I only recently started playing this game (less than a month) and have apparently arrived just in time to witness the transition from "Connected" to "Favors and Renown". And I most definitely enjoy the former method more.
To point out a few things :
- Gain and loss of connected feel "fluid" much like the leveling system and in my opinion fits the game’s style more.
- Renown feels gimmicky and useless before you can acquire the items that let you increase it, and they cost a pretty penny, meaning that starters are basically locked out of it. That wasn’t an issue with "Connected".
- And most importantly, I feel that favors greatly encourage metagaming, which is absolutely not what I came here for. Having a maximum of 7 favors makes me feel like I must use them up and act in a certain way, while I could freely enjoy racking up large amounts of "Connected" without being forced to cash it in.
If the transition is already decided upon I would at least like to see favors not have a limit. I greatly enjoy the freedom to "stock up" on faction relationships.
I wholeheartedly agree that the favours change encourages a much ‘gamier’ attitude to play, not to mention making a number of already tedious tasks even more irksome (looking at you, 60+ collections of curiosity). I’m split about the effectiveness of renown - there are factions for whon I never accrued much connection because I was constantly spending it, and for them renown works well, but on the flipside I could always have ground my connected quality if I really cared, while the favours system is a pretty nonsensical inconvenience for dealing with people you’ve helped out a lot.
I’d hazard a guess that a large part of the unevenness of the mechanics as they stand stems from a change in the design philosophy - iirc, originally renown wasn’t meant to do or unlock anything, just represent your relationship with a particular faction. In that iteration renown was functionally pointless, but in many ways more personally meaningful - I don’t give a hoot about the devils, for example, but I’d make sure my renown reflected my affection for the rubberies. Now that renown is tied to Getting Cool Stuff, there’s a much stronger imperative for people to grind renown regardless of how they feel about a faction since there are multiple motivations - completionism, liking cool stuff, quirk levelling, stat boosts etc. This in turn puts a lot more stress on the favours system, since suddenly favours aren’t just useful for getting cash or items but are the only way to get unique things, making them a much more valuable currency.
Basically favours were designed to be non-grindable and (presumably) to give a bit more variety and unpredictability to day to day play. This is good! But now favours are enmeshed in a big slow grind, which makes the dependence on the RNG a little wearing to say the least.
So, i’ve been playing FL for a year, finished probably all possible free stories implemented in the game, incl. ambition. I’ve never actually cared about connected/reknown, aside from story points that required it, never understood how someone could have those mad 100+ connected or 40+ reknown level after a couple of months. My highest reknown is around Criminals - 22. I used connected option to “calling in favours” less than five times just to read the text because it’s to some extent it’s opportunity card-based and all those actions are unreliable. Now, talking about reknown/favours system, the ONLY useful way to cash them in is Favours: Docks for expedition supplies. That’s about it. Even the acquaintance system that exist for 4 NPC is more useful, especially when starting a Newspaper.
The amount of opportunity cards that give favours is very VERY unbalanced. Whilst there are around (i might do a mistake here) 4-5 cards in my deck that give a Docks favour which appear often, 3 that give Criminals favour which appear less often, there is only 1 for Tomb-Colonists but as we all know, the very Tomb-Colonies are a better place for farming them, and i have only 1 card to gain a favour from Rubbery men who i adore, but i see it at best twice-thrice per months. So, by the time i’ve got enough reknown to get that bloody Amber Celio it sucks so hard i don’t even want to sell it. There are probably some hoarders playing FL that want to get one of everything who would farm for such things don’t minding the item stats but that’s not me.
I’ll admit I’m not super keen on the new Favors/Renown system either (I’ve been playing for around 3.5 years now I think). The reasons for moving to it are pretty solid. They wanted to separate the idea that you are well known by a faction from the idea that said faction owes you something. The idea being that you’d then feel like you could call on a faction for help without losing standing in it.
However, as it’s implemented right now it adds an extra layer of complication to the game making it even less accessible for new players (and it’s not particularly accessible to start with). Connected might have mixed these two concepts together, but it was simple. Help a faction or do things it likes, Connected goes up. Hurt a faction or call on your Connected to help you, Connected goes down. Now you have to know about the special faction items you use to increase Renown, save up Favors, trade them in, but trading in gets harder with higher renown and requires you to gather resources to do it. There are a lot of moving parts there and it’s not particularly intuitive.
There’s also the problem of the partial conversion. Fallen London has gained an increasing number of these things where systems are partly converted to a new system and have been like that for a long time (the other big one being the price marking). And these new systems often feel kind of unfinished or worse in some way (I’d REALLY like to be able to mouse over stuff in the price category to find out how much I have and actually SEE the reduction and my new totals after clicking on something, both of which I could easily do before the conversion). The result has been that the game feels increasingly like it’s a Steam Early Access game rather than like the finished product it felt like when I started playing it.
From my point of view, the biggest weakness in the Favour/Renown system is definitely how detached Renown is from the story. In the original discussion of the change, examples were given like robbing the Brass Embassy increasing Renown: Hell, as that would certainly make the Devils remember your character. If Renown directly replaced Connected for all relevant interactions, that would make sense. Connections don’t distinguish between the axes of notability and favors owed, so having two separate qualities makes sense for detail purposes. The issue is of course that the conversion replaced the "favors owed" instances of Connected with Favours, but didn’t replace the notability part with Renown. Even though the new system theoretically covers both aspects, Renown is essentially irrelevant right now for story and RP, and mostly useless for gameplay. Hopefully Failbetter will eventually revisit the converted factions and add Renown aspects to events where Connected was used - using faction items could still be relevant if options had Renown caps, so high levels would require converting favours or difficult options.
I think a good approach in that regard would be to build in one-off major storylets that gave you a renown boost similar to the quirk changes from making your name. Say, a particularly spectacular Embassy heist on behalf of the Bishop or something. It would introduce new players to the system while making it more story based and less grindy and empty feeling. I think if it was possible to reach 25 renown through stories (they could even be conflict based - so, help the devils or the bishop, but not both) and then the rest was a favours grind it would help balance stuff out. But FB have a lot on their plates, so who knows what the future holds? We are at the ‘unfortunate mullet’ stage of system transition right now, which yeah gives it a kind of early access feel, but it does reflyjust how much work they’re doing.
Before the Favours/Reknown system, I mostly ignored connections because I didn’t particularly value them (and I don’t particularly like grinding just to increase a number with little use). With that in mind, I began all of the conversions under 20 connected for most of them and little to no Renown (I may have had 3 for the TC at the conversion. All the others were below the Renown limit).
Since the conversions, and with the purpose of aiming to increasing my reknown, I’ve now hit:
Crimnals 33: mostly through having both companions who gave favours (and I could have had more, if I hadn’t used most of my more recent favours for cash before the item announcement)
Tomb Colonies 23: almost purely through scandal runs
Docks 25: also increased by doing several back-and-forth runs during the Zee Festival to Mutton Island via the 5 AP ferry along with my Connected Pet
Rubbery 27: Through a Polite Invitation, its somewhat frequent card for Scandal increases, and, yes, Fate Locked. Not that I like that carousel. It’s boring as it gets out.
Yes, this has taken a PILE OF ECHOES. But it also has kept the game & card flipping at least somewhat interesting. I would actively love a Renown one-off option as something interesting to do.
I like Renown but I don’t like Favors. Personally, I would’ve just renamed “connected” to “favors” and built renown on top of current systems.
There are pros and cons to both systems.
Connected lent itself to roleplaying better, since it could be given/taken in varying amounts for any action, minor or significant. It was easy to thread connected throughout the game. Favors are so valuable they can only be given as a reward for a huge task. Or sometimes, they’re given as a reward for a minor task and feel like a weirdly disproportionate reward. It was also nice to be able to raise a faction’s connected infinitely high, as a sign of your affiliation with them. Or keep it low to show that you disavow them.
Favors and renown are a little nicer in terms of progression and spending. I don’t have to worry about spending all my renown and winding up at 0, the way you can run out of connected. It gives you a permanent accomplishment for your work. And it’s organized and predictable. I always know how many favors I’m going to spend for an action, while spending connected could have unpredictable results, sometimes costing more than I expected.
I’d despaired of Tomb Colonist Favors so I decided to change my connected pet from Marsh Wolf to Raven. However, I learned you must have at least one favor from the TC’s to get their pet… Of course I have not seen the TC card in days now.
As a very longtime player, I don’t remember how confusing the game may have been at the beginning. I do think that seeing Connections boost from specific actions and stories is intuitive. As such,I believe it makes sense to implement something similar to Quirks that would allow for boosting Renown to a certain level and not beyond through stories or cards. Say 10 or 25.
As such, Robbing the Brass Embassy repeatedly could get you to Renown Hell 25 (after all, you can only be so notorious for stealing paperwork).
My general perspective is that Renown and Favours are still primarily roleplaying elements. There’s not much value in the high end items except in terms of gear flexibility. There are only maybe 3 challenges a maxed out player can even fail with just the best Bazaar bought equipment.
Favours are a nice cash or expedition supply influx, but there’s no real need to pursue Renown except for fun. As it stands, I am MUCH more excited by faction cards because Favours are at least worth selling and Connections became meaningless quickly.