (I don't know if they did that in BoF, but I know I've seen several other games that have done that) actually reminded me of something else I wanted to suggest later on as an element of game immersion, as does the comment about the rumor reporting. I'll be posting that within the next week or so, if you happen to be interested reading yet another wall of text.

Yes, I know we can use stress, but not on adventures. The only way to be sure to succeed is to "spend" one friend. Maybe stress should be also available (instead of spending a friend, there could be a cost of stress or endurance or stat downgrade (temporary))

 

About ethics : in fact it's a matter of writing. I'm not sure that the devs could create a system that automatically creates "ethical" choices.

 

Camp stories : I'm waiting for you wall of text :blink: (it wasn't BoF. Maybe Grandia ? I really don't like when I can't remember something I SHOULD remember)

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That perspective of the game only measuring you on your grades, so you only play for your grades, is something I'm hoping a little more emotional investment in the characters around you would help move the game away from. If you really cared about the other people in your college or clique, I can definitely see the player making the choice, "I really *should* study, but [student] needs my help in resolving something... Which is more important to me?"

 

The way I see Academagia, there are three ways to enjoy the game: The first is the strategic challenge of getting through the year with the 'best' scores you can, either in your grades, or in whatever skills you personally value. The second is the exploration aspect, seeing what there all is in this school to learn and see and do. The third is the narrative experience, where you play through the game to see the story of your character and the people around you. I really feel this game can do much more to promote that third gameplay experience.

 

Personally, I don't feel that there needs to be any more 'free time' to complete anything. The limited amount of time you have, which you can decide how to spend, is actually one of the places where the game does a good job of giving the player meaningful choice. Again, it's a decision of "What is more important to me." In fact, you can always choose to spend time that you should be at class doing other things, but there's always the risk of detention if you do that too much. Adding more time, particularly time where you're restricted as to how you use it, would lessen the significance of those choices.

 

 

I couldnt disagree more. I do believe there should be time for social actions, perhaps "what is more important to me" is semi realistic but its a game and it should be fun, its a bit silly to have to focus solely on one thing or be mediocre at best at everything. I dont know what schools you went to, but I got honor roll grades myself and still had time to socially interact with people. Magic school does not seem all that different, given the Harry Potter argument, Harry and his friends seemed to do good in school and have time to be there for each other, even Miss Perfect Herminone.

 

So I think for year 2 and on some time should be allowed for socializing, you'll still have a strategic choice of sorts, having to juggle studying and adventuring, but i think its a bit silly to say to be a good student you have to forsake all social interaction.

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I must say, I agree very much in regards to the social aspects that many are mentioning.

 

As an interesting suggestion, thinking back to my days of playing Japanese Adventure games/sims, clubs were always very important to many of those games.

Perhaps players should have the options of joining a club with that club meeting once a week or once a day (or whatever) after classes, but before the evening action. This club (what types, I've no idea... dueling club, history club, explorers club or whatever)... can have adventure specific plots/stories (which happen automatically) dedicated to it and the characters which are apart of it... thereby fleshing out characters.... specific to the club... each club can be ran by a professor (or professors) which can also help to flesh out various professors as well. The choices one makes at the club obviously will have an impact on their social life as well as their academic life and skills.

 

Thought this may be a technical and writing nightmare.... if one were to pull off something like it that would certainly help those who are wanting to have that more in-depth connection to characters to feel as though they are really getting to know them.

 

Just one thought that might be worth exploring in a future game...... (Read As.... I really like the idea of players being able to join a club and have overnight trips, sleepovers, adventures, and so forth that is connected to the club and those students in it... which likely would include some if not all of your click (spelling) friends.)

 

~JC

 

P.S. I love the game BTW and I'm greatly looking forward to the continued success of it.

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I agree with much of what the original poster said. Also, the point about social actions. In most high school and college experiences a person's friends are usually in the same classes, clubs, and sports as them. However, in this game you can't be part of a sports team, a club, or even know who your classmates are. Furthermore, rarely much effort outside of these activities are necesary to gain lasting friends.

 

The first time I played the game I'd have given it a 9/10 or so, it was fun and addicting. Each subsequent time made it less so to the point where I just don't want to play it now. After attempting and failing to complete the game about a dozen times, I would change my rating to more like a 5/10.

 

The game focuses so much on individual sub-skills that you end up missing the forest for looking at the trees. Somethings I would love to see changed are the following:

 

* Clubs, Sports, Student Govt, Extra Curricular Activities (The things that made school more fun).

I would definitely give up my "free time" once or twice a week to join a club that would give me some benefits and a different social flavor where my character could hang out with peers with the same interests. It would give characters more identity and different relationships.

 

* Give fewer initial skill and subskill choices perhaps only classes, school survival, and background choices.

Why? This would make the beginning of the game a little less overwhelming where you're looking at half a million subskills, but can only raise them one at a time. Also a new student at school, usually only sees his classes, and adapts to a new environment. I've never seen a student arrive at my school and pick up blackmailing in his first couple of weeks. Further study and mastery of the initial class sets will unlock the other skills. This also seems more realistic than a nerdy brianiac who can learn to become a smooth talking bully in a couple of weeks. Do not take any skills away, just hide them, make them unlockable. It'll also add rewards for continuing with your studies.

 

* Allow adventures inparticular to be solved in more than a handful of ways.

Why? Your system has such a rich variety of skills, why not allow the player to develop his character with them and have him act as he sees fit? Sure some skills might not come up like archery in the potions lab. But there is no reason why other athletic skills like rimball might not help you with reflexes and reactions. I know few clumsy athletes. Also if you're building a pure mage, why can't you use or at least try to use magic for pretty much everything?

 

* If you're going to continue this story, why cap the skill level at 10? (I know you can get a couple of extra points sometimes too)

I am an Englsih teacher in Costa Rica and this past year I had a 2nd grader who was such a good soccer player that he'd play with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at recess. And a 6th grade English student who was helping 9th and 10th graders with their English homework. People are capable of exceeding their peers' potential. Open this thing up. Don't stop progress when you plan on having the story progressing. Going back to Harry Potter for an example, do you think Dumbledore maxed out his negation ability in the first two months of year 1 and never improved until his classmates caught up to him? It doesn't matter if you make it an exponential scale after 10, but just the possibility opens up a lot for the player.

 

* Get rid of cliques.

Cliques maybe do exist to a small extent, but I know few binding, exclusive, or dynamic cliques that are constantly changing and growing like in this game. Ususally people just have friends maybe they're all part of different "cliques" but it doesn't stop them from hanging out and helping one another. If you want to continue the ability sharing, give each NPC 3 benifits one that is unlocked at relation of 3, another at 7, and the last at 10. Or something along those lines.

 

Just a few of my opinions. I've tried, but never successfully finished a full game. I usually get bored around mid year or a little past when I've maxed out my main abilities then stumble upon some trifle event or adventure that requires a complete different skill set eventhough there are plausable ways to use my own, albiet less effective, skillset to overcome the same obstacle. Then I realize that there is no reason to continue, no challenge, nothing for my character to competing against. He is just jumping through hoops. I guess it goes back to the illusion of choice that was mentioned before.

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