Some Thoughts

Otome dating sim: http://www.winterwolves.com/loveandorder.htm
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Ellume
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Some Thoughts

Post by Ellume » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:59 pm

Well I fortunately had some time to play Love & Order and thoughts I would give some feedback on it.

First I very much enjoyed the theme/setting, art, and the overall game. It is nice to have a break from the school games. Even though I don't watch law stuff or crime stuff on TV, I have a good friend who is in law so it made it a little more personal for me on that level.

To me the greatest strength of this game was the mystery. Trying to manage stress, work, and figuring out the mystery really was the game for me and I loved it on this level. I thought the tasks gave a feeling of the workplace, and I like how the stress can snowball fast if you're not careful, I know for a fact that people at a law firm often can put in overtime. Having the mystery to solve made me want to put in that overtime, play the stress game, in order to figure out whats going on.

If you're not trying to complete the mystery however, then the game gets fairly tedious. It becomes no challenge to handle peoples requests without putting in overtime, the dating isn't very interactive (More like a bonus to the mystery), and otherwise the gameplay is rinse-wash-repeat until the game ends on it's own.

Some things I feel would really add to the game:
(1) Lunch events (or other events). The game encourages taking a lunch, but the lunch feels empty and lonely. This might be one of the best (and easiest) places to add some character interactions. I found that although the characters seem fairly interesting, you just don't really interact with them personally, and thus don't know much about who they are.
(2) Flesh out characters by having stuff happen to them (events?). Again who are they? What are they about? I had the event of the power going out and having to either bus or taxi to work. But does anything happen in their lives? Maybe a relative got really sick, maybe an old relation is bugging them, maybe they have a dog, something that happens to them and being able to see just the effect of it somehow can flesh out their characters and give a feeling of life to the game.
(3) Poor Dana seems to be all alone, did she just move to that city? In fact you don't even know which city you're in till later, it made my finding out Dorothy had an accent kinda weird, as I had no idea where in the world they actually worked only that Dorothy came from Toronto. Perhaps some more elaboration on the setting would be good. Doesn't have to be right at the start, maybe it could be in a short events which happen early game?
(4) No friends? No hobbies? I think it would be interesting if part of the gameplay was about trying to find a balance between work, personal relations, and friends. This would be a pretty big thing to add in and would change the game but it is an idea for another perhaps. Having some kind of friend would really make Dana seem more human, having the option to do more then just watch tv or spend money would be nice. Easily you could just add a couple more options then watch tv, even if they have the same stress effect, like read a book, surf the net, etc.
(5) I'm running out of time so I'm picking up the pace. It would be nice to relax a bit on the weekend, or even work on the weekend. The weekends feel very empty and that is often a time for people to relax.
(6) As the game progresses the success messages on work tasks becomes more confident.


Also it would be good to have music start playing when you load the game rather then be silent. Once when I loaded at work, I was wearing casual clothes, seemed odd. Ok I have to run, hope that helps.

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Ellume
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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by Ellume » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:34 pm

Alright, I have a little bit more time so I will continue.
Ellume wrote:(5) It would be nice to relax a bit on the weekend, or even work on the weekend. The weekends feel very empty and that is often a time for people to relax.
Yeah, I think it would be nice to be able to even just watch TV on the weekend. That is the main time for people to relax and whatnot, it would be nice if you could do more then just chores.
Ellume wrote:(6) As the game progresses the success messages on work tasks becomes more confident.
So for this I mean that as you get further into the game the messages of "This is out of my field" "I don't really know" etc change to something like "I'm getting more used to this" "I'm feeling more confident about this" type stuff. It would give a feeling that the character is actually learning or progressing at the job. No game mechanics would even have to change, but it would add imo.

I know you didn't want comparisons to Digital but as I see this game it has the same successful elements that Digital had, and then some. Following a trail which is mysterious and an unfolding story. This game expands on that by adding a realistic work setting and a stress/work management game as you try to figure out the mystery. So as I said before I loved it on this level.

However, some of the differences that hurt this game as compared to Digital are:
(1) Digital is a more abstract setting, and thus more forgiving with lack of information. Love and Order is more realistic, and so people almost expect more from it. Dana not having friends, hobbies, general life are felt by the player because the games includes the element of home and going out. If the game only took place at the office, and the home life was left more ambiguous it may have felt fuller as a game. That is a guess, but I suspect it may be true.
(2) Romance. In digital it was part of the mystery. In Love and Order there were multiple side romances. This game didn't feel like a typical Dating Sim to me. Yes there was romance, but the connection to the characters was weak in the way that you don't really know them well personally, you don't know whats happening in their life, so they don't have that emotional connection. In digital I felt more of a connection, something was happening to the character and that gave a feeling of a dynamic world, and you character having a meaningful place in it.

As for the game price. I've always believed in a more McDonalds approach to video games. That is charge less money, and thus sell more. If the game is cheaper, people are more likely to buy the game, peoplele feel better about buying the game and are more likely to recommend it to other, or stick to your product even if it wasn't as good as they wished. If you sell 3 time the number at half the price, you have both more money and larger player base likely to be following you. So I don't have experience with selling games, but this is based off a theory that has worked pretty well for McDonalds, cheap and sell more. So I do feel like $20 is a bit much, and I often do feel that for $20 games, when I buy a $10 game I almost always feel better about the game. On a flip side I also tend to feel good about a game when it costs $30-$50 but those are often pretty high funded commercial games. So some food for thought on that matter.

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jack1974
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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:37 pm

I agree on various points - in particular about the weekend thing, I suggested that player should be able to relax to the coder too :)
(remember I didn't code/design this one, I only produced it)

Regarding the price, unfortunately doesn't work like that with games. Based on your theory, iphone games should make developers LOT of money, since they're supercheap. In reality, it's the opposite. I've done lots of tests over the course of the years, and every time I tried to lower price, I made less money ! :x I would like really to sell games for cheap so more people could buy them, but probably also because I make niche games, it's not a viable solution for me :(

I would be happy even to just break even selling more at less price, but if I even earn less money, it's definitely not possible.

The only other consideration I can do, is that I never had a game priced low from the beginning, maybe I should try with one and see how it goes.

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Ellume
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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by Ellume » Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:17 pm

jack1974 wrote:I agree on various points - in particular about the weekend thing, I suggested that player should be able to relax to the coder too :)
For sake of banter are there any points I made you don't really agree with?
jack1974 wrote:Regarding the price, unfortunately doesn't work like that with games. Based on your theory, iphone games should make developers LOT of money, since they're supercheap. In reality, it's the opposite. I've done lots of tests over the course of the years, and every time I tried to lower price, I made less money ! :x I would like really to sell games for cheap so more people could buy them, but probably also because I make niche games, it's not a viable solution for me :(

I would be happy even to just break even selling more at less price, but if I even earn less money, it's definitely not possible.

The only other consideration I can do, is that I never had a game priced low from the beginning, maybe I should try with one and see how it goes.
Yeah, like I said it is more theory then anything as I don't have the experience. Demand for a product does effect price. Part of the idea of lower cost games was to try increase demand. Although if the only people buying are the same people that would still pay more, then it isn't really working.

Then there is marketing. I've heard there are a lot of loops to jump through to get on steam, but if you can get on there it is good advertising. Don't know what other marketing options there are other then web ads. But again I don't have experience with all this stuff.

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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:02 pm

Ellume wrote:For sake of banter are there any points I made you don't really agree with?
well really, I agree on every thing you said. I have to admit though that is not easy as it seems. For my other game Spirited Heart I had a LOT of random events to happen, but towards the end of the game I really ran out of ideas :D It probably was also because they had to be quite generic events, and not related to any specific character relationship, only on the job.

Based on what you say, I think you'll find interesting my next otome game then, Remember Me, which has a very complex simulation part (well, complex for a dating sim!!) I don't know if you saw already this short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4C4HCwj264
The game will have 8-9 locations (have to decide yet the number, I might add more) and in each of them you'll be able to perform several actions, that will also change based on the time of the day :) There will be stats to raise and money to buy stuff. Buying stuff will have lots of side effect in the game, like buying books to learn cooking, and so on.
Of course there will be also the dating sim, romance subplot, dateable characters and everything else.
Ellume wrote: Then there is marketing. I've heard there are a lot of loops to jump through to get on steam, but if you can get on there it is good advertising. Don't know what other marketing options there are other then web ads. But again I don't have experience with all this stuff.
Hehe I've been trying to get on Steam for years. They even "considered" Planet Stronghold (first time it happens, usually they reject any game immediately, instead this time they took time to play it!) but in the end refused it. Made me proud though, means it's effectively my best game so far :lol:

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Ellume
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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by Ellume » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:42 pm

jack1974 wrote:I have to admit though that is not easy as it seems. For my other game Spirited Heart I had a LOT of random events to happen, but towards the end of the game I really ran out of ideas :D It probably was also because they had to be quite generic events, and not related to any specific character relationship, only on the job.
I know it is not as easy as it often seems. In fact if it was my game I probably wouldn't include all my ideas, I'm more to putting them out there as ideas to be considered.
jack1974 wrote:Based on what you say, I think you'll find interesting my next otome game then, Remember Me, which has a very complex simulation part (well, complex for a dating sim!!) I don't know if you saw already this short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4C4HCwj264
Yeah, it is looking good. I like how there is a description for actions. Overall my impression makes me think of the free game RE: Alistair++.

If I was going to make a suggestion for the next game for.. Christine was it? I would suggest keeping that mysterious trail idea. An unfolding story which you discover as you progress is very cool, and you do it well.

Keep the mystery as the main aspect of the story and either take out the dating aspect or have it part of the mystery. You could use a fairly standard branching plot as a possibility, a common path for a good while then branch out into different endings depending on a few choices taken when solving the mystery. Branching plots are more writer intensive, but multiple endings is nice, and you can always push back the branch till later in the game. Keep some kind of gameplay like you have in this one, perhaps even reuse the same code as this to make your life easier. If you can reuse code, it makes the game a lot easy and faster to make, it's like having you're own game engine thats already been tuned. But having some kind of gameplay, time management, stat management, or otherwise both makes the game longer for the player as well as the events and discovers in the game more meaningful, as well as help to give the player the feeling of setting. When I was rushing around in Love and Order trying to get all the work done, pulling overtime, and trying to uncover the mystery, it gave me the feeling of a workaholic in a law firm, so I think it was successful in that regards.

For ideas of branching paths you could have each deal with a romancable character (fairly standard), you could have only one romancable character which different outcomes, you could have one ending be a romance ending and the others be something else. You could have the endings be completely unrelated like depending on how you solve the mystery it turns out to be something different, like parallel universes.

I don't have experience publishing games, but I do think about and play them a fair bit. Hopefully it gives some ideas of possibilities. I would be quite happy to see another game :)

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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:50 pm

Speaking of mystery and multiple plots, I don't want to seem too much self-promoting my stuff but did you check Bionic Heart? It's not a dating sim though, more a VN with some adventure-like scenes :mrgreen:
edit: I actually checked sales and you bought it already! sorry haha

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Ellume
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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by Ellume » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:13 pm

Yep, I thought that one was pretty good 8)

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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:40 pm

I'm started with the sequel today :) the original artist is too busy, so rather than waiting for 2 years, found another. Hope to post some screenshots in May/June 8)

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Ellume
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Re: Some Thoughts

Post by Ellume » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:06 am

Very cool :lol:

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