Feedback from first alpha playthrough
So I just played the alpha for the first time for a few hours and wanted to leave some initial feedback.
First of all, I like it. I think the basic ideas of community, resource scarcity, economy and ecology are starting to show and it really differentiates the game from that other game, you know, the one with infinite resources, all the silly zombies and undead pigs, and fake yet red conductive material.
Having said that, here's my constructive criticism :) ...
- There's some lag. It's especially noticeable when logging in. Things like trees and constructions appear to float in the air until the ground loads. Also, when mining, there's a full second sometimes between when an object is mined and when the display updates, which makes it difficult to know when you've finished mining something.
- It can be really hard to find places you've been to, including your home. You have to remember the coordinates, which is no easy feat. There should be an interactive map you can use to find places. Maybe it should be possible to mark places on the map that have special meaning, such as your home, stores and workshops (etc.) that you use often, areas you'd like to continue mining or farming or whatever. It's really hard to remember where everything is, especially on a spherical world.
- When you get notified that a work order is ready, it should say where. In this game, most of the players built their own build huts, which is probably not healthy for the environment, but that means that you can actually build stuff in multiple huts and you probably won't remember where each hut is or what you built there. Maybe those notices should be clickable so you can see them on the map or favorite them or something, which ties in to the navigation issues.
- Is there a way to see the chat history? I couldn't find a way.
- There should be some way to get a list of keyboard/mouse commands during gameplay. Maybe the "?" key or clickable icon?
- It took forever to figure out how to build a house. The instructions aren't that clear. After you've laid the two opposing corners, the instructions are confusing and it's not clear what exactly you need to finish building the house. For example, "height" does not include the roof, which is not obvious at all. It's not clear whether "enclosed" includes an opening for a door and windows. Etc.
- A bunch of my attempts to build a house didn't work at first due to weird bugs. For example, after I laid the two corners, the instructions didn't change, so I didn't know I had to place the marker for the chest. In fact, if I tried to right-click anywhere inside the construction site, it canceled the construction site claiming that it doesn't belong to me, which is clearly wrong. I tried a few different locations and finally succeeded. I had a similar bug when trying to build a store later on, so I guess this is related to construction in general. I think this might be related to lag somehow because I was using a server that across the Atlantic from me - probably about 8000 km away.
- It's not clear, when you start building a house, if you should lay your logs (or whatever material) inside or outside the frame.
- It should be possible to place the chest after you finish building the frame. Not everybody designs the whole thing ahead of time and you might want to move thing around a bit.
- Is it possible to enlarge the house later? Enlarge the chest? Replace the materials used to build the house without losing the house? Haven't had time to experiment with all the options, but that feels kind of fragile.
- Using the "tab" key to switch modes is sometimes rather inconvenient. You often have to switch two or three times to do really simple things, like enter a hut, drag something to your inventory and get out. It's confusing and you're never really sure which mode you're in, especially when there's lag.
- I think an in-game tutorial would be nice. This should help figure out the basics, like what certain keystrokes do, how to switch modes (lock the mouse to move, unlock it to do stuff, etc.). Maybe help build the first house.
- If logs fall into the water, they can't be chopped up in the water. Never mind that you can stay underwater indefinitely, but there's now way to pull the logs out or chop the up while under.
- Voting for laws should be in the game and not in a browser. It's actually really annoying that it opens a browser.
- Regarding the map, I think it should be civ style in the sense that you shouldn't be able to see areas you haven't explored yet. (Unless you acquire maps somehow from people that have done more exploring?)
- It's not clear at first that you only train on the single skill that has the yellow selection rectangle. Maybe I still don't get it, but I would have expected training to improve for whichever skills you use. For example, if you go on a mining stint, your mining skills should improve. If you place work orders at somebody else hut, your trade should improve, and so forth. Let your actions dictate your advancement rather than an arbitrary click. My way, you can actually advance in multiple areas at the same time, but more gradually, in relation to how you use them.
That's it for now. This game is a major time sink, in the same way Civilization used to be when it was fun (paraphrasing an ancient quote from the 90s: "it's the game you play if you're willing to forgo some basic necessities like eating and sleeping"), which is a terrible terrible compliment :) .