Yeah, I agree they could improve the level design. Blocked off stuff, added a little side mystery and called it good. This is a small indie team though so I'm not expecting too much out of them but I'm sure they will be happy with your feedback.
Yes, it's important to remember the scope of possibilities, given the resources and experience of the team. Honestly, being not that familiar with itch.io but having played a small varieties of games here, I expect smaller projects, smaller teams, lower budgets -- but even there, there's room to grow, and to think more about what can be done within those limitations. (I forget which thing I was watching or reading recently that discussed the benefit of working within limitations... possibly an episode of Start With This, by the creators of Welcome to Night Vale?)
I hope I don't come across as too critical in the feedback; I figure, since the creators donated their efforts to a good cause, then if I like it enough to both play more than a couple minutes of it and also wish it were better (more polished), I ought to provide at least a bit of a feedback about how that might be accomplished. Whether that feedback helps with a revamp of this game, or in a future project, it might still be useful. (As for the length: I tend to get wordy when I discuss things that interest me, and since I sometimes have trouble getting my point across, I tend to also over-explain things. So I hope it wasn't too much.) I know that with my writing, I appreciate detailed feedback about how to improve; that's not true of every creator (which is fine), but it's the position I start from, at least.
Hey we just wanted to say thanks for all the great feedback. Shipwreck was our first game and a big learning experience in just getting something we felt happy releasing. We first released it over 6 years ago and it's still something we look back on fondly but we aren't planning to make any design adjustments to it any more. That said we super appreciate all the time you spent on the feedback and we'll keep all of it in mind on our future games!
Thanks for being clear about expectations! (And about whether or not you might consider a re-release.) For a first game, it does seem quite large and detailed and interesting.
"A big learning experience in just getting something we felt happy releasing" is one of those moments I hope to have in my future, as a hobbyist game designer who's been trying to get some teenage+ nephews interested in actually completing something that we could submit to the public. (Got any advice or "things I wish we'd known when we were just starting out"?)
The main advice for anyone starting out is to take your idea, cut it in half, then cut it in half again (and maybe once more for good measure). Making games can take a long time and it's very very easy to underestimate that when starting out. Also don't be afraid to use tools and assets out there. You might have the same sprites or 3D model as someone else but it's how you use it, the gameplay, and your story that will make it stand out.
Thanks! That lines up with Extra Credits' video about "Minimum Viable Product," and I'll try to bear that in mind while I get started.
Also, just noticed that you're from the Pacific Northwest -- sweet! Always nice to connect with creators from the same area. Maybe sometime I'll see some local plant life in your games (madronas?). Stardew Valley's creator is also from around here (I found out yesterday), and he added salmonberries to SDV ^_^
Future games would be a great thing. I'd love a much bigger sequel to Shipwreck. :)