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glenfx

I'm Kind of disappointed, it's missing a "cool factor"

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I got to play broken age recently and couldn't avoid feeling quite disappointed with it, I know I might be the only one but here is what I think of Broken Age.

The game is just a "nice adventure game", it has good animation and some good visuals (although many parts are too cheap looking), the puzzles are ok, the story is ok and is technically well done, but is quite dull, it's missing a "cool factor", the kind that keeps you seated and making you want to see the full thing and play it all over again when you are done like the other old adventure games have, the game is not bad, but unfortunately is not memorable or actually makes me want to play the game again (it has no re-play value).

I mean, I can't believe it was made by the same guy who help make Monkey Island (cool factor= Pirates), Grim Fandango (cool factor=day of the dead, skeletons, demons, hot rods), Full Throttle (Cool factor= bikes, rock & roll and tough guys and gals), Day of the tentacle (cool factor= time travel, freaks a la Monsters or the Addams Family, and tentacles).

So It didn´t feel like I played a Tim Schafer adventure game at all, it felt like it was one of those interactive books aimed at children, both emotionally and visually (and with too many children characters in it).

Maybe if there was a stronger and different visual development the game would have felt better.

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It's true, the bullies left me alone until I admitted I liked Broken Age, and then they beat me up and took my lunch money which they then used to buy hot rods and tentacles.

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Hm I agree with this OP.

To continue from here:

Psychonauts -> Raz and Sasha Nein were characters beyond cool, entering brains and experiencing the weird subconscious of everyone, the milkman, the general, list goes on.

Brütal Legend -> a world based on rock'n'roll and everything that's awesome, axe as primary weapon, guitar as secondary weapon, that car, ...

Considering that the backing audience of Broken Age can be assumed to be mostly adults in their 20ies and 30ies who enjoyed all of the above mentioned games, I wonder why Broken Age is so ... harmless? Different? It just seems to be the odd one out of a list that contains SMI, MI2, DotT, FT, GF, Psychonauts and BL, and now BA.

Those are the games Tim is best known for (and have been used to gather the funding), so I wonder what is the reason for this change of tone.

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Hmm... too many children characters? What was wrong with the children characters? I thought both Ch't and Rocky were pretty funny.

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it felt like it was one of those interactive books aimed at children, both emotionally and visually (and with too many children characters in it).

While I don't mean to bash your opinion, I think this line is just plain wrong. The game has some relatively mature themes (by that I don't mean "sexual", I mean themes which require the person not to be a child in order to fully appreciate what is actually going on) and the plot seems rather intricate, especially as revealed by the Act 1 cliffhanger, and seems like something which would definitely fly over a child's head.

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At "doccolinni", no problem though a really young kid can easily understand most of the game, there are people stating their little kids got most of the game by their own, there are also many cartoons that are much more complicated and much more mature and intricate than Broken Age and kids love them, but I wasn´t talking about the plot but the overall feel and look of the game.

The thing is the game feels too much like an interactive story for kids from a visual design perspective and that is why I also said that maybe if the visuals were different it might have felt better.

I also expected a game that had the same visual appeal and/or cool factor as all of Tim´s previous adventure games.

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I think the cool factor missing is the "level" design, not that much the puzzles that everyones says.

Most scenes interaction is pretty linear. You don't feel immersed into an environment, even in Vella's.

For instance Vella, you start inside the house and you are trying to find the knife. After you find the knife you are transfered to another screen with different goals. You cannot go back to house again and interact with these characters ever again. You never really "LIVE" the Vella's town.

In Monkey island, King Quests, Quest for Glory,etc you were dropped in a island-town-kingdom and there was massive exploration / immersion.

Even the cloud colony, where you can claim that you can go "back", all cloud colony feels like 1 screen, if you know what i mean... most characters are next to each other and once you talk to them -> check complete!!

So it is kinda A->B->C->D done!

still loved the game :)

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Mog Chothra was pretty cool. But I agree that the game lacks really interesting characters. Marek had a lot of potential and seemed from the documentary like he should have been a favourite character, but in-game he was pretty uninteresting.

Act 2 To-Do List: Time travelling dead biker pirates

This is really what the game needs.

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eeh...all of tims games are pretty radically different visually. thats why hes great. I dont think thats your actual gripe - any one of his games could be singled out as the weak one missing this and this, if you happen to not like that one game. its a matter of taste but I think BA has a lot of the "iconic" creative stuff that will be remembered, much like the other games. puberty space wolf, giving trees a mouth with an axe, cutlery sidekicks, cloud cults...

(if anything Id say BL would be the odd one out, even with all the tim schafery metal ingredients)

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In what sense is Marek a "puberty space wolf"?

In the same sense that you're not a space pimple on the arse of humanity.

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Playing a girl that fights the monster instead of letting her sacrifice to it like she was supposed to isn't "cool"? (Not that I necessarily share your perception of what is and isn't cool anyway, hence the quote marks)

I already replayed Broken Age. And in my mind it had Tim Schafer's fingerprints all over. I don't see how Broken Age is more geared towards kids than DoTT or Psychonauts is.

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For instance Vella, you start inside the house and you are trying to find the knife. After you find the knife you are transfered to another screen with different goals. You cannot go back to house again and interact with these characters ever again. You never really "LIVE" the Vella's town.

I agree with this so much. I also found the transfers really abrupt, especially for Shay on the spaceship.

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That ending was cool as all hell.

Not a clue what this person's on about. But different strokes and all that...

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@Acorino

In Psychonauts it was cool being a kid, it was a cool place to hang around with cool things happening around you, you had those cool powers and there were other cool characters around you needed to get along with. In the DFA it's kind of meh, everything is more boring, characters are not this interesting and those who might be, well, you don't have a chance to evolve some deeper relationships with, ... i can understand his argumentation.

I suspect it's due to the budget that certain aspects feel kind of rough and rushed. Marek for instance, you discover him too quickly and too direct. Going to a place you've never been, oh hi i'm Marek, i'm so obviously on my own side and no one to trust, three sentences and now you're doing this and that for me, ...

I would have been cooler if you encountered this place accidentally, wandering and exploring the unknown on your own first, then discovering his flat, getting some hints about a unknown being living down there, and then being confronted with him, either he wins you over directly or you're more cautious and have to learn to trust him more with each step, then dubious actions and questions might be coming up, you see things in different lights, ... these swinging nuances need a little bit more time.

In Psychonauts this is easier because it was more direct. Your friend tells you that the bad guys took away the brain from one of your friends, the objective is clear ... the game worked this way.

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This was exactly my first impression, but the cool factor did come at the end.

But then I started a replay of the game, just to see it again and exactly the same feeling of uncoolness came back.

While I knew the game is, overall, cool enough.

There is something about the beginning of Vella's side that does not at all bring the ominous atmosphere a maiden eating monster should bring. There is not one moment that anyone seems to believe that Vella is actually going to be eaten. Nobody is going to miss her. Nobody is scared. Not even Vella herself. If anger about her situation is what drives her, all you get to see is just a bit of irritation.

The atmosphere is as if Vella is going to her first school day and does not feel much like it.

Similarly, Shay's beginning feels like a B-movie for teenagers. His universe consists of a prison where a computer pretends to be his mother and does not show the slightest perception of how he feels, but instead of fear, sadness or anger, he expresses just a bit of dislike about his own sitiuation.

All in all, the first ten minutes of the game give the impression that you are going to play passive-agressive characters in surroudings that are sweet and annoying.

This is really a major drawback and the only reason I did not stop after 10 minutes was that I am a backer. And I enjoyed the rest of a game a lot!

I would say that in the first 10 minutes, both Shay and Vella need to show how terribly scared, frustrated and unrecognized they feel, and also that they are willing to go really far to change this.

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@Acorino

In Psychonauts it was cool being a kid, it was a cool place to hang around with cool things happening around you, you had those cool powers and there were other cool characters around you needed to get along with. In the DFA it's kind of meh, everything is more boring, characters are not this interesting and those who might be, well, you don't have a chance to evolve some deeper relationships with, ... i can understand his argumentation.

I suspect it's due to the budget that certain aspects feel kind of rough and rushed. Marek for instance, you discover him too quickly and too direct. Going to a place you've never been, oh hi i'm Marek, i'm so obviously on my own side and no one to trust, three sentences and now you're doing this and that for me, ...

I would have been cooler if you encountered this place accidentally, wandering and exploring the unknown on your own first, then discovering his flat, getting some hints about a unknown being living down there, and then being confronted with him, either he wins you over directly or you're more cautious and have to learn to trust him more with each step, then dubious actions and questions might be coming up, you see things in different lights, ... these swinging nuances need a little bit more time.

In Psychonauts this is easier because it was more direct. Your friend tells you that the bad guys took away the brain from one of your friends, the objective is clear ... the game worked this way.

Thanks for putting my thoughts into words.

Psychonauts had insanely cool and weird kids, awesome and strange side characters. Raz is awesome, the other kids either hate him or want to be him. And he wants to be as awesome as Milla and Sasha. I want to be like Sasha! Ford Cruller is funny as hell, but he has his past that is also awesome. Coach Oleander is a great villain.

Broken Age has normal kids and side characters that are either boring or stupid, with a few exceptions, and those have too minor roles :(

EDIT: I enjoyed Marek's character though. I wish other characters were as memorable as him.

Another thing I just thought of is this:

In previous games, if I'd think of a sequel to the game, I'd think: which characters do I want to see again in a sequel?

In Monkey Island, there are so many funny characters that wanted to see in MI2, and after MI2 wanted to see in MI3 etc., like the Voodoo Lady, The Men of Low Moral Fiber, Stan, Wally, Guybrush's crew, Herman Toothrot; LeChuck, Guybrush and Elaine obviously. Wait that's almost all of the characters!

I'd really like a Psychonauts sequel that explores Raz more, brings back Sasha and Milla, Ford Cruller, some of the kids including Lili.

Brutal Legend has such characters too.

DotT brought back Dr. Fred's family and Bernard from Maniac Mansion, who were all great characters.

Then there's Broken Age. And I can't say I am even interested in what happens to Shay and Vella in the second act :o

I am interested in the story, I want to know what's going on, and what they can explore next, but if this game is over, I don't think I'd be interested in anyone's life. I don't care about Vella's family, I don't care what happens to the family living in the clouds, I might want to see a cameo of Curtis in another game, or a game that's actually about Curtis... Curtis and the tree. Probably my favorite two characters in Vella's half, which were ironically there as fillers.

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I don't know about the "cool" factor, but to me this felt like a Schafer game almost from the word go. Both of the lead characters are straight out of the Schafer playbook (and beautifully written).

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There is something about the beginning of Vella's side that does not at all bring the ominous atmosphere a maiden eating monster should bring.
I would say that in the first 10 minutes, both Shay and Vella need to show how terribly scared, frustrated and unrecognized they feel, and also that they are willing to go really far to change this.

The thing is, this is not a survival horror game, and it certainly isn't couched in any reality that we can relate to. This is a coming of age comedy. The horror story is there (the pressure on Vella to sacrifice her life for the greater good, with little or no say in the matter; Shay's Groundhog-day-like imprisonment under the pretence of love), but it's thematic. Comedies often deal with underlying horror in this way (think of Home Alone, a film about a kid with two psychopathic home-invaders trying to murder him).

It must have been quite a tightrope to walk. You can make an audience deeply uncomfortable if you're not very careful. Even small touches like Vella's mother and father looking tense when Mog Chothra appeared have one foot off the tightrope.

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Sorry OP, couldn't disagree more with you.

Especially the "cool" things which you're talking about are often things which kids/teens find cool, i.e. pirates or Rock 'n Roll.

This doesn't have to be look somehow "adult" and "cool" to be mature. The story itself is very dark and creepy and the visuals are absolutely amazing IMHO. Even though the look isn't dark or morbide it reminds me a little bit of Tim Burton's visual style.

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@taumel: those were excellent points.

@Drgeert: Exactly, if you fail to grab the attention in the first impression then there is something wrong. I also played it because I backed it up and forced me to keep playing, but half the game was quite flat, it doesn't mean the game is bad, but is not immersive, and having the notion the end is cool is not good enough drive to make you play from the start since you don't care much about the characters.

@Gins: That´s another thing, there are no memorable characters and you don't get to care about the main ones either, you solve a puzzle and move on and didn't even get to know or remember the characters names because you only did one or two things with them.

@wedgeski: I never felt there was any horror in the game, not even when the monster was eating the girls O_o, even the color choice didn't reflect it in any way and this doesn't help in the perception of the mood (that's why color theory exist). The humor was also way tuned down, the "fun" parts merely gave me a smirk and not a full laugh.

@DerLiterat: well, bikers, pirates, undead beings, rock music, etc. are not just cool to "kids and teens", I think adults enjoy them even more than kids do, it would be the same to say that every cartoon or all animated series are just for kids mostly because they are drawn.

Now, i never said the game has to be nor feel mature or adult, but it needs something wild or cool that makes you want to know about the characters and story, unfortunately the visual choice is kind of a standard in young children books and the overall feel of the game was too in tune with the visuals, so there isn't much of an excitement while playing.

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@wedgeski: I never felt there was any horror in the game, not even when the monster was eating the girls O_o, even the color choice didn't reflect it in any way and this doesn't help in the perception of the mood (that's why color theory exist).

That was exactly my point. You complained that the horror elements didn't manifest in the characterization, but this is a horror story dressed entirely in whimsy.

The humor was also way tuned down, the "fun" parts merely gave me a smirk and not a full laugh.

Can't say I agree there. I got more than one belly laugh out of the game!

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I think the cool factor missing is the "level" design, not that much the puzzles that everyones says.

Most scenes interaction is pretty linear. You don't feel immersed into an environment, even in Vella's.

For instance Vella, you start inside the house and you are trying to find the knife. After you find the knife you are transfered to another screen with different goals. You cannot go back to house again and interact with these characters ever again. You never really "LIVE" the Vella's town.

In Monkey island, King Quests, Quest for Glory,etc you were dropped in a island-town-kingdom and there was massive exploration / immersion.

Even the cloud colony, where you can claim that you can go "back", all cloud colony feels like 1 screen, if you know what i mean... most characters are next to each other and once you talk to them -> check complete!!

So it is kinda A->B->C->D done!

still loved the game :)

I think you totally hit the nail; that's actually what I miss the most from old-style adventuring, much more than inventory puzzles or dialogue trees. Although I admit there is also to consider the much higher cost to add every minutia in an overpolished game, making this "open" approach quite unfeasible nowadays, given this budget.

I know it may sound absurd, but I think that pitching the game as a classic experience actually hindered some of the potential Broken Age could have provided, because it also misses some freshness in the interaction that was definitely a strong point in previous DF games (eg Stacking or Costume Quest) and in other modern adventures with focus on linearity (eg Ghost Trick, TWD).

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I'm fine with a game which doesn't yell at you and all that but then you also need to make proper usage of the more subtile nuances and provide this a certain degree of depth and surprises and dunno, ... that's what i'm missing from the DFA so far. It's toned down but without delivering the things you can expect from art which tells a deeper story only between the lines or on a second/third view.

But i have to confess that a second playthrough, with the kids in lead watching them playing, was more fun. They weren't expecting anything like me and just enjoyed the game the way it was. I instead was looking for an adventure, an evolution from what Schafer has delivered so far, i wanted to see the next step or at least something which involves the knowledge and wisdom he was able to gather in the games he has made so far.

Again i've enjoyed Shay's part a lot more than Vella's world, hell it's space, it really needs some talent to ruin this place for me. I'm just not into this whole cloud thing (Lando Calrissian already was an asshole). Anyway i don't want to critisise DF only all the time (but feeling let down as an adventure fan looking at the game, not the whole project), so, how about some pros and cons, some things i like about the DFA, some things i don't and some where i hope they'll improve the game in the future, blame the vine.

These are good:

. Bagel's graphic style.

. Many scenes are looking great (i very much like all the pyramids and slightly darker themed scenes).

. Most animations (there are quite some unique ones fitting nicely to the gfx style, also in the backgrounds).

. All of the effects.

. Some good voice acting (Shay, Marek, the mother, ...).

. Some comments were funnny (i very much liked the teleporters, they got me smiling a couple of times).

. Having a new born modern adventure engine.

. The soundtrack fits nicely to the game (although it's not as awesome as Grim Fandango's OST was).

. Having a game with space scenes at all (i especially liked the space suit scene with the planet moving in the background, the design of the space suit, how the path to the right was drawn and lit from below, the animation of the air pipe or looking at the stars flying by the transparent window in Shay's room down the floor, how the hair of the mother was moving, the teleport animations, ...).

. I love those LucasArts adventure fonts and this one is good too. The german translation is good (although there are errors).

. The camera.

Not so cool:

. The puzzles' difficulty/complexity/creativity/challenge/entertainemt is not sufficient for an adventure i expect it to be, really not.

. The interface isn't perfect for an adventure (yet, at least it needs some further tiny but important tweaks here and there to get it right, 90% are done but not these last 10% which get it fully right).

. The mouse pointer states are so static, especially as the brief mouseover descriptions are missing (i really liked the blinking cross from earlier games, or maybe a quick rotaion of the cross, some quick morph from the cross to the circle, something which makes you more aware of hotspot changes in the background and that there is something you can do), switching just to the circle, dunno, lacks something to me but maybe it would be too much? Can't tell for sure without testing.

. Currently i miss not having brief floating mouseover descriptions and not being able to execute more in depth "Look at" on objects i'm interested in. Maybe after you got used to it and if the interface works flawlessly and the descriptions are sufficient it's not such a big deal anymore but still ... there is something about having a short information whilst wandering over the screen with your mouse and then getting just more if you want to. It might clutter the scene a bit more but then again it delivers so much more on the exploration level. Dunno if it's reasonable offering it as an option due to the additional effort. It's just that something is missing the way it is done right now.

. The icons of the items aren't looking good and they're too small/complex.

. The story wasn't able to get me excited.

. The characters aren't this interesting and/or lack more depth the ability spending more time with them, more communication/time is needed so you can establish relationships, a few are annoying, they're almost playing in the Soda Popper league. I don't understand why i can't spend more time with awesome characters instead.

. A few scenes are too much sugar coated or displaced whilst other great looking scenes lack more details, puzzle integration, things you can explore, reasons to spend more time in them (Marek's rooms are screaming for those). There are some great scenes in the game but you're mostly running through them without doing a lot, this is such a waste, especially in Shay's part.

. I think you should be able to play the game with the mouse alone as well. It would be very cool if the skip/pause options would be available for the mousewheel as well (spinning down/up = skip/pause).

. The release was/is disappointing (DRM and privacy issues related).

Needs improvement:

. Getting the puzzles right, making it an adventure.

. Better story and characters.

. Getting the interface right, those few but important tweaks.

. Getting DRM and privacy issues resolved.

. Adding some more life and depth to the game where it makes sense.

. Offering an option which enables you to read the texts more easily/slowly.

. Enhancing the input configuration, mouse wheel for skip/pause usage.

. More SF, less Fantasy, a darker tone, making the game more exciting/weird/cool/unique and adding some depth.

. Changing the mouse pointer for areas where you can interact with.

. And (((maybe))) adding brief descriptions plus funny/interesting/unexpected/in Alien language written texts for the Look At functionality again.

. Also taking into account that a certain percentage of the audience might be adventure experienced intelligent adults.

Such things...

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I agree that the game is not "cool" in the same sense that the others listed there are. It is aimed more toward kids than those, for sure, but of course many adults enjoy it too.

Tim said he thought it would probably rate an "E":

But I would guess it would be an E. Maybe? There are some poop jokes. And some girls get eaten by a big monster. But nobody smokes or drinks booze or swears. So I'm going to say E for Everyone and also Excellent!

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I understand where the OP is coming from. I think there is a factor (a factor that he calls "cool") from other Schafer games that is missing from Broken Age. I for one don't mind it, though. I was intrigued by the story. It's missing something (besides puzzles), but it's ok. It's not detrimental. Not to me, anyway.

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I think the problem is that chracters are pretty much neutral, most of their responses and "sappyness" comes from the perspective of an alien (the player) seeing some form of different perspective, but that's not enough.

It's as cynic as a christian not doing prayer everyday, from an atheist point of view.

It's not bad per se, but the other characters seems so unidimensional that makes things seem flat and with a lack of punch. They seem to be wrapped in the "one or two jokes personality" and that's it.

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