Feedback Focus: The Reach Redesign

[color=#3366ff]Greetings Sky-Captains![/color]
[color=#3366ff]The latest update sees the release of the revamped Reach. Dark, verdant and dangerous, we’re very proud of it and we think it’s going to blow you away, especially if you’ve been playing throughout Early Access. [/color]
[color=#3366ff]We received a lot of feedback in Early Access that the Reach was too big and too empty. We listened and iterated our segment designs as we introduced the Albion and Eleutheria regions. Each time we felt we improved the atmosphere and use of space but this left the Reach feeling rather lacking, which is quite a big problem considering it’s the starting area of the game.[/color]
[color=#3366ff]Not only does the redesign address the atmosphere and emptiness of the Reach, but its labyrinthine layout helps create interesting choices when navigating to points of interest. Will you travel into dead ends full of lucrative discoveries knowing there’s a chance that the Candlewind may appear and make escape difficult? Do you risk a detour through agent infested areas to visit a Wonder that will lower your Terror? Should you choose the shortest route to your destination and risk encounters with Terror inducing Horrors, or should you play it safe and go the long way around which uses more fuel? [/color]
[color=#3366ff]We’re very keen to hear what you think about:[/color]

  • [color=#3366ff]The visuals[/color][/li][li][color=#3366ff]The atmosphere[/color][/li][li][color=#3366ff]How it makes you feel[/color][/li][li][color=#3366ff]How populated the segments feel with discoveries and agents. Too much? Not Enough? Just right?[/color][/li][li][color=#3366ff]Interesting decisions/choices you’ve made on your journey around the Reach[/color][/li][li][color=#3366ff]Anything else you want to share with us[/color]

[color=#3366ff]Give us your thoughts, tell us your stories. And as always, thank you for your input, we appreciate it and it is a huge help to us.[/color]
[color=#3366ff]Please keep in mind that New Winchester hasn’t had a makeover yet because it’s tied into the opening game experience which is coming in a later build.[/color]
edited by FailbetterFuzz on 10/10/2018

As introduction I would say BRAVO! Congratulations, the new Reach is fantastic. The improvement is real.

[color=0000FF]-The visuals: 10/10.[/color] Nothing else to say.

[color=0000FF]-The armosphere: 9/10.[/color] Sometimes i miss a darker and more gloomy atmosphere. But this &quotspace fantasy&quot feeling is also good. Sunless sea was more terrifying, in terms of atmosphere, but also the music was more sinister. Instead of &quotsinister&quot are &quotthreatening&quot, I would describe the reach as &quotmagic&quot and &quotbeautiful&quot

[color=0000FF]-How it makes you feel: 7/10.[/color] It feels like a fantasy jorney. The enemies are not that terrifyng (bees, strange flying things made of wood that cry like eagles when hit, Giant bats… well… not my concept of Terror. No big monsters powerful enough to be a threat once you have a decent train and equipment.

The war and space fights betweem factions feels ok, though I think sometimes get buged, and when you attack 1 faction, all the ships on the screen attacks you, even if they belong to the oposite faction you attacked. And I also miss that even if I always attack London ships, they never see me as an enemy before I hit them when I find them… (I haven’t tried with 0 faction points when they hate you)

[color=0000FF]How populated the segments feel with discoveries and agents. Too much? Not Enough? Just right?[/color]
[color=0000FF][color=000000]-It feels just right… but there could be more discoveries I think, encouraging more the exploration.[/color]

[color=0000FF]Interesting decisions/choices you’ve made on your journey around the Reach[/color]
[color=0000FF][color=000000]-SPOILER [A lot. Bringing back to London and Egg… though I expected more rewards, or taking or not the cat! I want that orange cat…][/color][/color]
[color=0000FF]Anything else you want to share with us[/color]
[color=0000FF][color=000000]-The Weather sometimes gets buggy. Once I got trapped in a wind corridor, where my spaceship speed was 0. And some times you leave the wind but you are still affected by it until you quit and load again. The rest is very good in general. I love the actula Reach, the old one was boring… in fact after playing the new Reach, Albion feels empty to me… exploring feels so… (what’s the oposite of rewarding?)[/color][/color]
[color=0000FF][color=000000]Keep up your great work. You are improving a lot the game with every patch.[/color]
edited by r0m41d3n on 10/29/2018
edited by r0m41d3n on 10/29/2018
edited by r0m41d3n on 10/29/2018

As a whole, I really prefer how things are now. I think one of the problems with space in the early design of the game is that with fewer ports than Sunless Sea had, there is a lot more empty space on each region of the map. While the Reach feels more like a series of tunnels now than it did before, this isn’t a bad thing because it allowed the crew to make each area more visually distinct aside from things like rocks and particles. The Reach has the most distinction from area to area of any of the regions so far, so it’s easy to tell the near vicinity of a port without having to spam the bat. I especially like what they did with Port Avon and in the area around Lustrum and Carillon. I also like the ways that agents spawn more in some places than others, which is certainly the intent - if I want bees and honey there are plenty of both around Titania and Traitor’s Wood, and if for some reason I want to fight Guests than Hybras is the place to go.

I’ve had to make some decisions around the various hives of the Reach and around Braley’s Rock, since until I got the Agravaine I had to weigh the risks of getting goods with not being mobbed by agents. I think it’s interesting that the Apoidean Gardens and Regent’s Tears are so full of bees now, although they’re both a bit out of the way for me, since there’s some profit and some danger in trying to reduce my terror.

There are some problems as well. Hybras in particular is really far out of the way, so I need to stock up on 4 or more of Supplies and Fuel to make it there and back, and that’s the end of my run usually. It would be nice to have some shortcuts, maybe through Faith’s Fall so I have to weigh fuel expenditure through fast travel through a Horror. The Leadbeater and Stainrod reserve is lousy with the Peacock Wind in my game too, so I have to push through if I want to get in and out. These aren’t really huge issues, but they are issues for me.

Finally, I really like how Titania is shaping up. The idea of changing up the Port based on your Captain’s experiences and building it up over your dynasty makes death less punishing once you can start the quest. Is there any plan to add more quests and events that carry over from captain to captain like that? I think it would be nice if your captains got to hunt nameplates from Tacketies and Stovepipes if their predecessor got the commission, and having Mme Lumiere’s shop available after the first time would be nice too.

I’ve really been impressed with the last two updates. The game could have coasted well enough without Combat and The Reach, but I appreciate how much work you all have put into the fundamentals beyond storytelling. I don’t know what if any plans you all have for Albion, but if it’s going to get an overhaul too, I have pretty high hopes.

[color=#3366ff]Thanks for all the replies Captains! I’m going to unpin this now but everyone is more than welcome to continue to post their thoughts about the Reach redesign here. Cheers. [/color]

I’m really conflicted about the change.

The pro’s :

  • there’s a lot more flavor to the Reach now, and it is more consistent with the general story of its luxuriant green
  • the port areas look a lot better defined (although I can’t say that splitting New Winchester feels that natural). but Lustrum for example
    feels a lot more like itself
  • also love the concentration/spawning of agents relative to their possible habitat
  • the destructible environment (the barrier)

The con’s :

  • the whole traveling feels a lot more constrained and constricted : due to the new corridor structure of the map it feels like crawling through the insides of a great beast, no longer sailing through the skies
  • the scout now is very deceiving (when exploring for the first time) since you almost never know if you could reach the marked discovery or run into a wall and have to go around
  • the dead-ends and the map encirclement with walls ( there are seriously that many walls in the sky ?)
  • the sky itself : I’ve been trying to peer through all the layers and cannot see the sky and stars anymore

The old issues :

  • the winds near the ports (try docking at Leadbetter and Stainrod Nature’s reserve with front winds, very frustrating)
  • the winds again ( trying to cross the winds perpendicular to their direction of action feels like swimming in molasses)

The possible solutions :

  • reduce the size of the land islands (there’s no need to have a gigantic island with a center that cannot be seen/explored

  • make the corridors a lot larger, and remove them altogether in places ( you can make an area more treacherous to cross using other means :
    enemies, asteroid fields needing careful navigation to go through, etc

  • restrict a bit the environment flavor, leave some areas of clear sky remaining

  • there should be a radius around the ports where winds should not spawn ( like the no-combat zone now), or at least be severely reduced in intensity

  • an afterburner (quick burst of speed) could be implemented using the same heat mechanic that is now used for strafing, but maybe more restrictive in use : this would help navigating the winds (whilst not negating their power), escape from a combat situation / dangerous area, ramming? etc (of course it could cost more fuel and even possibly risk damaging the engine if used extensively)

The wants :
-more destructible environment (oh please!), this could enhance the usability of the guns


I love this game already, but there are a few details I would change if I could.


Engine sounds when docked really annoys me. It’s less then before, but it’s still there. I’m talking about the hiss of steam whenever you are docked. Its so disturbing if you just want to enjoy the ambience of the area you’re in. I make ambience videos on my tiny YouTube channel, so it would be wonderful if that sound was removed. Your locomotive makes all sorts of noise when you’re flying it about, so it would be nice if it where quiet when docked. Plus the ambience is wonderful on its own.


When you are about to pay someone for something and it says: &quotunlocked with 128 gold (25 was required)&quot. Or something like that. This is completely counter-intuitive to me. The first thing you want to know is how much it costs, not how much money you have in total. When I first started playing, I often wondered why things always costed exactly the amount of money I happened to have on me. And &quotunlocked&quot? When I go to the store, I don’t think of things as unlocked if I can afford to buy them. It would be better if you just told us how much something costs, and list the player’s total cash in a corner somewhere.


I know a lot of people love the text on screen, but it is often difficult to read. If it’s long, it simply disappears before you can read it all, or your locomotive flies over it and covers it, or if the background is white you can’t see it properly (like next to the dock in Traitor’s Wood). Can it stay on the screen longer? And maybe be adjusted to the background colorso there’s enough of a contrast?

The heavens, space, call it what you will; it’s supposed to be -vast-. That’s what it says (at least it used to say this) in the first or second paragraph of introductory text. Maybe even that’s gone now.

Eleutheria was exciting because it -wasn’t- vast. It was a dark and menacing corner of the heavens that felt really -corner-ish compared to the Reach. Making the Reach feel like Eleutheria detracts from both the Reach and Eleutheria. It’s a big mistake.

Right now as I go through the Reach there’s really no place where I can just set course based on the map and steam on by dead reckoning and get to where I’d like to go. There’s -always- a wall in the way. And in my opinion, that’s a very big problem. The Reach redesign has robbed Sunless Skies of the unique atmosphere that Sunless Sea had, preventing it from occupying the same space within this sort of exploration-trading genre as Sunless Sea did. The constant disruptions necessitated by navigating through twists and turns also powerfully counteract the game’s theme of TIME, which has been expressed by long, quasi-linear passage through apparently boundless SPACE.

To show just how -acceptable- long passages through time and space are for this game, I offer the story of my first Skies play experience. When the game first alpha-launched and there were still issues with disappearing ports, I once left New Winchester, navigated to Titania, then intended to go back to New Winchester. I took a slightly different road back, and triggered some text changes and a slightly different color of space fog on the way. By the time I had made my way back to where New Winchester should have been, lo and behold, there it wasn’t! Only empty deep space! But my first thought wasn’t that there was a bug. Instead, I thought that I had passed through some hidden z-layer transition and was no longer in the same layer. I thought I’d missed a textual/environmental clue and would have to find my way home by going back to Titania and then back THE EXACT WAY I HAD COME! That moment was absolutely magical, and I was even slightly disappointed to find out that it was just a bug after all. But now I hope you see my point; just as you say, the High Wilderness isn’t space. The High Wilderness is both vast and non-physical. Both Time and Space are at the mercy of the Judgments’ fickle, yet timeless laws. And the Reach redesign has developed exactly in the opposite direction.

If the designers’ preference is for navigation-heavy chunks and meaningful choices of how to approach ports, I would suggest introducing great Aetheric currents that take you for long chunks of between the feature-dense regions. That way, you bookend the long passages with interesting maneuvering challenges and get the best of both worlds. But yesterday as I was winding through the Reach, I felt like I was playing Aquaria (or would rather have been playing Aquaria), or some other sort of Metroidvania game, not a game from the Sunless Sea/Fallen London universe. There was no serenity. No appropriate distinctiveness. No sense of vastness.

Yesterday, I was so excited to play Skies; I hadn’t played since Eleutheria launched.

Today, my heart broken, I uninstalled it and reinstalled Sea.