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Episode 1: Feedback and Thoughts

Started by KatieHal, October 30, 2012, 10:21:37 AM

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Quote from: KatieHal on November 04, 2012, 12:14:44 AM
BTW, Lamb & BT, keep an eye out in the FBI Main Station for a little easter egg. It won't catch the eye of most people, but hopefully you two will find it. ;)

I think I got it.  Is it [spoiler]iVend--like the iWatch from our SQ2?  :)[/spoiler]


I finished the game yesterday - I think I beat it in 6 or 7 hours (I don't know, really, I was so engrossed in it I think I lost track of time  :P. I just know it took me two days and I guess I played for 3 or 4 hours straight each time).

First of all - I'm so glad I backed this project. I knew you guys could come up with something really good and I didn't blink one second when you started your kickstarter campaign. And I'm not even a fan of thrillers (either in games or tv shows/movies), so I had no real big expectations about it. I just wanted to give you some support given the fantastic job you'd done with TSL (basically, it could have been any kind of story line, I would have backed it).

That being said... I love the game! I'm afraid I'll have to repeat some things that have already been mentioned here, but I'll try to focus on some aspects I've really enjoyed, or which surprised me in a pleasant way.

1) The graphic novel style. Besides the great illustrated sequences, I love the dialogue boxes and the font you used. I think it fits perfectly with the style of the story and the interface.

2) The narrative, the atmosphere.... Totally reminds me of how I felt when playing Gabriel Knight and I can't think of a better compliment.

3) Secondary characters. I think it's common sense that there's no good story without good secondary characters, and Cognition lives up to this rule. I've really enjoyed interacting with them all. I wish Sully had a bit more substance, but I'm sure this is something that will be developed later on. He looks quite handsome though, so maybe that just what we need of him right now   8)
Also, in defense of Terrence - I love the guy! I like his lines, and was kind of frustrated not to have more interaction opportunities with him. I guess we'll just have to wait  :)

4) Cognition powers. I wasn't sure what to expect here, but you managed to make it really interesting. I really like how different layers are gradually added to Erica's basic cognition power. The interrogation puzzle is one of the most original puzzles I've had to solve in a while.

5) The music. That wasn't much of a surprise for those of us who've played TSL I guess, but still, it has to be mentioned. My favorite piece, for some reason, is when you enter the morgue (Terrence's desk).

6) Choices. I think it's great we are allowed to make some choices here and there throughout the game, it gives more depth to our actions.

7) The great variety in puzzles. Using the FBI database, Erica's cellphone, her cognition powers... it really adds something to your traditional point & click adventure.

Now, just a couple of things that slightly bugged me:

1) Some animation features - it looks a bit clunky at times (sometimes when Erica or John are walking, it looks like.... they're ditzy or something? (what's in those doughnuts I wonder? :P) Another one you may want to fix is how John's hand looks on his mouse when he's at his desk, which doesn't look very realistic). But then, as long as there's a good story, this kind of thing doesn't bother me much at all.

2) I encountered a bug when playing. [spoiler]When leaving the crime scene after reading the hidden message and doing everything else right (going to the post office, getting the package), I couldn't use Erica's projection powers anymore, and there was no way I could find the niche.[/spoiler] Thankfully I could check this forum and realized all I had to do was to start again from an earlier save, but I'm sure a lot of players will encounter the same problem.

3) Something stupid: I had qualms about breaking into Davies' office and getting the package for her. It felt a bit weird not agreeing with what your character's supposed to do  :) Also, was I the only one to expect something bad to happen after 3 wrong password attempts?!!  ;)

Overall, great game - congratulations to you all. I cannot wait for episode 2 to be released!


Congratulations to the Cognition team for a truly impressive effort! I just finished the episode yesterday and I was quite satisfied, although I did think there would be more: more crime scenes, more interrogations, and just generally more investigation work. That was the most satisfying bit of the game for me and I hope we see the same kind of gameplay in the following installments.

The two areas that need a bit of polish are the animations and the scene transitions. The frustratingly slow travel sequences and room changes felt like of a hard coded decision than a technical limitation. I grew to hate that circular loading cursor as the game progressed.

The animations just plain obviously need a bit of work. Watching the double click run animation is just torture. Also, it's probably an animation rig thing, but Erica's smile is creepy as hell.

It's a great game, though, and it truly brought me back to the golden age of adventure gaming for the hours that I was sitting in front of it, totally engrossed. I'm glad I backed this project and I can't wait to see more.


jRev--well, there are still 3 more episodes to go ;)

Thanks for the kind words, guys! :D

Lamb: Nope, not that. :)

Katie Hallahan
~Designer, PR Director~

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix." Christina Baldwin

I have a blog!


Damn.  Guess I'll keep hunting.  Gotta figure out how to get into that stupid office.

That's another thing that I was going to say--I think the spinning circle "WAIT" cursor needs to disappear entirely during cutscenes.  Cutscenes are often triggered when clicking a dialog option, which is usually in the center of the screen--and there are always a few intrusive seconds where that spinning cursor is sitting right on top of someone's face or whatever, before you move it off to the side.  It's not a major issue, but it is inelegant.  I mean think about it--you've got this icon on the screen whose sole purpose is to tell you you can't do anything, and it actually can block things you're trying to watch.  It's a totally redundant icon.  You shouldn't need an icon to tell the player that control has been briefly taken away from him--the fact that he can't do anything should be obvious enough.  ;)


It is. Especially because of what you mentioned, the dialog is right in the middle. I noticed that started to annoy me on my last playthroughs.

Cesar Bittar
Phoenix Online


Quote from: Cez on November 04, 2012, 10:22:44 PM
It is. Especially because of what you mentioned, the dialog is right in the middle. I noticed that started to annoy me on my last playthroughs.

Cool, good to hear.  :)  I don't know why I'm getting hung up on interface stuff with this one--probably because we've had a lot of discussions about playability and functionality, including interface, lately at IQ.  Well, behind the scenes anyway.  ;)  I think that's the sort of thing that stands out more to a developer than just a casual player.


Just finished the first episode, and wanted to add my voice to the chorus.

Amazing. Not certain how deep the collaboration with Jane Jenson went, but Gabriel Knight was one of the first 'adult themed' games I ever played, and the moody disquiet and tension that that game evoked so well in me all those years ago was recreated for me almost immediately - due in large part, first and foremost, to an amazing musical score and gorgeous background / setpiece artwork style. Add to that a sophisticated plot, puzzles that don't pander to the audience and a talented voice cast, and it was a knockout as far as I'm concerned.

The innovation in the puzzles (especially the interview with Robert) was awesome, and I loved the inclusion of some procedural research elements - assembling information through the FBI database, pulling together scraps of information... it really ground the story with a level of realism without turning it into a paperwork procedural, and I thought the balance was spot-on.

The one thing I missed in the later part of the game was the proper creepy scares present both at the very beginning of the game and also in the pre-game graphic novel / comic that set a really dark tone. I found that was incredibly engaging for setting the stage, and hope we get to delve back into that scene in episodes to come.

A few bugs / comments:

As someone else already reported, I found it was possible to get duplicate items in my inventory. Specifically...
[spoiler]I was able to get multiple bases of the 'Le Pendu' piece - the one that your friend at the morgue gives you in exchange for sorting out his equipment storage woes. You are able to send the email to the coroner from Davies' office multiple times. Each time it's sent, your friend at the morgue will respond by thanking you and giving you the base of the puzzle piece. I'd previously attached it to the rest of the figurine, but received another one.[/spoiler]

When trying to determine the station location during the regression with Robert, [spoiler]the differing colour for the *one* train station stop on the map seemed unnecessarily confusing. I appreciate now that it was showing an alternate transit line, but the natural conclusion when it's the only stop of a different colour was that it was the one we should use to solve the puzzle. Solving this was one of the moments that I had to get help online, and it forced me out of the atmosphere of the puzzle, which was a bit of a shame.[/spoiler]

But again, thanks so much. You guys have proven once again how a well written plot, talented cast and attention to mood and pacing can create an incredibly engaging experience. (...and it was an unexpected thrill to see the full list of backers included in the end credits. I forced my wife up off the couch so she could watch my name scroll by. :)


I loved Episode 1. I'm not sure if I have any unique contribution to what's already been said, but I really loved all aspects of the game. Great writing, great characters, solid puzzle variety, great music, etc. Fantastic job!

I sort of like the waiting cursor during dialogue and cutscenes, but I'm a little old school in that regard.

As others have mentioned there were some minor technical hiccups here and there, but not anywhere frequent enough. I didn't experience any crashes or stalls. Sometimes, if Erica had to walk to an object far away when I clicked to interact, it would wait a few seconds then cut to her appearing on the other side of the screen. But this did not detract from gameplay and happened just a few times.

All I can say is that I was wholly satisfied/entertained and it left me wanting more. Now I'm crooning with the soundtrack on repeat. One of my favorite cues is the beginning of the track that plays in the station. I'd love to ask Austin Haynes if he was inspired by Angelo Badalamenti at all (Twin Peaks).


I really love it.

Congrats to all the team for this magnificent game.
I really love the history, and the consecuencia and variarity of our choices.

I can't wait for the next espisode.


Thank you so much!

cbrichar: Haha, yeah, if we were making it all up, I doubt we would've changed the color of that one station, but since that's one of the nearby stations and it IS a different transit line in real life, we kept it. (Blame me if you like, I'm the Boston native who more or less insisted on it;) )

And inm8#2, I am so glad it worked for you! And also that you loved it!

Katie Hallahan
~Designer, PR Director~

"Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix." Christina Baldwin

I have a blog!

Graham Cracker

Awesome!  Excellent, and the only bad thing is that I have to wait for episode 2.  :)

I love the fact that you could make choices that affect the outcome of the game; the conversation didn't slow down the action, and the voice acting was top notch ...

... alright,Imaybealittlebiasthere, BUT!  I did enjoy everyone's performance!

Specific favorite moments:
1) Any time you get to throw a burning curtain on a bad guy, it's a good day. 
2) Action sequence in the church at the end
3) The "ah ha" moments at the apartment with the file folders, the final construction of the french noose toy revealing an SD card revealing the next victim
4) Any time Erica gets to use her gun.   


Quote from: Graham Cracker on November 06, 2012, 12:25:44 AM
Awesome!  Excellent, and the only bad thing is that I have to wait for episode 2.  :)
I don't. :suffer:

(Posted on: November 06, 2012, 12:16:07 PM)

Quote from: Lambonius on November 04, 2012, 09:54:55 PM
there are always a few intrusive seconds where that spinning cursor is sitting right on top of someone's face or whatever, before you move it off to the side.
Too bad it's not a crown icon so you could put it on people's heads. :P

@inm8#2, I'm glad you enjoyed the episode, especially after all the technical issues in the beginning!

Steve Abbott | Beta Tester | The Silver Lining

Big C from Cauney island

One other thing, for some reason I was envisioning some sort of gun obstacle course in a future episode, maybe related to a puzzle or something.  Fire the gun more would be cool, especially if part of a puzzle or just trying to get through a booby trapped location or something.  Some people don't like action sequences in adventure games, but if related to a larger overall puzzle it might be cool.  Like an action sequence to disable booby traps or something. Just a thought


Quote from: KatieHal on November 05, 2012, 08:09:44 PM
Haha, yeah, if we were making it all up, I doubt we would've changed the color of that one station, but since that's one of the nearby stations and it IS a different transit line in real life, we kept it. (Blame me if you like, I'm the Boston native who more or less insisted on it;) )

I didn't at all appreciate that those stations (including the lines) were all based on the real deal! I take back everything I said on that point entirely. Were I familiar with the city, it's little touches like those that I would appreciate. :)


I've only been to Boston a couple times (once to run the marathon!) but definitely recognized the train stations. I was expecting Dunkin' Donuts vendors as well!


First thing I will say is, great job. Easily one of the best I have played in a long time. I am very eagerly waiting for episode 2 and onward. As I think others mentioned it really did kind of bring me back to that same kind of feeling I had when playing Gabriel Knight for the 1st time and that is very high praise.

Now onto the couple of things that did bug me a little while playing. First thing I was going to mention was the need to get rid of the circle cursor during cutscenes, but then I saw this:

Quote from: Lambonius on November 04, 2012, 09:54:55 PMThat's another thing that I was going to say--I think the spinning circle "WAIT" cursor needs to disappear entirely during cutscenes...

Quote from: Cez on November 04, 2012, 10:22:44 PM
It is. Especially because of what you mentioned, the dialog is right in the middle. I noticed that started to annoy me on my last playthroughs.

That really made my day, just found the thing tended to break the mood a bit. My one other little gripe would be the loading times. I think they need to be a little bit better streamlined. I have the game installed onto a ramdisk so really the loading should be damn near instant but it still has those few extra seconds that I feel shouldn't be there.

Now all that said, it really was such a good game that I very easily overlooked those tiny imperfections. Hell finally got time to install it yesterday and had to stop playing it last night because I was getting sort of stuck in the interrogation when I noticed it was already 2am and I had to get up at 6 for work. So what did I do as soon as I was home from work? Picked it up and played till the end. Really great work guys. Plus it impressed my kids to see my name in the credits at the end, so very worth the backing.


Episode 1 was amazing - Loved the puzzle about interrogation.

Though some bugs in the games but still very nice

can't wait for episode 2 :D


Just finished Cognition. Really, really, really enjoyed it overall, so here's a (possibly too) detailed breakdown.

Things I liked:
-Great voice acting. I'm decently critical of acting in games and I find myself constantly wondering "Well, if the line were delivered this way, I feel like it would get across the tone better," and I don't think I did that a single time throughout the game.

-Great music. I loved the addition of The Scarlet Furies as well. Great song and it made the whole world feel more rounded out and alive.

-Mostly fantastic puzzles, with a few exceptions. The interrogation scene, like everyone has said, played out really well. I felt good for solving it, and that's always the ideal with adventure games. There is no worse feeling than "Seriously? How on earth was I supposed to figure THAT out?" after clicking random things together. :P

-Reminded me of The Longest Journey. I can't put my finger on why. Maybe it's the combination of the present setting plus supernatural elements, maybe it's just the fact that the puzzles feel like adventure gaming gone right, but regardless, it's a great thing. I've never played Gabriel Knight, which is apparently the more commonly cited inspiration, but still. XD

-The hint system was really cute. It was usually very aware of what state the game was at, and that was very helpful. The one complaint I have is the persistent request that I take a picture of the tattoo. I did. And I didn't even use it this episode. XD

-The multiple solutions! I didn't even realize it on my playthrough but reading through the hints section, I really like the alternate puzzle solutions you guys set up. Things like needing Davies' "interrogation mug" or Terence not wanting to help you were things I never experienced, but I love that they exist. I always love it when two people can play the same game and discuss it and have vastly differing experiences (this was one of the things I loved about Heavy Rain). Obviously you were limited in what you could do (certain things clearly still have to happen), but the fact that the puzzles had different solutions, and it's not just that the dialogue was different really stuck out to me as great design. :)

Things that took me out of the experience:
-Needing to find change for the vending machine. I know it wasn't much of a puzzle, and the "solution" was fairly simple, but I couldn't help but think "Seriously? I am a grown woman and you're telling me I don't have a wallet on me?" It just bugged me that we had all of the logical things for Erica to keep with her (cell phone, badge, gun), but no wallet. :P Also, then having to bash the machine to get the chips out, was that meant to set a tone? It's fine if it was supposed to create an atmosphere, and it sort of did that, but my first instinct was that you were just making me click more. :P

-This got mentioned before, but the weird loading times when you learn about projection. Maybe I should've remembered what Scott looked like, but clearly I wasn't the only one to forget, so that basically brought it down to trial and error, and there was a several second delay between each try. I didn't need to read the tutorial again, I just needed to try again.

-Related to that was the conversation with Sully in the apartment. Having to click through the entire conversation every time I messed up during the end was really, really tedious. I know it'd make it easier for mindless trial and error, but what about Sully going "No, something doesn't seem right," and then re-asking the question you just got wrong? I feel like that'd be a lot more engaging than the obviously metagame concept of clicking through dialogue I've already seen. Also, if I say "I need to look at some things, give me a sec," that should not count as failing the dialogue. I made the cautious decision and I should not be penalized by having to start that entire "puzzle" over.

Minor nitpicks:
-Erica's accent. At first I thought it was a Boston accent bleeding through, but then I realized it was probably supposed to be a Boston accent. It just seemed a bit unnatural. The acting was still spot-on, but things like turning all -ing words into -in' words and ending "er"s into ending "uh" sounds just seemed very forced.

-A couple interface quirks. First off, like some others have mentioned, Cognition powers felt a bit off. Why not just have the respective Cognition power activate after the requisite amount of things have been clicked on? For projection, all you'd have to do is just make it so if the improper things were clicked on, just give the error message and leave the things highlighted. That way the user can unclick one of them and then the game can go back to detecting when 3 have been reached. I'm not sure exactly how the system is implemented, but from a pseudocode point of view it doesn't seem like it'd be too hard.

-Combining items. Unless you're really familiar with prefix notation, "item + item" is a lot more intuitive than "+ item item". I get that you were going for consistency with things like needing to click the hand icon and then the item, but I think clicking the item and then the plus and then the other item would be a lot more intuitive.

-The map. I'm not really sure if the eye icon on the map really did anything but make me click twice. I know it's a morgue; it says morgue right on the map. I don't think it ever gave me any additional information. Also, this meant that the "Back to Boston overview" button also had two options when you clicked on it, and that was definitely unnecessary. I just think it'd speed it up a bit if you could just click on the location and go there.

-As others have mentioned, the spinning wait icon. The only reason it really serves a purpose is if the game looks like it should be taking input but isn't, like if it's in an animation of, say, opening a drawer and taking something out. Maybe the game is loading the animation and not doing anything yet, so the wait icon lets me know that "yes, I have seen your input and yes, I am doing something about it. Just give me a sec," and that's helpful information. During things like cutscenes or dialogue, there is stuff going on that clearly lets me know the game is doing things. People are talking or images are coming up on screen. It's redundant and, like people have said, it gets in the way.

-I've never seen the name Terrence spelled with only one R. Obviously this is just a choice and not an error, but it still stuck out a bit to me. XD

Other comments:
-I, personally, loved Terence. It was a bit of a tone break from the rest of the game, but I liked that.

-While the swearing didn't bother me personally (probably because I watch quite a bit of Dexter too :P),
frontloading the game with it might've been a bit of a poor choice, since it clearly put a few people off.

-I think I'd have to agree that UI issues stick out a lot more when you're looking at it from a design point of view. :P

-A log function would be crazy helpful, especially during that Sully conversation I mentioned earlier. There were a couple questions he asked where I went "Wait, I know Sully mentioned this as soon as I told him about the files, but what did he say?"

-Sully may have been a bit one-dimensional, but I thought he was cute. <3
I'm a princess even if my kingdom is pixelated.

Official Comfort Counselor of the TSL Asylum © ;D

It's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive.


Quote from: Rosella on November 09, 2012, 10:43:27 PM

-I've never seen the name Terrence spelled with only one R. Obviously this is just a choice and not an error, but it still stuck out a bit to me. XD

He's actually one of our backers :)

Glad you guys are enjoying the game. Thanks for the feedback!!!

Cesar Bittar
Phoenix Online