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Old 04-08-2024, 02:33 PM
Psyringe Psyringe is offline
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Default Brilliant ideas, but feels shockingly unfinished and abandoned

Hi! I've recently played Din's Legacy (after having played every other Soldak game since Din's Curse) and wanted to leave some feedback.

First, the good: The core ideas of Din's Legacy (the scenarios and the mutations) are brilliant:

A1) The scenarios cleverly address the one issue that always made me drop out of previous Soldak games at some point: Even though their worlds were diverse and very dynamic, and multiple victory conditions existed that required different strategies to pursue them, I always was eventually getting into a routine that no longer felt exciting. The scenarios of Din's Legacy shattered that routine into pieces, which was very welcome. Even after a dozen worlds, I was still excited and curious about the next one. While some scenarios are just variations on a common theme (e.g. "kill this group of enemies"), I kept encountering new ones that felt refreshingly different from the main game (e.g. "Cave Collapse" or "Brawl").

A2) The mutations are an amazing way of encouraging build variety while also giving players the tools to prevent paths of character development that they wouldn't enjoy. Basically, character development is 50% driven by the player, and 50% driven by the RNG, with sufficient options to remove unwanted RNG results. It felt very exciting to build a character in such a chaotic environment, particularly because the RNG occasionally picked powerful rare traits with the potential to heavily influence or even totally change my build.

A3) Also, since the UI of Soldak games tends to get a lot of criticism, I'd like to point out that I actually like the UI a lot. I find it very efficient, particularly because detailed information is readily available via tooltips (even if the respective UI element is in the background), information is often color-coded, and inventory management feels very comfortable with options to sort items in various ways while also in- or excluding individual bags from the process. I also didn't have any issues with the controls (perhaps because I played a ranged character and I'm used to mouse controls in ARPGs).

I believe that the first two points were the main reason why, for the first time in a Soldak game, I actually stuck around for long enough to bring a character to level 100. In previous games, I'd usually drop out somewhere between level 30-70.

Next, to the not-so-great parts - which are mostly just a few questionable (in my opinion) design decisions and other some well-known complaints:

B1) The introduction of different terrain height levels made the information on the screen messier and harder to parse. My arrows and spells were frequently blocked by objects that I didn't expect to be in the way. It's also rather immersion-breaking to see their flight paths following the ground rather than going in a straight line. Paved road textures applied to a hilly ground mesh don't look particularly convincing either. I think I would prefer a "flat" world over the current implementation.

B2) Several mechanics feel like leftovers from previous games that are either a step backward from a design that worked well enough previously, or that serve no discernable purpose in Din's Legacy. Examples are "guardian" monsters (I can occasionally buy them from other factions, where they do guard the gates, but I can't put them in my town, all I can do is release them as a one-time summon), the fact that you can only have one NPC in your party (an interesting gameplay element that feels gutted), or the mechanics concerned with town happiness and equipment (which are best ignored since you'll leave the town behind anyway - why is there no reward for leaving it in a happy, well-equipped state?).

B3) I don't know how it worked for other Soldak games, but the path to level 100 felt rather tedious toward the end and kind of burned me out on the game, at least for a while. Even though I played content up to 20 levels above mine and focused on wearing XP bonus gear, I felt like I was making barely any progress. Part of the problem is that I couldn't choose a scenario level higher than 100, so the closer I got to that level, the smaller my XP gains became, even though I would easily have survived a level 120 scenario (which would have given me much more XP). I think the game's build variety is high enough to encourage players to play multiple times with different builds (through achievements that reward that, for example) rather than sending them on a long and tedious "home stretch" with the same character. After finally getting to level 100, I felt like "glad that that's over with, now I need to play a different game", when I could (with less tedium) have felt like "that was fun, now let's see how a totally different build will play!".

B4) It's really disappointing that saving the game doesn't save one's minions. Given that minions can level up, I don't understand why the game insists on having you start them from scratch every time you start a new session.

B5) Just for the sake of completeness (not that it will change anything ), but I never liked the bag progression system of Soldak games, and I still don't. They drop too rarely for how much more convenience they bring to the user experience (unless you luck out and meet a bag vendor, which happened only twice on my way to level 100 and feels extremely unbalanced compared to the low drop rate). The fine-grained size progression also causes a lot of unnecessary micromanagement due to the need to switch bags frequently; at least there should be a functionality to replace a bag with a bigger one while keeping the contents.

And finally, to the things that - in my opinion - went really bad. For the most part, these are bugs. I have never seen so many, so obvious bugs in a Soldak game before. I am frankly shocked that the game was left in that state, and I have to admit that this makes me worried about future Soldak games. I will probably, for the first time, not buy the next game right on release, but wait for a year or two to see how much post-release support it will receive.

C1) The map generation is fundamentally broken. At least half of the medium-sized worlds that the game generated for me, had issues such as inaccessible regions (that nevertheless housed quest targets), jump gates shown in the middle of nothingness (but not actually leading there), jump gates leading to a different region than their label suggested (e.g. I choose "jump gate to X" on the map, but get taken to a "jump gate of Y" in the world), areas that seem to exist in two places at once (e.g. I enter a dungeon in one area, immediately leave, and are now somewhere completely different), invisible walls (like a slope that could only be traversed in one direction), an incorrect minimap (showing walls where there were paths, and vice versa), and more. I am shocked that such a fundamental part of the gameplay is utterly broken in so many ways and apparently never got fixed.

C2) Many of the scenarios are also fundamentally broken, they just don't work. I had a "Total War" scenario that failed out of nowhere even though no lose condition was met, and the reason that was listed looked like a function name in braces. A "Fall of the Empire" scenario had a similar issue, but also had severe UI problems - when I tried to turn the cities of the empire against each other by bribing them into wars, I didn't even know which target I was selecting, because they all had the same name. In one scenario I triggered a "lose" timer, so I hurried to fulfill the scenario's victory condition (which I managed), but the victory didn't trigger and the timer didn't stop, it went on until I lost. Again, I am shocked that the game was left in this state. If some ideas don't work out or if the bugs in some scenarios are too hard to fix - that can happen, of course, but then those scenarios shouldn't be left in the game. That massively contributes to the game feeling unfinished and abandoned.

C3) Arch-Nemeses also seem fundamentally broken. I never managed to meet one. I can usually select the quest to fight one - but they are always "not in this part of the world". If I save and reload the game, the quest suddenly shows up as "failed" in my quest list - but I can take the same quest again, with the same effect. At first I thought that the Arch-Nemesis might only appear after a number of scenarios, but it doesn't even keep the same name or species between different scenarios. So it looks like it's supposed to appear in the scenario where the quest is available, but it never happens.

C4) Potentially related to C2, even many of the scenarios that aren't broken in an obvious way, may not work correctly. I frequently ran into scenarios where the monster enemies barely did anything, so the usual dynamic of "a world fighting back" didn't come to pass. Also, the other factions seem incapable of exploring the world on their own - I never meet their heroes in the field, and they only get in contact with each other if they are direct neighbors. I suspect that in addition to the very obvious bugs that I listed previously, the entire game might be in a deplorably shoddy state, including the "under the hood" mechanics.

C5) I'm also encountering frequent visual bugs, such as terrain heights not matching between neighboring tiles and leaving a black void between them. In one secret area, every single tile had its rotation flipped, making it look like an area of broken floor shards without any connection. Sometimes I'm seeing weird foggy trails, as if something small kept zipping across the screen, but there's nothing there.

C6) Occasionally, the game crashes to desktop in the middle of gameplay. I usually don't lose much progress due to the frequent autosaves, but I never had this issue with any other Soldak game.

C7) The "Vial of Intelligence Elixir VIII" is erroneously named "Vial of Intelligence Elixir XVIII", making it appear much more powerful than it actually is. This is obviously an extremely minor issue - but it's also very easy to spot (you just need to play the game until that item drops or appears in a store), and presumably even easier to fix (I suppose you'd just need to delete a single 'X' character in a data file). The fact that even so easily fixable bugs haven't been addressed in all these years, is another element that makes me worried.

I should perhaps add that I didn't do any extensive testing with the skills and mutations, so if those have bugs as well (which honestly wouldn't surprise me at this point), I wouldn't have noticed them.

In summary, my feelings about Din's Legacy are extremely mixed. On one hand, its core ideas brilliantly address one of the main reasons why I kept dropping out of earlier Soldak games. And in addition to those, the game plays well enough to have made me go all the way to level 100. On the other hand, I have honestly never seen a shoddier piece of software from this company. I am deeply worried about the quality of future products and I also just wonder what happened. Has the developer ever commented on that? Is there any hope that at least the most egregious and obvious issues (C1-C3) will ever get fixed?

(Steven, in case you're reading that, I would be really interested in a reply. I apologize for being blunt, but I always felt that if problems exist, then pointing them out clearly is more useful than painting over them.)

Last edited by Psyringe : 04-09-2024 at 12:38 PM. Reason: Fixed some typos, clarified a few points, added color coding.
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2024, 02:07 PM
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First off sorry I'm so slow to respond.

There are definitely still some things I would like to improve or fix in Din's Legacy.

My main problem is that I'm constantly struggling to not go out of business, especially during the last few games. The market has gotten so much worse for small indies since Steam opened up to virtually everyone. I would love to spend more time on each of our games, but since game revenue is typically very launch heavy, I'm basically forced on to the next game whether I want to or not.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2024, 04:39 PM
Psyringe Psyringe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow View Post
First off sorry I'm so slow to respond.
No worries. I appreciate that you found the time to read my post and write a reply. I understand that - as a single developer in an increasingly cutthroat market - your mind is focused on current projects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow View Post
There are definitely still some things I would like to improve or fix in Din's Legacy.

My main problem is that I'm constantly struggling to not go out of business, especially during the last few games. The market has gotten so much worse for small indies since Steam opened up to virtually everyone. I would love to spend more time on each of our games, but since game revenue is typically very launch heavy, I'm basically forced on to the next game whether I want to or not.
Thanks for the honest reply. It's pretty much what I figured.

Indeed, since Steam opened the floodgates, it has become incredibly important for indie releases to game the Steam algorithm to push one's games to the front. Visibility for niche games (which I'd see Soldak games as - great ideas that provide uniquely thrilling experiences to players with specific preferences, but relatively far from what a mainstream audience would want) is a huge problem. Unfortunately, despite knowing (more or less) what Steam's algorithms are looking for, I don't see a great way for Soldak games to overcome this hurdle. You don't have a huge marketing budget, the target audience is probably too small to generate the initial sales spike that would get the attention of the algorithms, and recruiting content creators and influencers is probably difficult due to the games' dated presentation.

I wonder if there are options to generate more money from your existing audience. I'm not sure if raising prices would be a good idea (especially since money is generally tight for gamers as well these days), but there might be ways to get some support from players who can afford it. Dwarf Fortress survived purely on donations for a long time. You could also try to offer "supporter DLCs" which would offer some cosmetics or bonus materials, but would mainly be a way to collect some additional money from people willing and able to spend it.

Regarding bugs and troubleshooting, exposing some debugging features to interested players might help get good, reproducible bug reports. You could hide those features behind a variable that needs to be set in an INI file, or in a beta build that people would need to opt-in to (Steam makes the latter relatively easy) - that would keep the debug features away from people who wouldn't know how to use them. Generally, I think that debugging the new game will be very important, because if more games are released (and left) in the same state as Din's Legacy, you'd be kind of demotivating your core audience from buying your games early. Thankfully, Drox 2 had far fewer issues than Din's Legacy, but that may have been because of the smaller scope of its additions, and Din's Champion looks like a more ambitious (and therefore also more risky) project.

But you've probably mulled all those suggestions around already, so I'll stop now. Best of luck!

Last edited by Psyringe : 05-07-2024 at 05:12 AM.
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Old 05-09-2024, 05:21 PM
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Destro* Destro* is offline
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I think that you have a lot of valid concerns. Though, at the same time, I think it's entirely possible to work around a lot of them to have a fun, enjoyable experience.

Most people don't necessarily agree with me saying to work around issues yourself... but I do want to say that I believe this game makes it very much possible to do so. I hit level 90+ on three characters recently with all difficulty mods enabled and had a blast on each one. That's my basis for saying it's possible. And, if you're willing to compromise a bit on your end, then it's possible. Though, of course, if you're not, then I would recommend not reading on.

---

I think most yellow items are, as you put it, not major issues that can be glossed over. For B3, A fast high clear speed build will make late-game leveling a lot more pleasant, along with a good farming strategy too. Though, I do agree that without a specific goal in mind, grinding all the way to 100 can be a bit painful (I've reached it many times so I just wanted to see my builds reach their full potential before moving on).

For reds, I'd say C1-C4 can just be avoided or ignored. I don't have any C5 issues. I think for C6, that's gotta be something related to your setup, cause for me this game is one of the most stable games I've ever owned. And last, C7 is probably more in the light yellow category imho and can just be ignored.

So, my conclusion? Just avoid the buggy content. Go to new areas frequently. And, go fast. ^_^
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