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~ Suggestions & Improvement ~

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Warning: long post ahead.

 

I am a fan of Academagica. I picked it up almost randomly from Impulse, and it was one of the best Indie games I've ever bought. Academagica isn't one of my favourite games, but it is a good game that I come back to again and again. It's well worth the money I paid for it, and in many ways it's unique. You can tell that the designers put a lot of hard work into it (and still do). I love some of it more than I can say - the adventures, the random events, the sheer number of places, the concept, the creativity, it could make it an all-time favourite - but every time I play, I get frustrated, too. Rather than complain, I've been thinking of how I would try and change the game to make it more fun for me.

 

Here are my suggestions, in no real order.

 

COMPLEXITY

 

1) One of the biggest problems I have with the game is its complexity - there are far too many people, skills, memories, etc. This makes the game rather unforgiving to a new player...or even someone playing for the 6th time. One of the easiest ways to fix that would be to use a different font type for different things - use font A for phemes, font B for skills, font C for places, font D for characters, font E for professors, and so on. I would normally suggest using colours, instead, but they're already in use and we don't want to confuse players. Still, it would be so much clearer to me when reading the daily reports!

 

2) The ability list is difficult to navigate. That's mostly because the actions aren't sorted by place (e.g. "Library of Longshanks") but instead are sorted by the action you're taking ("Study at the Library of Longshanks" vs. "Tidy up the Library of Longshanks"). This means that I often go looking for one activity, only to remember a few seconds later that I'm looking for "observe" instead of "study" or some other term. It would be much easier for me to sort this list by places.

 

3) On a similar note, it would be even better if the ability list was changed to a "place" list and an "ability/item" list separate from each other.

 

4) This is controversial, but I find the option to do an everyday activity (like "train") in a particular place to be adding a needless layer of complexity to the game. I would prefer if the special bonuses from places you discover would be changed to an ability unique to that location instead. That would cut down on the number of choices I would have to make in order to do one day's activities.

 

5) Even more ambitiously, it would be amazing if there were a map in the game, and when you chose to go someplace, you could actually click on places on the map! I imagine the kind of map that would fill the screen, and have icons over buildings, clearings, etc. of note that you have discovered - greyed out if the area was inaccessible to you, growing increasingly red for places forbidden to you (by chance of discovery), or just invisible if you haven't discovered them yet. This would make the world seem so much more real and alive, and convince me to try exploring more often - plus, it would be cool.

 

6) Back to complexity for a minute: when I play, I usually feel very isolated from the professors and students around me. The only ones that ever seem to stand out are the bullies! My wife was playing the game just today (I was introducing her to it) and one of the events said "Oh, well, I still have lots of friends" and she said incredulously "I do?? Who??" The game doesn't need more events for each character...but a few generic events to let you know you're making friends, enemies or crushes would be nice, and it would give me more goals when playing. A simple event having someone ask you to hang out or thank you for being so nice to them or say how much they admire your knowledge when you reach +5 relationship with them would work, for example.

 

7) There is a little too much information in the daily reports. One solution to this would be to make a few things a separate weekly report - I recommend college standings. You could have a screen showing the colours of each college and their current house points, along with the changes listed underneath them ("Charles successfully used compete: +3"). This would also be a great time and place to bring up the merit awards for houses...I find that I sometimes miss them, even when my college wins!

 

8) The section of the daily report just after your daily achievements but before rumours (sorry, the game isn't on right now) seems to be about the actions of other characters...and the effects of actions you took during random events. As much as I hate to say it, I'm egotistical in the game - I want to be able to see everything related to me right away before I look at what other characters have achieved.

 

WARNINGS/HELPING NEW PLAYERS

 

9) Stress is too subtle in the game. I would prefer if the colour used to show your stress number changed colour as you got increasingly stressed. If my character is bitter, depressed and upset, why is my number still black? This seems especially odd since my vitality turns red as soon as I stub a toe.

 

10) Speaking of which - if I have 10 vitality, then going to 9 probably shouldn't turn it red. It would be nice to see my vitality listed as "9/10", or to have it turn increasingly bright red as I get increasingly wounded. A character who has only 2 vitality to begin with should probably be bright red at 1, but a character who has 10 vitality shouldn't be as concerned by suffering a 1 point loss.

 

11) For both stress and vitality, it would be nice to have a "warning" icon in the game. It is sometimes very easy to forget about these two stats, as I'm often looking at the skills page instead. If a special icon appeared at the top of my screen when my character was above, say, stress 5, or below, say, 50% of vitality, it would be nice.

 

12) Another warning I would love to see: pop up an icon when you have an item in your inventory that you have not researched, and another icon when you have an empty slot in your inventory that you could fill with an item from your knapsack. I have spent entire games with items in my backpack that I forgot about - and one game where I never knew I had an inventory (yes, really).

 

13) One more warning that would be nice: a countdown on the calendar page telling me how many weeks to go before exams. I know I can flip through the weeks, but surely my character knows when exams are?

 

APPEARANCE

 

14) The menus are not always easy to read. I'm not sure if it is just my computer or not, but text gets cut off in menus after a certain number of letters, which makes it hard to distinguish "Study at the Library of Lo" from "Study at the Library of La" (slightly paraphrased, but not by much). Having the menu boxes be longer would be an easy fix.

 

15) There isn't enough space devoted to other parts of the menu, too. When I click on a character's name, for instance, I always have to click on that section and then scroll down past their face to read the text. It would make me feel more immersed to be able to see their face AND their description simultaneously.

 

16) Luckily, there might be an easy solution. At least on my desktop, there is a lot of wasted space - especially to the left and right of the game, it's blank. Having the ability to play full/wide screen would make up for a lot of problems, graphically.

 

17) Especially when I'm tired, I find myself wishing that the default font size in the game were just a bit bigger. I know this would make the problem of space even worse, but it would still be nice to have the choice to change it.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

 

18) A nice little feature I would appreciate would be the ability to hover over/click on a holiday's name and get a short description of what it is. The Festival of Pixies? Guild Day? I find myself very curious about them...but unable to prepare for them. I know that I don't really have to prepare for them - my character always seems to have enough pims to give a tithing at the right time, and always seems unprepared for the prank/love day no matter what I do - but even so, it would be nice to know about these days in advance. (Even better would be a mention of one or more skills that might come into play on those days - that way, I might actually cast a spell the day before, which would make the spells seem a lot more useful)

 

19) The quests and random events are the best part of the game - seriously, I love them. However, they are sometimes too abrupt - several times now I have been on a quest and reached the end of a stage, then immediately gone on to a random event/second quest, and it's taken me a while to realize that I'm not still on the first quest. Having a special icon to designate the end of an event/quest portion would fix that confusion.

 

20) Competition between the colleges is a great feature, but not always clear. I would love to know a little more about it. Just saying "So and so successfully used compete, 3 points for Hedi" isn't very colourful, even though it is very clear. It makes sense to keep that, but I'd still love to see some more points thrown around in events - even ones you have no chance of winning. Make them part of classes ("Today, Beatrice was the fastest to brew her potion, so her college wins 1 point") and occasionally describe how a character won or lost them due to a random event ("Tobias was caught sneaking off campus, -1 points to Hedi"). This would also be a great place to add some rivalry between the colleges, such as having a character from the winning college insult another college, or having your college encourage everyone to try harder.

 

21) The "Rumours" section from the daily report is bizarre. I often find that the only thing it lists is a particular student going to six different classes. Really? That's a rumour? I was hoping for things that tell me more about interactions between characters (someone is getting bullied, a friend needs some encouragement, etc.), upcoming events (exams are in 2 weeks, they say you'll fall in love with the first person you see after you do the dance of the pixies, etc.) and adventure hooks/places to explore (they say there is a library hidden in the city, your familiar has been acting strangely - time to adventure!, etc.).

 

22) This is ambitious, but I notice there isn't as much replayability as I had first thought - the quests all follow the same script. It would be very cool if each adventure actually had two different scripts, and randomly loaded one per game. Perhaps in one game, the three wizards trapped in the book are really evil necromancers trying to get free from a well-deserved trap...and perhaps in another game, they're legitimate and the scholar is evil. Perhaps you need to go to a baker, rock band and graveyard in one version of the quest, while you need to go to a banker, blind woman and child in the other. Or perhaps all you really need to do is change the order of the tasks a little, so that in one game you meet the rock band first, and in a second game you meet them last. I know this would mean a lot of work, but I'm convinced it would make people play the game more.

 

23) In the daily report, it often says I have gained +1 or +2 relationship with another character. It would be great if I could see a quick note as to why, e.g. "You studied Zoology with Petros and gained +2 relationship with him" or "You have impressed Beatrice with your knowledge of Glamour, +1 relationship with her". This wouldn't affect the game, but it would make me feel like the other characters were a little more...human.

 

24) New players (well, ME) don't always 'get' all the features of the game. As I already mentioned, it took me more than one full game to realize I had an inventory, and another full game to realize I had to equip items. I'm still not very good at understanding phemes and spellcasting. It would be great to have events, early on, which showed you how to use these. Your mentor could teach you how to use a wand, for example, which your college gave you - a simple +1 to one type of magic, perhaps. There could be a first-day test to see if you knew magic, asking you to cast a spell. Something.

 

25) Speaking of the first day - I know it's a trivial issue, but the game's best feature is its random events. I have played through a couple of games where I did not get a random event on day 1, which meant I was left with a slightly negative impression of the game as being about numbers and facts more than story or characters. Furthermore, when I did get a random event, I have sometimes gotten an event that didn't make any sense - today, my wife's first event (on day 1) was one involving brewing potions...when she wasn't even in classes yet and had never met her teachers! I would love there to be a guaranteed random event on day 1 of the game - perhaps you could add a quality to events called "first day OK" and have five or ten different events be possible.

 

26) On a related note, it would be nice if each class had an event related to it soon after starting the game - to get to know the teacher, and perhaps a rival or friend in that class. This would make the classes seem much more meaningful!

 

I do not mean to come across as entirely critical here. I certainly could not produce a game as good as Academagia! I am stunned by the sheer scope of it and constantly impressed by the writing. I'd just like to improve it - and end up with a game I could call my all-time favourite. Thanks for reading.

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Dilettante;

 

Great post, thank you for the feedback!

 

Several of your concerns, especially those related to organization and the UI, have been echoed by many Academagians. It's a priority for Year 2, definitely. :)

 

A few notes:

 

5) Even more ambitiously, it would be amazing if there were a map in the game, and when you chose to go someplace, you could actually click on places on the map! I imagine the kind of map that would fill the screen, and have icons over buildings, clearings, etc. of note that you have discovered - greyed out if the area was inaccessible to you, growing increasingly red for places forbidden to you (by chance of discovery), or just invisible if you haven't discovered them yet. This would make the world seem so much more real and alive, and convince me to try exploring more often - plus, it would be cool.

 

That would be cool. *whistles innocently*

 

6) Back to complexity for a minute: when I play, I usually feel very isolated from the professors and students around me. The only ones that ever seem to stand out are the bullies! My wife was playing the game just today (I was introducing her to it) and one of the events said "Oh, well, I still have lots of friends" and she said incredulously "I do?? Who??" The game doesn't need more events for each character...but a few generic events to let you know you're making friends, enemies or crushes would be nice, and it would give me more goals when playing. A simple event having someone ask you to hang out or thank you for being so nice to them or say how much they admire your knowledge when you reach +5 relationship with them would work, for example.

 

We wholeheartedly agree. :)

 

21) The "Rumours" section from the daily report is bizarre. I often find that the only thing it lists is a particular student going to six different classes. Really? That's a rumour? I was hoping for things that tell me more about interactions between characters (someone is getting bullied, a friend needs some encouragement, etc.), upcoming events (exams are in 2 weeks, they say you'll fall in love with the first person you see after you do the dance of the pixies, etc.) and adventure hooks/places to explore (they say there is a library hidden in the city, your familiar has been acting strangely - time to adventure!, etc.).

 

Just a quick note about this; this is actually based on your Information, not really Rumored information. Sadly, Rumors were cut at the same time as the Newspaper, although I hope they'll be back in for Year 2.

 

I can't say that we'll get to everything, or be able to implement every idea (especially the more textually complex; we're two years into the writing already, and not complete!), but constructive criticism can only help make the game better- so keep it coming! :)

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Several of your concerns, especially those related to organization and the UI, have been echoed by many Academagians. It's a priority for Year 2, definitely. :)
I thought they might have - but 102 pages of previous suggestions was...uh...a little much. :D

 

That would be cool. *whistles innocently*
Awesome! Do you have a mailing list to tell us when the new game will be available for pre-order?

 

I can't say that we'll get to everything, or be able to implement every idea (especially the more textually complex; we're two years into the writing already, and not complete!), but constructive criticism can only help make the game better- so keep it coming! :)

I see my list as a wish list, and not at all a "must have" list. If a couple items make it into the 2nd game - and it sounds like some will - I will be very happy.

 

Thanks for the comment!

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Dilettante;

 

I believe there is a general list available on the website, which we'll send out e-mails on when we have forthcoming releases. The forums will be the most up-to-date, though. No information yet on a release date or pre-order: we're still hammering away. A brand new game, unrelated to Academagia, is *almost* done- news on that this month, I am fairly confident to say. ;)

 

Based on this list, I'd say that more than a couple will make it into Year 2. In fact, over half, at this moment!

 

Thanks again for feedback!

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A few more things I forgot to add to my list.

 

27) For quests, please divide them into "quests I have begun" and "quests I have not started." It is frustrating when I have begun a quest and want to continue it, only to have to mouse over a dozen quests to find the one that lists a history. This could be as simple as giving unstarted quests a special colour (grey or white, say) or having two sections for them, but it would be nice. You could also put a "NEW!" icon on quests that had not been started.

 

28) Similarly, a "NEW!" icon of some kind would be a great idea in general. As a player, I am ridiculously easy to manipulate: put a 'new!' icon next to each action, and I will systematically try out each one. This could be a good way to encourage players to explore and try new things instead of sticking to one tried-and-true strategy.

 

29) When I am trying to train a skill, it is very frustrating to use the skill groups. I acknowledge that they are very useful at times, and they certainly help keep the number of visible skills down, but most of the time I just find it awkward to remember that patience is in malice (and I still can't remember where observation is). The ability to change the skill list to an alphabetical skill list would be greatly appreciated.

 

30) When I click on skills I have learned in the daily report, it tells me what level I have them at, and how close I am to improving it. When I click on study levels, however, it tells me about the skill - not what I have achieved with it. It is a small thing, but it would be nice to see.

 

31) Right now, it seems that parental involvement is limited to sending allowance...it's possible that I've missed out on a great feature, but if I haven't, then it would be nice to see a slightly bigger role for your family. What about having a "mail day" every couple of weeks in which your family might send you an allowance, a letter (+ or - stress, or mood change), or a present, depending on your parental approval rating? Ignore them, or be a black sheep, and maybe you'll get ignored while everyone else gets letters. Be a favoured child or send regular letters home, and maybe you'll get that wand you've been asking for!

 

32) Speaking of parental approval, it would be nice to see it work in other ways, too. How about -1 approval for every detention you get? -5 for failing an exam? Perhaps winning college points (outside of compete) ought to get you +1? I very rarely see parental approval change one way or the other, except for correspondence and the rare 'golden' emotion. It would be amazing if you could "get rid of" your black sheep heritage by proving to your parents that you're worthy of their love, or have a delinquent, mean spoiled child lose their favour.

 

But now I'm really getting into new features more than improving existing ones. Oh, well.

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Courtly fashion seems to be the skill at arranging fashionable outfits and designing fashionable outfits while sewing to creating them. I don't think understanding automaticaly turns sackcloth into the finestes silks, even though it might help you present your limited assets better.

I'd imagine Courtly Fashion also involves designing clothing to appeal to the ruling class and "the Beautiful People" as well. Why would we need a non-magical skill to turn sackcloth into silk that's what Revision spells are for. :P

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Dilettante;

 

28) Similarly, a "NEW!" icon of some kind would be a great idea in general. As a player, I am ridiculously easy to manipulate: put a 'new!' icon next to each action, and I will systematically try out each one. This could be a good way to encourage players to explore and try new things instead of sticking to one tried-and-true strategy.

 

I admit, I personally am that same way. :)

 

31) Right now, it seems that parental involvement is limited to sending allowance...it's possible that I've missed out on a great feature, but if I haven't, then it would be nice to see a slightly bigger role for your family. What about having a "mail day" every couple of weeks in which your family might send you an allowance, a letter (+ or - stress, or mood change), or a present, depending on your parental approval rating? Ignore them, or be a black sheep, and maybe you'll get ignored while everyone else gets letters. Be a favoured child or send regular letters home, and maybe you'll get that wand you've been asking for!

 

I believe you will enjoy Y2 Summer Vacation. :)

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- Can we get STRG F (Find) in the modtool for year 2? (even if it just search in the open category)

 

- Holiday [Workshop Days] Exit 3 Failure shouldn't the 2 other that draw you into this not also lose Merit points?

 

Awesome! Do you have a mailing list to tell us when the new game will be available for pre-order?

Sadly the Legate recently mentioned that even Quartal 1 of 2013 will be to early for a release of Year 2 and so don't expect a pre-order anytime soon.

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Scwharzbart;

 

- Can we get STRG F (Find) in the modtool for year 2? (even if it just search in the open category)

 

That would be *nice*. I hope so. :)

 

- Holiday [Workshop Days] Exit 3 Failure shouldn't the 2 other that draw you into this not also lose Merit points?

 

Good thought- I will send that along!

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In regards to Dilettante's post,

 

 

Most of the problems listed in the post might be fix with tabs and a search tool. Say you were looking for ways to improve Archery, put Archery into the search box and *poof* Locations / Phemes / Students that can help.

 

The Lore section should include explanations on the holidays though. Would be very interesting to read about them all.

 

I would like to throw in my support for a big interactive and colourful map. Would it be too much to ask for an animated map? Like little ants (students) walking around in the morning, sun in the sky. Then at night the moon is up or covered by clouds. And also little ants sneaking from one dorm to another.

 

As for little incidental events that help the PC connect with the NPC's. The Black Chicken Overlords also have their loyal fans with their pens waiting.wink.gif

 

Oh and can I have a penguin familiar?tongue.gif

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"I would like to throw in my support for a big interactive and colourful map. Would it be too much to ask for an animated map? Like little ants (students) walking around in the morning, sun in the sky. Then at night the moon is up or covered by clouds. And also little ants sneaking from one dorm to another."

 

Alas, almost certainly not for Year 2. :)

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Im not sure how things will work, but maybe the Aestetic skill could be used on Artificing, as a value increasing modifier?

 

Courtly fashion, creativity, painting etz, all of it as a skill at making something look good when crafting it, maybe the artisan skill as a slight quality increasing factor.

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Actually, there is already a place for that kind of modifier in Year 1, although it's strictly limited to Aesthetics.

 

So, Aesthetics affects crafted items in general? The quality or value or both?

 

Also the Artisan skill in the sabotage skill tree sugested itäs the skill of doing things good, Artisan is studied by people who feels that every joint should be smoothly fitted. That sounds liks a quality modifier to me, seems to be a skill at being pedantic at everythign you do. What enspell is to magic, Artisan is to craftmanship. according to the description.

 

I hear it will get easier to get Artificing materials, as long as we can afford them I guess, im looking forward to going into an Artificing frenzy ;)

 

I want to fit my dormroom with an enchanted shower (waterfall style) I think it was described somewhere in the game. Maybe buy or even better Craft some high quality furniture for my room that provides some bonuses and perhaps buffs. Having a few crafty Vernin student's, it just feels like a must have. :)

Vernin student's lives the highlife in style ;) Some artful Murals on the walls, maybe the ceilings... Enchanted chandeleers. And a good desk for doing your homework. Nice pastel coloured drapes. Maybe a painting or two of the family, to make it feel like home(assuming you arn't the blacksheep ofcourse). Emperors sweet dreams bed :P

 

Then when Catherin commes by she gets angry and runs over to the Regent asking why she didn't get as good an accomodation as my student :P

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Ah! Sorry, that should have read:

 

"although it's *not* strictly limited to Aesthetics."

 

Ok :) That's quite a difference :)

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I've had it on my mind for quite a while, but now I happend to recall it while visiting this thread, thq Adventure questline "The Painting", where you get to know the mysterious people with the old airship and the small island in tow... When I got to the shopping part I found a bug when using the negotiate option, it immediately directed me to a familiar adventure instead of continuing that story, when I reloaded the game and played it again and used the gambling option it worked just fine.

 

It seems the quest got directed to a different adventure, instead of the right one.

 

I think that part of the adventure was called "shoping for parts" or simply "shoping". I can't recall it exactly.

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I was thinking about that Diavesque the Living aka the book of Gates, When you get to the point of summoning it can't you just setup a room with a lot of imprisonment wards runes and phemes and a few holysymbos runes phems etz to weaken it once it arrives, aswell havign trapped the room with a huge blessed wooden stake the size of a treetrunk and made very sharp that slams into it's torso once it materializes? :P

 

Then the demon asks what treachery this is, and you say, (in a nonchalant tone of voice) I've fulfilled my end of the bargain, our bussines is concluded! "snap"

 

Then you walk out of there contently thinking that you're nobodys puppet!

 

"That is the day you became an Avatar deception and untold evil among the lower planes, a legend from a far of dimension, a saint of deception.

Onbeknownst to you revered among millions of lesser demons as a good example of how to conduct bussines transactions to further your own "agenda", the "saint" of devious plotting and deception. While you just think you did a good deed saving the world from a very real danger...

 

I got several student's with gates and mastery skills but I've only got 1 save where I picked up the stupid book ;) I just had to see where that quest takes me :) Hopefully there will be more than one possible ending to it :)

 

Since I could trick that demon lady in the bog.. It should be possible to trick the stupid book thing...

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I would like to throw in my support for a big interactive and colourful map. Would it be too much to ask for an animated map? Like little ants (students) walking around in the morning, sun in the sky. Then at night the moon is up or covered by clouds. And also little ants sneaking from one dorm to another.

 

Oooooh, isn't that dot Leoshi? He seems to be following Nyaa! Why, he went all the way from Philippe's room to the Imperial Reserve! And then he disappeared from the map!

 

Ethics. Leoshi must be having a great time! Make sure no one will investigate! :)

 

Personally, I'd love a map, although I suspect you might need multiple maps (i.e. The Upper City, Academagia Grounds) due to the large amount of locations :P

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Actually the map I was thinking of was Skyrim-style with a little bit of extra flavour.

 

But now I'm thinking of Monkey Island for some reason.

 

Now for something completely unrelated: I took a cup of pudding to Philippe's face.

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An animated map would be great, though I think it's a bit much. A static map (or maps) would give enough of an impression of the grandeur of the place/s you visit without wasting resources on eyecandy. The setting is so large though, that doing a single impressive map for just one place would not do the others justice, and who has a budget of $3M for art? At least the Academagia team doesn't have to deal with the downsides of some large budget companies *cough* http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ExecutiveMeddling/VideoGames *cough* EA *cough*

 

Also, I froze the pudding on Phillipe's face.

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It's not worth selling your soul. All magic has a price, and the magic of unlimited budget visits heavely upon one's soul. Don't wanna end up like DA2 - Playing four month out of the school year because The Suits wanna get the game out in time for the Xmas rush X_X.

(I love that game tho.)

 

Also, I want to mention I love Diavesque and everything about it. An EEEVIL book that you need to do an EEEVIL thing to get! It's delicious and satisfying. The new dark lord is rising! (Just finished Fallen Moon trilogy, so yeah).

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