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Dominicius

Academagia, My Thoughts

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After having played and finished the game I can say that this is one of the more unique and fun projects to be developed in recent years. The idea of taking the magical school genre and turning it into a game has been around for a while but I think that Academagia is the game that actually made it happen. But here I mostly want to focus on my own experience and the things that I feel could have been done better. Having some understanding of game design I will try to give criticisms that you guys can use. With that, let's begin.

 

"Trap options."

 

The first thing a new player will encounter is the character generation screen. A very obvious problem with a game such as Academagia is that it is hard to balance all options against one another. But there is still a very obvious problem with the notion that if you want to make a character who is good at magic you should not waste your points on thing like Midnight, Wizard Family or Wizard Tutor because those will not really help you in that goal. Instead you need to spend them on stuff like Artisan Family and Spiritual Prodigy for the boosts to your main stats. After having played two trial characters I noticed that they were failing at their designated "shtick". That is when I discovered the correlation between stats and skill learning speed. Simply put, you want to max out your relevant stats if you want your character to be good in the role that you have selected for him. I feel that something should be done to make the non-stat increase backgrounds to be on par with their stat increase counterparts. Some backgrounds are also laughably terrible as they increase skills that are next to useless during the actual game (I do feel that some skills do need to be made more useful). It is also a pity that backgrounds do not matter more during adventures/random events (with the exception of Secret Heritage, which is actually an incredibly awesome background because of this).

In addition, I do not think that 10 points is enough for players to create the characters that they want. Intuitively, I'd say 14 is about the right number of character creation points that the game should give you.

 

 

"The User Interface is Bad."

 

There is no beating around the bush with this one. At a casual glance, only 60% of the current UI is used to convey information to the player and that is bad. You want to raise that number to something like 90% at least, otherwise it is cause for some real frustration for the player. Reading the text is actually a problem because it is so incredibly small and while you can increase text size it will have the side effect of decreasing the amount of info on the screen at any single time, causing players to scroll and click more often than they should. While I do not mind the aesthetics, the dismal amount of information provided by the UI is a very real problem and it needs to addressed.

The blue borders on the left and right sides of the screen? You can use that space to convey useful information to the player, don't let it go to waste.

 

 

"Optimization Problems."

 

The game is just poorly optimized. It runs incredibly slow and gets progressively slower the more you play it. You have more than a decade old games like Masters of Orion 2 and HoMM 3 that all run flawlessly on even low end modern machines. Even similar text based games like Kind of the Dragon Pass have vastly superior optimization compared to Academagia. The code needs work and that's all there is to say.

 

 

"The Grind."

 

It takes time to get anywhere with your character in Academagia. Classes mean that you will have little time to devote to mastering the skills that you really want and expand your skill base in general. There is also stuff like adventures, exploration and social interactions that all take up time and demand a certain level of skills before they can be attempted. This makes the game feel very constricting at times as you feel compelled to quickly learn the most important skills early before you are able to enjoy the game fully.

A simple idea that I have is to let players have one free "train" action each day. Something that represents characters simply picking up knowledge as they go along their daily lives, be it Brute Strength or Animal Husbandry. Maybe the player talks about the topic during breaks between classes, maybe he reads a book about it or maybe he just unconsciously practices it as something that is natural to him. In gameplay terms it should give players more freedom to spend their time on more interesting things like adventure and some of the less known skills. Obviously this idea could use a playtest before implementation.

 

 

"Cleanup."

 

There were a few times during the game where I noticed a few grammar errors. There was one instance where the word is was used twice in a row, I can't remember where exactly but if you can do a search through the game text for "is is" you should be able to find it. Also, during the Unwell quest chain there was an issue where the game did not properly identify the gender of my character. Instead I for [N]He/She[/N] or something like that. These might be little details but this is why I want to give you guys a hand at tracking them down.

 

 

And that's all. Hope this helps you guys further improve the game. :)

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Well, I don't fully agree with that, but you do have some valid points. I vehemently disagree with the idea that there needs to be more background points, though. 5 picked background traits are enough to stand out from the crowd, and if you feel it's not enough, you can use some points you would have used for attribute points, as those are not utterly important because you get more attribute points while playing the game doing adventures and such.

 

It took a while to grasp how to play it correctly and I think that explaing that could use some work, but I'm the kind who will play a game like this over and over so it's not a big deal to me.

 

Also I think that the class-free days were numerous enough and spread well out to get things done. Don't forget that you can use that 3rd "rest" slot with no ill consequence. it's basically like taking a nap in the later after school day, and all told, if you are efficient with your "time" you can get an impressive character for year one. I'm not sure if mine is particularly well built, though I'm still proud of it. But compare mine with yours. Keep in mind this was a single playthrough with no saves and reloading inbetween so you can certainly do better than this if you don't mind "meta-gaming"

 

Fitness 5

Finesse 5

Charm 8

Strength 4

Intelligence 11

Insight 13

Luck 6

---------------

Major skills

 

Astrology 12

Calligraphy 11 (Class)

Enchant 10

Forge 11

Glammour 11 (Class)

History 11 (Class)

Incantation 12 (Class)

Negation 13 (Class)

Revision 13 (Class)

Rhetoric 10

SleightOhand 11

Society 12

 

And quite a few at 5-7

(Mastery and Gates @ 1)

 

No significant research.

---------------

Clique "Magic Extraordinaires"

 

Emilia Strollin

Tabin Furentzi

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Dominicus;

 

Thanks for the review!

 

While we do not completely agree with your points, we understand what motivates them. In particular, the UI is undergoing in an entirely different direction for Year 2.

 

Thanks also for your notes in the 'Cleanup' section- we'll try to find these in DLC 15. :)

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"Trap options."

 

The first thing a new player will encounter is the character generation screen. A very obvious problem with a game such as Academagia is that it is hard to balance all options against one another. But there is still a very obvious problem with the notion that if you want to make a character who is good at magic you should not waste your points on thing like Midnight, Wizard Family or Wizard Tutor because those will not really help you in that goal. Instead you need to spend them on stuff like Artisan Family and Spiritual Prodigy for the boosts to your main stats. After having played two trial characters I noticed that they were failing at their designated "shtick". That is when I discovered the correlation between stats and skill learning speed. Simply put, you want to max out your relevant stats if you want your character to be good in the role that you have selected for him. I feel that something should be done to make the non-stat increase backgrounds to be on par with their stat increase counterparts. Some backgrounds are also laughably terrible as they increase skills that are next to useless during the actual game (I do feel that some skills do need to be made more useful). It is also a pity that backgrounds do not matter more during adventures/random events (with the exception of Secret Heritage, which is actually an incredibly awesome background because of this).

In addition, I do not think that 10 points is enough for players to create the characters that they want. Intuitively, I'd say 14 is about the right number of character creation points that the game should give you.

 

Skill-based backgrounds are kind of crazily bad. Even if you stack bonuses in the few places where bonuses can be stacked, you're not going to be better than middling in a chosen field. Having done that, you will then not have the stats to advance in reasonable time! It's not that they're Traps, though. It's more that the game is so big it's hard to balance, and there seems to be a certain aversion to reconstructing past backgrounds.

 

If my StripMod idea works out, I'm going to follow it up with 'reconstructive' mod packages that add content back in modularly, and in ways I feel are better balanced.

 

Of course, I kind of wish it weren't five months later, so you'd have a chance to see this... Oh well.

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This.... actually, it reminds me of the problem in the Fallout series...

"Gifted rocks, Skilled sucks"

Just like Academagia where being a genius is preferable to being pre-educated because you are entering a large school for 5 years to catch up on the educated bit ;)

(Although I am definitely guilty of writing trap options like the Pie Kitchen)

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I've come to like the interface, but admittedly it took me a while to figure it all out.. I usualy prefer to try things as they come along. There is certainly room for improvements, and I've read that a few improvements are otw for year 2.

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I think the tutorial need to be imrpoved, it is very too much to start playing and see a tutorial crammed into a small box in the middle of the screen!

I also agree it is difficult to read!The lore seems so interesting but once I get later in game there's too many in a list with no indication which belong to which skills and it is very hard to read things I want!

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