Hi there !
So I have played Russian Fishing 4 during 3400+ hours...
It's the most awesome fishing game I ever played. Here is my criticism, all the positive things about this game have already been said, and mainly 2 years ago.
I will try to do constructive criticism as much as I can do, because it's a pain and a pity to see the actual state of this potential jewel.
1. The lack of active spots:
the maps are huge. But not many places where to farm, where to catch decent fishes, despite the fact that there are tons of promising spots. Most of places on maps remain just silent, boring, with undersized fishes. All people goes to the same places, in order to not lose time looking for new (non-existent) active spots.
2. The mechanics of groundbait and attraction of the fishes:
a. Groundbait balls don't follow the current of rivers, it does not roll on the ground when the bottom is inclined, it falls vetically. So the feeding is flawed.
b. Groundbait is made to attract fishes and make them stay on the spot. So WHY THE HELL bites die after 24 hour on some maps? Bear Lake is the most affected by this "mechanic". You wanted to make people move from a spot to explore maps? What an error, particularly when only 2 or 3 spots are active, and the rest is void of substantial fishes.
c. And WHY THE HELL bites don't get more and more numerous with time if we feed a spot? In real life, a bad spot can turn into a hot spot when you feed there regularly, 29 years of personnal expecience of real fishing learnt me that. It can work after 10 minutes, 1 hour, one day or more. This just removes the possibility for a player to make his own hot spot if he doesn't want to fish an area overpopulated by people (I don't think that any true fisherman in the world loves to fish in crowed areas).
3. Fish behavior:
a. About the bites of some fishes: ides, chubs and zanders don't trigger any visible bite with bottom fishing. More particularly chubs and ides. Chubs are not discreet fishes, they're brutal, as for ides. Zanders can be discreet, but at least it always pulls a bit on the line. So much failed bites because of this. Taking a rod and press "R" to see if a fish is hanging on the hook isn't realistic at all.
b. This fish migration system: this is where all discontent began for players. If there was a legit reason for fishes to move (season/climate changes), it would be ok, because we could have ideas of where the fishes moved. But for now, fishes move for obscure reasons, and it's hard to find them again.
c. About carps: why carps bite so bad when weather is bad in the game? In real life, it's all the contrary, carps enter in a feeding frenzy when it's cold/windy/rainy.
d. The game feels more scripted than before. By this I mean: you can catch good sized fishes only during this or this period of time. The difference between night and day is way too brutal. For example, decent and big breams only during the night (wrong, I catch IRL very good sized breams, 2kg++, during the day. I won't talk about trophy breams that are 4kg+, not all waterbodies have them in stock IRL ^^). To this I have something to say about baits: script script script: for example, lures for pikes: this jerkbait. The biggest pikes (and the biggest numbers of pikes) are being caught with ONE model of lure, ONLY ONE. Irrelevant 100% in real life. You can even catch a big pike with a carrot attached to a triple hook, as long as you animate it properly. Other example: breams => several months only garlic dough, several months only pea porridge, several months only this or that. Irrelevant and unreal 100%.
e. Eels. Donets ruffes. Caspian kutums. And some others. What a joke. Eels can bite WELL during the day. My biggest IRL (88cm, around 1.5kg), was caught during summer, 30°C at 4:00PM, very sunny. And it wasn't the only one being caught during the day by hot weather. Donets ruffes: please, they can be caught during the day, with pretty good sizes. Caspian kutums? Why so rare? There are tons in Russia at the places where you can find them. Those are just few examples.
4. What makes this game a pain for each player here:
a. Energy management: you developpers from RF4, are so sure that you made a "simulator". No it's not. I don't pass many hours boiling tea or coffee each day, and I don't drink liters of it to fight a big fish when it's cold and rainy. A simple cup of tea or even a sip of water are enough IRL to feel better. And I don't eat so much either. If I behaved like this IRL, it's a long time I would have died in atrocious suffering, with a weight of 300kg+, with extreme diabetus and heart attacks every 5 minutes.
b. Menus: Why should we set again and again our fishing lines and rigs? Why change everything when we want to pass from inline to loop rig etc. ? This could have be done already 2 years ago. Anarchy in numerous lures, anarchy in groundbaits, etc...
c. Groundbait receipes: Why can't we still not save groundbait receipes? It's not difficult to do. I know how databases work, as I was web and php developper by the past. Nothing complicated. Just a bit of work. It could have saved a HUGE amount of time for players.
d. Changing hooks on lures: sooo painfully boring and complicated.
e. Placing rods: so boring when we are on inclined surfaces. We should be able to place our rods wherever we want, because it's possible IRL. As it is now, I feel like a mentally challenged guy unable to take a piece of wood or a rock to install his rod on the ground.
f. The duration of fights, and the strenght of fishes: yeah, nope.
=> My records IRL:
- 6kg zander on match rod with 1.2kg leader, 2kg line and hook 18: around 10 minutes
- 6kg sterlet on small picker rod with 1.6kg leader and 2.2kg line, hook 12: 12 minutes
- 4kg common carp on match rod with 2kg line and 1kg leader and hook 18: 15 minutes.
No joy passing twice those durations in front of a screen. It needs to be balanced seriously. You can't propose to players such long fights. It's not reasonnable at all. And to this, I add that it destroys player's fishing: passing long time fighting a medium fish and oh, the spot is already dead. One fish and it's ended, go change spot and target an other fish or change map.
5. The decisions of developpers:
a. The new lake: pretty surprised, badly surprised. So much time has passed, bugs are still here, what makes the game less fun and enjoyable for players is still here (read what is above). We, players, asked for tons of basic things to enjoy more the game. Like the volume of the boat engines for example, or the groundbait receipes being saved. Months and months have passed, without a decent update. You could have done LEGIONS of little things (even ask a trainee in programming to do those small tasks, cheap and good for everyone). But all we had were bites "balanced", and problems with servers. And now, with all of this being NOT SOLVED, we are AGAIN waiting for a big update promising us a game more and more complex and hard to play. The base of the game and its concept are great, but now all of flawed, and you continue to put new layers on a thing that is working less and less good. I would have prefered 100 times more bug fixes and improvements during those long long months, than a new content that I'm pretty sure, will make the game harder to play (new rigs, new baits, new technics, and only one of them will work fine at a time). I consider that new maps and content should be developped after the final release of the game, because for now players are disliking the current state of things. The roots have to be clean and enjoyable to let the rest grow further in the best conditions.
b. Prices: the game's features are clearly overpriced. Real money or not. Reduced prices would have encouraged way more people to spend real money, or to continue spending.
c. Not listening to your players and customers:
this ruins your business. You detain gold in your hands, but you are mixing it with cheap copper coins. Russian Fishing 4 could be THE big reference of ALL fishing games/simulators. This is what I thought during the first year of playing. This is the reason I accepted to spend real money in it, to support development. But strangely, concurrent games that were abandonned by people for RF4 (because of their defects, like too much scripted actions etc...) are still attracting people and are still being actively developped. And all of this to make fit to your vision of what is "realism" and "simulation" to your economical model. Here is the next point of my argumentation.
6. Why Russian Fishing 4 IS NOT a fishing simulator:
To explain this, I will tell you about an old old real fishing simulator released in 2003 (if I'm not wrong) by J.C. Spooner, it's called Fishing Simulator 2, more known as FishSim2. Now it's an "abandonware", so free to download. It has still an active community, despite the fact that graphics are really old now (the design is just a photography of a waterbody, and rods and lines are just pixels. You can see fishes only when you have caught them, and they are representated by a photography of the fish specie). I really doubt that this program will run properly on actual computers without an emulator of the old Win98 haha. So I consider that it's not a concurrent for RF4 at all, and I allow myself to tell about it here.
Here are the main points that made this light program a true simulator :
- the time is real, one virtual hour in the game = one real hour of the real life
- you could chose the period of the year: or the real date, or chose the period you prefer, and this by selecting the date and the hour. So the seasons were simulated, and fish activity changed depending on the period of the year. For example, in december, very few bites, difficult fishing. Way better during the summer for most of species.
- no money or food or energy or drink management: why those points should be relevant in fishing huh? If only RF4 made things like "you should have a breakfast, a lunch an a diner to keep your character healthy", it would have been very ok...
- you could not put small baits on huge hooks, and you could choose how many baits you wanted to put on your hook. So you could decide how many maggots you put on the hook, the size of your bread balls etc...
- no hooks 24 on 0.8mm leaders (because this is physically IMPOSSIBLE), no hooks 1/0 on 1kg leaders (I tried IRL when I was young and it does not work, the line being too fragile for those hook sizes)
- you had to put yourself the small sinkers on the line depending on your float
- you could chose precisely the lenght of your leader by deplacing a cursor, so no determined lenghts like 15/20/25 cm. You could chose to make your leader 1m18 long if you wanted
- groundbait was very well done: attracting and keeping fishes on the spot, but if too much food => fish overfed, way less bites + you had to cast your groundbait upstream at rivers to make it fall near your hook
- the thicker the line and the bigger the hook, the lesser you caught fishes. Tight lines => pure truth in fishing. No trophy roaches or ruffes on hooks 3/0 and 27.7kg leaders for example
I could continue but my memories of this simulator are pretty far now. I just can tell you that I passed countless hours of real time fishing on this simulator.
To conclude, I think that RF4 has a great problem: wanting to be a simulator, but can't be because of the economical model. The player has to earn small virtual money to buy things that cost big virtual money, and this in order to be incited to spend real money. And this because of the frustration induced by difficulty and slow progression in game. Not every people can spend hours and hours exploring maps and looking for working spots => huge feeling of frustration, boredom => they give up and quit the game for something that give them pleasure. I think RF4 is at a crucial turning point:
- You devs want a true realist simulator, so you have to expect that players will pass countless hours on RF4. For this, only one economical model: membership (weekly, monthly, annual with unlocking stuff and maps, as The Hunter Classic did by the past. This is an awesome hunting SIMULATOR, and it was so successful that The Hunter Classic is now 100% free to play, and allowed its developers to create The Hunter: Call of the Wild, paid version on Steam with tons of paid addons, a true success too).
- Or you want to keep your actual economical model, but for this, you will have to listen to your customers in order to keep them: make RF4 easier and funnier, as it was by the past, 2 years ago, and forget a bit your vision of a "simulator".
Beware RF4 devs, there's a new concurrent, a solid concurrent. Do you know why? Because this concurrent is doing what players are expecting. I tried it, and I've seen that many points I've talked about above are offered to players (a simple example: the volume of the boat engine). Your concurrent is smart, I bet a lot that he has an eye on what is done on RF4, and on what players of RF4 and other games are complaining about.
I just hope that you won't take my criticism bad. I said all of this because I really fear that RF4 will disappear someday. I repeat it: you have gold in your hands. It's up to you to not ruin it.