Combat Gets REAL

[li]for those who haven’t read the news …

[li]the dev team ran some serious conferencing sessions on the combat protocols this month, and things came to a dramatic conclusion: the card / turn system is being replaced by a real-time mechanic. details are sparse, speculation is rampant, but it seems we’re looking at a revolutionary shift in approach and not just a major overhaul - the ‘baby’ has gone with the proverbial bathwater.

[li]from the sound of it, some of the existing mechanics might remain and could ‘see’ expansion. overall, the drive seems to be to push the overall experience towards a play of cat-and-mouse that emphasizes finding targets over beasting through the middle of things. and more than just a dance of light, we’ll be ‘looking’ at a choreography that includes audio seeks and signatures.

[li]love it or not, one thing’s for sure - the Unterzee as you know it is in for a massive change.
[li]offhand, i’d also wager that this means the release of Steel will be a bit later than originally planned.

I was just getting the hang of the old system. I’m not disappointed – I had a lingering suspicion the current &quotcard&quot combat was possibly a &quotplace-holder&quot until they figured out if the game would be well received – but I am pointing out that the combat mechanic isn’t really why I play the game. It’s the writing that sells Fallen London. Any minigames they add in should be just that – minigames. If they’re going to add combat, they should add a few other ones – but not now! Focus on the important stuff! But if the combat’s going to see an overhaul, I will reserve my judgement for when I see the new system. Perhaps it will be very good. Time will tell.
edited by SouthSea Rutherby on 8/19/2014

I don’t mind Steel being pushed back if we get a content update soon. Stories and islands, please.

Id love to see a hunt in the dark combat, where your own Mirrors/Ship size/Crew size/Extra Optics affect what you can see, you need to load up and fire flairs for brief illumination in areas. Would like to this also applied in part to the map… a FOW based on your ship size/crew/options and its main illumination… Move the bigger threats to deep water, keeping Bats, small crabs ect in coastal regions only…

It’s a very ambitious change and one which could pay off handsomely. If you have to actively watch for beasties in the dark (the current monsters, bless 'em, lumber with heavily implied menace but only rarely catch a moving target), that would make even routine profit runs more tense and interesting.

It’ll probably to take a few tries to congeal, but I like where this is going.

fair play; the airs of delay wafting about are just personal speculation on my part. but FB clearly wasn’t anticipating such a radical change in the fundamentals of their combat mechanic. revisions are one thing; rebuilding Rome is quite another, hence the apprehension. big question is how difficult it will be for them to code-in the new system, flesh it out, and test it. if it doesn’t test quite as planned, they might end up with a lot of back-and-forth as they fine-tune the system.

speaking of empty guesses, there also seem to be circumstantials pointing to new island material. we know they planned more for Emerald that didn’t make it, and more still was intended to accompany Steel, plus patches, detailing, and general ephemera. while a lot of resources might be turning to the combat overhaul, it’s not been their sole focus.

offhand, the Sunless Team must be in quite a state. this is no small order and over half the Sunless world remains to be implemented in the build with just 30-60 days on the deadline clock. they might be shifting up from Ridiculous to Plaid any time now. red bull, cokes, and mattresses. M&Ms.


I’m interested by the change. It could possibly mess with everyone’s favorite “charge into dangerous areas and just run away from the enemy” strategy. Definitely excited to see how they implement it, I would absolutely love for there to be a bit more tension in zailing and combat as there is in, say, the Godfall content.

Also, thanks for the thread, I didn’t notice the post until I saw this.

[li]running away …

[li]i’m wondering about that. not with respect to immediate (shooting) combat, but just with the world of the 'zee itself.

[li]i’ve gotten load placeholder titles in the game with those little hints at the bottom saying that ship weight affects speed. obviously, not the case now when a 50-buck steam-banger is all you need to outrun and out-maneuver any boat, monster, or menace in the entirety of the 'zee. only on rare occassion are you forced to confront an enemy. it’s practically all combat-by-choice.

[li]but maybe not for long?

[li]if the original vision of the game included the basic precept that ship speeds would vary in a meaningful way … that the zee is a dangerous and malevolent body of mystery and sudden doom … and now we’re talking of a combat system based on veils and illumination, a dimension of sight, sound, and stealth … maybe we’re looking at a change in the 'Neath where you can’t rely on running away. where your hand will be forced more often because, quite simply, the other guy is faster. and as you step it up into bigger boats, avoiding combat sought by others becomes less and less of an option.

[li]if that’s the case, i can see them tweaking the ‘proximity’ sensors for the monsters, limiting the distance they will pursue their quarry to less than how far they’ll take it now. but within that range … you better act quickly or ready yourself against that crab. maybe F-key has a use after all.

I honestly don’t know about this as such a drastic change tends to make me uneasy. Still I’ll reserve judgement for now and see what happens. If I don’t like it then I suppose that is just it for me with this game and shame for it on my part.

This worries me. I hope combat isn’t going to turn this into an “action” game. As others have said, I’ll reserve judgement. FB have done excellent work so far, so I’m hopeful the changes will be good rather than bad, but too much combat/combat that I can’t avoid is one of the things that will turn me away from a game faster than almost anything else.

I dislike the current combat which reminds me of old-fashioned 90s RPGs.

I do like that actions have warm-up periods though. A system where you’re moving around the map in real time combined with the action timers could be a lot of fun. Especially if you could do stuff like hide behind rocks.

[li]naaah … i wouldn’t be too worried. if you read the news closely, it’s clear they don’t intend for the new model to be a ‘twitchy’. they’re talking ‘gently paced’ and with the option to pause.

[li]but consider this - the team was very pro-card and had dispensed with the possibility of a ‘main-map’ combat system early on in the game’s development. but in spite of that bias, they felt the system wasn’t working like it should. enough so that they returned to a main map system. and after infusing the discussion with the knowledge and planning they’d gained thus far, not only conceived but designed a working prototype of this alternate system.

[li]and that prototype convinced them to ditch and bail on everything they’d done.

[li]i mean, think about that for a moment - the amount of time invested, the amount of effort expended, the amount of rework needed to yank out the old and rebuild, retest, and let fly a whole new paradigm. think of their deadlines, the money (and mortgages) resting on the line … not to mention the basic human need of wanting to meet the expectations of your ardent fan base.

[li]this had to have been something special to overcome all that and the momentum of inertia behind it.

[li]i have no doubt the new system will be different, and jarring, as old crutches we’ve come to rely on are tossed and lost to the wastes of Time. but the world is not a comfortable place. it moves, it changes, and we find new ways and new strategies for coping with the challenges that rise to face us. we’ll adapt, and have new stories to tell.

[li](btw, did anyone else expand those meeting photos? can you imagine? ramming …)

I’ve said my piece for this and how little I favor this change. I played this game for the story and only considered the battle aspect of it a necessary evil I could easily avoid, this new change does not make me think anymore favorably of it. Though I will withhold judgement, and again this is only a personal opinion.

Is there much to do in the Sunless Sea world BEFORE you get to combat? I was originally planning to wait til the game was almost finished before purchasing, but I find myself with itchy gaming fingers today and keen to check it out. However I’ve heard such complaints about the combat I’d rather wait til Steel is released before even bothering with that side of it. So my question - is there enough to keep me occupied for a few hours that doesn’t involve combat?
edited by Fairweather on 8/24/2014

I would say yes there are things to do. You can start uncovering the map, hire officers (when you have the echoes) and explore the random stories in the ports you find.

And actually you can outrun most beasties and avoid combat, except zeebats which can be a bit tricky to avoid but as they either give a terror reduction or a supply they can be quite useful early game.

I’m one of those who quite likes the current combat system but I’m sure I will adapt to whatever changes Failbetter decide are best.

except when you want them for the terror reduction, then they know… oh yes they KNOW!

&quotZeebats coming, the zeebats they toy with us… here they go… … where do they come?? yes the zee bats … don’t eat my pressouse zeebats!&quot