Feedback Focus: Terror part I

[color=#6666ff]Feedback Focus: Terror

Welcome to the first of our focused feedback threads!

Throughout Early Access we are collecting feedback on all areas of Sunless Skies, however it helps development if we can concentrate fully on just one aspect at a time. So we’ve decided to have focused feedback threads where we look at a particular area of the game. I cannot give an exact time scale such as every week/fortnight, but from time to time we will be posting these threads to gather your thoughts on a certain mechanic. So check back regularly to see what we’re discussing.

These threads will generally take the following format. We’ll explain why a mechanic/feature is the way it currently is. We’ll briefly go over what we’ve heard you say about it so far and what we are looking to do with it in the future. Then we’ll be listing what we want to know from you guys.

This will help us direct our work on the feature in question. Gathering player feedback is the biggest reason why we do Early Access, so your thoughts and suggestions are very important to us!

Remember to stay on topic and be constructive. Feedback can be positive or negative as long as it’s constructive. Simply telling us that you hate a feature doesn’t help us very much. Neither does just stating that you love it (however nice this is to hear). Instead tell us why! Why do you like/dislike a feature? Then tell us how would you change it to make it better? Not only are suggestions helpful, but they spark further discussions and ideas.

Without further ado let us know what you think about Terror!

Why it is the way it is
[/color][ul][li][color=#6666ff]At the moment, Terror increases when you’re out and about. We’ve set the rate at which you gain it a bit higher than it will be eventually, because we don’t have anything that increases it in large amounts in yet.[/color][/li][li][color=#6666ff]We want to make it so that returning to New Winchester is a big deal for your crew. When they aren’t there, they never feel 100% safe. That’s why the big Terror reduction takes place there.[/color][/li][li][color=#6666ff]Your Condition increasing is not the end of the world! You can live with high condition for a long time. We’ll be introducing more ways to reduce Terror, but your Condition will always be quite hard to decrease, and it will be costly.[/color][/li][/ul][color=#6666ff]
What we’ve heard
[/color][ul][li][color=#6666ff]Not enough ways to reduce Terror. We’ll be addressing this, don’t worry! Let us know what you think would be an interesting sacrifice your captains might make in order to calm their crew.[/color][/li][li][color=#6666ff]There isn’t enough feedback as to whether or not Terror is increasing. We had a similar problem in Sunless Sea! We decided the solution we had for that game wouldn’t work for this one, but we’ll be looking at making this clearer.[/color][/li][li][color=#6666ff]Terror being gained around ports doesn’t make narrative sense, yeah, we’ll be fixing that![/color][/li][/ul][color=#6666ff]
What we’re looking to do
[/color][ul][li][color=#6666ff]Make it clearer if you’re gaining Terror/how much you are gaining.[/color][/li][li][color=#6666ff]Introducing Wonders and Horrors. Wonders will decrease Terror if you spend time near them. Horrors will increase Terror the longer you spend time passing through them. You’ll have to plot your journey to accommodate these. We’re hoping this will make for a satisfying experience, let us know once this feature is introduced (coming soon!)[/color][/li][li][color=#6666ff]We’re considering ways you might be able to customise your ship to mitigate the effects of Terror gain[/color][/li][/ul][color=#6666ff]
What we’d like to know

[/color][ul][li][color=#6666ff]What is the most interesting/least interesting part of gaining Terror at the moment?[/color][/li][li][color=#6666ff]What sacrifice do you think your captain would be prepared to make to calm their crew? Increased supplies? A particularly cute mascot?[/color][/li][/ul]
edited by FailbetterFuzz on 9/27/2017
edited by FailbetterFuzz on 2/13/2018

Before I give any feedback on the topic, just a quick thank-you - it’s been really good to see more engagement here on the community forum over the last week, Fuzz!

The condition change is a great idea, I think, but it just doesn’t give enough feedback at the moment. There’s an immediate narrative flag when you move from wary to nervous, but then it seems sporadic after that - I’d suggest an event for each condition-raise, hopefully something with an element of choice or barter (as with multiple captains you’re going to be seeing it a lot). Moving up a condition should feel scary, and without the fear of an early death that Sunless Sea had for high terror, you need something else to stoke that fear in a player.

I mentioned the New Winchester stuff in another thread, so hopefully that helps, but again I think the idea of having a central port that reduces terror is great, it just needs more to engage the player. Also the lack of terror gain around ports is a great change, as that did feel a bit jarring.

On the subject of terror…
One of the easiest ways to convey terror in Seas was through musical cues - when that goddamn rattle started up at 90 it was a sign things were going wrong. It might be worth having a reduced-impact version of that, an ominous undertone that could play when you were in areas or situations that drive your terror up higher than normal. Not a whole new piece of music, just a subtle change to the one already playing. Floating text could also help - without the old Sunless Seas journal marking the passing of days & from sea to sea, the screen doesn’t have much to read a lot of the time.

Wonders and Horrors sound fantastic, really looking forward to that.

As for ship customization…
+ Stoking the boilers. The High Wilderness is described, often, as cold - running hotter might make the crew feel at ease, at the expense of fuel.
+ Personalized Stained Glass Windows. The idea of the stained glass muting the hunger of the stars is a narratively beautiful one, but you could take it a little further, perhaps. You could link it to things your crew has achieved, or perhaps wonders you’ve seen / horrors you’ve escaped. Having a personalized scene immortalized in your locomotive’s windows would remind the crew of what they’ve accomplished, letting them take heart in dark times.
+ Auxiliary rooms/cabins. Something for the crew to do in the precious time between work and sleep - even something simple like a folding card table sitting in an aux slot to lower terror gain after long enough periods of quiet.
+ Not exactly a ship mod, but… the officers you have equipped might be able to have an effect in different situations. Back in Sunless Seas, I always thought it was a pity that the Adventuress didn’t put the sailors at rest as they neared the Mountain, or the Carnelian Exile warn them away from the rail as you head toward the Dawn Machine. It would also be another excuse to have more floating text, which is the best text.

As for the direct questions, the most interesting part of gaining terror is seeing what your mustachioed friend is going to present you with next. I wish there were more ways for higher terror/condition to manifest though - much like the alternate possible Hybras storylines. The least interesting part of gaining terror at the moment is everything from condition 2 to 4, as it doesn’t really have an impact. Condition 4 is no more inherently scary or nerve-wracking than Condition 2, whereas back in Seas Terror 70-80 was a hell of a lot scarier than Terror 20-30.

The least interesting part of terror in general is the docking at New Winchester - again, mentioned it elsewhere, but it feels too mechanical at the moment.

As for sacrifices, anything from evenings with the boiler on full to supply-diminishing feasts to settle the belly and mind together. Sacrificing crew could also work - that muttering doomsayer in the corner might be reassigned to spacewalk duty, or banished to the boiler-room, or quietly prepared for the more peckish crew members.

There’s also the potential idea of sacrificing time - spending more time at ports for your crew to relax, sacrificing speed for surety. problem there is that time advancing is most often a really good thing so far in Skies, especially if you’re mining or building. If there were more things that had to be done quickly (like certain passengers) then spending more time at port might be a good sacrifice.

Hope this wall of text helps! Any changes you make are building on a great foundation with what you’ve already got running, so that’s a really positive start!

edited by A Parliament of Hounds on 9/20/2017
edited by A Parliament of Hounds on 9/20/2017
edited by A Parliament of Hounds on 9/23/2017
edited by A Parliament of Hounds on 9/23/2017

I think the Terror/Condition mechanic has potential. I know this is a very early beta and that things will change but at the moment these are my thoughts:-

It does mean that you have to be careful with route planning and hope that you get back to New Winchester before that counter ticks over to the next level. You can get to maybe 3 or 4 places before heading back, depending on where they are situated on the map, if you don’t want to increase Condition.

Gaining Terror seems a lot easier than finding ways to reduce it. Things like trying to get Penances in Carillion; a bee attack at Titania; the random visits from a certain spaceman - all make it harder to plan carefully. It is good to hear that terror will not increase as you get near to port as I am still having some difficulty in getting lined up correctly to trigger the port stuff.

I think there should be more opportunities like taking Tea in Lustrum or the various options in Port Avon at other places. Visiting the Circus or one of the places you have built at Titania seem like they should be relaxing things to do, for instance.

I have not managed to find the items needed to reduce Condition at Magdalene’s yet. I know the first one is free so don’t use it until my Condition is at 3 or 4.

I’m looking forward to the next patch and the eventual introduction of Wonders and Horrors.

Keep up the good work.

Hello, my reply won’t be as long and developed as the previous ones, but here are my thoughts. Please forgive my possible weird spelling or grammar mistakes, English isn’t my mother tongue.

  • So far, I prefer the terror system in Sunless Skies to the one of Sunless Sea. I find that terror rises too quickly in Sunless Sea, it is a too-fast rise to madness; while here, having different stages makes it go slower (please don’t make it faster). While in a dark underground giant cavern being afraid makes sense, in a space full of stars it makes less of it; hence my liking of the fact it builds more slowly.

  • I really like the stages/conditions idea, as well as the narrative/storylets around the frozen passenger.

  • Maybe other ports could reduce a bit terror too? Having New Winchester/ the capital of the region being the only one reducing it to zero is totally ok, and fits well your : &quot[color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]We want to make it so that returning to New Winchester is a big deal for your crew. When they aren’t there, they never feel 100% safe. That’s why the big Terror reduction takes place there.&quot[/color]
    It conveys well that idea of return to port/home as a relief. But I feel like some of the other ports could reduce it a little bit as well (maybe by a quarter or third of the accumulated terror for example). Arriving at a place like port Prosper, Magdalene, Lustrum, Avon, Lustrum, Titania and the L&S Reserve could potentially be a relief too, for the reason it is inhabited land. Prosper would make sense because it is a rather civilised and urban place, Lustrum because it’s far away and requires a rather long trip, Titania because it is beautiful (well, except when bees attack), Avon because it is a cosy village.

  • horrors and wonders is a really nice idea, looking forward to see it.

-as sacrifices : the feasts mentioned by A Parliament of Hounds is a good idea, as well as his suggestions for ship customization.

Not much to add, in any case, I enjoyed the game so far,
edited by Eldrinn on 9/21/2017

[quote]We want to make it so that returning to New Winchester is a big deal for your crew. When they aren’t there, they never feel 100% safe.[/quote]New Winchester is a city directly involved in an ongoing civil war. It’s like Belfast in 1970 (and now that I think about it, you may well be already using the Troubles as inspiration for the Winchester War). Anyone who joins on as crew would have some reason to leave or no reasons to stay. A stop at Winch could definitely be good for the nerves after a fortnight of engine trouble, cantakeri stew, and bees, but rock leave (there’s no shores for shore leave, just rocks) wouldn’t be all buttered scones and jam. There’s still trash in the alleys, smog in your lungs, and tension in the air.

Although Titania is periodically beesieged, it’s a beautiful and relaxing place on its days of peace. Magdalene’s is all about comfort and happiness, and Polmear & Plenty’s is at least trying to be similarly uplifting. Port Prosper is New Winchester with less war, more money, and frequent parties and parades. Port Avon is eminently peaceful and calm, regardless of how the locals’ glares. The Nature Reserve receives many locomotives carrying academics and sightseers, giving locomotive crews a chance to swap songs and carouse. Lustrum offers some comfort in its taverns and tea-shop, when things haven’t been going too badly for the prospectors. Traitor’s Wood has its own sort of beauty in the dense, towering bronzewoods.

All of those ports should offer some way to reduce terror. Some already do. Here’s the present state of terror at each, and/or my thoughts on what could be added or changed.

First off, I think that writing a port report should remove a small amount of terror. Adding a small terror cure to each new stop on a route would give players some freedom to explore, while the limited availability of port reports would prevent established captains from using brute force of wealth to ignore terror as they could with shore leave in Sunless Sea. Linking terror reduction to port reports would reward planning efficient routes and stopping back at Winch before returning to recently-visited ports. Numbers-wise I think 5 from writing a report and 10 plus 10 per report when turning in reports at Winch might work; that could be a bit generous, which means just adding more terror sources! There’s definitely some events which don’t increase terror but probably should, e.g. witnessing neddy-brutalized prospectors at Lustrum, or docking at Hybras the first time after the disappearance.

Magdalene’s removes 25 terror in exchange for curiosities which could fetch 50-75sv if sold elsewhere, and can remove levels of condition if you can find the elusive payment it demands. Mag’s is good, because a visit can easily extend a voyage by one or two ports. It’s tough to remember the treatment costs beyond that specimens, secrets, visions, and gossip are called for in various combinations. Mag’s is about providing a fabricated second chance to put someone at ease about a past unpleasantness. With that in mind, visions of the heavens are sorta out of place among specimens, secrets, and gossip. I think the items used as treatment ingredients should be tales of terror, uncanny specimens, savage secrets, and salon-stewed gossip.

I also had a thought about how treatment is arranged in storynexus; perhaps one ingredient could be paid when choosing the purpose of the treatment (loneliness/guilt/etc) and the other ingredient paid when choosing the treatment scenario. That would produce four types of treatment, each with four possible scenarios, for sixteen possible results based on the selection and order of ingredients. It would add a nice sort of organic variety to the treatments. Some examples which spring to mind (which may of course be used or adapted freely):

Salon-stewed gossip: request a treatment for embarrassment
Gossip, gossip: respond to an embarrassing insult with the stinging comeback which you came up with a week later!
Gossip, savage secret: they made a fool of you in front of your idol, and now you carry out your elaborate revenge fantasy!
Gossip, uncanny specimen: they thought they’d caught you peeping through their window, but you were really dispatching this awful monster which was trying to break in!
Gossip, tale of terror: they hurt your pride, now you hurt their FACE

Writing that out has caused me to more fully appreciate the appeal of Magdalene’s. I kinda want to go there. Just the once, I promise…

Anyways. There should be some sort of indication at Mag’s of where in heck unlicensed charts and moments of inspiration can be found. Something along the lines of how Fallen London tells players that whirring contraptions are “available in the deeper meshes of the Great Game, in a certain hidden place”.

Port Avon offers a selection of speculative fiction which reduce 3-5 terror each and give a sky-story, tale of terror, or savage secret. One gossip allows for 3 readings, a caddy of tea allows for 5. It’s a bit odd that the choices don’t all offer the same terror cure. Is that to balance slight differences in the value/rarity of the curiosities they provide?

Mag’s and Avon are the only substantial non-Winch terror-cure sites as far as I know. They both call for gossip, which results in a strong pressure to turn reports in to the Windward Company. A Tackety supporter needs to either occasionally deal with their enemy or rely on gossip harvested from… marauders, of all things. Unless the unusual-cargo salvage option uses a cache of curiosities-like quality and it just seems to be only marauders because they’re one of the two NPC locomotives available so far. Perhaps the Windward Company could let you turn in favor for something other than society gossip, and a neutral source of gossip could be introduced. Maybe the New Gazette could provide gossip the first time a captain reads each edition.

Regardless, this has gotten bloody long. I’ll leave it here for now.

  • [color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]What is the most interesting/least interesting part of gaining Terror at the moment?[/color]

In the game’s present state, I think the most interesting part of the terror mechanism is getting visits from a certain spaceman. I love that as a player I actually went from thinking this was something I should encourage and that I should appease this &quotperson&quot to realizing that my captain has gone quite mad and I was pulled right into it with them. I like that the home port of New Winchester is your source of solace and the most efficient way to eliminate terror because it makes return trips more important than they were in Sunless Sea. I wasn’t normally as worried about terror in Sunless Sea (unless I was being chased by the Constant Companion) because it seemed fairly easy to mitigate and rarely resulted in my captain’s death. Near the end game, I could even potentially visit all the ports in one run before returning, whereas now, terror limits me to 3-5 ports at most. This is can be quite a challenge, but it’s an interesting one because it makes careful planning all the more important. I am very excited about wonders/horrors because it would enhance the planning challenge further. I’ve already noticed a few places that would seem to fit this description.

I think a good portion of my frustrations with gaining terror have to do with the early access environment and I expect they’ll settle out in the finished game, but I’ll briefly go over them for the sake of feedback. One thing that has become a bit of a hassle is when ports in the outer ring are isolated enough that I can’t visit any other ports on the way. I realize this is partially the luck of the draw based on random placement, but the worst example was a playthrough where Carillion was far enough away that I only had enough leeway with my terror to get there, have maybe 2 or 3 terror-inducing failures, and head back to New Winchester before my condition worsened. I’ll also echo other commenters that it would be good if terror didn’t increase within ports. It was so frustrating the first time I died of terror within sight of the loading dock at New Winchester and realized there was no way to avoid it even after loading my last autosave.

[ul][li][color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]What sacrifice do you think your captain would be prepared to make to calm their crew? Increased supplies? A particularly cute mascot?[/color][/li][/ul]In Sunless Sea, I liked that you could practically gamble away all your resources to cheat death until you were left stranded with a starving skeleton crew and no fuel. That made it feel like, &quotokay, I deserve this.&quot I think a similar system of sacrificing fuel or supplies to temporarily stave off the inevitable would be welcome. I liked the comment about stoaking the furnaces or having a feast. Quietly disposing of a deranged crewman would be another solution. The first time I realized there was no way I could get back to New Winchester without a game over, I frantically looked through all my officers to see if there was an option like with the Magician in Sunless Sea for reducing terror. Something like that would help. My only other suggestion would be for Hearts to have a small impact on how quickly you gain terror or otherwise how easy it is to reduce it.

Hope that was constructive enough and that it all made sense. Thank you to our developers for being so interactive in this processes! This is my first time getting involved with a game in development and it’s been so much fun. I can’t wait to see where the game goes from here.

I am generally finding that Terror in Skies currently accumulates so annoyingly fast that you have to structure all your trips as either out-and-back or hub-to-hub, and this I feel detracts from the ability to truly enjoy the charting of courses. In particular, any effort to collect 6-8 Port Reports before turning them in at New Winchester results in Condition increases. (Unless I were to figure-eight out of Winchester and turn in Reports after 2 voyages to different sectors. But then it feels so gamey; the game shouldn’t incentivize your withholding of mundane Port Reports…Strategic Information is another matter.) If you’re going to keep it like this, then I feel reducing Terror at ports needs to be a more consistent and obvious option.

In Sea, you could pay a varying amount of gold at most port-like ports to reduce Terror. The places where you couldn’t were capital-S Scary. I think if you wanted to make this mechanic even better and give the ports a more distinctive sense of place, you could give each port a certain item that you could trade there for a Terror decrease - perhaps Tea at New Avon, Munitions at the Circus (fireworks!), Seeds for the naturalists at the Leadbeater & Stainrod Forest Reserve. New Winchester could be especially safe because it would be -the- place where you could use money in addition to receiving a large automatic reduction. (Maybe the major hub in each region could use money.) Places that are unpopulated or otherwise terrifying wouldn’t have such an option (like Avid Horizon, or the depopulated Hybras).

I agree with the poster who suggested previously that the act of docking at a place should decrease Terror if and only if you can still write a Port Report about it (unless it’s Magdalene’s, of course. Magdalene’s is always nice. Please find a way to make that work.). In general, being able to write a Port Report means you’ve gone somewhere you meant to go (or have newly found a place and made sense of it), whereas docking at a port for the second time can be indicative of being unable to get back home a new way, and having to re-traversing the old route you took out. Secondly, it would be a great way to give the anticipated terror decrease for exploring into the unknown void and finding a DOCK! (whew!) Third, as you filled in the map, intermediate ports would become a way to get from hub to hub while still getting in some story progress.

The big exception would be for places that are capital-S Scary, which you would probably want to give terror for writing a Port Report about (something like Kingeater’s or Savior’s in Sea).

I disagree markedly with the poster upthread who said that terror in Sea went up so quickly it was difficult. Terror in Sea, I felt, was perfect; it was relatively easy to keep under control, and you would mine into your terror reserve to pull things off in the early game but not need to lean on it once you had a (the) decent engine, and while one random Terror increase was A-OK, two was disaster and sent you scurrying to Murgatroyd’s in Port Carnelian to spend a thousand Echoes on coffee for your poor crew. (Been there, done that, didn’t lose!)

digression: Do you have anything planned to replace &quotSomething Awaits You?&quot That was a romantic mechanic.
edited by Kalirren on 9/26/2017
edited by Kalirren on 9/26/2017
edited by Kalirren on 9/26/2017

[color=#6666ff]Hello folks![/color]
[color=#6666ff]Thanks for the replies so far. I’ve been away at EGX showing off the game with a few other Failbetters, which is why I’ve not been around. I’m just going to make a pot of (darkdrop) coffee and then i’ll be sitting down to go through your thoughts. [/color]

Terror does seem a bit of a placeholder at the moment, but as you said, it’s higher than you’d normally gain because the game isn’t finished yet.

Things I like about terror:

The increasingly sinister visitations from a certain person. It really makes condition feel different from just a number. I’d really like more random spooky events to pop up the higher your condition gets, to really convey the slow descent into madness. As is, you get one visit from the stranger every condition level until you die, which feels a little… gamey? Less like you’re living with a slowley rising madness brought on by the horrors of the sky, and more like an annoyance.

As for sacrifices, I’d love a similar system to what is in Sunless Sea, where the player can burn extra fuel to keep the lights on. As other people have suggested, maybe running the boilers nice and hot can slow the rate at which terror builds up, at the cost of increased fuel consumption and the heat level settling at 30% instead of 0%. (Also spooky space monsters might be attracted to heat or something)

Most of my experiences and opinions on the terror mechanic would only echo what has already been said, so just to summarize:

  • Conditions are a great way to utilize the Terror mechanic.
  • The current terror gain is really fast and the fact that it prevents me from going on longer voyages without coming back to the centre to New Winchester is rather annoying.
  • Wonders and Horrors sound absolutely bombastic and I cannot wait to see them in action!
  • More options to decrease terror for money/goods, please.
  • Thanks for implementing no terror gain around ports, eventually.
  • [color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]What is the most interesting/least interesting part of gaining Terror at the moment?[/color]

The conditions are the most interesting, for sure. I wish (and suspect) that more would be done with them. The fact that they are very hard to reduce seems appropriate and the one free reduction at Magdalene is a friendly gesture for starting captains. I hope you plan to keep that.

So far the only thing I really experienced was different interactions with a certain someone you tend to meet while cruising for different levels of Terror condition, that is great.

My idea would be that maybe some quests or shops or locations or something would only be accessible with a certain condition level? Like perhaps you need to be very calm and collected to be let in the Natural Reserve, so you cannot have a condition worse than 3, but only a mad man would attempt something at Carillion, so you need condition 4 at least?

The least interesting is the current need to stop at New Winchester all the time to avoid dying of insanity too soon, but I feel like you’ve noticed this issue and will address it in the future, so I don’t want to complain too much.

  • [color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]What sacrifice do you think your captain would be prepared to make to calm their crew? Increased supplies? A particularly cute mascot?[/color]

Now I do admit these are more narrative ideas than game play ones, which makes them hard, if not impossible to implement, and perhaps they will be discarded as stupid, but:

  1. Captain reassures the crew: In times of struggle, the crew looks to the captain for leadership. So the captain could make a rousing speech that would install more courage into the crew member’s hearts. Now this seems rather easy, so perhaps it could only work when the Condition is 1 or 2 and/or there could be a tracking quality that only allows you to use this option a couple times, e.g. &quotYour ‘Reassured the crew’ Quality is now 1&quot and when it reaches 5, it’s locked forever.

  2. Letters from home: No idea if this would make sense story-wise, but the bats we’re using for scouting could be used as messengers, no? (They are in FL, at least). Also, the Captain could simply be forging them (which would explain some material cost) and it might cost a portion of supplies too, just like scouting, because the bats would have to pretend to fly in with the letters from the crew.

  3. Equipment: Apart from what was already said, a portrait of a loved one could be something the captain would find solace in, therefore it would help with the Terror gain.

  4. Sacrificing a Crew member: While simply sacrificing them out in the open would probably realistically result in an increase of terror, the &quotquiet disposal of a crew member&quot as suggested above is also a great idea, although I am not a fan of cannibalism, not even in your games, with a sufficiently mad Captain it would simply make sense.

  5. Making a Mascot out of a Crew member A crew member could be assigned to &quotcheering-up duty&quot, which would cost materials to create a costume or something and the crew member, as they would no longer be doing whatever it was they did to maintain the locomotive. I am partial to (though very self-conscious about) the idea that you could perhaps choose whether you deliver the Costume back to the clown at Circus or you give it to a crew member for terror reduction. Then, when you return to the Circus, you’d get yelled at by the Clown (it could have some penalties, though I can’t think of an appropriate one right now) and if you want to finish the quest or move on, you have to again commission and deliver a costume, this time on your own dime (since if I remember correctly, he gives you money for the original one).

These are just some ideas, it’s probably good that I am a player, not a creator of SSkies :D

If there’s one thing I’d like to stress out, it’s play around with the conditions. It could open doors when it closes others, it would be great.

Sorry for the long post, thank you for your hard work!
edited by Lallinka on 9/28/2017

One thing which really helped terror work in Sunless Sea is that the player could see at all times whether terror is increasing, decreasing, or stable. The game didn’t take long to train me to compulsively glance at the terror dial every few seconds while zailing. Skies currently has a pulsing glow around the terror meter in especially dire conditions, such as while in combat or dense clouds, but giving the player more details and greater ability to influence terror gain would be a definite improvement.

A number of the things which others have said about mitigating terror through material expenditures are actually already in the game.

  1. When supplies runs down from 1 to 0, the player can choose to give an inspiring speech (gain terror, substantially reduced on a successful hearts test) or stoke the furnace (spend fuel).
  2. When out of supplies, a random event has you choose how to deal with your crew complaint’s: imprison the loudest one (lose crew), discipline them harshly (gain terror), or let them keep complaining (lose hull).
  3. One of the condition 5 events involves dealing with rumors of mutinous intentions: investigate the mutineers to lose 1 crew on a successful veils test or lose 2 crew and gain 10 terror on a failure, or order half your crew to beat the other half to gain 10 terror at no crew cost.
  4. The other condition 5 event is a visit from Mr Freeze, who demands accommodations in the crew quarters. You can either lose 2 crew or sacrifice a point of hearts. This is hardly a choice, because crew is a much more plentiful and renewable resource than stat levels.

Mr Freeze’s visits are a very immersive approach to terror effects. Being able to see the fellow at Mag’s is a very nice touch. I think that the final condition 5, terror 100 visit could be improved by adding a little bit of real choice to it. Instead of going out into the cold regardless of your attitude about it, perhaps the captain could choose to accept the cold or to flee into a place of heat? “I can keep you warm”, says the furnace. “My walls will keep you safe from the dark. Why don’t you come in?”

I never played Sunless Seas, just FL, so Terror as a mechanic is new to me. So far it’s mostly frustrating, without seeming to add anything to the game for its importance.

For most of the adventuring it just sits there on the side, an ever present threat but one that essentially does nothing until it hits 5 and all hell breaks loose. I’ve already mentioned encountering a game ending pair of choices from it, and I’ve experienced a few other options before. I don’t inherently dislike that it can happen, it just seems to be so binary. Everything is fine until it’s not. Which maybe is a rather apropos life lesson, come to think of it.

Ideally it’s a mechanic I’d rather require interaction to manage. Currently I run to New Winchester every time I finish a route and try to keep it at 4 and under. It becomes very frustrating because I want to explore more but I am now tethered to making only a few port hops before steaming back to the Winchester to have a pint and wait for the terror to blow over.

Instead I’d much rather be required to manage my terror through various actions. Maybe having to stop for extended periods at a port for shore leave, which has its own consequences. Or throw a sumptuous repast in the black at the cost of extra supplies to knock the terror down a bit. Maybe a crew member insists on going to a port outside of my planned route for a break, but I may just do that because it knocks my terror down a decent whack.

I also think it could use more engaging indicators. Conjure up some of that lovely writing in the sky. It feels too disengaging to keep watching a little bar moving, pulls me out a bit in a way that Fuel or Supplies don’t. I suspect it’s because those are assets that you would actually monitor were you on your locomotive, whereas terror is much more intangible.

tl;dr - I don’t dislike Terror as a mechanic, I dislike how it seems to be meaningless until everything goes wrong and you’re stuck with binary bad:worse choices.
edited by ZeroMGA on 9/28/2017
edited by ZeroMGA on 9/28/2017

that seems odd, all my condition levels have at least been acknowledged by Icy Malone

Really? Mine haven’t - I got a visit the first time my condition ticked over, a random visit at somewhere in 2, and then one when five filled up. That was it.

Felt very odd to me - perhaps a bug, then?

Yeah the Corpscicle seemed very random to trigger for me. Similar to Parliament of Hounds experience.

Maybe I haven’t played enough yet - only 5 hours, according to Steam - but as a player, I’m feeling more wonder than terror during the game. Specific events - such as getting down to 0 supplies, a visitation from a cold guest, and stumbling onto the Grave of the Silent Saint - raise the tension, but otherwise, I’m not much aware of terror being gained in the game, nor do I feel on edge the way I did from the very start in Sunless Sea.

I like the ideas proposed by others so far, and look forward to the Wonders & Horrors. I presume I’ll have more of a ‘too much terror too fast’ experience after playing more, but I wanted to share this early, first-toes-out-in-the-chilly-air experience.

The cathartic paranoia of Sunless Sea is what really held me in that game. With Sunless Skies so far, I’m more worried about running out of fuel or supplies than gaining terror.

OK. I just died due to Terror. Now I understand the comments about Terror oncreasing too fast, the increases not being obvious enough, and the desire for more ways to reduce terror.

My original post stillstands, though: while playing, I feel wonder much more often than terror. So it seems like there’s a mis-match between the Terror mechanic, how that mechanic is storified, and the player experience.

It might be, fir me, a contrast in the styles of S.Seas vs. S.Skies. Seas has an overarching motif of dread. Mechanics aside, all of the aesthetics, from art to story, hinges on dread and a descent into madness based on morbid curiosity or fascination. Skies has more of a wonder / awe aesthetic, and I don’t feel like the draw into fear and madness is where it needs to be. Rather than hinging on dread, it seems like Skies should pull one into terror and madness by way of awe; but that may not be as straightforward to build on as the dread-to-terror slope.

Hmmm… Another way of characterizing the difference: Seas is more like Keats and Poe in how the player is led to terror and madness. Skies seems to be more like Coleridge, though leaning awayfrom Rime of the Ancient Mariner and towards Kubla Khan:
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Heh. That has &quotholy dread&quot.

Anyway, I hope this helps!

[color=#6666ff]Thank you everyone for your responses so far, they’re all really helpful and your ideas/suggestions are great. I want you to know that [/color][color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]I’ve read everyone’s reply so far and we really appreciate the time you take to share your thoughts with us and help us shape the game. [/color][color=#6666ff]I’m not going to reply to everyone personally as that would take me far more time that I have. It’s much better if I read and understand your responses so I can summarise your feedback to our designers/writers, before they themselves delve into each of your replies for more details. [/color][color=rgb(102, 102, 255)] [/color][color=#6666ff]That said, there’s always one or two points I like to make here and there so I’ve lumped these together below:[/color]

[color=#6666ff]You’re very welcome. Having said that I’ve been away at EGX and then on holiday so I’ve not been around much. I am back now though ;)[/color]

[color=#6666ff]So this will be because we’ve introduced timers. We did this so that we can have more control over when events occur and they are not just dependent on quality levels. The Terror mechanics are based on a hidden timer so the various events kick off when that timer catches up to the Date and when your Terror and Condition qualities are at certain levels. However I think the way this comes across currently all ties into how we need to make Terror clearer, so we’ll definitely be considering this.[/color]

[color=#6666ff]I really does help. And thank you![/color]

[color=#6666ff]Out of interest do you feel this is because the docks are narrow spaces or do you feel it’s more an issue with difficulties in controlling your locomotive?[/color]

[color=#6666ff]Whether or not you get Sky-Story or a Tale of Terror just depends on which work of speculative fiction you choose - that’s always fixed. As for the Terror reduction itself, all the works of fiction are the same in that they will give anywhere between 3-5 as you observed. As for the amount of Port Avon Welcome you gain through salon stewed gossip and a caddy of tea, yes that’s due to the item value. Though do expect things like that to be (potentially) changed and balanced as we go.[/color]

[color=#6666ff]I probably shouldn’t laugh at that, but I did. Loudly. I’m sure our writers will be delighted to hear this. [/color]

[color=#6666ff]You’re welcome and we’re very glad you coming along with us on this journey! Thank you for all your input so far and make sure you stay with us throughout development ;)[/color]

[color=#6666ff]I don’t believe so but I cannot say that with certainty at this point.[/color]

[color=#6666ff]Amazing! He shall henceforth be known as Mr Freeze. Fuzz has decided![/color]

[color=#6666ff]Lol, you’re spoiling me with name choices here.[/color]
[color=#6666ff]@[/color][color=#ffffff]Jimmius [/color][color=#6666ff]and @[/color][color=#ffffff]A Parliament of Houses[/color][color=#6666ff] - see me comment above about timers with regards to the Terror mechanic. I think that’s what’s causing this difference in experience here[/color]
edited by FailbetterFuzz on 10/9/2017


[color=#6666ff]Out of interest do you feel this is because the docks are narrow spaces or do you feel it’s more an issue with difficulties in controlling your locomotive?[/color][/quote]

Personally, both. If I really had to choose one I’d put more emphasis on the locomotive controls being the most problematic aspect but the shape of the dock (to me) is a bigly annoying over-complication. You have to remember which was you were facing when you leave the port, it’s narrow, it deals damage to the hull and it just consumes a whole lot of player time and attention without adding anything positive.

[color=rgb(102, 102, 255)]Out of interest do you feel this is because the docks are narrow spaces or do you feel it’s more an issue with difficulties in controlling your locomotive?[/color]

I don’t think the docks are too narrow - though I do bump into the sides sometimes. I don’t want to damage my hull so have to take things slowly to try and avoid that.

So it is more a control problem with how the locomotive keeps drifting when I am navigating into the dock (sometimes I can drift out of the dock when I rebound from the sides!)

Also some ports are more difficult to access than others - For example both Hybras and Leadbetter haven’t got a straight run into the dock and there are some projecting bits of terrain to navigate.