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Ashford Academy like game dev suggestions

Started by Epyk, Jul 21, 2023, 05:33 PM

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EpykTopic starter


I am considering picking up development on an Ashford Academy style game. Because of that i am interested in what you guys think Ashford Academy or games like it are missing or what could be improved upon.
I would be happy about to read any of your suggestions.



I have given it some thought, as I replayed the game recently (the last unfinished version Ashford made available). I even had a fairly fleshed out roadmap for an Ashford Academy-like game (but Brothel King keeps me busy enough for the moment)!

I think the game had a lot of charm, but I noticed some issues when replaying it.

Here goes:

- The unfinished story (obviously)

- The core game loop: The whole game is about repeating random events, and you don't have a lot of control over these. It's frustrating to lose points to a random event you can't do anything about, while when you know the 'good' outcomes you can simply repeat the same event branches over and over. This would benefit from a little more complexity.

From a game-design point of view, I find event-based gameplay interesting but it's very hard to make it work. You need a lot of diversity in events (otherwise it becomes boring - in my day I released an event pack for AA to help solve this diversity problem). But the more events you have, the more chaotic the system becomes, and it's very hard to predict how they will impact the players' stats and balance the risks and benefits of each event to make them feel impactful.

- Game balance: Games like AA have a 'snowball' effect where it is really hard to improve your stats at the beginning, and random events set you back a lot, but once you pass the early game there is a positive feedback loop (between policies, random events and skill level), which lets you auto-win pretty easily.

- Player control: Player choices are very limited in game. It basically boils down to: choosing which place to visit during the day, the order of buying upgrades, and event-specific choices. It feels frustrating to have little control over the course of the game, even though you can roughly steer it in the direction you want. In my play-through, Behavior was extremely hard to maintain at a reasonable level, even when buying and building the related upgrades. I lost once to a fire. It's frustrating when you feel like you went through the right moves but still can't influence the outcome.

- Winning conditions: As it is, the only way to play Ashford is to max out every stat. It would be nice to add a variety of end 'goals' to choose from (as in HHS+).
Maker of BK. Looking for the latest patch for BK 0.2? The link doesn't change, so bookmark it!

EpykTopic starter

thanks for the detailed thoughts on Ashford Academy! I'm looking to go in a different direction story-wise, so I appreciate you focusing on the gameplay aspects.

You bring up some solid points about the core loop, balance, and lack of control feeling frustrating. I think using some roguelike elements could help shake things up and prevent snowballing, by periodically introducing larger amounts of chaos while still giving the player some kind of choice. I also am a fan of AAR approach of simply removing bad endings from the game, making bad luck in RNG immediately less punishing.

Making the random events more meaningful and less spammy seems like a good idea too, though I will need to give that some more thought as I don't immediately have any good ideas on how to remedy that. In my opinion, preserving the shortness of the random events is more important than giving them a lot of depth which makes it quite hard to give each of them more impact.

For this reason I would try to increase player agency in other aspects of the game and introduce more long term goals and options through things like buildings or policies. Making all the mechanics feel more distinct from each other should help bring everything together.

Your perspective as a more experienced game dev and player is super valuable for figuring out what i should focus on to improve from the original.


There is an old Pooolka game called Seventh Heaven - Guardian Angel. With a cool concept of basically playing tamagotchi and taking care of a heroine as her guardian angel where on top of that you can choose starting city conditions and game scenario which is unfolding in the background.
I am simply sharing my concept of a possible AA-like game with a different perspective - where player is taking care of a student in an academy, gaining and losing traits, adapting to changing scenario rules and conditions or even influencing them if he/she is a member of student council or close to director, keeping grades up or down, partaking in clubs or doing jobs, managing relations with family, living in a dorm, etc.
I know of the My Little Angel game and other lifesims but they are all basically VNs with straight-lined gameplay or simple grindy sandboxes. I am talking about a game based on randomisation of events and scenarios with active rules and conditions in place similar in this aspect to Ashford Academy.

EpykTopic starter

Hey thanks for your comment. I cant say I am familar with that game but it sounds quite interesting. will definitely check it out if I can find it.
Your suggestions sound pretty cool too. I will give them some thought.


I rather like Dreamchaser's version, but it would be great if someone worked on it.

EpykTopic starter

What would you like to see changed or added to that version?
Because even tough I wouldn't start any development based on his code as long as he doesn't open source it, the game can still be used as a reference point.


I think more clubs and activities, more variety in school life.


Quote from: Epyk on Aug 02, 2023, 12:15 PMWhat would you like to see changed or added to that version?
Because even tough I wouldn't start any development based on his code as long as he doesn't open source it, the game can still be used as a reference point.
The game is open source. I don't remember the specific version on top of my head, but there are multiple larger issues then that anyhow. Written for an old version of Renpy is the obvious one, my suboptimal coding is another.
If the game can be used as a base or inspiration, anyone is very welcome to do so.


EpykTopic starter

I feel honored that you guys took the time to answer my questions. I have been looking at the original AA Code quite a bit, especially when I started this project and it was very helpful in learning how Renpy works. At this point my code is quite different from yours though so I find myself referring to it less and less.
Overall this project is turning out to be much more complex than I originally anticipated. So far I have barely a working prototype that is far from feature complete but it already spans about 1.5k to 2k lines of mostly python code.
Depending on how motivated i am to tackle making a usable GUI i might publish an early build soonTM.

Also 100% agree with you mezzcat: more content in general would definitely be nice.

Hope everyone here has a good day


I am happy to know that someone is trying to revive AA.
Wish you best luck.  ;D

BTW If you are working on some github/gitgud/other I would enjoying reading the code to see what you are working on.


To be honest, I was considering about reviving Ashford Academy, though I would prefer that I create from scratch, I'm just too lazy to read some code and understand all of them xD
I did somehow make a prototype yet it's missing a lot of features like policies, rules, progressing days, the only changes I added was some cool animation lmao

Imma put a link here if anyone is interesed

EpykTopic starter

Your animations are honestly very cool. I suck at all things gui, so on first glance this seems like magic to me.

I dont have a git repository set up so far. I plan to do that eventually, mostly for my own convenience though :p  I will share it with you guys when I get around to doing that.


I have a somewhat advanced design document for an AA clone, detailing a system for stats and such, plus an outline of story beats for a complete playthrough.

I'm 80% sure I'll never have the actual time to get around to it, so if you are motivated to keep working on that project, I could hand it over to you and maybe you could steal some ideas?
Maker of BK. Looking for the latest patch for BK 0.2? The link doesn't change, so bookmark it!

EpykTopic starter

Hey Goldo,
That I would love to see your ideas, thank you for offering. I already have a pretty good idea of where i want to go with this game, but because you have more experience in Game development, this could very valuable to me.