Estranged, the story of a lone fisherman, stranded on a mysterious island during a violent storm. Explore rich environments and meet the curious inhabitants of the island as you find a way back to the mainland.

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Jan 20 2013, 2:21pm Anchor

Okay, I just played through alpha 5 and here are my thoughts. I will be really critical. :D I guess I will mostly point out mistakes/bugs, but that's just how I roll, it doesn't mean that I didn't like the game. (I did) I hope my feedback helps :)

  • First, I think there are some problems with the HUD. On high resolution, the health and the objectives are too small and the saving-text is maybe a bit too huge.
  • The cabin in the beginning looks awesome, but you could do something with the windows. I don't get the feeling that I'm looking out the windows, more like I'm looking at something in front of them, because that raindrop-texture looks a bit unrealistic. (It's an image rolling downwards if I'm not mistaken)
  • Too many invisible walls. In my opinion in a game there should be 0 of them. Maybe you could add a fishnet in the water or something.
  • I really liked the atmosphere at the beginning. (Obviously later as well, but everything is better at the first time :) ) I didn't know what to expect, I was even afraid to go inside the shipping office. Speaking of the office, you can ditch it if you jump into the water next to the door and swim around it. It's too bad, I really liked the little puzzle with the grenades. Though most players would go through the door I guess, so it's not a huge problem.
  • The lighting could be improved a bit, but I guess it will be, so I'm not really gonna mention specifics. Maybe that the lens flares were a bit annoying, I could even see the reflection of the shipping-office-sign on my screen.
  • If for some reason you included achievements, there should be one for parkouring up on the bricks that are sticking out of the side of the stairs :P
  • The voice acting could be improved, but that's always the hardest part.
  • Is there a reason why you can't close the door in the lonely guys house? It felt so uncomfortable; I am on a haunted island and I can't even close a door to feel a bit safer?
  • The little song he was singing was nice. It was a bit creepy that he was just constantly singing it until I got back. Maybe the whole guy could be a bit creepier, since he is living alone there for quite some time probably. But that's just a thought. (Also, his hitbox is a bit messed up when he is lighting the fire.)
  • Getting the water was a nice mechanic, but it didn't seem to serve a purpose. I don't even know what he needed it for. He can't drink it, that's for sure.
  • The zombies in the scrapyard-thingy were a bit overwhelming. I think I even saw some spawning (which is never good).
  • Exploring should be a bit more rewarding. I know this mod doesn't have a wide range of weapons so you don't have much options, but it still feels good to find some ammo in a corner. (For example when you get out on the rode, you can go a lot to the left and it's so disappointing that nothing is there.)
  • Quick question: why are the healthpacks glowing?
  • I appreciate every puzzle that's more than just pressing a button, so I liked the missing lever :)
  • The trainride is an interesting part. It may not be as fun as airboating, but it could have been a bit longer. It almost (just almost!) feels a bit pointless afterwards. Also: the surroundings feel a bit empty here, but I'm not sure how they could be improved.
  • It's a bit too obvious that the zombies are spawning. There should be places they climb out of or something. Also: they shouldn't spawn right behind the player.
  • I liked the exploding street lamp :) I was expecting something to come out after it, but nothing happened. That's great, you have to maintain the suspense. Maybe you could use more of these (flashing, or turning off lights)
  • Falling down the maintenance shaft was a bit unexpected. I think it should be explained with something, given that normally the player should be able to grab the ladder. Maybe a few steps should fall off.
  • When you crouch at the bottom of that pit, you can see through the map.
  • The water that flows away from there is taking you away really fast, but if you look at it, you don't see a current at all.
  • I feel a bit weird complimenting every single puzzle of yours, but I want to. So the place with the two sliding "doors" was great too. There :D
  • At first I wasn't sure what the water pump did, because I expected it to suck out the goo from the room and didn't notice that it just cleared the water. But I guess this is just me.
  • At the storm drains it might should be a bit more obvious who wants to kill you (where from). Or that someone wants to kill you at all (you are not sure about that until he shoots). Also, he shouldn't one-shot you. That's basically telling the player what to do by killing them (not optimal). And when you start running, the dude stops trying to kill you (for a long time). I think he should fire some shots there (but shouldn't hit you/shouldn't hit you too hard).
  • The whole running sequence should be longer. You have a great music for it, there is a huge, mainly unused room with some nice parkour-possibilities, and running away from something can be really exciting. :)
  • After a huge fall like that, I think the character should have taken some damage. (Like start from 60 if he wasn't below it already)
  • When you escape, the dude just lets you run away. Before, he tried to kill you (and probably even did) and now not a single shot is fired once you get out the window.
  • Players never look up. I know that rule. So naturally it took me some good time until I found the crowbar. At my second playthrough I noticed the Coke-can falling down when you enter, which would be a nice way to draw your attention there, but it falls down too early. Also, while the guy is talking, you probably are looking up, but you pay attention to him, not the crowbar. But maybe I'm just blind.
  • I was missing the "deathtraps" in the sewers. I know, there were a few zombies, but still..
  • When you get out of the sewers walking on the pipe, maybe the walls should have some player clips to make the movements smoother. I got stuck on the wall a couple of times.
  • Back to the lighting problem: the moon is not visible, just a big white light on the sky. With lens flare.
  • When you are sliding down on the mountain-side you can't jump. I don't know if this can be fixed, but this can kill you if you are not paying attention.
  • The suspension bridge is a bit glitchy. A: you can get stuck between the planks. B: you can encounter the same issue I described above (sliding downwards for a bit and not being able to make the jump)
  • The scientist guy you save talks really quiet.
  • The target practice minigame is great, but I think you should be able to skip it if you wanted to for some reason. Also, the end of it should be marked more noticeably - I accidentally restarted the game and couldn't even check my score.
  • When Kleiner says he will meet you at the top of the stairs and you go and check under it for loot, he starts off without you.
  • Is he humming the same song the first guy sang?
  • The end might should be a bit more obvious. Like "Thanks for playing alpha #5" or something.

Overall I really like the feel of the whole game, the music is awesome and there are some really nice areas (but the open areas sometimes feel a bit empty). I know this isn't a 10 hour game, but I think some parts could be a bit more stretched out. I think there is still hidden potential in most of them.
Nice work, I'm looking forward to the updates :)

Jan 27 2013, 3:00pm Anchor

Hi,

Thanks for writing this, it's really useful!

  • First, I think there are some problems with the HUD. On high resolution, the health and the objectives are too small and the saving-text is maybe a bit too huge.

Agreed. I'm working on scaling the HUD elements, and that saving text. The problem with the saving text is that Valve made it use the same font as the on screen titles (so like "ESTRANGED" right at the beginning of the game)... I'll look at separating them somehow.

  • The cabin in the beginning looks awesome, but you could do something with the windows. I don't get the feeling that I'm looking out the windows, more like I'm looking at something in front of them, because that raindrop-texture looks a bit unrealistic. (It's an image rolling downwards if I'm not mistaken)

I'll look at tweaking the raindrops. It's a refracting normal map that moves, so you're seeing the sky behind it refracted by the drops.

  • Too many invisible walls. In my opinion in a game there should be 0 of them. Maybe you could add a fishnet in the water or something.

Agreed. We're removing them from the start of the first map.

  • I really liked the atmosphere at the beginning. (Obviously later as well, but everything is better at the first time :) ) I didn't know what to expect, I was even afraid to go inside the shipping office. Speaking of the office, you can ditch it if you jump into the water next to the door and swim around it. It's too bad, I really liked the little puzzle with the grenades. Though most players would go through the door I guess, so it's not a huge problem.

That's good. The idea is that you can skip it if you like, however I haven't seen anyone skipping it yet. It's too irresistible ;)

  • The lighting could be improved a bit, but I guess it will be, so I'm not really gonna mention specifics. Maybe that the lens flares were a bit annoying, I could even see the reflection of the shipping-office-sign on my screen.

Specifics are good! We're working on tweaking stuff, but any nods in the right direction are much appreciated. The lens flare is tricky because it just works on bright things, but I guess that's more of an issue with lighting rather than the lens flare. There's the option to disable it on the settings page too.

  • If for some reason you included achievements, there should be one for parkouring up on the bricks that are sticking out of the side of the stairs :P

Glad you found that! Awesome.

  • The voice acting could be improved, but that's always the hardest part.

I'm going to re-record the very first scene, and restructure it. We're going to work on it anyway, a lot of people have said it is sub-par.

  • Is there a reason why you can't close the door in the lonely guys house? It felt so uncomfortable; I am on a haunted island and I can't even close a door to feel a bit safer?

It just made it easier to make the scene, no story reason. I'll fix that though, find a way around it.

  • The little song he was singing was nice. It was a bit creepy that he was just constantly singing it until I got back. Maybe the whole guy could be a bit creepier, since he is living alone there for quite some time probably. But that's just a thought. (Also, his hitbox is a bit messed up when he is lighting the fire.)

Perhaps it shouldn't loop! I might make it so it only plays once or something, that might be a bit saner... His hitbox is a bit of a difficult one, I don't think that NPC's collision models alter when they're playing sequences. That's an engine thing.

  • Getting the water was a nice mechanic, but it didn't seem to serve a purpose. I don't even know what he needed it for. He can't drink it, that's for sure.

Yeah I guess that could be better explained. He filters it and drinks it, the tap water isn't safe.

  • The zombies in the scrapyard-thingy were a bit overwhelming. I think I even saw some spawning (which is never good).

That's a symptom of having the limited Half-Life 2 models sadly. This will be overhauled when we have AniCator's new zombies though. They will be far scarier, and there won't be as many.

  • Exploring should be a bit more rewarding. I know this mod doesn't have a wide range of weapons so you don't have much options, but it still feels good to find some ammo in a corner. (For example when you get out on the rode, you can go a lot to the left and it's so disappointing that nothing is there.)

We'll work on this for Alpha 6 for sure.

  • Quick question: why are the healthpacks glowing?

Purely to help you notice them. Did you find it distracting?

  • Falling down the maintenance shaft was a bit unexpected. I think it should be explained with something, given that normally the player should be able to grab the ladder. Maybe a few steps should fall off.

We'll work on that.

  • When you crouch at the bottom of that pit, you can see through the map.

That's some bizarre VIS error, I've been meaning to look into it. Thanks for reporting it.

  • The water that flows away from there is taking you away really fast, but if you look at it, you don't see a current at all.

I'm not happy with the water there anyway, so I think that texture needs replacing. I'll make sure the new one reflects that better.

  • At the storm drains it might should be a bit more obvious who wants to kill you (where from). Or that someone wants to kill you at all (you are not sure about that until he shoots). Also, he shouldn't one-shot you. That's basically telling the player what to do by killing them (not optimal). And when you start running, the dude stops trying to kill you (for a long time). I think he should fire some shots there (but shouldn't hit you/shouldn't hit you too hard).

We're looking at ideas for revamping that level, hopefully it should feel less linear when we're done.

  • Players never look up. I know that rule. So naturally it took me some good time until I found the crowbar. At my second playthrough I noticed the Coke-can falling down when you enter, which would be a nice way to draw your attention there, but it falls down too early. Also, while the guy is talking, you probably are looking up, but you pay attention to him, not the crowbar. But maybe I'm just blind.

I know... I thought... maybe... I could change that... ahem. We're going to try tweaking that bit, we'll see what happens. It'll be a personal achievement if I can make the player look up in order to continue ;D

  • I was missing the "deathtraps" in the sewers. I know, there were a few zombies, but still..

We've got more planned, but he does exaggerate it a bit too much.

  • When you get out of the sewers walking on the pipe, maybe the walls should have some player clips to make the movements smoother. I got stuck on the wall a couple of times.

We'll do that.

The suspension bridge is a bit glitchy. A: you can get stuck between the planks. B: you can encounter the same issue I described above (sliding downwards for a bit and not being able to make the jump)

The bridge needs looking at, but the physics in Source suck. We might need to re-think the puzzle :(

  • The target practice minigame is great, but I think you should be able to skip it if you wanted to for some reason. Also, the end of it should be marked more noticeably - I accidentally restarted the game and couldn't even check my score.

I'll make the pause longer before the boards come down again, that might fix that for some people. I've seen others do that too, not meaning to.

  • When Kleiner says he will meet you at the top of the stairs and you go and check under it for loot, he starts off without you.

Ah yeah, I didn't even think of that. We need to fix that scene, it has a lot of continuity issues like that.

The end might should be a bit more obvious. Like "Thanks for playing alpha #5" or something.

I wish we'd tweaked this before releasing it, a lot of people had problems knowing when it finished. It doesn't help that the professor asks if you're okay *after* the title flashes on the screen. Next time: credits.

Thanks for playing. Constructive feedback is better than positive feedback, and this post is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to write it, and I apologise for taking so long to reply, I hadn't noticed it!

Jan 27 2013, 3:26pm Anchor

Woo! Go blex! *applauds*

Sep 21 2013, 12:48pm Anchor

Okay, Act I Beta, here we go again :P

I really enjoyed playing it, all the new stuff were great, all the changes made me say "oh yeah, that's a good idea", so this is definitely a successful release.
I played the game with a paper and pen on my table, here are all my notes:

· First, I was using headphones and the starting volume seemed pretty loud.
· The skybox seemed a bit lowres sometimes.
· I know I said the starting area needs some fishing nets or something, but now it seems a bit too much. And you can swim pretty far on the other side, so why do you even need player walls there?
· Sometimes the textures are a bit too clean and/or vibrant. The first place I noticed this was the yellow railing on the stairs up to the shed-guy. (The other is some pipes on the sewer level.)
· I threw the bucket over the fence and I didn't get a new one, so I had to reload.
· The first zombie dies before the shoot. Also, the guy warning you sound a bit underexcited there.
· You can leave without the gun. That could actually be a punishment for idiots, but the guy even comments on the gun being great, while you don't even have it, which is a bit funny :P
· The boat in the lake is having a dance party, when you get there - while obviously nothing has touched it in ages.
· I noticed that when the train stops and you look at the top of the doors, sometimes they clip through the window. Also, the junk under the stairs to the house have some pretty weird white bits on them.
· After pulling the lever a zombie somehow jumped through the railing of the stairs. It was a pretty unexpected move, so I got cornered and died. (Then died some more, but that's my problem :P ) I think there should/could be a quicksave after pulling the lever. Now it spawns you back on the train, which could be a punishment for dying, but it was rather annoying the third time.
· On the next level right in the beginning in the tunnel some textures/overlays end rather abruptly. Also, neighboring textures don't always meet "properly". People on the Portal mapping forums point this out so frequently that I can't not notice it anymore :P
· After the tunnel you have to cross the rails. Sometimes you get stuck in them, while I think you should be able to just "step over" them. So I think you should remove the hitbox for it.
· I wasn't entirely sure if the right mouse button was an iron sight feature or not. If it is, I think it should zoom in a bit more (some animations would help as well). I didn't really feel the need to use it - which you usually do with iron sights. I find using togglable iron sights really inconvenient so maybe there could be a checkbox for a press and hold version. Bug: if you are holding something and you drop it with right mouse, it will zoom in.
· What happened to the exploding street light? I missed it :(
· When you fall down the first shaft, you can still see through the level if you crouch.
· Knowing the "airlock" puzzle, I took one of the crates on the way and put that under the gate - and it broke. Is that intentional or not? If it is, why? As far as I recall, they don't look different from the smaller ones you have to use.
· I was sad to see the chasing sequence still not being longer, but I guess I can't have everything :P
· The guys head was a bit shiny when I woke up. Not too annoying, just noticed it.
· I know it's probably not easy to implement, but I really missed the zombies reacting to sound. I threw a bottle towards it and nothing. Oh well...
· On my first playthrough I didn't realize where I had to go "officially" in the room with a ton of barrels on The Outlet and I climbed the boxes on the left. It was annoyingly hard but I still managed it. You may want to do something to discourage the player from wanting to go that way, or just make it easier to climb it.
· Those red-white barriers don't have hitboxes. I died to that surprise :P (setpos 153 747 128)
· The rock textures on the side of the mountain seem a bit stretched at places. Also: I would slow the particles a bit in the cave.
· The prof still goes on ahead of you if you check under the stairs.
· I found it funny how he says "how can we solve this problem" at the electric water-puzzle and he only looks at the player :P
· The computers and emails were a nice touch. I guess the one with the stalker guy is a bit of an easter egg, but I feel like not many people will find it that far back. I only noticed it while translating.
· When you resurface towards the comm room, you can see a displacement edge outside one of the windows.
· When I read the "don't print this" part on one of the emails, I was kind of waiting for a huge stack of prints on one of the tables :D
· I really liked the gunfight-part. It wasn't too forgiving like most shooters, so you couldn't just tank it. I also loved the guy under the crane who just tried to slap you :D
· I always got a bit scared of the healthpack sound, because it has that sigh at the and I always thought it was a zombie :P

Edited by: lord_blex

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