Our first review of Life in the Dorms is (finally) in! http://www.xclann.com/XBLIG-detail/life-in-the-dorms/
The jist is that they liked it (a 7.4/10, which as any GameCola diehard knows, is above average), but they thought it could’ve used voice acting, and the opening could’ve been more exciting.
I think I agree with the latter. One of the things I like about Life in the Dorms is its Wackiness Progression—the game starts out fairly normal, setting up Dack’s character and why he feels so apprehensive about school (with the snapshots at the beginning explicitly showing his happier, sunshine-filled days in high school before he gets booted out and sent on to the dark rain clouds of college). I wanted to build up to the wackiness rather than start with it right away, because that way scenes like performing surgery on your hallmate’s mother or being literally transported inside of another videogame have more impact—we make you think the game is set in the Real World, and then toward the end of Part One, we take a sharp turn into Crazytown.
The problem is that I didn’t take us to Crazytown soon enough; the intro’s slow and doesn’t grab people right away—which is a critical failure in a service where sales are dependent upon people playing the first eight minutes of your game, and then deciding based on that whether the rest is worth $1 or not. (Though, that isn’t to say our sales have been bad; they’ve definitely exceeded my expectations, especially considering that XBLIG is about one more major bug away from being thrown out by Microsoft entirely.)
As for voice acting…I think with our budget (which was $0), voice acting would’ve been risky at best. I don’t think we could’ve afforded good voice acting, and bad voice acting would’ve just brought the game down. (Remember the VO in Enchanted Arms? That’s what you can get when you have a budget. Imagine what you can get when you don’t.) Still, something to consider for next time, especially now that we’re generating a little bit of revenue.