Being Successful (and having fun) in Early Access

First of all, anyone familiar with Failbetter games should know that the best rule of thumb is &quotnothing ventured, nothing gained.&quot That being said, here are a few things that made it a little easier and more enjoyable to explore early access Sunless Skies:

a few small spoilers to follow

  1. As soon as you reach New Winchester, acquire a certain passenger waiting for you there and take them to Port Prosper. Once there, acquire and complete the quest to finish the clock tower. It’s expensive but if you go directly there and back to New Winchester, you should have enough sovereigns to be able to afford the materials. It goes a long way toward giving you some working capital and some breathing room when exploring the rest of the reach.

  2. Turn in Port Reports often. This is a reliable source of income and much-needed fuel/supplies. My strategy is to visit at least 3 ports each time I leave New Winchester. 5 ports would be even better, but that brings me to my next tip:

  3. Keep a close eye on your terror. Being a Sunless Seas veteran, I wasn’t too concerned with my terror levels the first few times I played (and summarily died), but the new terror mechanics in this game warrant a fair bit of caution. Every time you fill your bar, your condition worsens. You start at 1 and you’re dead at 6. You get one opportunity to lower this condition by one point for free at Magdalene’s, after that it’s going to cost you relatively rare supplies. The higher your condition is, the more unpleasant things happen to you while exploring. Trust me, it gets expensive and frustrating and you should avoid it if you can. You can reset your terror bar at New Winchester, so plan ahead and start returning there if your bar reaches 65-70%. For me, the most frustrating end for a captain is being stuck with a level 5 condition at a port where I can’t reduce my terror and being too far away from any other port to get there without dying.

  4. Complete as many quests as you can. That’s the whole point of playing, right? Experience the story, visit all the ports, and work through quests. Most, if not all of the quests I’ve encountered have been profitable, so it behooves you to finish them to keep the cash coming in.

  5. When you have extra money, invest it. There are a few opportunities in the reach to shell out sovereigns that you’ll get back with interest later on.

  6. Looting an enemy usually comes with a choice of reward. My priorities go like this: I’ll take supplies over experience. I feel like experience is less valuable in what promises to be a short-term run playing early access, whereas free supplies will save you precious resources. I’ll take unusual items over sovereigns or hull. You’ll generally get items that are difficult to buy and valuable for selling or using in quests.

One of the cool things about these games is that there are so many ways to play them and obviously your experience will be different than mine, but hopefully this helps you get a little more longevity out of your next captain! Good hunting!

One of the things I truly enjoy about this new experience system is your stats don’t go off because you got your crew to train you at Fill in your backstory of who you were. Affecting the narrative down the line later. It kind of reminds me of the life path system of Traveler rpg except you add to it as you level up.

[quote=Chris O’Carroll]For me, the most frustrating end for a captain is being stuck with a level 5 condition at a port where I can’t reduce my terror and being too far away from any other port to get there without dying.[/quote]I definitely agree with you here. Terror is the harshest obstacle at present. Here’s some of my thoughts on the system.

There should be more places where terror can be reduced, like how Sunless Sea offered opportunities for shore leave at a number of ports (e.g. Gaider’s Mourn or the Chelonate). If immediately repeatable terror removal runs counter to design goals, perhaps writing a port-report could (in most cases) decrease terror.

Alternately (or in addition), there should be a way to travel without gaining terror, in which case the New Winchester terror-wipe could probably removed. In Sunless Sea, crossing open Unterzee with the lights on or hugging the coast with lights off would keep terror level, and lights-on coastal travel would reduce terror. Only enemies, natural hazards, and unlit open-Zee travel would cause terror to increase. In Skies, terror seems to increase at a constant rate while traveling, and then increase even faster during combat. Because the default state in Skies is &quotterror increasing&quot rather than &quotterror steady&quot, terror feels more like a limit on game duration than like an actual resource to manage and interact with.

Terror should especially not increase during travel within port circles. Dying from terror is possible half an engine’s-length away from the dock in New Winchester. This should simply not be possible. If we go mad and die in a port, it should be caused by an event at the port (i.e. a storylet).

Sunless Skies is not a claustrophobic game. The eeriness is in the wide open spaces, the empty blackness between islands. I am thus confused why the terror events (including the final death) mostly involve people stepping outside the locomotive. I’d think that a captain driven mad by the dark and chill of the void would seek the confines of the furnace, warm and bright and safe. Why don’t you step inside?

I think that’ll be addressed a bit with the upcoming Spectacles feature. There’ll be sights you can visit to reduce your Terror as you go from place to place, and you can plan your routes accordingly. There’ll also be sights that raise your Terror, so you’ll want to plot to avoid those.

[color=#6666ff]Hey Chris O’Carroll, that’s some really excellent advice there.[/color]
[color=#6666ff]@Anchovies, as Sara Hysaro mentioned, there’s definitely more to come in the way of features that tie into the Terror mechanic, but [/color][color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]thank you for the feedback on this aspect, it’s excellent. It’s all been noted and passed onto our designers/writers.[/color][color=rgb(102, 102, 255)] [/color]
edited by FailbetterFuzz on 9/19/2017
edited by FailbetterFuzz on 9/19/2017

Bravo - I think you just nailed why the new system feels odd to me.

Heading out for the first time with a captain in Sunless Sea I always tried to make a loop of the map, sacrificing crew, spending echoes & taking chances to reduce terror wherever I could. In skies I can usually travel to two ports, perhaps three if the random placement is in my favour, before the building terror just signals ‘time to head straight home now’, at which point I just point my prow at New Winchester and hit Cruise Control. No having to stick to the light, docking at ports to try to scrimp those last few reductions, boosting and watching the crew die and the ship degrade as I trade safety for speed. Just… time’s up, head home now.