I’ve been fascinated by the idea of Seeking ever since I learned about its existence, which unfortunately happened when it was shut down. The idea of a story that promised the player only a long journey of pain and frustration that would end in disappointment and regret was almost completely unique among video games which are so often focussed around power fantasies and reward systems. So I was extremely excited when it came back. I currently have 3 characters at various points on The Seeking Road and I’m really enjoying it so far. But given what we know about the whole affair, and how it ends, it isn’t quite the journey I thought it would be.
Seeking is, without a doubt, one of the most taxing stories in all of Fallen London. You need to have advanced a character extremely far through the game to reach the end. And I really like the theme of letting go that you hit later on. But letting go isn’t the same as suffering. And an ending that ends your character isn’t disappointing or something you regret if it was something you are ready to do. Especially since it’s something totally unique in the game and seems to come with some cool text.
There is also, I think, a problem with it from a business perspective. Making the most epic achievement of the game also the terminal point for a character means your game, which draws income from retention of long time players, is effectively encouraging it’s long time players to do something which, in all likelihood, signals the end of their time there.
Obviously, I don’t think any of this is going to change. And, as I said, I actually really like the story. But for the sake of fun, here is an alternate way that I would have handled Seeking. General spoilers for current Seeking follow.
(EDIT: people seem to really dislike this so I’ve thrown it in spoiler tags. Hopefully more interesting discussion below.)
The Seeking Road
In general, I think the core mechanic of new Seeking is solid. Here’s a value you need to increase. Doing so is either extremely expensive or extremely slow. The other parts of Seeking unlock for you as you go.
I would, however, add menacing cards that appear as you increase Seeking. Not super aggressive common ones like the ones you get from Unaccountably Peckish. More like the ones that show up when you’re carrying around eyeless skulls (rare but unpleasant). And thematically in the vein of those cards that show up when you’re having visions from the Vake’s perspective in Bag a Legend. Terrible dreams. Brief bouts where your actions aren’t wholly your own. The constables roughing you up to try and dissuade you. Stuff like that. Right now Seeking is a rough road but you can take a break anytime you want without consequences. This would put a bit of a fire under you and makes the slow and steady approach less appealing.
I think the candles would mostly stay the same. For St. Cerise’s I’d probably require a goatly sacrifice instead of providing easier options. The ante will be upped on St. Erzulie’s and it will become the last candle for reasons discussed later. St. Gawain’s is the only one that I’d make a serious change to because of the way I’d change the ending (ending beheaded wouldn’t really work). Maybe you need to sacrifice An Impossible Theorem to get the candle while keeping your head?
This is where the changes really start. There is a common theme between Winking Isle and events in the Nadir of letting go of your goals and accomplishments. But at present, you don’t have to have had these things. You just have to not have them. The big thematic change I’d make here is that you aren’t truly letting go unless you have something to let go of. So instead of requiring you not to have those things, you’d have to have them and you’d have to dump them all down the well to advance Seeking far enough that you can start fasting and meditating to get the rest of the way. Is that cruel? Yes. But that’s kind of the point. If there’s something on the list that you need for one of the later candles I’d probably be kind enough to strike it off but everything else must be both gained and lost.
The big addition here. You can’t simply go NORTH. The Masters and/or The Bazaar would find you and stop you. So you must protect yourself with the 7 Obscurities that will conceal and protect you on your journey. You must erase yourself just as Eaten was erased. Once are obscured you will receive St. Erzulie’s candle. Each Obscurity requires you to enter the Nadir and raise Irrigo to at least 7. This unlocks an option to gain the next obscurity which will flood your Irrigo to maximum and force you out of the cave. As with Winking Isle, Irrigo can’t wash away what doesn’t exist so there are requirements. While not necessarily in this order, something like:
Obscurity of Image
They will look upon you. But they will not know you.
Effect: Erase all tattoos. Locks you out of getting new ones.
Obscurity of Mediocrity
You have done great things. No one will know.
Requirement: Tier 3 Profession
Effect: Lose your profession. Can’t gain a new one.
Obscurity of Insignificance
You are known. You will be unknown.
Requirement: High notability (maybe 12?), Destiny
Effect: Lose all notability and your destiny. They cannot be regained.
Obscurity of Poverty
Your residence marks the skyline. You will be wiped from the map.
Requirement: 5 Card Lodging
Effect: Lose all lodgings (back to renting a 2 card room). Can’t buy a new one.
Obscurity of Apathy
Your wants carve a path through The Neath. The road will be repaved. No one will remember.
Requirement: An Ambition
Effect: Lose your Ambition. Locked out of all ambitions.
Obscurity of Isolation
You have been loved and adored. You will be forgotten.
Effect: You no longer have a spouse. You cannot remarry.
Obscurity of the Unexceptional
You can do so much. You will do so little.
Requirement: POSI Specialization
Effect: You are no longer a POSI. Cannot be regained.
I don’t know what going NORTH is like in current Seeking, but I do know that you must ultimately turn back or end in a state that makes your character unplayable. That is not how this journey is going to end.
For this version, going north requires all 7 candles and all your stats capped (at unmodified 200). You also must own a boat. You are protected by the Obscurities and the light of the candles will guide you to your destination. You light the first candle and it leads you to an unspecified section of the northern shore where your ship is wrecked and crushed on the ice. The next 6 guide you across the frozen wastes where the weather takes its toll. Each step costing you 1/6th of your stats until the end when they are all at 1.
Here, at the end of your journey, maybe you meet Eaten, or what’s left of him. Maybe the ice breaks open and you are swallowed by dark water where a voice invades your failing mind. However it happens, you encounter something of Eaten. And he rejects you.
Maybe he sees you as a pale imitator. Maybe he finds you wanting. Maybe he just says "you know what? Changed my mind. See ya." However it happens, you are cast out and all your scars, stains, memories, obscurities, and other Seeking related qualities and items are erased and the next thing you know you find yourself lying soaked on the shores of London, surrounded by the footprints of drownies, with absolutely nothing to show for it.
To me, this is a more Seekery ending. The current one may end your character, but you actually get something out of it. This way, you’ve spent all that time on something that is truly pointless. You don’t get an ending or even get a quality you can show off that locks you out of doing it again.
Although, if I wanted to be really cruel I would give you +1 to a quality called something like "Rejected" and I wouldn’t explicitly state that raising the quality didn’t unlock something (even though it definitely wouldn’t). Thus creating the most difficult and pointless grind in the game.
Anyway, this has been rattling around in my head for a little while so I figured I’d share it. I hope you enjoyed it (or if you’ve actually read this far, that it at least didn’t bore you to tears).[/spoiler]
edited by An Individual on 6/29/2016