VenusEclipse wrote:While it seems we are no longer in control after a path is given, I hoped that the beginning choices leading to that path would give the mc a specific mindset in a way the player will feel like "it is right" or "I understand how my decisions affected her", and still feel engaged. I found it is successful and it isn't in some areas via feedback.
I don't know what other feedback you've gotten on which paths worked and which didn't, but I want to add my perspective on them more specifically now.
The one that stands out most in my mind as missing the mark is the Earth path. You gave a lot of different options on establishing the main character's state of mind as well as some on establishing the relationship between her and the guy, but then you forced all the different combinations into only two possible ends. In my mind, there should have been at least 3-4 different possible endings based on what I percieved to be three different variables at play.
If Mina stands firm on her ideals, but fails to make Caius understand, the light ending does not make sense, and neither does the dark ending. Also, there is no option for Mina to get so fed up with Caius's antics that she attempts to leave him. Because of this, the romance angle felt forced and Caius's state of mind seemed arbitrarily chosen for the sake of the final result.
When I mulled it over enough in my mind, I realized that in order for the Earth path to feel right, be flexible, and still maintain all the same story elements it presented, it would be large enough to make it's own VN in just that path. That is why I apologized for expecting more than I should there.
The Fire path, on the other hand, seemed very linear by design. The only choices you're given are to either make Mina be a complete doormat and let the guy work out his story on his own, or be slightly less of a doormat and get only a slightly different ending result. There's no point in which you can break out and outright resist the predetermined flow of the story. I would have preferred having the option even if it only led to the dark ending again.
The Water Path was just... so... long. However, when I look at it based on whether the main character's mindset was well enough established for the rest of what folllowed, I can't see anything wrong with it.
The Air path was also good, but
I really wanted Aysel to be more important in this. She betrays Mina, but then changes her mind. Is there no ending where she is willing to let her rival get taken away?
This path focuses more on how Mina influences the mindset of others, and less on her own personality. This means the story fits just fine, but leaves open the opportunity for more options later in the path. There was definately nothing lacking in the story as it was, but the missed opportunities made me wish for so much more.
The Life Path had lots of choices to keep the player actively involved, and it had more ending options, which was nice. However, I think you took it just one step too far with the "Hesitant End". That one actually left me saying "Why is that even a choice here"? It contradicted everything the main character was doing (without player control) up to that moment.
Seeing difference between this and the other paths, now I realize how hard it must have been to make them all as good as they were. There's some room for improvement, but I should have realized sooner that the story itself was more important than these details.
Aurelius scared me too. Once I did the path, though, it made a lot more sense. He's just.. umm... aggressivly friendly.
I wish I could draw so well.