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Discouraging exploration literally breaks the game!

  • pianotm
  • 02/06/2019 09:11 PM
  • 368 views
Name: Millibitus Elementis Arc 2

Developer: Rose_Guardian

I have spoken to the developer quite a bit already. I am considering this game in an unfinished state for a number of reasons: One, numerous glitches break the game. Two, I know for a fact that this isn't the story she was trying to tell because she's shared the story with me.

Story: This story is trying to be a Greek tragedy in overall concept and story beats. I know what the story's actually about, but it's actually pretty vague in this game. It's basically an Othello/Romeo & Juliet type love story between the main protagonist, Raven, and the secondary protagonist, Keldanite (though he clearly isn't a protagonist in this specific arc, and he's presented as the primary protagonist in the first arc). In the first arc, Raven's brother finds Keldanite injured as a young boy and brings him home. We then see him and Raven as adults years later and working together in the Defender's Guild protecting people from their evil emperor Xenon. In this arc, Keldanite has apparently betrayed Raven and joined forces with Xenon (PLOT TWIST! Except it's not the plot twist. That comes later.).


The commapocalypse cometh.


Writing: So much to unpack, here. Let me address the comma issue right off the bat, the reason being, the developer has probably already corrected it...or a lot of it...probably...I hope. She was following the guideline that every time you take a breath in a sentence, a comma needs to go there, and I know where she got that. This is absolutely not how commas work. Commas need to be used when a sentence changes subjects; period. For example, (subject change) when you're making a statement while addressing someone specific, (subject change) Liberty--you know she got it from you; you know it. The above screencap is only the least egregious example of misused commas. Fortunately, the biggest comma problem is only in the opening cutscene, fortunately.

If the comma problem is elsewhere in the game, it's not in your face. If she hasn't corrected it, be ready for it. I think just about every sentence in the entire opening sequence uses commas and I think only two sentences DON'T misuse them. I know which rule she was following because I followed the beats. She used a comma every time I would take a breath reciting the sentences out loud. Cut "my mom" out of the above sentence and you get "Lia was the one who raised me after my brother disappeared."

SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT
HERE'S A PICTURE TO FILL THE SPACE



This is a mostly fixed glitch, but there are still some spaces you can walk up due to missing trees on the edge. Also, some pretty bad mapping here.
I know she was just trying to make the trees look different heights but that is not how these tiles work.


I have some serious issues with the story in this game. Some of them, I addressed with the developer, namely the problem with Yuri. I won't address that here since I think that's a primary thing she's improving. When I addressed that to her, I hadn't made it Rayis Nora. Well, at least she doesn't make the mistake with Rayis that she made with Yuri. The initial meeting between Raven and Rayis was basically, "Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but I'm your daughter, so help me defeat the evil empire, maybe?" Except that it is the most wooden conversation ever. Instead of having everyone say everything so matter-of-fact, maybe, I don't know, try to be a little emotional. Grammar rules are intended to make things readable and comprehensible, but they are not absolutely required. It's okay to break them in order to create dramatic effect, such as phonetically spelling things incorrectly in order to create an accent (Like Rogue, in the X-Men, sugah!), or maybe have an awkward pause where Raven steps forward and says, "Uh...dad?" and then there's another awkward pause where Rayis is dumbfounded and finally says, "Raven?" Or if you want him to be a block of ice, that's fine, too, but having both of them be blocks of ice in this situation simply doesn't work. For one thing, you've established that Raven is intent on finding her father. She needs to have some kind of emotional reaction to seeing him. Making him aloof and standoffish is a perfectly reasonable response to that, as it can offset Raven and cause emotional conflict in her. It may seem he doesn't love his daughter, even though he does, which makes Raven question her worth, and makes the audience question her father's character. These are conflicts you want to have in story telling. You don't even need this particular conflict, but you need to try to create an emotional conflict of some kind to interest the reader.

Moving on. Rayis is presented as a paragon--a wise teacher to the protagonist; basically, a paragon is the level 99 wizard guiding the level 1 party--, which is fine since he takes very little proactive part in the story. This, unfortunately, is where the game ends due to an impassable game-breaking glitch, but I've played enough to give me a solid idea of this games problems and strengths. I've already made most of my writing suggestions the developer in chat, and so in this review I am just covering what I have yet to point out.

Something done well that I'd really like to point out is the emotional conflict between Keldanite and Zeekhart(I think that was his name...I have trouble remembering really goofy names). Although these two are barely in the game, the one scene we have with them does a really good job of establishing their relationship and the conflict we have with them; Zeekhart being the :::plot twist spoiler::: that has lost Xenon's trust, and Keldanite being the :::plot twist spoiler::: that he now has to play second fiddle to.

One really bad thing I'd like to point out. The developer's inconsistency with story adaption. She has shown me and me critique her scripts. While many of the problems we see in this game exist in her notebook writing, I have to say, what she showed me in private is significantly better than what I see in this game. Raven and Keldanite, as well as all of their friends, are much more interesting and engaging. The potential side-villains are presented much better.

You know, I was discussing this with OzzyTheOne, once upon a time. Neither of us could understand why she was choosing to go with the versions of the story we finally see in the game when what she initially wrote and showed us has always been objectively better. I mean, and we told her, and she was dead set that she preferred the versions she would ultimately use in her games. In these final versions, we see little in the way of emotion, and thus little in the way of emotional growth in the characters, all conversations are painfully formal, further suppressing any emotional investment the characters might have, and some really good character interactions that could have really helped flesh these characters out just don't exist anymore and can't exist because of all of the changes made to story context.

It's because of this that I feel like, despite the fact these stories seem underdeveloped, they're actually very overthought, overwrought, and are being completely stifled because of some kind of paranoia about how the story will ultimately be perceived. I feel like the dev is strangling her own imagination. She's so worried about making the story great, she's sapping her own confidence and the story is seriously suffering because of it. The stories she wrote about Raven and Keldanite are what I want to see. This game has a little of that, but for the most part, this is the exact opposite of what she once showed me and Ozzy, and I'm trying not be too harsh. If anything, I'm hoping that with feedback like this review, and what I've already told her in private, I can coax the storytelling I saw back into the final product. I have never seen a storyteller this good so afraid to tell her own stories.

Also, I definitely prefer the previous title, Elementis Bellator. Millibitus Elementis took a bit to figure out how to pronounce.


Really? You mean the missing child isn't a reason to go further?


Gameplay: This game doesn't go to the trouble of making complex and overwrought designs, for which I am grateful. Combat is straight forward, though it suffers from bignumberitis. If you haven't played the previous arc, this game, which assumes that you have, will autostart you at a higher level. The basic enemies aren't challenging at all, with combat being balanced at extremely easy. The bosses are fairly easy, but they have really cheap insta-kill attacks that are really obnoxious and seriously signal that the developer didn't know how to actually make them challenging. The insta-kills are irritating and pointless since the characters will just resurrect after combat, anyway. One interesting thing that I like is that even characters that get killed in combat gain experience, regardless. That's not something you really see in RPGs. One thing you'll note is that your characters are ridiculously overpowered, which is helpful in dealing with those boss's cheap insta-kills.

The game tries to give us a variety of side-quests, but the way they're executed is very lacking. For one, you often don't have a choice in whether or not you take them. If you need to be able to use an item shop, prepare to have to do a side quest, first, except in one example in which you get a side quest to find items stolen by a cat, but can't find them anywhere because I suspect the developer forgot to turn on the relevant switch, and thus can't complete the sidequest and can't use the item shop...unless you make it to Rayis Nora, in which case the game forgets that the side quest exists.

This brings me to a very serious problem this game has. It won't let you explore. It seems like just about every turn you take, instead of going into another map, you're simply told, "I don't feel like going in there," or "Lia doesn't want us going in there," or "It doesn't look like he's in there," or "There's no reason to go in there," or "There is no reason to go farther." Nothing puts me off of a game more than this. The the dev is so pervasive with this way to not have to make maps that she actually breaks one of the quests, and breaks the main story line, making the game unfinishable. What's even more mystifying is the fact that in some cases, YOU'VE ALREADY BEEN IN THESE AREAS, meaning there's no rationale behind stopping you from visiting them again! Your bedroom at home immediately springs to mind. It's an RPG that discourages exploration.

In the case of the broken side quest, the cave above where there's no reason to go farther? You're trying to find a little girl that went exploring and got lost. There is a broken transfer in this cave where two transfers from the main entrance go to the same room. It seems likely that the conclusion to this side quest is stuck behind that misplaced transfer (misplaced transfers actually happen quite a bit in this game). As for the main story line, you have to break into Xenon's castle and find Keldanite. Good luck doing that! If you try to go to the throne room, you'll be told to avoid the throne room and turned back. The problem is that this also occurs in another part of the dungeon, very likely the place you're supposed to go. The throne room can't be on both sides of the dungeon, therefore, one of these must be a broken transfer, and it's quite obvious that if developer wasn't so pervasive in stopping you from going places, she wouldn't have this problem.

What I'm wondering is, why even have a door that the characters might go through? In the inns, it's easy enough to expand the map and just put beds in there. In the Defender's Guild, why even have a door that Lia doesn't want you to go through? My only thought could be maybe you'll have to go through it later, but based on this game's track record, I doubt that would actually come up. You can't even talk to Lia.

I think the first arc had the tile passability issues I encountered, so I won't discuss them here. I've already pointed out the glitch that lets you walk on the forest ceiling.


"Isn't just to die for? My interior decorator was Salvador Dali!


Graphics: Where to start...Well, first, as a personal preference, I don't like the choice of forest tiles, but I suspect I wouldn't hate them so much if the autoshadows weren't there. Those REALLY need to go. The mapping itself is...well, pretty bad. First, look at the screen cap immediately above this paragraph. Why would you think a room inside a building of any kind would be that shape? If it were a turret room, I could kind of see it, but every room in this palace were given these odd, circular shapes that make no sense. Then, how tall are those walls? Why is some wall one tile high while the others are two tiles high? The map doesn't make sense, and this is all over the game.

There are mapping errors all over the place. Poor shift mapping villages leading to square edges on grass, some clashing with the proper edges are the most immediately visible glitches. With the bizarre wall heights and the shift-mapping issues, I think I've covered all the immediately noticeable things, but I might be missing something. There's a lot in this game.

Mapping tutorials you really should read and watch:
Villages - https://rpgmaker.net/tutorials/1055/
Nature - https://rpgmaker.net/tutorials/1054/
Shift Mapping - https://rpgmaker.net/tutorials/1053/

All by Liberty, and you need them all.


We will smite evil with our awesome blurriness! Wait...that's not right...


Next graphical glitch is relatively minor in comparison to everything else I've pointed out. She was trying to make her battle engine nice and stylish, but those character sprites that she's using for the player characters are really blurry. She needs to go over them and sharpen them up. That's all I've got to say about the battle graphics. Otherwise, it looks very nice. I like the frames and the way the health and MP bars are designed.

Sound: I have absolutely no issues with the sound, at all. Music is very well chosen. I have no idea where it's from.

Conclusion: As it is, this game is very much in an alpha state. I can't recommend playing it yet unless you intend to offer your own feedback for the developer to improve the game. As such, I'm leaving this unrated. I'm not even going to suggest what I'd rate it at. The intent is to assist the dev in improving the game and story.

Posts

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Thank you for your review piano. I'm going to put this on open office document so I will not forget to fix what you mentioned.
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