Post-game commentary

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Spirit Engine Forum Index // TSE-2 Detailed Discussion
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Aargh



Joined: 06 Jan 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:23 pm    Post subject: Post-game commentary Reply with quote
I've been lurking this place for a while but never playing the game until recently since I'm on an older computer now, but I just finished my first playthrough and I figured I'd register and put down my thoughts about the game as it seems to be a bit of a popular thing here.


I started the game without reading the manual because I'm hardcore like that, but the tutorials proved quite effective at pointing me in the right direction. Having played the first chapter (and thus the tutorial) a dozen times or so, I don't think I've missed much. After trying several combinations (the reason for my frequent restarts), I settled on a party of Ionae, Ferwin, and Enshadu, though I would've switched Ferwin's boring ass for Kaltos or even Denever in a heartbeat had it been possible. Kaltos, Charlotte, and Enshadu was my first choice, but I suspected Ionae would have a more interesting story than 'barely reformed criminal' Kaltos, so since I wanted to have the 'cool and mysterious' Ionae and Enshadu, and have all three classes in my party, I was stuck with the oaf. Guess I can't have my cake and eat it. Oh well, he had his moments.

At this point I'd like to say that I really like the way the parties work. The different combinations are similar enough not to require a zillion different dialogues, but the minor differences seem enough to add a bit of spice to possible future replays. And for the record, I fully understand why I couldn't -for example- Kaltos and Ionae in one party. Don't necessarily like it, but I'll accept it.


So yeah, on to the next topic: The story. Short answer: I liked it. Longer answer: It was well written, convincing, and kept me interesting from the beginning to the end. However it's not all praise I have, I'm afraid. The thing I didn't like about the story, especially the individual characters' side-stories, was how predictable it got. Yes, the war really is just a decoy like everyone was saying. Yes, the Prince really is the BBEG, and really does go insane once he's reached his goal like everyone has been expecting. Yes, the Rakari really are the benevolent overlords they've been trying so hard to make everyone believe they are. Yes, Enshadu really is a horrible criminal brainwashed into a good guy like you've been suspecting all along. Yes, Ionae really is some kind of freaky demon queen in human form like you (and the annoying goth kids (oh god that part of the story was so bad... I'm all for making fun of goths, but the whole uber-cliché followed by the sugary-sweet conclusion was enough to make me cringe... comic relief isn't this game's strong point anyway, nor do I think it really needs it)) have been suspecting all along. And I don't think that I'm exaggerating too much when I say that anyone who didn't expect the charming young knight to marry the poor peasant girl despite his father's orders should be shot for offensive stupidity. Speaking of Ionae being a demon, that part felt... out of place. Probably because demons and counterplanes and all that stuff isn't referenced anywhere in the game apart from a few scenes directly related to Ionae's story. There's nothing at all that even suggests it all is anything more than a plot device to make Ionae a bit more interesting. Nothing to tie it all together.

The main storyline is better, but is still a fairly straight-forward affair with precious few real twists that are all resolved far too quickly for my tastes. Maybe the fact that there is no big secret at the end was the twist for me. Maybe I'm psychic and saw every plot point coming before it was explained ingame. Or maybe I'm just a big fan of overly complicated stories with millions of twists both small and large. Ever since it was revealed that the Prince was the bad guy I kinda wanted to side with him because I personally believed in a large chunk of what he told the party, but of course the party followed their predetermined path and turned out to be right in the end when the poor guy went insane and almost destroyed the world. Oh well. Good thing I'm not due to save the world anytime soon, because it seems I'd make rubbish choices. But for it's linear and straightforward nature, I still enjoyed the story. The entire theme of free choice that seemed to run through it appealed to me in the right way, and the overall experience was quite enjoyable. One last gripe I have concerns the ending; it leaves too many questions for my taste. Are all the Rakari dead? If not, how will they react to what happened? How has the Eye affected the rest of the world? What happens to the characters now?


Eh, on to the next: the gameplay. I won't spend too long praising every aspect of it. Suffice to say that I enjoyed it even more than the story. I think the thing I liked more than anything was the fact that approaching a seemingly impossible situation in a different way often payed off, and that skills that seem useless at one point might save your ass the next. Big kudos for that. Also, the fact that good timing actually made a huge difference compared to most RPGs was quite enjoyable as well.


Speaking of skills, I'll go over them quickly now.

While I made the mistake of using Ionae as my main source of damage at first, I quickly came to my senses and put her amazing potential as the party tank to good use. Powder Imps is an AMAZING skill, saving my ass time and again. Lucky Lady is godly when it gets high enough. And to my grief I only discovered the awesome power and utility of Black Bullet relatively late in the game, but like I said, she was more of a tank than a damage dealer anyway Black Bullet was usually only used when facing enemies that either weren't stopped by Powder Imps or that needed a bit of extra hurt to stay down. For other skills, Empowder and Lucky Shot were of great use as well, but not as universally awesome. The other skills were toyed with at times, but largely ignored.

Ferwin did the exact opposite of Ionae: He started off as the party's tank, and ended up the main source of damage. His main skill through the entire game has been Charge. Once I started using it, he rarely made any attacks that weren't charged. The Might skill was pumped at every opportunity as well, since a boost to both offense and defense seemed just too good to pass up, even if the percentages did grow at a frustratingly slow pace. For offense, Hack was used throughout the game. Swordfaith and Thunderstrike were used about equally, though I did favour Swordfaith more in the first half of the game, and Thunderstrike in the second. The only offensive skill I hardly used was Slay. There just didn't seem a point in the game where there would be a significant benefit in taking points out of something else to put into Slay. The other skills were more defensive in nature, and were largely ignored since defense was not Ferwin's job. Also, Empowder + Thunderstrike = winnage.

Enshadu went through the most changes during the game, and there rarely was a time when he had a healthy supply of skill refund points left. The only consistent part of his skillset has been Heal, which is by far the most-used skill in my entire party, often getting spammed even at times where it may not have been necessary... better safe than sorry. Aurora was vastly underrated by me at first, but it saved me in a few tough fights. It still felt wrong putting too many points into it, since it's so situational... either I needed it or it was useless. Damn is pretty damn great. Bless is good as well but I didn't find it as effective as Damn overall. The only attack skill I used was Wrath, which didn't prove to be earthshatteringly good, but still quite sufficient for what I needed it for.


The toughest fight for me was the fight against the vampire count. I did that fight at least a dozen times, occasionally completely changing strategies and still failing, and when I finally succeeded I honestly couldn't tell what had made the difference that time. I had some real trouble getting his health under 4000 with all the life-draining he did. The fight against the illusions in the crashed spaceship was a huge pain in the arse as well, ending in a stalemate again and again and again, with none of the remaining combatants being able to harm eachother, and with the ones who WERE able to do the damage getting knocked out too quickly to finish off their target. Finally I just got fed up with it, kicked strategy to the curb and reassigned all points on all characters to straight offensive skills, after which the fight was suddenly the shortest and easiest boss fight ever. I guess too much strategy can be a bad thing. The last boss was way too easy in my opinion. I just put all my characters into a skill chain (Ionae using Powder Imps and Empowder Ferwin, Ferwin using Charge and Thunderstrike, and Enshadu using Heal and Aurora) and let them wear away at his HP, no human interaction required.


Last edited by Aargh on Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message ICQ Number
Mark Pay
Site Admin


Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Posts: 621
Location: Margate, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the feedback Aargh. It was an interesting read and I agree with much of it.

I've been surprised by how positively the party choice system has been received generally. I've not played many RPGs myself, so I'm not so wedded to the standard alternatives. Yes, the lack of total choice is disappointing but as you said, it's explainable within the story. And of course it makes writing such parallel dialogues actually possible.

On the story points. I hear you on the predictability. Two great considerations in the plotting were how far to go to obscure Batiste's ultimate intentions and Ionae's origins. I like twists, but not when they seem like they've been deliberately contrived through misleading the audience, and that's what I felt would be required in those two instances. So I instead focused on making Batiste's aims more sympathetic and having fun with Ionae. Ionae isn't a demon and she outright refutes it more than once, especially if you have a party with Ferwin. One difficulty I never felt I resolved well was the presense of fantasy elements in what becomes a science-fiction setting. In the wider setting of a world colonised by alien invasion, an alien exiled from another dimension shouldn't seem too out of place, but that may not be the case as early as Chapter 7. Her cutscene there was quite difficult to implement too.
I wouldn't say the resolution to the cultist storyline was sugary sweet. Ionae doesn't have the answer to any of their genuine problems, she can only tell them to look elsewhere. It does pain me to hear that you really disliked those scenes. I enjoyed putting them together, but perhaps it helped that I had 'Life of Brian' in my head the whole time. Smile ("How do you want us to fuck off, Oh Lord?")

I hope that what was less predictable was the moral ambiguity in the endgame. Batiste has a valid point and tragic origins, like many freedom-fighters/terrorists ( take your pick ) but he's still a mass-murdering, hate-filled lunatic. The only particularly good thing the Rakari have done is keep humanity around as a servile species instead of killing them off. But they're not evil either, they just don't think people can be trusted with personal freedom. The Lereftese state is complicit in maintaining the status quo and if you play with Grace, they've got a fair bit of blood on their hands too.
I like open endings and in this case, resolving certain issues would have also resolved the moral uncertainty around them, which I didn't want to do. Perhaps it is strange for such a linear game to have a hint of non-linearity in its ending, in so far as the immediate future is left up to the player's imagination and they share the uncertainty of the characters. I think I kinda like that.

I'm glad you felt so positively about the combat system, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it.

Thanks again. I like to hear all commentary, both the positive and the critical so if you have any more, please share. Very Happy
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail ICQ Number
Tiavals
Human


Joined: 06 Feb 2009
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Interesting. I thought the game was very well written and the twists were totally unpredictable. Maybe I've played too many RPGs. I was totally sure Batiste was the good guy and the Rakari were the villains, because that's how it always is. I was very pleasantly surprised and I suspect if it wasn't the way it is, I wouldn't have liked the game nearly as much.

Conversly, I didn't think the gameplay was all that hot. It was good, but far inferior to the story.

Also, I thought the Rakari were good in every aspect, without any faults really. Don't see what's so bad about them?

I was afraid that the game would devolve into scifi-garbage, as such games often do, but it was quite well managed and didn't feel too out of place. I had hoped that it would stay out of the scifi-model when I first saw the Aulder ruins, and that the Rakari wouldn't be aliens, which seemed painfully obvious, but luckily it wasn't as bad as I feared.

As for linearity, it is understandable, but gets annoying on multiple playthroughs. Especially with the generic comments of the characters, each filling a certain role(first row being the nasty guys, second row being compassionate guys and third row being sage guys). It had less unique dialogue than I hoped, since it seems to me writing dialogue wouldn't take much at all time compared to the great benefit it gives to the player. But I'm no game developer so I may very well be wrong.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message ICQ Number
Mark Pay
Site Admin


Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Posts: 621
Location: Margate, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I found the writing to be a very time-consuming task, but this was perhaps because I do not have much experience as a writer. Many edits were required. It was also necessary to test every dialogue path carefully. It all took a lot longer than I expected.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail ICQ Number
Tiavals
Human


Joined: 06 Feb 2009
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Maybe I should try writing something before saying anything.

Thanks for making the effort to have as many different dialogues as the game had. Most develpors won't bother to write even a third of what you have. It really enhances the game.

I played SE1 for a while, and from what little I've seen, the improvement between the games is quite tremendous, so the effort wasn't wasted.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message ICQ Number
kfedex
Human


Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It's 1 in the morning and I just finished the game, having bought it yesterday afternoon. I need sleep as soon as I finish posting my thoughts.

I played through the demo first and I decided to buy the game. I wasn't disappointed. The gameplay and the combat was good, but I mostly played it through to find out what happens next.

Btw, the rescue scene with Clay is Epic. You know she's going to be saved but then the door busts open and smashes one of the guards? The music was what made the scene brilliant. It was perfectly timed and had just the right mood.

The throwback to the war on terror and the patriot act kind of screws with the suspension of belief though.

What I didn't like though, was the credits and having to dig through the level to find the chests, which you could miss if you were running. The game would have been easier on me if it paused when I passed by a treasure chest and asked me if I wanted to pick it up.

Also, the items could use better explanations.

Overall though, it was a great game. The dialog is what makes it come alive rather than become a mindless grind of an animated spreadsheet. Good job.

Edit: Oh yeah, and the animations were VERY well done. The portraits were very very pretty.

I was also expecting an appearance by Rick Brutal or some kind of tie-in to the last Spirit Engine. Sad
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message ICQ Number
TwiTerror
Musical Maestro


Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the kind words! There are one or two throwbacks to the first game I can think of off the top of my head, though (;

But I'm not going spoil them Very Happy
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kfedex
Human


Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ah, you must be Josh Whelchel then. There were quite a few tracks on the game that were indeed very original and actually good enough to listen to for the sake of enjoyment - unlike many other videogame tracks that just a pathetic audio filler. It's actual music and I enjoyed the music as much as the dialog.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message ICQ Number
kfedex
Human


Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
BTW. any chance of a saved game editor? I played through twice, the second time without buying ANYTHING for like 6 worlds and even then I didn't have enough money for all the goodies for my team in the last town. Sad
Money is super hard because there aren't enough store slots to buy all my stuff I pick up.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message ICQ Number
Mark Pay
Site Admin


Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Posts: 621
Location: Margate, UK

PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hi kfedex. Very Happy
Thanks for your feedback. I'm sorry it has taken me a couple of days to get back to you.

I'll aim to increase the visibilty on chests when 1.06 comes around. Rick Brutal was one of my favourite characters from TSE1 ( and I love the theme Josh wrote for him too ), but a clean break from the world of the original seemed like a good idea.

Money is intentionally short in the game, so that the player is required to make choices about what they buy.
I don't want to publically release a stat editor at the moment, since I feel that making cheats too easily available reduces the sense of acheivement for a player. Hopefully Easy mode is easy enough to let almost everybody complete the game if they want to.

If you mail me your save game(s) to , I can edit them for you and give you lots of money though. Smile
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail ICQ Number
kfedex
Human


Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the offer but it's all right. You've done quite enough. I happen to know how much work goes into producing something of TSE quality. The writing, the line-by-line repetitive coding, the skill balancing, the playtesting, it brings back a great deal of fond memories of failed one-man projects. Cool
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message ICQ Number
Mark Pay
Site Admin


Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Posts: 621
Location: Margate, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The offer will remain open if you change your mind. Smile I'm more than happy to help. Thanks again.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail ICQ Number
abhifx
Human


Joined: 22 Apr 2010
Posts: 8
Location: india

PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
best game ever. its i have just finished it at around 2 am in the morning. and boy it feels good. it was just by luck that i stumbled upon this game and now i cant get it out of my head. Thank you Mark Pay for a game and story to cherish.

i don't want to repeat myself as i have already yelled enough here
http://www.thespiritengine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=362 Very Happy

really would love to see more by Mark. if TSE 3 is not possible then a small sequel to this game? all the assets are already ready right? i am hungry for more Smile

Thanks again for the game
_________________
i do not believe in luck, i believe in probability
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website ICQ Number
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Spirit Engine Forum Index // TSE-2 Detailed Discussion All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

alexisBlue v1.2 // Theme Created By: Andrew Charron // Icons in Part By: Travis Carden
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group