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JustinMP

What a shame!

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I rarely stir myself to comment on forums, but Academegia has spurred me to do so. I love lifestyle games and, as I do not read Japanese, there are few I can play. The idea of such a game set in a magical acadmey is certainly not orginal(I have seen it mooted professionally a few times, and worked rather passively on a design document for such), but it is certainly a very appealing one and I was very keen to play it. I am sure a similar game will come out, on some platform, in due course. I hope to work on one.

 

Not only was I keen to play it before it came out, but I have been playing it pretty constantly since it did come out - with a general sinking feeling of depression.

 

First of, this game is not finished. It has not been tested. It is bug ridden in minor ways all over the place - places that do not appear when you discover them(path of fire), items that you cannot use(unicorn tears), skils that do not work (most of the familiar bonding ones). I am naming only afew examples here. This is massively frustrating, and really shows Indie developers in a bad light: you should have properly beta tested it before you released it, especially given the number of bugs that I have seen, and I am sure that I have explored only a fraction of the content.

 

The content, of course, is massively impressive - the game groans under it sometimes, but most of the time is enriched by the sheer majesty of the vision here - the game is incredibkly ambitious. However, to my taste I would have prefered to have had less options, but to be certain they worked.

 

Of course, patches will fix this - but I rebel at paying for a product that, basically, does not work in so many ways. If it was a car I had just bought, it would have gone straight back to the dealer -probably with a lawsuit attached.

 

There are other problems. The interface is so clunky that doing anything makes you feel like you have a figjht with it. It is massively confusing, impossible to find skills, and so forth -many other people on this forum have made such comments so I do not need to elaborate. I can forgive the confusion, because the wealth of information presented is mostly the cause of it, and that wealth of information is vecause of the incredibly rich game world.

 

Some of that mass of skills is wasted though: too many of them seem indentical (awareness, perception, observation). This gets incredibly frustrating, especially when trying to complete avdentures, and even more so in the random events when the chance of you having the right skill is generally pretty remote.

 

In summary:

 

I love the ambition of this game.

It runs like a pig with a lead weight on its back.

The interface appears not to have actually been designed by anyone.

The whole thing needed the game designer equivalent of a red pencil -I applaud richness but it reaches a point where there is SO MUCH that the content falls over itself. The game is, basically, self indulgent in the extreme.

 

You do not make a good game by adding to something that does not work fifty more things that do not really work either.

 

However, the most incredible thing is the game only lasting a year. I have never actually made it a year, as I have generally fallen foul of some bug or another, or relied on some text to be accurate only to find that, in fact, it was not. However, partially the reason I have never made it a year is because of the terible feeling of futility, knowing that the story of my character will end well before it has played out, and I will have to wait for a sequel -a sequel which may never appear.

 

I have read on this forum that the plan 'always was' for the game to last a year only. If that is the case, then it was a bad plan.

 

So why am I writing this? I have played plenty of bad games before, and never bothered to comment on the game's forum, or even look it up and join it, going rather for the 'uninstall' option. Why comment on this one?

 

Well, because there is genius here. Real genius, of a kind seldom seen in games lately. It takes an established genre, an obvious idea, and takes it to very special places in extremely anbitious ways.

 

Please, guys, get yourself a producer/designer who knows their stuff. Maybe you have got one: in such a case I would imagine they got far too close to their project and dropped the ball.

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Justin;

 

Of course, we do not agree with all your comments, but we appreciate them regardless. The game *is* ambitious, and we have celebrated that from the beginning. It's true that in some areas we can improve upon what we have done, and we are committed to doing so- and we hope that you stay along for the journey.

 

Thanks!

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LOL, I can tell when I am being brushed off, and I will go quietly:)

 

I genuinely wish you all the success in the world -so unusual to see such a visionary effort - and I love the ethos of both your company and the game. I will be watching with interest how you address the major issues you have -though if you truly do not think there any, then I feel you are in trouble.

 

No need to reply - and I say this with no hint of animosity, and nothing but good feeling - but more platitudes would be a waste of both of our time. I briefly forgot that a forum is a marketting excercise, not a place for actual, engaged, discussion.

 

 

;)

 

J

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Justin;

 

Oh no- you aren't being brushed off in the least!

 

The problem is, there is nothing we can say about your criticism except: we are working to implement as much of the feedback we have been given as possible, and taking notes for our second game. Your feedback is holistic, not specific, and so our reply (as you correctly point out) lies entirely in how we address the major issues.

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Well, your first answer most certainly was a brush off.

 

Your second one, however, was a spot on piece of excellent erudition: I salute you:)

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While a bit more negative in tone than I would have aimed for, Justin has a point. It really looks like you tried to do too much in the first game, and it suffers from that lack of focus. Depth and richness in game play is good, depth jut for the sake of depth is not.

 

A full third of this game could have been scrapped and it would have been better for it. Stop trying to do everything. You have item creation, text based choose your own adventure style stuff, (limited) combat, research, life simulation, and who knows what else all mashed into one game. None of it works optimally. Decide what the main focus of the game is supposed to be, and don't be afraid to ax stuff that doesn't really fit.

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Iskandar;

 

It's true, this is an ambitious game. But I think rather than take an ax to some of it, we are going to work on optimization. This is a true role-playing game, and we want the Player to experience choice, and have fun doing so. Presentation may be one impediment, but we think we can overcome it.

 

Thanks!

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There have been a few indie games which I have purchased, from their developer sites, for full price and which have been riddled with bugs, sometimes to the extent of being unplayable. So Academagia is hardly the first game that's like that and it is something I tend to expect. Even the big games companies release games which then need patched and patched again.

 

Now what I do resent is paying $20 for a game where I am pretty much paying for the 'privilege' of being a beta-tester, sending in all my bug reports, and finally when the game is relatively bug free that improved version of the game is released to the portal websites for $6.99. Such a huge price drop, especially relatively soon after release, always feels like a kick in the teeth to me.

 

Now that I think gives indie games developers a bad name. But so far I've been pretty happy with Academagia, apart from the save files issues and that's getting sorted out. I don't think I've ever received as quick answers to by emails either by any games company. I got replies to my issues within minutes.

 

I really enjoy the game as well as the scope of it. I like that it is so large and there's a variety of things that can be done. I would hate to see 1/3 of it scrapped.

 

I do, however, think that Justin has a few valid point about the specific issues he mentions. The biggest one being "Some of that mass of skills is wasted though: too many of them seem indentical (awareness, perception, observation). This gets incredibly frustrating, especially when trying to complete adventures, and even more so in the random events when the chance of you having the right skill is generally pretty remote."

 

At first glance the huge variety of skills is wonderful, however, having so many skills that serve nearly identical functions it's frustrating. I remember with my familiar quest I had to purchase one skill to get my familiar to convince his master to help him out, and then in the next section, the master needed more convincing and it was a different skill that I then needed. (Conversation for the first, persuasion for the second I believe). That was frustrating because it seemed as if both tasks were identical and I didn't see why either/or wouldn't work.

 

I can see several alternatives.

 

The first is trim down the skill list so you only have one skill for spotting stuff (and add the same skill to different parent groups so it counts for all of them).

 

The second is keep the different skills but during adventures make it pick up that you don't have awareness but you do have perception, so roll that instead (maybe at a minor penalty for not having the exact skill, but at a bonus if you have awareness, perception and observation).

 

It's not a vital change for this one but consider it for Chapter 2. I do actually like the wide variety of skills on offer. It's just when I don't have the exact skill I find it frustrating.

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H;

 

A good thought- for Year 2 you will see more cross-pollination of Skills, even in which Sub-Skills belong to which Parent Skills, so I think that will go a long way to reducing the risks of specialization.

 

Thanks!

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Ok, so first and foremost I find myself addicted to the game. While there are bugs( like getting stenchtastic, curing it and still suffering the penalty) I dont find them game ending. I completed my first year last night and started a new character with a different style and approach to problems. Its easy to say that some of the daily missions or adventures are unsolvable but to me that is part of the atmosphere of the game. When you start out you have limited skills in a few areas. And that is exactly how it should be. You're 13 and a novice mage. You're not merlin. I actually enjoy the first couple of months where Im constantly in trouble because my character is clueless. Aftert midterms I had trained my skills up to the point where there was almost always at least one option open to me. At that point I looked forward to those daily events. I sometimes even picked a red action if it involved a skill I thought fit my characters personality as I'd envisioned it.Even when you fail you can gain a new skill path to advance in. Plus in the adventures if you have a friend you can sacrifice them to move on to the next part of the mission. Its not nice but you gotta do what you gotta do. You can always spend some time repairing your relationship.

 

On the negative side, some skills really do seem unnecessary. Perception,listen,awareness, observation. I think the idea of interconnecting them and using a skill you have that is similar in place of the skill asked for would be perfect. I did have locations which i couldnt really use esteban contus incantation school. And for my last week i was only allowed to rest and attend class. I did spend several days in a row getting caught being stupid so maybe i was just on severe academic probation. Familiars did seem relatively useless to me. Who am I going to train when my actions are limited to 3 a day? Myself or my familiar? Umm... me hands down. I think some more in depth examples of how to make friends and build relationships couldnt hurt either.

 

On a scale of 1-10 Im going to give a 7-8 leaning towards 8. Awesome game and i look forward to the sequels. Keep up the good work

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Mixed comments on the above:

 

It is nice to see forum commentators using full sentences and reasoned argument! ;)

 

I do not think an ax is needed - a good set of pruning shears perhaps. The many things the game lets you do are part of its appeal.

 

Skillwise, being specific(which I have avoided doing) I would have some sub skills as part of more than one parent skills. So one 'spotting' sub skill that contributes to all the primary skills that would involve spoting, and so on.

 

Like the commentator above, I also like the fact that the characater fails a lot, expecially early on. It sets a tone. It says 'this is a real game, you need to work for your successes, not just click 'continue''

 

I think these sorts of games have a huge potemntial to be very popular, and I have long been astonished more have not been made in this country. I would very much like to see the genre expand, and so am very keen for Academegia to succeed!

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I think rather than take an ax to some of it, we are going to work on optimization. This is a true role-playing game, and we want the Player to experience choice, and have fun doing so.

 

I agree. I prefer complexity & having access to a lot of choices in a RPG setting, rather than disposing of few choices & rapidly "succeeding" in figuring-out optimal paths to "win". (StarCraft 2 comes into my mind.)

 

When I purchased the game, it was very obvious, on Impulse, that it was an "Indie" game ... so I knew what to expect : an imperfect product by a very small company which did not have the programming & testing resources of a huge corporation such as Blizzard.

 

What's important, then, is the "attitude" of the Indie developer : Is he present on a forum to take note of issues & reply to the users ? Is he committed to patch the bugs & "work on optimization" ?

 

If so, I'm willing to be patient and give him a break. Which is the case, here :

 

As it is now, we all can notice that the lead developer is very regularly present on the forum & is very committed to improve his extremely original & fascinating game.

 

I have no complaint whatsoever to express -- taking into account that we are not dealing here with super-rich Blizzard.

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