Unfinished Projects

[quote=Hannah Flynn][color=rgb(0, 102, 255)]Thanks everyone for your discussion and feedback, and for sending tickets - you are excellent.[/color]
[color=rgb(0, 102, 255)]
[color=rgb(0, 102, 255)]Unfortunately, this isn’t a straightforward change, and our developers are currently fully occupied with the Fallen London mobile port and Sunless Sea expansion.

As an interim measure, we’ve added an indication of how many Crates of Expedition Supplies the player has to the storylet text of archaeological expeditions, since this is the example that has been brought up most often; we’d welcome suggestions for other branches or storylets that would particularly benefit from this.[/color][/quote]
I love Fallen London, I really do. It has fantastic writing, great stories, stellar characters, and the literal best community. But there’s this tendency for projects started and then forgotten. There’s a thread just for that actually. This habit of unfinished and broken things extends to marriage, divorce, both apps, costs and requirements, favours and renown, and boxes of a hundred wonders (&quotThis is temporarily unavailable while we fix a technical issue. Please bear with us for a short while, delicious friend.&quot).

I feel particularly disgruntled about this quote, as now both of the listed things are done, only now there’s a new game on the agenda.

I would make two counterpoints.

  1. As I understand it, Sunless Skies are not in full development yet. If the Kickstarter fails then the game likely wouldn’t be made and do it’s unlikely that the majority of the studio’s resources would be devoted to the new game until then. So, while on the extreme side slightly, I think Hannah’s quote above has not been shown to be inaccurate yet.

  2. Personally (and of course ymmv), I completely understand that the studio’s priorities change. It’s annoying, it’s unfortunate but I think it’s reasonable and to be expected. Business consideration, human resources etc. What I think is the real problem is communication. It’s used to be the case that FBG did change logs but those days are unfortunately in the past. I know the developers have acknowledged the need to communicate more frequently and more clearly but for whatever reason that hasn’t really happened. I would assume limited human resources is the main reason

I’m not Failbetter and I don’t know how these processes work for them, but I do know two things.

One: they’ve done a hell of a lot for us over the years, in terms of producing fun new content, listening to feedback, fixing bugs, and rewarding our participation. I don’t think it’s fair to assume deliberate disrespect or malice when they fail to meet your expectations,

Two: They’re keeping a lot of balls in the air, and keeping us informed of everything can go just as wrong as keeping things mum, if not moreso. It can mean, explicitly or implicitly, making promises that they can’t - even shouldn’t - keep.

Very true indeed. Which is why, even though I do share some of the frustrations, I feel it’s essential to give FBG maximal benefit of a doubt.

While this is true, this argument runs the risk of being taken to an absurd conclusion. I don’t think anyone is saying that we need to be informed of everything.

I wonder if it would make sense to conclude some lingering plots by making the ending an Exceptional Story. Then the money/resources that goes into writing a monthly ES could be used to tie up the main storylines, and do it in a complex and built out way from both a narrative and gameplay standpoint.

Obviously that isn’t ideal for non-paying players, but if the choice is the stories ending for money or never ending at all, I think it makes sense to pay FBG to conclude stories. And perhaps the endings could be written in both free and ES varieties. Free players would get a much simpler version of the ending, that leaves out the more built out ES elements and has less stellar rewards, but at least it would still end for them. And they could pay fate later should they ever wish to replay the ending and experience the full content.

I think it’s important to distinguish incomplete content (see, e.g., my signature) and unfinished functional changes (eg marriage, favours/renown, costs etc). The arguments for and against grumbling are very different for these two aspects.

I’ll admit to being concerned about these unfinished feature changes. Not because they bother me personally. I have and continue to enjoy the game. I’m more concerned with the optics they present to new players starting the game for the first time. Most of the incomplete things don’t affect this but there are two that do.

  1. The partial conversion from Connected to Renown. We do still seem to be making slow progress on this, but if your new to the game and trying to figure out the mechanics having different factions using different mechanics isn’t going to help things.

  2. Not being told how much of something I lost and how much I have remaining when playing a storylet that’s been converted to &quotcost&quot labeling system. And also the inconsistency in that conversion. This is the big one. Without getting that information every time it’s hard to keep track of how much of something you have (because you have a LOT of somethings), and the inconsistency means you can’t rely on something not in the &quotcost&quot labeling not being lost. It harms the usability of the UI significantly.

Again, these things aren’t going to harm my own enjoyment of the game. I’m not even worried about player retention because if you’ve been here a while you’ve probably figured these things out. But even before a number of these changes came in I’ve talked to people who tried to pick up the game and gave up because they got confused. So I’m a little worried that things like this will make it harder to onboard new players.

That being said, I’m sure Failbetter is aware of these things and has weighted them against other areas they could be spending their resources. There have been rumblings of something going on in the background for a while so there may be something big coming down the pipe we are unaware of. Development is necessarily a black box and while I think it’s healthy to respectfully vent frustrations (you can’t fix user pain points if you don’t know they exist) we do have to trust that the team knows what they’re doing.

I’ll pop in and comment that it seems FBG has a rather laid back atmosphere where people work on what they want when they want. This is great! I support such methods. Were I working in game development in a creative role, I certainly wouldn’t want to be tied down to projects one at a time until their bitter conclusion. I’d want to be chasing after new shinies all the time, which would keep my morale, enthusiasm, and creativity in good shape.

That said, some spring cleaning every once in a while to tie up loose threads is still a good idea. Dialing things a wee bit more toward finishing features would be an improvement to the game. Given the game’s popularity and reception so far though, I don’t think there’s any huge issues to be dealt with; just minor improvements.

I have recommended many people to the game, and half-finished features is definitely a pain point that turns a lot of them away.

Of course, the half-related topic (unfinished content) is what has turned away many of the players I have recommended who have finished all the existing content, (in one case, on two different accounts) and just can no longer find interest in stories that don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Me and my one friend who still plays are Exceptional Friends, and the new content all the time is fun for us, but content that “matters” (free or not) is what they find lacking.

All of this, of course, is just feedback from my very limited sample size. Personally I’m an exceptional friend twice over and extremely satisfied, though I would certainly also be excited for continuing and/or refining the “permanent” storylines.

I agree that changing priorities and changing profitability are probably the biggest contributors to these. Sunless Sea had a ton of sales and that can really shift a companies perception of what it makes sense to focus on.

The extremely slow server response have led to me taking a break for about a month now. Bandwidth is expensive. Good servers are expensive. Telling FBG that they &quotjust&quot need to spend more money is ridiculous. I know this, but it’s just too slow during peak times. I don’t know how much FL brings in each month, but I doubt it’s as good an investment as new (premium) games. It wouldn’t really surprise me to find out that FL is as much a branding/advertising expense as it is a profit center.

In that context, finishing up stories and features might well be a waste of resources for them.

I hate it, but I can’t help but suspect that it’s true.

What slow response times? Its basically always a good speed for me. (Then again, time zones)

But I do feel they have been pretty good recently about free content, its just that its all been seasonal. (The election, what sounds like a fairly large hallowmas revamp, both in less than half a year, and wasn’t SMEN within that time too?)
edited by suinicide on 10/19/2016

If its just a question of money, perhaps they should have a kickstarter to dispense with the FL content/update backlog?

[quote=suinicide]What slow response times? Its basically always a good speed for me. (Then again, time zones)

But I do feel they have been pretty good recently about free content, its just that its all been seasonal. (The election, what sounds like a fairly large hallowmas revamp, both in less than half a year, and wasn’t SMEN within that time too?)
edited by suinicide on 10/19/2016[/quote]
SMEN was also done in one or two weeks by Alexis on his own working from an unknown amount of already finished material. I wouldn’t say that counts towards what Failbetter has added as a whole, especially given that I wouldn’t call SMEN free :P

It was still a huge piece of content, that the fans wanted, and even lived up to promises/expectations. But it’s its own beast.

I have to wonder if questions of this nature, on updates, were so common in the past. Seems multiple times a week something of the sort is brought up.

I would so love it if FBG put some sort of roadmap online (they did this for Sunless Sea) with a broad outline of things they want to address in FL (content and mechanics) in, say, the coming 12 or 6 months. If they do have a plan (and I believe they do), that shouldn’t be too much to ask. I acknowledge some players might like this air of mystery surrounding FBG’s doings but I quite honestly don’t.

I like that idea – been wanting to put money into a kickstarter since I started playing. There is one coming up, of course…

I don’t support that, actually. Unless FBG is in a precarious position, it doesn’t sound like a particularly laudable move to crowdfund most of these content. There’s a big difference between, say, crowdfunding a new game or a new expansion pack to crowdfunding completion of core content.

I mean, if Carnelian Coast was a child of crowdfunding, you might end up expecting the rest of Dilmun Club and the rest of mainline content be crowdfunded too, but that doesn’t seem particularly healthy.

Plus, it seems like they are more starved for time and less for money.

Crowdfunding to unlock very old Exceptional Stories for the rest of the players… now that I don’t mind :P

I think the problem is that very little attention has been given to end game grinding. After a while the game becomes just waiting for exceptional stories, grinding echoes towards cider, and roleplaying to break up the monotony in between. For the most part I think that’s OK, we can’t expect the dense story of the early game to continue forever. But there could be a little more care to make grinding interesting.

Perhaps storylets could unlock at 50k echoes, 100k echoes, 150k echoes, to mark your progress towards buying cider and encourage you to continue. There could be expanded roleplaying options for end game players, beyond the old coffee and chess, so they can interact in new and fresh ways over the months and years. There could be slow building long term stories like seeking, but that do not destroy your character. Imagine a mechanic like marsh-mired, that encourages you to come back once a week to progress a story, that provides a slow dribble of lore and intrigue that lasts for years, albeit in a brief once a week morsel. It’s okay for the end game grind to be a grind where nothing much happens, but there’s s happy middle ground between the rich densely packed story of early game and &quotgo buy cider! See you in two years!&quot

Ah but them how many players do the cider grind and such? In fact that kind of thing was explicitly addressed, I think by Alexis. “We could write content for Ubergoats and cider, but how many players would that be for” or something like that. The early game is the most important part to keep new players interested and invested. Only a vocal minority here would benefit from the high level stories you suggest.

The long term players are the ones buying exceptional memberships, contributing to kickstarters, spending fate. I’d argue that retaining/increasing the number of long term players is perhaps even more important than just keeping new players interested.

And I think there is a balanced amount of content that should be written for late game. I’m not saying FBG should throw all their resources at stories that unfold over two years. Just that it would be nice if there was anything at all.

Heck, it wouldn’t even have to just be entirely new stories from scratch. Just opening up new branches on existing loops would be interesting enough. Imagine if the box grind gave you a new brief storylet each time you go through the loop 1000 times, up to your 10,000th loop when it repeats, as a sort of meta-grind to make grinding more interesting than just a straightforward slog.