[Feedback] Caverns of Turmoil (CRPG)

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My first Flash game: http://www.kongregate.com/games/Zrevnur/caverns-of-turmoil

Please give some feedback:

What do you like or dislike?
Should anything be added or removed?
What could be done better?

Any constructive critique is welcome – whether its about little details or big changes.

 
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I like it.

Levelling up is a bit of a pain. Since going down a level seems to be just about the only way to get XP, and may still yield little, no, or even negative points, the difficulty outpaces you quickly… but then, unlocking the medals gives more stat points, which is good (though it would be nice if the benefits could apply to the character unlocking the medal). Most of the time, if I can rest at all (which isn’t often), it is for too little benefit to be even worth considering, so I think you might want to tinker with that a bit.

Personally, I’d recommend increasing the levelling requirements and the positive bonii to match, increasing the negative bonii to maybe around half the increase of the positive, and adding a small XP gain for defeating enemies (relative to their level, of course). Keep in mind that these recommendations are from the perspective of someone that likes to clear out a level, if I can, which may not be the intended way to play (though I have tried rushing down as quick as possible, but I actually fared much worse playing that way).

There are a few details that the manual is missing. The one I remember was that I picked up a broadsword and I was comparing it to my equipped sword to see which was better; the sword said “M 10” (which I had assumed meant 10 mundane damage) and the broadsword said “M 5” (which I thought was odd, because I would’ve expected it to be a better weapon) — then I saw a Faery attack spell, which said “S -45”, so I assumed my original assessment had been incorrect. I couldn’t find anywhere that explained what it stood for, though. Maybe I just missed it? Oh, also, it said my preferred light level was -1. I assumed that meant 1 dark.

 
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@dragon_of_celts

Thanks for your comments.

xp/leveling/resting: I am thinking about adding an easier difficulty level (better resting, more xp, more time/level, some start boni) to make it more approachable.

Clearing level vs rushing down: The “intended way to play” is that it depends on your character and situation which is the better choice. You do get bonus XP for a full clear (+1 Explorer, +1 Conqueror) but it takes time which increases Turmoil.

The sword vs broadsword: “M 10” means “melee, 10 hit”; “S” is for “Spell”. The damage and damage type/s of the attack is determined by the 3 or 4 little swords afterwards. So the broadsword does more damage – but also misses more often. (I should make that more clear.)

 
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I could like it, if it was a bit clearer what I’m supposed to do. For some reason, killing monsters earned me no experience. For some other reason, I had to manually pick stuff up even though there was no way of knowing what it was and what it would do in advance, and it was always beneficial. Stuff that was detrimental was always picked up automatically, it’s exactly backwards from proper design. Going down levels got me XP penalties for being exhausted (and sometimes wounded) even when I went straight for the level exit, so what is ‘exhausted’ about? Needless to say, I ended the game at level 1 with 0 XP. I still killed a level 2 monster before dying.

You need to make it a lot more explicit what is going on. As it stands, I can not see myself playing your game for fun.

 
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Originally posted by Zrevnur:

The sword vs broadsword: “M 10” means “melee, 10 hit”; “S” is for “Spell”. The damage and damage type/s of the attack is determined by the 3 or 4 little swords afterwards. So the broadsword does more damage – but also misses more often. (I should make that more clear.)

Oh yes, that makes sense; I just couldn’t think of what “M” stood for (though “melee” should’ve been obvious)… I knew the little swords and such were indicators of type and strength of damage… Now that I think about it, I recall seeing an “R” for the bow, and at that time I knew that R == ranged, M == melee, and S == spell; I just managed to have a critical mental failure, I guess…

Originally posted by Zrevnur:

xp/leveling/resting: I am thinking about adding an easier difficulty level (better resting, more xp, more time/level, some start boni) to make it more approachable.

Well, the comment about resting wasn’t really about difficulty; rather that it just wasn’t at all useful. Since resting takes time, you already get a turmoil penalty for using it. Then to only get a very small percentage of HP/MP (if resting is even an option) is a very poor trade-off. I know there are skills for increasing the rest %, though, so depending on how much the percentages increase with those…

Originally posted by Zrevnur:

Clearing level vs rushing down: The “intended way to play” is that it depends on your character and situation which is the better choice. You do get bonus XP for a full clear (+1 Explorer, +1 Conqueror) but it takes time which increases Turmoil.

The Conqueror bonus, in itself, is kind of a stupid thing to go for (I say that while still consistently playing for it). Since enemies can spawn at any time, there’s a better than decent chance that after all the harm to yourself you do in HP loss and turmoil gain that you aren’t going to end up with the bonus anyway. HP loss magnifies the folly of chasing this bonus because it means you can’t get the full life bonus (whatever it was called) and you may get the wounded penalty on top of it (plus, with increased turmoil, all the potential penalties that come with that).

As far as XP for killing enemies, that suggestion wasn’t about making it easier, either (though it is a side effect, the scale of which depends on how it is dealt with). If, for example, levelling requirements and bonii were multiplied by 100, and killing an enemy yielded the creatures level number (so, relatively low values, usually in the single digits), it would compensate somewhat for the extreme riskiness of venturing for the Conqueror bonus. It would also feel like the player is being rewarded rather than penalized for taking on the creatures (there already is quite enough penalty for taking them on). With that scaling, it would hardly break the focus (and need) for trying to get the existing bonii.

Just my opinion, of course.

 
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@Ace_Blue

Auto-pickup: Good idea for items (excluding Sigils for which not picking them up can be a tactical choice).

Picking up detrimental stuff: Maybe give an example of what you mean? Detrimental are only: Traps, Monsters and some Runes. All of them trigger when the tile is entered. They are obstacles to overcome or avoid. None of them can be put into inventory.

“exhausted”: You can get “exhausted” if your mana is not full. The XP modifiers can be clicked to get a description. I should add an overlay help for them.

“You need to make it a lot more explicit what is going on.”
Like an intro or a tutorial?

“if it was a bit clearer what I’m supposed to do”
I am not sure what exactly I am supposed to make more clear? I dont want to tell players what they “should” do. I think they should have the freedom to choose for themselves how they want to play or what they “should” do.

@dragon_of_celts

Resting: Its probably more an explanation/understanding thing? Usefulness (or necessity) of resting depends a lot on which character/build you play. Base rate at Turmoil 0% with full mana on a built tile is: 35% health regained. With “Ankh” and/or “Restful Sleep” it goes much higher yet. Bad would be: No mana, higher Turmoil, cave tile with trap on it.

XP: Thanks, I understand your point.

 
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Making things clearer:

A game has to have an objective, a win condition. What is my goal when I play the game? At which point do I consider that I have ‘won’ a particular game? Will the game tell me? At which point have I beaten the game itself? Are those objectives stated, or should I make some up for myself?

Auto-pickup:

Does picking up a new sigil stack with or replace the previous sigil? I thought it stacked, but your comment makes me think I might have been wrong. In case it replaces it, it would be nice to know what the sigil that’s on the ground does before picking it up. You know, so the player can make meaningful choices, instead of pretty much walking around at random.

Traps:

Traps in your game are arbitrary punishments. They are inflicted on the player no matter what. Maybe I wasn’t paying close attention but it appeared to me that mana drain traps were pretty much invisible before being triggered. That’s terrible in its own right, but punishing the player again at the end of the level because they happened to trigger a trap that was designed not to be seen is beyond the pale. Your players are not your enemies. You’re supposedly trying to entertain them, not turn them off. It’s not a win for you when a player says: “This is bull****” and turns off the game.

Look at the ice patches. They look like nothing in particular, but they are highly visible, so there’s a good chance the player will try stepping on one. They get punished for exploring (never a good idea, don’t do that!) and from then on they’ll avoid ice patches (let’s be honest, after a while they’ll avoid pretty much everything that isn’t the exit ladder.) Ice patches are of two types: some are in rooms and can be walked around, completely negating their usefulness as a hazard, others are in hallways and have to be stepped through, making them random punishments that you inflict on the player, just because. Both are bad design.

Monsters:

The RPG paradigm is door-monster-treasure, as illustrated in the card game Munchkin. Basically, the player is expected to explore the dungeon, kill the monsters and take their stuff. Mechanics are designed to emphasize this paradigm: Multiple hallways encourage exploration, and offers players a chance to pick the safest path. Monsters drop loot and experience, in addition to guarding riches, to reinforce the concept that killing monsters is encouraged. Found gold adds to the player’s total, a score of sorts, that tells them quickly and easily how well they are doing on a linear scale. All of these elements are commonly found in RPGs because they are good ideas.

Not so in your game. In your game, monsters are purely obstacles, all pain no reward. The only reason I could find to ever attack one is if they are blocking a passageway you need to explore. And since they don’t move, monsters in rooms are just decoration. In fact, monsters in your game are glorified ice patches. Combat is immensely dull, since once again there is no meaningful decision for the player to take during combat. It’s all so arbitrary you could just have the whole combat in one step: “You killed the <monster> but lost <amount> life points.”

In summary, the three main weaknesses right now, in my view, are:
- Absence of a goal.
- Arbitrary punishments inflicted on the player.
- Lack of meaningful choices for the player to make.

Please note I am not saying all this to put you down. I think your game could be good, but if you’re going to violate the genre conventions you have to replace them with something that makes sense, and that improves upon them. Otherwise, why throw away a perfectly good paradigm?

 
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@Ace_Blue

Objective: Its an RPG, the point is to take the role of the PC. The PC doesnt know anything about the caverns. So in the RPG sense I cant spoil the player by telling the “win condition” upfront.

Sigils: They replace, do not stack and do not outlast battles. Ok, I should make an overlay help for sigils/items on the ground.

Traps: The traps being “hidden and unfair” is just like in many roguelike games (like “Angband”). There is a skill, a talent and some spells to detect, avoid or destroy traps. Stats also help to dodge or resist them.

 
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Caverns of Turmoil, vanquished. I like this game mainly because it is more about survival and escape then it is running around and killing everything, though you can sometimes do that if you’re careful about it ;). I particularly like the ways you gain ‘or lose’ XP, though I would expect something from monsters as well. I would like to suggest a few things though.

:A brief tutorial. ‘and maybe a more advanced one alongside it’ Alot of people simply want to play a game rather then take 5 minutes to look over a manual, and this is not a game you can easily play without knowing what is going on.

:When I’ve tripped the same trap on the same tile multiple times, I’d expect to be more careful and try harder to avoid it the next time I walk onto said tile.

:Slight variations in the same types of equipment. Every ‘Sword’ ‘Shoddy Chainmail’ ‘Battle Staff’ you come across should not be exact duplicates of each respective item, some should be slightly better ‘or worse’.

:Lower XP costs on Charms. I’ve never found reason to use them with those costs when a CL is far more beneficial to go for.

 
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Like others mentioned, there doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to fighting monsters. This is the biggest issue with the game for me. It seems like its better to run straight to the exit on each stage, which still levels you up enough if you don’t have to fight something later.

You could also simplify the buttons a little – just one, context sensitive ‘action’ button that would pick up or activate whatever you were standing on would make more sense than having four different buttons for different situations.

 
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@Dakkon

Variance in equipment: Yes, makes sense.

Charms: I am not happy with the XP/leveling vs Charms either. Currently the main use for charms is in the end if you have “spare” XP left.

@saybox

Fight vs Run: The idea is that it is a tactic/strategic challenge: Cost (time, health, risk, XP, …) vs gain (loot, XP, …). My intent was to make it so that there is no simple universal answer like “fighting is better/worse than going down”.

Buttons: Only “activate trap” and “descend” are overlapping (stair and trap cannot coexist) so I could only remove one of them. In vaults it can make sense to rest on a trap. Items can be anywhere.

 
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Did it on hardcore. Sigil of magic is a bit OP >_<. But i guess i would kill final boss anyway

http://savepic.org/3048131.jpg
http://savepic.org/3050179.jpg
http://savepic.org/3053251.jpg

 
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@Sapher

Thanks for posting. Some sigils being strong is ok.