I'm a member of TutOHRial's intended audience, I played a few OHR games several years back but never actually looked into the game making side of things until I played TutOHRial. I thought I'd give you some feedback that I hope will be useful to you.
Thank you, this comment is exactly the sort of thing I've been waiting for since the initial release; sorry it took me so long to respond (I wish I could say I was legitimately too busy to read it, but I've actually read it a few times over the past week before buckling down and making myself respond).
My overall impressions are that TutOHRial achieves its basic purpose, it got me to explore the OHRRPG Construction Engine and made me familiar with the basics, to the point that I could do a rudimentary game, or at least have enough confidence in the basics that instead of giving up I search more and ask for help. I do actually feel like I could make my own game after running TutOHRial, which is awesome!
It sounds like I've achieved my main goal. One week of work has given at least one person the confidence and basic instruction to make a game (and given my number of downloads compared to active community size, probably more).
Also, I am seriously looking forward to seeing whatever games you make, and would actually like to see your specific altered version of the TutOHRial itself if you're not too embarrassed to show it (I have a folder in my OHRRPGCE directory dedicated to altered versions of the file, but so far none of my testers or other players have shown me any of their results).
1. The introduction, probably the most important bottleneck. To someone completely unfamiliar to the engine, the very start of the game can be confusing, so you might want to put a little more hand-holding in here. For example, you could add:
-The 1st time you talk to the fairy, instructions to play the game by opening "custom.exe," selecting "LOAD GAME," choosing "TutOHRial.rpg," and then selecting "Test Game."
This is a good suggestion. I already revised that section multiple times from its original form to try to be as clear as possible, but it sounds like it could definitely use more.
-Make a note that you will be going back and forth between the game window and the editor window, so you probably don't want to do full-screen.
I hadn't even thought of this, thank you for pointing it out! When I update I'll remove the Fullscreen menu option from the main menu and also explicitly state that the player will be using two windows.
-Make it obvious in your first lesson on NPC Placement Mode that to get into the Edit Maps menu, you need to do this in the other window, not the game window. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure this out.
Oh yes, I thought it'd always be intuitive that "editor" menus would be in the editor window rather than the game window. I'll be sure to clarify this as well.
-After placing NPCs, it might be good to put the textbox here about how to have the edits from the editor show up in-game, instead of where you have that right now. The vast majority of edits get applied right after the editor leaves the screen where the changes were made, e.g. by pressing esc, so you might just want to tell the players that off the bat.
Yes, thank you, I should make that as clear as possible early on.
-->I think there are only 1 or 2 places I encountered where the game had to actually be restarted, so you could just include commentary before those places. The one I remember is when you change the files so when "New Game" is selected it gives the different intro text about Natalie and her mission, it would be helpful to explicitly say that after you make the changes, you probably need to start a new game.
I think the "new game" section of editing the game and the optional changing of appearances on the wizard/warrior from their defaults are the only places that actually need full resets, and those are right next to each other. Since the hero appearance options are mentioned shortly after the new game is first applied, I think I'll mention it there, hint at the folder full of alternate hero sprites for the wizards and warriors, and slide in a lesson about making new palettes (as you suggest later).
"If you save your game and edit the hero's sprite and palette settings afterward, the version in the saved game will remain the same; you'll need to start a new game to use the hero's new appearance. If you change the palette or sprite itself, it will update as soon as you leave the graphics editor."
2. You did a great job putting breaks between lessons with the opportunity to repeat them, which was definitely needed because I had to replay a few lessons and tinker around before I felt I knew what I was doing. There were a few times, though, where the break was absent or it didn't work, and the game just kept going to the next lesson, which was frustrating. These occurred at these times:
Most of those were intentional "training wheels off" moments but after getting feedback from an actual newbie, I think I will change all of them with only one exception.
After NPC Placement lesson (1st lesson-- it'd be nice here to describe that choosing "OK" will allow you to repeat the lesson, and to choose "next lesson" to move on)
Yes, I should make this clearer that "OK" means "repeat the lesson, I'm still working on this part". That and adding a choice to the first lesson to be more consistent with the others also makes a lot of sense; since I'll be needing to add another textbox or several to that one, I'd might as well make the structure going forward as clear and consistent as possible.
After changing an item to be usable in battle, pressing OK still continues on to the next lesson instead of giving the option to repeat it
This is definitely a broken conditional. None of my testers reported it, presumably because none of them chose to repeat lessons intentionally during testing.
After getting the thief, the text box prompt is there but the options are very unclear, stating to turn tag 108 on or off instead of saying OK or go on to the next lesson.
This was actually intentional (Tag 108 was the tag used for this tutorial box, the choice text was non-standard to demonstrate it for anyone who wanted to look that deep into the file and see how I made the lessons themselves). You're not the first to point this out (if it had been a mistake, they'd have just been completely blank spaces). It also demonstrates ("TAG 108 OFF"/"TAG 108 ON") what I say within the box itself, that I like to have the default option be to leave the game in its current state so that flipping the off-by-default tag on takes conscious effort. (This usually means putting "no" on top and "yes" on bottom in simple yes/no choices, which I see as a courtesy to prevent people from accidentally triggering a one-time event when they're not ready yet.)
After the fairy tells you how to place and link doors, she disappears, so if you miss the instructions you are stuck because she can't tell you again.
After lesson on transitioning to the boat
Left island fairy disappears after talking to her, no chance to repeat the lesson
The final lesson
These were all intentional, but given your feedback I will be changing them to be consistent with the rest of the tutorial's structure.
3. A couple of the lessons were a little long, which made it annoying to repeat them if I missed something partway through. The one that stands out the most to me is the one on adding the rogue to the party.
Yeah, this one is pretty long...it teaches importing sprites, editing heroes, shops, tags, choice boxes, and conditionals...I really liked how that one was structured, long as it was. I tend to find myself jumping around between a dozen menus during a given editing session of a game which is reflected best in this lesson.
Only way I could see to break it up would be to stop after adding the rogue's battle menu options and then make the next lesson start with the thief shop. I'm a little on the fence about doing this.
4. It was very nice the few times you added encouragement to the players in their progress, you might want to sprinkle a little more in. It might seem cheesy, but newbies like me often will like some Bob Ross-style support.
Oh, I am so glad this came across the right way! I was often doubting myself that maybe the cheerful encouragement might come across as condescending rather than genuinely enthusiastic and supportive.
5. Not a major issue, but some of your personal observations or opinions (e.g. wherever you say "personally") distracted a bit from the flow of the game and felt didactic. Things like talking about the definition of chain mail and mittens or how your personal beliefs make you shy from using demons felt off-topic, and specifically the demon one seemed odd when you encouraged the players to use a devil as the final boss. This being said, I think it's great to inject personality into a game if it supports the flow, so do what you will with this one, maybe run it by some other people and see what they think, though at the end of the day it's your game & your call.
The historical lessons about real-world weapons and armor was a little bit of self-deprecating humor to spice things up a little (I was about four days into development, often spending 9 or 10 hours a day working on the game) combined with a genuine desire to freely share knowledge I have on the subject (admittedly, I've only known the word coif since 2004, the word hauberk since 2007, and the word mittons with an O and the word labrys since a few months ago this year - even as a nerd in my thirties I'm still always learning new things in the subjects that interest me) and the contrast between me saying I'm generally uncomfortable including supernatural elements I genuinely believe in in a fantasy game and then encouraging the player to use a devil as the final boss was intended as an example of how "just because I say it or prefer it doesn't mean you need to do it that way", showing that my opinion and my prescription don't need to match. I suppose it could come across as a bit contradictory.
6. There were multiple instances of you making references to things in the editor that weren't exactly written in-game the way they were in the editor, or where I wasn't sure which menu you were referring to or how to do it, I can give you more specifics if you're interested.
I thought I found and fixed all these during testing, but given how little sleep I was running on at times I'm not surprised a few slipped by (especially since my only two testers to give me any detailed feedback didn't mention any such instances, just legitimate typos and broken tags).
7. I think you already know that the cave maze and cave tower files are identical.
Yes...I've replaced the Cave Maze file that was somehow a copy of Cave Tower twice with different mazes I had to make from scratch. I'm not sure how it happened, but it's definitely fixed in my still-awaiting-updates copy on my computer.
8. After I finished the game I discovered your readme file and the Za Warudo of Plotscripting files. It might be good to reference them in the game, e.g. when you talk about not including plotscripting you could direct them to the Za Warudo of Plotscripting folder.
Yeah, I added those as an afterthought. I should revise my mentions of scripting to mention that folder for further lessons.
Alright, I hope that's not too overwhelimg! Like I said before, the game already achieves its purpose, so the rest of this is just making it shine!
It was a very large post, but also very informative of how good a job I've done in achieving my goal.
Now, after going through it and as I have looked at doing my own game, there are a few extra things that might be nice for you to add if you felt so inclined. Such things you may want to consider include:
-Creating/editing new color palettes. The game touches on this lightly, it would be nice to have more specific instruction and any information about color limitations.
I believe I'll add this to the section right after telling the player how to edit the existing warrior and wizard hero definitions.
-Creating/editing sprites in the editor.
I do briefly mention this when making the final boss, but yes, a demonstration of actually making/editing sprites might be worth going over. I make about half of my sprites in the editor and about half in MSPaint.
-A feature where you could press esc or something and automatically restart a lesson.
I can't think of any way to do this without writing it as a dedicated plotscript (and even then, I wouldn't know how to do that). I have had a suggestion to replace the entire textbox chain/tag and choicebox conditional setup replaced with a menu where players can select the lessons in any order and completed lessons turning on the tag simply changes their text on the menu from gray to bright green. I decided that would be too much work, and some of these lessons rely on being in a set linear order relative to each other...instant restart of current lesson could work, but more likely if a feature to rewind text is added (as discussed in another thread), I'll implement it. So you'll be able to scroll back and forth one textbox at a time within the lesson!
And finally, one more thing I noticed. After you play the game to a certain point, because you actually edit the game file itself, you can't truly start a "new game" without redownloading a fresh copy. It would be nice to directly spell this out in the game, or if possible to make some other workaround for this, e.g. keeping a read-only copy of the original game.
This is good advice. There used to be a menu option in General Game Data called "Rename Game" that would change your current editing state into a new copy of the .RPG with a different filename - this was removed a couple years back and I kinda miss it (the new method is to copy the file and edit the file's name directly like just about any other). Had this feature still been there I'd have advised doing that...I think I can squeeze this into that first lesson along with being explicit about the multiple windows thing.
OK that's all from me for now, good luck, and thanks for making a great TutOHRial!
And thank you for giving such excellent and thorough feedback! You've done a service to future newbies!
In the past, I apologized when I was in the right because I was afraid of peer pressure. For this, I apologize.
I must be cruel, but to be kind; that bad may begin, and worse be left behind.
-Prince Hamlet of Denmark