Thoughts on the Speed of Progress

I have some thoughts on the current speed of progress in the game. To explain where I’m coming from, allow me to share a bit of my background. (Sorry for the length of this – you can skip to the TL;DR part at the end if you wish.)

When I started playing Fallen London (Echo Bazaar at the time), it was fairly new. You had to use a Twitter or Facebook account to sign up. There was plenty of content through level 40 in the main traits, and some content up to 60. Once you hit 60, there was basically nothing to do.

But this wasn’t a problem, really, because it took ages to make it that far. I spent months getting up around 40, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of it was a little grindy, which wasn’t the most fun thing, but there were enough interesting stories to keep it from getting too boring.

Around level 40 I started to lose interest. The grindy parts had gotten too grindy, and I knew there wasn’t much content waiting for me if I continued. So I sort of forgot about it.

Then a couple of months ago, I was reminded of the game and went back to it to find it loaded with tons more content. I discovered that I had a job now, which each week would kick my Persuasive up quite a few levels. I saw the “person of importance” possibilities and was pleased that there was so much more for me to do.

But I quickly encountered problems. Because of the state of the game when I left, I was coming back with mid-range levels but very limited funds. I couldn’t afford most of the fun higher-level pursuits (especially the expeditions in the forgotten quarter). I was reduced to grinding again to try to come up with enough cash. Then I realized that the huge boost given to me by my job allowed me to bypass huge portions of the game (at least in the Persuasive areas) and go straight to the big-profit artistic activities at court in the Shuttered Palace. Suddenly I have such an obscene amount of Jade and Moon Pearls that I don’t even know what to do with them.

Everything felt horribly out of whack, so I figured I’d see how the game was intended to be played in its current state by creating a new character and starting from the beginning.

I started that character about a month ago and it’s already almost at the same levels as my original character. My primary trait is nearly 70, thanks to my job, and I’ve bypassed an enormous amount of the early-game content (what used to be the “only” content). The early stuff hasn’t changed much in all this time, other than that the activities seem to provide more progress than they used to, so there is no grind whatsoever anymore. All the attention seems to have been given to the higher-level activities, and in order that all characters should start playing the more recent stuff sooner, the wheels on the lower levels have been greased so that those first 40 levels or so go by before you can say “stop and smell the roses.”

(TL;DR – start here.)
My point in this long story is that I think it’s a real shame that no attention has been given to the “early” game in all this time, and in fact players are encouraged to race through it. It’s terribly unbalanced. Players are all calling for more high-level content, but if we had spent more time on the early content to begin with, we wouldn’t have gotten to this “end” point so quickly. I was discussing this on another forum and someone made a good point: in many online games, once high-level content becomes the focus, the tendency is to make things go more quickly at low levels so the players can quickly get to the new stuff – but in a game like Fallen London, isn’t that slow journey the whole point of the game? This isn’t World of Warcraft. We’re not grinding on rats so we can grind on boars so we can grind on goblins, and Fallen London need not be a Skinner box. I don’t want to pass through the first few stories at lightning speed and then have to grind once I get to level 60, in order to slow me down enough that the developers might have time to add new content. I just want to enjoy the stories, and “leveling up” is just a background to that. Why not even out the speed so it’s not too fast at the beginning, and not too slow in the later stages?

I suppose many of you will disagree with me, but I’m curious if anyone else has the same feeling as I do. I, for one, would not complain if the devs took a break from adding new “end game” content in order to spend some time rebalancing the early- and mid-level content. I would even be in favor of a “reincarnation” option – allowing high-level players with no new content to explore to restart their characters and play through the early game again – with some “inheritance” from their last life, of course. Does anyone else have any thoughts or suggestions?

You raise some interesting points, and I do see where you are coming from.

However, I would also point out that the beginning level stuff is there to get experience to teach the mechanics of play. While I agree that some of it may be in need for an overhaul, too much and it becomes a real grind and new players won’t move past it.

I know that stuff that only pays out 5 cp or so seems like small stuff to those with primaries of 200 or more, but when you are at 1s and 3s, and the CP needed to get it to the next level is ONLY 3 CP, then it’s a lot. I know that in some cases it would be counterproductive to have the low level stuff available. From a story position, who can really think that a lady of breeding and culture would be mudlarking for a few bottles of wine? Or picking a pocket for a couple moon pearls?

Low levels are supposed to be quick, and mid levels are where you are supposed to be hitting the first set of blocks to slow you down, and that’s what it sounds like happened to you. Which is what it’s supposed to do. The mid-level content though went from 20 to 40 to 70 now. Upper content is now at 180 since that’s the level cap, and with items you can have one stat over 200 if you do it right.

So looking at it from the 200 perspective, that 3 CP in the beginning was pitiful, but for a 5th level, it would advance them nearly every action. And I thought that was how it should be.

Some of the low content needs to be looked at, and there does need to be more low storylines, but I’m not sure that it needs to be even harder, after all, if you study and learn in the real world, you can get a lot of knowledge really quickly.

I’m not sure if someone else has raised this before - the job rewards at the beginner to mid levels seem to come a little too frequently. When I was starting out, the job rewards came at a pretty high frequency. I recall rewards occurring more than 4 times a week, which causes your abilities to surge. IIRC, it took me less than 2 months to hit 50 in every ability, and a little under 4 months for every ability to hit 90.

In retrospect I suspect the introductory jobs’ rewards might have been bugged. I don’t know if it’s a bug or a feature to have new players blaze through their ability scores. In spite of my fast progression, I have fond memories of several storylets.


A different perspective perhaps:

Fallen London is a story. The game supports the story and the mechanics enforce both choice and pacing.

The story isn’t finished yet and the mechanics are still in beta. They are being changed and improved still.

Out of necessity, early content is written first, and therefore hooked with earlier versions of the evolving mechanics. This is a very real driver in the apparent focus on high level content. Aside from the necessity to write early content first so you can release before it’s finished, if you want to maximize useful feedback on new mechanics, you try them out on your experienced, vocal members first. (Not every mechanics change is tested this way, but at least some are.)

The writers have expressed a desire to revisit the early game, but time and priorities are real constraints.

I’ve played for two weeks now, and my problems with the stories and the speed of progress is that I’m raising my qualities so fast that I have to fiddle with the Talkative Rattus Faber to make sure that I don’t miss some of the early content before it’s locked due to too high levels. And fiddling with numbers like that takes me right out of the stories and makes the game primarily about numbers. Which I can certainly deal with, but it would’ve been nice if I didn’t have to, because once you make me look closely at the numbers, I tend to not look away, and instead play the game by those numbers. Because apparently the numbers are more important than the stories.

When I returned to Ladybones Road I started in the middle of the tattoo storylets and had to level up Watchful a bit so that Watchful -25 was high enough to try the earlier storylets in that sequence. And I’m often bumping into too difficult challenges when trying to follow some of the stories from Opportunity cards that are available early on, which encourages me to quickly raise my qualities so that I can progress with a story until it reaches an end or a natural break. It’s as if I’m being pulled from both ends.

Could it be a scheme to encourage me to buy extra Actions so I have more left after I spend most Actions on Opportunity cards? ;)

Don’t forget you can buy a rediculous hat and put it on, permanently reducing everything so you can play those stories if you miss one.

Speed wise, I feel it is ok. I am a new player, and I have been fumbling through many storylets, playing the &quotwrong&quot opportunity cards, etc. resulting in some of my stats sometimes going up too fast. But I feel that is a price I pay for being a novice, a consequence for exploring. I would think if I were a experienced, veteran player, I should be able to correctly pick and choose the &quotright&quot cards, I can better pick my fights, make my choices so my character will not step into new areas too quick, start new storylets too soon, etc.

I would like a &quotRestart&quot option, even if we got to pay for it with Nex. It is cumbersome to &quotrestart&quot by making a new account. Don’t you agree?
edited by Blessed on 9/29/2013

Ahh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not that interested in the earlier content. I can manage with the Talkative Rattus Faber. It’s just unnecessarily awkward. But certainly better than losing hundreds of points permanently. And as I reach higher levels, it’ll take long enough to level a quality that I should have time to explore the earlier stuff. Some of which I have cleverly trapped in an ‘initiated’ state and then put on ice.