Beta Testing / Discount Copies

An American university student takes a semester abroad in England seeking fun and romance in this visual novel.
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nightshadengale
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#16 Postby nightshadengale » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:41 am

hanako wrote:Brendon is less lovable than Aasi is and getting his insight scene is trickier. Just picking 'try to understand' isn't enough. IIRC you also have to hang out with him and Aasi at the beach. (Aasi has either the beach scene or the one yardwork scene to get an extra point from) With both of them, you don't get the option for forgiveness unless you've made friends-of-a-sort. Not a bug, the random confessions are in the original script, I guess largely to tie up loose ends so the player doesn't feel angry that their name was never cleared.

Huh, I was pretty sure I'd managed to get Aasi's drunk scene without helping her in the yard or seeing her on the beach. I've generally been helping Ji Hyo and hanging out with whoever I'm romancing on the beach.

Having them confess no matter what does make the confession feel a lot less meaningful on the "make sort-of friends with your rival" outcome. If the main reason is to tie up loose ends by clearing your name, maybe someone could overhear them gloating (particularly if James is apparently lurking around with a tape recorder anyway)?

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MillaMaxwell
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#17 Postby MillaMaxwell » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:42 pm

Alright, I finally finished playing through everyone's routes so I can offer more complete feedback. My first impression of England Exchange was that I didn't really like it as much as all the other Hanako/Hanabira games I've played because an abnormally high number of characters came across as awful people to me right from the start. Aasi, Brendon, and James (not romanceable obviously but still a major enough NPC to affect the tone of the game) all seem terrible from the beginning no matter what route you're on. Angelo also seemed pretty awful to me, although I should note that I have very feminist values and so he might not come across so badly for other people. And a lot of the other characters seemed weird or like they didn't really care about Malia/Flynn so I wasn't particularly drawn to most of them. Once I actually played through it, I did like quite a few characters and could appreciate when some characters weren't written to be likable, but I'm not sure I would have kept playing to that point if I wasn't already a big fan of your games.

I think the game really needs more CGs, especially on the good endings. Several endings (Peggy, Ashley, Angelo, etc) just have a blue sky as the background while the characters talk, which just seems really lacking. Most of the characters have an epilogue that would be easy to determine a good CG from. And for the ones who don't really, maybe a CG of Aasi/Brendon breaking up with Flynn/Malia or Flynn/Malia being upset at their friends at the airport? Even if CGs were only used for the endings that currently just have the sky background, I think it would be a big improvement and make the epilogues feel more rewarding.

I also really like nightshadengale's suggestion that Aasi and Brendon only confess if you talked to them when they were drunk and otherwise they just get caught gloating. As is, the change of heart kinda comes out of nowhere.

Oh, and I love the endings screen that was added in the update. It does a perfect job of hiding spoilers while also preventing me from spending ages trying to find more endings than are actually there.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on each character/route, in no particular order:

Peggy: I did her route first and thought I would like it a lot better than I did. I actually didn't find her nearly as annoying as all the characters did, but I thought her gossiping about your dates was just incredibly mean of her and had trouble getting past that, even though I got her good ending. It also really confused me that she comes to the airport to say bye to you in the neutral ending, but just appears to ignore you until the epilogue in the good ending. The lack of pre-epilogue goodbye scenes bugged me in a lot of characters' routes, but it was especially weird here just because the scene was already there in the neutral ending.

Ashley: In terms of her character, I liked her a lot. She was just very nice to both Flynn and Malia and seemed like a fun person to hang out with. Her actual route was kinda frustrating though because I kept getting her bad ending even though it felt like the choices I was making weren't really wrong. When I finally did figure out the correct combination of answers for good and neutral, it just felt really arbitrary. I know you mentioned above that this came from the original author, but I think it would make for a better gameplay experience if you edited the dialogue a bit to make it clear why certain answers are "wrong." I loved the good ending though. The proposal scene was really cute and I liked that Ashley actually does go to the airport to say bye to Flynn. Their conversation there was really nice too because it really did feel like they had learned from each other.

Mark: I liked Mark's route. That weird multi-route glitch that I saw earlier hasn't happened again, even when I tried to recreate it with the same choices as before. Since that was my only real problem with his route, I'm quite pleased with it now. I like how his social awkwardness is written consistently throughout, but it becomes more endearing and understood as his route progresses. The accompanying backstory fit into that arc quite well. Also, his sprite looks pretty adorable when he's really happy. It's an eager puppy dog sort of adorable, but that fits his character and storyline perfectly.

Danny: I wasn't expecting him to be my favorite character, but he was easily the most interesting and unique. My first impression was that he seemed like a nice guy, although a little creepy intense after the game, but holy crap I wasn't expecting that backstory. I'm really curious about what his crime was, but I also appreciate why that was not specified. It allows the player to fill in whatever they consider to be really bad, but not unforgivably bad, instead of risking alienating anyone by picking something way out of their comfort zone. I liked how Danny's aggression is seen throughout his route, even in little sequences like when he offers to go after Aasi/Brendon, but that it is always mixed with a strong respect for boundaries. The number of times he reiterates that he does not want to control Malia/Flynn (and actually follows through on that promise) help avoid this feeling like an unhealthy relationship. It still feels a bit uneasy, but I think that's the exact tone that it should have. I like the fact that his kindness and reliability are shown throughout the route and aren't just tossed aside in favor of focusing on a dark secret. I like that given his background, he's totally understanding about the whole theft incident. I love that he doesn't have a bad ending, just a neutral ending where he accepts your boundaries and moves on with an optimistic tone. And the proposal, marriage, and honeymoon made for a great good ending. All in all, this was just a really enjoyable, interesting route to play.

Ji Hyo: While I didn't dislike her as much as other beta testers did, when it came time to do Ji Hyo's route, I did suddenly realize that I had no interest in her story beyond completionism. I was pleasantly surprised. Her good ending was quite nice and she was a lot more fun to hang out with than I expected. I really liked the twist about her fake personality and the reasons why she would do that. It fits together really well, but I wish there was some way to make her true personality more evident in the early scenes so that she doesn't come across as quite so weird and off-putting early on. Try as I might though, I can't think of a better way to present Ji Hyo than what you already have.
I did find one problem in her bad ending scene though. She gives Malia/Flynn the painting of them posing by the riverside, but when I got this ending, I had refused to go out with her that day so she never had a chance to paint that. Maybe that scene should be mandatory for starting on Ji Hyo's route?


Angelo: As mentioned, my first impression of Angelo was really negative. On subsequent playthroughs, I did notice that a few characters mention that his traditional views on gender roles is the result of a cultural difference in upbringing thing, so I tried to be more open-minded when I actually played his route. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice his route was. I really liked how both he and Malia have to compromise to be together. He accepts that she will never fit his idea of a traditional lady and she accepts that he is going to try to protect her. He doesn't see her as a weaker/inferior person and she doesn't see him as patriarchal oppression. I liked that Angelo was relatively quick to realize Malia's innocence considering their experiences with Aasi at the hotel. And I liked that there was a scene before Malia left that addressed why Angelo wasn't included in the big goodbye scene. Oh, and his worrying about introducing Malia to his family in the good ending was quite amusing, as was her response. For some reason, I can't seem to figure out how to get his bad ending though. I've picked every "wrong" answer that doesn't actually lock you out of dating Angelo, but I still just keep getting neutral.

Aasi: My first impression of Aasi was that I hated her guts. Of course, I was playing as Malia and hadn't realized the role of the rival in the story, so I just saw her as a really nasty person who did something stupid and decided to attack Malia repeatedly for it. She seemed a lot more mean to Malia than Brendon did to Flynn because framing her for stealing a guest's possessions and sending her to the Do Not Disturb room just seemed a lot more potentially damaging than Brendon making more work for Flynn, but they both made great villains either way. I was more sympathetic to her when I saw her drunk scene and put the pieces together about her backstory, of course. And she seems decently nice in the early scenes of Flynn's story, so I was interested to see how she would be redeemed by her romantic route. Wow, was that expectation off! I actually really liked that she only had a bad route. I could tell very early on that she was only using him for his meager wallet, but I still really liked how it all played out. I liked that she only had a bad ending (thank you again for adding in the ending screen so that I didn't spend hours trying to "save" her!) because it didn't seem like there was really time for the sort of relationship that would be needed to develop her character into someone capable of having a good relationship, especially considering how long it took Flynn to even realize the sort of person she was. I was surprised that ruining poor Flynn's faith in humanity, friendships, hope for the future, etc. didn't count as the worst ending though.

Brendon: I played Malia's story first and my initial impressions of Brendon ranged from "stereotypical jerk" to "embodiment of rape culture" when he kept hitting on her after she showed no interest, told her that women never actually mean no, and even threatened her when she turned him down. By the time I played as Flynn, I understood how the rival aspect of the game worked, so I didn't have quite as strong a reaction to him as I did to Aasi, but he was still really awful and didn't seem to have nearly as sympathetic a backstory to put together. Brendon's route was one of the last ones I played and now I can definitely see why he got the worst ending. Flynn just loses faith in humanity, but Malia loses faith in herself. Those scenes were done very well and I liked that none of the standard reveal the thief, say bye to everyone, etc. scenes were present. It really helped you see just how badly that relationship hurt her. I liked how you can put together exactly what happened between him and Ashley between what Brendon says to Malia early on, what Ashley says to Flynn in her route, and the conversation in Brendon's bad ending. He's the only character in the game who really comes across as completely, unredeemably bad and that works really well. Also, I have to note that his face in the sex CG just looks like pure evil. The art for this game really fits quite well.

And finally, here are the last bunch of typos I found:

This doesn't flow well as two incomplete sentences, so I think it was supposed to just be one sentence without a period or capital letter:
Image

I'm just posting a link to the image because it contains spoilers for Danny's route, but the word "didn't" is misspelled in this sentence:
http://i.imgur.com/xkbLRbb.png

This sentence is missing a period:
Image

I think this is missing the word "the":
Image

This sentence sounds weird, so I think it should be "was," not "were":
Image

This should be "here," not "her":
Image

I'm not sure whether this is actually a typo or if it's supposed to be like this, but if it's not supposed to sound a bit off, I think this should be "kept," not "keep":
Image
There were a few other wrong tenses in the sentences after that, so I thought it might be intentional, but I hadn't noticed that anywhere else, so I figured it was worth mentioning.

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hanako
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#18 Postby hanako » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:02 pm

For Angelo's 'bad' end you have to get the idea that he's interested in you, but immediately turn him down, so his path doesn't start, and then avoid getting the shopping friendship scene with him later. If these conditions are met, there should be an awkward goodbye scene with him near the end, with an added little kick if you ended up dating Peggy or Ji Hyo in the meantime.

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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#19 Postby nightshadengale » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:50 am

MillaMaxwell wrote:Danny: I wasn't expecting him to be my favorite character, but he was easily the most interesting and unique. My first impression was that he seemed like a nice guy, although a little creepy intense after the game, but holy crap I wasn't expecting that backstory. I'm really curious about what his crime was, but I also appreciate why that was not specified. It allows the player to fill in whatever they consider to be really bad, but not unforgivably bad, instead of risking alienating anyone by picking something way out of their comfort zone. I liked how Danny's aggression is seen throughout his route, even in little sequences like when he offers to go after Aasi/Brendon, but that it is always mixed with a strong respect for boundaries. The number of times he reiterates that he does not want to control Malia/Flynn (and actually follows through on that promise) help avoid this feeling like an unhealthy relationship. It still feels a bit uneasy, but I think that's the exact tone that it should have.

Agree on this--after playing through Danny's route a second time as Flynn, it felt a lot healthier to me than I gave it credit for initially (when the most creepy-intense moments were the ones standing out in my memory). I think his neutral ending does a great job of conveying this, as well.

In the new extra bit at the airport at the end for his good ending, Jin Soo's vaguely worried face + "You certainly did have a time, didn't you?" seems a bit odd as a reaction to your ring. (It seems a bit odd as a reaction to you grinning and saying "We'll see how things go" on other routes as well...should he be smiling there?)



I tried Mark's route, and although he didn't stand out to me as someone I was interested in romancing, I quite liked it. It felt like the PC and Mark were on much more even ground than a lot of the other relationships, in that neither of them took on a set "role" in the relationship very much? It was a refreshing contrast to the other male routes. I also really liked his good ending epilogue.

I finally played Brendon because that was the only route I was missing, and...*horrified shuddering*. I was expecting it to have a similar trauma-level to Aasi's route, but that was so much worse. It does make more sense now why he asks you out no matter what and why he doesn't have a confrontation scene if you start going out with someone else despite him telling you you'll regret turning him down, though I do still think it'd make sense for him to have a stronger creeper moment after the money incident on some routes when playing as Malia.

(MillaMaxwell, what route is the letter in the last typo screenshot from? I admittedly haven't done everyone's bad and neutral endings yet, but I don't remember seeing that.)

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MillaMaxwell
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#20 Postby MillaMaxwell » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:42 am

nightshadengale wrote:(MillaMaxwell, what route is the letter in the last typo screenshot from? I admittedly haven't done everyone's bad and neutral endings yet, but I don't remember seeing that.)


It's from Ji Hyo's neutral ending.

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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#21 Postby nightshadengale » Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:37 am

Checklist and gallery complete! I continue to miss having a romance-sees-you-off scene on the good ending paths. (MillaMaxwell mentioned Ashley seeing you off on her good ending, but I only got that on her neutral ending, not her good one?)

Small graphical bug: If you skip during the start of Peggy's ice-skating date where her sprite fades in as she crashes into you, her sprite stays semi-transparent for the whole scene.

I didn't realize this right away after the initial trauma of playing through Brendan's route, but it's never addressed what happened to the missing pan, volleyball, and oil paints (at least in the routes I've played; still missing a couple bad and neutral endings. He was my best guess though.) Is the implication supposed to be that Aasi/Brendan took them to prime everyone for the idea of a thief in the hostel?

(Also, I didn't notice until my third or fourth run that the picture on the wall in the hallway is the first CG from Fatal Hearts. Cute!)

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hanako
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#22 Postby hanako » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:21 am

Yes, Ashley at the airport is only in the neutral end, same as Peggy.

I think the lack of a goodbye on good ends may have been meant to build suspense for the epilogue to come, but I can try to work in something open-ended so you don't know what's going to happen between you in the future, but it doesn't feel so much like it's just missing.


Thefts: This is one that I don't really know the answer to but I think you're probably right.

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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#23 Postby FantasyFan » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:47 pm

Hey, I played though Danny's yaoi route and I would really, really like to know exactly what he did in the past. Just a suggestion.

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hanako
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#24 Postby hanako » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:08 pm

That is really a question for fanfic, I'm afraid.

nightshadengale
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#25 Postby nightshadengale » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:25 am

hanako wrote:I think the lack of a goodbye on good ends may have been meant to build suspense for the epilogue to come, but I can try to work in something open-ended so you don't know what's going to happen between you in the future, but it doesn't feel so much like it's just missing.

Yeah, I think this would add a lot. Except on Danny's route, presumably all that would be true at the time is that the two of you have decided to try the long-distance thing and see how it works out, so it doesn't seem like it would diminish the impact of the epilogue. (On Danny's route, it'd be interesting to bring up how you're planning to keep in touch and plan a wedding while living in different countries and in college. Given that the epilogue is only a year later, they must've gotten on it quickly, unless they had a pretty minimal/small wedding.)

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MillaMaxwell
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#26 Postby MillaMaxwell » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:36 pm

nightshadengale wrote:MillaMaxwell mentioned Ashley seeing you off on her good ending, but I only got that on her neutral ending, not her good one?

hanako wrote:Yes, Ashley at the airport is only in the neutral end, same as Peggy.


Oops, sorry about that! I did her neutral and good endings back-to-back, so I think I just kinda merged them together in my mind.

I love the idea of an open-ended scene where your romantic partner sees you off at the airport. Even just a scene where they hug and say "don't forget to write!" or something like that would be a nice touch so that you don't​ feel like they completely ignored you on your last day.

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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#27 Postby nightshadengale » Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:36 pm

-You mention sudden romantic problems to Nene and Jin Soo even on Danny's path

-Sometimes I don't get Ji Hyo's movie scene towards the end, despite helping her with the bushes, taking her for coffee, etc. I know I've gotten it before without romancing her or talking to her at the beach.

-If you talk to Brendon and Aasi at the beach, I swear on one occasion Flynn got an extra line about not liking the fact that the pairs we were observing seemed to go together so well (presumably because he was dating half of one of those pairs), but I don't always get that line. It comes off unnaturally when your internal monologue there doesn't account for the fact that you're dating one of the people whose love lives you're speculating on.


And I know there wouldn't really be a good way to fit this into the game, I was thinking yesterday that it's kind of a shame there's not a chance for more interactions between Brendon or Aasi and Danny. Based on their drunken confessions to the MC, it seems like this could be really interesting--I'd guess they both see Danny as the same sort of privileged "your life has been way easier than mine, you haven't seen the dark side of the world that I have" type that they see the MC as. Seems like knowing the story there would have the potential to throw off their worldviews a bit. (Also, just a lot of potential for drama/irony even without any backstories being bared.)

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hanako
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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#28 Postby hanako » Sun Apr 16, 2017 1:04 am

The little "friendship event" scenes that can happen late in the game with people you aren't dating are mostly dependent on what activity you chose at Spring Break, though they also require that the person in question doesn't hate you. So you could be very friendly with Ji Hyo but still not get the movie scene. (This is partly an artifact because those scenes are leftover from a very early version of the game which had stat-raising, and the scenes would be unlocked based on your top stat. Since that got dropped, the requirements for triggering them are more obscure.)

The line about "And I don't like it!" is coded to occur if you talk to Brendon and Aasi but you're dating someone else.

Uploading 0.92 now. Changes:
- removing accidental "do do" from Angelo's route and other typos
- some tweaks to Ashley's early scene about people being Good
- a new Ashley scene with tea and biscuits late in the route (based on a real conversation!)
- fade problem when skipping with Peggy on the ice should be fixed
- Brendon and Aasi don't publicly confess at the end if you haven't befriended them, it's now much more ambiguous
- more interaction/goodbyes with love interests near the end on good routes, though it may not be quite what you hoped for

As before let me know if you need help getting the new download.
I'm hoping the content is just about settled now, but that doesn't mean you can't keep suggesting stuff.

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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#29 Postby nightshadengale » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:06 am

hanako wrote:The line about "And I don't like it!" is coded to occur if you talk to Brendon and Aasi but you're dating someone else.

Yeah, I figured that was how it was supposed to work, but it seems to be broken in some cases. Just loaded up Malia saves on both Ji Hyo's and Danny's paths and she doesn't get that line. I do get it as Malia on a save from Angelo's path, and as Flynn on Ashley's route.

Played through all the new goodbye scenes. They're really cute!

It's also much clearer now that saying everyone is inherently good is the wrong choice on Ashley's route.

(And I did suspect the game originally had stat raising--there are a couple parts of your conversation with Danny and internal monologue on the first day that are a little unnatural and feel like they were only there to be a veiled explanation of a stat-raising system. Speaking of that conversation--the "British people actually do that?" line there re: locking people in attics bothers me every time, because it just doesn't feel like a realistic blunder. It'd come off as more naturally awkward to me if the PC realized it was a joke but just didn't know how to respond, and there was a long moment of awkward silence or something.)

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Re: Beta Testing / Discount Copies

#30 Postby hanako » Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:17 pm

(Currently fixing some errors where you could get Peggy and Ashley's good and neutral outcomes at the same time.)


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