Recent posts by zontan on Kongregate

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Topic: Kongregate Multiplayer Games / [Clash of the Dragons] Thoughts & Review

You’re pretty quick to write me off as an ADHD kid. Irregardless of the fact that ADHD is an actual medical condition which I do happen to have, not a “problem” it has nothing to do with my concerns. Those concerns, I might add, you rather missed the point of. The autopilot is indeed really useful – it lets you get through boring battles without having to waste your time. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that is ‘engaging’ because it’s not. The point I am trying to make is that the autopilot should not be necessary. If playing the game is boring you to the point of you needing a feature that plays it for you, the issue is not with the autopilot feature, but with the battles not being interesting. You don’t see an autopilot feature for Baiten Kaitos, or Pokemon, or Final Fantasy, or Fire Emblem, or really any good turn-based strategy, because the game is contained within that strategy and being able to have the computer do it for you defeats the point of playing the game.

As for your next point… you again completely missed my point. I DID read the story. I complimented the story on its writing, you think I didn’t read it? It’s great writing. My point is that those ‘ADHD kids’ you keep insulting aren’t going to bother, and they should be encouraged not to. At the very least make it harder to accidentally skip the story – don’t put important exposition in a battle result that people might click through just out of habit.

To your next point: Adding new cards frequently doesn’t change up the entire game. It’s a CCG – the whole point is that you get new cards that you can use to make your deck better and uniquely yours. Getting a new card after every fight won’t change up your entire deck, it just gives you the option to switch out something that wasn’t working for something that might be better. Or if you don’t want to learn a new deck dynamic, just don’t add the card. How is that jumping through hoops?

As for quitting after a day… one, I didn’t say I was quitting (I’m not). Two, it generally takes about an hour to get a feel for how a game plays and whether or not the mechanics are enjoyable, not a day. Sure, there’s stuff I haven’t tried – but I have experienced the core mechanics to the point where I understand how the game works and can see the potential there. And the excuse “Don’t worry, it gets good after a few days” is the BS here – you should not have to play a game for several days to get to the good stuff. Would you accept that logic regarding an arcade game? Or really any commercial game? A lot of them you can beat in a day, if you’re dedicated. Telling people to spend more than a few hours of their life on something they don’t enjoy is not going to get you players, and that is how games make money. You need to be engaging from the start – you need a hook, or your game will fail.

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Topic: Kongregate Multiplayer Games / [Clash of the Dragons] Thoughts & Review

Sup. So I started playing this game yesterday and honestly I’m pretty disappointed. Not because it’s a bad game (it really isn’t), but because it seems like it’s completely wasting its potential to be a really awesome game. Some points:

Firstly, the game is just boring. The fact that there is an autopilot feature should be a pretty major warning sign. If people are literally sacrificing power to have the ability to not play your game, you’re doing it wrong. If you have a game which focuses around battles (like this one) you need battles to be enjoyable. There are a couple ways to do this, but in CCG games in particular, the way this is generally done is to make the battles strategic and interesting puzzles. This is really easy to do with a CCG just because you have the potential for so much variety. But here it’s just not used at all. None of the starting cards are in any way distinct from each other, so it really doesn’t particularly matter which one I play, I’ll win regardless. It is therefore not interesting. And having stronger cards doesn’t fix this – it just makes it a simple deduction of ‘which of the cards I have is the best?’ and playing that one. Still nothing to interest anyone.

Now, I’m sure I’m going to get the argument that it becomes much more interesting at higher levels with cooler cards. And if that’s the case, then great! That potential is actually the only reason I haven’t quit yet. But people should not have to slog through boring stuff to get to the interesting bits, or they will quit. They’ll probably sit through a tutorial if you can’t find a way to make that interesting (though you should try), but not much more than that. And at this point I’ve beaten the first boss and have no prospects ahead of me other than another fifty or so battles that consist of me clicking a button, waiting for a minute, and winning. This is not engaging.

So the main point here is: Get to the interesting stuff sooner. I would suggest a complete revamp of the starting deck. You do not need to make the starting cards more powerful, I am in no way suggesting that. I am suggesting that they become more situational, so that there is actually some deduction involved in which one you should play. Give them way more abilities, and lower their stats some. Or just increase the difficultly of the monsters. Actually, increase the difficulty of the monsters anyway – because they’re pathetically weak. I chose sentinel as my starting class, and my 3 defense means that I don’t take damage. Ever. So I only really care about one number on the card, and that’s how much damage it does. There’s no strategy there.

You need a much bigger variety of starting cards (and that doesn’t mean more card names with the same exact stats, like the current version), and you need new cards to unlock way faster. Go take a look at Tyrant, or Baiten Kaitos, or even Duels of the Planeswalkers. Note that they give out new cards or introduce you to new decks after basically every fight, and that different decks and cards play very differently. All of them have cards which counter other cards, and which would be useless in other situations. None of that is in this game – it’s just a repetitive slog through dozens of battles with no new content in sight.

Now, after that major gripe, there’s other things that could be improved as well, but fixing the major problem (the game isn’t fun) really needs to be dealt with first. But to briefly touch on them:

1) You have a great story in there. I can tell a lot of dedication went into the writing of it. But it’s really easy to skip over, and it’s also very much a wall of text. Not many people are going to read it, and I’d argue it’s the best part of the game. I honestly do want to know how it plays out, but it needs a better delivery system. I doubt you have the budget for cutscenes or voice actors, but even doing Fire Emblem type cutscenes (just character images and the words they say at the bottom) would probably help a lot to get more people engaged in your story. And story engagement means player retention, even if they get bored with the mechanics.

2) Same issue with the tutorial. Very much a wall of text, and it could be delivered much better. An interactive battle would be ideal.

3) Less battles between story bits, more energy in the beginning, or less experience required to level up. This is a trick pretty much every energy-based Facebook game uses – lots of early level-ups and energy refills, so people can spend a good chunk of time just playing the game and getting hooked in the beginning, before they get to the point of needing to wait for their energy to refill. Again, this is a player retention thing – if you tell them they have to stop playing before they want to come back, then they’re not going to come back. You need to make sure they’re hooked, and then you can use the mechanics that make sure your players per day count stays high.

So those are my thoughts. I really do think the mechanics you have here have a lot of potential to be really fun, and you could do a lot of interesting stuff with it. But you’re going to lose a lot of players to the early game as it is currently. And yes, I am in fact a professional game designer, so I do have some idea what I’m talking about. But of course that doesn’t mean you have to listen to me (I know firsthand how aggravating it is to have someone else try to design your game for you), but this is some friendly advice from someone with some experience. Use it as you will, and good luck.