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    Spoo
  Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:48 am
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It's been a little bit since anyone's posted on this, but I'd like to chime in and say this looks interesting as hell.

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    Nathaniel3W
  Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:49 am
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Thanks Spoo! Yeah, I don't post here with every update. But I'm glad it looks interesting.

And I have some news that's exciting and a little bit terrifying: Himeko Sutori is releasing on Steam Early Access in 4 days! On 31 January, Himeko Sutori will be available for sale.

It's still in rough shape. And the main campaign isn't finished. But it's playable for about 8 hours before the towns are empty. Hopefully that will be enough for people interested in the game to try it out.

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    Spoo
  Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:55 am
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Wow, man. That's great news! I'll pick it up when I get the chance.

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    Nathaniel3W
  Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:57 am
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As of right now, the game is now available on Steam Early Access. The game is far from finished, but it's playable enough that I'm going to let the curious and adventurous try it out. Here's hoping the EA launch isn't a complete disaster.

And I've been updating this post for 4 years now. I've been working on this game for over 4 years. That's kind of hard to believe. A lot can happen in 4 years.

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    Xilef
  Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:41 pm
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I've bought the game, tried it for a bit but I have some things to do so I'll have to come back to it another day and give it a more serious play-through.

I've got some quality-of-life points to make. You may find these petty and insignificant, but this kind of stuff adds up. When you've got it right no-one will notice, when you've got it wrong people will notice - so keep in mind that you've got a lot of things very right (I expect you won't get complaints about the title screen and other menu systems, you've done a very good job there).

Immediately the game to me was crying out for 8-direction sprites. I didn't think it would have been so jarring but I can feel a very subtle sense of dissatisfaction in my brain when the sprites pick a 4 direction frame and walk diagonally, or even more so when I rotate the camera. In general, the sprites are crying out for 8 directions and more animations too, I wasn't expecting complex sprite animations but there were moments when I was absorbed in the dialogue and the writing at moments definitely felt like it needed accompanying character animations.

The major thing I noticed was at strange 62/61 FPS lock that seems to be implemented as some kind of timed thread sleeper (definitely isn't VSync). This causes a frame lurch fairly frequently, the smooth movement makes this very jarring. This also creates a very noticeable frame crawl on a 60Hz display, it's probably makes for the best demonstration of screen tearing I've ever seen. I'm not a fan of vsync, but I feel like it is actually needed here - I was tempted to force it on. I expect in windowed mode this issue doesn't happen as Windows itself will vsync. At the least a vsync option would be appreciated.

Final big thing I noticed was it felt weird having the dialogue boxes anchored to the top/bottom of the screen. You've got secondary dialogue as floating boxes above the characters and that works very well, there's even some cool Chrono Trigger style "walk around during dialogue" moments which I'm personally a fan of as it puts more power to the player when it comes to the pace of world exploration (don't have to sit around a mash dialogue for random NPCs). On a desktop 16:9 screen having primary dialogue at the top/bottom really pulls the eye away from the characters, which isn't too bad as there's no complex sprite animations accompanying the dialogue, but I felt like I should be focusing more on who was talking.

Some minor things:
The way the text types out is also a naive implementation that will click to a new line half-way through a word (jarringly pulls the eyes to the left side of the monitor, on a 16:9 display this is a nuisance).
I am going to forever mention this (as I have done throughout your updates) but the 2D sprites look too flat, it's particularly bad when the camera is zoomed out and looking down. I've discussed a few techniques in the past for addressing this and now that I've seen it in action I think your best bet would be to reduce the camera's FOV, pull it out further and adjust the near/far clipping planes.

Your camera movements in cutscenes are wonderfully done, combined the the music, it's very pleasant. The camera panning up the crystal tower is a great, repeatable example.
Camera clipping into the world, particularly in the tight area of the market slime battle, can be annoying. I had to stop a few times to adjust the camera to see what I'm doing.

I accidentally skipped the text describing setting up lances, so I spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out how to exit that screen. On-screen tooltips might be handy or a dedicated "Accept" or something. Menus have been pretty good, which made it very noticeable when this screen caused me problems.

The way items crawl up the side of the screen as you acquire them is comically lengthy. I think a brief peak from the right of each item, pause, then peak away would be better - they just hang around too long and consume the entire side of the screen.


I'm going to beg you to add this: Please add some kind of 3D compass. The NPCs reference compass directions and after I've rotated the screen 20+ times I have no idea which way South is. I even felt a bit lost trying to get back to father from the tower (accidentally entered the chapel a second time). A compass bearing would have helped massively.

Not sure right-click move outside of battle is good at communicating what's going on. There's no path-finding, like RPG Maker MV has, so it's not entirely useful. I'd replace this with drag right-click to analogue move the character, a bit like on a mobile phone touch-screen: so if I hold right click and drag upwards then my character moves upwards.

Having the camera zoomed in and holding W felt like a 3rd person game, I felt like Q and E should smoothly rotate the camera during this one moment, I suggest you give this a try and see how you feel about it. I personally don't think Q and E should smoothly rotate, especially with the lack of 8 direction frames. It may be worth preventing the player from zooming in this much so they aren't tempted to hold Q/E for smooth rotation like I was.

In battle the sound effects are very quiet zoomed out. I thought the game had no sound effects until I zoomed in. I think I'd not tie the sound effects to the characters in the world, it's not an action game so it may be okay just to do directional sound around the camera, rather than positional.

The face portraits lack personality. You've actually written some personality into the characters themselves through dialogue (a benefit of the English language), so it's a bit of a shame that the face portraits don't support the personalities you've written. The issue is that the face all face forward directly at the viewer, just having some face to the left/right with an identifying expression would massively help out.

The loading screen displaying map file names could risk spoilers - not sure if this applies to your story, but it's something to consider.


As a warning I'll likely have a lot more to say as I continue playing, for one thing I think I'll have some stuff to say about communicating battle actions to the player but I'll address these after I've had some time to study it further - the first battle wasn't a problem, but there was a small thing I noticed that I want to check out in other battles.


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    Nathaniel3W
  Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:41 am
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Wow. Thank you so, so much for all your input. Seriously, this is priceless. I really appreciate you taking the time to give such detailed feedback. As for my responses...

8 direction sprites: Totally agree. It would double the number of frames I need in the game, but if sales allow me to hire a pixel artist, I definitely want to do this.

About the screen tearing, I think I know what's causing it. It sounds just like this: https://forums.unrealengine.com/legacy- ... en-tearing. I'm going to change bSmoothFrameRate setting's default and see if that fixes it.

I definitely need to redo the dialog system. It is just too problematic. It was one of the first things I made, and it's one of the worst. Thanks for your suggestions. I can place the text closer to the characters.

I think I can reduce the FOV. Shouldn't be a problem. I would have done this much, much sooner in development. But early on I was working in UDK, which didn't give me access to the underlying C++ source code. In a standard UDK or UE3 game, the clipping planes get set once and then you can't adjust them. But it was surprisingly easy for me to adjust the clipping planes dynamically once I learned where the setting was.

I can see what you mean regarding the small battlefield in the town. To fix that I think I would need to remake the market area of the level. It's not that it couldn't be done, but you just raise some bigger issues that I need to address first.

I'm in the process of adjusting the tutorials. I'll make sure that you can't miss it.

You're right about the item-received crawl. That should be a quick fix.

And the 3D compass is easy enough too. I already have one on the world map. Shouldn't be too hard to copy it (or something very similar) into the town-exploration mode.

That is a great idea for the right-click movement! That will save me tons of time writing a pathfinding algorithm. Thanks.

You thought through the smooth camera movement two steps further than I did. I had actually put smooth camera turning on my backlog. Now though, I'm going to give it some more thought.

And I am trying to find a new artist for those portraits. Have you seen or played Granblue Fantasy? I would love to get an artist like that. I've been pestering this guy but he hasn't responded, so when I'm not doing other stuff I'm trying to find an artist like him. Definitely going for 3/4 view portraits next time.

Changing the way the sound effects play would be difficult at this point, but maybe I could increase their range.

Thanks for the warning about possible spoilers. I'll keep that in mind while naming my maps. Or I could just make the loading screen not mention them. I just wanted to give the player an indicator that the game hasn't frozen.

Thanks again for all the feedback. This is extremely useful to me. Some other suggestions I've taken with a grain of salt. But believe me when I say I know that you know what you're talking about.

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