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First run until 4 hours are over or death (thoughts, errors, suggestions)


Mango
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Hello everyone!
I just got the mail for the beta and started it up the second it finished installing, so I decided to track here all the things, errors, etc that come to mind "live".

Thoughts

  • I love the music, big thumbs up
  • the intro is small but still absolutely lovely
  • the animations of the villagers are cute
  • considering that the screen with the Elder was actually lovely (like, conversation with you, a small image of him), it would perhaps be nice if at some point there will be small random things like that. Maybe minor villager quests (like the kitchen suggesting a blood well, with an image of a cook) or interactions with any nomads or settlements this way (even if it's just a "Thanks for picking us up. Some of us are sick, can you help us? We will help work for the village in exchange!")
  • the noises of Onbu are a tiny bit odd, but I think one'd get used to them and possibly even attached
  • the feeding animation for onbu is cute
  • the fact that the only way to get new villagers is by collecting people that randomly run around seems....odd. It's fine if that is ONE way to get them, but I'd like to think that they could also just...make more, y'know. It could be a specific building or there could be a villager group called "child" that exists, has to be fed and kept healthy, but can't work until x time has passed to not make it too easy. But in 80 minutes, I got 3 people after half an hour and then another 2 shortly before the end for a total of 25. Feels very.....little...
  • the spore storms make it a bit hard to see. I was struggling to see if any of my berry plants were poisoned cause the clouds kept obscuring my screen
  • the tasks got more difficult very fast. It went from "click on this screen" or "build 8 tents" to "have 60 berries". Considering that you can't plant any (I think?), that's a pretty big task with only a small workforce xD"

Errors/Bugs

  • In the Elder Notebook under Tools, there is one period in the wrong line (the one after "drag to select multiple objects")
  • Unsure if this is a bug or not: when I had build the horn tower, Onbu approached a crossroad. I clicked on it and decided for North. Onbu walked north. The quest that was like "use a horn command" did not accept that one as "you did it" though. Not sure if giving Onbu a direction is a "horn command", but if its not, then it should perhaps be specified somewhere what IS one (is it stuff like the sleep or eat command then?)

Suggestions

  • The help window (that suggests to open the elder notebook) is fairly small. I actually didn't instantly see it and was like ".......what do I do, which buttons should I press??" before I noticed it. Perhaps make it a bit bigger OR center it so it's more obvious.
  • During the "stockpile 60 berries", I found that the consumption of food (even with a farm) was very high, making it very difficult to do that one (my game ended before solving it, I think I reached 26 berries by the time I got my game over despite using Beet Soup for feeding the villagers). Plus, no obvious explanations on how to keep the villagers from using berries (if that is even possible. Clicking on them in storage seems to be for disabling them being brought to the pantry, not for stopping people from taking any).
  • It's a tiny bit confusing that the horn building exist, but the actual orders are given on the Onbu and world map. Maybe add a button in that building's menu that automatically zooms out to either so one is in the right menus?
  • The food menu in the top bar was a tiny bit confusing. It said how much food was eaten (at least thats how I understood it), but I couldn't really tell how many were starving. The villager window properly says "currently homeless: x", but the food menu simply went like "processed food: 8/23", but the rest might eat berries, so it essentially has me do math to see if there are like 3 people left at the end that didn't get any.
  • I might be pampered from early Sierra games, but a general workforce window where one can disable types of buildings or something might be nice. When the poison spread, I had to click on every building manually and disable it. A window that goes "I want all decontaminators to be disabled" would be more comfortable. Like, it just has a list of all buildings and clicking on them either toggles all on or off. Could also help when needing more people to cut wood or similar, for example.
  • When the game ends, it would be cool if the game says how many days you survived or how many miles you managed to walk or any other indicator of the "progress" you had. Like, something that makes you go "hey, I made it further!" as you learn the game and - ideally - at one point don't fail anymore at all.

Game ended because: Onbu died of poison.

When I was at 25 workers and just unlocked the buildings for getting resources out of the wood stumps and boulders (aka where I could have a stable resource income for the moment), he walked through THREE separate spore storms. I had one decontaminator around my main village area. The storm first poisoned my small berry farm and a part of the woods in the west. I sent my workers to destroy the poisoned plants, but I only had 3 guys for that. For every plant I killed off, 2-3 more got poisoned, especially since the plants weren't that close to the worker house and they kept walking back and forth or just stopped moving when poisoned to wait on the doctor. Onbu walked through another spore storm at that point which poisoned the very east and my forester area in the north. At this point my doctor was still able to handle the poisoned citizens, but Onbu was on 100% poison and I didn't yet have an Onbu doctor build. At this point it was impossible to destroy the poison plants in any way fast enough, even as I closed down every single building so all but my doctor would set out to destroy the plants. Onbu walked into another storm, but also decided to sleep, so he was in the storm. Apparently his trust in me wasn't enough to make him walk again (probably cause his health was very low at this point and I didn't yet have an Onbu doctor). Onbu died when the info screen told me he had over 2300 poison plants.

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I wouldn't say it felt "unfair", but it felt very fast and overwhelming. From the first storm to the end of the game was maybe 5 minutes (I played a total of 84 minutes based on Steam, so it felt very quick). My thoughts on that sort of ending.

  • I was already able to tell Onbu commands, but the map had only shown one storm in either direction, so I had no way to know it would be my death going north. I had no time to check the sizes, but I know I walked through two small and one medium storm at least.
  • My population was already way too small to properly support my tiny village (I kept on disabling buildings like the Onbu food trebuchet unless I needed it), so culling the poison plants was just not possible at the rate they grew.
  • The poison spreads VERY fast. The fact that it initially only poisons existing plants (berry bushes and trees) made me feel at least "safe" in that I might concentrate on my main village area for now to safe the farm and berry bushes so my villagers don't also start starving and - like a forest fire - simply let it spread in the other areas and then clean them up when my own village is safe and after Onbu is healed. But that it could spawn new plants and spread out that way essentially caused my village to get surrounded and die.
  • The doctor worked very good. I had one poison death among the villagers despite everything. No complaints here.

I hesitate to make any suggestions on how to "fix" this cause it might be that it's intentional that things like this can happen. It felt like that amount of storms at this "early" rate was a bit much, but then again I did play for 80 minutes (though most of it paused to read the notes again before I accidentally waste wood on something). Perhaps a suggestion would be: when the player marks poison plants for harvest, any villager - employed or not, worker or not - gets the priority to do so. That way it can't spread as fast as the whole village descends upon them to cleanse the area without the player possibly having to manually reorganize the entire workforce.

Final thoughts after 1st run:

In general an enjoyable experience. The art and music definitely hit all the right spots and I feel like I'd grow quite attached to my walking island. The biome differences are a cool mechanic (such as water issues in the desert) and I can see it fun to build dedicated areas on the back, such as the front for caring for Onbu, the center for living space, tail maybe for farming, etc. I feel quite confused on how to effectively grow your village due to how you get villagers: by being lucky enough to pick some up along the road only. Most games I played either let me "produce" them or villagers will come as long as I can offer living space and my village is known to not be the worst place on earth (like, many are starving? Unemployed? Sick? People will avoid it like the pest). It could perhaps be an option to have nomads specifically approach Onbu since they heart it's a nice place to live (cause spores, y'know), only for that regular influx to stop if I am doing a bad job. The fact that in 80 minutes, I grew my citizenship by a whooping 5 is....frustrating, especially since I had everyone housed, happy, employed and fed which I am used to as being rewarded with MORE workers to house, employ and feed.
I am torn on the spores, they are part of the story and should absolutely stay cause they are a terrifying menace, but if one walk through the desert hits you with 3-5 storms, a small early village can't survive and I feel it would just frustrate at some point if that is just how the game will always go unless one is lucky enough to avoid the desert until big enough. I also feel like instead of only spores, perhaps other menaces could be introduced to keep the game difficult WITHOUT just spamming spores.
Again, to compare it with Sierra city builders, there are usually a variety of menaces: warring neighbor countries, natural disaster, gods descending on you with their specific flavor of problem, monsters/wild beasts. Each needs different ways to solve them (army and defenses, repair and finally prayer). You can actively try to limit the amount and rate in which they occur (you can keep good relations to lower risk of war, pray to gods often so they are happy and lower the rate of disaster as well). Any actual big problem is usually because you just...failed to do a good job looking after your city. The spores here are like a natural disaster, but unless the solution is having piles of wood and stone and then a small army of workers dedicated entirely to cover the whole back in decontamination huts, I am unsure how to prevent or fight big damage in early stages.
So adding more issues then just the spores and then having a lower chance for either individually might solve it.
Perhaps the desert has a chance that your crops fail. Or your villagers get sick more easily due to dehydration. The jungle ruins the mushrooms on the other hand, perhaps also cause issues for the mines (water in tunnels? yikes). And the mountain area might have earth quakes that hurt Onbu itself or which can have a small chance of destroying a building. Like, it would keep building the town still a challenge without instantly dying of everything turning turquoise.
One last thing that I am used to from my usual fare of city builders: progressive difficulty (usually through scenarios that go harder and harder, but I think it could also get connected to amount of villagers or buildings or such). When I am just starting my village, I don't have the resources I need en masse and it is about getting literally settled first without half the village starving to death next month, starting your early pipelines of production. Even without nine earthquakes, an early village is incredibly at risk of just faltering due to lack of people and items. The games I am used to usually don't decide to throw you into a war invasion after 70 minutes and just having finished making your first pottery, the worst it maybe does is give me a flood so my four fishers and two clay pits are now ruined. That can already be devastating to a tiny village without killing anyone, destroying half the town or such. Simply having to cough up the resources again AND possibly missing out on what those buildings would have produces until they are ready again. A mid-game when I actually have a proper basic production routine and a settlment that is stable would then throw actually painful things at me that I ideally had started to prepare for. And late-game, the game can literally try to spam it's terror and it's a race of whether I am prepared enough for it or if I will now go down in flames. Wandering Village felt like it has just one difficulty which is medium...which is theoretically fine, but when i am technically still in the middle ages and eating berries from bushes, I can't exactly do anything like a large-scale forest restoration project xD"

I am not saying to turn Wandering Village into Gods of Olympus or anything, but some things feel more rough (for the player, not quality-wise) than they have to be? Not sure if I word it right.

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