Warning: this post will be long, as I am going to break down tiny details of the game in a needlessly exhaustive manner.
So many people have posted feedback asking for an option to disable animations. It’s understandable since every player is frustrated at how slow the game is. However, I don’t know if players making this suggestion have thought about what the game would be like with animations turned off. Would the characters models just stand and stare at each other in their idle animation until one of them faints or just disappears? I can’t imagine any developer wanting to take the models and animations of PQ3 as they are now and making them the equivalent of static images like an old-school JRPG. Out of everything we can ask the developer to do, removing animations is almost certainly a non-starter.
I also don’t think that the existence of animations is a problem. Some are quite nice and improve the game. But as GodlikeNay says, the problem with PQ3 is that most of the time spent in game is not spent playing, instead the player is just watching and waiting for their next chance to play, often to the point that the player will regularly stop playing mid-battle to do something else while the animations run. To make the gameplay faster and smoother, I recommend that:
- Animations need to be short and quick;
- Animations should be played in the background during gameplay as much as possible, instead of stopping the game to run animations; and
- Ending frames of animations should be cancellable, similar to a fighting game or action game.
(While an option to choose the speed of the animations via toggle would help, it could also be a non-starter. I can’t think of any other games with the style and animations of PQ3 that would have such an option. I understand that Gems of Wars has a speed option, but I don’t know if that game has animations like PQ3.)
Animations need to be short and quick
An example of a quick animation currently in the game is the animation for casting certain spells while equipped with a Tome (e.g. Channel Darkness). The Tome flashes, the hero arcs her back while looking up, and the spell immediately activates. The entire animation lasts less than half a second. This animation makes casting the spell feel awesome and gives a sense of power to the player. I love this animation.
An example of a slow animation would be the animation for casting other spells with the Tome (e.g. Cloudkill). The character slowly brings her hands in front of her, then there’s a half-second pause, then the tome starts to vibrate, then the spell is cast. The whole animation takes about two seconds. This is the kind of animation that needs to be adjusted. In this case, the spell should be cast when the character has brought her hands forward (and that part may need to be sped up). If adjusted, the animation wouldn’t bring a huge pause on gameplay, but would still look good and feel good.
I think that the quick Tome spell animation is a good benchmark for the maximum duration of attack and spell animations. Some of the attack animations in the game are just too slow. The broadsword animation is a big downward slash with an extremely long wind-up. This should be changed to a quick slash. The sickle animation involves a hop and a spin before the attack. This should also be changed to a quick slash (maybe the character could attack with both sickles, since she’s dual-wielding after all). The wand animation has multiple pauses in-between lifting the wand, aiming the wand and firing the missile. The pauses should be removed from this animation. Longer animations could still be kept in some capacity as long as they were used sparingly, such as for critical hits. Overall, faster is better.
Aside from player animations, the animations for exploding and cascading gems should also be tightened. As it is right now, every set of matched gems takes almost half a second to explode. A screen with 6 or more matches takes several seconds to finish exploding and start cascading. These gem explosion animations needs to be greatly sped up. Each set of matched gems should explode very, very quickly (e.g. a tenth of second). The new gems that fill the board also have a bouncing animation that makes it take nearly a second for the gems to settle. The bouncing animation should be removed, they just slow the game down.
Animations should be played in the background during gameplay as much as possible, instead of stopping the game to run animations
As it is now, the animations in the game are played sequentially after the player finishes their turn. My main gripe here is with the player attack animation. The way it works is that after you match your gems, you have to wait until all of the gems have finished matching and cascading, and only then does your character start her attack animation.
As soon as the timer runs out during a player’s turn (or the turn ends because no more matches are possible), the game already knows what the outcome of that turn will be, including the results of any combos from cascading gems. The game should take advantage of this and start animations early. While the gems are exploding and new gems are falling, the character should begin her attack animation so that the animation finishes at the same time as the gems have finished falling and the player’s turn has been resolved. It’s no less satisfying for the player to see the animation happen in the background during the cascade, and it will take less time which keeps the game from getting boring.
I think there are a few other cases where the game prevents the player from taking action while running certain animations. For example, I think this happens when the player stuns an enemy a with a spell such as Blackjack or Poison Spirit, they then have to wait while the enemy runs an animation showing that he has been stunned. Players should be able to continue to cast spells, match gems, etc. during the enemy’s stun animation.
Ending frames of animations should be cancellable, similar to a fighting game or action game
Cancels are a very satisfying, fun element of many games. It makes gameplay smooth and responsive, and it makes the player feel good and rewarded for his decisions and execution (even if the execution is extremely simple and easy). When you cast a spell in PQ3, after the spell has been cast and the effect has taken place (e.g. the enemy has taken damage), there is further delay before the player can take his next action as the spell-casting animation finishes and the character returns to her neutral idle animation. This delay is extremely frustrating. This is why players mash the spell buttons repeatedly as they wait for the animation to end so that they can cast their next spell.
As soon as a spell has been cast and the effect has taken place, the player should be able to take their next action. If that action is to cast another spell, then cancel the end frames of the previous spell’s animation and start the next one. If that action is to match gems, then the end frames of the spell may need to be cancelled to start the attack animation (although this would be really unlikely to happen).
This point is not related to animations, but it does have to do with speeding up the game and is one aspect of PQ3 that I find to be particularly frustrating. The game needs to let the player assign a minion to a chest as soon as that chest is received. The fact that the player has to store the chest, and then back out of several screens (the dungeon screen, daily challenge screen, shop, etc.), go to the tavern, select the Chests screen, select the chest (sometimes having to scroll down), then press the button to say you want to assign a minion to a chest, and only then can they select the minion …please let players assign a minion to a chest as soon as that chest is received.