This month's development update for The Age of Decadence is already online over at the Iron Tower forums, and this time Oscar reveals that the game has officially moved into beta testing. Feedback from the early beta testers is starting to come in, too:
Brian: "Just finished a first playthrough. My initial impressions are:
The setting and story were very interesting and I wanted to hear more about the world and politics of the local region, but finding my way around town and locating critical NPCs and new quest givers was exceptionally difficult due to the way buildings are marked and critical NPCs are lit. There's a few things I would recommend to help draw new players to key areas:
-The town has a lot of very similar buildings with similar colors chemes. For key areas or buildings with critical NPCS or quests, you want to make them stand out. A lighter color roof, flags, colorful plants, special lighting or sounds, signs, wall decals would help the player better distinguish where they were (landmarks) and whether the building had anything of interest inside.
-Doors that don't open should look much different from doors that open to know if the building could be entered. I had to mouse over doors to figure out if I could enter the building. Windows should also be closed. Consider making generic buildings (that can't be entered) a different color.
-Light NPCs differently than the world lighting so they don't blend in with the environment. You could also slightly tweak the saturation of their models to make them pop a bit more. I could not spot Feng immediately after entering his building (which took me a long time to find).
-Try to make non-speaking generic guard/town NPCs use a similar model. Assign special colors/models to NPCs (shopkeepers, guards, quest givers) with dialogue - it creates a visual language that makes it easy to spot who has dialogue. For example, if a guard has dialogue, he has his helmet off, if on, he never has dialogue. This can be subverted in cases where the conversation auto-starts (the imperial guard conversation, for example).
-Have no idea who the factions are, critical NPCs are, or where the quests are. Having minor NPCs or shopkeeps/bartenders gossip about the area would help a lot.
-Dialogue is very reactive, which is nice, but I often have only one thing to say at any time and it feels very linear. Even putting in two different ways to say the same thing would help.
- I'm running around looking for the next quest or part of the quest chain and frequently not finding anything. Is there anything I can do with the map quest past going to see Antidas? It's difficult to find NPCs and figure out if I can do anything with them at the moment. I have found several with portraits but have only been able to get as far as an audience with Antidas. More emphasis should be placed on specific areas and people the player needs to see - even with a journal, players need important info repeated, especially in a fantasy world where they are coming into the world without any prior knowledge of events, places, people. The story parts are very intriguing (really!) so I want to get to the next points of interest as quickly as possible."