Feedback on v0.7.2.1


I just spent a few days with the latest build, and figured I'd give my thoughts. Overall, I think the game is making good progress; I enjoyed the new area very much, I love all the new art and the more free-form "rooms." As always, I like the "environmental storytelling," i.e. having areas that make logical sense for humans to have lived in (the shops, the baths, etc.). The detail present in the world really speaks to the desire to have the levels make sense as habitable spaces (as opposed to most games, in which there are no bathrooms, no places for storage, food prep, etc.).

Some of the different post-portal "levels" (i.e. non-contiguous-loading areas) seem more divergent in terms of aesthetic, equipment level, etc. than makes sense given how physically proximate they seem to be (as far as I can tell, they are all supposed to be adjacent, and would probably be one big map if the engine supported it). I'm not sure it needs "fixing" per-say, but maybe something we could find that indicates why the golem facility has much better heavy armor than the two adjacent areas? That said, from a game-play standpoint, the variety (and difficulty curve) is nice; it would be boring if we found the same type of armor in all three places.

The new sewer area was icky, dark, claustrophobic, and a pain to navigate; I can't really say I "enjoyed" it, but I'm pretty sure that it achieved the desired impact :). The "catacombs" between levels 2 & 3 also had a nice "dark" feel but were easier to navigate (it's also a bit sparse in terms of size/items/enemies, but that's not necessarily a bad thing).

I've never had major complaints about the overall look & feel of the movement/combat system, but I do notice that the latest build is a bit more responsive, which is nice. At this point, I've played long enough that I don't trust my intuitions for how new players will find it, but for me the adjustment from the previous version wasn't too bad (it always takes me a bit to adjust my timings when this type of adjustment is made, but that's what the practice arena is for).

I enjoyed the opportunity to have a "companion," and would welcome more dialog/interaction, as I understand is planned. However, the single biggest thing I'd like from the companion system as it stands is the ability to request specific combat behavior. In particular, what I'd really like is to tell my companion to fight less aggressively; he does okay on the first couple of levels, but against the more dangerous advantages, he's at a significant disadvantage. That's not actually a problem in and of itself; he's a farmer, I wouldn't expect him to be that good. But it means that I basically have to leave him behind while I fight or he ends up getting hurt/killed. Basically, I'd like to tell him something like: "If an enemy is targeting me, try to flank and attack them from behind; if an enemy is targeting you, don't counter-attack, just concentrate on defending yourself, while *I* flank and attack from behind. Don't try to be a hero; just the fact that you're forcing the enemy to split their attention is help enough."

In other words, I'd like a way to let the companion tag along and experience the story with me (and carry my spare gear), without having to constantly be worried about babysitting him.

Probably the ideal situation is to have several behavioral policies available for the companion, and let the player pick one. E.g. maybe the current one is "balanced", to which you could add "aggressive" (pro-actively attack enemies) and "defensive" (as described above) options, and maybe even a "non-combatant" one (e.g. if I'm fighting golems, I'd really just like the companion to stay well back from the fighting without having to manually ask him to wait/follow before/after the fight).

Ideally, these would be implemented in a modular fashion (i.e. independent of the "skill level" of the companion AI, so the same policies could be used by different types of companions); in the long run, I could imagine this integrating into some sort of "combat roles" system, which seems to me like something that could be useful down the road (at the moment, all the enemies are "mindless undead" so it's fine to have the primary differences being just armament and skill level).


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