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Play-Testing: Maelstrom Messages in this topic - RSS

Lily Fox
Lily Fox
Posts: 346

9/20/2012
Here is my second StoryNexus creation. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you may have on it.

>> Play Maelstrom by clicking this link <<

Maelstrom is a fantastical world of forgotten lore and the age of empire! Since time immemorial people have lived upon islands, just kilometres wide, floating around the sun.


When you are given the opportunity to sail the skies, to trade and to harass pirates with impunity, how long will you last between warring empires, violent rogue states and the horrors of the Maelstrom itself?


This demo, released for World of the Season (Autumn 2012), includes the first island, Portdown. It could be considered the first half of the tutorial.

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@LilyLayer4
Fallen London character: Lilith B.
Author of Maelstrom - Play - Discuss
Author of City of Phire - Play - Discuss
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Pint Box
Pint Box
Posts: 20

9/21/2012
I believe it's a little too hard. It seems sky-chart requires 500 Gold + level 5 connected: navy, and the later requires one of two cards and a challenge to increase 1. To make it worse there's no way to increase stats. Thus most tests are at modest level and that's a little annoying.
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Ruaidri O'Ruadhain
Ruaidri O'Ruadhain
Posts: 33

9/21/2012
You've got some duplicate text for "The Isle Locked Officer".
An unfortunate predicament
The lieutenant explains he cannot leave the island. "Ever since my brother died when the Pallayfin ran aground last year our father has had me assigned to desk duty here on Portdown. If you could perhaps talk to my father, convince him to free me, I could enter your service?." The lieutenant explains he cannot leave the island. "Ever since my brother died when the Pallayfin ran aground last year our father has had me assigned to desk duty here on Portdown. If you could perhaps talk to my father, convince him to free me, I could enter your service?."


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Cats? Social actions? Conversations about the Fourth City? Newspaper interviews with light-fingered folk?
@proudcockatrice | Ruaidri
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Lily Fox
Lily Fox
Posts: 346

9/21/2012
Pint Box - Thank you for that thought. I would say that is not the only way to gain a set of Sky Charts =)

Ruaidri - Thank you for the report. It seems to be a bug in the SN system - there is no duplication in the editor's side of things but I just viewed that card and branch in the player and saw the same duplication. I'll be reporting the bug to FBG.

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@LilyLayer4
Fallen London character: Lilith B.
Author of Maelstrom - Play - Discuss
Author of City of Phire - Play - Discuss
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Rune Hofseth
Rune Hofseth
Posts: 52

9/21/2012
there seems to be a slight problem if you get critically wounded, i used the pinned 'slipping away' until i lost wounded which added a second pinned card 'alive!' but when i use that nothing really happens aside from it telling me where i am, those two cards is all that I'm allowed to use

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Twitter: @BodhiBloodWave
Facebook: Rune Hofseth
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Rune~Hofseth
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Lily Fox
Lily Fox
Posts: 346

9/21/2012
Rune Hofseth - Ah, apologies. That was because of a missing change of setting. Should be fixed now.

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@LilyLayer4
Fallen London character: Lilith B.
Author of Maelstrom - Play - Discuss
Author of City of Phire - Play - Discuss
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Rune Hofseth
Rune Hofseth
Posts: 52

9/21/2012
Aaah, much better, I was having a serious case of 'deja vu' "yes yes doc, you thought you had lost me, I've heard you say that 10 times now" *chuckles wryly*

just out of curiosity, is it safe to assume that its only this 'prologue' chapter that has us unable to improve our stats/qualities?
edited by Rune Hofseth on 9/21/2012

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Twitter: @BodhiBloodWave
Facebook: Rune Hofseth
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Rune~Hofseth
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playwithdinos
playwithdinos
Posts: 16

9/21/2012
I've been getting that duplicating bug too, I think I'll submit a report as well.

I've noticed one typo as I went through:
Number 7, Calistari Tower
"It is all very well for clerks and factor workers to remain upon one island..."

I really enjoy the setting and the concept, and there is a lot of interesting things to do... eventually. As a player I find it frustrating that qualities don't increase, even if they are required, so I find myself constantly failing in my attempts to continue the story on chancy or modest challenges and as a result I'm seeing the same Opportunity cards over and over. Was this an intentional decision on your part? If so, I'm curious as to why, and how you think this will benefit the story.

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Pistols at Dusk: Play Dev Discuss
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Lily Fox
Lily Fox
Posts: 346

9/22/2012
Improving Abilities

It is not clear in the game, I recognise, but when you complete significant quests (like getting Mr Newlin's permission to leave dock), you level up and can choose to increase a major attribute (Command, Discourse, Hostility or Larceny) by 1 point.

Repetativeness

playwithdinos wrote:
I'm seeing the same Opportunity cards over and over. Was this an intentional decision on your part? If so, I'm curious as to why, and how you think this will benefit the story.



First, thank you for the typo report. That's been fixed.

I think the repetitiveness that you describe is a result of several elements in the design: 1) Portdown, as it stands, is just the beginning of what it should grow into. As time goes on, new actions and quest-lines will be implemented adding greater variety to the island and linking up with other places across the skies. 2) Some things should always be a challenge, even after several levels and you've increased your stats to as high as 8. 3) And I may have over-estimated what feels like a fair difficulty and the actions required to complete tasks.

I will have to reconsider some of the challenge difficulties and quest requirements.

Questions for play-testers


How often do you find yourself falling into menace states (Dying, Gaol)?

Are you finding it difficult to acquire Pound Coins or do you find yourself with more than you can spend?

Which goals do you find especially difficult or confusing? Are you ever lost as to what you need to do next?

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@LilyLayer4
Fallen London character: Lilith B.
Author of Maelstrom - Play - Discuss
Author of City of Phire - Play - Discuss
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Rune Hofseth
Rune Hofseth
Posts: 52

9/22/2012
Lets see now in regards to your 3 questions

1: How often do you find yourself falling into menace states (Dying, Gaol)?

Only ended up in each of them once, and that only because i purposefully went nuts on the boxing and trying large amount of bonds without trying to lower the menaces.

2: Are you finding it difficult to acquire Pound Coins or do you find yourself with more than you can spend?

Acquiring them isn't the hard part, its the amount that i find a tad small, but considering that I stay on the mostly safe paths (aka modest options) i guess thats to be expected.

3: Which goals do you find especially difficult or confusing? Are you ever lost as to what you need to do next?

Can't really say I've had any problems here, but then i love adventure games et al so i guess it comes fairly natural to me.

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Twitter: @BodhiBloodWave
Facebook: Rune Hofseth
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Rune~Hofseth
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Ruaidri O'Ruadhain
Ruaidri O'Ruadhain
Posts: 33

9/22/2012
How often do you find yourself falling into menace states (Dying, Gaol)?
Haven't witnessed one yet. I'm a very cautious player.

Are you finding it difficult to acquire Pound Coins or do you find yourself with more than you can spend?
I find I've got just about the right amount, most often, and it's not much grind to get more. It's reputation that keeps kicking my ass.

Which goals do you find especially difficult or confusing? Are you ever lost as to what you need to do next?
It's pretty straightforward, and the fact that you can ask for help on a couple of cards, if you've forgotten something important (or have nothing else you want to do with the card), makes it even easier.

That aside, I'm playing through for a second time (trying to get the pirate to join me), and I've spotted a typo on 'The Curiosity's Hold':
A small crowd of patrons is gathered with baited breath.

That should be 'bated'.

And another, on 'Down on the docks':
The first office, the crew, the charts, the food and rum, all are assembled.

edited by Ruaidri on 9/22/2012

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Cats? Social actions? Conversations about the Fourth City? Newspaper interviews with light-fingered folk?
@proudcockatrice | Ruaidri
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Kitsune
Kitsune
Posts: 220

9/22/2012
This is looking really good so far, I have more fun playing this than CoP, but I haven't played that in a while, and I honestly think I only have more fun with Maelstrom because it was the most complete of the two, since I really enjoy the setting of CoP.

As a typo though, on the Officer's Club card, The isle-locked officer branch; the text repeats itself on the result in its entirety, minus the author notes in red. Also, on the same card, you have a question mark and a period at the end.

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http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Mikhail~DuRall

My Lovely World:
http://et.storynexus.com
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Samuel Goodall
Samuel Goodall
Posts: 64

9/24/2012
Everything is good except reputation, I earn my Naval thing up to 2 or 3 then it slips back into nothing.
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Ruaidri O'Ruadhain
Ruaidri O'Ruadhain
Posts: 33

9/24/2012
@Samuel Goodall: Avoid the ... I can't recall now, the one at the officers' club that raises both society and navy. Do the one with talking to the captain, at the dinner. It's less of a bonus, but if you botch it, it doesn't take points off. It seems slower, but since you don't lose points, it ends up being a bit quicker. It took me until my second play-through to realise that.

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Cats? Social actions? Conversations about the Fourth City? Newspaper interviews with light-fingered folk?
@proudcockatrice | Ruaidri
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leokhorn
leokhorn
Posts: 33

9/25/2012
So I've started playing this world and I have to say I really enjoy the setting and overall content, quite possibly more than City of Phire. It does seem to have more content, which certainly helps.

That said, I gave up in frustration yesterday and thought I'd mention why.

I'm trying to get the ship out of port and I still need the charts. The high amount of money made it slightly painful but I managed to get enough. The amount of reputation also was a steep goal, but hey, I got it. My main issue now is with the randomness of Opportunities. I'm trying to get back to the card where I can use all these Qualities to pay for the charts... but I keep getting anything BUT the card I need.
As a player, once I have the requirements, I'd really appreciate being able to finally move on. Having to wait for pure chance to give you what you need feels... well, random smile. I'd argue that it doesn't make much sense that the character couldn't just go where needed... but more than that, it's a frustrating design. I fell into a similar situation with my own project and decided to pull out some of the "quest" cards out of Opportunities to avoid that.

The other problem comes with the randomness of skill checks combined with the fact Qualities don't rise when used. I'm still trying to get the reputation requirement and I was going there well enough when the random number generator decided to go for all the bad results. Instead of progressing, I'm regressing. I'm not entirely against the idea of failure meaning you get a setback, but once again this is an issue of lack of control: I cannot do *anything* to help with these. I have to wait for the right reputation cards to show up randomly and then I have to hope the skill check is in my favor... multiple times in a row. I can't train to make it more likely... I can't use accumulated money to raise reputation or (indirectly?) make the skill check more likely to succeed. I'm at the mercy of entropy :|

As a secondary issue, the same randomness frustration can be found when you are going for a specific goal (accumulating money or reputation) and keep getting others things like the hold card, which actually either serves no purpose (waste of time and, ultimately, Actions) or even pushes you away from your goal (losing money most of the time). So... waste of time or waste of time.

And finally, yet another artefact of randomness combined with some specific cards is that while I was trying to make a Commanding and Discourse character, the game made it hard to focus. At first I'd try to avoid the bonds card out of morality/roleplay, and I'd also avoid the hold card to avoid repetition and losing money too much... but since I kept getting them over and over I ended up just using them. I know I could use the "cancel" choice on both, but I really have trouble with that design choice since it equates to a few useless clicks every time. It's like a scene in a movie that does not make the plot go forward or tell you anything about the characters. Again, the fact they keep showing up is what makes this hard for me.



Overall I'd warn designers about randomness. It's a nice tool, but it's a tool you have to hold firmly or it's going to be damaging. It is sneaky in how probabilities make us assume things will balance out overall (yes, I *will* get the card I need after enough tries), but randomness is... random, and it's not impossible to get stuck on "bad" random cards or bad "dice rolls" for Quality checks for a good while. Enough to suddenly make this not fun :/


Oh I'm not utterly disgusted, mind you. I still want to play in this World smile I'm just hoping for a tad more control.
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Azuaron
Azuaron
Posts: 12

9/27/2012
Make MORE

1. I never died, and I played a law-abiding citizen, so I was never aware I could get sent to jail. I didn't know when I would have died, however, which was a little anxiety producing. I got up to Wounds 5 and said, "Maybe... maybe I don't want to go higher than this."

2. I felt like I had enough coins. I never got enough to buy out the weapons, but I suspect further trips across the skylands (skislands?) will net me enough money to do so eventually.

3. I felt that I always knew my next goal, and how to obtain it. Healing is annoying, since you have to wait for a random card and then it doesn't even heal that much. I don't, however, know how to increase my attributes. I have no guesses on how to do so.

There are typos throughout, but that's to be expected during a beta.
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Aleema
Aleema
Posts: 9

9/28/2012
This is my favorite world so far, and I still don't have those blasted star charts. I'm really rather miffed that my reputation with the navy went down to zero while pursuing the Lieutenant. I mean. Ouch. Probably just as well as I have to save up 500 money again because I bought the ex-pirate and have the Lieutenant, so apparently I have two first mates now? I'm so failing at this game! ... why do I keep playing?

I rolled Discourse so I'm not even attempting the Hostility challenge for the sky charts, especially with such high stakes even if I did roll Hostility. I have to agree that it's easy to get money, there just isn't enough being given. I gained 2 Suspicion to earn ... 30 coins? Those Suspicions are gonna take 200 coins to remove! Totally not worth it, won't ever touch the Larceny challenges again.

So ... a lot of grinding. But as I said before, this is my favorite world so far. It's easy for me to grasp, perhaps because it's so familiar. Oddly, I enjoyed getting the random Medicine trait. I like that my do-nothing route actually seemed to benefit me, so I didn't hate seeing Surgery come up as much as, say, Curiosity's Hold or Victimless Crime.
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Lily Fox
Lily Fox
Posts: 346

9/28/2012
Thank you all for your honest and helpful feedback. I'm afraid I can't respond individually right now but your input is appreciated and will be rewarded *wink*.

Some further adjustments will be made, but for now there's been just this change (made around noon Thursday):
  • Reputation rewards are now slightly higher


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@LilyLayer4
Fallen London character: Lilith B.
Author of Maelstrom - Play - Discuss
Author of City of Phire - Play - Discuss
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Lily Fox
Lily Fox
Posts: 346

9/28/2012
Further adjustments, ho!
  • Miscellaneous edits to make some challenges a little easier
  • More pound coins are earned for many challenges... but more can also be lost for failing or spending on surgery
  • Several [square tagged] pointers and explanations.
  • First Officer markers (the Black Ring and Letter of Service) descriptions now tell you where you can find your XO should they leave your ship


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@LilyLayer4
Fallen London character: Lilith B.
Author of Maelstrom - Play - Discuss
Author of City of Phire - Play - Discuss
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Lily Fox
Lily Fox
Posts: 346

9/28/2012
In thanks for your time and for sharing your thoughts, here is a little something for you lovely lovely testers. =)

maelstrom.storynexus.com/a/Bequeathment
edited by lily on 9/30/2012

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@LilyLayer4
Fallen London character: Lilith B.
Author of Maelstrom - Play - Discuss
Author of City of Phire - Play - Discuss
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