Hail and well met!
I've been a gamebook fan since young (and a computer game addict, more recently, too) but hadn't heard about you guys until now. I'm done school and working now, but it didn't scar me enough - almost, but not quite - to not give school-based simulation games a whirl especially when it's combined with fantasy RPG, one of my favourite genres. And I'm glad I did!
I tried out a demo of the game when I noticed the two games (Academagia, Scheherazade) as add-ons on the BCS kickstarter, which itself I only heard about near the end of its pledge duration, through someone's plug on a gamebook-related mailing list I happen to be on. So it's kind of a fortuitous leap that I found this game from two degrees of separation away, but the demo was fun, and boy is the real thing addictive! I was quite eagerly waiting for the key and am pretty sure I redeemed it within 15 minutes of it landing in my inbox heh. It was a nice little surprise too since the keys were originally estimated (via one of the BCS staff answering a message I left on the kickstarter survey) to be sent on the weekend, but it arrived last Friday evening at the end of a particularly long day. Talk about a very welcome Encourage Fellow Student roll.
I think I put about 15 hours into it this weekend (it was raining!) and am halfway through my 2nd playthrough, and I wanted to share my first impressions! I love how complex and deep it is, there's still tons of things I haven't tried out - stories, skills, different specializations, spells, I didn't even quite figure out how to use extra phemes in a spell until just before midterms of this 2nd playthrough, not to mention crafting, which I haven't touched. In a sense, as much as my characters are navigating their ways through Year 1 and growing, so am I, the player.
I like how some events make reference older events and their outcomes, whereas others promise future continuations, and so on. The end of year finale of the first playthrough definitely left me appropriately wistful and eagerly awaiting 2nd year, and other writings at the end of some of the events have been suitably epic and left me impressed (like the path I took through Bright Young Vernin.) I also like the lore (though the little boxes eventually made me start skipping lots of it), and giggled at little references like Stenephen Pastis' and Daribus Conley's courts. <3 Pearls Before Swine.
The bad stuff mostly comes from the UI, though it seems like that may be improved with the next installment anyway? Hard to navigate around and refer back and forth (for example, you can't see your current skills and abilities while picking your optional settings for the day's events), no easy way to look through/search/sort phemes, locations, abilities, duration of all active effects, etc, and it can get really overwhelming really quick (then again, that is sort of an accurate simulation of a first-year student's mindset.. ). I also often don't know what is a bug/oversight and what is something I just haven't found yet, like it took me nearly 3/4 of the first year to find the inventory screen and gold display... *blush* - And I still haven't figured out how to see Student A's relationship with Student B so I can decide if raising/lowering their relationship would have any effect. Also there's no way to increase the size of anything (or run it in windowed mode), so there's a lot of blank space outside the frame around the main playing area, while at the same time I have to squint a lot to see the text, especially when it insists to put everything in little boxes that require lots of scrolling. Very hard to visualize and therefore mentally sort and compare information.
Oh, that and the next few years aren't out yet. /rage. But I'm sure by then I'll have a stable of characters, each with their own different storylines and memories, to carry through. And then rage about the lack of Year 3!
I'm not sure if you're still looking for bug submissions, assuming they aren't things I just don't understand yet - I think I stumbled across a few, like how Study the Fields is supposed to increase Agriculture/Flowers/Seeds by 1 skill step each, but increases Agriculture and Seeds by 1 skill step and Flowers by 1 skill level instead. There were a couple minor typos but I didn't note them down, and at least one event where the entire text from start to end was in red text instead of black, I am not sure if that signified something or was just a misplaced colour /tag. And one skill that got used on my female character by another female NPC but whose description stated something about opposite gender only. I'll have to look through history to find out what that was again..
Oh, and how exactly do I go about curing Slightly Queasy (from Bitter Stalks)? I've done searches on the forum, wiki, and even downloaded the mod tools and searched through item/ability names for keywords, but resting doesn't cure it, and I haven't found a recipe, item, skill etc that seems to get rid of it yet, and my character has been queasy for months now.