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About LKM

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  1. While discussing difficulty, Tim mentioned that people were frustrated during playtesting when they couldn't get out of the train. I understand why playtesting is immensely helpful when designing games, but I think it's important to consider the possibility that adventure games might be a bit of a special case, where you don't want to remove all of the frustrating aspects. When I think back to the adventure games I've played, the best memories involve puzzles that: - Seemed incredibly frustrating and confusing at first - But eventually had a solution that seemed logical in hindsight Those were the ones that made me feel super smart and good about myself. The fact that the puzzles seemed frustrating and confusing communicated to me that I was working on a difficult puzzle. The fact that they had a logical solution that I could eventually figure out communicated to me that I was smart, because I had been able to solve a difficult puzzle by applying logical thinking. In other words, the best moments I've had playing adventure games involved being frustrated at first. Playtesting the games and removing all of these frustrating moments deprives the gamer of this experience.
  2. Dear God no. It sounds like you were expecting something more like SimCity or Europa Universalis, It's not really about my expectations. I'm thinking about what would make the game more fun to me, and I think having better insight into what actually happens, and what kinds of consequences my actions have, would help do that. There's a term in psychology called "learned helplessness". It is caused when a situation teaches a person that he or she can't control his or her own life (i.e. whatever the person does, the results seem to be unrelated or negative). Learned helplessness is probably a major cause of clinical depression. Even though I "won" Dear Leader on my first play-through (i.e. I got a good ending), I felt like that. I felt that none of the actions I took had any positive effects, or, often, any effects at all. It made me feel sad and powerless. I kind of enjoyed trying to find the traitor, but after I killed the person I thought was the culprit, I ended up not being sure whether I got the right guy. People told me I did, but I wasn't sure whether they were lying to me, either because they were the traitor, or because they were afraid to say anything non-complimentary. I did not enjoy that. Again, I will acknowledge that this might be intentional on the part of the game designers, which would be absolutely valid. My feedback is based on the premise that this is not one of these games that intentionally aims to instil negative emotions in its players. If that is the intention, then my feedback is moot, since the game then succeeds at its intended goal. I'm pretty sure the USSR had economists and statisticians and all of that stuff, but I don't think it really matters. I absolutely acknowledge that there has to be room for games that are not fun, and that it is okay to position Dear Leader in this segment. But if we are operating under the assumption that we want to make a game that is fun, then it doesn't matter what it is really like to be Kim Il Sung, and what kind of data a dictator really has access to. What matters is whether the game works as a game, whether people want to play it. (Note that this is a general comment on the goals of the game, and of the constraints caused by these goals; I'm not saying that nobody can have fun with the game because I did not have fun. It's entirely possible that my own experience is not representative of what most people experienced when they played the game.) I don't know if that is true, but if it is, I'll acknowledge that my criticism is pointless.
  3. Yep, me too. You know when you're playing Sim City, and suddenly Godzilla shows up, and it completely puts you into a reactive situation where you lack all agency, and have to try and fix the problem? Playing Dear Leader felt like playing Sim City without all of the gameplay elements except Godzilla. I felt like I had no agency, and was only reacting to whatever the game was throwing at me, suffocating under an avalanche of issues of widely varying importance. It's possible that this was absolutely intentional. If the goal was to make a game that gives you an impression of how stressful it would be to be a dictator, then it was a huge success (no sarcasm intended — it's a valid goal for a game). But I think the game would be a lot more fun to play if there were fewer events, and if the actual simulation was exposed to the user. After each "day" (which, to me, felt more like a year, given how much happens in the game during that time frame), I would love to get an overview of how the country is doing: economic growth, press freedom, happiness, etc. And I would like to see more ways of influencing these things (e.g. setting tax rates, specifying subsidies, setting import taxes, entering trade agreements or preventing trade, currency manipulation). Despite of my criticism, I enjoyed the game. For a two-week project, the polish — from writing to gameplay to music to visual design — was pretty astonishing. Of this year's AF games, this one feels like the most promising and interesting. Fantastic job.
  4. I picked up a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 a few days ago. As far as I can tell, Spacebase is almost playable. In order to work properly, it would need: - A way to scroll once the game is running (e.g. swiping with two fingers could move the camera) - A way to exit the game (e.g. a menu button) Additionally, it would be nice to have: - A better way to select the starting point (hovering the mouse to see location data is no good on a touchscreen) - The ability to zoom in and out using pinch gestures I realize that the market for people who own touchscreen Windows PCs is relatively small right now, but it's probably growing somewhat steadily. And most of the Spacebase UI works fine on touch screens already; it really seems to be a few small things that would need to be added to make the game work perfectly (and maybe make it easier to port to other touchscreen platforms in the future; after all, iPad and Android are quite desperate for games that aren't thinly disguised skinner boxes trying to trick you into constantly spending money on IAPs).
  5. From the fact that I play this game, they know that I use Kickstarter, that I have disposable income, that my age is probably between 25 and 35. From the way I play the game, they can find out if I have a physical or mental disability. From the times I play the game, they can make inferences about my job. They can probably make a good guess at my English skills and my intelligence from how I progress through the game. They might make inferences about my gender and race, too. This is just some obvious stuff, and doesn't require any cross-correlation with other data sources. There's also less obvious stuff. Is playing this game correlated with other user data? Can Google tie your Broken Age account in with other data sources? We don't know. This data can be used in all kinds of ways that are bad for you. Credit ratings, insurance, making online purchases, even just booking a hotel room. If companies can find out these kinds of details about you, they can deny you service (say, if they don't like your race), or can jack up your prices (if they find out that you're affluent). Is this a bit paranoid? Maybe. But having worked on data mining software in the past, I don't think so. This kind of software is really good at drawing these kinds of conclusions about people, and making non-obvious guesses about you based on strange, non-obvious correlations. Now, if you don't care that Google knows these things about you, that's totally fine. I have absolutely no problem with that at all. But I don't understand why you want to make this decision for other people. Nobody has asked that DF remove this feature from the game. People have only asked that DF tell their customers about the feature in an reasonably obvious way, and that they allow people to opt out. Is this really such a crazy request that it needs to be denied at all cost? Apparently, DF actually agrees that this is not an unreasonable request, since they've now done exactly that. I don't understand why there's even a discussion about this. There are people who are uncomfortable about this. You're not one of them. Good for you. But why do you feel the need to deny the ability to turn the feature off to other people?
  6. Hah, that reminds me. When I played Monkey Island, I only had a very basic grasp of English, and didn't understand any of the wordplays in the sword fights. So I wrote down all prompts, and by trial-and-error, found the corresponding answers. In the end, I had written down pages of prompts and their correct answers. Only to find out that when you get to the sword master, they're all different, and you have to do all of them all over again!
  7. This seems slightly crazy to me :-) I didn't notice any loving atmosphere in the game. One storyline is about a family trying to murder their daughter by feeding her to a monster. The other is about a kid who's imprisoned in a space ship by a Stepford wife AI. Most of the characters in the game seem quite insane. I thought the game was rather disturbing, particularly after the ending reframed Shay's storyline. Don't get me wrong, none of these are criticisms. I loved it. But I felt it was quite a mature game. It covers a lot of adult subjects, like the fear of losing your children. There are also some dialogs in the game which are probably not aimed at children.
  8. Hm. I didn't feel that way. I thought the Vella story, particularly the beginning, was incredibly creepy and disturbing. These parents are basically having a party, celebrating the fact that their daughter will be murdered by a hideous monster. I don't want to go into spoiler territory, but I feel like "underestimating his abilities to take care of himself" is pretty much what happened to Shay, no? Everything considered, I thought the story was both highly disturbing, and very poignant. I never felt like it was "kiddie". In fact, compared to some of the earlier Schafer games, this felt much more adult to me. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Monkey Island (probably my favourite game, re-play it regularly), but this was a game about a dude who wants to become a pirate and sticks a giant q-tip into the ear of a house that's shaped like a monkey head :-)
  9. I think Broken Age's story holds up in comparison to earlier adventures, and in some ways surpasses them (play to the end of part 1 before you judge the story). But I do agree that there could have been more, somewhat more challenging puzzles.
  10. Disclaimer: I don't know what DF is doing. The following is based on my own experience as a developer, not on any insight into what DF is doing. It's pretty common for apps to track what you do inside them. Mainly, devs are interested in finding out which features you use, which screens you spend a lot of time on, information about crashes, stuff like that. A lot of developers do this, including Microsoft. If you use Windows, Microsoft knows how you use it. Particularly for games, this is important data, and allows developers to make improvements. Is there a puzzle that a lot of people have trouble with? Is there another puzzle that people get right immediately, and may be too easy? Is there a dialog tree people never see? Does the game crash in a specific situation for many users? And so on. In my opinion, this isn't really the same as "tracking" you. Word might keep track of which features you use and which buttons you click on, but it doesn't keep track of what documents you write. The goal here isn't to use this data to find out information about you, it's to use the data to find out how to improve the application. Generally, the data is completely anonymous, and is not stored in a way that associates it with you personally. Having said that, two points: First, I agree that devs should ask users whether they're okay with this before they start sending data to the mothership. Second, I agree that using Google for this is bad, because Google actually is interested in you personally.
  11. Dunno, the only thing that's really missing from the game because it wouldn't work on a touchscreen seem to be hover texts for the different on-screen areas. Earlier point and click adventures often had funny descriptions of the things on the screen; this one does not. Dragging the items is probably unrelated to touchscreens. Either solution works on either system.
  12. Yeah, the same thing happened to me. I didn't realize that Vella could pick up a muffin, because when I tried, nothing seemed to happen. As a result, I got stuck on that scene for quite a bit of time. Even if adding an animation isn't possible, just having the item fly from where it is on-screen to the inventory area would make this obvious.
  13. LKM

    Thank you!

    Yeah, the ending was very strong. Maybe I'm a bit dense, but it took me a few minutes to figure out what exactly the ending actually meant for Shay's storyline, how it reframed Marek's character, and how it impacted the things Shay did :-) What I like most is that it would have been possible to figure this out before the ending, and I'm sure many people did. It's a bit like watching the ending of The Sixth Sense and going "how did I miss this!"
  14. Steam says it took me 4 hours to complete the game. Which is completely okay with me. Now that I'm older, I don't have all day to play games anymore, and I really appreciate games that don't overstay their welcome. I guess the second part will take roughly another 4 hours, which is perfect for me. I'd rather games end on a high note, while I still love them (e.g. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds), than start strong and slowly get boring and fade out (e.g. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon). I'd also like to note that Broken Age is actually much bigger than many of the longer games others have mentioned. There are a ton of locations in Broken Age that you don't spend a lot of time in. Other adventure games, on the other hand, have you stay in the same location for a long time, and repeatedly come back to the same locations. I'm not 100% sure which style I prefer, but I think it's worth noting that play-length and size are not the same thing. Broken Age is huge for an adventure game. Personally, I love the story, love the characters, and the graphics and music are simply amazing, especially considering the small budget. I think this will be one of the adventure games that will be remembered in the future, and not just for its unique origin story. The one criticism I agree with is that the items are a bit too streamlined. Every item you pick up, you'll have to use. This destroys a bit of verisimilitude. Adventure games that allow you to find items that you don't have to use feel much more as if they were taking place in a real world, where things are going on that aren't directly connected to the story you're currently experiencing. So apart from making the puzzles a bit too easy, the lack of items also harms world building.
  15. Would be really, really cool if we could get the DF employee voice recordings as an alternate soundtrack. Maybe something that can be unlocked once you finish the game? (You know, the episodes where stuff goes wrong are exciting and extremely interesting, but this episode, where stuff actually goes right, and we get to see the game working, and music is being created, made me incredibly happy, and very anxious to play the game.)
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