As for most things, if you are playing Morning's Wrath, and you find somthing like 'That is weird? why did they do that? they should have done better'
it can ususaly be attributed to the following:
1. It would have taken too long
2. It wasn't possible given our engine/technial ability
3. We didn't wan't it that way
So now I am going to address a few things Ysaneya had to say =)
- the dialog system: not interactive. No multiple questions to ask. I liked the Ultima 7 system, which is keyword based. When you speak to people, you learn new keywords, and can go back to talk to people you've already met to ask them about the new topics. Very powerful and very easy to use..
A system of this nature would have been nicer, however, given that Morning's Wrath alredy has 800 lines of dialogue, and took 17 months to build, we thought that adding more complexity and more dialogue to the game would blow things out of scope.
It should be known that while we are a 5 person team, only two people actually worked on the story/scripted content(zac and myself)
- the dialog system: i'm a pretty fast reader, so quite often i left-click to jump to the next sentence. But there is also a time counter; so sometimes, i click just a few milliseconds after the timer is elapsed, and i accidentely "skip" a sentence. I'd love an option to disable this timer.
I know we had a timer at one time, though i am pretty sure we disabled it. However it should be noted that dialogue is somtimes interleaved with timed actions, which can un-synch your clicking rhythm.
My advice is, take it easy, dont whiz through the dialogue, you must read, understand and remember it.
- animations in general; just lacking many sequences, like when turning, or attacking.
I agree, the animations were done by me, and they certainly arn't the best. Aside from not being a really good animator, we also had to keep frame-counts low, since the game already uses considerably amounts of memory. The majority of the animations you find in MW are 8 frames each
- in the cinematic when the castle is attacked, tens of ennemy soldiers spawn at the gate i front of you. They just appear from nowhere, no animation.. it looked really cheap :(
That was a pretty hard scene to choreagraph, I'll admit it could have been done better. The 'idea' was that the army 'uncloaks' however it was not withing our technological limits at the time to do so; as you can imagine that was the first battle scene we ever did in the game =)
- sometimes some characters have nothing to say anymore. When you click on them, nothing happens. Maybe you could add some predefined, generic answers ?
We could have added "They have nothing more to say.", but we felt that was just about as bad having nothing. Again, with a large project like this you have to focus on what is extreamly important, and it didin't really strike us as being that bad.
- no way to know what to do next, or who to follow. A kind of radar, or an arrow showing a general direction on the edge of the screen, would we welcome. And maybe a quests journal ?
Ah now here is one that we get all the time =)
Games of today are very fond of leading you to the end, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for instance, makes it exceptionally easy for you to know exactly what to do.
There is almost no thinking involved.
In a game like Morning's Wrath, you must listen to what people say, and understand the situation to make good decisions.
And of course, when in doubt, expore.
The objective in MW is not to rush through, but to play.
The quest journal was brought up very late in the development cycle (when we were just about done). I thought it was a good idea, but given that we were almost done (well into beta), and I liked the idea of paper and pencil-note keeping and map-making better (reminds me of old adventure games), we decided not to implement it.
- when the soldiers are infiltrating the castle, i locked myself in a room by closing the door. Haven't seen any ennemy try to open it. Then, the mage (i don't recall his name) died, but as i was in this room, it happened a few screens away. I didn't know he died. Recentering the camera on him a few seconds before he dies would have been nice to understand the "dream" sequence :)
We do recenter the camera actually, unfortunetly it seems that you were too far away for it to reach him in time(we dont linger there long), if you were in the battle you would have understood it a bit better I think.
Thats what you get for hiding while people were dying [grin]
- cheap spells effects: late in the demo you get two runes, which i tried to assemble. It generate a fireball scroll which i immediately used, to test. Well.. the effect just looked bad, a kind of moving flame on one tile.
While the spell effects are *cough* 'cheap', you might like them better once you get different runes. Though you are not gonna get the beautiful particle effect goodness you see in most games. We simply didin't have the time to devote to implementing particle systems.
- the colors balance: the game generally seems to lack a high contrast.. no bright and vibrant colors.. as Marvin would say.. "i feel so depressed" :)
The general color scheme is, white, black, gold and blue
Things are generaly meant to be dark however =)
You've got the choice between evil folk killing you, and undead beings killing you.
if it's depressing I think it fits the bill [grin]
- combats: click click click. Although i cannot really judge that from the few soldiers i killed in the demo.
(Did you read the readme!?[grin])
Melee combat uses one-click battle, that is, if you click somone morning 'targets' them, and she will persue them and attack at max speed until they are dead.
At the begining of the game your agility is rather low, so battle is going to be hard in general, since you cant belt out hacks like crazy =)
The very bad:
- pathfinding! Hard to explain, but Morning's path when i click somewhere is just unnatural, unsmooth. It looks like she doesn't know how to walk in straight lines :) Maybe she's always drunk ?
The pathfinding plauged us to no end; We finally ended up using a modification of A* that sorta works like Best-First, this was neccisary for speed, since later in the game you can have a ton of enemies on-screen.
- clicking on objects: you seem to use a pixel-perfect collision detection on items the player wants to take. I'd have no problem with that except that sometimes you have small objects (keys, potions), and that i'd like to have the ability to click on an object to take it while my character is walking. Due to the scrolling, it's very hard. At the moment, you have to wait until your character stands still.
Yup it can be very hard, though it would have been an engine modification to change this (or a very large art modification), so again, take your time, if you are trying zoom through the game you are not gonna get what you should out of it.
Walk to somthing, pick it up, breathe [grin]
- game length: for an average gamer, how much time is necessary to complete the game ? Anything under 20 hours, and i'll be very disapointed.
This varies substantially, a person who knows the game through and through can seem to beat it in 8 hours, but it seems the average beat time is about a week of 4 to 6 hour gaming per day.
If you are good at adventure games, you might go faster. If not, then slower.
- linearity: the demo is pretty linear, but from what i've read of your journal, the rest of the game seems to be less linear. Can you confirm ?
The demo is extreamly linear, and is a very short portion of the game. Once you find the well, the game becomes non-linear; but as you can see i've blocked off the entrances to the Lost Region and the upper halls.
With the full version, you will find yourself with plenty to do, maybe too much =)
- interactivity: the demo is not very interactive. There isn't much to do, or items to take. I've maybe found 4 or 5 items (2 types of potions, an armor, a key, a lantern.. ). I'm guessing most (if not all) of the game is indoors ? So, what kind of interactions can we expect ? Traps ? Levers ? Teleporters ? Puzzles to solve ? Some items to combine ? Some small games ? Some NPCs that follow you and help you for a while ?
Yes the demo is very short and linear and pretty railroaded. This is the 'begining' portion of the game. I would have included more in the demo, but, to controll the nonlinear gameplay would have been a nightmare. Plus the well is a natural stoping point.
What can you expect, let's see:
most of the game is indoors, if you count being under a mountain indoors. No traps. There are various levers and switches. No Teleporters. PLENTY of puzzles to solve. No item combines, but plenty of items. Small games? not sure what that is =) There are a good amount of NPCs, but as for help, your on your own, there are plenty that wan't to end your life though.
I will be the first to admit Morning's Wrath is not perfect, in-fact, no game is.
To some MW is a great game, to others it's a bad game, and it varies to everyone inbetween =D
I urge everyone to play the demo, and if you liked it enough to want to see what happens next, then get the full version; if not, thanks for playing the demo, we realize that MW is not for everyone =)