The Making of More Than Mages

There are a lot of games that I have wished I could improve or edit through sheer force of will. Some of them feel tragic. By that, I mean, not just a game that I could point out things that would take it from broken to playable, but that the level might be upgraded all the way up to Fun. With the capital letter.

One of these is Academagia: The Making of Mages. Supposedly the first of five games, though it’s been out for a good year and all I’ve really heard of are nearly 70 patches.

The basic premise is pretty good. You create your character, a pre-teen mage, and then make your way through the first year of school.

But the game literally shows its breaker weakness immediately. Character creation offers a daunting plethora of options to customise your character’s backstory and the like, as well as basic stats the likes of strength and charm. But you are given only 10 points total. This is nothing like enough, while choosing from about five sections (or more, I don’t recall). Play the game if you don’t believe me.

This is only the introduction to the problem. There’s just too much. Too many attributes, skills, pieces of things. Too many other students. Too many teachers. Too many locations. And text covering everything. Whatever you do, you can be sure to unlock something to read more often than not. I like to read, but this game makes it feel like a chore.

I wouldn’t mind so much if the reading actually had a purpose. But the only purposeful reading is in learning the phemes (building blocks of the game’s magic, I never bothered with them) and in adventures. The problem with adventures is that because there are too many skills to train up, you will most often fail at whatever random task is in the adventure.

Other than that, it’s just a crushing amount of flavour text. And the absolute worst part of that in turn, is that the classes themselves generate absolutely no text except the pointless flavour that has nearly nothing to do with the classes.

No choices on how to behave in class. Whether or not your character will listen, fall asleep, take notes, whisper, draw insulting pictures of the teacher, participate in discussion, mislead a discussion, put a tack on someone’s chair… Who knows how long I could go on.

The short point is, there is next to no effort made to making the classes look like anything. They just happen.

You’re told in the text-heavy introduction (that the game itself whines about) that the classes train your skills. Training is your character’s actual ability, versus the study level of skills, which is the ability to exhibit knowledge on that skill. While that is interesting, I never saw classes have their stated effect.

However, I do understand the urge and almost the inevitability of writing too much. I started making my own notes on a school, and most especially on that world’s magic. There’s a lot of maths involved, and it all spans out to include history, present views on this and that, and what is expected of students, graduates, teachers, and people who live nearby. It’s hard not to make all of your writing world-building.

But the game is still unplayable.

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