Thoughts in chronological order as I play through:
“Prokaryote” isn’t a proper noun.
Bacteria are no longer grouped into a kingdom. Biologists have recently invented an even higher level of classification, domains, and prokaryotic bacteria are grouped in a separate domain from eukaryotes (which contain all the old kingdoms).
The results messages look very weird the way you’re doing them. Since you’re using titles instead of numbers, I would advise using something like the “your x quality is now y” message instead.
I would actually advise making the “Where You Are” card come before the kingdom card, since your location would actually determine which lifeform you would evolve into. Hydrothermal vents would produce archeans rather than bacteria, for example.
The “Death Comes For Us All” card – it may be prudent to classify the game-speak with a separate text style to be less jarring. (See City of Phire and Iced Oolong for examples of what I mean. Or even Fallen London.)
The “Learn About Yourself” card – “It’s time to find out how you work” is missing a period (so is the text in the next box).
I agree with Puntosmx that the self-knowledge cards should have a mechanical benefit instead of being painfully obvious educational text dumps. Like all games, a good edutainment game should do its best to merge gameplay and story instead of having them be in separate worlds.
…Prokaryotes do not have nuclei. (Some organisms, such as viruses (although whether or not they’re actually lifeforms is a controversial topic) don’t have ribosomes, either.)
The “Your Transportation” card: “You might be small but you need to get around somehow.” There should be a comma after “small”.
…A biology test, really? Especially when actions take time to regenerate, this is really off-putting and is not going to endear your players to the game. It isn’t even a very comprehensive test.
I don’t really like how linear the “character creation” cards are – there are so many options for so many aspects of an organism, even at a unicellular level, yet we only get one option? It would be nice to have some more freedom.
(Perhaps change “evolution” to “fitness”, if it’s supposed to be a kind of “score”?)
The “Explore Your Environment” card: “Regardless of where you are in the ocean there are many things to discover. Of course as a basic organism your ability to get around is limited.” There should be commas after “ocean”, “of course”, and “organism”.
The “Fight Back” branch of the “The First Predator” card: “If it can become a predator than maybe so can you.” There should be a comma after “predator”, and that “than” should be “then”.
…You have cards that are unlocked by changeable qualities. This is a big no-no in StoryNexus design. I’m finding it frighteningly easy to get locked out of cards that require the main qualities, since it’s possible to lose them entirely. Perhaps add a low-end cap, to prevent qualities from dropping to 0, if such a thing is possible?
The “you’re a chemoautotroph” thing is kind of sudden, since one would think it would be in one of the initial formation cards or the self-knowledge cards. Perhaps add it there. (I suppose it does make sense that that’s the starting option, though, since other trophs didn’t evolve until later…yet apparently there are already ingestive heterotrophs running around, if there are predators?)
I second the notion to change energy generation to a pinned card. Resource conversions are situational, so it’s not good to force them down players’ throats when they don’t need them, nor force them to rely on the whims of chance when they really, really need them. (It also does make logical sense as something that should always be available…)
The “Chemoautotroph” card says it will give me Resourcefulness, but it does not.
Due to the way StoryNexus is structured, it’s best if you merge as many possible options into one card. I would advise making a single card for energy generation, and simply have multiple branches for every -troph type that lock or unlock depending on what the player has chosen.
Qualities decreasing on failure is interesting in theory, but horrible in practice, due to the random nature of StoryNexus. To be honest, I actually think an advancement system closer to Cabinet Noir (or, more applicably, Spore) would work better, where you can purchase specific upgrades for resources or “fitness points” or what have you. At the very least, you shouldn’t punish players for failing luck tests. (This is exacerbated by the fact that some cards only have stat challenge branches as options, so it’s not always possible to “play it safe” to build up enough stats, possibly locking players into a loop where they only gain as much as they lose.)
The game seems extremely grindy from here on out. I would advise adding some kind of pinned card with a central plot thread to motivate the player. Clicking buttons endlessly isn’t terribly interesting or fun.
Anyway, this has potential, but it’s still very rough around the edges, I think.
Edit: Erm… “Waves crash down around you, tossing you back and forth and threatening the integrity of your cell walls”? Crashing waves would not have even a remote possibility of disrupting cell walls. Cells are so tiny that we need an extremely specialized piece of technology to harm them with blunt trauma.
edited by Little The on 9/3/2012