Spitballing engine mechanics redesign

So there’s been some concern that engine upgrades don’t make that much difference to travel time, and waste fuel. This doesn’t ruin the game for me as it apparently has for some people, but I do think there’s some truth to the complaint. Upgrading the engine in the starting ship does significantly increase fuel consumption and does make very little difference to travel time; conversely, I just had a captain make a farewell tour to the Avid Horizon (by way of the Chelonate, so clear across the map and back) in the merchant cruiser with the starting engine, and it didn’t seem like that ship was going significantly slower with that engine. And if you don’t know that and you upgrade the engine too early you really might be screwed.

However, implementing an engine that makes your ship dramatically faster, without any other changes, is going to break the game in another way: the Stories Await You timer is currently tuned such that, with rare exceptions, if you go from port A directly to the nearest port B, it will have recharged by the time you get there. If ships are allowed to be significantly faster, that won’t work anymore. This is also a concern for any change to the fuel-consumption mechanic: right now it seems like that’s intentionally tuned to cost 1 or 2 barrels of fuel to go the average distance between ports (in the starting ship, with the starting engine).

I think there’s a simple fix, though: change the SAY timer and the fuel consumption rate to be based on distance sailed rather than time elapsed. Make the fuel consumption rate depend on ship weight and fuel efficiency but not engine power, and make speed depend only on ship weight and engine power. Then make engine power have a larger effect on speed.

The gameplay consequences are: Most of the purchasable engine upgrades will offer a visible improvement to travel time, with no downside (neither in increased fuel consumption, nor in losing out on SAY events). Purchasing a bigger ship will initially slow you down and cost you more fuel; upgrading the engine will recover some of the speed but not the fuel, making fuel efficiency upgrades more worthwhile (and, similarly, making the tradeoff between Maybe’s Daughter and the Tireless Mechanic more interesting). Finally, fuel costs should be more predictable for any given chart.

TBD: Should the fuel cost of the bow light also depend on distance, or should it still depend on time? If it remains dependent on time, then increased ship speed translates directly to lower fuel cost with the light on, which could be good or bad.

Note: I have only ever zailed in the starting ship and the merchant cruiser, and I’ve only ever used the starting engine and the Boadicea; the latter only in the merchant cruiser. I’ve also been avoiding combat, so I don’t know what this would do to that.

Makes sense to me. I’d push heavily for this, especially SAY keying off distance rather than time.

But it makes sense for SAY to be time-based. Time passes; the passage of time brings new things.

If anything, perhaps clearer and more foolproof NO SERIOUSLY YOU DO NOT NEED “UPGRADES” signposting is called for.

I understand where you’re coming from with that, but I think the distance rule offers enough of a gameplay improvement to be worth the slight reduction in internal logicalness.

Wouldn’t it be better to not need the signposting at all?
edited by zwol on 2/14/2015

The game as-is also rewards exploration into the unknown and punishes staying safe, another aspect which is explained in-game but apparently not loudly enough to convince some players. Would it be better to not need explaining at all and reverse things so that staying safe is rewarded and exploration into the unknown is punished?

I think a shorter SAY interval would probably help make engine upgrades more valuable.

Like right now it feels like SAY is balanced for the starting engine, which is part of the problem.

Also combat is the main area yo would want a better engine–or at least it will be if they stop snuggling monsters to death working–so if you’re avoiding all combat that’s part of why you’re not seeing any reason to upgrade.

I don’t have hard numbers, but I ahem altered my money after dying one time, just to buy the biggest ship (29k, forget the name) and fitted the 3500 engine (Compulsion?). Ignoring the absolutely insane fuel consumption, the speed was significantly higher than the starting ship.

The same engine in the starting ship couldn’t match that speed, so it seems like ships have a max speed too.

I think the other thing is, fuel costs aren’t actually that high, even if you upgrade all the way. Like you get tons of free fuel and if you refuel at the iron republic instead of london it’s 20 percent cheaper.

Port reports plus a small amount of profit from stuff like SAY and strategic information should probably cover all your fuel… if you have enough cargo space and plan your fuel useage ahead and don’t need to refuel at the 20 or 30 a crate refueling spots.

But yeah I think the tutorial should really not recommend people buy a new engine, and probably should specifically recommend caution when buying a new engine without the cargo space to support it.

(Well, okay, maybe they are bad if you’re in a dreadnought and using that caminus yards engine with no fuel efficiency at all, I don’t know, I didn’t try to minimize fuel efficiency :P)
edited by WormApotheote on 2/14/2015

Stronger engine seem to eat up only a little bit of more fuel than smaller one. Most of people felt that it use more than usual since you go faster, reach place faster. Still, the 3,500 Engine Power one did not good to use at all. Just use 2,500 power and go for the rare 5,000 power one.

It would be better to adjust the &quotfeel&quot of the first half-hour or so of play such that exploration into the unknown seemed like the natural thing to do. I’m honestly not sure how to do that, though. You’d have to poll new players on what made them think it was a bad idea.

Another possibility would be to have SAY be time-based but reset independently for each port, so what matters is not how long you’ve been sailing since the last port, but how long it’s been since you’ve visited a particular port. You would also change it to roll for which SAY event is available upon docking. That would actually eliminate a couple of semi-exploits (sneaking into London with SAY unavailable to avoid customs; sailing around at random till you get the exact SAY roll you want).

That would help eliminate some exploity possibilities and also make a lot of narrative sense. However, how would the UI for a port-dependent SAY work?

I think putting the trip to venderbight as the first thing to do (as in, right at the top of the list, not the bottom) would be excellent. Also, a specifi goal for a port report from hunter’s keep, cumean canal or somesuch).
edited by SporksAreGoodForYou on 2/14/2015

When does the tutorial recommend buying a new engine? I haven’t seen it yet, but then I also haven’t saved up thousands of echoes in this new lineage either.

I dunno, but apparently at one point it does tell you to buy a new engine.

“Name”:“Such wealth!”,
“Description”:“You’ve earned enough Echoes to buy better equipment for your ship! Click on the shops tab. A new engine or deck weapon would be a good first purchase.”,

Unless it only displays at, like, 5000+, that seems like bad advice.

A slight engine upgrade isn’t so bad (though I personally wouldn’t), it’d almost be worse if it displays when you can afford fuel sinks like the Compulsion or Admiralty Special.

Yeah, I don’t think actually making the engines boost speed a lot more is a good idea.

TBH the current disclaimer on the Iron and Misery Co is pretty good, maybe just explicitly saying that ‘smaller ships will see much less benefit’ or something along those lines. And the tutorial actually recommending an engine upgrade is a baaad idea.

Okay, I’ve seen the tutorial message now. It pops up on entering London with… well, something between 120 and 98k echoes. Probably closer to 120.