January 1, 2016 at 9:18 pm #755
OK, first let me congratulate you on the release and the huge amount of work this must have taken over the years. It’s fantastic that WOTS has finally hit that “v1.0” milestone at last.
Next, I must emphasise that the following comments should be taken as constructive criticism in context of this v1.0 milestone, and the presumption that you want this release to get some attention from the wider PC gaming community, not just the dedicated but small Lords of Midnight fanbase.
Distribution and Packaging
- 1. You should consider making the download available to everyone, not just registered members of your site. Having to register will put a lot of casual players off.
- 2. Given that this is no longer a “beta” or “alpha” release, it really needs an installer, even if all that installer does is unpack the files to a directory of the user’s choice and offer to put a shortcut on the desktop and create a menu entry for the game. This would also give you the opportunity to display a licence/copyright notice and also offer to let the user read a user-guide / release notes at the end of the installation. Having an “uninstall” option is always useful too – always bet on stupid to be on the safe side…
- 3. If you choose to leave distribution as an archive, you should consider making it a zip (as opposed to a 7z or a rar) and also zipping up the actual directory containing the game rather than just the contents. This will prevent anyone doing an “extract here…” from scattering game files all over their downloads directory (or wherever they may be extracting it from).
- 4. Consider producing some sort of “User Guide”. Assume that your player is not familiar with LOM or the background story, and you’ll probably see that a list of controls at the end of the release notes file won’t suffice. Reviewers will certainly grumble if they have no idea what they are supposed to be doing or why they should be doing it…
- 5. You probably need a larger, higher res icon for the game executable/shortcut. We’re not still in the XP era, after all.
Game selection and options screen
- a) Consider opening in Full Screen mode by default initially, and then giving the player the option of selecting his preferences and saving them. The first is because some of the writing (and specially the in-game icons) is unclear at the default windowed size and resolution, and the second because it is annoying to always have to choose preferences every time you start the program.
- b) The options on the start screen need some explanation. What is “LOM”? What is the “standard ruleset”? I know it doesn’t matter because these are the only options available, but if they are present users should know what they mean.
c) Campaigns should not start unless a campaign name is entered, or else any automatically assigned campaign id should be clearly visible to the player.
- d) Campaigns which have not “ended” (i.e. by Luxor and Morkin both dying, or Xajorkith or Ushgarak being taken, or the Ice Crown quest being fulfilled) and for whatever reason are not available to be “loaded” as existing campaigns, should be deleted so that their campaign name can be reused. I started a campaign, exited it on day 1 via Ctrl-X and then discovered I could not start another campaign with the same name or reload the prior campaign either (presumably since it had no “save” game, since I didn’t reach the first night – which presumably would be classed as a bug…).
- e) Lovely though Wayne’s incidental music is, there shoud be an option to adjust the volume and even to turn it off, leaving just the sound effects. There probably should be a volume preference option for these as well. This ties in with being able to save user preferences.
- (1) Luxor & Co should probably start with a lower elevation by default. It’s disconcerting to be encased by foliage and see nothing as soon as you enter a forest square, and not that realistic. Maybe having different elevation settings for mounted or walking characters, with the option of getting extra elevation at strongholds (by climbing onto the ramparts), towers (maybe just for the Wise) and in the case of Farflame (who has his own means of elevation).
- (2) The daylight fails too early. It is common for characters to still have a move left but the view to be almost pitch black, making it impossible to discern dangers ahead, such as vermin. Vermin also cause a problem when the elevation is so high the forest canopy blocks all vision of what is in adjoining locations. It all makes it far too easy to die completely by mistake.
- (3) When entering a location populated by an army, the army models exhibit an odd “drifting” effect even though your character appears to have stopped. They don’t “move”, because there’s no animation, but the static models just drift like ghostly statues. Quite odd to see. Possibly belongs in the bugs section below (?)
- (4) On the selection screen, it doesn’t seem clear which characters are at night and which ones have moves left. I expect this to get annoying when a full roster of characters have been recruited (as it was in the original game, of course).
- (5) Given you have icons as part of the UI, all actions should be accessible via mouse, including the exit option, which really needs to be far more obvious. There should also be a confirmation box to say “do you really want to exit?”, to indicate the game is being exited through the proper procedure. At the moment hitting Ctrl-X just instantly exits… “huh?… was that right? Did I just crash the game?…”
- (6) All active keyboard controls need to be listed (e.g. “Q”…)
- 1. Grabbing a screenshot caused the game to minimise, and on reopening it attempted to relead the rendering engine (it does this every time it is minimised) and eventually threw up an alert saying “The Direct3D device has a non-zero reference count, meaning some objects were not released”. Clicking OK on that causes the executable to crash altogether.
- 2. The reason I was taking a screen grab is a weird flare effect that appeared as night was setting in on the Plains of Blood (this is Luxor heading for Blood at the end of day 1, I think he still had one move left). Check out the left side of the image, where the lith is visible in the distance.
- 3. Try looking at the in-game map with less than an hour’s daylight left… see? No, neither could I. OK, so it’s dark, but you’d think I’d be able to light a torch or something…
- 4. Erm… Doomy’s legions can be selected and viewed… I don’t think the players are meant to see all that, are they?…(not in a v1.0 release, anyway – that’s debug info for alpha and beta developer releases)
- 5. See (3) above, in the “In-game” section.
It’s great to see the progress WOTS has made, but to me it looks a bit more like v0.99.9.8 rather than v1.0.0. Just a bit more spit and polish here and there and it will be ready for that wider (and less forgiving) audience.
P.S. Hope the formatting of this comes out OK, since there doesn’t seem to be any preview mode. 🙁
January 1, 2016 at 11:14 pm #757
The formatting is fine and the screenshot came out too ?
Many thanks for taking the time to put together such a comprehensive first impression. I see that you have an eye for the details and that will be very helpful in enabling me to polish a few of the rough edges that do still exist on the release… You raise many fair points there.
I’ll go through in more detail in due course…
May 10, 2016 at 7:29 pm #977
For the record, I think I’ve addressed pretty much all of your comments above Bill. It took a little while but has been well worth it, you made some good points.
I have a user-guide in progress, to go along with the in-game guidance feature introduced in 126.96.36.199
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