First of all I want to thank you your efforts at trying to get the game in good shape, as a programmer myself I have some understanding of the situation you devs must have been through lately. You just need to see all this from another perspective, not a failure but an opportunity for great personal improvement. It’s not the time to give up all the hard work of years. When time passes on youll get off the current mindset and it will make sense. Just be strong and find happiness in overcoming the problems as they appear. Also don’t take it too personal, the press, the raging voices… they didn’t develop the game to understand it as you do, and furthermore such attitudes are not helpful for anyone.
After dumping the game due to being unplayable at release time, came back recently to play update 2 and finded a mixed experience which was way superior to the release.
I’m not making this post a bug report nor a very thorough analysis, just wanted to pinpoint which things are working for me in this game and which are turning me away from it.
Things i’ve liked:
The feeling of exploring a vast interconnected dungeon with many ramifications and decisions to make like wether take one or another corridor to reach a point. The staircase you added was the best feature you could come up with in relation to this.
The looting of powerfull or just weird items with very specific ways of impacting my way of playing.
The possibility of different playstyles, the enviroment killing approach, the stealth approach, the plain combat or the use of magic.
The rune system of magic, discovering new spells as you explore the enviroment via rune combinations.
The many secret areas to come later when you have the specific key.
The finding of lore pieces as graffitis or memoras.
The feeling of loneliness and sometimes even despair of not knowing what to do to solve situations at firsthand, and having to learn through trial and error, dying and advacing the doom counter. (This is why the tutorial makes the game look worse than it really is, I didn’t need that voiceover compelling me to do things, it feels sooo better when I figure something out myself)
The doom counter mechanic itself, as long as you have a way to stop it advance so you can engage in exploration.
The enviroment graphics are very nice, specially if you take the lighting in account.
What has hindered my gameplay:
-The UI is a bit awkward: if you have full inventory and try to pick up an arrow you have to drop an item so that arrow will stack in one of your piles. Drag and drop equipment to equip it over another already equipped one doesnt seem to work and have to double click instead.
Picking an object makes the light from my crystal to go away and then moving it in the dark is annoying. Also when you open the Compendium it would be nice that it opened on the page of your last discovery, because thast probly why you are opening it anways. I could write many of these small things which put together makes you “fight” against the game while playing it.
-The performance has very noticeable spikes, my frames vary from 50-130 depending on the area.
-There are glitches in the lighting, with light sources traspassing solid things as walls.
-There are physics glitches, with dead bodies making very strange movements like they are bumping against the ground or enviroment.
-There are sound glitches, of sounds not matching animations. I can hear skeletons “bumping” noise against things when they are already dead and totally still.
-The characters animations look a bit robotic and unnatural, to me character graphics are much less polished that the environment which truly looks great.
-The AI is improved, but you can still see many critters doing strange things like letting you kill them without even move, flying, bumping againts objects and killing themselves without the player doing anything for that to happen.
-The loot could be vastly improved to make it look more thrilling and relevant. Think about removing the duplicated runes in chests, so when you find one is really a yaaaay!
-The walking got a lot better, with just some ocasional stuttering. However climbing chains still looks unnatural, it took me time to realise that pressing W was making me to climb up, seemed that there was no movement, though I heared a chains-moving sound effect.
-About features I miss: The lack of any interactive dialogues makes for a more lonely and despairing adventure, but it would be nice that you can interact with some spare characters in your journey, like friendly inhabitants of the dungeon to learn things, to trade. Or even in the hub, like finding a piece of lore would open a dialogue or a side quest to further inmerse yourself in the game, making the world look alive. Being too static takes part of the inmersion away.
It could also benefit from more variety of foes, not relying so much on skeletons so you have to use different strategies and approaches.
Conclusion: I see what you tried to do here, maybe you lacked time or funds to get alll the pieces together, but there’s potential in this game. I would even say it could be a great experience if all the glitches and bugs go away. Strange design decisions which make you hate the game more than further loving it should also corrected. Think this is not your game, you didnt code nor play it, you dont know how things are going to unravel. What would keep you playing the game? What would make the player frustrated? What would be felt as doing repetitive stuff over and over again?