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Episode 4: Feedback and Thoughts

Started by dark-daventry, November 06, 2011, 03:08:08 PM

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I got all but two, got frustrated with it and started over again with the easy option. :P


It is not that hard of a puzzle, it just requires a lot of patience. You can do it :)


just got through it and not bad only came across 1 bug and it just and was at the end which meant i couldnt select anything but a second time was ok. loved the little story twists tho didnt like the maze as graham kept getting stuck on the hedges for me :P tho the blood bathed rose stumped me.

overall good work alot more story which has mostly come together with still a few unanswered questions hopefully will be fully explained in the next episode as has got me wondering something else *thinking cap activate*


*smirks*  I can appreciate the frustration... I expressed that same frustration to Cesar, which is why - aside from my testing duties - I played exclusively on Easy for that.  It kept me from breaking my mouse.   :suffer:
Nathan Benner, TSL Q.A. Tester


Haha yeah, I suppose I should have labeled those buttons "Easy" and "Hell."  It is pretty tough on the Normal mode, but that actually is the original mode we started with and the Easy was created after the team got through the normal one and gave us some feedback on it.

It's definitely nice to complete Normal mode, there's a feeling of real accomplishment in completing it.
Weldon Hathaway


Er, what's the difference?

In normal, do the wheels appear and disappear? Or, is that easy?


In normal mode the appearing and disappearing is the least of your concerns.
Weldon Hathaway


Just finished it, I just couldn't stop once I got started. Best episode so far, hands down, never crashed on me once. It was well worth the wait, you guys hit it out of the park on this one! Loved all the cut scenes, especially the ending ones, and boy did those arcade sequences take me a while to figure out even on easy mode! I still have a couple of questions about the plot that I'm sure will be answered in episode 5 but you guys did awesome! And, unlike Episode 3, I got to see the end credits! Woo hoo! Round of applause!  :bow: :bow:


Loved it. <3 I could not stop as soon as I started. I think I will enjoy it a bit more the second time around because I was going back and forth between the Isle of the Sacred Mountain and the Isle of the Beast constantly. XD The game only had one hiccup but I got it resolved. The termites were funny. For some reason I guessed exactly what they were going to sound like. XD Flying around with the winged shoes was really cool. Your episodes get better and better. I'm really excited about the next one. :D You left on a total cliffhanger X( Keep up the good work people! Thank you so much! Bow before awesomeness!  ;D  8)  :D

(Posted on: November 08, 2011, 01:18:47 AM)

Quote from: tessspoon on November 07, 2011, 12:36:02 PM
Quote from: Demidronik on November 07, 2011, 11:53:37 AM
Having Graham able to swim through the air makes episode 4 much easier. :suffer:

XD lol I got that too, when the hot air balloon dropped me off.
I had this happen to me too. Lol XD


I'm just going to share some of my thoughts that I already sent in email with Katie--gotta put it out here for the rest of you to see (and a bit more added from what I said in the email)!

Absolutely great game, it's easily one of my favorite games of all times.  I've been meaning to write something since I found out about the game earlier this year and played through episodes 1-3.  You did a fantastic job and you really feel a connection with all of the characters.  Actually, your game has given me much more of a connected feeling with Graham and his family than any of the actual King's Quest games ever did!  I just finished the game! Very well done! Bravo!

[spoiler]Wow! The Pandora's box scene was tense!  I kept worrying that Shadrak might kill Rosella if I messed up too many times, or took too long (I did Normal mode for the puzzle... (P.S. You're all "sadistic designers" ;P )).  Even after I'd gotten pretty far into the puzzle and it seemed like the game would most likely give me all the time I needed, I still felt very tense from it, because I didn't *know* that for sure.  In fact, I still don't know for sure whether messing up too many times in a row will make Shadrak kill Rosella... I was being very careful NOT to get more than two "red failure" attempts in a row at any given time.  Wow, just WOW!

I did get a little frustrated by the time I had spent enough time to get the first few icons, but I'm glad that I never had to re-load to do it all over again (having to reload several times WOULD have made hate this scene). I think the scene was handled very well, actually, there aren't many game scenes that have ever made me feel that tense AND not gotten me angry from having to do them over again a thousand times. It felt GOOD when I got through it! :) [/spoiler]

It took an entire day off to get through it--my original plans for my day off had fallen through, so that freed me up to play through the game (mixed blessing ;) ).

Looking forward to the final episode!

Now, I've got to get to sleep--I've got work tomorrow... Uhmmm... Today.


Man what a Frustrating Episode this was, i understood Nothing and could barely hear what People are saying, the Music and Sound is incredibly out of sync and i thought this Ep would answer our Questions as to how Valanice knew Graham before she met the guy and why Manannan seems like a Nice Guy at first.

It would be nice if there is a section just for Cutscenes and Cinematics, sometimes i accidentally click and then i skip it, thus i dont have a Save Game.

Wait, werent we suppose to leave The Green Isles in Ep4, i thought we were going to Daventry.

I smell a Ep6 or Ep5 is just gonna Cut the Ending like Tales of Monkey Island that leaves a Climax that will never be made


Just finished episode 4. Great work! However I liked episode 3 more. It was more epic and the puzzles felt more complete and more satisfying. Also it may be just an impression, because it's been a long time since I played episode 3, but episode 4 felt shorter. Still a very fun game and all the puzzles related to the beast's maze were great. It felt really good solving them. One thing only. It seemed a bit awkward for the clues to magically appear in Graham's scroll. I think it would be better if they were found somewhere in the garden or the castle or something. But apart from that, I would definitely say that everything about the beast's maze was the best part of this episode.
Pandora's box puzzle and the little arcade sequence at the end were also good. Played on normal, they were tense and difficult enough to be enjoyably infuriating, without crossing the line to become plain infuriating.
On the technical side everything was very fluid. There were however a few lip-syncing issues and sometimes the volume of the dialogue and the narration was uneven or low. Nothing major though.
Right now there are too many plot threads left hanging, but I hope the final episode will bring a satisfying closure to the story. Keep up the good work!


Quote from: waltzdancing on November 07, 2011, 05:30:05 PM
It is not that hard of a puzzle, it just requires a lot of patience. You can do it :)

This is precisely my pont; on normal, it geuinely isn't hard - as in challenging any skills you may have - it's just irritating.  There's no satisfaction because there's nothing to work out.  Patience is a virtue in some respects, but not when the puzzle is frankly tedious; enduring something rubbish doesnt make you in any way worthy.  I DID complete it on normal mode - it is ingrained in my psyche that easy route = less satisfying cinematics (thank you Cassima on KQVI short route, although I realised this  probably wasnt true here, but still, you shouldn't have to pick 'easy' to make a puzzle workable) - and I have to say I didn't find it satisying or feel any sense of accomplishment, just a relief it was finally over and irritation that it had taken up so much time.  I guess the point I'm making is that frustration and difficuty are not the same thing.  I decided to check out easy mode and finished it incredbily quickly, which rather proves my point; once you take away the interface shennanigans the puzzle is in no way complicated or challenging, just a bit dull (and still too long).  I'm not maligning the designers; I just wanted to share my experience to help you avoid this sort of thing in future games.  It's the difference between defeating Ganon at the end of Zelda OOT - which can be really difficult, but is fundamentally a logical mechanism which you have to crack and keep cracking - and...I dont know, I cant think of a super irritating boss off the top of my with a stupid weakness mechanic.  I firmly believe that its poor puzzle design when the difficulty is not in working out the answer but in convincing the game to let you input it.  

Anyway, full review to follow!


I think it was supposed to be frustrating, rather than hard.  Imagine how frustrated, and tense, Valenice would have been in the situation--it brings the player into her shoes.  It's definitely the kind of puzzle that could have gotten me very angry if handled slightly differently.  However, the puzzle kept me right at that frustrated and tense level, teetering into the irritated zone now and then, but without ever boiling over to outright PO'd.

Yeah, it could have been shorter, I definitely had several "Agh, how many more do I need to go?!" moments.

To me, it felt good afterward, not because it was hard, but because it was just a relief to get it over with without having to reload, and because it hadn't pushed me to outright anger.  Forcing me to start over, with even a single re-load (especially if it came several minutes into it), would have put me solidly in agreement with you--it was a very fine line.

(Posted on: November 08, 2011, 09:00:01 AM)

Oh, and I meant to give a little constructive criticism about the maze.

[spoiler]After I'd gotten the directional clues, I worked it out pretty quickly and went straight to the correct spot, however, after I dug, Graham found... Nothing. So, I slightly adjusted Graham's stance and again found nothing. I was about to start digging up every spot in the corner, but then I thought "No, they wouldn't make the exact spot to dig that precise in this day and age."  Meaning, if it was 15 years ago, I would have definitely expected pixel hunting and dug up every pixel that corner to find it.  But, I wouldn't expect that kind of precision these days--I already figured out the riddle, shouldn't have to then hunt for the exact pixel to dig.

Because of that, I thought maybe I'd misinterpreted the puzzle (I hadn't), and tried to see if there was some other spot it could be.  However the place that made any sense to me was my original interpretation.  So I did what every good adventurer would do... I started digging up other random corners and intersections all over that quadrant of the maze.

The same thing happened later when I tried finding the lock section--though I did try a few random places first, before trying to work out from the clues in the photo where it might be--once I figured that out, I dug exactly once in the correct corner and didn't find anything.

In all I probably wasted more than half an hour AFTER I'd already figured out the correct directions, trying to re-interpret the clues and try random luck, just because there was more pixel hunting than I expected in a modern game.

The game then crashed when I tried to save at some point--possibly related to all the whole's I'd dug in the maze, and it corrupted my save file, so I came to the hint board and saw that the spots were in fact where I'd dug, so I loaded it up again, started from the beginning of the game and went and dug up those corners again.  I had to dig two different spots right next to each other in the key corner to get the correct spot, and I had to dig three different spots, all partially overlapping each other, in the lock corner to find that correct spot.

Moral of the story: In the future, you should give a wider radius of acceptable digging spots (or other searching method for any similar type of puzzle).  Digging anywhere in the correct corners should have gotten the buried items.[/spoiler]

Another tip:  For a free game, I have no problem with some of the clipping in the game (Azure's wing, for example, or in the opening scene with Rosella, notice how the reflections in the snowy water aren't anchored to the actual items that go into the water (look under the round thing on the left).  And in fact I don't really have too much problem with it even for a paid game.  However, for your coming commercial project, you'll definitely want to make sure things like that are polished up a bit more.


Quote from: daventry on November 08, 2011, 01:41:01 AM
Man what a Frustrating Episode this was, i understood Nothing and could barely hear what People are saying, the Music and Sound is incredibly out of sync and i thought this Ep would answer our Questions as to how Valanice knew Graham before she met the guy and why Manannan seems like a Nice Guy at first.

It would be nice if there is a section just for Cutscenes and Cinematics, sometimes i accidentally click and then i skip it, thus i dont have a Save Game.

Wait, werent we suppose to leave The Green Isles in Ep4, i thought we were going to Daventry.

I smell a Ep6 or Ep5 is just gonna Cut the Ending like Tales of Monkey Island that leaves a Climax that will never be made
I'm sorry to hear you had trouble with the audio. I didn't have any issues, so it could be something with your setup. Do you have powered external speakers? That might help. As far as missing the dialogue, you can turn on subtitles in the Audio options.

You shouldn't be able to accidentally skip cutscenes - you should get a prompt asking if you want to skip it. You can skip individual lines of dialogue - I don't think there's much that can be done about that.

Ep4 is the last episode in the Green Isles. I've read the plot for Episode 5, and there is definitely a real ending.

Steve Abbott | Beta Tester | The Silver Lining


Finally finished Ep4, ended up having to play it on my laptop though, for some reason I was having the bug where you could not see the nymph/lamp salesman/balloon tour people.

[spoiler]Personally I liked the fight against shadrack, thought the pandora's box event was obnoxious as all hell though, particularly on 'normal' mode (not that this is necessarily a BAD thing, but I would not recommend attempting it while you are tired, you'll just end up putting your fist through the monitor as I was tempted to do before I reloaded in easy mode). [/spoiler]

Looking forward to the final episode :)


I have to agree with what has been already stated about the puzzle that has been the topic of discussion.  It's definitely not a difficult puzzle from a logic standpoint... but it is infuriating due to the added mechanics.  Towards the end I was literally clicking on symbols at random until I got 2-3 pieces that connected together and then found the actual symbol I was apparently building and tried to pick the 4th piece. The UI design of the puzzle also increased the frustration factor, which resulted in triggering a narrator response rather than triggering a piece selection.  Once the wheels really get into the groove of things, I ended up triggering the narrator as often as I triggered a piece selection.  The added mechanics certainly added to the frustration meter equally, but the UI design really stands out to me.  It's a clever puzzle that ended up getting over-saturated with added mechanics that took away the logic and turned it into a repetition puzzle that relied more on patience than logic, especially when the UI design (or lack therof, depending on your take on the situation) is thrown into the mix.

I hope there are no Zodiac puzzles in Episode 5 (the Zodiac puzzle in Episode 3 was also rather infuriating, but at least that one was a logic puzzle without much in the way of added mechanics)... but I have a sneaking suspicion there might be one thrown in just to add time to the playthrough.

The only other part that I found infuriating was the...

Shadrack fight.  Seriously... I get that it's basically rock-paper-scissors but what on earth is the deal with spinning the amulet around when Shadrack rocks the boat?!?!?  I had to retry that section many times not because I couldn't figure out the timings and visual queues of Shadracks attacks and what to click to avoid what attack... or that the earth attack is the only attack you want to use against Shadrack until the very end... but because Shadrack would randomly rock the boat as his attack and your not given much of a chance to do anything to counter it.  I know there's a way to counter it and I know it has to do with the dodge arrows on either side of the amulet, but by spinning the amulet around, I found it impossible to react in time.  Ultimately I beat Shadrack through sheer luck in that I got through it without him rocking the boat.

Overall the episode was a lot of fun, sans the infuriating bits.  I had a similar problem with some of the puzzles in KQ3 Redux.  It's not just a matter of having a hayday making puzzles for people to figure out.  You have to create puzzles that make sense logically to the player AND you have to create puzzles that don't rely on cheap gimmicks to convey difficulty.  This is something that Sierra was criticized for many times in fan letters and articles over the years in Sierra Interaction (and yes, I do read every word that is in the Sierra Interaction issues as I convert them into wiki format... hence why I have been taking a break from it and there haven't been updates).  Ultimately, as Sierra's designers became more savvy and more proficient at puzzle design, they moved away from gimmicks (for the most part) and instead designed puzzles that genuinely challenged the mind as opposed to challenging one's patience.  

Moral of the story is take the feedback of your beta testers seriously.  They are there to provide feedback on the game... but that feedback is useless if you put your heads in the sand and disregard the feedback because the testers aren't "getting it" or are otherwise not-in-the-know.  Beta testers are supposed to represent your target gaming audience and if they aren't "getting it", there's a very strong chance your target gaming audience isn't going to "get it" and you end up with people talking about infuriating puzzle design.  I am sure the puzzles in EP4 that are being discussed as infuriating were brought up by the beta testers at some point (I'm making that assumption based on the idea that beta testers are supposed to represent the target gaming audience and as such are supposed to be impartial, providing feedback and criticism based on the gameplay experience and not external influences such as pedigree of the team, hype of the product, etc).

I have high hopes for Episode 5... but here's hoping the puzzles are logic-heavy and gimmick-light.  Episode 3 had it's gimmick-heavy puzzle and Episode 4 had it's gimmick-heavy puzzle.  I for one am hoping Episode 5 has more in common with Episode 2's puzzles (where were indeed logic-heavy and gimmick-light).  

Just my two-cents.  :)
Chronicling the history of Sierra through the conversion of it's premiere magazine into an easy-to-use, searchable wiki format.


Puzzles or not, I am more interested in the story, specifically characters. I mentioned earlier that you leave me with a breaking heart. I feel a lot of affinity towards your deppened characters.

This cannot ever be resolved, unfortunately and so it looks to me like Graham's tragic fate has been sealed. I am dreading episode 5...because this story could go on forever in circles, depending on how the series will close.
It's a pity we will only get to see a closure, not an ending...Closure leaves a lot of things open to imagination and does not grant pleasaure. I am not a big fan of this, but you have little choice in the matter. Everyone is so tragic in this fan continuation. And everyone is so utterly and heart-wrenchingly alone. 
I, really really pity poor graham...he's such a silly pawn and doesn't know it. Makes want to kick something. I know this has been hanging over him since the beginning of the series, but the way you brought it out is just a sparkling gem of storytelling, that's what it is.

And all good storytelling always ends in a thoughtful way- meaning in closure, not an ending.  I don;t suppose the Beast will ever turn back again either, unless in some fan fiction piece.

I take it it's Valanice that is the second playable character since we got to play her...then episode 5 should be interesting, but it makes me sad that it;s only the last episode that is left.

What I also loved that at least the tragic protagonist that he is, graham at least got to experience everything there is - from love to death, from Wing One's City (absolutely gorgeous) to depths of ocean...from mysterious realms and vampires and fairies, from self-refilling bowls of food to wise owls.  As it is, I feel he is a character ripe for an ultimate sacrifice. 

It has been a series full of magic. Whatever happens, I just hope his sacrifices and adventures won't be in vain.

Will be waiting for the closure.


Guys, let's not forget that these people are amateurs breaking into a professional industry.  Crappy puzzle design is to be expected from time to time.  Sure, team arrogance probably had something to do with it.  From what I can tell, a lot of criticisms fall on deaf ears if certain individuals on the team already have their minds made up a certain way.  Ah well, what can you do?  They'll learn, or they'll fail professionally.  Simple as that.


Ok, just finished the game and I thought I'd wait to post what I thought of it, because quite frankly I'm pissed off, but I'm going ahead and posting anyway.  I'll get to why I'm irritated in a minute, but might as well start with the good.

As always, I really like the music.  The game itself was also pretty, though like someone else said, there was some clipping issues.  I didn't really care either since it's a fan game.  I also really enjoyed the maze.  In fact, I really wished it had been bigger.  It was pretty basic, actually since most of the maze you could see was inaccessible.  I also wish you hadn't had to cheat to get to the castle.  Normally I'm not a fan of mazes in games, but the overhead view made it much more accessible.

Ok, now for the kind of picky things.  I wasn't a fan of Pan's voice (it looks like he wasn't even listed in the credits.)  To be fair, though, I really don't know what I imagine Pan sounding like.  I couldn't even tell you if he has a high or low voice, so me saying I don't like it isn't exactly fair.  What I can say, though, is I don't like how he was written.  Having him refer to himself as "one" constantly just didn't work.  It was annoying and difficult to follow.  But he wasn't really a major character, so not a huge deal.

I also don't really like the fact that everything is moving backwards.  At the risk of being that nerd who actually analyzes these things, it just doesn't make sense.  Events are moving backwards, yet other things are moving forward.  The curse obviously doesn't get undone, and clearly everyone is still aware that Alex and Rosella were cursed, even as they're becoming unaware of other things (Shamir unlearns spells and the chess pieces replay their game, unaware it already happened, though Graham knows.)  The banner is suddenly hanging again while the tree still blocks the way to the beach.  Like I said, I stop short of being that nerd who analyzes it and gets indignant about such things (I save that level of geekdom for Star Trek) but these inconsistencies kind of scratch at the back of my head.  Was it really necessary to have time revert?  Why not just have things being undone completely and disappear, since that achieves the same result story-wise (though people when then accuse you of ripping off Neverending Story.)  And actually, for that matter, what is the Black Cloaks' endgame?  Completely undoing the world in which they live?  Doesn't that hurt them just as much as everyone else?  The story says that they're ambitious and corrupt, but ambitious people don't want to undo the world, they just want to rule it.  Like I said, these are picky points, but they are points that kind of stick in the back of my head because they just don't quite fit together.

Moving on to the more frustrating items, which was the puzzle design.  The first thing that bothered me was getting the horn.  Mainly, Graham goes around asking everybody for everything, guilting them into it by saying it will help his children.  But to get the horn, he doesn't even bring that up to Beast, and instead conspires to steal the horn in an elaborate plot.  I'm all for a elaborate plot but it all seemed so unnecessary because Beast was reasonable at that point.  Now, if you had shifted his transformation back into a beast a bit earlier, then that would explain why he's being unreasonable and Graham needs to resort to stealth and deception.

One of the things that really bugged me was calling the winds.  I figured out how to do it just fine.  The puzzle made sense.  What didn't make any sense was having to put all the instruments in the same inventory slot.  Why would I have thought to do that?  You click inventory items on each other to combine them.  You didn't combine these.  You just wanted them consolidated.  But that doesn't make sense, because they're already consolidated in Graham's pocket?  On top of that, there was no indication from the narrator that this was an issue ("Good thought but calling one wind at a time won't do Graham any good.").  All you got if you tried to play the instruments was either a stock response, or a "you can't do that here" response.  And it should also be noted that the "you can't do that here" response occurs in a separate screen from where you're supposed to play the instruments while the stock responses occurred in the screen where you were supposed to call the winds.  So I was left thinking that there was a hotspot I was missing outside the city, maybe around the statues.  It really got me frustrated because it was the worst kind of "read my mind" issue so far in the game in that I didn't have to read the developers mind to solve the puzzle, but I did have to read their mind to figure out how to implement the answer.  And speaking of the winds, I suppose it would be really picky to ask why the winds didn't look like they did in KQ7, even though the narrator makes special mention that Graham knows the statues aren't the true forms of the winds.

Moving on to the Pandora's Box puzzle.  I tried it on normal because I didn't want to be a wuss.  I figured I could handle it.  And I was right.  But it took me forever.  Seriously, just reducing the number of symbols to two per side would have improved the puzzle.  As it was, though, I just had to keep doing the same thing over and over, and it took forever.  And the more frustrated I got, the more I disliked the puzzle and started to question it.  Like, seriously, what was Valanice doing?  Were there really symbols swirling around her?  How does projecting them on the wall translate into unlocking the box?  I realize that's getting very concrete with the puzzle, but the fact is that when you get someone frustrated enough, they start to pick things apart like that.  At least I do.  The interface on that puzzle just wasn't well designed.  And not just because it was tediously complicated.  Also, it was just badly designed.  A lot of the symbols would go up into where the icon bar was, which meant you couldn't click them.  And then they'd disappear or switch places.  It really was infuriating.  So infuriating I didn't really get a sense of accomplishment when I beat it on normal.  I was just irritated and glad it was over.

And then you threw me right into a rock, paper, scissors game with Shadrack.  Two non-adventure minigames in your adventure game.  The Shadrack fight pissed me off beyond all recognition.  It took me forever to beat even after recognizing the patterns.  The rock animations, which looked cool at first, began feeling like they were lasting forever, and the entire time I just felt that it had no place in an adventure game.  It's a freaking boss battle.  I played King's Quest because I didn't like arcade and RPG games.  I don't care if RPGs are popular, I don't need boss battles in my King's Quest.  Especially not after an infuriating mini-game puzzle.  And absolutely not when it's just killing time and didn't resolve anything.  Was Shadrack defeated?  Of course not!  You'll still have to face him again.  This did nothing to further the plot, nothing to develop the characters.  It was there to kill time, and I knew it the entire time.  I knew the game would probably end after I beat Shadrack, rendering the frustration I was feeling completely useless.  It was a meaningless edition and it left me severely pissed off.  It literally dragged all the fun and good will I had playing the rest of the game right out of my mind and left me sullenly staring at the computer, trying to dodge lightning bolts.  At least the arcade sequence in the last chapter furthered the story.  This did nothing.  It was unnecessary.

There were other things that didn't sit quite right with me.  I felt the title of the episode was over long and didn't seem to reference anything in particular (but ultimately that doesn't matter.  It's just a title.)  I also didn't like the fact that Valanice seems to be completely lost.  I attributed her suicide attempt to being under a spell, but this episode seems to confirm that she's going through a tough time and at a loss on how to handle it.  Frankly she comes across as weaker than she's been portrayed in past games.  And lastly, once again I feel compelled to point out that I hate the episodic release.  It breaks the flow of the game.  Yes I know I've made that point before.  To which I respond, that's the fault of the episodic release too.  I haven't made this point for six months, so I feel it bears repeating, even if it is beating it into the ground.

Ok, I'm done now, I promise.  Over all, the episode was enjoyable.  There were just some flaws in the execution of the game that keep gnawing at me.  And then there were those minigames that just interrupted the flow completely and were more infuriating than anything else.