Mage Wars [Urban Fantasy]

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Mage Wars [Urban Fantasy]

#1 Post by dmasterxd » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:07 pm

mw.png
And so after years of working on this, I have finally finished Mage Wars. If you care about the length, it's about four hours in total with each route being around one hour on average.

Summary: Legend says that there once was a Mythical Dragon, said to be the ancestor of all Mages. A powerful yet benevolent creature who always assisted the humans with their daily hurdles. From a single sphere of mana, he shaped and formed the Promised Land. This world was a place full of miracles and the Dragon allowed the humans live there so long as they promised to repay him a favor one day. But living in this sanctuary allowed the humans to become greedy and lazy and as such never returned the favors to the Dragon. When he threatened to kick them out of the Promised Land, they revolted by impaling him with specially crafted poisonous swords and burying him deep in a magic forest.

Fifteen years ago, a Mage had the idea to hold an annual competition known as the Mage Wars. Every year sixteen powerful Mages were chosen to fight in a battle to the death in order to determine who gets to go to the Promised Land. One Mage named Yuuji Yuki dreams of ending this war, but will it be as easy as he thinks? Or will he find out that no matter how hard you try, some things you can never change.

Note: As this is my first visual novel, I am looking for constructive criticism. So please tell me both what I did well as well as what I need to work on. Also, I will be adding an updated version with voices later, but I lost most of my voice actors, so that's going to be a while.

Questions:

Who is your favorite character and why?

Who is your least favorite character and why?

What was your favorite part?

What was your least favorite part?

What was your favorite and least favorite route?

How can I as a Visual Novel writer improve?

Any other comments you'd like to add?

And so without further ado, I present to you Mage Wars: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0bmnvqnqb2df ... yq2Ha?dl=0

Credits:
('Backgrounds', 'catdodo'), ('Backgrounds', 'Stupid-CatS-Fantasia'), ('Backgrounds', '弓 舞'), ('Backgrounds', '舞風'), ('Backgrounds', '牛奶波音'), ('Backgrounds', '靈'), ('Backgrounds', '弓茶'), ('Backgrounds', 'saianevan'), ('Backgrounds', 'caro110'), ('Sprites', 'IIcharacter Alpha'), ('Sprites', 'Allinardo'), ('Sprites', 'Deji'), ('Sprites', 'dekohamu'), ('Sprites', 'Huyase Namae'), ('Sprites', 'kaoru'), ('Sprites', 'koizumi636'), ('Sprites', 'Nanimo'), ('Sprites', 'nantoka.main.jp'), ('Sprites', 'Periwinkle.mp'), ('Sprites', 'Rio'), ('Sprites', 'Tetiel'), ('Sprites', 'unyo@'), ('Sprites', 'YonYonYon'), ('Writing', 'Chris J. Cinders'), ('Programming', 'Chris J. Cinders'), ('Music', 'Awkward Meeting by: Kevin MacLeod'), ('Music', 'Hyperfun by: KevinMacLead'), ('Music', 'Prelude and Action by: Kevin MacLead'), ('Music', 'utahime by: aoitorinouta'), ('Music', 'utahime piano version by: aoitorinouta'), ('Music', 'kagami by: aoitorinouta'), ('Music', 'friend by: Music Material'), ('Music', 'fuyunoumi by: Music Material'), ('Music', 'Europa by: Music Material'), ('Music', 'Loss by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'Insane Gameplay by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'Escape by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'Epilogue by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'Decisions by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'Pressing On by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'RPG Battle Climax by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'Outdoor Healing by: Eric Maytas'), ('Music', 'Reveal the Magic by: The Kyoto Connection'), ('Beta Tester', 'Arkhane'), ('Created by:', 'Chris J. Cinders')

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Re: Mage Wars [Urban Fantasy]

#2 Post by LizardRobot » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:50 pm

All right, since you are requesting constructive criticism, I will do my best as I play through!

First impressions, menu screen seemed fine, though it was a little confusing to start the game for the first time and be presented with a dialogue to chosoe a route, but only one route is available. I would suggest for the first play, the player be shown one button they can click, and then greyed out buttons with ??? which would let the player know that there are future routes to unlock. I mean, I figured out that there must be future routes that unlock after the first one, but you could clue the player in more obviously and then it wouldn't seem to weird to be presented with a dialogue box that only has one option. :)

After that, starting to play through the route, I liked the ideas being presented. The whole dream thing was very interesting to me. Some of the writing was a little awkward. For example, sometimes this would happen:
Boy
Something the character said!
He said, menacing his blade.
I'm not sure that having "he said" after a line of dialogue works in visual novel format, because we already know the character said it. I would instead suggest taking out the "he said" part and just mention the character doing the action before or after the speech line.

You also have a lot of sentences that start with "and." There's that whole "don't start a sentence with a conjunction thing," but most people agree that rule isn't correct. Starting a sentence with "and" or "but" or "or" is perfectly acceptable. But, I think using it so often is a bit overkill, especially since using a conjunction gives it a certain emphasis. Using that emphasis so frequently diminishes the effect, in my opinion, and there are some instances where you can just eliminate the use of "and" at the beginning of the sentence completely. Not all of them -- don't sacrifice your own writing voice! -- but cutting down on it a bit could improve the flow for the reader.

It is a very long time in the beginning of the game for the player to be sitting in darkness. It made me start to wonder if maybe the graphics weren't loaded in the right place. Perhaps you could put in a background that's just a bit of light in darkness or something like that, just so the player knows all is well. Or maybe have a white silhouette sprite of the boy? That would still enable you to keep the mysteriousness you seem to be going for while reassuring the player the game loaded correctly.

There were some occasions where punctuation use didn't seem quite right. For example, "In this world, a vast world of people. There is a group of special people who are known as Mages." That seems like one sentence that's been broken into two. There was another stray period a little further on: "I still remember the sweet sensation. of the vanilla treat coating my small tongue." And I think "I close my eyes falling into a slumber" needs a comma in it. Just stuff like that where you need a good, solid proofreading pass. Alas, I don't have time to proofread, so I'll constrain my notes about punctuation stuff from this point on, just know that in general, there are some issues of that nature throughout.

It was surprising to finally see a character sprite! You might want to put some preview art in your post to show that the game has character sprites. Honestly, I half-expected the game was text only from the fact there weren't character sprites in your first post. More people would be inclined to play seeing that the game does have art in it.

When Reika first appears, her voiced line repeats forever! Something isn't right there. I had to save and load to stop the loop. But when I did that, it just started looping her next bit of voiced dialogue: "You mean you don't remember me?" Then I got to her next voiced line which ended the loop for the second bit of voice, but then that bit looped... Your voice actress is very pleasing to listen to, but I think anyone will go insane listening to the dialogue constantly loop!

I tried the save/load thing to stop the "Okay, you were spaced out there" from looping but even though I was well past that point, it kept looping.

When Reika appears the second time, after the mailbox, there's no new voiced dialogue... but maybe that's because the "spaced out" dialogue won't stop looping?

... Oh my gosh, did Reika just kill a dude? She and Yuuji seem to very much under-react to her having just plated a hole in a guy's chest...

Nami is very creepy when she shows up! I like that.

I cast a spell at Nicole, and it says it's an illusion spell, and that somehow it traps her? I wouldn't expect an illusion spell to do that... An illusion of black metal chains would just be an illusion, wouldn't it? But it secures her as if it were real. Does illusion mean something different in this world? Ohh, so it was just explained that once you know it's an illusion, the spell is useless. I still don't really understand that. So illusion magic is solid unless the person knows it's illusion magic, and then it's no longer solid? Or it's solid, but once you know it's illusion, you can just cast "dispel illusion" to counter any illusion spell? I guess that makes sense! Maybe offering a bit of explanation about the mechanics or illusion would be good because the player is an illusion mage.

The "spaced out" dialogue is still looping throughout this, by the way.

Seeing the standings,
two mages are dead already...
The standings must have names, otherwise Yuuji wouldn't know his number, but then
Nicole asks Yuuji to help take down mages #1 and #16. Yuuji is #1! Of course I rejected her offer, why would I help her kill me??
I guess that was wrong, 'cause that punted me to the main menu. So I died? Maybe a screen that informs the player they just died. It was really abrupt. Although why
Yuuji decided to go for a walk alone when he's being targeted for death by a bunch of powerful mages...
So, I just started over since I died, and then this time I tried
ignoring the letter, then Kai showed up and stabbed me to death.
In this game, if you choose wrong, you just die? So, there's only ever one correct choice from the options presented? I don't particularly love that, but it does mean the game should be pretty easy to beat if I just save at each choice option, and if I die, I reload. Let's do that.

Just confirmed this is the case by trying a few other alternate choices. It's a little weird to think that I'm supposed to
agree to help Nicole kill me,
but I'll go with it. I realize adding a "you've been killed" screen does enable the player to roll back and re-choose, but given that the option is save and reload anyway, I think it should be allowed. It would save the the step of constantly having to save and reload, and the net result would be the same. (I go back and choose the other option.)

I'm now being given the option to suppress pain with illusion magic... Yeah, I think I really need clarification on what illusion magic is in this universe because it seems as varied as regular magic.

It occurs to me suddenly that this is really like Hunger Games in its premise. But if Yuuji keeps trying to work with everyone he meets instead of anyone dying... how is this going to work?

After they decide
to go see the mythical dragon and Yuuji ends up with that vision of Nami, I think there needs to be some sort of explanation or effect, because I thought that was a literal scene transition and that Yuuji and the girls went to find the dragon in the forest, but it turned out if was just a dream or a vision or whatnot. How did Yuuji get home after going into a trance or whatever happened?
I am confused at this point.

Yuuji goes to the base and passes through a forest? What forest?
The one in the vision? But wasn't that just a dream or vision?
Now Reika is talking about illusion magic not being real, just being a mental trick, so I'm back to being confused about how it was able to restrain Nicole earlier.

It suddenly occurs to me, Nicole talks about mages needing to be secret
when Yuuji does magic for his friend, but what about Kai's corpse??
Wasn't that just left on the street?
Nami just appeared to play.
I understands the background are whatever you can get, but I'd try and find a different background for this scene, the bench seems really humongous compared to the size of Nami's sprite. I wouldn't mind having an option when Nami offers
to make Yuuji a doll,
even if it leads to a death ending, because as the player I would like the choice of saying yes just to see what would happen!

The whole "cute girl competing in mage wars comes to Nami's house" thing is beginning to get a bit cliche...

So Nami really did
kill six mages.
That means 13 mages are accounted for now. (The 4 girls, Yuuji, Vic, 6
guys killed by Nami,
and 1 unknown dead from the TV.) And here's Alex, bringing the number to 14! Then Yuuji says they have all the mages accounted for, which can't be right. Then they say they have all accounted for except one. Did I miss a death somewhere? Because that only brings the count to 15/16, doesn't it?
Oh wow, Izaki is a mage!
That was a surprise! Why aren't any of the girls helping during this fight!?? They're just standing around watching Yuuji get pummeled!
Oh, finally.
Geez. I think
Izaki's death
would have a bit more impact if Yuuji and Izaki had another scene before this point. Maybe Yuuji confides in Izaki about the mage wars and all his hopes and fears? That could help set up
Izaki's refusal to join Yuuji's cause
more as well.

Returning inside, Marianna's sprite is awkwardly covering Nicole's.

Grandpa's sprite looks so young... Again, I get you're using what you can, but looking for an older sprite would be good. Someone somewhere must have a free old person sprite you can use. Also, predicting it now,
grandpa is the sponsor.
I was right! At least it wasn't
the dad,
that would have been too cliche. I do wonder then, why
Kai was able to kill Yuuji in the timeline where I ignored the mail.
So I just finished first route playthrough and unlocked a new route,
Bitter Memories
! It took me an hour, including the time I was writing all this commentary. Overall, I think there's some interesting stuff here. I don't love the fact that the choices all feel illusory, like it's a kinetic novel masquerading as a regular VN, because choosing the wrong thing kills you. I'm guessing a few of the choices I made could impact the endgame, as in who you can end up with?

I'll start another play, but with less commentary this time. :) I am wondering though,
Nicole said someone important to her was sick, didn't she? But if she can't get to the promised land, then that person must have died, no?
Maybe I missed something in the ending that explained what happened to that person...

I'll post with further thoughts after I get through again! I did generally like the story and cast, even if I found it the story to be a bit too harem-oriented for my personal tastes.

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Re: Mage Wars [Urban Fantasy]

#3 Post by LizardRobot » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:17 pm

First I did Mage Wars storyline again, but tried a few different options to see if I could change who I ended up with. It didn't make any difference, so I guess the endings for the routes really are set, and it comes down to just unlocking

Had a new thought: when Vic and Alex fight,
why do they seem to end on good terms instead of one killing the other?
Bitter Memories route:
Yay, doing Bitter Memories doesn't lead to the looping voice!
Wow, the routes are all totally different stories, aren't they? I like that! Definitely makes it worth replaying. But it seems like the choice
to work with or against Kai is pointless, both lead to the same thing...
I guess I'm still a little more wishing the choices weren't so illusory.
Nicole says her cousin fought previously, and was put into an incurable coma, but isn't the competition to the death? I still think this should be touched upon in the first route because you end up with Nicole in that one.
There is so much death in this route! That is not a complaint at all, it's way more interesting to me as a result.
Having a picnic with Nicole, after I pick "Yes," suddenly there's a choice between "Stop" and "Go" and the text seems to be from a completely different scene. Something isn't right here.
After Reika's neck is broken, she can still scream? I'm not a medical professional, but on the surface that doesn't seem possible. And then it seems she's okay. Wait, was that neck snap just an illusion? I might be going too fast...
Dragon Soul route:
This route seems to be following a completely different set of rules for the mage wars than the previous routes. Interesting, but also a little strange. When Alex arrives, her sprite is covering Marianna's. Why didn't Alex try and translate the Italian? How did she know that the text would relate to the curse if she couldn't read it?

I picked to go to the library, of course the choice was an illusion and we didn't find anything so we ended up at the school, but then one we were in the school library some red text showed up at the bottom of the screen: "Image 'FFnicole' not found." Nicole showed up a few lines later, but the red text remained. Then Marianna's sprite was on top of Nicole's. The red text finally went away after Nicole died and the next scene started.
Yuuji's name is mispelled in Reika's dialogue: "Oh, hey Yujji."
Wait. Yuuji is the dragon reincarnated, but the dragon just appeared and starts laying waste to the forest? Wasn't the dragon nice and benevolent? Or was that a different playthrough? This is a different dragon, but it has the same name? Why can't the blood of the dragon Vic summoned be used? I think I missed a line of text somewhere.

This entire time I haven't even been participating in the Mage Wars!? Wait, I think something in this route is punting me to the storyline of the fourth route rather than ending this route. Because now the story is all about Nami instead of Marianna.

I picked for Nami to keep her powers, and it said Bitter Memories was unlocked, but that's already been unlocked. Wait, is there a way to unlock something besides Bitter Memories in the Mage Wars route??

Then I tried absorbing Nami's powers, and for once I got a choice that really led to a different story, which was great! And I really liked this one, too, it was so lovely and bittersweet. But it also gave me an unlocking of "Bitter Memories" route.
Having played through three routes now, the game is like a set of different stories using the same basic premise/concepts and characters, isn't it? That's interesting! Though I'm at a loss as to how I'm supposed to unlock the fourth route. I might see if I can figure out the right combo of choices. There must be some secret to it!

Given that Bitter Memories was the route unlocked by Mage Wars, it must be something in Mage Wars that unlocks the fourth route, right? Because otherwise why would every other route lead to unlocking the route that Mage Wars unlocked?

The credits off the title screen have a lot of box characters... and I see a bunch of voices listed! There must be more that I didn't hear because of the looping issue or something? Since I did like Reika's voice, I really want to be able to hear them all!

Questions:

Who is your favorite character and why?
Nami. I didn't like her design, but I liked her story a lot, even though I didn't get all of it because I started skipping when her story started (because the story was attached to Marianna's story and I was a little peeved at how I suddenly seemed to be sitting through even more story.) That was just the result of something sending me to the wrong place, wasn't it? Is Nami's story actually the fourth route??

Who is your least favorite character and why?
Nicole, she just bored me, and I didn't like
ending up with her in two different routes.
What was your favorite part?
I liked the fights with Vic! His animal magic was really cool.

What was your least favorite part?
Probably anything with Nicole. She was just ehhhh to me, so I didn't like every time I wound up in a scene with her. Her backstory with her cousin wasn't as interesting as Marianna's and Nami's stories. I'm super-character oriented, though, so I wouldn't say it was a problem with the scenes themselves so much as me just not liking a particular character, which is a personal taste thing.

What was your favorite and least favorite route?
Given that I'm not certain about the fourth route, I'm not sure if I can answer this! But I loved that Nami's story involved a choice that actually led to two very different outcomes instead of one choice just being an insta-death.

How can I as a Visual Novel writer improve?
A proofreader would help, and double-checking to make sure all the choices and features are working correctly! There are some things that just had to have been mistakes in the code somewhere. Playing through the game a bunch of times with all skipping enabled to try as many choice variations as possible could help you catch problems. I'd love to see more choices that actually impact what happens rather than choices where you either pick right and the game continues, or you pick wrong and the game ends.

Any other comments you'd like to add?
I think you did a really great job exploring the various characters across the different routes, and making the routes varied enough so that they always felt fresh and new! I didn't expect to like Nami's character so much, or Marianna's, but I did. I also liked Reika and the friend whose name I've already just forgotten again. (I'm just bad at names.) I wouldn't mind seeing another route that explores the friendship between the boys more! Unless that's the fourth route? I gotta figure out this fourth route thing! But I did enjoy the game. Also, the logo for the game is pretty cool, it'd be worth having that logo on the game's start screen I think.

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Re: Mage Wars [Urban Fantasy]

#4 Post by dmasterxd » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:42 am

First thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it. :)

Weird, I don't know why it did that thing with the third and fourth routes. I'll get on fixing it right away. But if you see this before I finish fixing it just know that you can officially unlock the final route just by choosing "Say Marianna's beautiful" and "Let her Know" in the third route which also allow you to see one of the endings in Dragon Soul.

Glad you liked the game though.

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