Hey, Mind Grown team! I had a chance to sit down for a few hours and try the game out, and here are some of my initial thoughts on the gameplay.
First off, kudos to all the hard work you have put into the game so far! It really shows, and the game looks and feels great. Here's a list of some observations and suggestions:
- One of the first things that really impressed me was the sound design. The music, ship and weapon effects, and atmosphere all drew me in and did a wonderful job supporting the visuals and the gameplay. The only suggestion I have here is to look at the scrap collection sound, which is sharp and jarring compared to the other audio. I think a pleasant plink or beeping noise would go well here.
- The scale of the game is also really impressive. Star systems are huge with thousands of objects, and I never experienced any slowdown or graphical issues. There's a good sense of exploration. On the other hand I think the initial star systems could be smaller to provide the player with clearer direction before they get to the bigger stuff. It was very easy for me to run out of fuel before I reached the nearest neutral planet, so some steps should be taken to ensure that new players don't get stranded.
- Early game combat feels pretty tedious. Missiles are effective but the primary plasma weapon could use a buff. I think a faster-firing, low-damage variant would work better since it would be more forgiving. The current weapon fires too slowly to hit consistently at range, which can cause enemy shields to replenish several times during a fight. I'd suggest buffing the starting weapons or reducing the health of the first enemies the player encounters.
- On a related note, I found it pretty difficult to judge distances when enemies are far away. It's hard to tell if they're approaching or flying away. Something that might be helpful is a small distance meter adjacent to the enemies.
- Just a quality of life improvement, I think you should auto-target any enemy you hit. Oftentimes I found myself firing missiles at enemies I forgot to lock onto first. This would save the player a step but still give them manual control to change the target.
- The tab menu and orbit menu don't pause the game. Sometimes I found myself under attack while trying to use the menus.
- When fighting around planets, coming too close opens the orbit menu. This would happen while I was trying to chase down an enemy, and then leave me vulnerable because the game didn't pause. I'd suggest preventing players from using the orbit menu if there are enemies in the area.
- The tutorial screen partially covers the orbit menu. Perhaps allow players to close the tutorial screen while in the menus or provide a key for them to dismiss tutorial messages.
- The compare screens were somewhat hard to read when viewing weapon and ship upgrades. Maybe make the background solid rather than transparent.
- There doesn't appear to be a "Save & Continue" option.
- Respawning at a planet sometimes resulted in the orbit menu camera angle during regular gameplay, where the ship is positioned on the right of the screen. Going into the orbit menu and exiting returned the camera to normal.