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Exams and Year 1.


Bullwinkle
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I've been meaning to comment on this issue for some time, and am finally prompted to do so by another comment about how disappointed someone was when the school year ended with essentially no reference to the exams. On my first playthrough, I felt exactly the same way.

 

I think it was hugely underestimated just how large exams loom both for the character and the player. A game like this has no real victory condition per se, but if you had to offer one up, you'd have to say 'to pass your exams at the end of the year'. The game emphasizes it at every turn. Right up front, the game tells you that if you don't do well on your exams, you'll get kicked out of school. The majority of your time is spent in class. You tend to use those skills disproportionately, in large part because they're generally higher than the others. Outside of class, you probably need to train class skills, and you definitely need to study them; you're even reminded before midterms and finals how important it is to prepare. So you spend all this time, take the exam, and get...a number. The best you can do is look to see how you did compared to the others.

 

As I said, I was pretty disappointed the first time I ended the game. Not with the game itself--I was blown away by that--but how the exam 'storyline' ended. Or rather, didn't end. It's like getting to the end of a novel and finding the author didn't bother to write a final scene wrapping up the main plot. It hurts the game, honestly.

 

I'm aware that your Year 1 exam results will have significant effects in Year 2. I agree that that's what should happen (when you think about it, that's what happens in real life. Your exam results affect what comes next year: which courses you can take, whether you get scholarships, your parents' reactions, etc.). I'm not calling for an immediate in-game effect. Instead, what I think should happen is that each of your exam results should be commented upon immediately afterwards, with a final wrap-up giving a general overview of the results.

 

With six classes, I'd have six different people comment on your results in separate small scenes, each one for a different exam. For example: your best friend, your worst enemy, a member of your clique, your familiar, the head of your college, and an instructor. If you did well, your best friend would be pleased; your enemy, bitter; your familiar, lording it over the others; etc. The opposite, if you did poorly. And something for the in-between. After all six exams are done, wrap it up with a small introspective scene: you're proud, or disappointed, or scared of what your parents will say, whatever. As they are now, exams are a big letdown.

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Bullwinkle;

 

Thanks for the feedback!

 

Another Academagian has suggested special Adventures for these Exams (as well as a unique Adventure for studying very well), and we are considering that. Your idea of a reflection scene is also excellent, and would give focus and context to the results. In all probability, we will not be able to implement anything like this for Year 1- but for Year 2 there is a new system for Exams that we think you will enjoy. :)

 

Thanks!

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Yes - just to echo what Bullwinkle said, the exams really are rather deflating at present!

 

Here are two fairly quick changes that could be made to improve things (in Year One):

 

Give the player their position in the year, both for each exam and for their average. This is what real kids at academic schools (I teach at one!) try to find out as soon as they get their results, after all.

 

Give the player an idea, at midterms, whether they've 'failed' or not with a half-sentence cue - I got a 24 in one exam, and had no idea whether it was adequate or not - it would make a huge difference to satisfaction, and be very little coding work, if they exam score line was:

 

You scored 26 in an astrology exam - 22nd out of 24. Professor Badcrumble will be angry!

 

You scored 148 in a history exam - 1st out of 24. One of the best marks in the history of the school!

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You can see the exam dates just by viewing the skill!

Acording to Legate of Mineta there is the posibility of geting detention for performing to bad in the midterm. Because so fare I allway scored above 50 Points I dont know if this is corect.

For the end Exam Resoult the real effect will be seen in year 2 but I also hope they will improve in the Exam reporting. (First of all getting all the Exam resoults of all 1. year students in your dayreport is kind of anoying and second there is no real effect I expierienced for the NPCs if they mess up Mid term)

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Just a little note related to exams. I was a little disturbed by how easy it is to "cheat" on exams by buffing your primary related skill with magic. During my last playthough, I got the top score on every exam without much effort. It seemed a little too easy, IMO.

 

Just something to think on.

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I'm okay with the idea that you can cast spells to boost your performance on exams. The problem I have is that the other students, for the most part, don't. It is very, very rare for me to not be the top performer (by far) on exams, principally through judicious use of spells and abilities right before. I agree with ackron that this makes it a bit too easy. Personally, I'd rather see at least a handful of other students following the same strategy rather than nerf this possibility. (Interestingly, they seem to on midterms; I've seen astronomical scores there.)

 

It's especially worth considering this if the idea discussed in another thread of prizes for exams is implemented. That will be a guaranteed double boost for you and your college (prizes plus benefits of high exams).

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Bullwinkle;

 

It's a complicated story, but the reason the Students do not for Finals is that they are victims of their own success. They quickly come to maximum and then are content to rest on their laurels. :)

 

We are considering a few ways to make them a bit more concerned towards the end of the year. :)

 

Thanks!

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I remember when I was in schooling, there was often at least one and occasionally two (if teachers felt it was very bad) assemblies near the end of the year specifically so they could harangue us about end of year slacking. They used the word 'fatigue' instead. Basically, the school was concerned about how grades spiked in the approach to midterms but then dropped by the end of the year.

 

Maybe that's why I didn't even notice the disparity that Bullwinkle calls out. Real students want to get good marks, but most of them won't see top of the class as attainable (or especially desirable) to them. I'd be amazed if there were ever more than 4 in a given year who cared about getting the best marks. We're just a bunch of geeks and overachievers. :)

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I remember when I was in schooling, there was often at least one and occasionally two (if teachers felt it was very bad) assemblies near the end of the year specifically so they could harangue us about end of year slacking. They used the word 'fatigue' instead. Basically, the school was concerned about how grades spiked in the approach to midterms but then dropped by the end of the year.

 

Maybe that's why I didn't even notice the disparity that Bullwinkle calls out. Real students want to get good marks, but most of them won't see top of the class as attainable (or especially desirable) to them. I'd be amazed if there were ever more than 4 in a given year who cared about getting the best marks. We're just a bunch of geeks and overachievers. ;)

 

While that's a good point 89157Z, there are at least some students whose descriptions indicate they would be scholastic overachievers by nature. For example Basia Rydz, or to a lesser extent some of the other Aranaz students. I think that at least a few students, because of how they are presented in the game's text, should behave as if they are chasing every available grade point. It's a small thing, but it helps immersion in the overall story.

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