First of all: I realize I wrote a very long and very critical post here. The first thing I want to be clear is that I appreciate the work of EBZ writers and I like the game very much; but I wanted to express my opinions and impressions about the ambition I chose to pursue, and that has quite disappointed me. I don’t know if there’s any point in all this, but I felt like doing it. Please forgive the occasionally rash tones.
OK, I’ve come to level 18 in the Topsy King part of Heart’s Desire ambition, and I have to say that, much to my chagrin, I have to agree with Wieland - I didn’t find it very interesting :( I like very much the basic idea - a bunch of diverse gentleman setting up an incredibly high stakes game - and the beginning seemed very promising, with the stark contrast between gentlemanly persuasion and gritty investigations - I loved the part in the Forgotten Quarter, both mysterious and bizarre, with the twist of the monkey being much more a key element than it seemed: it seemed like Edgar Allan Poe meeting the Monty Python :) But then, the Bishop of St Fiacre part was just plain boring, although luckily quick; and while I was expecting much from the Topsy King and the Manager of the Royal Beth, till now I feel quite disappointed.
In part it’s because I often feel that obstacles in this ambition are far from logical, only put there because you HAVE to put tests in an ambition. Let me explain - the other ambitions deal with people who actually work to hinder your progress, so it’s just natural for you to try and overcome them. But Heart’s Desire? It deals with people that have - or SHOULD have - a common goal; so you would expect them to be more collaborative, instead of requiring great deals of persuasion and/or bribery. I mean, was it really necessary for the Bishop to ask a bribe for the names of the other players he knew? If he really WAS interested in the game (and it’s a potentially VERY rewarding game; the stakes are much higher than some Foxfire Candles) he should have been more eager to help, in my opinion. Or, at the opposite, if he had any reason not to tell (maybe to avoid that a dangerous contestant -you- could enter the game?), it shouldn’t have been so easy to bribe him! And the same can be said for the Manager: I can’t understand if they’re actually interested in the Marvellous, sure they don’t SHOW much interest.
I also find the exact dynamics of the game to be far from clear and logical. There’s the problem of the seven players: no more, no less, and it seems they are even decided in advance, at the point that when one of them (the Topsy King) refuses to play he can’t be substituted, he has to be persuaded at all costs! But at the same time, none of the players seem to be much surprised by the arrival of a new one -you- maybe there were just six players? How lucky! (and improbable). It would have been different if the players were already seven, so you had to carve your position in the game by forcing or convincing one to retire… Instead, here you are, spending most of the time finding a way to convince one of them, who ABSOLUTELY doesn’t want to play, to play anyway. And his sister wants that too… He saw his brother losing his sanity at this game, and what’s her solution? Make him play AGAIN (so he’ll maybe lose something else?), and not just that: she enlists the help of you, one of the other players, to convince him, not considering that you’ll be his adversary if the game takes place!
I don’t really agree with the method to help the Topsy King to regain sanity. He had this ambition of producing an innovative opera, all played with glass instruments… It was probably his very own Heart’s Desire. And you should stage it instead? I think at that point, his reaction would be “All right, I’m happy now - I don’t need the Marvellous anymore. After all, it already cost me my sanity once”. Am I wrong? Not to mention the fact that I find it very cruel to force him to play when he’s so blatantly happy living in the Flit. I say, why not just leaving him there and finding another player?
But the thing I feel lacking the most is any kind of plot whatsoever. Until now, it seems that the only thing you have to do is to go talk to the various players and convince them to play - nothing more. There’s no real revelation about any dark secret of Fallen London (like Gaoler’s Honey for Nemesis, the Vake for Bag a Legend or the Orphanage for Light Fingers): despite touching such interesting matters like the Correspondence and the Forgotten Quarter, nothing of importance is revealed. I was hoping being the Topsy King a former Scholar of the Correspondence, to be treated to some unexpected revelation, but nope T.T And the Manager of the Royal Beth, while superficially looking creepy and mysterious, turns out to be just petty and obnoxious IMO. You go there asking for advice (and I wonder why you couldn’t do that earlier; you already knew he was a Marveller too), and he practically answers “yeah, I already know everything. But I won’t tell you, because my colleagues wouldn’t approve if they were to know I gave you information for free”. I mean, gee, do you want to play or not? Because if that’s all your interest, maybe you shouldn’t be a Marveller at all! I thought somebody eager to bet his own soul and sanity on a game would be a SLIGHTLY bit more involved T.T Just the same for the description of the fateful game in which the Topsy King lost his sanity: it would have been the chance to put an accurate description of the Marvellous, instead it’s only barely detailed in its outcome, and that’s all.
Currently I’m very challenged between waiting for further developments, or amassing Fate enough to change Ambition. I wouldn’t like to change - my character has been tailored on his Persuasive/Watchful build - but if the future developments of this ambition kee pfollowing this line, I’m afraid it won’t turn out better than plainly boring at best. What I really would like to see in it is some kind of twist, a plot, something actually happening; say, I don’t know, someone trying to sabotage the game (for example, simultaneously stealing all the First City Coins from the Marvellers), forcing the players to find out who he is and how to regain control of the game. Maybe some murders? (For instance, i think that both the Bishop and Cora Bagley don’t appear outside of the Ambition. If something should cough happen to them, it wouldn’t disrupt much the Neath’s equilibrium). Possibly, the chance to learn something about some mysteries of Fallen London… Something more than just going to all of the players to convince them to do something they already should be willing to do!
Again, please forgive me for this long rant. I didn’t want to sound aggressive or offensive; only, in the little time I played, i came to like this game very much, and I wanted to give my opinion on a part of it that I think needs some serious calibration to become really entertaining. This without denying the skill of the EBZ team, that is constantly providing a solid, interesting game, always improving it.
edited by streetfelineblue on 2/22/2012