Guest post by Hannah Murphy.

Fingeance, by Escape Industries, is a 4-player shoot-em-up game in which the fish (you) are trying to get back your gills that have been taken from you. The game relies heavily on a teamwork dynamic which requires strategically choosing which characters to play, as some play different roles.

The game is to be released in early 2017. Although there is much to be done, the game is still quite polished. The two main problems are the overwhelming text and the team dynamic awareness aspect of the game.

Overwhelming Text

After you’ve chosen your characters and have completed the first level, you’re shown the screen above. The screen above has three players, but ideally would have four. Players felt overwhelmed by the options and confused at the same time as to what items, known as gadgets, do for them. 

A: “I guess I was a little confused as to which abilities boosted my current gadgets and which changed my gadgets. I guess it did say. I don’t know, I guess I didn’t read that.” 
A: “This says gadget free but it’s the same color. I guess it doesn't change the gadget it makes bullets freeze”

The most important take-away from the above quote is that the player did not read the options. People don’t like to read if they don’t have to. And when it’s not clearly shown what information is priority, players aren’t sure where to start and will instead choose to read information arbitrarily.

  • One recommendation is to use icons/heuristics. Images that everyone universally knows could be useful so they can bypass having to take the time and cognitive energy to read more than they have to.
  • An example would be to use a “+” sign to demonstrate that an item related to healing properties. The downside of this recommendation is that it would have to be tested in order to ensure players understand what icons stand for. 
  • Another recommendation is to enlarge the highlighted areas and limit the amount of text so players can more easily process what they’re looking at. (Medium priority)

Team Dynamic Awareness

When choosing beginning characters, it’s not obvious that different selecting different roles matter. There’s is no initially incentive to choose a healer and a tank. It’s assumed that players will know that they should be choosing different roles in order to work together. This may not always be the case. I would not necessarily know the difference between a “tank” and a “bruiser” or “assault”.

All players observed were familiar with team dynamic games. All admitted that they did not initially understand that teamwork was a critical part of the gameplay. This could lead to completion issues and player frustration. 

  • I recommend including an initial blurb that encourages players to select varying characters and by doing so will help them best achieve their goal (Medium priority).
  • An example would be when players are initially selecting their characters, a blurb pops up that succinctly explains that teamwork is imperative. This could be done by emphasizing different character roles by moving them above the paragraph that explains each gadget so it’s located under the name, making it easier to see.

Final Thoughts

Player A had 12 deaths, B 15 deaths, and C five deaths. This is a large variance. Perhaps consider what an ideal range of deaths would be. If the current players are all experienced and are still dying this often, perhaps some changes to health should be considered. 

While I was watching gameplay, I noticed that some characters look extremely similar. This, combined with the fast pace of gameplay makes it difficult to differentiate the characters. Consider contrasting the colors more by making one dark blue and the other teal.

Finally, consider prioritizizng learning. Currently players are learning as they go. By not explaining more about characters and goals on the front end, this takes away from quality gameplay since players are learning while playing. Gameplay would run smoother is players were not forced to multitask and given a short introduction at the beginning.

The shop menu shows the “Close” button on the right. Consider moving this to the left, swapping it with the 'Purchase' button. Since people move from left to right as they read this should help make the flow feel more natural when purchasing items.


Fingeance needs some work on clarity and efficiency when it comes to communicating character traits and upgrade details to it's audience. With some changes, the game will be more accessible to less experienced players. Overall, the game looks promising and I look forward to watching it grow into an even better game.


Hannah Murphy is a User Experience Researcher, video game lover, runner, and board game enthusiast. She's been playing all sorts of games for as long as she can remember, with her favorite game of all time being The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. If you're wanting to inquire about a game review, feel free to reach out to her on Twitter or check her out on LinkedIn.

Legion TD 2 is a tower-defense game in which the player controls minions and mercenaries to defend their king from opposing armies. Currently in pre-alpha, the player jumps straight into the action: right from the get-go, you have 180 seconds to set up a phalanx to defend your king. Wave after wave, balance your resources to position yourself correctly for late-game as the waves get more difficult.

As demos go, Legion TD 2 is looking fairly shiny and clean. Even though there was no tutorial, I picked up the game (fairly?) quickly. And while I'm sure the team will eventually make a tutorial, there are a few places where I certainly had questions, or I have some concerns.

173 Seconds to go before the first round...

Font Face & Legibility Is Good Overall

One of the comments I often have for early access games is that their font is difficult to read, or their UI elements are unexplained. Right from the start, I was able to hover over the icons to learn what they were. Font size is good.

The only places where I'd caution you on font are your combat alerts, the 'creatures remaining' text near the wave counter, and the resource bar below the action bar.

Alert text during Wave 5.
The varying font colors don't seem to make sense (why is Magic in pink? Armor weight in brown? Remaining enemies in grey?), and the lighter colors are very difficult to read over the road. I don't know how vital these messages are (do I really need to know if it's a Magic attack? Not sure.), but if the player ought to pay attention to them, they ought to be more legible.

Second, the text next to the wave counter is difficult to read -- it could be that the text is too narrow, and the contrast between the black and red too low. Either way, it's hard to read.

Third, the resources bar is very small, in comparison to the rest of the UI. Since resource management seems to be a large part in planning one's army, I'd expect the resource bar to be larger.

Resources Bar

  • Consider adding some kind of translucent background behind the text to show contrast between the alert text and the environment. 
  • Consider changing the font size or placement of the 'X creatures remaining' - it's difficult to read currently. Alternatively, if it's not entirely necessarily to constantly see how many monsters are remaining, consider implementing what Path of Exile does: in chat, one can type /remaining to see how many monsters are remaining in that area. But maybe it's better to know at all times what's left -- I'm not sure.
  • Consider increasing the font size of these resources, and potentially make this bar more prominent. I understand that that UI is currently a placeholder -- but I would recommend making this bar stand out more, considering its importance.

Where Did The Mercenaries Go? 

One question I had after buying mercenaries was, "wait, where did they go?" Because buying a basic fighter or worker had an immediate effect, I expect to immediately see the mercenaries appear next to the Barracks. Instead, it looked like the mercenaries I bought appeared closer to my king, in the "beacon" area? That wasn't at all what I was expecting, so I bought quite a few more mercenaries than I intended.

After a player buys a mercenary, include some kind of visual effect. If they can't appear adjacent to the town or barracks, have some other kind of visual effect that shows that the purchase went through successfully. In your tutorial, you'll need to explain that you don't place your mercenaries -- that wasn't clear to me, and I honestly couldn't them on the map after I bought them.

Explain Terminology & Mechanics

One thing to be aware of is that not all players know what "tanky" or "squishy" means in descriptions. If you're familiar with games, you know these things, but consider that not all of the people who will pick up your games will understand those terms. Instead of using shorthand terms, be sure to elaborate. For example, "tanky" can be "strong fighters who can take a lot of damage before falling." Or something.

In addition, when you eventually make the tutorial (which I strongly recommend you prioritize before the closed beta), be sure to explain all of the controls (yes, even right click to move).

Remember that not all of your players are starting out with your knowledge of the genre, and design accordingly.

Confusion About Map Setup

Another question I had was about why my fighters moved(/teleported?) near the king after they defeated the wave. I wasn't sure why they did that, and I didn't really want to relinquish control of them. I tried to select all of them simultaneously and right click to move them into the right lane -- but I couldn't do that. It felt somewhat bad to have to relinquish control and watch what happened during a round. Maybe that's just how the demo is designed, but I hope eventually I'd have more control about where my fighters go intra-round. Otherwise I feel helpless.

The other thing about map setup was I got a notification: "Don't leave your area." I'm not sure what my 'area' is. The entire left lane? Can I not move anywhere else? Why not? Aren't my mercenaries in the right lane? Why can't I have my fighters join them?

If players aren't allowed to let their fighters leave a specific area during a wave, make sure that they have something else to do to occupy themselves. In addition, if you haven't considered this already, think about animating wave-survivors flying/walking/running to the bridge before the king. Having that animation would help show where the fighters are going -- otherwise it's easy to lose them.

Team Differentiation

One other issue that I had in Legion TD 2 was differentiating between my team and my opponents. Consider the following picture, for example:

Which are the enemy creatures? Which are my creatures? Who's winning? I'm not sure, entirely. Team differentiation is also difficult on the mini-map,

In the map, my fighters are pushing back on yellow's wave of monsters. Considering the size of the mini-map, and the trapezoid on top of the mini-map, it's tricky to see what cluster of monsters is mine. And woe be to those who are colorblind!


  • Consider changing the health bars of enemy units to be red to black, and friendly units green to black. That way, one can tell who's winning. If you plan on having color-blind settings, green can become blue and red can become orange. There's a good Reddit thread here about changing Dota 2's settings to be more colorblind-friendly.
  • Consider giving enemy teams different shapes, in addition to colors. For example, red could always be red diamonds; yellow is yellow circles; green is green triangles; blue is blue squares. That way, a color-blind player is better able to tell units apart on the mini-map.

Final Thoughts
  • Make sure to explain combat icons! I didn't cover that in a section, because I assume you'll cover it in a tutorial.
  • The idea of upgrading a basic unit (the Aqua Spirit) into something else wasn't immediately clear to me -- I stumbled on that feature, and I'm not sure why I would want to do that as a player. 
  • Initially, I didn't realize that buttons 1 - 5 were essentially opening up different menus from which I could select more fighters/mercenaries -- I thought they were things I could place as well. I learned my mistake pretty quickly, but I thought I'd share that initial train of thought.
  • Overall, a great first start at a demo!
Like the new shiny coat of paint on the blog?

Sorry for the long delay between writing! I was in Texas earlier this month for an interview, and then have been busy with other stuff since them. Busy bein' an adult. Or something. Next week I'll be sharing a guest post! Exciting stuff!

Until then, thanks for reading.