I give up. I can't do it. I can't play through the crafting game again.
There's this big problem. If you want to complete the good ending, you don't have to reach one goal. You have to reach all of them. All skills to 300. XP to level 30. Gold to upgrade your shop to level 3 rooms. Endlessly craft/do the same jobs over and over to get there. Queen of Thieves was grindingly harsh too, but at least I could run the shop for XX days if I got really tired of it. Not so in Amber, you have to make the most of every single day, or you'll fall behind and be unable to complete the game.
Young age works well, because your goal can be reached in several ways. Everything gives XP. Adult age is a complete chore to do over, because no matter what, you have to do everything, every time. Only real choice is what order do you want to do everything in.
It's probably too late to make any big changes, but here's what I might do:
- Getting romance endings is a goal that can be reasonably reached every time, but I'd really like to know in good time what skills should be focused on to complete each romance, so I don't have to do everything blindly. That would give me a clear goal to work towards, and that would be that. Have the romance as the end goal, focus on maybe 2 skills to raise, make it obvious what you need, and give more time to get there. The problem here is you don't lock into a romance until pretty late in the game, so it's a little hard to communicate clearly what you should focus on. I'm not sure what the exact solution would be, but it would in any case make for a shorter game where you wouldn't have to complete everything 100%. As the game is right now, I'd just stop playing after reaching the romance CG and not bother with the rest of the game. The ultimate ending with your partner(s) is just a bit of text anyway, right?
- Different victory conditions. Get to level 40 OR get 3 skills to 300 OR upgrade the entire shop to max/build the super duper room OR earn 300 reputation OR craft the McGuffin (that doesn't require everything maxed out, but where you also don't automatically get handed everything you need because story reasons, but actually have to use gathering, shopping, and crafting ordinary items to make). Numbers chosen to illustrate, not seriously thought through. Especially the last option, crafting the McGuffin, would have been so much simpler if you hadn't gone for quantity as a goal. Not to bring the whole thing down, but making 200+ recipes was really not such a great idea. Fewer, but more essential, recipes would have made for much more natural gameplay, where progression felt like it mattered. Now I look at each new recipe unlocked and think, "Great, another item I'll never craft." If the McGuffin required 50 iron ingots, 25 beryl thingies, 10 platinum settings, etc., the goal would be much more integrated with the actual crafting gameplay, instead of getting 4 unique recipes and being handed 80% of the ingredients without doing anything to get them.
As it is, doing the good end once, I can live with, it was a chore, but also a challenge. Doing it again just saps my will to live. Sorry for the rant and being all negative (I try to be constructive when I can), and I know most of your customers will probably just play VN mode and ultimately not care, but the gameplay has ended up too grindy to do more than once.
In my opinion. (TM)