After having played the game for about 25 hours or so and having only a few weeks left until the final exams, i thought i should give you guys a little feedback to help you improve the game.
At first i have to admit that i still haven`t experienced all the features you put in the game, so i can`t write much about things like forging, duelling and alchemy. Also please ignore or correct my wrong comments as a result of this fact or my pure stupidity.
With this being said i would like to open with "congratulations" and a thank you. Being a fan of the Harry Potter books i had hoped for a long time that someone would make an rpg with the sorcery/magic theme, that deserved the name rpg. And you did it. And you did it well. I was really impressed and even overwhelmed with the content you stuffed into a "little" indi-game.
So please bear in mind my overall impression of the game when reading my following suggestions/constructive criticism: It`s a very entertaining game, with a lot of content, a lot of creativity and ideas, stories to fill a book and well worth the money (which was discussed previously): On my personal scale of gaming fun it would score a solid 75% - not taken into account that it`s a low-budget game, but being up there with the big titles.
Also I have no idea of programming, so I don`t know if the stuff I write is actually changeable or not.
Let`s get to my criticism/ impressions of the game i find noteworthy in the order in which they come to my mind (I tried to mark the ones already discussed):
1) Character creation: I love details. I even love details which are referred to later in the game more, so you get the impression the things you choose are really important. You did this in a few cases: having campaigners as parents is giving the action to increase two war talents. Or the prodigy: couriosity with the action "study until you drop" being available. Perfect would be if the background of your parents or the other choices would trigger some events: perhaps another student has a similar or opposite background, resulting in the opportunity to raise the relation level or leading into a path of hatred. If you chose a parents background why not let them visit you and see if the character can live up to their expectations?
Also i got the feeling that the choices were unbalanced. Some only raise a few minor stats, the other ones raise an attribute or give you a new ability and both cost the same. Is it possible to reduce the cost of the weaker choices to 0.5 creation points or compensate with a few favourable events?
2) (Already discussed) The interface: Nice artwork and atmosphere but while playing i got the feeling that it could be improved. The screen resolution isn`t very good (desktop resolution: 1680x1050): The event-textscreen and the letters are really small (i sometimes found myself being only a few inches away from my screen to be able to read), and there is a lot of free space on the screen filled with nothing. Perhaps it`s just my usual resolution that is too big, but i don`t think that 800x600 is the standard nowadays.
3) The skill overview: At first: ok but later on a nightmare. I understand the difficulty of the problem, and the list is good for checking up on the skill-levels while in an event or adventure, but there has to be done something. Perhaps keep the list at the bottom left corner but construct a new ledger (like "inventory" or "command") with the parent skills on top of the screen and the subskills below. And when pointing at a parent skill the subskills get highlighted. If the subskill list is to large to see all the highlighted ones, just click on the parent skill, lock it in and use a scrolling bar below to find the subskills.
4) friends + npcs: Making and keeping friendships in the game is easy. It shouldn`t be. With two weeks of training i got from being a social abdomination to a relatively fine befriender. Another 2 weeks later i had two members in my clique . I was eager to see what you could do with them now and what I could learn about their background. But there wasn`t more than a (-granted - powerful) buff and a new ability and the advantage in an adventure (or at least I just haven`t found more). I`d like to learn more about their background, their character, trade secrets , plan actions together to keep a relationship running (right now I haven`t spend time with my friends for about two months - without consequences), help each other to increase skills or to learn spells/phemes. I had hoped for a "buddy" or "best friend feature", through which you could solve some school or city events with one designated best friend, just to give you the feeling that your character is hanging out nearly constantly with the best friend.
5) Class overview: I`d like to know who of the students is in which class with what professor, just to know which npcs my character constantly shares time with.
6) Map: Throughout the game I tried to imagine the academy, the grounds and the surroundings. And with so many places to discover I got confused. Perhaps a map might help. It wouldn`t have to be animated professionally, just a pencil drawing my character could have made would suffice. Just hint at the areas of the game and draw a few different signs on it for the discovered places with the explanation text popping up when clicking on it. Just something to get a better impression of the area.
7) (already discussed) Scroll bar or pages for a better handling of long lists
8) Lore: While I like the little stories and poems and the atmosphere they add to the game I felt like they should be organized in a few books. Like "Poems" or "Legends" just to help keeping the lists shorter and clearer.
9) Events: Try triggering more events, this can be done with in a wide variety of cases: For example: If your character is the best at incantation in the class, wouldn`t your classmates be asking for help or advice? Wouldn`t the professor give you a few extra difficult tasks just to see how talented the character really is? Perhaps a professor would take a certain interest in supporting you or obstructing your path to perfection because of envy (fitting to the professor's character)? When the character scores a perfect score in the mid term exams, being the best of the class is there really nobody who cares? A professor or parents being proud of you, students being impressed, the second best feeling green with envy (especially if it`s a character being used to being the best)?
I noticed that the random events were REALLY random. I mean, it was a bit strange to plan "Study until you drop - in the character`s room" three times on a saturday with exams being only a week away just to get a random event out in the woods or in the city. It just doesn`t feel right. Academy events I would understand, but not my character, who isn`t supposed to leave his room, fighting with squirrels in the forest. Perhaps you could try to link the random events to the actions you plan and the locations at which they take place. This would add a lot credibility to the day.
10) Spells: Try to help me keeping track of the spells with some colours or some other help. A colour for aggressive, harmful spells another colour for buffs... It get`s kind of difficult trying to find the right spell even if you remember there is one that helps. The topic of the phemes added to a spell has already been mentioned.
11) Adventures: Please tell me which choosable part of an adventure belongs to which adventure-chain. Sometimes I could easily spot the next part of an initiated adventure but sometimes it`s quite difficult because there`s only the title of the new part there.
12) Room selection: Not every room should be available for every action/ability. For example: If i want to gather some herbs I shouldn`t be able to do this in my room but being forced to do this outside. Or the problem with the room of champions (raising your attributes by 2, if I remember correctly). It doesn`t seem realistic to being able to choose this room for every adventure just to get the attribute bonus when the adventure is taking place in the city or the woods.
13) Familiar: My tutor told me that it`s possible to find a new familiar (to get rid of my ghost Pamela)- I haven`t found out how yet. Especially when my character is a master of zoology and animal husbandry I would like to go out and search for a new familiar...
14) Public opinion: I often wondered what status of my character in the class or the academy would be, the public opinion. Is he seen as the hero of the class, whom everybody likes and respects or is he ignored, because he doesn`t do anything social at all - just studying and training? Or is he feared because he bullies constantly end extorts the classmembers? Why not implement a public opinion bar for each students and professors, with certain events being triggered when reaching a new degree of respect or contempt.
15) Exploring: I sometimes got the message that my character heard about a certain location. I was really keen on finding some of these I heard of, but you just can go explore for a random location in an designated area. How about giving the player the possibility to select one of these locations he heard of and giving a boost to the chance finding this one but decreasing the chance of finding any other?
Ok, that`s it so far (phew, my eyes are burning). I will add new points when being able to and hope that sales figures are fine, so you devs can work on patches and DLC and collect ideas for the second year