Yesterday the demo version went public on the site. I've shown it to everyone who would play and gathered quite a bit of feedback. I want to thank everyone who told me their thoughts on the game, no matter how small or trivial.
Today, I'm compiling everything I heard into a big list, so I can decide what is important and what isn't. Here's what people wanted from Xenos:
That is, things that many(more than one) players noticed/complained about.
- Objects such as cabinets can be accessed from behind walls. This is a bug that nearly everyone mentioned. I knew about it beforehand, but it seemed kinda minor. That just shows how skewed a developer's perspective might be.
- You can't kill aliens. That's not a bug, but it's the most commonly requested feature by far. A lot of people would equip a crowbar, or a sledgehammer, and try to pound aliens with it, only to discover that it does not work. Originally, I wanted the aliens to be invincible, because, well, aliens! But it seems confusing, so I'm adding attack options in the next update. Killing/disabling an alien bot wouldn't be easy, though!
- Equipping items is confusing and counter-intuitive. In Xenos, you can equip any item in your "hand" slot, which is kinda realistic, but does not match expectations set by other games. Most people wanted to put clothes into some "body" slot that does not even exist. Also, the mechanic where you have to take an item in hand and then click on stuff was missed by most people. I certainly need to rethink my approach to using items and objects; I'm just not sure how to make both usable and intuitive. Back to the drawing board on this one...
- The "loot" interface is unwieldy, especially having to close it with mouse click. A lot of people suggested that it should close automatically when player moves, so I'm going to experiment with it.
- The status effects and especially the health/damage systems is confusing. I don't think I can make it absolutely clear without "dumbing down" (It's a pretty complex system right now, expect a full-blown post dedicated to explaining it.) However, I clearly need to make it clearer. I think I would add a "character screen", similar to inventory, that would show an expanded view of all your status effects and counters, with explaining tooltips. I would also add some sort of full-screen effect when you're hurt, wounded etc., to make it more obvious that your avatar is having problems.
- The whole situation is confusing; a few people just couldn't understand what's going on and what they're supposed to do. This is important, but sort of inevitable with an early preview - I had to put player basically in the middle of a war zone, because the game does not have anything else at the moment. I hope Xenos would become less confusing with new versions, when I add friendly NPCs etc.
Less important things
That is, things that only one or couple players mentioned, but that still seem relevant.
- The game needs a map. I planned to add it right from the start, but this was a low-priority feature that I postponed indefinitely... now that someone asked for it, the priority increased (though it's still in the "less important things") I guess map would become more important when the game world would be larger - and I'd have to make it larger for the next version.
- The game needs more sound. Or, actually, it needs any sound: right now Xenos is silent. This is another planned but postponed feature, that I really should prioritize more.
The torchlight works through walls and obstacles. This is quite unrealistic, and apparently bugs some people. Unfortunately, making a correct light with shadows is quite a task: my hippie freeloader edition of Unity3D does not support shadows at all, and coding them by hand would require a lot of effort. Still, I might bite the bullet and do it sometime.
- Aliens are not scary and seem chaotic. There are too many of them, and they don't try to kill the player. Actually, that's working "as designed", because I never intended alien bots to be scary - they are doing their own incomprehensible alien things, and don't attack the player because they actually don't care. Having said that, probably need to make bots seem more purposeful, and add some sort of "scary" alien that would actively harm the player. Just to make things more interesting and varied.
- Some people really miss crafting. Right now, most items are useless, and none can be used to create something new. I should add at least some crafting functionality, although the bulk of it would probably have to wait for some future version.
- Interface needs hotkeys. "I" for inventory, "Esc" to close open windows. This is pretty basic functionality, I'm surprised that only one person complained... and somewhat ashamed that I missed it myself.
- Buildings like stores etc need sign-boards, to make them stand out more. This should be easy to add...
- Town generally needs more stuff on the streets, to make it less boring. This is something I've been working on, but more stuff can certainly be added. However, as I plan to add new locations to the game in next version, I think fleshing out town location would remain pretty low-priority for now.
Least important things
That is, things that some people mentioned, but that I won't do for some reason.
- One person suggested making terrain 3-dimensional (i.e. adding varying height.) While this certainly would add more depth (literally!) to the game, and make it more visually interesting, changing terrain to 3D would require changing lots of code. Too much to be feasible at this stage, actually, so Xenos would stay perfectly flat.
- Someone also suggested adding "civilian" NPCs to the town map, that try to run from invaders. That's a nice idea, but I won't be implementing it. Mainly because in next version, I plan for the game to start outside of town, and by the time the player gets there, everyone would be either dead or gone. So, I don't want to spend time on a feature that won't actually be visible.
Whew, that was a lot of feedback! I'll go and fix all those things listed above now. Meanwhile, I'm open for even MORE feedback - so play the game, and show it to your friends if you like what you see.