I've been playing a few games of Fallen Enchantress today, and I thought I'd post some of the things I guess the guys and gals at Stardock are after. I've mainly been testing out a few things, messing around, and generally seeing if I could break the game. I'm still getting used to everything, having forgotten most of it when I finished playing War of Magic a while ago
So, my PC's specs:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.40ghz)
RAM: 4.00GB DDR2
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5770 1gb.
OS: Windows Vista 32-bit (I know)
Firstly, there's a few problems with the tool tip, information panes and general help stuff that I noticed as I was relying on these for most of my "education".
There's a few issues with the character creation screen and the information tips, namely that they don't seem to want to appear all of the time. Specifically, the ones for the schools of magic fail to update at all, making it difficult to know what spells you're starting out with in the school. It seems to stick to the Air magic one, at least the few times I've made a new Sovereign.
In the game, the text for a few tool tips ran off onto lines that are drawn on the screen. The Tower of Dominion is a good example. There are no scroll bars on these, and thus it's difficult to understand what a particular building does in any great detail. Even though the information is provided in a helpful "bullet point" pane underneath, I like to read about this kind of stuff in detail so it's something that stuck out quite a bit.
Some of the information panes that pop up are incredibly difficult to read as the text seems to squash down to fit into the box, as opposed to simply placing a scroll bar and leaving the text at the right size. This is painfully true for the various books you can come across. One, which granted me a level up, was just this side of too small to read.
A strange issue that I've noticed is that turning on Anti-Aliasing makes all of the text a little blurry, and this in turn makes text even harder to see.
All of the scroll bars - and doubly so for the ones in the character creation screen - don't really seem to work that well. When playing a game, I generally "click" on the bar, and drag it down to scroll, as opposed to using my mouse wheel or the little up and down arrows. The game doesn't seem to like this method, as the scroll bar jumps to allotted points (10%, 50%, 75%, etc.) along the whole bar.
There aren't enough links on any of the information stuff into the Heiglo... encyclopaedic centre of the game. I love to read about all of the back stories and stuff, and I didn't see the links to read more. Unless I'm simply not seeing them? Anyway, it's something I really enjoyed about War of Magic, and was a little disappointed that I wasn't spending far too much time reading.
After the information stuff, there were a few graphic issues that popped up.
A few times, things in the Fog of War created strange visual effects - like spinning white rectangles and particle effects - despite the fact that I haven't seen them yet. It made knowing where to go to find "cool stuff" easy, but it's clearly not intended.
The player's mouse icon doesn't update correctly in Tactical Battles. If I highlight an enemy to attack, order the attack and complete the attack, the icon changes to the "you can't attack" icon correctly. However, if I don't move the mouse, when the turn ends and it becomes my turn to attack again, the icon is still displayed as "you can't attack" until I move the icon off the unit and back again. This is true for any circumstance where you don't move the mouse after completing an action (as I often do).
Side note: the current "sword" mouse icon feels a tad out of place and a little imprecise due to the round nature of the end of the sword. I understand it's a pointer, and as such you can't bake intricate details into it, however against the near cell-shaded art style of the world it feels like it's place holder. Same goes for the combat icons - though the Wand is actually pretty solid and feels right. I know this is a nit pic, but it's the little things that add up.
In terms of the rest of the visual stuff, everything feels solid, and actually really polished.
Please add some variation to the tactical combat music, if at all possible. I've been listening to the same track all day, and it's the same one from War of Magic. Apart from that single issue: Change nothing!!!!
Why are we placing buildings when we construct them if their placement has no impact? I'd like to see something done with this, or have the auto-placement thing set On by default, because it's an extra click that doesn't add to the fun.
If buildings had an attribute, and placing buildings with the same attribute next to one another increased their function by some amount, then I'd be on board with this. I'm required to think, make a decision and ultimately design my city a little better.
I love that the monsters have killed me every time I've played without meeting a single A.I. faction. This feels more like the "clawing back the world" type of stuff that we read about in War of Magic. The world is dangerous, and that means exploring it is fun and exciting! And very, very pretty.
The quest stuff is a little superfluous, but in a very good way. It adds depth and decision making and grants the first 100 or so turns a really unique vibe that I haven't really seen before - even WoM didn't do it this well - and yet it also knows when to tone it down as the game progresses. I like that. Makes me feel like my Sovereign is getting stronger as the focus shifts from "Collect the shiny icons!" to "Crush the backbone of the enemy!".
I've been wiped out a few times because I accepted a quest, went to the location and was utterly destroyed by the creature. One was a troll that - according to the battle screen - my army was vastly superior to. The troll killed everything I had and levelled a nearby city. I'm not sure if there is some kind of "Difficulty" indicator on the quests? If there is, it's not clear enough. It's a little un-fun to be killed by a monster for a quest you picked up on a whim without any warning that this quest was hard "as balls".
Thoughts so far
Yeah, this is easily the best fantasy TBS I've played in a long time. It's clearly still in Beta, but the core of this is something special. The atmosphere the game generates between the visuals, the audio and the fantasy creatures, is utterly unique and interesting in today's market. I've had more fun being crushed by the A.I. monsters in this than I've had in all of War of Magic, Civilization V and Empire: Total War combined.
I can't wait until I don't suck at it, and can actually get some real, honest-to-god warfare happening!
That's it for now, I'll wait till I've played some real, honest, long games before I post a gameplay feedback thread as I simply haven't busted out the spreadsheet skills properly yet.
Love it so far!