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"IT'S A NICELY DESIGNED GAME AS LONG AS YOU DON'T WANT ANY MEANING IN YOUR LIFE."-TIM

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Author Topic: Post Beta Impressions Here Please  (Read 8879 times)

MasterLobar

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2018, 04:36:32 AM »

From what I can see in this let's play, I have to walk back one major point of criticism:

The final look is ok. It's not stellar, but it's good and given the resource constraints, it seems appropriate.

I'd still prefer different coloring and less bright colors, but the look is no reason not to like the game.
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Flug

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2018, 09:46:26 AM »

Based on the Youtube 'Let's Play' linked by MasterLobar here are some over-the-shoulder impressions:

Like List

Reduced (bubble?) lighting.
Frame-rate
Stone/wood/fire textures look good as game nears completion.
Nice distance and palette-muting effects
Nice glowy memora-type effects
Blending of environments of different types
Sound effects (i.e. water drip)
Pottery/vases look good (as do insides of boxes) and nice reflective gleam touch. Throwing direction indicators greatly toned down (but still should be off by default...you don't generally throw stuff at your own head, but away from you, and to the centre of where you tend to be pointing.)

The guiding lights and crystal glow are excellent.

The dark areas, atmospheric (hand-held torches not in yet?)

Level design, particularly the more rambling, closed and claustrophic spaces.

Dislikes List

How long do you have to play before you encounter a single moving/living creature? The pacing/unfurling seems way off here, as if no thought has been given to the drip-feed of basic character and NPC interaction. The place often seems dead.

No ambient background music/tunes? (unless they were disabled). A standard requirement in my book for this sort of game, particularly an Underworld game.

UI looks generic and not really Ultima Underworld (besides some basic design pointers). Looks untethered from game.

Levers still have glowing idiot markers.

Boxes etc still have bright blue neon fluorescent outlines by default. Default should be off. Then, if you're having trouble recognising a box on a plinth or in the middle of a table, you could switch them on. Reminds you of Apple's visual impairment aids.

You can't move the box by hitting it? You can't even make contact with it? But you can open it and extract what's inside it? Makes no sense.

Pop-in in foggy/misty areas, particularly in ground objects, very noticeable.

Utter Hate List

Once again, after all the discussions/concessions...Cabirus Voice Over at the beginning, and subsequently....this is barely voice acting to my mind, it is so utterly and ludicrously over the top. Brings Vincent Price to mind, sorry to say.
If this could not be completely removed, I would have to play minus game sound, or not at all. It is not 'not quite to my taste' or 'too American' or 'too theatrical'...it is just wildly, wildly over-the-top...even if it later turns out to be an ironic device or deception. Either way, it just screams '50s/'60s/70s camp'. It renders the entire game-space into 12-year-old kiddie land. No ifs or buts, or mitigating factors. It rips the eyeballs and ears out of the game.

Typhon's VO...and that laugh....umm, slightly less self-strangling, but more wet-yourself-laughing than wet-the-bed-through-nightmare.

Just who on earth are these VOs for, again?  Are they to bolster the advertising voice-acting-credits list? This is not to disparage the actors involved in anyway - it is the directed delivery, and to some extent the dialog.

'Feat accomplished' VO see above.

'An improbable ecology has formed..'. Again, is this referring to the VOs? 'Excreted starlight' to coin a phrase.

Reasons for Optimism

Clearly a huge nukber of improvements and a lot of polish has happened in a short space of time. The janks are greatly reduced, and more finished sounds/visuals seem to be in place. Locales are nicely constructed, seemingly with more big/small balance... more systems seem to be in and working, and there arefewer glitches to yank you out of the world (that's what the VOs and idiot levers and outlines are for).

Reasons for Pessimism

As it stands, is it really an Ultima Underworld game in any way, by any metric you care to use?

Conclusion (based on a second-hand very limited view of the Beta)

It depends what you want...

Interesting game, but not really identifiable as an Ultima Underworld game, either in terms of look, characterisation, plotting, pacing or sound. It is very different. For me the VO work is still far, far too prevalent, and aimed at a young audience. Not sure if I see the logic at work here most teenagers are far more caustic about this sortof thing than a more forgiving tongue-in-cheek adult audience. It skews the overall tone, and that tone is off to my mind.

It seems to be lack the charm, so far, of an Ultima Underworld game, whether through interaction or musical cues, or various combinations of things. Lack of NPCs wandering about further this sense of being de-coupled from a game world. It's almost as if you're in an artifact museum for the game-world. Perhaps this changes later on. For all the wonders of the physics engine, it still seems 'static' because of this lack of 'background hum' characters.
It needs charm, music, and a population.

Remember this is based on one limited play-through online, by somebody else. But I think it does give a flavour of the game.

Would be verygrateful if anyone could point me to other videos I might not be seeing...
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Nyast

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #32 on: October 13, 2018, 10:18:23 AM »

Allright, my turn after 3 hours of playing.

First of all, I have criticized the game for various design decisions I do not agree with. Teleporters being on the top of my list. Not being a true Ultima Underworld is the same.

I'll put all of that aside and speak purely on technical terms, what state the game is in, a month prior to its release.

It is a fudgeing disaster. There is NO WAY everything will be fixed by the release. No way in hell. This isn't even being at alpha level in terms of polish / robustness.

Let's see:

1. This is the elephant in the room: junkiness. Collisions are unsmooth and you'll get stuck into absolutely everything; Forget about enemies, rooms and corridors are your main enemies in this game. Absolutely everything was made to cause frustration and glitch your movements. The only case where it's behaving okay is when you're walking in a huge, perfectly flat room. Otherwise, everything WILL get in your way and cause random movements you did not task. The worst being stairs ( even very small one, with one step ) which will frequently force you to jump around to pass.

Is this real ? it's like nothing has changed since the alpha backer 3 months ago..

As before, physical objects seem extremely fragile or have incorrect weight. Worse, I've often seen objects floating above other objects. Example: a barrel floating 30 cm in the air, above another barrel. Same for smaller items like candles, on top of a table. You've probably made your physics engine too relaxed on the condition of disabling bodies from the physics sim when they're at rest.

2. Rendering issues. The list is enormous. Absolutely everything is glitching. Frustum culling issues ( with walls disappearing in the corner of your screen ). Popping of colors on materials ( like some stone wall assets have colored stones ? they'll often switch back to a neutral color ). Holes between assets showing the hollow part of the level (it's litterally everywhere if you look carefully). Assets not properly joined together, causing heavy Z-fighting. Look at Marcaul ground stones. Again, I'm not judging design decisions like the cartoon look which I hate. Just on pure technical terms, you cannot walk 2 meters without seeing something that reminds you it's a game, with technical issues.

So much for immersion.

3. Audio issues. NPCs all talking at the same time. And often with some loud ambient noises/background. Worse in Marcaul, where I often did not understand what was said. Some NPCs will sometimes speak in French (my locale), ignoring that I've set the game to English in the menu. Most often they do speak english though. No sub-titles, at least not most of the time.. it's all over the place. A big mess.

On a bright note, on pure technical terms the audio quality seems to be top notch.

4. Immersion

All these tutorial stones / graffitis conventiently placed on your path kill immersion and remind you that you're in a video game at every step.

If you're making a physics-based simulation, rules better be coherent. Like, if something is made out of wood, it should be burnable. I've encountered multiple wood walls made of planks ( like in the first room of Upper Erebus ) that did not take fire, no matter how close I had a burning box. Maybe it was a bug, but more likely, you've flagged some wooden assets as "unburnable". Big no-no.

5. AI / NPCs

AI sucks. Not much to say about it, cause it'll often glitch and ignore you, even when you're a meter away.

Undead archers are deadly accurate, even when you run around them quickly. Shouldn't they miss more when somebody is close and moving quickly ?

Some undeads did not have heads. Seemed like a bug, like they had a hole up their shoulders.

Floating lizards in Marcaul look.. stupid. Like a console kid game. There are no interactive dialogues, NPCs just say a voiced line or two when you get close to them and that's it.

THE POSITIVE

The runes system was one of the few things that was more or less preserved from the original Ultima Underworld. That's an excellent thing, cause it rocks. Finding new runes scattered all over the place is a hook. Finding new spell combinations is cool and fun. The UI for the spellbook needs work, visually.

There are hints of bright level design here and there. The entrance to Marcaul is by far the most visually interesting and well designed part of the game I've seen so far. I was impressed by it.

MISC

- there's some delay when entering a portal ( I guess while it's fading out ) where you've walk past the portal. Looks weird.
- auto mapping needs major adjustments. Even walking face to wall, it often does not properly fill the wall lines on the map. The range it fills is all over the place. Sometimes you're walking in a corridor or a room and when you open the auto map, it hasn't filled anything that's clearly visible in front of you, a few meters away..
- some spells are often duplicated on the spellbook, especially when you click on an already-memorize formula
- I haven't seen any way to remove a memorize formula in the spellbook. Please add a remove function
- some rune icons do not seem to match between the "big icon" ( the one displayed on the spellbook wheel ) and the "small icon" ( the one used in UI, or on graffitis on walls ). I got my healing spell wrong due to not recognizing the right rune ( despite having the good formula ! ). Was frustrating.
- UI needs to show items stats, like how effective an armor is or weapons damage. Being able to quickly compare two items is a 2018 expected feature. Overall the UI is in a very very rough state.
- some graffitis do not seem to mean anything, I just see a bunch of squares ( nothing readable ) on various walls ?
- my spellbook formulas seem to have reset after I reached Marcaul for the first time ? the spellbook suddenly became empty..
- throwing axes seemed bugged visually, and did not seem to do any damage to undeads
- sometimes chests open up into walls ( half the chest is behind the wall ). Some items spawn in vertical position and would have been too tall to fit into the chest as is ( ex.: a chest spawns a leather armor which is twice as tall as the chest's height ).
- sometimes interacting with objects ( like chests ) is glitchy. The "interaction" visual effect does not appear even when the object is right in front of you. I've seen a chest, forgot where, where you had to be very precise and aim at a specific few-pixels location in order to open the chest, despite the chest being huge on screen.
- ruins of Gwern seems to have major framerate issues ( I did not go further in the beta, because of it ). Like 10 fps on a 1070 GTX + i7 6700K + 32GB ram
- the entire UI needs to be improved. At the moment it looks like it was made by a 12 years old kid in Paint. Also, please give different icons to different items. A rusty dagger, a short sowrd and a long sword should not all have the same "sword" icon.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2018, 10:28:56 AM by Nyast »
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MasterLobar

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #33 on: October 13, 2018, 10:42:27 AM »

More let's play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrXtenD9rQQ

I don't know what exactly changed compared to the alpha, but I now kind of like the look.

I'm also OK with some of the parcour-like gameplay, had it been possible in 1992, that would probably have been how you'd have to go through the Scintillus Academy. It's ok if it's just part of the game and not the entire game.

The lack of dialog is a huge disappointment, though.
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MasterLobar

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #34 on: October 13, 2018, 10:52:54 AM »

It needs charm, music, and a population.

Add UU-style dialog, NPC interaction, a good story tied to UU and it could be a really good game. Sadly, I expect we won't get any of it.

But I will withhold judgement until final release. The way the look has evolved was a big positive surprise, so there may be more surprises.
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MasterLobar

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #35 on: October 13, 2018, 10:58:50 AM »

Again, I'm not judging design decisions like the cartoon look which I hate.

You don't have the same impression as I do that the look has positively evolved? I think it's much less cartoony now that it once was (apart from the inventory). I still don't like the coloring, but I also think the whole atmosphere is now quite good.
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Nyast

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #36 on: October 13, 2018, 11:34:43 AM »

Again, I'm not judging design decisions like the cartoon look which I hate.

You don't have the same impression as I do that the look has positively evolved? I think it's much less cartoony now that it once was (apart from the inventory). I still don't like the coloring, but I also think the whole atmosphere is now quite good.

Not really, it's a mixed bag really. Some areas look pretty good ( Marcaul entrance ! ) with nice lighting. But some areas are still abusing the cyan / purple lights which I think simply do not fit the game.

NPCs seem to have a cartoony design but have semi-realistic lighting and textures, it looks out of place. I do not understand why most walls have this "clay-material" look while your lizardmen have all this realistic armor material with nitty gritty details.

UI looks like it was done in Paint.

To me it still totally looks like an incoherent mess as a whole, but locally some places do look good.
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Flug

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #37 on: October 13, 2018, 11:42:12 AM »

Further impressions based on the second video linked....(I braved the banter, swearing, cross-talk and showing off, dear reader...) and third....

...Where are annoying ground and critters that keep you on your toes?

Yes, the greater level of darkness really works.

The shadows and general look of Ruins of Gwern is superb.

Parchment notes...where are they? Reading notes in the UI looks sterile and perfunctory...no atmosphere.

Lava looks good. Not sure whether it's better or worse than early versions. Nice glow. Looks hot.

Resherak...is Cabirus? You look round his shop but he says nothing...only when distance activated. Surely a 'Hi' when you first walk in...? Graphically, skinned nicely.

Being called 'Ascendant' rubs me up entirely the wrong way. I don't know why.

Those blessed VOs again....this time explaining what a Rune is, what it can do, and what they can be used for. Sigh.

Feats. How big are yours? Size 10...42....do they do them in half-sizes...?

The wonders of Marcaul cut-off in their prime by the VO doing a blow-by-blow explanation. Reduces the organ-swell feeling to rubble. You can't seem to talk to a lizard there and get their attention in any way. But...jar Jar Bi-Aelita is as annoying as ever.

Marcaul looks good, but a fair few graphical glitches, pop-in, z-culls etc as has been said.

...is there incidental music in this build, or tunes that signpost danger, relief as per the originals?

You should able to swing a weapon without grunting

Denizens, where are the denizens...?

...and whatever happened to the tapestries/arrases on the walls we saw very, very early on in dev...?

Tek and Nyast, thanks for good, lengthy critiques....


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Flug

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #38 on: October 13, 2018, 11:45:53 AM »

...agree on the Cyan/purple light thing...the shade is out palette-wise given other tones/half tones and dominant colours. It should be dominant in those areas that call for it, not competing with a blizzard of oranges and also those incandescent (awful!) neon zapper lever lights.

In short...overkill.

Actually, I find it quite tiring to look at for a length of time. The darkness is jarred by so many bright (blooming and saturated) localised colours. Add the blue neon magic wands and you have a migraine.

Colours need thinning out. After a couple of years of seeing the look go from austere to stylised to blended-with-added-effects...\i'm reminded of artricificial colouring added to kid's drinks...the ones with lots of fizz in them.

As someone who has periodically bitten off people's heads when they've said it looks cartoony....well, it looks cartoony far too often.

Levels need another pass in terms of light patterning and concept. Less is more.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2018, 11:49:20 AM by Flug »
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MasterLobar

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #39 on: October 13, 2018, 12:34:36 PM »

But some areas are still abusing the cyan / purple lights which I think simply do not fit the game.

I also think the colors used are annoying in some places. Still, I can't say why exactly, but I somehow find the look much improved.

I have to say I am just watching, I am not playing, but from what I have seen, the one main concern I have that overrides any other positives: WHY CAN'T ONE TALK TO PEOPLE??????

Aelita is greeting the player ("Welcome to our perilous little sepulchral perdition"), which is nice. I want to ask her:

Does she know me? If so, why/how?

What manner is this place?

What is the history of Marcaul? How does it fit in the wider history of the abyss?

Who exactly is she?

How did she come here?

Why does she live among the Saurian people?

What has she heard about Cabirus and Typhon?

Has Typhon attacked/harrassed Marcaul in the past?

Can she tell me anything about the surroundings?

Can she tell me anything about how to proceed? Who next to talk to?

There are a thousand things I want to know that would flesh out the story and make the game interesting in the first place.

This is all missing. NPCs are just sending out. There is no interaction at all. Even Doom had more possibilities of interaction with NPCs.

It seems like the player is just running through the game, just being told what is essential for them to know.
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Other-MajorMalphunktion

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #40 on: October 13, 2018, 12:40:50 PM »

read by a dev.
keep it coming.

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Glic2000

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #41 on: October 13, 2018, 01:22:29 PM »

...
Being called 'Ascendant' rubs me up entirely the wrong way. I don't know why.
....

Because it hearkens back to one of the oldest fantasy RPG cliches:   that the player is the "chosen one."   And I realize that was the plot of the old Ultima games, so that's not really an issue, it just gets so grating when the VO keeps repeating it over and over again.

The problem with the VO isn't just that it's annoying, overbearing, over-acted and intrusive.  It's also just badly-written. 
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Flug

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2018, 02:11:45 PM »

Glic2000...I don't like levelling criticism whch can be read as too narrow (personal) but I have to agree. If it wasn't quite so dreadful...I could grin and bear it. But I can't...the dialog as it stands is just icky, and undoes the game. Compounded with the Voice Over tyle and we've got Melissa McCarthy doing Sean Spicer on the mobile podium down Times Square. How did we get here in an Underworld Game? It woudn't be ok in *any* game. Rationally-speaking, never mind the affection anyone might feel for the original games, I'm just baffled. It isn't a new take an old tropes, or pushing the genre forward, or any of those things.

Now, imagine you were playing this game in your own head, and could interact with NPCs and have a dialog with them (and Aelita etc)...it would be an entirely different experience. All those environments would come alive, th physics engine would have a home, and the plot would have a world to hang off. Even portals would blend in to the background.

But I also have a nagging feeling and it's this: this, despite the leaps and bounds improvement, is what we'd expect of a de-populated Alpha, not a Beta with a month out. The progress has been accelerated recently, so we know what an be done, and the point on the chart is fine....if there were another 6 - 12 months. Perhaps these systems are still in the wings?

I really don't enjoy raising this, because it sound so negative, but take 6 months to a year, and *populate* this game, make it come alive through dialog, characters, NPCs etc.  The factions, for instance...?

I don't doubt some things are being held back for spoiler reasons, but NPCs, dialog, factions...? If so, please clarify devs.

Also - I beg you - please take the plunge and finally, irrecoverably, get rid of the kiddie aspects that are suffocating this game. If you must have those things, leave them off by default. Take the time to add the missing dialog/NPC/elements (assuming they're not currently on standby), and it stands a chance with modern players who are not bound by the original but like the house-style. But what I see now is not really an RPG, nor an Underworld game. It is intriguing, it shows promise, it has many outstanding aspects -  but I'm not seeing a coherent game in the 'now'...more an exploration of ancient, dead ruins, being curated by a few static characters. Bear in mind this may all change with other levels...if so, please indicate.

Above all, it needs dialog of some kind, a heart and soul. Even cheesy dialog is okay up to a point, because it's not going to have the Vincent Price delivery, it will have your own delivery. I was sure dialog was coming, in some form? The lizard language, for example....or is this limited to certain formats?

At the moment we have ciphers, frankly, apart from the big baddie - Typhon, who doesn't really need much back-story. He's bad, that's it. And he works.

So the game-killers for me so far are still the VOs, much of the current character cast, the lack of NPC interaction and population as a whole, lack of music, and a bunch of minor annoyances such as colour-ways, idiot levers, the UI etc

What I find odd is that we've all been through this (how many times) and been told it's been heard (in triplicate) and acted on. Failing that, can someone please post a short youtube with these elements switched off?

The point of beta -besides beta testing - is that it's played by enthusiasts mostly, not the casual end of the spectrum. That's even more reason to show the game in its fullest, and purest, form.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2018, 02:18:33 PM by Flug »
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Nyast

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2018, 02:29:27 PM »

But what I see now is not really an RPG, nor an Underworld game.

The real question I want to ask the devs is: who is this game for ? what market ?

By going to Kickstarter and selling this game as a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld, I would have thought they targetted people like me: 40 years old, fans of older, classic RPGs.

But when you play this game, it feels like it is targetted to teens. Cartoony visual style ? Check. Melodramatic voice-overs ? Check. Shallow one-sentence dialogues to keep attention spawn ? Check. Achiev.. I mean "features" ? Check. Teleporters instead of interconnected dungeon ( yeah still haven't swallowed that one ) ? Check.

By trying to cater to everyone, you're going to make a mediocre experience for both groups. At least this is my feeling.

Will post more feedback once I play more of the beta later.
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edbgon

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Re: Post Beta Impressions Here Please
« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2018, 02:53:08 PM »

I just got finished putting my first four hours into the beta. I started with the tutorial part and immediately got a feel for how things work. After making it to Marcaul, I started my first quest. Unfortunately, I had to give up after my system was brought to it's knees in Gwern.

I like the look of the game and I like the potential it has, but after playing the beta and seeing the release date, I have to ask, do you guys really want to release this so soon? Can all this be wrapped up that fast? I enjoyed these first four hours, but there were several times I had to restart because of problems.

I'm just going to list a few of my gripes here, a lot of this has been covered already:
  • Choosing return to Mercaul during the second part of the intro sequence leaves you stuck outside the closed gate with no portal.
  • Chests sometimes are already opened or cannot be opened
  • The framerate goes down to about 5fps when nearing Gwern @ 1920x1080 on medium (I have a GTX980)
  • Ultrawide resolutions aren't supported. Granted this is common, but wouldn't it be nice to utilize all this screen real estate? The default chosen resolution drew text off of the screen somewhere.
  • Some buildings/barrels just floated in the air and it was easy to fall through the landscape
  • Can't change keybindings, that's ok for now
  • The "instant" arrow shots felt unnatural
  • Some dark areas seemed "negatively" dark, that is, they not only were dark, but they absorbed any light that came in
  • Some graffiti just showed up as squares
  • I'd really like to be able to save and come back. I thought I could leave in Gwern and try to re-load to see if it would fix the framerate issue
  • Does every table have to "hop" when I bump into it or take arrows off of the top of it? Physics seem a bit bouncy.
  • At the end of the second part of the intro, when you make it to the end you can run back and come back to the end over and over, triggering the victory status info box as many times as you like.

Other than this, I really like how it is so far. This has the potential to be a fantastic game. Keep it up, I hope these things get ironed out before it's go time.
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