A (possibly ongoing) post of ranting, ravings, and random strings of profanity; all seen through the eyes of a noob to the genre.
*Note: I'm sure many of these issues are common knowledge for the development team, but I'm here to share my feedback nonetheless.
*Note 2, the sequel: I'm more of an overall look-and-feel kinda guy. I'll let others stare at the xml data for hours to determine if the numbers are balanced.
UI and Visual notifications
My initial thoughts thus far is that the game is currently leaps and bounds ahead of War of Magic in regards to noob friendliess. The tutorial with videos, is a very welcome feature. As a result of these videos and tutorial in-general, I learned more about the game's mechanics in fifteen minutes than I did in four hours of playing WoM on my own.
I noticed many small notifications, such as the "Zzzzz" above my city when it wasn't building an improvement. These are greatly enhancing FE so far, so please keep this up.
While I appreciate the introduction of these icons, too many of them clutter the map and may confuse the noob:
Some icons are intuitive to me, such as the pickaxe means something to harvest (even food, I guess), and the green treasure chests (which I first believed were fists) mean treasure.
But what the crap is the purple squatting, hunched-over dragon; the blue soldier; and the red pad lock lock (at least this icon is easily recognizable)? My first assumptions (after figuring out just what shape that purple thing may be) were monster, army, and unlockable... something. I guess this game has wolves, horses, and skeletons that can be unlocked. I don't know...
There are either too many icons, the icons aren't intuitive, or there needs to be an easy reminder for what they are (i.e. a side-menu or reminder when you click on an icon, one that can be preferably dismissed for the non-noobs).
Speaking of icons, I noticed that sometimes the cloth map view will show only a few icons, yet when I move the map or zoom out and back in one notch, a bunch more pop into view. Maybe this is a bug.
These icons were all guilty of this:
And then there are the orphaned icons, which once represented something nearby, but on a later turn, came back into view:
I'm sorry, I love you guys, but the mini map currently sucks. I'm sure it's color-coded for a reason, but why? And my BIGGEST pet-peeve thus far: WHY, if I drag the main map up ("north" for example), does the mini map move northwest? Seriously, kill this with fire.
I really enjoy the different environments in FE, contrasted with the endless wastelands of WoM. But I have one suggestion, and one cautionary tale.
When green forests immediately become purple forests at the edge of a tile, it can look odd.
This is trivial though, contrasted with the cautionary tale below.
I was once mauled early-on when I failed to see the cave bear surrounded by purple forest. If you are going to use similar colors, then I suggest you make the deadly creatures (which are normally easy to see via the icons when zoomed out) easier to see when zoomed in (ex. not have their colors so similar that the noobs don't see them).
Speaking of noobs and color issues, am I the red kingdom, or the blue kingdom?
Little touches like the ability to quickly change characters or execute decisions in the trace/shop window are great and intuitive.
I get food. I get money. How is metal and materials related? How do I make mana? In the words of another poster:
"What gives me more mana? My mana production increased when I built a temple on a shard, so I'm assuming there is a connection ( ) but there was nothing that told me this. Maybe when I mouse-over my mana supply, it could tell me where it's coming from? And also maintain an account of the spells that require mana-upkeep? More meticulous mana management, methinks might make more mighty men. Maybe?"
Lastly, I was VERY confused when I read that a building's requirements were +1 maintenance. What's maintenance? Are there invisible handymen and janitors that work about my city? No, apparently that means money. OK, so if it means money, then I suggest you use that icon.
What do these number mean? There needs to be an easier way to determine the likelihood of winning a battle. Specifically, the attack, defend, and overrall threat rating. Here are some battle notes:
- I lost one battle because my threat level, attack number (is this what the sword represents? Maybe I'll just call it the sword number), and defense number (shield?) were much higher than another creature's. Yet what I failed to realize is that these numbers were my combined stats, and thus this creature slaughtered my army one person at a time.
- I lost one battle because while my sword number was higher than another army's, their shield number was vastly higher than mine. I always missed them in-battle, and when I did hit them, did not seem to do as much damage as I expected.
What land is good land?? There needs to be a button that quickly brings up the food/materials numbers for each tile when founding a city. Maybe tab?
How do I take a screenshot? I would love to see a key bindings screen in the Options.
Beginning my first game
Quoting from another user, as this described my first experience or seven:
"AAaaaand, POOF, I'm in the world! Oh, lots of stuff to read.... time to play! Oh, I was so excited! Awesome gfx, an untouched land ready to conquer! Sick. My sov was placed near a black widow, so, because I know I've gotta be pretty bad ass (I've got a beard!) and I should probably clear the area before I build a city (so I thought!) I attacked the thing.... I.... had been mistaken."
Noobs may need more warning in regards to their fragility in the early game.
Speaking of which, at the beginning of one game, I noticed that my sovereign began on a small peninsula, just large enough to eventually build a medium-sized city. Yet surrounding this peninsula was nothing but desert and swamp. Although that really didn't matter that much, because a Slag army and Drake army were blocking my path the mainland. They just sort of sat there, eyeing me as if to say "bring it."