Definitely not rambling, thanks for all the insight. I would say a portion of my suggestion definitely comes from my lack of experience with the game, so I guess I need to play some more!
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Yeah, this is something I struggle with. To us, the checkpoint seed sort of *is* the character of the TumbleSeed. So it's sort of that in his default state TS plants checkpoints. Haven't talked about this much with other people on the dev team, but it's something I've been mulling over personally.
Yeah, I can totally understand that commitment to the character. Its actually a very interesting conversation to be having and I'd like to hear what other people have to say as well. I think a big argument for changing the default is to appease the nature of roguelikes. By making the default seed the checkpoint seed you're establishing a meta where the beginning of every run begins exactly the same: the player has to switch to a different seed than the one equipped. That sort of goes against the idea of varied gameplay, in a way.
Related: Have you considered starting the player with more crystals so that the approach to the beginning of the first biome, as far as plots go, has more potential for variance?
Here are some notes from my first two sessions. I haven't made it super far in the game yet, as I'm still getting used to the control scheme, so if any of my suggestions/criticisms/bugs are misguided, let me know. Everything is marked with game versions because I played yesterday with 0.45 and today with 0.5. I'll be up front and say that I didn't read though all of the bugs in the thread, so if there are repeats, sorry about that!
- This game is a lot of fun so far. Of course there's that initial "arg, this is pretty difficult and has a non-traditional control scheme", but once you get over that it's very rewarding to feel yourself get better at controlling your movement, understanding how to navigate the stages, and interact with different seeds.
- Music is top notch.
- "Crystal Room" sounds like a room where you'd spend crystals, the fact that the crystal rooms are free seeds and the "Shop" is the room where you spend crystals seems a little confusing, I might just be missing something though.
- How in the world does a seed roll over water?
- (0.45) The color of the speech bubble for the folks in the post-forest camp (maybe all camps?) blends in with the color of the background (both white), could use some contrast. In a similar vein, the "I can talk to this guy" indicator tends to blend in at the bank as well.
- (0.45) (1920x1080) Icons in the menu seem like they need to be higher resolution or vectorized.
- (0.45) Quitting the game from the main menu: For some reason my instincts always tell me to look for a "quit" option in the menu available from the bottom screen (the one that has the "resolution" and "fullscreen" options at the moment. I realize you can just hit circle/escape in the initial screen to exit, but having it also available in the options menu might make sense as well, just a personal preference/QoL addition really.
- (0.45) I picked up a seed from a crate that showed up after hitting three purple buttons. When I picked up this seed (homing seed, doubt that matters), it was automatically equipped but I had to open up the seed menu to find out what kind of seed it was. It would be nice if there were an alert on the screen that said "Homing Seed" or something like that so I knew what I picked up without having to go check.
- (0.5) After hitting A or X to access the seed selection menu, it would be nice to be able to naturally exit it without selecting a new seed (B or Circle).
- (0.5) I found myself wanting the "back to checkpoint" animation to be faster, I feel like it takes me out of the flow of the game by creating downtime.
- (0.5) Similarly, the time it takes to begin a new run after losing feels a little long also.
- (0.5) I don't know quite how I feel about newly obtained seeds being equipped automatically. I feel like generally if you've got a strategy going, a new seed isn't usually going to be used immediately most of the time.
- (0.5) The default seed seems like it should be the crystal seed rather than the checkpoint seed, seeing as it's the only one (that I've seen) that doesn't cost any crystals to plant and using the checkpoint on the first few plots is pretty much worthless, even for a super beginner player. In fact, any of the seeds other than the checkpoint seed seem to be more useful at the very beginning.
- (0.45) Maybe fade/cut the audio when you open the menu during the game; it gives more of a feeling of things being paused. Again this is definitely personal preference but I think audio continuity (or in this case, discontinuity) helps with the flow of the game.
- (0.5) I had a bug in the second biome where as soon as one of those horizontal full screen lasers was off the screen, to the bottom, the audio for the laser charging kept repeating itself until I went back down.
- (0.45) Slow seed: The animation after planting, when the slow effect is activated, is too abrasive in my opinion. It completely obscures your view of the entire screen for the duration of the animation. Perhaps this is for balancing, but I find it annoying more than anything.
- (0.45) (screenshot 1, screenshot 2) Crystal seed: I used the crystal seed on a plot near the side of the side of the map; I watch it spawn 3 total crystals (I picked up one before I took the screenshot), but one of them is inaccessible beyond the right side of the map, this seems unfair if it's intentional.
- (0.5) Teleseed: The terminology "telefragging" has the potential to confuse and/or go over the head of someone who doesn't know what it is. More precise language might be helpful.
Aura's feel like something that should absolutely be in the game, it incentivizes not getting hit and adds a ton of variance to gameplay.
My main experience so far has been with the Thorn Aura (Crystals -> Thorns, in case that's not what it's called). That was incredible amounts of fun and I picked it up when I had 1 crystal and 1 heart, and it carried me all the way through the second biome in a terrifying glass cannon fashion. If I had more health when I picked it up I would've felt like a god. It's definitely overpowered at the moment, in my opinion. Maybe make it truly a glass cannon item where you cannot gain HP while you have it?
I also came across the aura that's supposed to give you two free seeds, I believe, but I was confused about how to use it, if I needed to get hit? I ended up dying immediately so I didn't get to find out.