Some design criticisms of A Wizard's Lizard

  • Hey guys. I love the game and have already played about 20 hours. That said, I’ve got some design criticisms and I’d like to share them with you all.

    I just want to emphasize that I really do like the game, but I think some elements could be tweaked and improved, which I discuss in detail in the post.

    Please take a look and feel free to chat about it here. I’d love to discuss these things with people. I apologize if you also love the game and feel my criticisms are too harsh, but they’re definitely intended to be constructive.

    Here’s the permalink:

    Here’s a tiny excerpt:

    Roguelikes thrive on randomness. This isn’t equivalent to saying they depend on luck to be successful. Quite to the contrary, a well designed roguelike with a lot of procedural generation and randomness (or pseudo-randomness if you want to be computationally pedantic) requires a massive heaping of skill to beat. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, the Binding of Isaac, among others, all require a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics, as well as a honed strategic mindset. Anything less will quickly result in death.

    A Wizard’s Lizard does have some randomization. But all the elements that are randomized (chests, floors, enemies), are done in a way that is highly predictable and normally only varies in small or equally predictable ways. Chests appear throughout the game’s three primary dungeon areas, and will either drop gold or some randomly selected item from a pool. The pool of chest items is also quite predictable. Normally chests will drop one of a few basic utility items (like the map), or an item from of the three or four armour sets, or a low-tier weapon. Since the game only has about 60 items, you seldom feel surprised by what you get.

  • LDG

    @andrewhl said:

    Really appreciate the post and all the great feedback. We’re going to do a small bug fix update pretty soon, but after that we’re doing a large-ish update that focuses on items, which I believe will address many of these issues you bring up. At least, I hope so :)

  • @richtaur Glad to hear it! I wanted to add one small note that I neglected to mention in my post. I think you should decrease the cooldown on dashing by 1-1.5 seconds. I totally understand the reason for the cooldown, but as it stands it’s JUST slow enough to cross over from ‘balanced’ to ‘frustrating’. A slightly faster dash wouldn’t add that much utility in combat (especially since most rooms are so crowded that dashing is normally quite risky), but it would make traversing already explored rooms much less tedious. That’s primarily what I use it for anyway. Furthermore, I think giving players the OPTION of dashing more frequently opens up more possibilities for creative gameplay. And that’s always a bonus.

    Can’t wait to see the changes you guys make!

  • Good writeup! Pretty much sums up my feelings after about 9 hours of play. I’d like to add my thoughts:

    Roguelikes that I’ve enjoyed (notably FTL/BoI) sustained a constant feeling of “anything can happen next.” The next item/upgrade I find could always change the run in interesting ways, either with an upgrade or an interesting side-grade. Sure, not every item is a big deal, but that’s ok-- what’s important is that each next item is an exciting surprise, and that keeps propelling me forward. In this game, though, it’s hard to get excited about each next room in turn, because I pretty much know what’s gonna be there, and most of what’s there I don’t care about. Hopefully your item update improves this issue, not just with better items (although those are very necessary) but also with more interesting ones, starting from the beginning of the game. I feel like on a run where I happen to find good damage upgrades (not super rarely, but not every time either), I should be one-shot-ing zombies by the end of the cemetery. Or maybe I pick up a hovering item that allows me to float over spikes/traps, and then I complement that with (more noticeable) speed items. Or even just small specialized items-- say, one that permanently slows down the automated spike moving things, or maybe even an activatable item that “hacks” all of those and brings them to my side for a single room! The point is, every run should feel more different, and each room should have the potential to add to that difference.

    The review above noted the issues with magic items/upgrades, but I’m sure you’re working on that. I’d like to add, also, that even the attack upgrades I’ve encountered (Sewer and Cemetery) aren’t very noteworthy. A +1 on damage doesn’t really change the number of hits it takes to kill an enemy, so it’s honestly hard to care about even those. I’d recommend changing the most basic damage-ups to +2 or even +3-- with two +3 of those equipped, players would notice a substantial difference, as they should. On that note, I think the restrictions of carrying items are a bit too tight. I don’t see why I can’t carry more than one ring, for instance. If most of those limits were lifted, items would already feel more important.

    Anyway, I am still enjoying the game, so good work on it! But I figured it couldn’t hurt to give a bit of feedback.

  • LDG

    Thanks for the feedback. Definitely hearing you on the “surprise” element and items. We’re going to reset the cooldown of some things between rooms (dashing included) and – oh man, lots of fun new items!

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