Fun Game design feedback

Mike Donais
Level 2
3 months ago (edited)

I spend way too much time thinking about what makes a game fun, so thought I would throw in some feedback.

Solasta overall is fun, lots of fun decisions, both in combat and in character creation.

Fun stuff:

1. Choosing which spells to cast and being rewarded, especially with AOE spells where you get lots of targets.

2. Sending a fast melee character to base casters and archers and getting free AOO on them.

3. Picking the right spells or skills when you level up.

4. Optimizing gear and magic items on the right characters.

These are all meaningful decisions where you understand what is going on and feel smart for doing the right thing.


Some stuff that is not fun:

- These are not fun meaningful decisions, they feel more like work than playing a heroic fantasy game.

1. Moving around inventory items to get under the weight limit. getting reduce movement speed or disadvantage because of loot. Loot should make you happy not sad. Weight is not interesting meaningful or fun. Please add an option to disable it.

2. Managing food and not starving on journeys. No real upside, it isn't interesting or fun. You just need to find it in shops and buy tons of it and hope you don't get trapped on a long journey with no food and feel bad. It hurts newer or more casual players that don't really understand the problem. It feels more like work than a fun heroic fantasy game. Please add an option to disable food. Another idea that kingmaker did was make food a small buff, like +1 all saves, instead of downside. Players love when a thing is upside instead of downside.

Those are the 2 biggest feel bad elements right now for the most people. Maybe just change those 2 things to optional or remove them entirely.

3. Darkness / disadvantage on attacks. This has fun gameplay for some players. However most players don't understand it that well, or don't enjoy the micro of keeping light cast on everyone after every short rest and after every ritual and after every long rest and whenever light fades. If you want to keep it, have an autocast toggle for casting light on all 4 PCs automatically whenever it expires.

I spent more time casting light on everyone over and over again and it very quickly felt like work instead of fun. This is another thing you could add a menu option to disable entirely, or autocast light to make it less bad. Even with autocast ranged attackers can still have problems. 

Many more casual players won't realize that light is expiring all the time and that it needs to be on everyone and will fail attacks a lot more because of it. It punishes the wrong types of players and they may play for many hours without even knowing. They will miss 75% of their attacks and then feel bad and quit the game without going to the forums and asking what is going on.

I would make it an optional rule you can disable.

All 3 of these things make the game experience worse for casual players who are not rules experts or pay a lot of attention to details. Perhaps have a hard mode option that lets you turn on all 3 of these if you want to opt in, but in normal mode leave them off and let people focus on the fun parts of the game instead.


thanks for reading :)






the_glimpse
Level 10
3 months ago

1) Inventory management is useful in the game because it makes you decide between if someone is down some movement or do you really need that fourth set of commoner's clothing taking up space. It's an optional rule in tabletop D&D but it makes sense in a tactical turn based game.

2) Food is also essential. While I think the tutorial for it should probably be expanded beyond "buy food for the journey" it's something that needs to be enforced .

3) Darkness and Dim Light are part of the rules, and that includes managing light sources.

Everything you want removed would make the game way too easy and boring.


-Glimpse

Galadan
Level 7
Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago

1) Inventory management is useful in the game because it makes you decide between if someone is down some movement or do you really need that fourth set of commoner's clothing taking up space. It's an optional rule in tabletop D&D but it makes sense in a tactical turn based game.

2) Food is also essential. While I think the tutorial for it should probably be expanded beyond "buy food for the journey" it's something that needs to be enforced .

3) Darkness and Dim Light are part of the rules, and that includes managing light sources.

Everything you want removed would make the game way too easy and boring.


I seem to be agreeing with the_glimpse an awful lot lately.


The inventory management makes getting goodberry/create food/proficiency in survival and choosing high strength characters/the hauler feat using the scavenger faction all more important and as noted is good as another factor to consider in a tactical game.

The same for food as above, also it adds to the atmosphere of going into the BADlands, which I appreciate. It could be more clearly emphasised though.

Nothing to add on the light/darkness, I like it and there appear to be ample ways to solve the issue provided.


Cheers



Miles to go before I sleep

Mike Donais
Level 2
3 months ago (edited)

Thanks for the response. I do get that these are the rules, and that is a reasonable argument. My counter argument is that they are not fun. Obviously fun is an objective thing, so maybe you have fun doing this extra micro management, but I propose that most people don't. Not only that, some people don't even realize what is going on until the experience is really bad (starving in the middle of nowhere from food, or missing most attacks from encumbrance or bad light) and just quit the game because they are so frustrated.


For people who do enjoy micro the suggestion is to leave them in either as an option, or add a realism difficulty with all 3 of those on.

As for game balance, really encumbrance and food don't affect balance, they are just fiddly stuff you have to do. You can even drop all of your inventory as a free action at the start of combat, and pick it up at the end. Not fun to do, but currently how it works.

Darkness does affect game balance, but I would rather play on hard mode where enemies deal more damage or more enemies spawn, than play with lighting and recasting light constantly on everyone.






3 months ago (edited)

As always, the balance point between simulation and gameplay (i.e. "fun") is going to be different for different people.  I love fiddling around in the inventory because it's part of what makes the game feel immersive for me.  I'm imagining the party passing the items and chatting, that sort of thing.  Also, every item feels precious (the great images and icons deserve mention here).  

So it's not a chore for me in the way it is for some.  (That's not to say we shouldn't have QOL options galore for inventory management.)

Same for managing food, etc.

There are ways those could be made a chore even for me, but this game has it about right as far as I'm concerned.

picklesgrr
Level 9
3 months ago

1) Inventory management is useful in the game because it makes you decide between if someone is down some movement or do you really need that fourth set of commoner's clothing taking up space. It's an optional rule in tabletop D&D but it makes sense in a tactical turn based game.

Except you don't really need any of it, it is just some cash value and a mountain of crafting components. I had to get the haversack so that my 10 STR Cleric was strong enough to wear the magic +1 Half Plate. That was meaningful decision. Reshuffling my inventory after every journey because the way the game consumes and then scavengers food was not.  I do not like micro management but I can deal with a bit of it if it has some meaningful consequences. Here it really does not - looting and reordering your inventory is not strategy. it is busy work. 

(eg I am not playing Stellaris ever again - a couple of patches ago the micro burden went through the roof) .


2) Food is also essential. While I think the tutorial for it should probably be expanded beyond "buy food for the journey" it's something that needs to be enforced .

Food is similar. I do not consider "buy all the food you can then hope your ranger/hunter rolls well" to be a meaningful strategic or planning decision. I would like for there to be some consequence for low food, and I like the way it gates long rests,  but I do not feel it is currently implemented in an interesting way.

Maybe foraging should be a crafting activity? There should be some real or opportunity cost to having to forage instead of planning.  



3) Darkness and Dim Light are part of the rules, and that includes managing light sources.

I enjoyed the tactical puzzle of using light. Except for one monster I was always able to use it to my advantage or at least make it even.  I do not see why you need to keep recasting light? The idea is to light up the enemy not yourself. One light plus one Dancing light was enough, usually less, supplemented by everyone occasionally swapping to their light source set up & dropping torches on the floor or kiting enemies into illuminated areas.  Magic Missile and save spells are also good. 



Everything you want removed would make the game way too easy and boring.

I am not sure how rearranging my inventory of worthless crap is not boring or makes the game in any way hard but whatever. The dark parts were obviously challenging if frustrating for some people. 

Galadan
Level 7
Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago

Cool Post.

We will have to disagree on weight and rations, I like it and think, at the level presented, it provides a real feeling of being an adventurer, with, according to posts here and on steam about people starving, real consequences for a lack of planning/patience/relying on luck.

Your cleric and the handy haversack is a decision made more important, in my opinion by having to account for rations and inventory weight. I was also very glad when I found the handy haversack, for similar reasons. Without inventory weight many characters will not have that choice to make.

Am not really a big fan of "busy work" as an argument, as, for me, it is very reductionist and will eventually lead to "I win" and/or "awesome button" barely interactive "cinematic experiences" not games.

"fun" is also a very subjective concept and seems to vary greatly between people making it a difficult thing to fix. (I will use the RNG complaints as an example of this again.)

Cheers


Miles to go before I sleep

the_glimpse
Level 10
3 months ago

For me personally I like the feeling of "that looked cool what was that?" and having to dig through my inventory to find it and decide who gets it.

You can always hit sort on your inventory though. Then you know what to sell or drop.


-Glimpse

Ilxuss
Level 5
3 months ago

Some stuff that is not fun:

- These are not fun meaningful decisions, they feel more like work than playing a heroic fantasy game.

1. Moving around inventory items to get under the weight limit. getting reduce movement speed or disadvantage because of loot. Loot should make you happy not sad. Weight is not interesting meaningful or fun. Please add an option to disable it.

I think the problem with this stems from the lack of scavengers functionality - they don't work as of now and lore-wise they are supposed to move after you and clean the stuff you leave behind which should eliminate the tediousness. The devs could even add something like faction reputation increase the more loot you leave behind (scavengers would probably prefer to follow somebody who leaves a lot of stuff behind rather than somebody who takes everything that isn't screwed down with them).

2. Managing food and not starving on journeys. No real upside, it isn't interesting or fun. 

I didn't dislike this aspect but maybe that's because I never had problems with food (ranger, goodberries spell, and summon rations spell) but I do understand how not prepared players could get stuck. Maybe add different foods that spoil but if you have a large variety of it you get the bonuses but when you don't have it you don't get disadvantages (something akin to food management in PoE2:Deadfire)? But this could only add to not being fun because players could perceive it as mandatory.

3. Darkness / disadvantage on attacks. This has fun gameplay for some players. However most players don't understand it that well, or don't enjoy the micro of keeping light cast on everyone after every short rest and after every ritual and after every long rest and whenever light fades. If you want to keep it, have an autocast toggle for casting light on all 4 PCs automatically whenever it expires.

I didn't understand it in the beginning too (no experience with 5E and not knowing the rules) but after some trial and error I got used to that and don't entirely dislike it but yeah, it could use some polish - communicating the mechanics better at the very least and maybe some tweaking (but then it's not hard to buff the light to the point that planning around it gets obsolete so maybe there is no good solution).

ekimami
Level 6
3 months ago (edited)

I think the developers are aiming towards a certain level of tedium that makes players always be on their toes in regards to preparation, resource management, party comp, and overall optimization. 

The other 5e game is more geared towards what you're describing: A chill, cinematic experience, light on mechanics and very low on party upkeep.

I very much prefer what Solasta's offering and the more "dark", though whimsical direction the game is looking to achieve.

Stabbey
Level 8
Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago

I don't mind  a weight limit existing, but it seems really, really strict right now. My point-buy Rogue with a -1 STR penalty can barely carry his weapons, arrows, and some food rations. I need to stuff just about everything else onto the Cleric. I'm thinking of selling my commoners clothing because it's weight I do not need.

I don't hate managing food rations, but it's pretty heavy stuff. On my trip through Caer Lem i picked up tons of food rations, and left behind all the weapons and armor, because I couldn't carry anything else.

I do agree with the complaints about the darkness. It feels like the enemy is cheating to have "Superior Darkvision" while my regular Darkvision is completely worthless.

Galadan
Level 7
Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago

Out of 65 entries in the bestiary, I fought (and passed knowledge checks for, so I may have missed a couple or not gotten high enough checks to see senses, (the vamp certainly)) 30 of them, of those 10 had superior darkvision.

That does not seem so bad to me.


Cheers



Miles to go before I sleep

Stabbey
Level 8
Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago

Out of 65 entries in the bestiary, I fought (and passed knowledge checks for, so I may have missed a couple or not gotten high enough checks to see senses, (the vamp certainly)) 30 of them, of those 10 had superior darkvision.

That does not seem so bad to me.


Cheers

How many PC races have Superior Darkvision? The answer is 0. This is a bad change.

Galadan
Level 7
Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago (edited)

I disagree, I see nothing wrong with the change which was well explanied in the developers light update noted on these boards.

Also, unless I misread, one of your posts was implying that all enemies had superior darkvision, I was simply pointing out that it was not so.

Cheers


Miles to go before I sleep

Stabbey
Level 8
Kickstarter Backer
3 months ago

I disagree, I see nothing wrong with the change which was well explanied in the developers light update noted on these boards.

In that very post the developers say, and I quote:

"But this has scarcely been used in video games, notably because of the many problems involved when it comes to player experience. We too had to brainstorm a lot to find how we’d use this in an interesting way: after all, micromanaging light must not become a burden. "

The developers explained that their motivation is "micromanaging light must not become a burden." But that is exactly what this change has done, because instead of 2 of 8 subrace choices having difficulty in low light, they decided to "fix it" by making it a solid 8 out of 8 subraces having difficulty in low light, and by giving enemies a special version where they don't suffer any such disadvantage.

Going by the developers own intentions, the change is bad.

ekimami
Level 6
3 months ago

I don't consider casting Dancing lights once and placing it somewhat towards the middle of the action to be stressful enough to be consider micro management. 

And if "every enemy has superior darkvision", then certainly there's absolutely no downside to always have Light up on your front liner.