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Nz17

Usability Improvements & Suggestions by Nz17

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General:

1) Convenience: It is inconvenient to have to select the inventory icon in the bottom left, then the gear icon on the bottom right, to get to the menu at the top. Since three of the corners are free, it would aid discoverable and be more convenient to have the gear icon always visible in either the bottom right, upper right, or upper left.

2) Ease: It would be easier to mentally track dialog tree options by having them numbered from top to bottom, i.e. Topmost is 1:, next is 2:, third is 3:, et cetera.

3) Recountability: Dialog options shouldn't disappear after the user has selected them. People can accidentally skip an option's entire dialog and then be unable to access it again without reloading or restarting. Users might have outside-of-game loud noises or distractions that can prevent them from paying attention or hearing audio during the first time. Some will want to have the ability to replay the dialog as a reminder. And some players will want to hear lines again to re-listen to jokes or to once again hear impressive line deliveries by actors.

4) Speed of progression: Double-clicking on paths or hotspots should make the character run to them. The player is already trained to know that double-clicking on exits instantly causes scene changes, so the intuitive assumption is that double-clicking on anything else also "speeds it up." If the program lacks this universal functionality, it will result in frustration and disappointment for the player as they feel it "should" happen but doesn't.

5) File management: Currently there is no way to delete game saves using the in-game menus after the saves have been created. Some players will wish to keep things "clean and tidy" by having only one save or having saves in specific locations from the choice of eight spots. There is also no way to duplicate (copy) a save using the in-game menus. This could be useful if, for example, a user wishes to save before many of his or her favorite cutscenes to see them again, or if someone wants to be safe by keeping a backup copy of the "main save." Additionally, there is no way to quit a play-through without saving, leaving potential for accidentally "ruining" someone's save on a multi-user computer such a when a family shares one machine and someone picks someone else's save.

"Desktop" version:

1) Convenience: Being able to use the numeric keys on both the keypad and the "top" row of the keyboard to select dialog tree options would be faster than having to reposition the on-screen pointer.

2) Convenience: Pressing the "Escape" key, "Space" key, or a different, dedicated key (such as "Backspace") should close open dialog windows. Having to exit them by always using the pointing device by moving the pointer outside the bottom dialog window and clicking creates more work for the user, especially when trying to see if characters have new things to say after an event or acquiring an item.

"Steam" version:

1) Steam Trading Cards do not seem to be implemented yet. After playing for two hours, no cards had been unlocked through the Steam item drop system.

Inquiries:

1) In Linux, binaries often carry debugging symbols and other internals not needed for distribution of a final product/executable. These can be safely "stripped" before distribution as end-users will not need them and they will increase file sizes and thus download times. This extra cruft can also cause minor performance decreases. Use of the "strip" user-land command (included in all GNU/Linux distributions) will remove these debugging symbols, improving file size and performance. For example, the unstripped "BrokenAge" executable is 36109249 bytes large, but the stripped version of the same executable is only 9432032 bytes small. In other words, there is a 26 MiB savings to be had! That's a 74% size reduction!

2) This one has really been bugging me... Every place where the minimum system requirements for Broken Age are listed, the Windows version is stated as requiring XP and DirectX 10. There is no DirectX 10 (officially) available for running on Windows XP. The latest official DirectX release for Windows XP is DirectX 9.0c. Yet as Broken Age runs just fine on Windows XP, there must be no actual requirement of DirectX 10. Therefore the listings should not state this. Incorrectly listing this might scare away people who believe the game won't run on their hardware.

As a matter of fact, since the Moai engine is so *very* cross-platform, there is no requirement for any DirectX version, not even on Windows, as Moai uses SDL 2.0 to interface with the operating systems. This means that the game can even run flawlessly on Windows 2000 just as Steam does. Thus the true "minimum" requirement is Windows 2000 with an SDL-compatible graphics chip and sound chip.

In addition, the lines which read "DirectX-compatible sound card" should be removed or altered for the Mac and Linux hardware requirements. Obviously compatibility with DirectX is not needed as neither OS has DirectX available. Perhaps the line should instead read "SDL-compatible sound card" or "Modern sound card" or "Any sound card" or "Any sound card compatible with this OS."

3) I know that the final product is supposed to be distributed DRM-free on all platforms, but it is already DRM-free as released through Steam. I am uncertain if this is intentional, but at least with the Linux version I can run the game without Steam running or installed. Later I will also try this with the Windows version and report my findings here.

4) Also interesting to note, the soundtrack in MP3 format is included with Steam copies of the game. It consists of 23 tracks all to be found in the root directory of the game's installation location as separate MP3's. The MP3's are not required by the game to produce the music as in-game audio. While I appreciate this "free extra," those who pledged at more expensive tier levels might not like bottom tier pledgers like myself getting a no-cost copy of the game's OST. But if this was intended, then let me say a hearty, "Thanks Double Fine! Keep up the Fine work."

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General:

1) Convenience: It is inconvenient to have to select the inventory icon in the bottom left, then the gear icon on the bottom right, to get to the menu at the top. Since three of the corners are free, it would aid discoverable and be more convenient to have the gear icon always visible in either the bottom right, upper right, or upper left.

Well, you can actually just hit the escape key to access the menu options. That's probably the fastest way and we thought it was quite common in most PC/Linux/Mac games. The icon was there just in case it wasn't discovered via key.

By the way, as of RC8, the inventory is now also mapped to your right-click and you can remap it to something else if you prefer, in the Controls menu.

5) File management: Currently there is no way to delete game saves using the in-game menus after the saves have been created. Some players will wish to keep things "clean and tidy" by having only one save or having saves in specific locations from the choice of eight spots. There is also no way to duplicate (copy) a save using the in-game menus. This could be useful if, for example, a user wishes to save before many of his or her favorite cutscenes to see them again, or if someone wants to be safe by keeping a backup copy of the "main save." Additionally, there is no way to quit a play-through without saving, leaving potential for accidentally "ruining" someone's save on a multi-user computer such a when a family shares one machine and someone picks someone else's save.

This is going to sound a little confusing, but hopefully it'll make a lot of sense when you play around with it a bit:

We have a feature called "Manual Save". If you go to the in-game settings menu (hit Esc), you will see it at the top. When saving like this, you will be able to go back to that very spot in the game -- in other words, your progress will not save if you start playing from that spot unless you do a Manual Save again.

For multi-user machines, you don't need to worry about saving as long as you *don't* do a Manual Save. Each of you can have your own dedicated slot and as long as you don't choose to Manual Save, the game will always Auto-Save for you just to your slot, so you never have to worry about losing or overriding each other's progress. Just choose your own slot from the Load menu when you start the game and never do manual saves.

If you want to duplicate or delete saves, locate your saves folder on your hard drive:

right-click Broken Age > Properties > Local Files > Browse Local Files, Saves folder.

You will see files like "slot_1.sav". The slots are 1-8, where 1-4 is the first row, 5-8 the second row. We thought it would overcrowd the menu with features most people wouldn't use if we included a way to delete and duplicate, but you can certainly do it on the disk and the game will figure it out.

1) Convenience: Being able to use the numeric keys on both the keypad and the "top" row of the keyboard to select dialog tree options would be faster than having to reposition the on-screen pointer.

I'm happy to report that you can now do this in RC8.

2) This one has really been bugging me... Every place where the minimum system requirements for Broken Age are listed, the Windows version is stated as requiring XP and DirectX 10. There is no DirectX 10 (officially) available for running on Windows XP. The latest official DirectX release for Windows XP is DirectX 9.0c. Yet as Broken Age runs just fine on Windows XP, there must be no actual requirement of DirectX 10. Therefore the listings should not state this. Incorrectly listing this might scare away people who believe the game won't run on their hardware.

You're totally right and this has been fixed in most places. Let us know if you're still seeing this mistake somewhere!

3) I know that the final product is supposed to be distributed DRM-free on all platforms, but it is already DRM-free as released through Steam. I am uncertain if this is intentional, but at least with the Linux version I can run the game without Steam running or installed. Later I will also try this with the Windows version and report my findings here.

Excellent point and one I wish more backers were aware of. ;) We need to use Steam as a way to quickly push updates to people struggling with bugs in their builds of the game. We are not fans of DRM.

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