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Exams Scores design thoughts


Darkhawk
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Heya,

 

recently I picked up Academagia again, a game I've enjoyed playing several times now. However, this time, by also reading through the forums and approaching the game with a more 'how efficient can I make my student?' attitude, I noted an aspect I'd like to share my thoughts on - exam scores and how they are transferred to Academagia 2.

 

I've always previously played my games without using spells (or locations) to boost my scores (much), and if I do it like that, I end up with exam scores of 100-130, which in ingame terms is considered to be pretty good (better than everyone else who isn't boosting with spells - I can't remember if NPC's do that at all, haven't reached finals yet on this playthrough). In this thread - http://academagia.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=786 - the Legate says they thought player scores of 100-150 would be outstanding and would prompt special recognition as elite-students at the start of Academagia 2. Also, he says that this would have to be revised based on player input.

 

Now, with the right spells, and a very min/maxing mindset, it's somewhat effortless (except for some save/loading) to reach scores of 1000 in all classes with the right phemes. I think this is a design weakness (and I mean this in a nice way), and that it hampers immersion/consistency in the game. So you do 10 times as well as the best student, because you're doping yourself with spells, and nobody else in the game does that. That doesn't seem like a talented student to me, more like one who is gaming the system, both in and out of the game.

 

If you play Academagia without boosting yourself with spells like that, there is competition and the rush to be the best. If you boost your skills, it just gets unreal, and ingame the teachers don't seem to react to such unbelievable scores either. It seems like the designers are thinking about rewarding players who finish with good scores at the start of Academagia 2, but my point is that these scores are not 'good', they are extreme. Gamedesign wise, I see how it has come to be that way - someone started gaming the system more than the designers thought they would (classic), ruining the progression scale the designers had in mind. The game isn't geared to react to that (i.e. other students don't do this, the teachers don't react to 'magic doping', and the designers thought 100-150 would be good.).

 

The game could be made to react to it of course (i.e. other students could use the same spells, and teachers could comment on, or ban such over-reliance of magic, creating some stories and morales ingame), but I think it's still broken that this can happen, because the range-spread would continue to grow over several games, with min/maxers and 'normal' players, so that you'd have to design in a lot of special cases for each group. Wouldn't it be better to somehow limit these scores, so that 100-150 is actually the highest you can get? (with some leeway, but not 10x leeway, as now).

 

My simplest suggestion here, would be to check who is an elite student based on who got the highest score in the different exams, and not the size of the score itself. I.e. if a player finishes Incantation with 111, and the runner up with 108, then the game notes that the player had the highest score, and events are set in motion in the sequel that comment on this. And if the player had a score of 1000 and the runner up had 108, then the exact same happens. Saves a lot of hassle with the design mechanics, though it is a bit crude and doesn't address the mad spread in ranges between min/maxers and normal players that will happen as time goes by. Not that I don't think min/maxers should come ahead with heavy use of save/load and mathematical calculations of what is most efficient - that's fine, the world has room for both boardgamers and roleplayers ;) - I just think the current spread is way too much and that it ruins immersion/consistency to some degree.

 

Not the Holy Grail for me (well, not much ;)), just something I noted when playing through the game this time and reading the forums... What are your thoughts on this? :)

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Darkhawk;

 

Great analysis! All of the class grading types actually do grade according to relative performance, whether on a curve or otherwise, so I think we'll be able to handle scores of 1000. That said, I agree: it is a flaw in the design because it makes truly outstanding performance difficult to judge, because the variation is really high. We have a new Examination system for Year 2, though, so you should see quite a bit of difference there. :)

 

Thanks!

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Sounds good! :)

 

Another thing I kinda' miss in Academagia is more interaction from NPC's to the PC, and not just the other way around. Like with midway exams, people commenting on your scores, clique members approaching you on their own, things happening that you have no control over (instead of you being able to plan all moves ahead), an organic story to some point. I guess you held off on elements like that for the first game in order to get the basics right, but such a feature would be awesome... And a lot of work designwise for branches ;) Though I think you could do something with not-so-much effort that would still seem like a lot of interaction, as long as the branching is contained or not a 'real' branch at all. Like teachers commenting on your exam results once, and then that's it, or clique members being aware they're in your clique, or if you've helped them out on an adventure, but nothing more. For instance. Ah well, you've probably talked through all of it, but would be interesting to hear what you've decided and why :)

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Darkhawk;

 

We have discussed it extensively- there are some solutions which are better than others, and we have some fun ideas involving Memories. However, it's hard to say right now how we will expand on that kind of interaction- everything depends on resources. :)

 

Still, would be a ton of fun, that's for sure!

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We really could use a "Guide to Getting Good Exam Scores," though. My wife and I both struggle to get average scores on our respective characters' midterms and finals, largely because we put so much time into visiting sites, taking adventures, training familiars, etc. We could forgo all this, but I suspect at least some players have achieved a happy medium we have yet to discover.

 

Another thing I kinda' miss in Academagia is more interaction from NPC's to the PC, and not just the other way around. Like with midway exams, people commenting on your scores,

 

I heartily second this approach. A lot of it is simply flavor, and I think there's much to be said for flavor. If a librarian whose cousin is an instructor for a course comments approvingly on your extremely high score at the midterms, it adds not just a sense of accomplishment, but one that's very much within the realm of roleplaying. A weave of extended relationships (not by any means all familial) would help to spread the word about you and other students, resulting in a sense of community within the game.

 

I'm sure this is something you folks already realize--but I thought it couldn't hurt to provide my two cents of support, either. ;)

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Just look that your char have good Attributes in theyr Class skills.

If you then still have Skills with a training Multiplicator of 2 or even worse in your class (Enchant, Arithmetic and some I dont remember) then you will have to do some extra training for them toward the end of the game.

Dont skip class when you get teached something, except you if accept that you will have to train in that class skills on your own.

And most important bring your Study up to 10 because a lower Study means that there is a chance that you dont get your full mainskill x10 as Score.

 

I usual Get first Religion up till I can cast Cleanse & Remake then use this constant as soon class skills start to need 2 steps per skill up.

Then I bring my Study of all Class Skills to 10.

After this you can go the Adventure or Research path to get your Base Attributes up to 5 so you can stop using Cleanse and Remeake every 4.(or was it 5.) day.

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  • 1 month later...

Fortis;

 

It's definitely possible, but, on the other hand...you are positively encouraged to cast Spells and use your abilities to raise your scores: you are studying magic! :)

 

There will be some classes in the future, however, which will strip this out to test only what you know, versus what you can magically enhance yourself to know...but these are not likely to be core classes, or about magical practice.

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I think the main problem is not that you cast spells to increase your score, but that the other students don't, so you go off scale.

 

Perhaps there should be a way to indicate the AIs of the various students to rise the relevant scores in an intelligent way just before an exam? must not be easy though...

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Fortis;

 

Ah! I see what you mean. Yes, that's the real problem. There are ways to do it for the AI, but we'd prefer something a bit more elegant. You'll see the AI being a bit more concerned about their grades in Year 2- I'm not sure if we'll touch this in Year 1, though.

 

Getting 1000 on exams is a cosmetic thing. I score 150+ on all my exams without ever using spells. In fact aside from like 1 or 2 steps in 3 or 4 adventures, I have been playing the game without ever casting a spell. Of course that trade is made in save/reload time. I spiked all my attributes over 5 except strength which is 3, but I never needed strength skills. I have some 6,7,8,9 from adventure rewards also. Not that I need it really. I've been sphinx spamming recently, although honestly I rarely get 4 levels due to having lots of skills pretty high already.

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