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Very Appealing Design

Introductory Topics
I'll start off by saying I enjoyed this game very much and had a fun time all the way through, so I decided to review it! The Vendor's concept is an engaging one, assuming the role of the vendor to sell wares to the adventurers. I'll be looking at this game pretty much with a focus on it's design, I am a game designer and writer at heart. And this game is more of a focus on design, which I like. So let's start with the small bits.

Basically default stuff, yet successfully used so it doesn't end up hampering the experience. I always try to avoid RTP as best as I can and sort of cringe when I see it. Not this time. Mapping is good, the light effect additions are well used. Visual enhancers don't overpower the design of the game and aren't it's focus, but the enhancements are a nice touch. As far as the mapping, it greatly helps the design too. The places where you set up shop are recognizable and I can't explain it but I... enjoyed seeing those spots? Perhaps the layout of a dungeon ends up working well with the design as a whole. I always like to mess with the RTP soundtrack's pitch all the time, and it sounds like it's always configured throughout the whole game. The RTP audio ends up well used and fits each area and tone. Again, not a big focus on the game, but audio isn't bad here.

Technical Things
The imported scripts should be mentioned before I go on as well. The change in menu, making it simply "Inventory, Save/Load, Quit", is all you really need with this gameplay. Inventory ends up feeling as important as it should be for a vendor, and it helped me a lot being able to take a quick glance at my inventory, keeping the menu simple. Basically, I'm happy with the imported scripts, I assume the focus is on game design, not programming(although I don't know the make-up of the team as of writing this).

So on to the part of the game that excites me!

So the goal of this game is to make money off of adventurers and their need for appropriate equipment. Finding the right materials and equipment, studying the next monster they are to face, trading to get the next best thing. Keeping track of my money and their money. All of this amounted to great fun during my experience. A lot of research goes into finding out what you need to sell to make sure the Heroes succeed. The gameplay revolves around planning, preparation, research, thinking! And if you don't research, the Heroes are doomed.

The first 20 minutes I struggled quite a lot to figure out how this all worked. And that's awesome.

A lot of trial and error goes into figuring out the sort of things you need to watch out for to ensure their success. But there are a lot of resources at your disposal that inform you of these things. It's very important you don't limit yourself to one area, going to all the towns and locations to research. Every town can help you, however it's a shame the desert town wasn't included in this version. But that's not a negative, as there were constraints.

So three towns, two dungeons, two quests(I've heard there were four but I ran into two only before hitting the credits?). A couple interesting additions, such as the igloo and the herbalist. Then there are the multitude of NPC's that all play an important part. I took note of certain ones that gave me more helpful information. Some will give away a good defense against the next monster, some will talk about a good offense, and then some will talk about consumables that will help the Heroes. Many NPC's offer to trade something rare or expensive for something you might find.

That brings me to the three variables I found and used to guide myself in the game. Offense, Defense, and Consumables. The limit to how many consumables they can use in one sitting combined with the fact they are actually consumed compared to the other equipment makes these a bit trickier to work with. Then the weapons and armor that contribute to the success of the battle, and trading for all three things was important. It takes research to find out what weapons help your offense stat, and what consumables and armors help your defense stat. The tent in the desert and some advice from some NPC's reveal the decimal system and what decimal you should be aiming for for the coming monster, using the two stats, offense and defense. It gets a little complicated and I ended up not really paying attention to these stats. Instead, I just talked with everyone, found out what would help my heroes, and went from there. Perhaps a different approach to these stats would be better? Maybe less technical. I liked thinking of it as more of those three variables I mentioned above. Keep the rest under the hood, so to speak?

One of the many resources at your disposal for research and supplies. I couldn't find any "cactus juice" here though :P

So difficulty, for me, ended up falling into the category of "challenging". I'm not saying that means it's "hard" difficulty. I ended up very happy with the challenge, that's all. It definitely took research to find the best equipment, and this game definitely succeeded in requiring the player to do so. It's a great feeling to successfully supply the adventurer's after so much research, and the rewards in terms of "loot" they found make the next part quite challenging indeed. While you can just start low and keep climbing, like I did, it still was interesting trying to decide if I wanted the item or not. If the item could get me a rare one or not. I felt, however, that there wasn't enough of an indicator for this. Basically, maybe a little incentive to research what items get what before the Heroes' quest even begins? So I can look at that Sharp Tooth and think "I saw a man who wanted one of these" compared to the genius lamp: "I have no idea if someone wants this...".

So now I'm thinking about that... let's talk about trading before I conclude. Part of the gameplay is figuring out what loot you don't need, what loot you can trade for, and what loot you just sell. This makes research just as important here as anywhere else in this game. Through exploration, you can find all kinds of trade through NPC's, and looking for these opportunities was pretty important as well.
(How do I get Eversnow? Never found it :P)

I can see the herbalist tent, the heroes represented by the sword, and the other dungeon. My home town. Oh, I can see my supplies behind me!

To conclude, I'll go back to an overall look at the design. The design of this game is what drove me to review it, and here's what I think. Here's the world map, a layout I found myself quite fond of. The role of the vendor solidified for me at this point in the game. The concept ended up quite successful with it's overall layout. Every part of the game contributes to the gameplay in important ways. I thought it was gonna get easier after the first quest, and was pleasantly surprised when the gameplay continued to hold strong and in the next quest, the research and preparation began all over again.

With trading and research and all of these things, my experience was quite enjoyable. I loved the challenge and the world was interesting. In terms of writing(which I didn't find was a focus), I was also pleasantly surprised with the dialogue, NPC interactions, and the small story. While not big, it served the concept well. And they were more... active? A bit more went into these interactions, and I liked that.

I was satisfied with what I played and want more! This concept was successfully executed and that's it's main strength. Great job with this. Some technical things, like the decimal stats, were an addition I sure didn't use. But it was a good idea. I'd say this game deserves a good 4/5 rating. While this concept definitely succeeded, I can see some parts of the design might need a bit more. But, assuming more will be added to this game in the future, what's here is definitely solid. When I look at it's design overall, all the pieces of the gameplay fit together to provide a well balanced challenge and indeed make me feel like the vendor.


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Thanks for the great and in-depth review mate! :) I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your time with the game, and the feedback you provided is going to be helpful going forward. I do plan on expanding on this idea after this competition, and fix a lot of the things that I didn't feel worked as well as I'd hoped in their current incarnation. The plan is to make a sort of "version 2.0"--or perhaps a sequel--where I take the core concepts that are good, and improve upon all the rest, as well as evolving the game itself into a more lengthy and re-playable experience.

I definitely agree with the exposed stats: it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, but due to the deadline it felt better than the alternative of exposing none of the "innards". I'm not sure I feel the same now, however. What I want to do for the future expansion of the idea is to make these "hidden" stats you need to accumulate more intuitive and be a core part of the craft and trade gameplay, but without it being about obscure numbers.

Since you seemed interested in the technical details, I thought I'd explain about the scripts and team: Most of the scripts are actually custom made, or custom modified versions of the built-in scripts or external existing scripts. Even the save windows have been altered some from their default Yanfly origin :) The system driving the quests and hero "AI" (what items they want to buy, what price they want to sell their wares for and so forth) is all custom for this game too. The Team consists of only me--Tor Damian Design is my graphic design company name, which I use when I publish things.

Of course, it really helped to have the great testers I had, and a native English speaker (I'm Norwegian myself) go over all the dialogue with me: it wasn't bad before she did, but after going through it with her, most of the dialogue was improved rather subtly. However the end result feels a lot more polished and "readable" than before :) So I'm very grateful for the help these people provided.
I'd definitely keep with a version 2.0 rather then a sequel for right now. Aim for the experience you meant for it and go in that direction. I guess the best way to describe this is by saying that, with my game, I'm going to continue where I left off on the story, and make it the full experience I wanted to aim for before scope changes and such during the contest. And add more after that, of course. So it's not exactly a sequel, but an extended version.

Making those stats more intuitive would indeed help more then just getting rid of them, I agree. My problem I suppose is that they weren't and I didn't use them, not that they were completely a waste of time. So keep them, see if you can figure out a good way to make them useful numbers of information for the player!

I recognized those scripts you modified, but from my play experience I couldn't tell if you evented the rest or did have custom scripts or modified them. Either way, that's cool! And yes, testers and proofreaders are really, really important. Especially to get the experience you want in your game down, and it looks like you had a really good proofreader too. Cause I enjoyed the writing, glad to see there weren't really any grammar problems from what I remember seeing.

And you're welcome! I'm happy my feedback will help you going forward.(Perhaps in version 2.0, just so you know, I wouldn't mind playing through those first two monsters again, the replayability is still there for the most part. Because it takes a bit to remember every single equipment item that corresponds with the monster, and what reward loot is good for what, I see myself not being really that bothered by playing through that part again. And with any improvements you make, it'll be even better ;) )
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