My initial impressions on playing the game for ~10 hours, with my current view being that the game is ok in it’s current state but probably will be awesome by release. The devs are probably aware of some of these and might be working on them, and other people mentioned some of them, but here’s my opinions in hopes of making the game better.
Things to fix/add to help the game:
-# of Echoes indicator on the HUD - my guess on why this doesn’t exist already is that the gamestate doesn’t update the overworld map during dialogs, but this is crazy that there isn’t an indicator of what is pretty much the single most important value in the game at any given point.
-Highlight boxes where items/officers can go, don’t just change the rectangle to a slightly bigger rectangle, highlight it with a color.
-2x/3x Speedup button for combat - the combat is yawn-inspiringly slow once you know what you’re doing. I queue up 4 actions and walk away for 30 seconds on EVERY encounter of the low-level enemies (a lot). More on the combat system later.
-Maintain speed through encounters - pause the game if necessary, but why do I have to re-set my speed from 0 to 2 after every fight? I ran into 3 enemies in quick succession and this got a bit annoying and made maneuvers way harder than they needed to be.
-The steam and wake graphics get disconnected from the boat when you dock before you’re fully in the circle and your boat is auto-placed.
-Navigating the log book is a pain, and it didn’t seem like I could resize it.
-Moving the chart is pretty crummy right now and I didn’t understand it at first. Changing the mouse icon to a hand or a scrolling arrow would help the user understand how they are going to move the map.
-The locations of where the bruiser is sending you should be in the journal, just like admiralty. Strange that it isn’t.
-If the engine starts overheating due to an event, it’d be nice to flash the engine temp icon red instead of just filling it. I didn’t know what was going on the first couple times this happened. Also, randomized events during high temps is a nice idea, but when I shut the engine off quickly in response and it was only at 230 degrees, it felt a bit unfair when the engine exploded and killed half my crew.
-Display date/time timestamp on savegames.
And now for the more opinion/subjective feedback:
-Goodness this game is slow. Like really slow. I guess you get used to it, but it almost turned me off immediately. Upgrading engines/ships takes a looong time, and someone who isn’t really invested won’t get over that.
-I liked how in the browser game for Fallen London, when I took a chance on a risky challenge, I was rewarded with a skill point gain (not something like pages +1, but a fractional gain depending on how high the skill level was). If you’re not playing merciful mode, I think you should be rewarded for taking risky challenges, even if it isn’t a full 1 point gain. I understand this would be a big rebalance, but it might balance the brutality a bit.
-The combat system is bad. Yep, I’m sorry, it is. You can kill a bunch of enemies from the start with no problem, then there’s a jump where the enemies are way harder, and getting upgrades to get even with them takes way too long. But it’s not just a balance/progression issue, the biggest issue is that the combat system gives almost no bonus for skill (beyond knowing the absolute basics). In my opinion, a good combat system should allow an extremely skilled player to defeat an enemy who outclasses their ship. As it is, the combat system is completely random in how well the enemy is going to play (I’ve seen them focus on raising my illumination when it was at 140+), and the only real way to win besides luck is to show up with better stats. At least dice rolls would be faster, and it would communicate how little control the player has on the outcome.
-It took some time getting used to the dialog being in the lower right. If it’s the only thing I can interact with, I would’ve thought it would be in the center of my screen. Also, even after playing for hours, I was annoyed it wasn’t easier to scan out what was the new text after each button click. For example, the top text usually talks about the area you’re at. If it’s the same on the next screen, maybe it should be greyed a bit so it doesn’t look like the new text I should be looking for?
-Terror progression: I’m ok with the general idea, but I wish it was a bit more nuanced/realistic. For example, if I’ve been from Fallen London to Venderbight and back ten times, why can’t I sail straight there with no fear? Or if I have a full crew of officers and all are seasoned veterans, why would my crew still get scared 50 feet from the lights of Fallen London? These are easy modifiers to add to put more nuance: add unfamiliar/familiar territory modifiers that change as you sail across that stretch, add modifier for # of officers and their experience, add modifier for # of crew and the last time a crewmember was lost, etc.
-The way the terror economy is now basically forces you to play very conservatively. I’m ok with that, I just wish there were more ways to make echoes, which leads to…
-This will most likely change as content as added, but as of right now, Fallen London is the only place you can really make money. For example, during a certain quest, I spent more money than I thought I did and needed to come up with a couple hundred echoes without going back to London. I thought about it, and concluded it was impossible (I kept playing despite thinking something bad was going to happen and it turned out ok, but it made me focus on this shortcoming). FL is pretty much the only town with trading, and eventually I’d hope to at least see it made possible to make money without having to go back to FL all the time.
Again, I’m sure the devs are working on a lot of fixes all the time, and the game is really promising. I tried to separate things I thought would be universally appreciated from things I felt could be better so you can ignore my opinions if you don’t like them. I love the world they’ve created, I’m glad I backed this game on Kickstarter, and I’m looking forward to playing the finished product.
edited by EatThisPizza on 7/6/2014