Congratulations on putting out a detailed, fun life sim that is only like one other I've ever seen in its conceptual design and mechanics: King of Dragon Pass. I've just purchased Academagia, though I played it for a while, earlier today--because I discovered a relative of mine (who shall remain anonymous) downloaded it from a pirate site. We've had words about this. I then got interested, watched her for a couple of hours, left for a while, then came back and bought it. Not for her. (Her mother now knows what's happened.) For me.
Reading a few threads here, I observed that you're genuinely helpful, and seeking courteous input.
With that in mind, I've got a few suggestions of my own to offer. Just some first impressions, but I hope they'll contain one or two bits of advice that could count in handy.
First: $25 is simply too much to ask people to pay without a demo. $10? Even there, most casual sites allow limited play demos. $25 is not a lot of money to ask for a game--but for buying a game whose gameplay you've only seen on a few intstructional videos, I'd think it is. Ironically, I would never have bought Academagia if I didn't have an opportunity to see it closeup, first. If you can make and distribute a demo, I think you'd really up your sales, but that's just my take on it. It's entirely up to you, of course.
To other matters. I've noticed a few complaints about the interface appearance, but I find it stylish, and attractive. The only things that bother are:
Some lack of easy access to important information. When I'm casting a spell and can add phemes, I've no idea what most of them do. It would be nice if hovering the mouse over one, or clicking on a part of it, brought up a brief description. Similarly, when I'm choosing a location I'm aware of to perform an action because of its aura, it would be nice to know right away what benefits that location offers, as well as the likelihood of getting caught. Instead of having to bring up all my known locations under my character, first.
Which reminds me: could you put the different categories of info about each character under separate tabs for that person? Having to scroll through seemingly endless lists of every spell, action, etc that they know just to get one piece of information near the bottom can get a bit tedious.
The interface also sometimes lacks good. immediate feedback in a few instances. For example, when I raise a skill or sub-skill, I'm only told it's been raised; not what it's been raised from, and to. (I think I may have found a bug on this, but I'm not sure. I've noticed that the character being played earlier today had sub-skills in Incantation that wwere told had been raised, but looking at the character's skills on the left side of the screen showed they hadn't changed. She had to get that same sub-skill raised twice to make its number actually increment once. This process happened repeatedly.)
The small text font is a real issue on our 1600 x 900 widescreen resolution. It's tiny, and I hope this can be fixed. Lowering the overall Windows resolution didn't help--on the contrary, it made it impossible to select places to train, study, etc, as they move off the right side of the screen.
The graphics, in general, I really like. They convey the storybook "Once upon a tale" atmosphere well, and I could wish there were more of them to head up your events and rooms. The portrait graphics, though, seem a bit too stylized for their own good. Nearly everybody seems to have a familial resemblance to everybody else. There's little real...expressiveness to each face, if you follow me. And I don't mean evil stereotypes, but any means. But genuinely different seeming characters. The kinds of portraits that stay with you.
Gameplay is smooth. I liked the lore fluff: it really added atmosphere! Several skills do not appear active, however, such as bonding with familiars. It might be best to strip those from your code, or color them differently and make them unselectable. Nobody should have to discover that they've been wasting valuable sessions on things that don't work.
A thought: after the midterms (which is when I first observed the game), it might be nice to have a screen displaying how all your scores did relative to your college mates, if not to other colleges. With perhaps some small gifts, perhaps cash, to the top two winners in each skill category. Just to get a sense that the midterms actually meant something concrete. (Where do you track cash for your character, by the way?)
I'm confused about Explore. I'm seemingly allowed to choose where I want to go twice, when I choose it as an activity. One gives me all the action locations I know. The other gives me only five much larger, generic locations. Invariably, whatever I place in the first choice affects nothing. Only the second does, but it's still a bit confusing. And later: I'm told by my guide that I can compete to receive instructors' favor in classes, but I've never seen a point of favor awarded for this. If it's broken, that should probably be said up front. Otherwise, players are wasting useful classtime having their avatars compete, instead of actually learn.
Concerning your classmates: a great selection of characters, with good descriptions. I just wish I had a better sense why one would befriend a character when his sympatico level was 5, while another wouldn't do so with a level of 10. If there's a hidden mechanic, it needs to be stated up front, because this is pretty frustrating.
I really like the way your skills can make a difference in events, and how some of these differ in the different colleges. (You might want to add short info about each college to the lore, by the way.) Color coding is an excellent way of helping the player to realize they're best options during those events. The game flows smoothly, and has that appeal of a strong title: you always think there's time for one more round of gameplay.
I"m looking forward to your content patch, and your DLC. It's really nice to see such a distinctive title, and one that displays such a lot of imagination. Good job!