Author Topic: Alvorns Random Thoughts  (Read 1729 times)

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Alvorn

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Alvorns Random Thoughts
« on: October 13, 2014, 10:20:39 PM »
Hi All,

So I have been trying to concentrate less on the bugs of late and more on the game play and would like to share some random thoughts with you all. Feel free to respond, ignore, challenge or agree. Im happy to discuss  :)

Card Balance
There seems to be a serious imbalance between the cards which may have come about because the cards where created at different times (I don't know as obviously I wasn't there when they were created). In particular the concept of "Range".
So for example compare the following three cards:
  • Wake The Trees - Cost 3 Magic to use. Cause another player to loose  2 Cards but only has a range of 3.
  • Blizzard - Costs 1 Magic to use. Causes 2 wounds but has no range limit at all.
  • Hidden Trap - Costs 2 Gold to use, Causes -1 Wound and -1 Action Point,. Has no range limit.
If you consider Gold and Magic worth the same amount (depending on who your playing as this may or may not be the case, but just bear with me). Then the card the costs the most to play, is the weakest card as it only has a range of 3.

Instant Death
The ability for the player with the highest prestige to cause Instant death with a number of decrees is not only overly powerful but sucks and ruins the enjoyment of the game. I had been thinking this for a while but the fact was re-enforced when my wife played for the first time the other night. She was making her way across the board to get to her next mission and all of sudden out of know where she's dead and has to start back at her clan and in effect lost the last 2 turns and she had to re-trace her steps as she headed back to get her next task. She found it very frustrating and unfair. There is just no way to defend against it, besides keeping a stock pile of gold etc. just in case. At least if someone fights you, you always have a chance of surviving.

Learning Curve
This one is probably already on your radar but this game will need an excellent introduction (maybe a game play video) to ensure new players aren't over whelmed. As I said above my wife had her first game last night.   She KickStarted the game after seeing the intro videos (she's at Bandit tier, so she'll be on the beta ), but hasn't really kept pace with the game itself or the rules.
So for a first time player there is a lot of stuff to get your brain around. Everything from Rot, Prestige, the dice themselves, cards, evade, fight mechanics, quests, banes, kings guards, perils etc etc.
A solid Intro to the Rules video will go a long way to helping this. As well as cleaning up all the tutorial tool tips etc.

Fun
This one Im a bit nervous about posting. The game graphically and story wise is great. But at the moment, after many games, its not quite living up to expectations. I know this is because its only the alpha and there is still a lot of content to come. And Im really looking forward to it :) But at the moment, while there is a bucket load of depth to the game, there doesn't seem to be any "glue" that's holding it all together.
Each element somehow feels separate. Fights don't quite merge/mesh with exploring dungeons and perils. Prestige and Rot are great concepts but its too easy to gain one (rot) and loose the other (prestige) when a lot of the time you want it the other way around !
Another example is Stealth. Again great concept, but at the moment it just doesn't seem to add anything to the game. I can't see any advantage in using it and particular in picking an item at the start of the game that gives you stealth in additional places.

I can't quite put my finger on what it is thats just not gelling for me (which is why I was nervous giving this feedback)

I'll keep playing and keep thinking about it as new content (such as multiplayer next week !!!!) comes out and then I'll come back and provide some more thoughts on this in the future.
I also think that once the characters traits are in play this will help. Because at the moment each character feels much like another when playing.

Anyways I'll be at PAX and look forward to discuss the game face to face :)
« Last Edit: October 13, 2014, 10:24:44 PM by Alvorn »

Trent Kusters

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Re: Alvorns Random Thoughts
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2014, 10:48:48 AM »
Hey Alvorn!

Thanks for this. Super insightful post. Greatly appreciated. :)

Firstly, don't worry, the game is in a very early stage at the moment and there's a lot of fine tuning and sweeping changes to make. This feedback is exactly the type of stuff that's going to help us make Armello what it needs to be.

I'll try and address your points and let you all in on where these things sit in our minds;

Card Balance
Yep. Cards are quite unbalanced right now. There has been next to zero card balancing done in-game (most of what you're playing was done in the paper prototype). Tbh, we're waiting on a couple of new systems to hit the game and a bunch more cards so we can see the spread.  All  of our code resources are currently on multiplayer but we'll be getting onto a balance of cards shortly.

We also have something new planned for Spell range, so stay tuned.

Instant Death
Also a big yep here. We're currently aware that instant death isn't really fun in Armello. In saying that, we're not sure that the reason for that is instant death itself and could be a symptom of other issues. We have some plans to address this however.

Noting King's Decs specifically, there will eventually be a large number of King's Decs so the Healthcare one you mentioned (should it stay in-game) will show up far less than it does now - like ten times less often.

Learning Curve
Yep. It's a biggun. We're constantly unifying systems and cutting wherever we can in order to ease the burden of communication. Also, we do plan to have a fully scripted tutorial in the game. Similar to something you'd see in Hearthstone, Total War Battles, etc.

A rules video isn't a bad idea in the short term. Hmmmm...

Fun
This is a tricky one to respond to without simply saying, "well, it's not finished." You bring up many valid points right now. The one about Stealth in particular, which gets me thinking on a few levels personally. There are a few major reasons why the game doesn't feel as solid as it should right now; proper card spread, rudimentary AI, and of course, a lack of multiplayer - soon to be rectified. ;)

However, yep. The game isn't finished. In game development - especially with larger games that have many intertwining and overlapping systems -  it is often the case that the game is never truly as fun as it can be until the very end of development. Warren Spector has said this of Deus Ex and Neil Druckmann said the same of The Last of Us (then insert hundreds of other developers and their smash hit games here).

So, bear with us but keep the feedback coming thick and hard because we love it. Thanks a bunch! This thread sparked some very healthy conversations in the studio this morning. <3

Thanks Alvorn!


-Trent

Alvorn

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Re: Alvorns Random Thoughts
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2014, 11:28:09 AM »
Hey Trent,

Thanks for taking the feedback so well. As I said in the orginal post I was a bit nervous about the feedback under the "Fun" heading. I know the games not done and I know that there is lots still to come, but I also figured that one of the jobs of us Alpha backers is not to just track down bugs and not just to tell you which bits are great, but also to help identify the bits that aren't so great.

I completly undertsand its a journey and we are only in Alpha, but I also think that honest feedback along the journey can only be a helpful thing :D

So thanks for taking the time to read through my thoughts and thanks even more so for taking them seriously :) Im glad they generated some good conversations there at LoG HQ and that was honestly the point.

It's how I work in a professional context, I get something out there (no matter the topic) so that there is at least something on the table to discuss. The end result is never the first thing thats put on the table, but I find sometimes it can be tough to get anything on the table to dicuss in the first place :)

So Im sorry if it came across as harsh (it wasn't meant to) but I figured something I said may spark an idea or two in the LoG camp and it sounds like it may have :)

Trent Kusters

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Re: Alvorns Random Thoughts
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2014, 07:29:46 PM »
Did not come across as harsh at all. You learn to grow pretty thick skin as a game developer. ;)

Alvorn

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Re: Alvorns Random Thoughts
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2014, 10:22:12 PM »
Ive added a whole lot more thoughts under TofoFox's thread. http://leagueofgeeks.com/forums/index.php?topic=412.msg4357#msg4357

Alvorn

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Re: Alvorns Random Thoughts
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2014, 12:34:04 PM »
So last night I got to play my first couple of games of Armello with 8BitProxy and Snaccum. Well a couple of half games anyways :)

I have to say it was a good bit of fun. Multiplayer is going to be where its at for Armello. Without stating the obvious the reason for this is that it felt more like a board game. Which is great cause thats what LoG is after :)

But it did spark of a number of ideas and thoughts which I thought I should share.

1) Voice Chat for me is critical. Just like a physical board game each player takes their turn. And just like a board game humans take longer to take their turn then a computer. We have to read the text on the card to understand what it does, read through quest dialog, think about our strategy etc. And during this time it was great to be able to chew the fat with the other players. Discuss tactics, things we had seen in other games, talk smack to each other etc etc.  You just can't achieve this if all you have is text.

You also get to hear the your opponents cries of anguish when you manage something cool. For example last night 8BitProxy attacked me, which resulted in a draw, but left me with only 2 health left. Then he played "Throwing Axe" and down I went. Because of the Voice chat he could hear my screams of rage, well maybe not screams of rage exactly. More like laughter at such a cool little trick.

Last night we used Skype, but I think the Steam Voice chat would work just as fine as well. However.... I don't know how you would do voice chat with an mobile (iOS/Andriod) version of the game unless it was built into Armello itself...
Have the LoG crew had any thoughts on how they are going to tackle that ? Or is that a problem for another day ?

2) As I mentioned to the guys while playing last night, I really started to pay attention to my cards. It's a lot more fun playing cards on real people and hearing their reaction's, instead of just stock piling them to use in battle and against perils. Mind you this may change again when we can't burn cards in combat again. But I think that fun factor will remain.

3) You REALLY need to be able to watch as other players battle and face perils. Again when playing a board game you can see the other players play their cards and role their die. It creates suspense knowing that if they succeed at this role then they will become prestige leader, or defat the place peril opening up the way to the king. Watching other players, try  and sometime fail to do stuff will help to capture the spirit of a board game. You can cheer them on or taunt them as they battle each other or a bane.

I really hope Im explaining this well enough because after playing last night its clear to me just how important this aspect is. It would cement the whole board game experience as you share the highs and lows with the other players around the "board". Everyone will be on the edge of their seats watching as the last die keeps exploding as wyld's come up and the an unlikely victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. At the moment you just get the final result instead of watching it unfold in real time like you do in a board game.

So I reckon to do this when ever a player has a fight or faces  a peril, all other players screens cut to the "fight screen". And you can watch on as the battle unfolds. However you don't get to see the cards in the players hands. They remain "face down" just like your opponents does in a battle at the moment. You only get to see them as they are burnt.