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Feedback Friday #87 - 8-11 November, 2019

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Billy4184, Nov 8, 2019 at 1:19 AM.

  1. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    G'day folks!

    The best way to make a big improvement with your game is to get others to playtest it and give you feedback you can use!

    Did you know that the wildly successful Subnautica used a player feedback system during early access so they could find out what their players really wanted, so they didn't have to guess what would make people want to buy their game? The most successful games are not developed in the dark!

    If feedback is what you want, you've found the right thread! Feedback Friday runs from Friday to Monday every week.

    What To Show
    • Minimally Viable Product (MVP) - Core game play > everything else
    • How To Scope Small (Unity tutorial)
    • Post a link to a playable game, preferably WebGL. If you don't have a playable game, post something substantial, not just text.
    How To Ask For Feedback
    • Be concise.
    • Specify what you want feedback on and what you don't.
    • Resist the urge to write an immediate defense to feedback. Take the time to understand their points. Remember that your friends here are taking time out of their busy schedules to help you for free.
    How To Give Feedback
    • Be positive. Every game has some redeeming quality.
    • Focus on the design, not the designer.
    • Be specific and constructive. Don't like something? Explain why.
    Let the feedback begin!
     
  2. DrewMelton

    DrewMelton

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    Well here, I just released a new demo for feedback on my facebook group. I figure I can post it here too.

    It's a bit rough. Don't expect it to be a complete experience or anything. It still needs lots of tuning and adjusting. The demo was mainly to see what people in my group thought the new stuff I added.

    Here is a dropbox link to the demo and a screenshot. I don't need any specific feedback, just general thoughts.

    This is an old screenshot. I don't feel like taking a new one yet. Today is supposed to be my day off.

    By the way, this is a solo project I've been working on for last few years (although a lot of that time was spent learning stuff!). This is an RTS type of game.

    screenshot 10-27 last cohort.jpg

    And here is the dropbox link for the demo.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/qz0ncz3sb56jmd5/The Last Cohort.zip?dl=0
     
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  3. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    For now, by looking at the screen, this look nice.
    I like the classical art.
     
  4. DrewMelton

    DrewMelton

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    This game was inspired by older RTS games like Age of Empires 2, so tried to make the overall look a bit nostalgic, but at the same time still push the graphics where ever I could.

    I'm primarily an artist who just started learning programming in the last few years, so I do focus a lot on art.
     
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  5. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    Ah, that is why style looks somehow familiar :)
    But that's good thin here in my opinion.
     
  6. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    Looks incredible! I'll play the demo a bit later on today, looking forward to it.
     
  7. DrewMelton

    DrewMelton

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    Awesome, please keep in the that the difficulty, game length, balance, and all that have not yet been tuned. I was just wanting general feedback at this stage to get an idea if I'm on the right track.

    I'll be spending time tuning and tweaking once I see what people think. I could easily spend the rest of the year just playing with numbers, but I wanted to get some feedback as soon as I could. So far, I've already gotten good feedback from my sound guy (I did contract out a few things here and there like the music).
     
  8. Socrates

    Socrates

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    Overall, I love the art style. It is gorgeous.

    Additionally, the screen hold a lot of information without it being too cluttered, as some strategy games seem to fall to.

    My one feedback on the look is that some of the units do not stand out enough from the background. If you convert the screenshot to grayscale, it becomes more obvious. The guy in orange by the blue tent is hard to see in the original image. In the bottom right corner is a guy standing a tower who I did not even see in the color image until I was purposely counting figures to decide who to give feedback on.

    The shadows help with seeing the figures. (Except for the guy on the tower, whose shadow blends in too.)
     
  9. DrewMelton

    DrewMelton

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    Yeah, that's one of the issues I ran into since I'm going for more of a realistic style. During the game, the animations make the units stand out a lot more. So, if you have a chance to download it and see it in action, let me know if that helps. Although, saying that, I use Substance Painter for the character textures, so I can easily change outfit colors (though I have to update the icons as well).
     
  10. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    One easy fix you can try is to make an alternate material that just has albedo plugged into emission and toggle this via key input for characters. This can help player quickly find dudes without going as immersion breaking as helper UI.

    I'm not able to play game, just tip.from reading.
     
  11. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    I haven't played yet game. But If units are moving / are animated when standing, or even walk, I don't think color is not an issue really.

    Specially if opening full screen on monitor, not on mobile. It makes difference.
    Setting right colors for dynamic objects may be difficult, if they move from one scenery to other.

    I am sure, experiance will be different by playing in comparison to screenshot.

    What about a some short play video, for us, who can/don't have time to play? We got only few days for feedback here.
    At least we could comment from that perspective.
     
  12. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    @DrewMelton - Well done! You pulled off the Age of Empires aesthetic well.

    Is the game based on an actual historical period?

    Is there a way to assign groups to hotkeys?

    I didn't think to try queueing commands. Is that possible?

    I only tried one tent color. Does your choice of tent color affect the color of your units? I was able to distinguish units fine. But perhaps each unit could have a distinct color silhouette to help differentiate them further. For example, spearmen could have colored shoulders, archers could have a thin vertical stripe on their tunics, etc.
     
  13. DrewMelton

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    I do have a highlighting outline asset that I use. It outlines the characters and some of the buildings when moused over. Also, the group has the ability to highlight various units. I could easily rig it up to highlight all characters with a button press or something.
     
  14. DrewMelton

    DrewMelton

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    Here is an older video if it helps. It can give an idea for the animations and movement if nothing else. (oh, and this is pc only, so I am optimizing for full screen on 13" or larger monitors.) Let me know if this video helps, otherwise I can make a new one.

     
  15. DrewMelton

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    Thanks, it's only loosely based on the medieval period. I wanted some creative freedom. Plus, this period has been done a lot, so any chance I get to do something unique, I take it. I tried to give the game a bit of a unique style which still staying within the realms of what people would expect in this time period.

    I have only one group at the moment, and I don't have hotkeys. I have experimented with groups in the past. To be honest, a lot has changed in the game this year, so I'm sure I'm going to add stuff for controlling groups or things like that.

    I don't have queuing commands available yet. It's something I can look into, but this game is already getting complicated for me as it is, so I don't want to have to rewrite a bunch of stuff. We'll see how it goes.

    Tent color is just for looks. It was an easy thing to add. Since all the units have unique colors, and their upgraded versions of the soldiers have all new outfits, I don't know how much I want to change anything. I tried to make each unit stand out in a group enough for easy identification. It more is needed, I'll work on it.
     
  16. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    I have no problem with unit visibility, and especially in video. And this is on my phone. I just throw suggestion out there. There is quite a few older gamers with bad eyes who play games like this so something to keep in mind. But I don't get impression individual characters are really even important here. No need to track individuals anyway.


    One critique I can make on the art is to consider adding slight worble and natural irregularities to your building and prop models. The wooden fort, for instance, has that impossoblr video game straighrness look. Breaking that up can lend some character.
     
  17. DrewMelton

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    You mean the wooden fort in that last video? It won't be in the final game. It's an older model. If you look at the first screenshot, I made the wooden posts more irregular. The forts I make from now on will be rougher since I'm making them more like ruins to tie into the story. Some of the props will be tweaked as well.

    And yeah, if I get a bunch of complaints from gamers (or older gamers) saying they are having trouble with unit visibility, then I'll definitely fix it. At the moment, I haven't had any complaints of anyone actually playing the demo, so I haven't worried about it too much.
     
  18. Socrates

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    The motion and animation does help bring out the characters. The only one I had an issue with was the fully armored knight standing to the right of the gate; his armor blended too well with the stone behind him. The red plume drew my eye though, which helped a lot.

    Overall, I think you did a good job with the characters and how they are moving around that set piece. They felt appropriate to the game genre. I've seen a lot of games or WIPs where characters standing around looked .... just off somehow. Unfortunately, I do not have the language or animation education to describe the difference; I can only expres that you got the feel down well.


    As a side note: The incoming attackers made me laugh. The guy in front has his club high in the air, probably shouting a war cry, and runs right past the nice soft civilian targets and straight into a hail of arrows!
     
  19. Socrates

    Socrates

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    I am probably not your typical RTS player, but the first thing that crossed my mind when I read this was that using different tent colors would be a great way to organize my units or differentiate what I want a settlement to focus on.

    If nothing else, even the small touch of having different colors available helps reduce the "samey" appearance some RTS games have.
     
  20. DrewMelton

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    Yeah, at the moment I have it set so that they run for your base (the tent anyway), because you lose if they get inside.

    Now, if they run into someone, they will attack. I changed a few things since that video. I had it so they would ignore civilians, but now that you can build small camps for them to drop off stuff, you can keep them out of harms way, so I set the enemy to attack them if they run into them.

    Also, if is the enemy is hit by an arrow or otherwise are attacked, they will target the nearest person and attack.
     
  21. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    @DrewMelton I had a play of it, and I think the concept and presentation is spot on. Age of empires 2 was actually the first game that really hooked me on gaming at all, and I think you've done a great job of getting that instant atmosphere and feeling of immersion. Visually it's fantastic, sound is good too (though the responses from the troops could be a bit sharper imo).

    In terms of level design, I'm not sure if this is just a test level but I feel pretty overwhelmed at the start as a beginner player in your game. There's no tutorial, which is something I think needs to be added in the first playtesting phase. Also I was in a small, resource-less camp surrounded by enemies who simply needed to sprint to my tent to win the game. It was a bit difficult to sort out how to start pushing out and gathering resources and defend the camp at the same time with such a limited number of soldiers.

    In AOE, there's always that 'calm before the storm' window of opportunity at the start, where you can quickly get to your first resources without much opposition, and quickly reach the means to start making your first strategic decisions before the fight really breaks out. That doesn't seem to happen here, and it just seems like survival from the get-go. That's fine for later stage but at the start it's too much of an obstacle imo.

    I would like to play a level where I can access at least one instance of each basic resource and have perhaps 5-10 minutes of resource acquisition and building before really encountering an enemy.

    Small bugs/improvements:
    - The click area on the tent doesn't really conform to its shape.
    - I would really like to pan with Mouse 2 (wheel click).
    - Screen glitches sometimes when panning (I'm on an acer aspire 5, fps is good at around 50)

    I agree with the idea that unit differentiation would help. It's not so much about whether I can do it, but how instant and easy it is. When there's a lot going on after 5 hours of playing, it would make a big difference. I suggest focusing on the weapons/tools and not the clothes, at the moment the weapons/tools are not the first thing you notice when you look at the units and imo they should be. Bigger, more defined, high-contrast textures, and with a definite unique silhouette.

    Anyway I really enjoyed it, the presentation is first-class, and especially with better pacing in the level design, I think it would be pretty easy to hook your players in the first 10 min of playing.
     
  22. DrewMelton

    DrewMelton

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    @Billy4184 Cool, thanks for the feedback!

    I made this demo intentionally hard because I figured I would get better feeback of what works and what doesn't. If the game was too easy, every strategy would win, and no one would really know what to say other than "it looks nice and was fun."

    I have been experimenting a lot this year with the game. It started out as a purely defensive game, more like a tower-defense game. But, I'm way more of a RTS player than a TD guy, so the game kinda shifted towards that.

    I didn't want the game to be like AOE where you fight against another civ and everything is even. That would have required a lot more work programming (AI is usually the biggest weak point of even big RTS games), not to mention most of this game is custom made.

    I invented a lot of the programming based on what I knew and figured out, as opposed to just buying an RTS asset or following tutorials and creating a cookie-cutter RTS game clone. So, with the way I set everything up, I wanted a system that I could manage without getting overwhelmed. While I want it to be great, I also actually want to get it done.

    So, I was undecided if I should make the final game really hard or more casual. Now, I tend to prefer harder stuff. I beat Dark Souls with a level 1 character, and I'm currently playing through Ghost Recon Wildlands on extreme difficulty. So, it would take a lot of restraint for me to make a casual game. Not that I play every game on hard, but I generally want to get my money's worth. Some games I actually prefer on easy. It just depends.

    The biggest thing I worry about is that the game will be boring if it is too easy. This demo was an experiment to see if giving the player a very small safe zone and limited resources would provide motivation to go out and build. I wanted the player to feel a need for building as opposed to AOE where you are safe at first and build a base just because you can.

    I also felt that the "strategy" aspect goes down a bit the more units you have. There's more of just sending your units to battle and less about positioning them and using them to the best of their abilities. However, I don't know if this is what people really enjoy.

    I've debated on lots of things to make the game as fun as possible such as:

    1. Simplifying the game a bit, having just 3 soldier units (the spearman, knight, and archer(offense, defense, and range)), to make decision easier and more action focused. I just hope people won't complain about lack of unit variety.

    2. Giving the player bonuses for conquering an area other than just "winning the game." Maybe you can't build a mine, you can only take one over.

    3. Making the game area safe around the fort to allow for building a small base at the start.

    4. Making the enemy raids larger towards the end. They are still limited to about 6 raiders at the moment so you could survive with a skeleton crew as you conquer the map. I could spawn as many as I want.

    5. I've thought about if it would be more fun to lose units. So far, I've done a lot to make each unit's lives matter. They even have a name, and you lose if enough of them die (which kinda ties in with the theme), but maybe that's not what people want. Maybe larger battles where you send in more units and have to constantly replace them would be more fun, or maybe people like it the way it is.

    6. Whether the game should be slow or fast. Maybe there should be more frantic clicking and positioning or faster unit creation and more people dying.

    7. Maybe you need to defeat enemies in an area to get something (like a better blacksmith that unlocks another unit). Or whether people would enjoy unlocking more units. I've created two-handed swordsman, axemen, pikemen, skirmishers, and various other things that I cut because they seemed too similar for a player to make a choice. Even now, I think it can be a bit hard to decide what to make sometimes. Hell, maybe you should start out with just a spearman and have to unlock the rest as you go, having maybe 10 or 15 units you can pick from by the end of a level. I will so though, that I designed the UI to restrict me from doing these kinds of things in fear of never getting the game done if I get carried away.

    These are the types of things I am considering as I go into the next phase and try to tune the game and make it the best I can (while still keeping it simple enough that I can actually get it finished).
     
  23. Billy4184

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    Fair enough, but I do think that there needs to be a certain level of introduction and guided progression, if not explicitly then at least designing events and levels to channel the player through the beginning. At the moment the way it feels is like the last quarter of a losing game (surrounded, outnumbered and lacking resources), which is simply not all that pleasant when you are still getting familiar with it.

    That makes the level design make more sense now, it does feel a bit like tower defense, but then again the resources are not with you or in the area of the defense, so it's confusing where you need to be.

    For someone who looks at the game and thinks it is a standard RTS, how would you explain in as few words as possible what the game is?

    I'm not convinced that trading development complexity for player difficulty is a good choice here. Balancing a game is always hard, and it's definitely tempting to kind of let balance go and stamp it as 'hardcore'. One of my game projects I started this year was basically exactly that, but when I asked myself if I was really designing for the player (whoever that was) the answer was clearly no, and I simply canned it because I was pretty sure it would fail.

    It's even more risky if the game appears to be something that it's not (in this case a lot of it comes across as AOE).

    Up to you but I would suggest to make sure you clearly understand the profile of the player you are targeting and make sure you hit all the points for what they are looking for.

    Well I don't see AOE as easy just because the fight doesn't start from the get-go. In fact that first 10 minutes or whatever is very tense because you know that sooner or later whatever you build will be put to the test, and you aren't completely certain what it should look like. If the enemy in AOE only ever attacked in ones and twos yes, it would be boring. But at some point a small army is going to turn up and you're going to have to be ready (or even better, you do it first).

    If you're referring at all to ghost recon, I really like that game too (especially the strategic positioning, the managing the sudden, rapid sequence of events, and the possibility of one shot putting an end to things). The idea of a small guerilla team is definitely something to explore imo, but again it requires a clear idea of what you are aiming for and for example unit-building and villagers and that sort of stuff probably won't jibe too well - it would at least have to be modified heavily to suit. The game definitely comes across on paper as AOE right now and that's sure to create some disappointment.

    A lot of these sound perfectly good but they sort of represent different types of games. I would suggest finding a game that is very close to what you are looking to do (or at least figure out a very clear and relatively simple design concept with a single clear focal point) and build a prototype around that.

    To be perfectly honest, I think your best possibility is to simply go the AOE route. I don't believe it's necessary (or even desirable most of the time) to try to be different, and you have a very clear way to communicate to players what your game is about. Your target audience is clear, and although stuff like balancing might be hard (I was actually trying to learn about it this week, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of straightforward information, though I did come across useful concepts) you're not guessing at your audience or making the game more ambiguous than it needs to be.
     
  24. Antypodish

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    From what I read, I got little thought on Units, since seems game have basics mechanics in place.

    Instead allowing player to spam units, as typical RTS, you could focus on making your village full of professionals. What I mean, player would focus on improving and leveling units, being careful to loose as few as possible. That would force to more strategic thinking from beginning. Player would need make sure, that one better skilled unit is still better than lets say 4 just trained units. However throwing some meat should still have value.

    Even peasants could be trained in their gathering profession. Of course allow them to defend base when needed.

    Some concept of village alarm, could call all to arms, or hide. Depending on choice of game design.

    That would fit toward tower defense concept, where you improve units instead towers. However, here you C loose units as well. Just make sure, player still can win, if loose one, or two skilled units. Alternatively, difficulty level can play role, how important trained units may be, to survive and score high.
     
  25. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    My first concer is available resolution
    upload_2019-11-9_22-12-30.png

    No higher than 1600x900?

    Following my thoughts:
    - Escape key need popup menu. Also Should allow unselect selected units.
    - Mouse-Screen edge need faster map moving.
    - Or at least allow middle mouse click and drag, to drag camera.
    - WSAD and Arrows for camear movements are ok. Speed adjustment could be good.
    - However, I would reserve keys, for fast commands, rather camera movement.

    - This icons need popup info, when hovering pointer over

    upload_2019-11-9_22-18-31.png

    - After defeat, my settings are reset. I rather have them remembered between battles / games.

    upload_2019-11-9_22-21-29.png

    - Multiple unit selection with Ctrl or Shift is needed.
    - Since tent need be just approached, without a fight, some alarm of incoming enemies should be present.

    Generally very nice so far. Good as sample demo.

    Thats it for now.
     

    Attached Files:

  26. DrewMelton

    DrewMelton

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    Thanks for the feedback. I agree with a lot of these points. I'd summarize the game as being more focused on survival and keep your units alive, plus making use of the terrain to the best of your abilities. It is less focused on mass unit creation and more on trying the make do with the last survivors near the end of a war.

    I guess one of the main concerns I had (and why I made my game like this) was that as a solo developer, I can never compete scope-wise with a lot the RTS games (multiple civs, tech trees, map generation, etc.), but I can make my game unique and shift the focus and change the rules a bit to make it unique enough to appeal to RTS players.

    I will ponder over these ideas and post my thoughts soon.
     
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  27. DrewMelton

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    I've toyed with the idea of starting with a basic villager and then leveling him up like an RPG. He could get better at fighting, bows, hunting, whatever. Maybe they can even be trained in the village by assigning them tasks or putting them on a dummy for target practice. I could start the player with a few of these "basic" units, and you could go from there.

    Obviously, I would have to make the beginning less combat oriented. I'd probably also either make the fort large enough to build stuff in, or make a designated area for building that is fairly safe (although a guard or something could be posted).

    I could also make the resources built in (like an actual mine already set up) instead of letting people build them. I could instead add more types of buildings focused on building up a colony (house, training area, market, etc).
     
  28. DrewMelton

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    Hmm, probably some Unity setting that I never noticed. I just left the windowed resolution that way since that's what it defaulted to. You can run 1080p in full screen mode, although I don't think I set up a way to actually exit the game yet (other than like alt+f4), so I just left it as is.

    The rest of that, yep it's on the list as I get to the polishing phase.
     
  29. DrewMelton

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    So, we don't have much time left for this thread. Here are my final thoughts.

    I don't want to get too carried away. Feature creep and delays have plagued the project enough. While it has resulted in a better game, I also want to release it before retirement age. In fact, I'd like to get it done within the next several months.

    I think the best course would be to take all the feedback and fine-tune the game as best I can. Maybe try some experiments, play with some numbers, try some level designs (like having a larger safe area at the start to build things), experiment with game difficulty and see what people are actually enjoying, and just tune it and refine it until it's as fun as I can get. I'm going to try avoid adding too much or changing the "base" of the game to the point where I have a ton of work to do again.

    The next phase after that will be polishing the experience (hotkeys, AI tuning, sounds, overall presentation quality, etc.).

    I'm still waiting for a publisher get back with me (Team 17). They said they were going to have 8 or 9 people test it and provide feedback by next thursday or friday. So, I'll see what they say.

    If anyone has any other thoughts on the demo or anything I've posted, just let me know!
     
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  30. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I think you're in good shape. Just a little fine-tuning of stats and UI, and then some levels and enough story to make it narratively engaging and provide context to the level. I like the way Blizzard did it in WarCraft and StarCraft. Just enough story to give impetus to the level, but well-written with a sense of a deeper backstory.
     
  31. Kemonono

    Kemonono

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    I played your demo, I think what you have here is truly wonderful.
    Made me think about Stronghold, even a bit They are millions.

    I don't want to add too much that has been said before, I shows you have already spent a ton of time on this,
    and I think you know yourself all the small things that need to be done.

    I would say though, that maybe try to not make each map feel like a puzzle, I felt the demo was a bit too much Commandos, in that it felt a bit restrictive as to how to solve it.
     
  32. DrewMelton

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    Yep, the game was inspired some by both Stronghold (well the first one, never played the rest), and Commandos.

    I've been experimenting with giving everyone more health and making the fights longer and with more units, maybe also making it so there's less of a penalty for losing troops. Eventually, I'll find the right combination that makes the game fun.