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Old 03-28-2011, 05:45 AM   #1
Ours Polaire
 
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Lightbulb [OFFICIAL] Gameplay suggestion or feedback ? Please post here !

Hello,

We are preparing a big all-episodes patch on Episode 0 to 3. We are also currently working on Episode 4 (and sometimes 5 and 6).

So this is the right time to ask for your feedback on GAMEPLAY ! What is the main problem of the game ? What is lacking in your opinion ? What should be corrected ? Abilities are unbalanced ? Some battles are too difficult, while others are too easy ? Post everything here !

NOTES:
- Please be constructive in your feedback. We need to know what you like or don't like, but more importantly we need to know WHY.
- Describe the abilities you have and the character you made when giving feedback about battles or battle system. It helps a lot.
- The thread for BUGS can be found here.

Sincerely,
The Polar Bear
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:47 AM   #2
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I think people have extensively expressed their opinions about the game in lots of other topics in this forum. So I guess I'm going to have a tl;dr summary of what I think.

My feelings about the game have evolved since Ep0. Now I love it, and it's a real pleasure to buy and play to each new episode.
However:

Main problem of the game:
It is BROKEN!

As soon as you do something unexpected (like loading a savegame during a battle, or Alt+Tab-ing...), the game is messed up. Since this is not the bug thread I won't go further, but I'd just say bugs take you out of the game, and fixing the issues people encounter is the way to go in order to improve the game's reception.

Now, about gameplay, I couldn't really find something tremendously wrong. You'd ask me after Ep0, I'd say
It's too slow.
Everything is slow: the character's movements, the damages enemies give to you...

But after playing the latest episodes, I must admit the game is getting better and better. I really love the fact that each episode introduces a new kind of gameplay element (enemy, exploration...). This way, the game feels varied.

I feel like battles are very balanced now. I'm playing a hunter with all abilities in the "anticipation" branch, and I'm doing okay in the battles. Sometimes I loose, but, eh, that's part of the game.

Okay, nothing more right now Hope that helps.
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:43 AM   #3
Ours Polaire
 
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THANK YOU EVERYONE !

We've read everything carefully. (WraithMagus, we do not forgot your very long and interesting thread. I promise I'll answer when I'll have the time)

Some remarks were repeated multiple times. I tried to answer only once.

Here's the answers / remarks :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangatome View Post
You'd ask me after Ep0, I'd say
It's too slow.
We did a lot of fixes to change that, but maybe it is still not OK.

"10 turn" battles are meant to force you to use a move strategy to succeed in 10 turns, but often the battles are too easy and you don't need that much moving.

We will explore three possibilities :
- improve enemies turns duration by reducing the number of animations and/or the number of enemies.
- reduce further the duration of these battles (to 5-7 turns)
- add new mechanics to these battles to make them more appealing (but this would complicate further the first battles, already not really that simple)

Please let us know the battles that you still find boring after the patch. We will try to fix them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xursian View Post
It would be amazing if you could add in more voice overs,
That's not the most complicated suggestion. Sure old kaari for example would deserve that kind of love. (sorry about the sick joke...)

I will try to bring this point in the next meeting. Maybe something can be done. In the meanwhile, please post feedbacks on this idea, so I have more details on what you think about voiceovers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xursian View Post
I hope that on multi/frame battles theres a little save if the battles beaten good cause redoing a 30+Turn battles pretty brutal espically the hard ones.
We don't want everything to be easy (and we're not really OK with perma-save like games do these days), but we understand redoing too long battles is just not fun. We will try to do something about that in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xursian View Post
Any ETA for ep 4,5,6?
If everything goes smoothly (there's no chance ), you should see episode 4 in the first part of may. I will try to post 1 week before that with teasing informations. Next episodes should be released every 2 monthes after that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielT View Post
Again, I'll go back to the example from my other post about when she moves from hut to hut. Why? "
I won't hide the fact that "hutt"-battles in EP1 are not the thing we did that we are the most proud of. Sure EP1 has cool miniboss and boss battles in my opinion, but "fillers" are really too much filling the game...

Have you encountered this problem in other episodes ?

How about adding more dialogs and explanation on EP1 ? This episode is very linear for design reasons, but we could make it a little more appealing by adding more story to it ?

Any other idea ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lirealla View Post
however there are a few editing problems (grammar, spelling, etc) and redundancies in the English version.
Our translator team is specifically made of writers and scenarists - because translating poetic work is always a difficult thing.

Time is at fault here. (for both the french version and the english one) Better texts (less melodramatic for example) and translation would mean one or two more weeks, which would be rather problematic for both the players and Beyonthepillars.

We are not proud of this either and will try to improve grammar and spelling correction in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lirealla View Post
<----*points to ex-grad student.

Well, I don't know if we're hiring given the current situation, but help is always welcome. Don't hesitate to PM me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
Steam Achievement-related:
Volva 100% achievements
Do these require the use of the +20% memory skill?
No, you only need something like 10 x (Level+3) Memory. Memory buffs are just bonuses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
I'm sure it's in there somewhere, but when they call it the secret encounter, they're not kidding.
It is really easy to find with a volva, but quasi-impossible to find with any other character if you don't know where to search.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
Characteristics:
Humor could probably stand to be rebalanced.
Humor is the base of some of the most extraordinary efficient build of the game. But it needs to be used in conjonction with other mechanisms to shine.
On resilient builds for example it shines, because it reduces small damage without reducing big ones (nerfing incoming DPS without nerfing the 10% cap)
This aside, I admit there's too few spamming enemies in the late episodes. (mostly due to our need to speed up the battle)
We will bring new humor-friendly and speed-friendly attacks in the next episodes, I promise !

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
realistically, the ability to just soak more damage is a pretty clear winner.
It really depends on your tree choice. Here again, it's a very bad idea if you try to be resilient for example. (10% cap on incoming damage raise with health)
It raises your health by few, if you compare it to the classic leveling.
However, I agree with will being one strong stat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
My only real desire would be a bit more clarity on how it interacts with starting PP and PP/turn. The PP line item in the character pane states 10 at all times, regardless of how high one raises this stat. (Again, something that probably belongs in a bug report.)
Please report it on the other thread !
It's hard to clarify that sort of things in game. Making a manual for the game is not actually on our priorities, but we could make a thread here with informations - for players interested in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
the bonus to find traps isn't really that important to the gameplay
Oh, I think we could do something about that. Thanks for the idea, you'll see something in EP4. Hehehe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
All skills should be visible from the Prologue.
That came from the episodic nature of the game, but we could fix this. I'll bring this question in the next meeting.
On skills, I have read all of your comment and we will probably include most of them in the next patch. Two remarks :

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
Third Ring (skills on the main spokes out from First Ring) --
Foolproof - +5 resist to flaws - this seems too low to be worth a skill point.
This one, with other you quoted, is clearly concerned by our rebalancing project. More flaws in EP4 though, I hope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
Doors - The base range on this is 1, making it essentially useless for any kind of "progress across the map" puzzle.
One of the powerfullest skills out there, I think. It allows so much strategic abuse and enemy placement it's insane. (it's castable on an enemy by the way) It was nerfed and re-nerfed in beta-test, but is still one of my favorite.
But I admit it is really tricky to use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielT View Post
For example, if one used the Consolation ability she would emote "I'm going to be OK."
That's quite hard to balance so it doesn't feel too melodramatic, but it would be really cool. We would probably have done it on a Season 2, but given the current situation, a second season is not planned for the moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wraith_Magus View Post
It's still basically a problem that you are playing a game of Chess with only three pieces
We are considering giving more skill points in the prologue. We think it is actually one of the main problem of the prologue so far.

It implies lot of rebalancing, so we are still evaluating the impact.

Quote:
Right now, most active powers are healing or damage-reduction powers that have no combinable effects
One of the goal of the talent snowflake is to give players different gameplays based on their preference. There's tree with high combination potential (do I protect my summon so I can heal myself often and high, or do I change my mind because the environment has changed, etc.), and there's less combinable trees, more stable and simple. Generally speaking, there's not a lot of trees that doesn't have a good and combinable strategic skill allowing cool interactions.

We added a lot of them in EP1, though. A lot of trees are very simple in EP0 - before the ultimate skill.



I hope I answered everyone. Please continue to give us feedback !

Sincerely,
The Polar Bear.
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Old 04-12-2011, 12:32 PM   #4
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Humor functionality is definitely something I should look into more, having played the weaver as my first character. I'll probably start up a game specifically to try that, along with Doors. From your description of its power, I'm guessing that I've misread the ability in some way to my disadvantage. hehe

Other than that, glad to help.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:28 AM   #5
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A few things, as I went back to get the Prologue 100% Volva version, after I got the normal version on my Humor test character.

The Seid battle "Fear III" probably needs to be rebalanced. It's a survive 10 turns encounter consisting of a narrow passageway (without a viable choke point), three heavy hitters, three terror blobs, and three "light" hitters who get up to four(?!) attacks a round. The only way I found to surpass this as a Volva for the 100% was to abuse the prologue Fairy Tale mechanics (5pp/0CD with full skill support). I tried several other combinations of abilities, all of which resulted in pretty much instant death. I would suggest reducing the range of the light hitters fairly substantially, and/or their damage output. It has the feel of a fight where you're supposed to do your best to duck the heavy hitters, but even the light hitters in this encounter are a significant obstacle. -- Basically, I'm expecting that with the rebalancing of the early stuff, Fairy Tale is going to move to its ep1-and-following behavior, which would make this combat an impassible obstacle for Volva 100% in its current incarnation.

Speaking of Volva 100%s, I'm pretty sure the formula should actually be (Level+4)*10. I specifically tried ((Level+3)*10)+5, and was awarded normal but not volva 100% after a prologue clear. Certainly confirms that the +20% skill isn't required, though, which opens up earlier build possibilities.

Regarding episode 1, I may be in the minority, but I thought the amount of combats was about right. If anything, add another type for the "between shelters" combats, and then cut the randomization. (I've had Longest Night - Survive 1000 Rounds come up three times in an ep1 playthrough before. I really hate that one!) The thing that really sticks out regarding the episode, though, is that after the prologue, you expect more regarding what you saw in the Seid, and there really isn't anything. Some way to tease out a bit more information regarding that would help to put the episode on-par story-wise.

Regarding saving between multi-screen battles, the desire to have this isn't so much because it makes things "easier", though it does, but because of the fact that longer combats have a higher chance to crash the game engine and result in a restart from zero. The final combat of the prologue, for instance, can easily fall victim to this. It's not terribly difficult, but it IS time-consuming if you get to the second part of it and the game crashes.

Having played through several times now, I think my favorite combat/puzzle is the Childhood Prison. It may be a bit long, but since the player gets to continually work with it, and there are a number of viable strategies, I still look forward to it.

Regarding humor and "On resilient builds for example it shines, because it reduces small damage without reducing big ones (nerfing incoming DPS without nerfing the 10% cap)" - Maybe I'm missing something in the tree, but on my humor/mitigation weaver, I'm not finding enough mitigation to put such a damage cap in place. Unless, of course, it's meant to be in conjunction with something like Emptiness or Unaffected. (Haven't tried it yet, got sidetracked doing Volva 100% prologue. hehe) Just humor + passive mitigation talents is proving to be pretty powerful, though. Curious to see how it's going to play out further in.

Regarding Int's bonus to find traps, so that I'm not misunderstood: There are really two types of traps in the game. The first is the unavoidable type - to progress on the map, you simply have to hit it. In this case, it doesn't really matter if you know where the trap is or not, so using a skill to find it or not is immaterial. The second type is the avoidable type - if you're in an area with lots of these, just punching the "find traps" skill every round for 1PP is obvious. An interesting alteration of this would be, instead of extending detection range, if higher Int had a chance to actually diffuse traps instead. (I know, it already kinda does this with the chance to dodge them.) Maybe when you're rebalancing skills, a couple could be devoted to giving Detection this kind of functionality. Something like, "Detection +2pp, chance to diffuse/disable traps increases with Intuition".

If I get the time, I want to try a build using The Truth is Out There, Augmented Reality, and Virtual. Curious if sacrificing that many stats would work out as a viable build.
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miendiem View Post
The Seid battle "Fear III" probably needs to be rebalanced.
This battle is planned to be rebalanced generally speaking. While it is feasable with nearly all trees on volva100%mode, the difficulty is not consistent with the other "hard modes".

Quote:
Speaking of Volva 100%s, I'm pretty sure the formula should actually be (Level+4)*10.
After some verifications it seems to be (Level+1)*10. You need to have ALWAYS that at every level / every victory to be awarded the achievement. If you had less on the first battle but more after, you won't have the achievement.

We could consider implementing better feedback and better descriptions of achievements.

Quote:
If anything, add another type for the "between shelters" combats, and then cut the randomization. [...] after the prologue, you expect more regarding what you saw in the Seid
We planned to replace the randomization by a non-repetitive randomization.

For story purpose, we will probably just cut totally randomization and add story related to the seid. (if there is enough story material to put here without spoiling episode 4 and 5)

Quote:
longer combats have a higher chance to crash the game engine and result in a restart from zero.
Frontier battles where initially more complex designed, but we discovered that pushing too much the engine wasn't that good of an idea. We are aware of the crashing problems and, while we have not the ressources to correct them, we will try to weaken the effect.

Mourning III can probably be rewrited so it has less probability to crash.

Quote:
I'm not finding enough mitigation to put such a damage cap in place.
I don't know if I was clear so I explain :
- You gain 1 PM (or more) each time you take more than 10% of your energy.
- So if you have 999 energy, you prefer taking 6x150 than 12*75.
- If you take mitigation (or willpower), you take the risk to increase this 10% cap. (at 999 energy, it is 100, but at 1499 energy it is 150, wich is way harder to take in one hit)
- If you take reduction, however, you'll notice great efficiency on little hits and little effect on big hits.

Typically, if you have 1000 life and taking 20-hit and 120-hit, you'll prefer 15 reduction over 25% mitigation. 25% would drop the 120-hit under the 10% cap (/floor), while not affecting 20-hit much ; on the contrary, 15 reduction would nearly negate the little hits, and keep the 120 hit over the floor.

Quote:
Just humor + passive mitigation talents is proving to be pretty powerful, though. Curious to see how it's going to play out further in.
I'll say "Insane scalling". Reductions are applying after mitigation (this is the fun part of reduction). And mitigation is exponentially efficient with itself, because it is additive and not multiplicative. (+10% mitigation when you have 0% is juste 10% reduction, but +10% when you have 80% is 50% reduction)

I did a run of EP0-1-2 one time with a mitigation+reduction weaver. Even 120 hits were doing no damage in the end. I think I had more than 70 reduction damage in the end, and 50+ average mitigation.

Quote:
Regarding Int's bonus to find traps, so that I'm not misunderstood: There are really two types of traps in the game. The first is the unavoidable type - to progress on the map, you simply have to hit it.
Detecting them usually divide their damage by 2. You can always avoid traps, but it's sometimes only possible with mecanisms like Doors or Elsewhere.
The problem is that int only increase the range, and I agree that once you have a given cap (something like 2 or 3 /level), stacking it more is just a matter of comfort - since you don't care about traps that are far away.

It will change in EP4 and EP5, because invisibility mecanisms are slightly different in those episodes.


Sincerely,
The Polar Bear.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:54 AM   #7
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There are a few things I want to respond to, but I'll try to segregate them into their own posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ours Polaire View Post
We did a lot of fixes to change that, but maybe it is still not OK.

"10 turn" battles are meant to force you to use a move strategy to succeed in 10 turns, but often the battles are too easy and you don't need that much moving.

We will explore three possibilities :
- improve enemies turns duration by reducing the number of animations and/or the number of enemies.
- reduce further the duration of these battles (to 5-7 turns)
- add new mechanics to these battles to make them more appealing (but this would complicate further the first battles, already not really that simple)

Please let us know the battles that you still find boring after the patch. We will try to fix them.
In trying to come up with a good way to mentally frame the problem, I think I came up with quite the appropriate frame of reference for the problem with the survival battles:

We are playing Pac-Man.

In Pac-Man, you are a single unit trying to avoid several enemy units in a maze, and with only occasional ability to turn the tables, you must evade pursuit from ghosts that haunt you at every turn.

In the survival battles, we are in a small pseudo-maze as one unit being pursued by multiple units who must evade pursuit from shadows that haunt you at every turn.

Here's where the problems really start to shine through: Pac-Man is not at all boring - it's very fast-paced, and exhilarating. Pac-Man isn't turn-based, and doesn't need to be, as it's all about thinking quick. Winter Voices is turn-based. As a turn-based game, it gives us all the time we need to make optimal choices, while at the same time, the bar must be raised - there must be a wealth of choices that all SEEM VALID at least enough of the time to be worth considering. Further, because you have all the time to select ideal choices every time, it is expected that the "challenge" will come from being much more harsh about the player making poor choices.

In order to make those choices truly difficult to weigh, you really have to work towards making the choices you make now have an impact on the choices you will have to make in the future.

-----

Pac-Man does this by leaving you in that maze; Your only choices are the direction you move - up, down, left, right. The long-term impact of your choices involves winding up realizing that when all you were trying to do was dodge the ghost right behind you, you weren't considering where the other ghosts were, and now, you just managed to get yourself trapped in a corner between two different ghosts.

Winter Voices gives you movement, but the mazes you face are... really, really simple. At best, you get a figure eight. Sure, there are occasional small obstacles, but those are minor, and prove to be a single-turn distraction. It's not a maze, or at least not very much of one. The "maze" is generally nothing more than a big elliptical track or a figure eight (In episode One, a few repeated fights involve little more than a tightly-packed circle with a couple of trees in the middle)... what's the strategy? You have two options, three, I guess if you really want. You can either run around in circles with the shadows chasing you Benny Hill-style. You can stand still and get pummeled. Or maybe you can try to get really contrary and declare that you're done running clockwise Benny-Hill style, charge through the enemy shadows, taking damage as you go, and then running COUNTER-clockwise. Regardless of what you choose, you're going to get shot, anyway, because the shadows move as fast as you do, so you can never outrun them, and they have enough range to keep annoying you pretty much from halfway across the tiny, tiny map.

-----

In Pac-Man, you are a one-hit-point-wonder, and cannot ever let the ghosts catch you. Being trapped in a corner is certain doom, something to be avoided at all costs (excepting the power pill).

In Winter Voices, I "solve" many of these survival puzzles by simply knowing that as long as I am only attacked by a single shadow, I can simply stand there and take my beating like a (strong, confident) woman. In almost all of those fights in the prologue, it was as simple as looking for a narrow point to funnel in only one enemy shadow, and then repeatedly drop Anticipation on the enemy. At that point, I don't even MOVE anymore. I just wait for the timer to tick down faster than my HP/EP total does.

Even without that, if you try to outrun the shadows, when the maze is so simple, it's not like you're going to suddenly discover you've made the wrong choice when there was only one good choice to begin with.

Sure there are the "landmine" maps... but since these landmine maps are both obvious and static, if you ever make a mistake, it's little more than a single "I Wanna Be The Guy" gotcha death. Without procedural layouts of the map, you will be surprised by the landmines exactly once.

In fact, you even repeat a landmine map with the landmines in the exact same place in Episode One, thereby ensuring that nobody will be surprised by the landmines. That's like giving someone a test with only one question on it, giving them the textbook and all the time they need to figure it out, grading their test, telling them the answers, giving them the chance to retake the test as many times as it takes to get it right, and then, after making sure they aced the test, immediately giving them the exact same test again.

-----

Now, however, we get into one of the biggest problems.

Pac-Man had something really revolutionary for its day - a really big selling point that helped market it and make it stand out.

It had enemies with different types of AI.

If you are not familiar with what it did, this behavior is fairly well-documented on the Internet.

The basic idea I want to convey, however, is that each enemy had their own role to play in hunting the player.

One was a shadow, and would simply chase the player. Its purpose was simply to keep Pac-Man moving. It was the anvil.

Two of the others were functionally ambushers. They tried to path to points ahead of Pac-Man, so as to cut off the escape and corner Pac-Man. They are the hammers, which try to strike you between themselves and the anvil.

(The final ghost would chase until it got close. It was the least threat, since you had to actually run into it to get caught by it.)

This is the core of Pac-Man, in fact. If all the ghosts just blindly chased you, the game would be boringly easy, since you just need to keep moving in a different direction to stay ahead of the ghosts in the maze.

Winter Voices, however, has some serious problems when it comes to some very exploitable pathfinding choices.

First, unlike Pac-Man, all the shadows take turns, and the game pauses and refocuses on them so that you have to watch their every move, letting the player have much more freedom to analyze their every quirk.

Second, they always move in the same turn order, and they always follow the same pathing AI, making their actions extremely predictable.

Third, their pathing has some very obvious exploitable flaws.

In one of the prologue missions, you had to keep the large shadows from getting through a single "gate". At first, the task looks impossible - how can I stop eight shadows from moving through the single point? Do I have to stop them bodily? Those are powerful enemies, and I can only take so much damage.

Then, problematic pathfinding comes to the rescue.

Push the first shadow away once in the first round. Then pass a turn. The first shadow moves forward three tiles (it's movement range), which brings it to the opening of the gate, but where it also cuts off all other paths to the gate. It ends its turn, out of range to attack me.

Then, all the other shadows take their turns, but they cannot path towards me or the gate, because the first shadow is blocking them. So they do what their AI tells them to do in that situation: nothing. They skip their turn.

In disbelief that it would be this easy, I just shove the first shadow back three tiles, and then it moves back forward three tiles. The other shadows do nothing.

If they only had the ability to move forward and crowd the gate, that strategy would have failed, but they don't. They just sit there and wait for the timer to tick down and declare me the winner.

One of the first things I do on a map is look for "dead ends", areas on the map where I can shove a Fairy Tale, where obstacles prevent shadows from shooting the Fairy Tale in a single turn. Place a Fairy Tale there, or shove a Fairy Tale into that dead end, and all the shadows will chase the Fairy Tale, rather than me.

Better, even if the Fairy Tale will die in the first round of its existence, I can "hide" the Fairy Tale behind the sixth-place and seventh-place shadow, so that the first five shadows in the turn order waste their time trying to get around the sixth and seventh shadows to get a valid line of fire. Sure, the sixth shadow can hit the Fairy Tale immediately, and then the seventh shadow will pathfind after me immediately afterward, but I've just created a perfect traffic snarl to make the shadows waste their time chasing a decoy rather than myself as I add on some distance.

---

So what is to be done?

First, do not reduce the number of enemies and turns. That's surrender. That's basically admitting that you aren't building a fun puzzle, so you're trying to at least make it a shorter puzzle, so it isn't as annoying, even though it isn't any more fun.

Second, if you are going to make a maze, make a real maze. Yes, I know you have a limit on the size of the maps you can make, and the ranged attacks make things problematic, but if you look at Pac-Man, they managed to make a game that was fun and involving when their maze had only 30 intersections, and when they used the exact same maze every time. Still, that's better than having a maze with only one intersection.

Which leads to, Third, make the pursuers dynamic, not the maze. Pac-Man managed to make the maze dynamic, even though the only thing that changes is how the player behaves because they gave the player the ability to act completely differently every time, and they built the ghosts to react dynamically to the player's actions. The shadows in Winter Voices, likewise, need to behave in a manner that makes them appear like more intelligent and coordinated predators, the way that the ghosts from back in Pac-Man were capable of appearing.

Right now, in any map where I have to reach a goal line, and I can traffic snarl the shadows into letting me past them, I'm home free. If I can make that traffic snarl, I can win the mission with just one move.

I want to take the time to really underline this point, too. Hiding land mines or making new shadows appear at scripted points are not dynamic, they are static, and just a surprise the first time they are triggered. Worse, they feel unfair to the player, rather than exciting. You sprang traps from nowhere on them. When a shadow behaves differently than how they expected, but behaves within their clearly defined rules, however, they are dynamic and engaging pursuers. They make the players have to pause and evaluate what they do know about their pursuers to react. A scripted event you don't see coming, however, is something you can't really do anything about, it's something that the player is subjected to.

And I'm comparing this to Pac-Man, not Deep Blue. Not a really fancy AI by any means, Pac-Man had some very basic tricks, but it used them well. A custom script for certain types of pursuing shadows that make them behave in manners scripted to a specific type of maze would not be very difficult to program. Making a script where the shadows pathfind to different locations based upon certain conditions like what general zone of the map the player's character is standing on, the distance to the player character, paying attention to if certain zones of the map are crowded with shadows already, or just recognizing that there needs to be a default movement plan if all paths to the player character are blocked would be a massive improvement in AI, and probably shouldn't require an extensive overhaul of the game's code.

Again, to really underline the differences, here:
In "I Wanna Be The Guy", there is a scene where they replicate the start of The Legend of Zelda, and the old man offers you a sword. If you jump up to take the sword, you splatter and the game exclaims "You just jumped into a sword!" That is something you do exactly once, and then you learn the stupid trick, and never make that mistake again.

In Pac-Man, you are always facing the same enemies in the same maze, but it doesn't get boring, because the choices are always dynamic, and not a quick-and-simple calculation (at least, until you become so used to the game that you learn all its exploits).

The problem with throwing an I Wanna Be The Guy gotcha trap at someone is that it isn't really a puzzle, it's just a misleading setup, but once you know the trick, it never tricks you again. Landmine puzzles are one-time-only tricks. Spawning more shadows is a one-time-only trick. Challenging AI is a real puzzle. One-time-only tricks are OK when used sparingly, but you can't ever use them more than once.

You're repeatedly throwing one-time-only-tricks at players, and the players are telling you they are bored of them.

---

A part of me says to stop here, where I'm making one solid, consistent point, but there is another path I want to suggest, as well.

In many games with the occasional puzzle element, you'll see the common "light switch" puzzle, where a player has to make a pathway that is fully lighted, or where all the doors are unlocked, or all the platforms are raised from start to finish before the player can cross. But the puzzle is that each switch they have controls more than one light or gate or platform, and switch other lights they need on back off. The objective is to make the clear path by using the right combination of switches.

I recognize that Adobe Air is a big obstacle for you to overcome in programming this game, but there is a way to make not only better mazes, but also mazes where the mazes themselves will shift mid-game.

Make force fields for walls. This is your maze. Just make blue tiles or something if there's literally nothing else Air will support, and make those tiles disconnected from the grid, rather than a landmine tile that only the player has to avoid, and can run through if they so choose.

Now make the maze itself dynamic. Make it "move" by having a few gates (make the gates a different color than walls) and switches where using a switch will open some pathways and close others. Give the player several switches to play with, and a goal to get out of the maze. Make sure the shadows are still trying to pursue the player, but have some maze-specific coding that make them avoid getting trapped, and will give the player some grief no matter the way the player messes with the maze.

Put the switches in different parts of the maze, and make it so that there is a clear path no matter how many switches you use. Unlike the regular light switch puzzle, you aren't trying to make a single clear path, you're just giving the player many options of paths to get from point A to point B, or else to let the player try to close off pursuit from shadows in a longer survive-X-turns puzzle. The thing about this is that the shadows themselves are also a dynamic part of the maze.

A clever shadow programming would allow shadows to recognize choke points, and make shadows move to specifically block your path to the exit, rather than merely chase you. Maybe they stand in a one-tile-wide chokepoint, blocking off the path. If used well, part of the puzzle will be simply trying to fake out the blocking shadows by having to change the route to the exit and then make a dash for the exit before the shadow can move to block the new exit you opened.

This kind of puzzle is something you can repeat with minor variations many times. You can combine it with the other map types you already have to create many permutations of the same map types and make the game's novelty last longer.
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:00 PM   #8
Wraith_Magus
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ours Polaire View Post
THANK YOU EVERYONE !
Humor is the base of some of the most extraordinary efficient build of the game. But it needs to be used in conjonction with other mechanisms to shine.
On resilient builds for example it shines, because it reduces small damage without reducing big ones (nerfing incoming DPS without nerfing the 10% cap)
This aside, I admit there's too few spamming enemies in the late episodes. (mostly due to our need to speed up the battle)
We will bring new humor-friendly and speed-friendly attacks in the next episodes, I promise !
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ours Polaire View Post
It really depends on your tree choice. Here again, it's a very bad idea if you try to be resilient for example. (10% cap on incoming damage raise with health)
It raises your health by few, if you compare it to the classic leveling.
However, I agree with will being one strong stat.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ours Polaire View Post
We are considering giving more skill points in the prologue. We think it is actually one of the main problem of the prologue so far.

It implies lot of rebalancing, so we are still evaluating the impact.
This is potentially very problematic.

This is definitely problematic with the way you have built the game thus far.

You see, you're talking about making a character build - building your character from the ground up to combine a certain suite of skills, which you have always planned your character around exploiting.

The problem with this is that there is no way to actually do this without looking very carefully at the skill snowflake, choosing the right trees, and all the attributes you want to make this build work perfectly.

When you choose a character "class", you do that before you ever get to look at your attribute descriptions. Then you pick attributes before you ever get to look at skill descriptions. Then you pick your first skills, locking you forever in that tree, before you get to see where those skill trees go.

Basically, the only way to make an informed decision is to get to the point where you understand how the game works, and reset the game, and start over from the beginning to take advantage of that.

Remember all those times I was talking about a "It only-works-once trick" before? Yeah, when you replay the game, they don't work.

All the problems with slowness, all the problems with bugs, all the problems with boring, repetitive battles? They are MUCH, MUCH WORSE when you are getting players to replay the game, and those levels and conversation trees and the ambushes are no longer protected by their cloaks of novelty and mystery, and the player is seeing them under the glaring light of close scrutiny and the demand to quickly progress through the game.

Winter Voices is a game that sells itself based upon its novelty of game design and unique storytelling. Subsequently telling the player to replay the game when its storytelling will be ignored and its novelty worn off so that they can focus upon the dry logical mechanics of the battle system.

To the eyes of the player, this obscures the strengths of this game and showcases its weaknesses.

A heavily plot-driven story does not want to make the player reread the same plot, unless you have a way of making the plot dramatically different in every playthrough. A haunted mansion's shadow-filled hallway is not scary when the player has already walked through the hallway, and knows exactly where the ghost is, and how to kill easily destroy it.

Instead, you need to work in a way for players to actually be able to "rebuild their deck" of powers.

Either give the players a way to test out their powers before they commit to them, or else give players a way to refund skills and attributes for character points again.

In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2, for example, characters have fixed class, and their attributes are determined by the jobs they had as they gained levels, but they can change class at any time between battles. They can wear new skill sets like they change their equipment.

This gives them great flexibility - against unprotected human targets, I can send in Assasin/Elementalist Vierra to cripple them with status ailments. Against the bonus dungeon monsters, which are almost immune to status ailments, I can switch the Vierra to Summoner/Red Mage and use versatile direct-damage and support magic against the powerful enemies.

I still have to make a choice about what character I build and bring to battle, but the thing is, I can change that choice without having to restart my entire game.

I only played through Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 one time, but that game had about 500 missions for me to play through. I could feel confident that I had done everything I wanted to do with that game the last time I put it down. I didn't have to sit through multiple repeats of the game's plot.

Dungeons and Dragons (3.x edition) actually uses this in two different ways. Some of the later 3.5 ed books simply let you change one thing about your character per level so that you could rebuild your character over a couple of levels if you find out that some sort of build you were making isn't working out, and you don't want to have to restart an entire new character from scratch.

More directly, however, its wizards and clerics got Vancian magic. You could choose to shoot lightning bolts one day, and choose to fly the next day. You could use what you know about the task at hand to guide how you prepared for it, and build your arsenal of spells according to your idea of what is coming.

Fighters, meanwhile, only had their equipment to swap out. This was one of the reasons why fighters were so limited in their 3.x iteration - they had feats, but they were one-trick-ponies at best, specialized to do one thing, and one thing only. Every battle, they performed the same routine because that was the only routine they were built to perform.

A wizard, meanwhile, could memorize enough spells that he might literally never cast the same spell twice.

There were other problems (what with Linear Warriors and Quadratic Wizards), but the fact was that even if wizards didn't become more powerful than fighters, one of the main problems was that fighters were just plain boring. They didn't have a choice - they were built for that one trick, and using any other trick was a waste of time.

So, to get back to Winter Voices...

What you could do that would really improve the ability for players to be able to tackle the game is to give them some sort of ability to de-allocate a skill point or a set number of attribute points per level. Make them "adaptability points" or something, and give them to players at level-up, and let them have the ability to decide they don't really like the skill tree they are in anymore, make a back-up save, and spend all their stored-up Adaptability Points to deselect all their skills in one tree, and build up skills into another tree, and test how well that goes.

It wouldn't require restarting the whole game, and it would give players who didn't realize they were playing a less-than-optimal character at the outset the chance to tweak their character instead of being punished for not restarting the whole game from the very start.

---

EDIT:
To make an example of my own play through the game, I can open up the skill window, look at the snowflake, and see all the possible combinations that I would love to tie together...

But I have no earthly idea how many levels (and hence, skill points) I will actually be able to eventually have by the end of the game.

Do I build for that positively spectacular-looking Doors skill, or the Elsewhere skill? Or would that take up a dozen skill points activating that skill and all its powerups when I will only get another half-dozen or so skill points? I'll have wasted all those skill points never getting what I want, and it would be a foolish mistake.

I could instead just muddle around in the corner of the tree I was trapped in when I first hit level 2, and forever condemned myself to just using the one same skill I've built my entire character around thus far.

Which is better?

Well, I'd have to know how many levels I'll be able to get, beforehand. It's something where I have to play through the entire game just to figure out how I SHOULD have played the game from the very start all along.

That's just not fun.

At that point, I don't care anymore, and will have moved onto another game.

Maybe giving the player overmuch ability to play around with skills can give the player room to abuse the system, and it isn't terribly realistic, but it's much more fun to be able to correct a mistake than to have to pay for it for every subsequent battle for the entire rest of the game unless they drop everything and restart a new character and slog impatiently through the game to correct their mistakes.

An ability to reallocate a certain number of skill points or attribute points every now and then gives the player the chance to explore different builds without having to face the punishment of losing all their forward progress in the game thus far.

Last edited by Wraith_Magus: 04-15-2011 at 02:49 PM. Reason: Addended portion beyond EDIT
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Old 04-15-2011, 06:02 PM   #9
Wraith_Magus
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ours Polaire View Post
[On "Doors"]
One of the powerfullest skills out there, I think. It allows so much strategic abuse and enemy placement it's insane. (it's castable on an enemy by the way) It was nerfed and re-nerfed in beta-test, but is still one of my favorite.
But I admit it is really tricky to use.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ours Polaire View Post
One of the goal of the talent snowflake is to give players different gameplays based on their preference. There's tree with high combination potential (do I protect my summon so I can heal myself often and high, or do I change my mind because the environment has changed, etc.), and there's less combinable trees, more stable and simple. Generally speaking, there's not a lot of trees that doesn't have a good and combinable strategic skill allowing cool interactions.

We added a lot of them in EP1, though. A lot of trees are very simple in EP0 - before the ultimate skill.
One of these skills is not like the other.
One of these skills doesn't belong.

I've already talked about this in my first long post in this thread, but I want to go back to highlight a distinction.

There is a massive difference between a skill that can be used in unscripted ways in conjunction with other skills, and skills that are "combo skills" with another skill.

Good Intentions does not add much strategic depth to the game. Good Intentions merely combos with other abilities to heal you more. It adds exactly one extra move to your chess game with three pieces in it, that being a simple, easily solvable equation, that asks whether having a summon creature around to add to my healing rate is worth the damage I take protecting it.

"Do I protect my summon so I can heal myself often and high, or do I change my mind because the environment has changed, etc." is a much easier-to-answer question than you might think it is, because we typically know all the variables in the equation, and from then on, it's simple algebra. The game moves slowly enough that doing a little math isn't much of a roadblock to making sure you succeed the first time, rather than have to play the mission over again.

Being able to toss a Fairy Tale behind an obstacle, and know that it will distract the pursuers for several turns, but only if I put it in the right place? That's real tactical flexibility. So is the ability to push my Fairy Tale into a corner from farther away.

I look at "Doors", and am amazed at what I can potentially do with that. (You do realize "Door" is just a euphemism for "Portal" right? If you don't know how to Think With Portals, then I suggest you use your Steam account to download a little game on the topic, which is very reasonably priced...) I could potentially set up a loop where enemies keep blindly walking into the portal infinitely while I stroll unmolested for the finish line. I can toss the portal in a corner, go around a wall, and then chuck a Fairy Tale into the portal, causing the entire cadre of shadows to ignore me to chase a single fairy tale that requires going halfway around the map to get around the wall to get line of sight on the little decoy.

Yes, some of those "ultimate" abilities from Episode 1 onward are pretty incredible looking, and make the mind reel with possibilities and potential for abuse.

(To take a moment to derail this back into some of my previous points...

Unfortunately, you happened to put most of the best flexible skills on the opposite end of the snowflake from where I had gone! Now, I have to make the wild guess as to whether it's worth plowing through another section of the snowflake to get the really spectacular teleporting abilities, or whether I should just make sure that the abilities I have right now have all their "combo skills" that can potentially make the skills I have right now nearly unbeatable.

There's a big difference between being a developer with the ability to use a console command to give yourself any power combination you want to test which combinations are overpowered, and having to make a wild guess from the start of the prologue what you want to build your character towards doing.)

The problem, in fact, is not that Doors is too powerful or too flexible, it's that not enough other skills are that flexible! Doors is a power that gives you TRUE flexibility and real ability to combine it with other abilities in very unusual ways and every power you can possibly manage to make like that should be like that.

Giving players skills that are extremely powerful in certain setups or situations, and then forcing the player to come up with ways to coax or trick the enemy into playing to the player's strengths is the very essence of strategy, and should be encouraged whenever possible.

Giving players powers that always work the same no matter what situation they are in kills all need for strategic thought.

Good Intentions, Call, and Optimism are all "combo skills" that have little tactical flexibility, and actually restrain your ability to make strategic choice, because they force you to buy the skills they are required to be comboed with, constraining your strategic choice in character builds while simultaneously adding little tactical depth to the battles themselves.

Meanwhile, skills like Fairy Tale, Elsewhere, Fortress, Song: Winter, and Doors are skills that allow you to really plan and use the ability to alter the ability of you and the enemy to move through the terrain in potentially unforeseeable ways.

---

To give an example of a truly awe-inspiringly flexible a few simple tools can become, look at Dwarf Fortress.

Using the ability to dig tunnels, you can get water to flow downhill. Using waterwheels on flowing water, you can power mechanisms and pumps. Using pressure plates, you can set them so that when water is on the pressure plate, they can set mechanisms to an on state, and set the mechanisms to an off state when water is off of them. Using pumps powered by waterwheels, you can pump water onto pressure plates when mechanisms powering them are on, and leave them unpowered when the mechanisms powering them are off.

Throwing these fairly basic binary concepts together, you can use the binary set of on/off mechanisms to form basic logic gates, and from there, you can build a mechanical computer using nothing but gears and waterwheels and pumps.

Someone then took advantage of the timing delay in the pressure plates, where it takes 100 frames to change the state of their connected pump, plus the fact that a day in game takes 1200 frames to build a water clock. One loop with 6 states to count out a day. Right next to it, was a day counter, with 7 states to count days of the week. Next to that was a week counter with 4 states to count the weeks of the month. (Dwarf fortress has all months 28 days in length.) From there, you can put 12 states to find months of a year.

At that point, you can set a pressure plate to trigger a repeatable event where a certain mechanical action happens every 6 PM on Friday every Friday.

Someone even built a four-function calculator using something on the order of 100,000 mechanisms and a few hundred waterwheels to power it.

People even joked that you could build a Turing machine completely out of simulated water wheels and gears.

These aren't things that the game was ever designed for - they were simply incredibly flexible game mechanics that left plenty for the player to enjoy exploring.
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Old 04-19-2011, 04:43 PM   #10
Wraith_Magus
 
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OK, sorry to pile on another one of these when you haven't had a chance to reply to the last salvo yet, but somehow my mind wandered back to this topic on the trip back home, and I wanted to approach the same topic from another angle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ours Polaire View Post
Humor is the base of some of the most extraordinary efficient build of the game. But it needs to be used in conjonction with other mechanisms to shine.
On resilient builds for example it shines, because it reduces small damage without reducing big ones (nerfing incoming DPS without nerfing the 10% cap)
This aside, I admit there's too few spamming enemies in the late episodes. (mostly due to our need to speed up the battle)
We will bring new humor-friendly and speed-friendly attacks in the next episodes, I promise !
OK, here's the problem I have...

Remember what I was saying about how having a character built around just doing one trick was like playing chess with only three pieces?

Now, I don't know for sure how many people play with what setups, but from what I've been reading, it seems like "summon" characters seem fairly common.

In fact, when I was looking at that snowflake skill grid, I really only saw two serious options - Mitigation, and Summoner. Sure, there's Healer in there, too, I guess, if you want, but it looks clearly weaker than the other two.

The Betrayal line is interesting, but it's not wide enough to be its own path, just more of a blend of that and one of the other branches. It doesn't blend itself in well with others, and its descriptions are too vague for me to understand what it is I'll get if I buy it, and I don't want to spend the time to build a character around using a power I don't understand until AFTER I'm stuck with it forever.

So then, why not take Mitigation? Mitigation, when stacked up, can potentially make you nigh-invincible, right? That's a sure-fire way to win, right?

Well, here's the problem - nigh-invincibility is boring.

It's all the problems of just using Anticipation in the Prologue, but worse, and over the entire course of the game. The damage mitigation spells don't change, regardless of their context. This means that not only are we always playing chess with only three pieces, but the board is always put in the same setup, at that. You always just use the same moves over and over and over again.

Who cares if it's a powerful combination, if it's all you ever use, all the time, every time, for the entire game, because you have to dedicate your entire character build towards setting that combo up, it's just boring to use.

There's a reason why people tend not to use cheat codes, even when they exist in the game. A game where there is no threat to you, and where no skill is required on the player's part is a very boring game.

Simply keeping Unaffected up at all times but the one turn it takes to recycle doesn't have any strategic choice in it at all.

No, picking when that one turn in lapsed protection falls is not strategic, because there is rarely any real shift in how much damage is being dealt to you from turn to turn, anyway. You either take your lumps for one turn, or time the cooldowns of your other skills pile up your other mitigation abilities on that one turn. No, that isn't strategic thought, either, since the cooldown times are internal to the character, and hence always the same.

Again, it's giving someone the exact same chess board setup with the exact same three pieces in the exact same places every time. You only need to find the solution once, and it's not that hard to find the solution the first time, either.

Unaffected is a skill that cannot be used strategically in any way - it cannot be combined in a meaningful way, and it cannot be applied strategically. You just always keep it on. It is a perfect example of the sort of skill that just shouldn't be in a game that tries to encourage strategic or puzzle-based thought at all.

Last edited by Wraith_Magus: 04-20-2011 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:38 PM   #11
Xursian
 
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I really like the story line, It would be amazing if you could add in more voice overs, (atleast for the main story plots) etc like some of the "dad" ones. Ep1 was rather hard i found, there where a few battles i couldn't complete, And Ep2 was rather short. I enjoyed some of the strategical elements and the cool abilities, also liked the new enemies introduced and the new things they do.

I hope that on multi/frame battles theres a little save if the battles beaten good cause redoing a 30+Turn battles pretty brutal espically the hard ones.

The skills iv'e been using is more on the bottom/left tree. I choose alot of passive abilities to.

The crow 2nd ability i don't know how to use, or dont even think it works BUG?. but yes, i like the game so far.

There are a few freeze moments and crashes in the game from ep 1, 2, and 3. The games also rather slow sometimes too, and the SHIFT+TAB in steam is glitched hard, and alt+Tab seems to work much better.

Any ETA for ep 4,5,6?
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:14 PM   #12
DanielT
 
 
 
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I posted some thoughts in a thread a little down on the forum but I'll post some more thoughts here. Unlike other people, I've not had a huge problem with bugs. Just a few which I don't recall off the top of my head right now. Nothing I felt was game breaking.

Game Play

(1) Battles are not dynamic. Part of this stems from the fact that too many talents are just passive ability increases. Part of it stems from the fact the AI turn just takes too long, especially on big maps with lots of creatures (3+).

If I were a developer one thing I would toy with is making the battles more emotive. There is a "sob" animation the character does every time she gets hit by a enemy creature. Well, why not actually do that sob in a voice over so the player can hear her sob. There is also a animation she does when she gets "feared". Let us hear her scream in fight. I think such a creative development has to be done carefully because if it's done wrong it could ruin the experience. Yet for such an emotional game the battles are often surprisingly unemotional in character.

(2) Combat is not always clearly connected to some story arc. There are battles that just seem to be filler. Part of this is just the pacing of the game. People comment that the game is slow but I don't think that word is precise. ponderous is a more accurate diction. I don't think that simply putting the game on 'fast forward' is the solution. Rather, it's rethinking why each battle is necessary. How does it contribute to the story; how is that contribution explained to the player; who does it fit within a mix a battles of various lengths; why is this battle 40 moves and that other one ten; does the player understand why.

Again, I'll go back to the example from my other post about when she moves from hut to hut. Why? Why is she fighting battles there? Just to move around the game board? All the poor gal is trying to do is get to the next hut. If there is a story purpose for that sequence I don't know what it is.

My fundamental issue is that the combat just bores me much of the time. The puzzle ones are nice. And the ones that relate part 'battle inside the head' are appropriate. But often it doesn't grip my attention the way I think it should. My mental place is 'yeah, can we just get this over with to get on to the interesting bits."
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:15 AM   #13
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I have to disagree with DanielT, adding 'feared' or 'sob' noises would get very annoying very quickly. Also, with how unstable Adobe Air appears to be, and the load times, the game might crash more. I played a Weaver, gave every sarcastic answer and went for the emptiness line of abilities; so she wouldn't be crying while fighting. Anytime I press 'emptiness' I imagine her saying “I FEEL NOTHING”. I prefer a silent protagonist, it allows my imagination to run wild rather than forces me to turn the sound off.

I adore this game, however there are a few editing problems (grammar, spelling, etc) and redundancies in the English version. I haven't decided whether it might be that the game was translated from French, French is a subtle language allowing for nuances, whereas English has less words to describe the same emotions. Or like most companies (game and publishing) an editor simply isn't in the budget. It seems like the narrator (The Father) is saying the exact same sentence over and over. The repetitious nature of the English script makes me skim read it and then giggle at mistakes like 'paria' which should be 'pariah'. Cheapest way to fix that is get a native speaking English intern, someone with writing experience, like an arts and humanities grad, that could weed out most of the glaring errors.

<----*points to ex-grad student.

As for game play, I didn't find the battles overly tedious. I've only made it as far as episode 2 as a Weaver and am now replaying as a Volva, which is highly entertaining. I would argue that Volva is the easier class. Yes, you take lots of damage, but with the amount of experience you get, you earn enough abilities to take good care of yourself.

I'm glad you dropped the battles from 15 to 10 turns.
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:29 PM   #14
miendiem
 
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First off, let me say that, bugs and all, I've been thoroughly enjoying this game. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have written this wall of text to try to help improve it. hehe That said, when the WV folks read this, if there's something you guys don't understand that I've said, feel free to pipe up and ask me to clarify.

So far, I have a weaver and huntress through episode three. The first was my first attempt at a character, so her skills are kinda random. The huntress is a dodge-based skill build that I was trying out in preparation for a Volva 100% run. The volva just cleared the prologue, and I'm writing this two nights into episode one.

Steam Achievement-related:
Volva 100% achievements
Do these require the use of the +20% memory skill?

Pyre Princess achievement
Does this require you to step on the victory tile on the 10th turn or less? If so, the achievement is worded strangely; if not, there's a bug that prevents it from being awarded under some set of conditions that I haven't been able to determine.

Through Blood and Writing achievement:
Gone through ep3 twice now, and I thought I picked it over pretty thoroughly, but I haven't happened across this encounter. I'm sure it's in there somewhere, but when they call it the secret encounter, they're not kidding.

-----
Characteristics:
Humor could probably stand to be rebalanced. It's incredibly effective in the prologue, when everything does very minor amounts of damage, but as the game progresses, it becomes very lacklustre. Suggestion would be to have this reduce incoming damage by either a flat amount OR a percentage (as mitigation), whichever is greater.

Willpower is pretty much a given stat for raising at every level, no matter what build a character is using. While I suppose I could see some form of Memory/Perspicacity/Charisma build for a volva 100% game, realistically, the ability to just soak more damage is a pretty clear winner. Not really sure if there is anything to be done about this, though.

Memory - you take it if you're a volva, and not if you don't. It seems like something of a double hit, though, losing out on five points a level that could be spent elsewhere to increase survival or casting ability, AND taking more damage. If I'm recalling correctly from my earlier games, though, it also allows you to attain higher levels per episode, so it's probably actually balanced for the challenge level.

Perspicacity is pretty obviously a power stat. My only real desire would be a bit more clarity on how it interacts with starting PP and PP/turn. The PP line item in the character pane states 10 at all times, regardless of how high one raises this stat. (Again, something that probably belongs in a bug report.)

Charisma seems like a weak stat to me, but that's probably just because I haven't played a character based on it. Consolation, particularly, seems like it would be a pretty significant advantage to a Cha-based character.

Intuition - While it seems underwhelming at first, since the bonus to find traps isn't really that important to the gameplay, I found that it really shines later on in a build based around it. Absence, particularly, can become an exceptionally powerful ally and distraction.

-----
Skills:
All skills should be visible from the Prologue. Particularly when building a volva for a 100% run, hiding everything after the Fifth Ring until the start of episode one isn't good. It requires that the player either clear into episode one on another character and then work out their expected skill build for the volva ahead of time, or clear the prologue with the volva without spending any skill points, so that they don't accidentally waste any.

A lot of the skills could use some clarification as to their effect, or typographical corrections, or both:

First Ring (everything in a circle around the four base abilities) --
Consolation should read "You heal yourself FOR 2 x Charisma EP", rather than "You heal yourself WITH ...". The same correction should be made for the Rebound skill.

Absence - the final line should read "... which removes 2PP FROM all enemies around it."

The Wall - Much like the Humor stat, this is powerful early, and weakens later in the game. Unlike Humor, however, the downside here is large. Thematically, the -1MP makes good sense, but tacking on a -30% maximum EP on top of it is overkill. Movement is important enough that this is basically always a bad skill buy, unless you're just taking it to get further along its spoke. (But the other abilities there also tend to reduce MP, making it generally a bad idea.) Compared to Emptiness, which is right next to it on the first ring of skills, this just seems really underpowered.


Second Ring (skills that connect from two First Ring skills) --
The Truth Is Out There - Can this be used to offset some Memory for a volva 100% run? 10% off all stats seems like a pretty big hit if not. Good upside, though, it makes for an interesting skill choice, especially for a passive.


Third Ring (skills on the main spokes out from First Ring) --
Foolproof - +5 resist to flaws - this seems too low to be worth a skill point.


Fourth Ring (skills that connect from two Third Ring skills) --
Augmented Reality - The Truth Is Out There reads "characteristics reduced by 10%", this reads "features reduced 20%". If they do the same thing (which I'm assuming they do), the ability should read the same way.

Super-Ego - "Repulsion one tile further" - without buying this skill, I have no way to know if this means "pushes the enemy one tile further per use" or "extends the maximum range of the skill by one tile". The former would be a powerful bonus, the latter would be fairly useless.

Rapid Recovery - "Repulsion (returns Level EP by moving one tile)" - Assuming this means "Repulsion heals you for Level EP when it successfully moves an enemy". Could use clarification.


Fifth Ring (skills on the main spokes out from Third Ring) --
Far Away From All This - "All visible enemies add five tiles to their estimation of your distance". This could use some clarification. Is it for purposes of movement? If so, in which direction do they estimate (further away from themselves, obviously)? Is it for purposes of damage? If so, the skill should probably just say so to make the choice easier. Is it for the purposes of choosing to attack? Or is it some combination thereof? This certainly sounds like a powerful skill, but without taking it, I have no idea how powerful it actually is, because the skill description is vague.

Imaginary Friend - "... Healing the Imaginary Friend also heals you FOR 20% of the AMOUNT HEALED"

Understanding - "You gain Perspicacity - (5 / 3 * (Level + 4) Distance) EP by enemy." I don't even know where to begin here. I'm guessing that it's a heal, since paring it down, it's a gain of Perspicacity - (math) EP. First off, I have no idea what the distance calculation is for this skill. Beyond that, it seems fairly simple. A clearer reading would be "You gain EP based on your Perspicacity. This amount is reduced the farther you are from an enemy." At least, if that's really how it works.

Obstruction - "... To choose this ability reduces the maximum EP by 30%." Does this actually mean the same thing as The Wall, where you lose 30% max EP while the skill is active? Or does it mean that you lose 30% max EP just by taking the skill? The reading on the skill description leads me to believe the latter, which would be an exceptionally large penalty for something that also reduces MP while active.


Sixth Ring (skills that connect diagonally from a Fifth Ring skill) --
Power - "I Wasn't There - +1 Teleportation" - Does this teleport one additional tile in the direction it chooses? Or does it do something else? The skill text needs clarification.

Heroine - "Such a Cold and Lonesome Heroine - +2 ENEMIES" (not ennemies)

Overall View - "Indirectly Concerned - report +10%" Since Indirectly Concerned is a damage redirection ability, I'm assuming this is meant to be "Indirectly Concerned - increases the damage redirection of this skill by an additional 10% (to 35%)".

Satisfaction - "+2 + (Niveau/2) Energy regeneration" Based on other similar abilities, I'm guessing this is meant to be "Level"

Stability - "To The Fore +1 Round" Guessing this means "To The Fore now reads: Every time you lose more than 10% of your energy in one attack, you gain +1MP for the next two rounds." Even if it means something else, it needs to be clarified.

Agility - "Endurance bonus x2" Does this mean you get a shield for 2% of the damage and it lasts four rounds? Or that you just get a 2% shield? Or just that it lasts for four rounds? Guessing that it just improves the shield, since Firmness gives an additional round.

Phantom - "Splitters +2 additionnal eclats" Guessing this means "Splitters generates two additional shards."


Seventh Ring (skills that connect on the main spoke from a Fifth Ring skill, or connect from two Sixth Ring skills) --
Virtual - "Attributes reduced by 30%" In the same line as The Truth Is Out There and Augmented Reality, Attributes, Characteristics, or Features - please consolidate to one term for a character's stats.

Virtual - "Sphere of Denial +3 rounds, -20 recharge, radius +2" Probably meant to be "-2 recharge" instead of -20.

Indirectly Concerned - "25% of the damage you take will be redirected to the most outdrawn summon at the limits of its energy." Guessing this means "25% of the damage you take will be redirected to the summon furthest from you. This ability can only redirect damage up to the current EP of the summon receiving the damage."

Void Walker - "When an absence causes PP to be lost to an enemy, you gain a shield corresponding to the number of PP." How does this correspond? 1:1? By some value based on a character stat (probably Perspicacity, if anything)? Is it a one-hit shield, or will it soak partial hits up to some value? This seems like it could be a good skill, or a bad skill, depending on how the math of it actually works, but the math of it is entirely opaque. (Protector works similarly, but is much more transparent in how it works.)

Eighth Ring (skills that connect on the main spoke from a Seventh Ring skill - ultimate skills) --
Doors - The base range on this is 1, making it essentially useless for any kind of "progress across the map" puzzle. Even after getting both Seventh Ring upgrades to this skill, it's still underwhelming as an ultimate skill for a spoke.

Song: Voluspa - Winter - High cost, high cooldown, not guaranteed to do anything at all (even after spending three skill points to buy it and its two booster abilities), and can hit friendly targets. I honestly can't see any positive to this skill.

Fortress - The ultimate -MP for effect skill is actually good, especially if you also get its rider abilities from the Seventh Ring. It's not great, since not every map has a choke point that you can make use of the ability, but definitely a cut above its predecessors on the spoke.

Elsewhere - The range is minimal, so it's only really good if Splitters has trapped you in. Because of that, I would suggest this be a PP0 ability as a base, and Devastation's "Elsewhere" bonus be changed to "increases the range of the swap by +1 (or +2)".

-----
Other:
The experience caps per episode should be removed. As best I can tell, they don't block a whole level, just some arbitrary amount of experience. Memory on a volva increases these caps (at least, it did in the prologue), but does not remove them. Whether this adversely effects the volva more than a weaver or huntress I don't know without doing a lot of math that I haven't done at the moment. Since characters really only reach the experience cap on the last puzzle of the episode in all cases, is there really a purpose in having it?
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Old 04-01-2011, 11:13 AM   #15
DanielT
 
 
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lirealla View Post
I prefer a silent protagonist, it allows my imagination to run wild rather than forces me to turn the sound off.
Currently, I'm playing The Whispered World. I found the main character's voice so annoying that I did exactingly that, I turned the sound off. That game is a good example of where the the depressive sound of character voice gets in the way of enjoying the game. So I do understand your concern about making the game annoying. It's a legitimate point.

The key word in my original remark, however, was "toy" which I used in the sense of "experiment". I have no idea what their development budget is like; but ideally they could play around with various ideas to see if they can find a way to make combat more dynamic and heighten immersion.

One thing I did think about was attaching an emote to the defense. Rather than having her emote a sob in response to an attack, maybe she could emote when the player pushed a button. For example, if one used the Consolation ability she would emote "I'm going to be OK."

Anyway, my goal isn't to dictate but to stimulate ideas in the developers minds, rather than simply cursing the darkness.

Last edited by DanielT: 04-01-2011 at 11:21 AM.
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