I Have been playing and showing Alchademy the last couple of days and I think this is the most polished game we have on launch, Also it has the core elements which made Kleptocats such a fun game with a little more game to it.
I do have some feedback and general problems I feel the game has:
With past games, pre-KC we had the constraint of text, we didn't want to use too much text because we didn't want to handle translations and it was more work, this made the games really obvious on the instructions, we re-made a lot of work for balloons for this reason, all the buttons looked like buttons and did flashy animations so people understood that they could click on them, on Muertitos we had a tutorial with the same amount of steps than Alchademy, but each step was only a small line of text with animations and icons to improve the message.
With KC, we did tutorials as texts, I never liked it but it woks because KleptoCats it's a really easy game to discover by yourself, you only have one thing you can really interact with on the screen, the main cat, and when you do you have buttons with text that tell you which actions you have, you can't do it wrong, I feel that is the important difference between KC and Alchademy in Alchademy and that is why the text tutorial doesn't feel like the best option.
Text isn't bad but it could be a reinforced mechanic to let the player understand what is happening, this is well applied on the first tutorial prompt where you have to perform an action with the ingredients to be able to advance, you could not read the text, click on an ingredient and understand what to do, and if you don't, you can read the text and have a better idea.
Currently the biggest problem I see with the tutorial is the dismiss action, currently the tutorials appear on a prompt, when you look at a tutorial prompt, at first glance you don't know how to dismiss it, we “fixed” this by letting you dismiss the prompt clicking anywhere on the prompt, this is problematic because a lot of times people dismiss the prompt without reading it.
If it is because they don't what to read it is their decision, but if it was a mistake, they lose that information forever because there is no way to relaunch that tutorial, this can be fixed by two ways, all the prompts could have a clear dismiss button, I think the bottom part of the background with the triangle was the intention but it doesn't look like a button, and the same happens with the Gem button at the New character tutorial, it looks like part of the background so I have seen some friends lost looking at the screen and don't know where to click.
The second way to fix this is adding a tutorial button on the menu so players can revisit the information we gave them, not in the same way as in the start of the game, because that would be too problematic and will interrupt the game flow, maybe as a slide show.
This game is really fun to play, when you understand the mechanics and system which makes you have a successful mixture, the tutorial is the most important part to let players get to that part, the main difference between KC and Alchademy is that you can be wrong, you can fail and this is not a bad thing, it makes the game more fun and engaging, it makes it more a game with the idle mechanic KC has, the problem is that if you don't get there, if you don't understand the red water and light dots on the cauldron you can get frustrated, we explain all of this on the tutorial, but if you miss only one prompt is enough for you too feel lost at the game, sure you can play it until you understand it but it takes you longer than in KC because you have more actions, and you have more possibilities to be wrong, a lot of causal players could abandon the game if they don't get why they are getting wrong mixtures.
The average intelligent person would pick up that it the water is red when you drop the second ingredient it means that you are going to do a repeated mixture and overall if you have more dots on your cauldron you have better possibilities to have a new ingredient, but a lot of people won't get that, I think we should be a little more aggressive showing you when you are going to fail. The game feels great for me because I already know this so I can play to get a new ingredient and when I fail it feels like a luck thing, or if I get a repeated I know it's clearly my fault, I think when we manage to make the players understand that it is when we are going to get them to stay and play a long time and the tutorial is the most important thing to let you get there.
New Items and Creations
I'm going to start saying that the new feedback for repeated items feels great, it is very clear when you have a repeated or failed mixture thanks to the visual and audio feedback. On the other side, when you get a new item I think we should encourage them to look at the book.
When you get a new ingredient you get a new clue of what recipe you already did, you can check this on the book, A lot of people don't enter the book menu and I think there are two reasons for this:
On the tutorial when you get a new item you get a prompt pointing at the book which is great, but you can't click on it to check it out, so you don't save that action as something you need to do when you get a new item.
You don't have any visual reminder that you have a new item/recipe to check.
This could be fixed by making the player enter the book catalog on the tutorial so that they can continue playing, and adding a little notification to the book that gets dismissed when you click on the new item inside the book catalog.
This is important because it is a way to remind you the recipes that you already did and letting the players make lees mistakes and probably getting less frustrated gaining more retention and as we all know retention is key.
I don't like the system we currently have for creations, placing them on the basket helps a lot, but the only clue you have a t what they are is the tutorial, and I already said why I don't like that, the UX for them is awkward and weird, it is the final thing you can do with you't ingredients, it is like a mini achievement and they are hidden on a sub menu with a button on a corner, maybe putting them on the same screen as the ingredients ant letting you scroll down as @Fayer once said, or making the button the same size as the Ingredients title so it is clear they have the same or more importance than the ingredients, I don't really know how to fix this but I don't think the UI for the creations feels good.
I do think that making you enter the menu on the tutorial as I said on the Items could help, and also a notification on the book. Creations button that get's dismissed when you enter and click on one could make things better.
Overall I really like the game, it feels good and it is challenging on a way and beautiful and full of color animations and great music, I think that it can really get good reviews and downloads but something is missing for retaining new players and let them know the game and appreciate it the same way we who understand it do.