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A game of survival, trade and exploration in the universe of Fallen London

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Archer Braun
Archer Braun
Posts: 5

3/2/2015
I sincerely want to extend my thanks to the Failbetter crew for the hours of enjoyment I experienced playing Sunless Sea. I found it an engaging and thought-provoking experience, and I think it holds a great deal of promise.


  • However, I'm not what you'd call a typical "gamer". I don't look for exploits, cheats or bugs. I prefer to be heavily invested in a story, and watch it grow and develop over time.

    The latest patch sort of ruined that for me, however, and I realize my opinion on the matter is most likely that of a small minority.

    Sunlight smuggling, in so many words, simply made this game playable. The decision to "nerf" it quite simply killed my interest in continuing. Purchasing new hulls, supplies, or any of the sundries that helped me to actually explore and move forward with the story suddenly became an incredibly tiresome burden. I wasn't invested in learning more about my officers, exploring stories between ports, or working to uncover hidden sections of the map any longer. I was simply now struggling to eke out a rather dull, joyless slog - just to afford to keep moving from one dull, joyless slog to another. A fatal mistake that results in a complete reset of the map, the loss of half of what I'd made and one or two heirloom items was bearable - SOLELY - because I knew there was a way to resume my progress with a new Captain that didn't involve an ungodly amount of mind-numbing boredom slogging it out all over again.

    The death of this last captain, my Eighth, is the last. I guess I'm not going to learn how to finally defeat Mt. Nomad, or uncover any of the rest of the mysteries of this game...because they're now squarely out of my reach. I don't have the time to slog through countless low-paying jobs that don't take me anywhere near where I need to be to advance the story. I simply can't handle that frustration, coupled with the dread of more slogging. Which I thought was vaguely humorous because I've heard Sunlight smuggling described as a slogging grind. I, however, didn't find it to be so.

    It's not likely you'll change your minds. I just wanted you to understand that this decision, while it doesn't kill my interest in the game (I'm still fascinated by the stories), has simply rendered it far too exhausting for me to try yet again. I'm a bit disappointed, but I'm sure I'll live.

    That having been said, I hope you continue to innovate and create compelling content. I thought Sunless Sea was a fantastic game to play, and I enjoyed the living daylights out of it.

    Best of luck to you.
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    Dameon Grey
    Dameon Grey
    Posts: 23

    3/2/2015
    Aestival friend, the way to riches via the boxes is in Aestival.

    --
    Mad, Bad, Dangerous to know.
    POSI. Correspondent. Social actions besides the affluent photographer are welcomed.

    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Dameon~Grey
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    Jascob
    Jascob
    Posts: 40

    3/2/2015
    If you didn't mind grinding sunlight to gain Echos, would you be adverse to editing your save game file to accomplish the same goal? It's pretty easy with Notepad ++. Uh, so I've been told. You can also edit your stats. From what I've read.
    +1 link
    Archer Braun
    Archer Braun
    Posts: 5

    3/2/2015
    Because I never really did "grind sunlight". I'd make a few runs, enough to cover expenses, and then set out for what I enjoyed the most, exploration and chasing down stories.

    I don't want to edit a save file in order to cheat my way out of something. I want to be able to work at it in the game. The system of deaths was perfectly acceptable to me. I was willing to take the losses, so long as there was some sort of hope at being able to rebuild again more quickly than repeating the ungodly hours of learning that my very first set of Captains had to endure.

    For me, editing a save file is nothing more than cheating. But dealing in a lucrative trade item like sunlight was a perfectly legitimate in-game way of earning echoes. It required work, but it paid off in allowing me to do the things I enjoyed - and that I felt were central to the story.

    Now...there's nothing left but the tired depressing slog over and over and over again, since the only way I'll be able to afford to become comfortable enough to explore and die, is to become insanely lucky with a new chart.
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    Gregg Johnson
    Gregg Johnson
    Posts: 263

    3/2/2015
    You can still make one big sunlight run. Just can't return to the surface again for a while...
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    Archer Braun
    Archer Braun
    Posts: 5

    3/2/2015
    Sure. If you've got the merchant ship, with enough echoes for enough mirror catch boxes to make it worth your while.

    And you're going to be able to afford all that...how? Because the only way I was able to do that, was by...sunlight smuggling.

    You can't - without a seriously nightmarish set of grinds - even begin to afford something like the corvette, without the break that sunlight smuggling provided.

    There was plenty already built-in to the game that obviated the need for such a nerf. The fact that some people found a painfully obvious grind to be an "exploit" didn't mean that the rest of us into the idea of exploration and discovery would abuse it. The grind itself was enough of a pain to relegate it into the realm of "nah, let's not do that again for a while".
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    Jascob
    Jascob
    Posts: 40

    3/2/2015
    Yes, you did grind sunlight; it's just that the profit was so out of whack that you didn't consider it a "depressing slog over and over and over again" because you only needed to fill up a Dreadnaught or Merchant Cruiser a few times to make enough spending money to last a while. Now that the designers have fixed the sunlight trade, you feel that the other methods of making money are not profitable enough to justify your time.


    If your time is so valuable and you like the game so much, it shouldn't be too much an affront to your dignity to consider editing your save file. Or you can stick with your current plan, whatever that is.
    +1 link
    Diptych
    Diptych
    Administrator
    Posts: 3426

    3/2/2015
    Sorry the mechanics of the game weren't to your tastes - so long, and I hope you find something that suits you better!

    --
    Sir Frederick, the Libertarian Esotericist. Lord Hubris, the Bloody Baron.
    Juniper Brown, the Ill-Fated Orphan. Esther Ellis-Hall, the Fashionable Fabian.
    +2 link
    Archer Braun
    Archer Braun
    Posts: 5

    3/2/2015
    Jascob,

    The designers didn't "fix" the sunlight trade at all. It wasn't broken in the first place. It did what it was intended to do.

    And no, I didn't "grind" sunlight. I'd sell boxes, earn enough to putter around, perhaps try a new ship, get a feel for how they all operated.

    And my problem with editing a save file is pretty simple, really, and I apologize if it strikes you as snarky. I paid for a complete game. If I have to go in an manually adjust files in the game so it operates more in accordance with my wishes, then I start to think I didn't really get what I paid for.

    And my current plan is to do nothing. I gave the new system a try, found it to be a depressingly awful experience that it would take, literally, tens of hours to overcome...IF...I got lucky.

    So, that's it for me.
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    MisterGone
    MisterGone
    Posts: 139

    3/2/2015
    Eh, the longest "slog" I had to deal with was dying a whole bunch at the start and not making any real progress. Once I figured out how to effectively NOT die, and worked at figuring out more and better trades (and there are, like 6 REALLY good ones in the game, not just Sunlight) it's been a steady progression that I hardly feel was as grindy as some people complain about.

    But then, I'm used to the whole 3X Genre of eXplore (the map), eXploit (basic economics), and eXpand (your range) that games like this inhabit. They always start slow, and they always progress at a steady clip 'til you're shipping huge yields of goods while buying low and selling high and making plenty of cash.

    Besides, the counter put upon Sunlight trading is hardly crushing. I went and did a couple trades now that it's in place to earn some quick money - like, maybe three surface trips and 25 boxes over those three - and walked away with managable menace and several thousand echoes in profit. If I had done that in a Steamer, it would have quickly gotten me to a Corvette with very little cost to myself as long as I didn't overreach.

    People just get greedy with the sunlight trade, wanting it to serve as a replacement for all other trading in the game rather than using it as a boost to get a leg up and working on more traditional trade routes while doing stories.
    edited by MisterGone on 3/2/2015

    --
    If you'd ever like to enjoy a good round of pugilism or discussing the higher mysteries, Reginald Drownheart may be the dapper gentleman for you!

    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Reginald~Drownheart~
    +3 link
    Jascob
    Jascob
    Posts: 40

    3/2/2015
    Archer Braun wrote:
    The designers didn't "fix" the sunlight trade at all. It wasn't broken in the first place. It did what it was intended to do.

    If it wasn't broken, then why did they fix it? Don't answer that; it's not necessary.
    +1 link
    Diptych
    Diptych
    Administrator
    Posts: 3426

    3/3/2015
    There's no need to quarrel, folks - no game can please all the people all of the time, if you'll forgive my mixing idioms. Anyone can stop or start playing whenever they want to, for any reason, and that's an end of it.

    --
    Sir Frederick, the Libertarian Esotericist. Lord Hubris, the Bloody Baron.
    Juniper Brown, the Ill-Fated Orphan. Esther Ellis-Hall, the Fashionable Fabian.
    +2 link
    MisterGone
    MisterGone
    Posts: 139

    3/3/2015
    Dameon Grey wrote:
    Aestival friend, the way to riches via the boxes is in Aestival.


    Is that really worth the wound potential?

    Ever since the menace added to surface trading, I've never NOT gotten a wound nabbing sunlight at Aestival, whereas before I could occasionaly not get hurt. But then, I also haven't done the first step to building a colony there, so maybe that's part of that?

    --
    If you'd ever like to enjoy a good round of pugilism or discussing the higher mysteries, Reginald Drownheart may be the dapper gentleman for you!

    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Reginald~Drownheart~
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    Jascob
    Jascob
    Posts: 40

    3/3/2015
    MisterGone wrote:
    Ever since the menace added to surface trading, I've never NOT gotten a wound nabbing sunlight at Aestival, whereas before I could occasionaly not get hurt. But then, I also haven't done the first step to building a colony there, so maybe that's part of that?


    [spoiler] Once you take a necessary step to build a colony, i.e., obtaining protection from the light, you can no longer fill boxes at Aestival. [/spoiler]
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    MisterGone
    MisterGone
    Posts: 139

    3/3/2015
    I see, thanks!

    --
    If you'd ever like to enjoy a good round of pugilism or discussing the higher mysteries, Reginald Drownheart may be the dapper gentleman for you!

    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Reginald~Drownheart~
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    SporksAreGoodForYou
    SporksAreGoodForYou
    Posts: 291

    3/3/2015
    Uh.
    a) Aestival also gives Yearning/Burning. Exactly the same as Avernus. With added wounds.

    b) dropping a colony prevents any sunlight at all. it changes the sunlight's nature.

    c) Regardless of how anyone makes money, Archer made it doing sunlight. You have to accept that it doesn't matter how many other ways you think there are to make money, that's the the deathknell for him; regular posters to this forum aren't the same type of gamer - we're clearly in love with this game, and understand the mechanics better than most, and are prepared to take the grind.
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    Gregg Johnson
    Gregg Johnson
    Posts: 263

    3/3/2015
    Archer Braun wrote:
    Jascob,

    The designers didn't "fix" the sunlight trade at all. It wasn't broken in the first place. It did what it was intended to do.

    Yes, it was. It was very much broken, and the designers even said its risks weren't fully implemented (they were tied in with an unreleased Ambition, which is now released). Sunlight is ridiculously dangerous, yet players could smuggle it en masse into the heart of London with no risk, for as long as they very well pleased, and rake in profits 1000x greater than anything else in the game per time spent.

    Now, I do think they went too far in the other direction. Among other things there need to be better ways to lump-reduce Yearning, Burning so that the run can still be performed, just not without some risk (perhaps they only work to reduce it to 100 or something).
    0 link
    mavericknm
    mavericknm
    Posts: 12

    3/3/2015
    Whether you grind sun, coffee, supplies, or honey, it's all a grind. The means in this case set out to achieve an end of safety. Safety in a bigger ship. Safety in a mansion. Safety to buy supplies and fuel from wherever you please.

    This is at odd's with what I perceive to be the designer's goals. A constant fear of death. A fear of what lays behind every decision. It could go either way. Furthermore, many of the questlines are unprofitable. Thus every game mechanic encourages the player to get money for safety and to further advance the story.

    This is a fundamental flaw and should be of no surprise to anyone who has grinded, edited their save, or turned on mercy mode. This patch may have been the last straw for OP, but isn't the issue.
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    WormApotheote
    WormApotheote
    Posts: 725

    3/3/2015
    mavericknm wrote:
    Furthermore, many of the questlines are unprofitable.


    Er, what? Since when? I've been rolling in Outlandish Artefacts and Captivating Treasures practically.

    --
    No, I don't pull the Eater of Names.
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    MisterGone
    MisterGone
    Posts: 139

    3/3/2015
    mavericknm wrote:
    Whether you grind sun, coffee, supplies, or honey, it's all a grind. The means in this case set out to achieve an end of safety. Safety in a bigger ship. Safety in a mansion. Safety to buy supplies and fuel from wherever you please.

    This is at odd's with what I perceive to be the designer's goals. A constant fear of death. A fear of what lays behind every decision. It could go either way. Furthermore, many of the questlines are unprofitable. Thus every game mechanic encourages the player to get money for safety and to further advance the story.

    This is a fundamental flaw and should be of no surprise to anyone who has grinded, edited their save, or turned on mercy mode. This patch may have been the last straw for OP, but isn't the issue.


    I think there's a fundamental genre mis-appraisal going on for players who feel this way.

    I see a lot of folks compare this game to FTL, or think of it as another Rogue-like like many on the market right now, but neither of those is really in the genre that most fits Sunless Sea.

    While people may not realize it, Sunless Sea fits into a genre of fairly esteemed tradition. I don't know if there's exactly a name for it, but it includes ELITE as it's primary originator, and has had progeny such as EV Nova (the game I think SS most resembles in total package), Space Rangers HD, and (breaking the space trend) Sid Meier's Pirates. All of these games are fundamentally about the player managing a ship (usually in space, but also at sea), moving from port to port, battling foes in between ports, and yes, trading. Lots and lots of trading.

    At first, in all of these games, the trading is a limited aspect where it's difficult to turn a profit. But then, over time it gets easier and easier and you build up funds and figure out better deals.

    Now, the trading in Sunless Sea isn't the most complex or accurate simulation. This is no Port Royale or Patrician game. If they were to make the trading more complex you'd need a way for the markets to turn (to have shortages and surpluses on certain goods that affected the prices basically), ways to store some non-perishables for later sale (an oft-requested feature I've noticed), and probably some investment opportunities on building a business or two to generate extra revenue.

    Due to this, the trading in Sunless Sea is closer to Sid Meier's Pirates, where it's a secondary element, but not the core of the game. However, in Pirates the player could make a good amount of gold simply by raiding enemy ships, and even selling them off for a decent amount of extra scratch. This is something that WAS in the earlier version of the game, and may be re-implemented in SS more fully (I think it may even still be possible if you somehow manage to reduce an enemy crew to zero with flensing weapons without completely destroying the hull in the process, but good luck with that) at a later date. Which would benefit the game immensely and I think, cause people to stop thinking of the game's economics as being so "grindy" almost immediately, as they would then have an action based alternative to trading, which they perceive as being boring.

    But trading was always intended as a core part of the game. It's listed as a key feature on the Steam page even. And trading isn't "grinding" for those who like it (see every one of the games I listed above - Trading/Economic games are a huge genre that a lot of people like). It's really a matter of taste on that one.

    All that said however, you stated that the designer's goals were:

    "A constant fear of death. A fear of what lays behind every decision."

    The immense pressure behind lacking funds is exactly what assures that fear. If you just have tons of money, you can buy however much fuel and food you need easily, and can blow money at lots of ports to reduce terror, while sailing so quickly around the sea that it's not even building up much anyway. I should know, that's what happens in Sunless Sea in the end-game. I'm really hoping some content eventually comes around to shake the end-game up more (one can't always have their daily duel with Mt. Nomad to get their end-game fear fix you know).

    Hence, making money really NEEDS to be a "grind", or the game would lose so much of that fear that propels its mood and its aesthetic too quickly. Or, conversely getting quick money needs to be VERY risky, which is what this latest alteration to the Sunlight trade does (and I hope expanded piracy will eventually do).

    You can still do it. You can still smuggle sunlight and make lots of quick cash. But now there's a cost to it. Now you can go completely nuts from it.

    That sure seems to fit that "a fear of what lays behind every decision" idea, does it not?

    --
    If you'd ever like to enjoy a good round of pugilism or discussing the higher mysteries, Reginald Drownheart may be the dapper gentleman for you!

    http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Reginald~Drownheart~
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