In a way of putting my mouth where my money has been for a while now, as the topic says I'm giving this a run through fresh (in single player offline, that is) from more than a dozen releases since the last time I was actually able to play, and hoping that I find things much improved in many good ways. Before I even start, however, one thing that does concern me is this: That we have two releases before "release", but one of those is a cut over to a new version of Unity. While I have faith that they can manage that with few, if any, problems, it DID eat up a huge amount of development resources the last time. I know the devs see this as necessary, I just worry that it will consume resources at a very critical time in the final stages of development before they are going to call this "released". Anyway, back to the play through. I will be going through this and addressing things as I see them, with either follow on replies or follow on posts as I progress. Isle of Storms: The Isle of Storms: Love the scene as a whole! The feel, the look, the premise, all of it fits well, in my opinion, as a middleman between the techno-wizardry gateway we have apparently managed to create for ourselves in the "real" world, and that of Novia. Now, on to the specifics of my visit there and what I like/love/am confused by/hate about them. Novia: I loved exploring the splinter we are relegated to and looking out at the breathtaking view of Novia, only it didn't take ALL my breath away. (Please note that here I was going to state (had, actually) that the image of Novia seemed like a flat, static portion of background and suggest that it be made into an actual model, but upon closer inspection, I can see it is a 3d asset) I think in an effort to make it suitably blurry under the intervening atmosphere that the texture applied was lower res, which instead made it feel flat. As you can see in the following picture, there is a lot of aliasing going on and it is starkly contrasted by the (seemingly) hyper-detailed nearby rocks: Please consider replacing it with a more appealing higher resolution image. Arabella: Love the new model for Arabella, not liking the sparkly hand wave and other attention-getting actions and highlights. Mirror: Also like the positioning of the character creator in the game itself, rather than an arbitrary interrupting step that is disconnected from the whole Character creation: Only complaint here is the hair. I love the nostalgia involved linking back to Ultima Online with this, and I know there are other more detailed options that were added in, but it seems sadly out of place to only be able to swap between a lot of Max Headroom style options in a system that allows minute detail changes to everything else. The Path: One small critique: the point where it tells you how to jump. Could there possibly be a reason you NEED to jump? Maybe place an obstacle like a fallen tree that can't be circumnavigated, but instead needs a jump or charged jump to get over it? That would give the hint on HOW to jump more of a credible reason for being where it is. The Orcale: Kind of liking the more steampunk-ish/wizard of oz feel to her, rather than the pincushion face that was there before. Talking with the Oracle: I don't know if this is a short avatar issue or something else (I have my avatar set to the shortest available height), but my avatar seems unnaturally obsessed with the Oracle's armatures. Maybe have the player's avatar focus on something more like the nose of the Oracle's construct? The Test: I love it, and I love the throwback to the earlier Ultimas! However, that being said, I have one small quibble about it. I know we're only choosing between three principles here, but I feel like we need to be asking more than three questions to plumb the depths of my soul... I know three suffices, but it feels so shallow. The Lunar Rift: Small complaint: I miss the concept of what this was supposed to do... It still looks fantastic, but what had originally been proposed could have been easily accomplished. Perhaps it was an abuse related decision? *shrugs* Overall: Even without any of the suggested changes, this scene is beautiful and very well done. And with that, time to jump through the Moong... errrr... Lunar Rift, and since it was determined during the test that my personality type was EN.. um, sorry... Ranger, we are off to The Battle of Solace Bridge! The Battle of Solace Bridge: Something that struck me shortly after going through the rift: All three initial scenes are recent attacks, all of which the Oracle would know something about. Upon completing the choice of path, but before heading through the rift, it might be helpful for the player to know they are headed into some sort of combat zone and to be ready to defend themselves! Anyway, on to the scene: Starting point: Upon entry, it is obvious that the character is in danger, as nearly everything is on fire! The lack of enemies is understandable, but also kind of weird, since you are supposed to already be equipped to handle enemies. *looks at inventory* Well, I have arrows... but no bow? weird... South gate: Dangerous... how? Other than there being no way to open the gate, the danger here is not obvious nor immediate. Perhaps a horde of undead no human could wade through on the other side? Or, a slight change to this with something that makes this area more immediately dangerous, such as a burning tree fallen across it? Blue...: I missed the door... and the bow... and the soldier... but seriously!!! Keep in mind I haven't played this in a LONG time, and the time since I've started over is even longer! I hope blue and sparkly isn't the new black... I know there were some complaints a while back about the obscurity of the things you needed to find in these scenes, but this seems to me to be an over-reaction in the opposite direction, especially with the white text popping up in the middle of your field of view directing you where to go. Opening the gate: First, you have this (which has a typo in it that I'm submitting to for bug hunting ): Which, I believe, could be handled in a manner that better reflects the urgency of the situation by using our 'nearby elderly gentleman':Who could be gesticulating wildly right outside the gate for you to hurry, perhaps calling out to you to do the things the interface is telling you to do, putting you more 'in the game' (yes, I know the word is immersion... *grins*)! As much as I really disliked it, Arabella's wave and point emote would be almost perfect here. Edit: Afterwards, I noted that he did indeed use the wave and point emote... the point here is that it he could be positioned AT the gate, and be used better to help liven up the scene and make it feel less forced. The Bridge: Difficulty here could be ramped up some, as with Edvard there to absorb pretty much ALL the damage without any apparent effort, and the skill level you give the player with their chosen weapon, crossing the bridge is ridiculously easy. Either tone the skills WAY down and make this a tiny bit challenging, or ramp up the enemy difficulty a bit to accomplish the same. The Boat: Please... no more blue!!! I mean, I remember the last time I was here, and yeah, you had to hunt the boat down and the directions that he gave you to look UNDER THE BRIDGE might have been somewhat misleading (not sure how, but... *shrugs*). For the sake of all that is holy... the boat is right there!!!! The water: Wait... what??? I'm immediately thrown into a love-hate relationship with the water. I mean it is cool and all that you can see the bottom of the river, which I love! The shader applied, however, makes me hate it at the same time. Pardon the blunt observation, but I mean, honestly... I made better looking water when using the A7 engine and mesh deformation combined with basic shaders... and that was years ago!!! This looks like a sheet of badly pitted polyurethane being slid diagonally towards me... there is nothing that makes me think of water when I see it! You guys are a team of industry LEGENDS, I expect better than this. There are hundreds of better examples and/or solutions... please fix this. Northern Solace Bridge area: I ran around a bit, and while there are a couple of very light encounters to be had, it is all the same as the 'escape' across the bridge. There is a lot here that can be done to liven up the scene, and some things that just don't make sense. Overall: The impression I get is that we are supposed to be arriving right on the tail end of the destruction of this town by the undead army, with you being dropped in the middle of a dangerous situation and a need to escape. Only, there isn't any... danger OR urgency. Here's what doesn't make sense: You have this town that was supposed to have been attacked, and by the hole in the wall, the flames and their positioning, as well as the placement of all the enemies, it is assumed the attack came from the North. Why is the southern gate closed, with no way to open or close it, and no reason why it should be closed? Were the undead looking to destroy the town? Were they trying to get THROUGH the town? There is no way to know based on the way the scene is situated. Suggested changes to help provide the things that seem to be missing: Set the town up as follows: Assume the undead were trying to get through the town. North Gate is closed with the dead guard nearby as before, with some zombies inside the gate feeding on corpses. Have the South Gate broken open from the inside, with a smattering of zombies inside, some close enough to aggro on the player. Place the archer and bow near the player, and with the white text warnings, alert them to the danger of the zombies Have a huge force of undead arrayed outside on the South Gate, apparently headed south, but as time ticks on, have waves of them start turning to face the player, making it apparent (via the hint text) that they have to do something to do to block the southern gate before they are overrun. (cutting down a tree near the gate that falls, catching fire as it blocks the gateway, perhaps?) Give the player a hint that it will not stop them for long. This provides the sense of urgency that starts driving the player towards the North Gate. Increase difficulty of the scene by either dialing down the skills given to the player, or dialing up the stats of the enemies. Increase undead presence outside the north bridge, not in crazy amounts or ridiculous strengths, but enough to make the scene feel more "alive". Perhaps make it so that Edvard either knows about Charlotte, or that he could hear the child crying, providing the first ethical challenge when he gives the player the choice to go back and try to find her (if they don't already have her in tow). I know this is implied in the nearly on-rails attempt to steer the player towards the house and pick up other quest items, but it makes Charlotte more of an overt choice than an "well, she's here, I might as well...". If this has been put in place already, my apologies, as I haven't tried it any other way as yet. The experience so far has been ok. There are plenty of things to polish, but that's all for now... next up is the *Smacks self in forehead: edit* Solace Bridge Outskirts. Edits: made to help break it up a little, and smooth out the flow.