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Big Tino

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
New Monarchy was on my wishlist on steam pretty much from the first moment I saw it advertised because it is exactly the sort of game I love playing, and I picked it up as soon as it was for sale. And since it's in early access and the point of early access is to give the creator(s) feedback, I figured I'd give some thoughts about the game now that I have some hours into it. I'll just talk about things that are in the game now - I'm sure more features will come up as the game's development progresses, like character customization, more mission types, visible town improvements, that sort of thing, so I won't touch on that.

First, I'm really enjoying it. I feel there are a lot of good systems here. The armor/helmet mechanic feels like Battle Brothers in a good way. I always appreciate systems where heavier armor makes you take less damage, not be harder to hit, and armor can make you feel pretty tanky in this game. The strength/damage system works well, too. It's simple, but concise enough to represent both the character and the weapon he's holding.

Speaking of which, I love the gear. There's a wide variety there and the weapons all feel pretty distinct. That being said, one of my biggest criticisms of Battle Brothers when it first came out was that, in terms of armor, heavier was always better and more expensive, even though there were builds and skill trees in that game that favored light armor, which basically meant such builds had to rely on the cheaper, overall worse armor. They eventually fixed that in DLCs by adding more expensive, better light armor. I feel a bit the same way here. I know the Arena isn't fully implemented, and my impression of that is that it's where you'll be able to give characters skills and abilities and diversify them. My hope here is that a similar route will come open. Allow for light armor of increasing quality as well as heavy armor, and allow for builds of lightly armored characters who rely on being harder to hit rather than having heavier armor for survivability. The rapier is already a thing, so I feel like that's already a considered feature - I just wanted to point out it's a desired one.

All that said, there are a few mechanics I find arbitrarily punitive as they're working right now. The biggest one to me is the stamina system in relation to movement. I know Battle Brothers had this, and it worked well for that game. Running at the enemy in heavy armor is exhausting. But that game is also effectively 2D, and there's not a whole lot of movement done. You either wait for the enemy to come to you while hurling javelins at them, or the enemy does that to you, and once you're in melee, you stay there til it's over. But I'm finding in this game that my characters all become fatigued really, really quickly. Like, if I move up to meet the enemy's charge halfway, all of my characters will be fatigued. It also means that fighting enemies who have ranged weapons basically means sprinting your characters into melee with them and not attacking because they're now fatigued, but waiting until the enemy tries to move away and then killing them with Attacks of Opportunity. It feels restricting, and the feel of it makes me wish more for XCOM than Battle Brothers. XCOM has a more similar, 3D environment, and you're constantly moving through it. You're repositioning for cover, and to engage more threats that emerge as you progress through the map. It's ultimately a more tactical feeling than what Battle Brothers gives, and I feel that allowing for more movement would make that feeling more possible in Dead Monarchy. I know there's more melee in this game than in XCOM (though maybe not XCOM 2), but giving us more freedom to move and reposition gives us more freedom to use tactical approaches to combat, rather than the "charge straight at 'em" strategy we're pretty much limited to now because of how expensive movement is.

In a less important note, the marketplace also feels pretty punishing. Money is tight at the start of the game, and the exchange rate is brutal. I know upgrades to the market give better prices, but even at the max rank of the market, you're essentially buying and selling at standard RPG prices: buying for double what you'd sell for. At the start of the game, it means a sword that would cost you 750 gold to buy would sell for 12, and it takes a lot of upgrading to make an appreciable difference in that exchange. In both Battle Brothers and XCOM, you're able to pretty effectively supplement your income by selling things you loot. But outside of those games, Dead Monarchy has the opportunity to allow for the unique possibility of funding your company through business. We can already craft things with resources we find. Why not make it so we can use crafting to supplement our income? Say I've already outfitted my team with good gear and now I want to craft items to sell rather than to wear. As it stands now, though, to make a tier one greatsword, I'd have to spend resources that I could sell for 25 gold to make something that I would then be able to sell for 12. Cutting the value of my loot in half by refining it into finished products feels unintuitive.

The last thing that feels very, very punishing is the Temple. Starting out, it's impossible to heal wounds or repair armor. You have to upgrade the Temple to do that, and even then, you can heal one character's wounds and repair one character's armor OR helmet once per week. Each upgrade after that allows it to be used one more time, at a non-trivial cost each time. Now I get healing and repairing can't be trivial matters in a game like this. But this system feels odd and, again, restricting. In both Battle Brothers and XCOM (and I know I keep coming back to those games, but they're both really good examples), when a character is badly hurt, you put them in reserve so they can rest and get back into the fight after they've healed. Battle Brothers has the added mechanic of medical supplies being spent for wounds and tools being spent for repairs. Those systems work well because they're automatic and there's a balance between cost in time and cost in money. Right now in my current game, however, I have a sort of line standing outside my temple. Once a week they let one person inside, heal his wounds, and fix his armor and helmet. They'll then heal the next person's wounds, but they won't fix his armor because they've already done repairs twice this week. The people standing in that line week after week are wounded, but they get neither better nor worse on their own, and their armor is damaged, but they can't work on fixing it themselves. My recommendation here is to let wounds heal on their own over time if you keep the wounded out of the fighting for a bit, possibly with a Temple there to speed up the process if you want to pay for it. And for repairs, either let them happen over time like wounds (maybe expending a food-like resource), or give us a big REPAIR ALL button and don't make repairs rely on the very limited-use Temple.

I know this was a long post with quite a few criticisms, but that's because of how much I'm enjoying the game and how much I want to see it grow and improve. And I certainly appreciate how much effort you have clearly put into this game, particularly in terms of designing some very realistic equipment.
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bantichai

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Posts: 37
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Big Tino, I love reading long posts and criticism is the only way the game can be improve so all good and keep it coming! That said, I am glad that there are also some system that you already love. Feedback like this is exactly what I am looking for though as even in its current state the game is quite big so I can't get around to testing everything.

- Light armor, some very good points here, some things I overlooked. There is an armor overhaul coming and I will take your feedback to heart. I may split the armor into more distinct categories but at the very least I do agree that the most expensive armor shouldn't just be the heaviest either. You are also correct in that I tend to allow the player to create light armor characters.

- Stamina system, I can see where you are coming from on that. It's currently not really shown clearly either you have to read the tooltip on each tile and then count the tiles. It also takes away what makes the desert biome unique with the chance of getting exhausted from the heat and losing Stamina. Adding that on top may just be too excessive.

- Marketplace, I'm glad you pointed this out. I could only really test this out for a short time. I think I'll take another look at the rates, I might also make it so that the last few upgrades result in a profit.

- Temple, again very good point. I actually want to completely overhaul how this is done, but for now I think what I'll do is change the healing and repairing to healing ALL instead of individual and then tweak costs vs charge. IE, do you spend 50 crowns to heal 10 Strength to all characters, or do you spend 150 crowns to heal 20 for 1 charge. Cheaper to hit the 50 crowns button twice, but you use more charges.

All in all, I was very happy to read this and I am so glad that you still seem to be enjoying yourself. I also wanted to mention that I am most active on the Steam forum if you haven't joined there yet. I think your post would open up some really good discussion on it 😉
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Big Tino

Junior Member
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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #3 
I gave the game a good long break and came back to it to see how it was progressing, and I've gotta say, I absolutely love the changes so far. It's pretty impressive to see you take the community's feedback to heart. I read about your decision to rebuild the game, and as someone who has restarted projects knowing more the second time around, I think that's probably going to really pay off in the end. And while I don't know exactly what you're planning in terms of the rebuild, I did want to give some more feedback on this newest version, from my own experiences. Note that, like last time, I'll focus mostly on the things I'd like to see changed or improved, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things I really enjoy.

-World Map: Love it. It really adds a sense of being in the world that the last system just didn't have. That being said, I think there are some quality-of-life things you could take from Battle Brothers here. For one, I much prefer BB's system of using tools and herbs to repair and heal you passively over time, with the ability to camp overnight and use them more efficiently. Having them as consumables feels wasteful when you're not sure just how much you're healing and repairing compared to how much is being wasted by not waiting longer. I'd also love the ability to level up without going back to town, and some random encounters would be awesome.

-Sieges and the Garrison: I feel like the garrison/siege system needs some work, particularly because, since the siege attacks are so much stronger than the battles in missions, you're never really going to have a garrison strong enough to defend your town while your party is out adventuring. This is doubly true since you still have to pay wages to the people in your garrison. Consider this alternative: you can recruit from your own town, but only level 1 characters. This makes them ideal to serve as your garrison. Then, halve the wages of any characters serving in your garrison (or even drop it to 25%). All of this will make the Aren's training more meaningful. Finally, make the sieges a little weaker than they are now, but don't tell us exactly when they're going to happen - that way, we'll prioritize keeping a garrison, rather than always expecting to make a convenient return to town when they happen.

-The Town: This has come a long way since the last time I played. Right now, the town focuses entirely on what it can do to benefit your troops, but think about all the possibilities the town could be built up to support the people living there (and by extension, of course, your troops). I'm thinking about all the ways you could upgrade a village, fort, or city in Mount and Blade: Warband: improved crops add a persistent food supply; lumbering and mining operations add a persistent wood and ore supply; markets could give regular income and even allow you to buy items in town; defensive structures could give you bonuses while defending against a siege. There are loads of possibilities here.

-Weekly Budget and Expansion: I know I'm probably getting ahead of myself with this one, but by allowing for town improvements that give incomes and benefits of various types, you could pave the way for allowing the player to take control of multiple towns. I'll go back to Mount and Blade for this one - each town has an income, and each town's garrison has upkeep, and the budget falls on a weekly, rather than daily, basis. With a weekly budget report, you'd get to see how your income compares to your expenses, including your adventuring party's expenses, and plan ahead without the constant paycheck-to-paycheck worry of a daily budget.

-Missions: You're probably already thinking about this sort of thing going forward, but adding some variety to missions would be nice. Escorting caravans would be a good way to get the party from one town to another without worrying about expenses. Patrol missions could have you wander around the map fighting as many enemies as you can and give you a scaling reward based on how many you kill. You could defend other towns against bandit raids, or assault bandit strongholds. Lots and lots of possibilities to be had here without particularly major overhauls to any systems. I'd also love the option to choose from several mission possibilities in each town.

-Condition: Oof, this one is a constant frustration to me. I'm already paying my soldiers in gold and food, and I'm doing my best to keep their injuries low and their gear in top condition. Having a flat stat bar that decreases for every battle a soldier participates in, and then requiring me to go back to town and pay more money to raise that stat bar back up, is rough. It feels like it's just a means of artificially slowing the player down. With town improvements, as well as injuries and damaged gear to attend to, I already have plenty of motivation to go back to town on a regular basis. This is a mechanic I feel like could just be flat removed and we'd all be happier for it.

-Weapon and Armor Progression: I think I may have mentioned something like this in my last feedback post, but I've never been a huge fan of linear item progression. Take Wasteland 2 as a good example: you start with an M1, and then you find an AK-47, which is better than the M1 in every way, and then you find an M16, which is better than the AK-47 in every way, and so on. Lateral progression leads to choice, which is always a good thing. Let me choose between a fast-striking shortsword and a hard-hitting broadsword, and give me a good reason to choose light armor for certain builds over heavy armor.

-Other: If my armor fully absorbs all the damage from an attack, I probably shouldn't get a status effect (like bleeding) from that attack, since it didn't actually touch me. Also, the enemies in other areas after Bretony are harder in their own ways (like the acid-spitting lizards of Yamatar), so you may want to consider paying the player more for missions there. Bumping up enemy levels in other lands will also give a sense of progression to the game. Having different types of items available for sale in other areas would be a cool addition, too; I've noticed the armors for sale look different in different regions, but as far as I can tell, these are reskins, and there are no new types of weapons. In areas where I take damage by moving through the terrain, consider giving us a tooltip heads-up about what terrain will hurt me. One thing that I've really enjoyed in other tactical turn-based RPGs is having right-click assigned to move and left-click assigned to "use ability" or character select. That way you don't accidentally move someone when you're just trying to select a character or use an ability. A "repair all" button would be lovely for town.

I'm sure there's plenty of other things you're already working on, particularly monster variation in each zone (boy have I killed a lot of ratmen in Bretony), so I don't want to focus too much on things that are flat expansions on already-existing mechanics. Overhaul, this game is a ton of fun - I'm able to just sit and play it for hours, and want to play it for hours, which is a huge step up from where it was previously. I also understand that this is a tough time for any indie developer. I myself am a freelance writer, and boy has this whole pandemic thing made for low demand. If you want any writing done for this game, let me know - there's a lot that can be done in terms of quests (I'm thinking Battle Brothers here and how flavorful their quest text is) and hireling background info. Other than that, hang in there, pal. You've got something great here.
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