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Let's Try Lionheart

  • Indra
  • 11/23/2014 07:09 PM
  • 1892 views
The overlong and complex lore/backstory infodump really ruins any changes of engagement. By the time the actual game arrives the player is too tired of the game to give it a chance. (more feeback in the video, but the infodump intro is really its biggest problem).



*Warning/Notice: I swear and rant a lot by default, the tone is not aimed at the game in particular.

Posts

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The long, (mostly) skippable intro could probably be recut and spliced back into the game at later points in favor of more of a shotgun start. I definitely agree that it could be tighter for a final version, but as someone who's hoping to playtest, I'm going to be the minority voice here and say I'd rather see more new content than editing at this juncture.

Actually, though, a long term solution might be to add something like a codex (assuming scripts will allow this) to the in-game menu. Max, you write awesome item/attack/creature descriptions with very limited space, and having an extra vault of words wherein people can read super deep on the lore would be awesome (for me, at least.)

Also, it would be very Souls-game-y.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
it's a fight between good and evil, was that so hard, really?

nice job of missing the entire fucking point of the entire fucking game by a fucking mile.

***

Look, around here, I used to be pretty much a jerkass a lot of the time. I say used to be out of a probably unearned sense of optimism, lol. I would get super pissed at people who did not like my games. I came to regard this as bad behavior and I haven't indulged in it in literally years. I have just been repeating the mantra "not everybody is going to like everything that's good" and refusing to engage in those kinds of conversations for a while.

So yeah, it's been a while since I've had a rage bomb like this go off in my brain. And even now I'm struggling really hard to turn down the 'FUCK YOU GO DIE' dial that I've got from 11. But it's not going well. And the fact that my personal life is really...not awesome...right now is certainly not helping.

The overlong and complex lore/backstory infodump really ruins any changes of engagement. By the time the actual game arrives the player is too tired of the game to give it a chance. (more feeback in the video, but the infodump intro is really its biggest problem).

I disagree and so do at least some other people who have played it. But as far as the future course of the game goes, only the fact I disagree really matters here.

So let me talk about why I disagree. I mean, look, I will be blunt with you: this is only true when "the player" is hell bent on being a complete jerkass like you. It is not true for a general case "player" that is a normal fucking person.

Listen, I actually have a collegiate degree in creative writing (har har assholes). I have been paid thousands and thousands of dollars as a professional game designer. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T GET ME WRONG, I am not saying this because it sanctifies everything I make and means I can do no wrong. It fucking doesn't. I am saying this simply to assure you of where I'm coming from when I say that I fully understand concepts like exposition, infodump, and the one you were grasping at towards the end of the video, the limited conceptual space of the audience. This is not my first rodeo and most of the last ten or twelve games or demos I have released have quite knowingly had a shorter introduction than Lionheart.

Many of them, in fact, have leaped directly into gameplay with almost no introduction. Certainly, the "introductory expository text crawl" is a tool I have, quite consciously, not taken out of the toolbox since about 2002. The reason for this is that I am thoroughly aware of all the broad, lowest common denominator, generally applicable advice of "get to the gameplay fast, people have short attention spans, etc".

Not every decision that might not be in keeping with the conventional wisdom or your particular taste is made out of ignorance or naivete, however. After considering many possible opening styles and approaches, I made a conscious stylistic decision to start the game the way I did. I chose to begin with a ponderous invocation of the lore, and I chose to do so based out of respect for the average player's intelligence, patience, curiosity, and conceptual space capacity and out of faith and trust in the actual quality of the writing to engage with the player.

This is, I guess to put it one way, a calculated risk. Respecting the intelligence of your audience is always a risk in creative ventures.

Some people are going to hate it. You, certainly, obviously, excessively, flagrantly, hated it to the point of vulgarity and obscenity. It seemed to me like you were pretty much deadset on hating it from the very start of the video, but whatever. In any case, I get it, it's fine.

Pick most commercial RPGs released between, say, 1997 and 2003 and they've got several times as much exposition as Lionheart. I'm not saying that that's a good thing or a bad thing or that it justifies any design decision. It's just a thing to think about. Based on your reaction to Lionheart I think that the amount of bullshit and waiting and bullshit and waiting that say, Xenosaga puts you through before you gain meaningful control over a character would be enough to make your head literally explode. Again, I am not generally a fan of long expository introductions, quite the opposite, in fact. But there are very few tools in the developer's toolbox that are "always bad" to use.

tl;dr I really like your accent but I find your seething, borderline psychopathic hatred of exposition, facts, proper nouns et al. to be more than a little baffling. It actually reached an unintentionally comic zenith where you were bitching about a character not having elf ears who in point of fact was not a fucking elf, as you would have known if you had not ragequit the process of basic reading comprehension prematurely.

Ok, you hate stories. That's fine. Please just play games without them from now on.

***

The long, (mostly) skippable intro could probably be recut and spliced back into the game at later points in favor of more of a shotgun start. I definitely agree that it could be tighter for a final version, but as someone who's hoping to playtest, I'm going to be the minority voice here and say I'd rather see more new content than editing at this juncture.

This was an extremely rough release. It is an imperfect, misshapen baby game. It is filled with rough edges that need to be sanded off before the shape of the thing underneath even begins to become visible.

A lot about it is imperfect and needs firming up and tweaking. However, one thing that's not going to change much, even when this goes commercial, is the basic narrative structure of the intro. I like it how it is and I think it's extremely well written and well handled and aesthetically beautiful. I am very satisfied with it. Other people might not like it, and that is fine. I will strive to be fine with that.

Please people, don't get me wrong. Generally speaking, my general case goal is to incorporate as much feedback from the community as possible to make this the most "perfect" game possible to reach the broadest audience possible. But there will be specific areas where I will stand my ground and say "no, I like it the way it is". The (skippable) intro is one of these. I'm not saying it will be EXACTLY like this in the finished version of the game, it will probably see minor changes. But it's not getting major work done either.

Grand Grimoire, Lionheart's sister game (no gamepage yet) will handle it's storytelling and worldbuilding very differently, and will in fact actually handle its lore in a much more Dark Souls like way. Lionheart uses a much more traditional storytelling approach.

*Warning/Notice: I swear and rant a lot by default, the tone is not aimed at the game in particular.
Indra
YOU ARE BEING TOO AGGRO
10801
Ho shit will you look at all that XD

I can't say I'm totally new to the devs taking very wrong to my admittedly abrasive style, but this may be a new extreme.
Look, I'm neither going to defend or excuse myself. Rampant ranting and swearing are simply how I roll, and some people are okay with that (mostly the ones who come to watch WANT that). Some people, are not (especially when it's their game). Okay.

I just want to make clear I make the streams first for viewers and only secondarily (and even then just maybe) for the actual developers, so also understand I kinda exaggerate a bit to try and be entertaining in the only ways I know how. I just started now linking the LPs to this site at all, but seeing this reaction maybe it's not a good idea.

I still very strongly disagree at the rampant infodump at the start of the game, calculated risk or not. Some people disagree, sure. It's my play of the game and I'll express my own views. I could go on and defend that opinion but I did so in the video so I don't think I need to repeat myself.
We shall agree to disagree, after all it's not MY game. I can give my feedback and you're free to ignore it, sure.

I'll thank you to not put words in my mouth, however, as I do not remember attacking you personally. I enjoy stories, but they have to engage me. There are ways to do thing that will work and ways that don't.
Also I'll admit to all the abrasiveness, ranty and sweariness IN THE WORLD, or even being called a bitch; but "seething and psychopathic" "hatred of exposition" may be going a bit far into personal insult territory.

I'll even admit I was very surprised over the outburst over what boils down to one point of criticism: "the intro is too long and needs work". I did not even touch onto anything else of the game, nor have any real issues with presentation or the actual plot (just how it was presented); so I was a bit baffled by this explosion.


tl;dr: this doesn't change my views any and I know you can do your own thing even if I don't agree to them. I still think the introduction hampers the game greatly.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
Ok, first off I guess I want to apologize for blowing my top: I know what I posted was pretty bad, it was a LOT worse at first but I edited it back multiple times. I labored for hundreds of hours on this game and it's not even close to finished yet. So...yes...it is hard not to take criticism personally. I am sorry, I know I shouldn't, but I really can't help it. And as you said...you're not new to this and you're probably going to get this reaction and worse a lot.

Rampant ranting and swearing are simply how I roll, and some people are okay with that (mostly the ones who come to watch WANT that). Some people, are not (especially when it's their game). Okay.

I just want to make clear I make the streams first for viewers and only secondarily (and even then just maybe) for the actual developers, so also understand I kinda exaggerate a bit to try and be entertaining in the only ways I know how. I just started now linking the LPs to this site at all, but seeing this reaction maybe it's not a good idea.

I mean, I would not say that I took your words "wrongly". You made the deliberate choice of being abrasive and vulgar so, you can't be surprised that I took your position as abrasive and vulgar and that rubbed me the wrong way. And TBH from a very young age I have always been pretty thin-skinned and sensitive. The internet...broadly speaking...is a rough place for me. *sniffles* lol

Seriously, I guess I just...I question the entertainment value of mocking the earnest best efforts of indie game developers (and if I am mis-characterizing what you are doing, tell me so but that is my takeaway from what you are saying). To be clear, even as a potential audience member, I would not want to watch this kind of content ("bitchy and sweary") and attitude no matter whose game was the "target", even if I thought it was crap. I don't really relate to the kind of person who wants to see an indie passion project with obvious effort put into it get raked over the coals or become the target of harsh invective. So your LPs are not for me, and that is fine.

Way more important than my feelings is...I want a lot of people to play my game. And I want them to go into it unbiased, too, without "hate playing" it or thinking it's terrible from the getgo. And so the idea that your LPs might have any impact on the audience I reach or its reception is literally terrifying to me. And on the flip-side, I would never want to do anything that might hamper someone else's audience.

To clarify: I think that a "bitchy and sweary" approach, i.e. excoriating and scathing mockery of AAA schlock bullshit that is no one person's labor of love but just work that professionals were well paid for is one thing. Like somebody wants to give idk whatever CODAW this treatment, I'm not going to be playing a tiny violin for CODAW's devs. They can cry themselves to sleep on top of their huge piles of money and harems of fans.

But turning that abrasive attitude on someone's unpaid passion project is quite another prospect, in my opinion. These are folks who, even if they're not perfect, are giving you a free game. They deserve to be treated nicely for that. Everyone needs feedback, everyone needs criticism, everyone wants to improve and get better. But don't be a jerk.

But I mean...like...that's just my opinion, man! People will disagree with me here and they're free to. My feelings about "vicious" reviews of free indie games have long been a bone of contention between me and others in the community.

tl;dr
Personally, if I were to do something like LP games I would approach them with an open mind and an open heart and a positive attitude, but that is because I have been developing games for decades, and I will always have that perspective of the developer first and foremost in my mind. I am pretty sure I could find a way to "be entertaining" without being abrasive or nasty, also. Other people are free to take a different approach and it's fine.
Would it be possible to put up a big, bold "please don't review" on the front page for Lionheart?

I want to play this thing as a finished game. I want it to get to being a finished game. I can't think of another way to prevent an rmn game from receiving direct, confrontational reviews other than by making a broad request that it not be reviewed until it's done.

Max, I didn't read any sort of malice into Indra's review. It was a bit Gordon Ramsay, but I think that was with the assumption that any abrasiveness would be brushed off.

I really don't want to see this thing get Journeyman'd, and I don't think asking people to hold off on reviews until later will make for a less authentic creative process or whatever.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
It's cool. I'm actually happy with the reviews I've gotten and I can live with the LPs too.

The only circumstance under which public opinion would make me not finish the game is if I genuinely believed that the most visible reviews/LPs were actually

a) so screamingly negative
and
b) so unchallenged/uncontested

that they would actually dissuade most people from giving it a fair shake. I don't think we're anywhere remotely near that point thankfully. What we've got here is just someone who really, really did not like the length of the intro. Which is an understandable position to take.

So basically...we're good. I got a bit irate but I'm back on track now.

***

I've been thinking about changing the main, default battle music to something more subdued and less rocking. I really it like the way it is but a couple people now have had some issues with it rocking too hard for their delicate little eardrums :P.
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