So I’ve started playing this world and I have to say I really enjoy the setting and overall content, quite possibly more than City of Phire. It does seem to have more content, which certainly helps.
That said, I gave up in frustration yesterday and thought I’d mention why.
I’m trying to get the ship out of port and I still need the charts. The high amount of money made it slightly painful but I managed to get enough. The amount of reputation also was a steep goal, but hey, I got it. My main issue now is with the randomness of Opportunities. I’m trying to get back to the card where I can use all these Qualities to pay for the charts… but I keep getting anything BUT the card I need.
As a player, once I have the requirements, I’d really appreciate being able to finally move on. Having to wait for pure chance to give you what you need feels… well, random :). I’d argue that it doesn’t make much sense that the character couldn’t just go where needed… but more than that, it’s a frustrating design. I fell into a similar situation with my own project and decided to pull out some of the “quest” cards out of Opportunities to avoid that.
The other problem comes with the randomness of skill checks combined with the fact Qualities don’t rise when used. I’m still trying to get the reputation requirement and I was going there well enough when the random number generator decided to go for all the bad results. Instead of progressing, I’m regressing. I’m not entirely against the idea of failure meaning you get a setback, but once again this is an issue of lack of control: I cannot do anything to help with these. I have to wait for the right reputation cards to show up randomly and then I have to hope the skill check is in my favor… multiple times in a row. I can’t train to make it more likely… I can’t use accumulated money to raise reputation or (indirectly?) make the skill check more likely to succeed. I’m at the mercy of entropy :|
As a secondary issue, the same randomness frustration can be found when you are going for a specific goal (accumulating money or reputation) and keep getting others things like the hold card, which actually either serves no purpose (waste of time and, ultimately, Actions) or even pushes you away from your goal (losing money most of the time). So… waste of time or waste of time.
And finally, yet another artefact of randomness combined with some specific cards is that while I was trying to make a Commanding and Discourse character, the game made it hard to focus. At first I’d try to avoid the bonds card out of morality/roleplay, and I’d also avoid the hold card to avoid repetition and losing money too much… but since I kept getting them over and over I ended up just using them. I know I could use the “cancel” choice on both, but I really have trouble with that design choice since it equates to a few useless clicks every time. It’s like a scene in a movie that does not make the plot go forward or tell you anything about the characters. Again, the fact they keep showing up is what makes this hard for me.
Overall I’d warn designers about randomness. It’s a nice tool, but it’s a tool you have to hold firmly or it’s going to be damaging. It is sneaky in how probabilities make us assume things will balance out overall (yes, I will get the card I need after enough tries), but randomness is… random, and it’s not impossible to get stuck on “bad” random cards or bad “dice rolls” for Quality checks for a good while. Enough to suddenly make this not fun :/
Oh I’m not utterly disgusted, mind you. I still want to play in this World :) I’m just hoping for a tad more control.