Breaking the Exploitability of the Sun

No, this isn’t a screed against the Dawn Machine, this is a thread devoted to discussing the re-balancing the surface trades that are pretty much ruining the in-game economy of Sunless Sea and making new players reliant on them to progress - defeating the point of the game in many different ways.

First though:

[b]Why you should care.

[/b]A lot of the time people have a Laissez-faire attitude when it comes to exploits in single player games. Trending toward &quotif some players want to ruin the experience for themselves, let them. Doesn’t effect me.&quot

Except it does. Very much so. When players discover exploitative behavior in games, and then spread this knowledge around, especially to large numbers of newer players it tends to diminish the enjoyment that those players have. This is generally because while people might not realize it all of the time, the magic in gaming is always in the struggle. If the struggle is removed from a game (any game) the game is the lesser for it.

If new players do this and ruin the game for themselves it might seem inconsequential, but that’s how negative publicity spreads too. I’ve noticed on the Steam page for the game that more negative reviews have started to appear as the knowledge of this exploit has spread. Coincidence? Sure, probably. But also possibly not. When people know a game is easily broken in some way, it leads to a general presumption that it’s lesser quality, and the negativity quickly piles on. This negativity can often in turn lead to lower sales, and that in turn means we see less content in the future.

So if you like the game, or like the devs or some combination therein, fixing exploits should matter to you. If it still doesn’t then, well I guess I failed my persuasion check here.

So . . . how to make Sunlight trading fair:

[b]Increase the Risk, Don’t add a Time Limit

[/b]A number of the better trades in the game have time or amount limits associated with them - Coffee in Vienna, Wine at Godfall, Sphinxstone - and while this is an effective limiter on potentially exploitative trade behavior, it’s fairly simple and makes less sense with sunlight. Because Sunlight is a black market item (unlike these other items which are more specialized demands being met), demand should always be high. There should never really be a much in the way of &quotlimits&quot on the demand of the item. It wouldn’t make sense.

So I propose the following ways to increase the risk on sunlight:

  • Add suspicion whenever you come back from the surface.

In general, looking at the politics of the Fallen London universe, the Unterzee denizens are and usually should be suspicious of surfacers and the trades they may make. Doing this would slowly make sunlight trading a lot tougher if you’re selling to the Blind Bruiser and cause the player to either blow through funds to bribe guards or through favors to argue their way through. This alone would be a fairly effective limiter.

Alternatively, adding suspicion every time you sell to the Blind Bruiser could also work. Ideally the idea is to slowly nudge the player to stop trying to sell at London, and start trying to sell at the Isle of Cats, which increases risk and danger by being a tougher journey and costing more in fuel and supplies to get there, while increasing enemy encounter chance.

  • Raise the price of Mirrorcatch boxes in Khan’s Shadow, but not in Khan’s Heart.

There’s really not enough reason to get access to the Nephirite Quarter in general right now. One of the better and simpler ways of doing this would be to change the pricing on Mirrorcatch boxes between the two ports. If they were 300 Echo or 350 in Khan’s Shadow, then it would greatly increase the startup costs of this trade, and make losing the boxes a much larger pain if they they lose them without investing in gaining Access to Khan’s heart’s trading section. This would also make a large degree of sense in general too, as Khan’s Shadow is something of a &quotrebel&quot port that deals in dangerous goods. Their prices should reflect that they’ve been smuggling these goods out of the Heart to the shadow at a markup on all shared items between the two ports.

  • Have the Blind Bruiser turn the trade away if the risk is too high.

Basically, as the player’s suspicion rises with London, there should be an increasing chance that the Blind Bruiser will refuse the trade because it’s &quottoo hot right now, too many people watching&quot and basically telling the player to come back later. Partly this can be more effective if trading to the blind Bruiser is also requires SAY.

  • Add a status effect that accrues when the player has enough sunlight in their hold that attracts attention from enemies.

The final piece of the puzzle would be a unique status effect if the player has a bunch of sunlight in their hold. Namely, that if they have a certain number of boxes (say, 6-8 boxes or more), the light shines out of their boat in a large glow. This would have the effect of, essentially creating a temporary, &quotalways on&quot lamp. It could act as normal lamps do, but create a similar effect to the glowing &quotGlorious&quot ships.

This would be partly beneficial, as it would allow some travel at lower terror rates without expending fuel. However, it would greatly increase enemy ships and monsters to attack the player vessel, forcing again, a much higher risk to trading sunlight, especially if they need to head to the Isle of Cats to sell it off rather than London.

Some combination of all of these tweaks would effectively keep the Sunlight trade in the game, and potentially still very profitable, which it should be. But at the same time, much, much riskier to enter. Which it also should be.

That’s the real issue with the trade right now - far too little risk for far too high a reward. Increase the risk and the trade becomes much more balanced and much more interesting.

Of course though, these are only my thoughts on the subject. I’d like to hear other people’s opinions as well. Especially if you disagree on anything I just stated.

Get new stories, they already patched it

I see . . . well, it seems they went with the limiter rather than the increase in risk. Well, at least it works well with the lore.

Though are the menaces triggering for anyone so far? I went to the surface and didn’t gain any. Granted, I only did it the one time, but still, no new menaces.

No they apparently aren’t actually triggering quite yet, I assume it’ll go in when the East storyline is added.

Neat. I still think the prices on mirrorcatch boxes should be raised in Khan’s shadow though, if only to make unlocking the Nephirite Quarter mean more.

Ain’t the point of this game is to explore the zee and uncover the zee story not to sink our time try to hoard those darn echoes? Except wealth ambition.

Well I can safely say that they have implemented a fix for grinding sunlight on the surface. Was playing with my 9th captain and at this point I have very little left to explore so I thought I’d get myself a cargo trawler and a ton of mirror catch boxes and just grind my way to a very strong start.

I bought 40 mirror catch boxes. Didn’t even make it back to London from the Cumean canal as my captain kept opening the mirror catch boxes and died of wounds on the way back. You’ve no choice to avoid this. I had been to the surface twice already with 15 mirror catch boxes, and when I was leaving the canal I could see that the option to return to the surface had become something along the lines of go back to the surface and never return.

[color=#009900]Hello! It’s probably worth me adding that the intention was always to limit sunlight trading by tying it into an endgame / unique menace - it just took longer to get to that point than I expected, because it often turns out more effective to add content in a particular order - the walls in before we add the windows, as it were. I do regret that so many players came to depend on it - I hadn’t realised how obvious a degenerate/trivial strategy it could be - but it really wasn’t worth hacking in a quick fix 3-4 weeks ahead of time when the game is going to be around for years to come.[/color]

If your captain is dying from opening sunlight-filled mirror catch boxes, throw them overboard.

By &quotthem&quot, you mean the captain?

If you are referring to the Captain an an other when you yourself are the captain, I think the sunlight madness has done its work.

That’s a different event.