Author Topic: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad  (Read 7219 times)

Offline KuroShiro

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TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« on: July 13, 2010, 07:26:12 PM »
Hello there. Since I just finished the first episode after waiting since near the beginning of its development, I figured I would post a little mini-review to give some feedback and hopefully help to improve the upcoming episodes.

The Good
  • The backgrounds and objects in the world are absolutely beautiful. Wonderful art direction on those.
  • A lot of the voice acting was very good. Particular standouts were Graham, and Hassan.
  • The character models mostly looked good, though Graham's walking animation is a little robotic.
  • There was a lot of nicely written dialogue, which brought to mind old games in the series.
  • For the most part, the music was very nice and atmospheric.

The Bad
  • Contrary to the dialogue, the narrator descriptions were overly verbose and wordy. A narrator making bad jokes also doesn't seem right for a KQ game. Maybe you thought this was a SQ game?  ;)
  • Continuing the above point, the descriptive writing was poor, and overdone. It brought to mind an amateurishly written melodrama or romance novel. Since I'm trying to keep this brief, I will point you towards an old aphorism: Less is more.
  • Some of the voice acting was a bit robotic or nasal. I know this can't really be improved at this point.
  • Obviously, the lack of content. I know there's a reason for it, but a lot of people are going to be disappointed nonetheless after 10 years.

I hope this gives you a fair amount of constructive criticism to work with. Your first release was a fine effort for a fan production, but there are numerous ways in which is could improve. If anyone wants any more detailed thoughts, I will provide them.

Offline dark-daventry

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2010, 07:33:08 PM »
I moved this thread to Fan Feedback. Also, please refer to this thread about the lack of content.

Episode 2 will have much more content in it, don't worry. And it's great to hear your thoughts!
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Offline MusicallyInspired

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2010, 07:56:22 PM »
The Good
  • The backgrounds and objects in the world are absolutely beautiful. Wonderful art direction on those.
  • A lot of the voice acting was very good. Particular standouts were Graham, and Hassan.
  • The character models mostly looked good, though Graham's walking animation is a little robotic.
  • There was a lot of nicely written dialogue, which brought to mind old games in the series.
  • For the most part, the music was very nice and atmospheric.

The Bad
  • Contrary to the dialogue, the narrator descriptions were overly verbose and wordy. A narrator making bad jokes also doesn't seem right for a KQ game. Maybe you thought this was a SQ game?  ;)
  • Continuing the above point, the descriptive writing was poor, and overdone. It brought to mind an amateurishly written melodrama or romance novel. Since I'm trying to keep this brief, I will point you towards an old aphorism: Less is more.
  • Some of the voice acting was a bit robotic or nasal. I know this can't really be improved at this point.
  • Obviously, the lack of content. I know there's a reason for it, but a lot of people are going to be disappointed nonetheless after 10 years.

I agree with everything in the above. But mostly about the very wordy descriptions and the bad jokes. I found myself avoiding interacting with objects just so I could avoid all the wordy dialogue. It was actually annoying and something I was trying very hard to overlook. I recall a moment when Graham was contemplating the philosophical comparison of his history and many questings with villains in relation to looking at a.......tree. That's just unnecessary. Descriptions with more than one (and sometimes two) paragraph(s) seemed all too common.

And the bad jokes and sarcastic comments served to completely ruin the moody atmosphere that everything else in the game seemed to be shooting for. I don't know if you guys were trying to contrast the vast amount of drama with an equally vast amount of comic relief, but A) they were both far too vast, and B) none of it was even that funny anyway, and so completely killed the whole point. It all seemed very forced. What's been said above needs to be stated again: less is more.

What was good about this game was very very good and deserves major props! But what was bad was equally as glaring and obvious. You guys did a great job, but you're not without errors in judgment. Hopefully this will all be seriously considered for future episodes.

Please.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 07:59:03 PM by MusicallyInspired »

Offline Lambonius

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2010, 11:01:44 PM »
Well said, MusicallyInspired (and KuroShiro.)  I agree completely.  While the length of descriptions didn't particularly bother me, the gushing, melodramatic, amateur fanboy writing certainly did.  Atmosphere completely killed.

Additionally, while I liked the narrator's voice acting, the writing, especially the attempts at humor, was a major stumbling point for me.  This is NOT Space Quest or Leisure Suit Larry.  When has a King's Quest game ever had a narrator who consistently makes fun of the main character and player??  The KQ6 narrator was the highpoint for the series, and that narrator was excellent because his dialogue was not only exquisitely acted, but also well-written, and gave each decision weight and gravitas while at the same time not going overboard with cheesy dramatics or bad humor.  You guys really missed the mark here, in my opinion.

Also, please don't forget that King's Quest games are supposed to be light-hearted fairy-tale-like stories.  I can appreciate that a darker or more mature story might better appeal to today's gamer, but it's a very fine line, and you need to balance it with plenty of light-hearted moments (NOTE: light-hearted does NOT equal a narrator making bad jokes at the player character's expense), like the Chess Queens and Jollo from KQ6 or the many fairy tale references from the earlier games.  Right now the story is standing on the far side of that fine line and teetering over the edge of a cliff.

Now the positives.

Graphics are excellent for an unpaid fan venture.  As an artist, I very much enjoyed seeing the original beauty of the KQ6 backgrounds translated so accurately and lovingly into 3D, which was, in my opinion, very nicely enhanced by the moving camera, which allowed us to really get into each background.  The voice acting for Graham is top-notch, and in general, I was pretty impressed by the quality of much of the acting (though there were definitely some uneven spots with some of the supporting characters--and again, some of this was due to poor writing, rather than bad acting, per se.)

The music, also excellent.  I particularly enjoyed the musical piece during the unspoken wedding scene in the intro, as well as the bits and pieces of the KQ4 music that I detected flowing in and out of certain themes.  It was appropriately epic, but even better, it REMINDED me of King's Quest in just the right way that really allowed me to get into the game, despite my apprehensions about the overall tone of the story.

It needs to be said that you guys should absolutely be commended for sticking with it all these years and finally getting to this point.  There are a lot of things here to be very happy about, especially as a King's Quest fan.  But I hope you guys will take our comments in stride and address some of the glaring design missteps in further episodes.  Being able to swallow one's pride can be a tough thing, especially when sitting on a bunch of episodes that are supposedly mostly complete.  Nobody expects every criticism to be addressed or changed, but there are enough issues that I think are pretty significant, that if ironed out, would make for a VASTLY improved gaming and story experience.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 11:10:07 PM by Lambonius »

Offline MusicallyInspired

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2010, 11:19:30 PM »
Actually, while the music was professional and well-crafted, it didn't really do much for me personally. I found it rather bland and without direction. That is, there were no recognisable themes anywhere that I could hum to myself, which I thought was a staple of the King's Quest games. I never did like soundtracks like KQ7, SQ6, or even the Lord of the Rings films. It gets the job done, sure. But it doesn't have that "something special" that games like KQ5, KQ6, SQ4, or Conquests of Camelot did. That enchanting feeling that strikes that chord in your soul and makes the game come alive to you.

But, as I said, well-made indeed and very professionally composed, mixed, and mastered.

Offline Lambonius

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2010, 11:25:47 PM »
Hahaha, we'll save the Lord of the Rings debate for another time and place, because I COMPLETELY disagree, but as for the music on display in TSL, I think it's a little hard to make a true judgment until I've played the full game and heard all the themes and recurring elements and such.  (And I realize the same goes for the story as a whole; I'm waiting to be proven wrong on that count. ;))  But I liked what I heard so far, and was pleased with the inclusion of some recognizable King's Quest themes, so that's enough for me for now.  :)
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 11:27:23 PM by Lambonius »

Offline MusicallyInspired

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2010, 11:30:36 PM »
Of course, I'm only judging the game based on the first episode.....but I think everyone is and everyone can safely take that into consideration when reading such reviews.

I know I'm in the minority with the LOTR film soundtracks, but I don't know what else to say. It's just nice :P.

EDIT: I also forgot to mention that the lack of any pathfinding ability is a great big glaring problem. That's a pretty big staple for adventure games, most of all King's Quest. I don't know if that was engine limitation or time limitation, but it is very annoying especially since most games from the original series had it without any problem at all.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 11:34:39 PM by MusicallyInspired »

Offline B'rrr

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2010, 11:55:59 PM »
Rick florenz mentioned in another thread regarding the pathfinding ability of lack thereof;

Its funny that people keep complaining about there being 0 path finding in this game.  As a matter of fact there is pathfinding in every screen except the IoC Mainhall and certain places in the innergarden due to technical issues caused by overlapping areas (places where you can walk under another level).

If you'll notice Graham is fully capable of navigating benches in the garden, he knows how to walk around bushes in the castle entrance and crossroads and knows how to walk from 1 door to another without you telling him in the village if you click hand on the doors or any other things in that scene.

Unfortunately the first scene you play is the Mainhall so people notice the glitches there and fail to notice that its not in the entire game.

The path finding algorithm efficiency has always been an issue and one we want to try and improve at some point.  We are also discussing implementing keyboard walking so make walking in the scenes a little easier


I have not tested that myself, I did notice the glitch in the mainhall at least but to be honest I can not recall having trouble with pathfinding in other locations. Do others have any issues with it except from the very start?
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Offline Cez

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2010, 02:42:30 AM »
Hey guys,

Thanks a lot for the feedback.

I gotta say regarding narrations that it's a debated topic. A lot of people seem to like, and certainly King's Quest is not stranger to long narrations.

The problem I had with narrations in this game was probably the reason why they went away in KQ7. A lot of people who played the demo asked for more interaction with the environment. The truth of the matter is that to look at the tree in the crossroad and have a description that says "The tree is being tormented in the merciless weather". Well, duh, you can see that, so why have a narrator that says exactly that?

Narrations are obviously a thing of the past. They were needed in the old games because with the lower resolutions sometimes you couldn't really tell what you were looking at. So, I dared to play it a bit different and use them as a way to go into the mind of Graham, and use them as a supporting tool to bring about the stories of who is this family, where have they come from, and what makes them so special.

So, for those that do not like the lengthy narrations, there's actually a way to turn the narration voice off, if you just want to skip through the dialog quickly to see if it holds any valuable information. I think that's a fair option to the player who doesn't need or care to be brought up to speed or doesn't like to delve into the minds of the characters.

We are also talking about implementing the right mouse button as a way to skip past the full narration, which is something we wanted to implement for this game and never got around to do it.

So, to be completely honest, I'm not sure where I stand with the long narrations. Probably in our next games, if we decide to keep them a bunch, they'll be more personal and allow you to get into what the character is feeling without having them going for so long (I even make fun of them in one episode in an easter egg!). But for these games, they are already recorded and in, so hopefully, there are more people that like them overall.

As for the sassy narrator, yes, that was a very deliberate decision. We used to have the classic King's Quest narrator, and that just didn't do it. The dialogue was written for someone like Amy, and once she took on the role and took her own spin on it, I was writing narrations especially for her and the character she had created. Most people here point those jokes out as their favorite moments from the game, and even some reviews point them out as great comic relief, so that's one thing that you'll definitely continue to see in the following episodes. 

As for the dark tone, don't worry. If you saw the Ep2 preview, you've seen the overall tone of Ep2, which I'll dare to say is the most lighthearted one of the bunch, although there will be moments in each one of them. We couldn't have forgotten about the light heart side of King's Quest, as much as the plot takes on the darker side. Someone here made the perfect comparison: Kingdom Hearts. I think that's one good way to put it in the amount of goofyness and darkness coming together you'll see in the following episodes.

Finally, the music. OMG the music is one of my favorite things of this game. I worked closely with Austin as he crafted each one of the themes.. The soundtrack for this game is about 3 hours long right now and continues to grow! I live for the music in a game (it can totally change my perspective of whether I like or dislike a game), so finding someone like Austin who understood exactly what I want in terms of music has been an absolute blessing. We've gone back and forth on the themes, but he always finds a way to craft the perfect theme for the moment. Some of my fav moments from ep1 are obviously the intro, Graham's theme (which you hear right after you change into his adventure attire), the Archdruid hut music, and the ranger/ending themes.

By the way, there's no KQ4 music in here. That's one thing we decided to go completely original (except for one nod to the KQ music you find later on) What are you referring to exactly?

Thanks again!
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Offline wilco64256

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2010, 09:13:15 AM »
Quote of the day:

"Well, duh, you can see that, so why have a narrator that says exactly that?"
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Offline MusicallyInspired

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2010, 09:53:24 AM »
I know I'm probably going to be in the minority regarding the soundtrack, but it just didn't grab me. I don't know what else to say. It's very well done, though. :) It just won't be my favourite soundtrack.

Offline Lambonius

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2010, 09:59:48 AM »
Ah, you're right about the KQ4 music.  I was thinking of the music that plays in the bedroom scene in the intro, when everyone is standing over Alexander and Rosella.  I initially thought it was a reworking of the theme that plays when everyone stands over Graham's bed in the KQ4 intro.  Upon further review, I can tell that it's not the same, but it is pretty similar.  Which is a good thing if you ask me, intentional or not.  :)
« Last Edit: July 14, 2010, 10:35:23 AM by Lambonius »

Offline RockNFknRoll

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2010, 03:53:27 PM »
I'm just really disappointed by how short it was, and the lack of gameplay. I mean there was virtually none. It was just walking into cut scene after cut scene. The only "puzzle" was giving money to the ferryman. There are more things that could be said, good and bad, about the game, but without there being any "game" to it it's all secondary.

I've waited so long for these, and the marketing and presentation has been so exciting recently I just expected more I guess. Here's hoping for the next episodes.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2010, 03:55:38 PM by RockNFknRoll »

Offline dark-daventry

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2010, 06:48:10 PM »
I'm just really disappointed by how short it was, and the lack of gameplay. I mean there was virtually none. It was just walking into cut scene after cut scene. The only "puzzle" was giving money to the ferryman. There are more things that could be said, good and bad, about the game, but without there being any "game" to it it's all secondary.

I've waited so long for these, and the marketing and presentation has been so exciting recently I just expected more I guess. Here's hoping for the next episodes.

As has been stated time and time again, episode 2 will have more gameplay and more puzzles. You need not worry. We're working hard so you can have a great experience for episode 2 and beyond.
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Offline Flubly

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2010, 09:20:02 PM »
The truth of the matter is that to look at the tree in the crossroad and have a description that says "The tree is being tormented in the merciless weather". Well, duh, you can see that, so why have a narrator that says exactly that?

That's actually still too over written to me.  I think the double personification creates crowded imagery.  "It's a tree" or "You see a tree" would be a duh moment although it could be a genuinely funny moment.  Strong action verbs with minimal cliche or flowery adjectives serves to create firmer orientation and a more direct connection between the fictional world and the gamer.  You want them to be an active participant rather than an awe filled observer.  Both are positive states of mind but only one is traditional King's Quest.  

A good example would come from IA's screenshot released for their project in the works called "Kingdom of Sorrow."  The player has obviously clicked on the forest and the narrator says, "After entering the Old Woods, you notice that winter does not seem to penetrate the forest."

It's simple yet its subtle motion makes it evocative.

I remember someone saying that "It's an ordinary vase" would have sufficed as a replacement for the sentimental history lesson about Cassima as a child.  I think this is true because that line is NOT merely objective.  Saying it's ordinary shows that common things exist in Graham's world and that world is real to him.  Graham does not go outside thinking, "THIS IS SO AWESOME!"  This is his world and he sees it as such.  If everything under the sun has significance in the narrator's lines then the world ceases to be tangible in a literary sense.  The art may be beautiful but the narration gives the story its voice and that is not just to dispense information and jokes, it's to help bridge the gamer into making the fictional world relatable rather than just a fantastic spectacle.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2010, 09:22:08 PM by Flubly »

Offline naokiyukimura

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2010, 02:41:19 AM »
As for the sassy narrator, yes, that was a very deliberate decision.

In regards to this, since I haven't mentioned this precisely before, this type of "sassy" humor (like if you click on something random, for instance) she'll give you lip in return - I actually don't find this humor funny at all. When it comes to adventure games, humor that has a negative connotation to it turns me off.

For one, I actually take offence to this kind of thing - I mean, its an adventure game, so the goal is to click on random objects and to explore as best you can. Yet when you have someone like this narrator (made "worse" by the voice which is "just as sassy") makes me feel bad about "experimenting" within this world. I mean, I don't want to get told off for just trying to explore, and in this cases with narrators like this (I've experienced more then one game with this kind of "humor") I do my best to ignore it and finish the game.

While this is subjective to ones own opinion, I don't like games that sass me humor wise - just not my thing. Since I'm a KQ fan to begin with, I'll play the rest of the games no doubt, and since the narrator lines are already recorded, I can say with certainly that I won't be listening to that voice from here on out. I like that you can skip the lines of narration as well, as it makes finding relevant facts easier.

Flubly/Kuroshiro, you two the best. I stand behind all the points you make, since you guys literate them so well: -HOW- the dialog was worded, rather then the fact that it was long and "simpler imagery can be just as amusing".

Plus, even if the goal (of the stories) was to get the player inside Graham's head, I couldn't help but wonder things like: "Why are they telling me this" and "Why should I care?" (such as Cassima's childhood and the vase). It seemed to me as if the game was trying a little too hard to tell me "Yeah, this is what Graham is REALLY thinking/feeling" - although, since I already know Graham pretty well from his other games, I already know his personality. In addition, I think its general knowledge that Graham would be feeling pretty awful/angry about the whole incident from the start, without the game constantly pounding that notion into our heads - such as the somewhat awkward story about the wedding flowers and Graham wanting to rip them off the wall or something. Yeah, to me, that was just kind of weird.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2010, 02:55:59 AM by naokiyukimura »

Offline Rockabore

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2010, 04:41:10 AM »
I liked the sassy narrator was a nice touch. I recall in the original games instances of the narrator making clever remarks and all, but she wasn't annoyingly sassy, I'd have liked to here more variety in her comments. I liked the insightful things like the vase comment, if it is that annoying it could be very easy to just skip things like that, but I'll admit it doesn't add to the story but it was a nice touch I thought.

The only thing that I didn't like was that sometimes it was hard to get the camera angles to be right when going through doors, that and like others have said the first part was slow and the puzzles weren't really puzzles. I played it the first time just having fun and not really taking it too serious and... well it turns out I actually didn't have to because I completed it that time. It wasn't a bad thing I just expected there to be more to do. I felt almost like I had missed something even though after playing it again I didn't miss anything.

Offline Lambonius

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2010, 06:20:15 AM »
Actually, the King's Quest games never had a narrator that was anywhere near as overly dramatic or sarcastic as the one on display here.  It was something that really put me off at first, though I grew to accept it and was less irritated by it in subsequent playthroughs.

There are a lot of detailed constructive critiques in this thread (linked below) from people who have been in the similar situation of putting out a fan game and dealing with criticism (towards the end of the thread--the early stuff is just random mouthing off) that would probably be insightful for members of the team to check out.

http://www.infamous-adventures.com/forum/index.php?topic=3486.msg53893#new

« Last Edit: July 15, 2010, 11:09:51 AM by Lambonius »

Offline KuroShiro

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2010, 09:30:19 AM »
It seems this thread has managed to inspire a bit of discussion. That is good. To be clear, though some of my criticism may have come off as a little bit harsh, I am not trying to put you guys down. I know that consistently good writing in any medium is something that is very difficult to achieve.

As far as the narrator goes, I can see why it might be necessary after such a long time to have more descriptive text to re-introduce people to the KQ mythology. However, the narrator was never really a character in the KQ games; that was more a staple of the SQ series. It seems like you are trying to create a character of her in this one. It was obviously a conscious decision, and one I don't really agree with, but hey, it's your game not mine.

Concerning the flowery prose, I can see how some people might enjoy it. However, to explain myself a bit better... there is a reason that songs such as "Stairway to Heaven" or "Hurt" are considered among the best ever written while songs by bands such as, say, Linkin' Park are not really taken seriously as art. That is, they are able to express complex sentiments and elicit feeling with just a few carefully chosen, fairly simple words and melodies. A rockin' guitar solo doesn't hurt either. I'm not saying you should have to live up to some impossible standard of artistry (though making the attempt can never hurt), just that anyone can write something complex and flowery just by grabbing a thesaurus -- what makes for really good writing is when it flows simplistically yet elegantly.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2010, 04:24:01 PM by KuroShiro »

Offline MangoMercury

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Re: TSL Episode 1: The Good and Bad
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2010, 10:44:36 AM »
(I even make fun of them in one episode in an easter egg!)

Was that something almost resembling a spoiler, CÚsar?
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