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

Sunless Sea needs shifting currents... Messages in this topic - RSS

Demiansky
Demiansky
Posts: 7

3/8/2015
I've developed an unhealthy obsession with Sunless Sea, but one thing I'm finding is that I never, ever lose my captains to hunger or loss of fuel. I basically always make it to where I'm going without ever cutting it too close and as of yet, I've never had to eat anybody due to diminished resources. Part of the problem is that I can always accurately predict how far I can make it with a specific amount of resources... So I was thinking about what game mechanics could be introduced to stir things up a bit. The best thing I can think of? Currents that shift. Because the Zee is a strange place that is abundantly populated by vortexes, why not make vortexes generate currents that change over time? They could vary in strength, push you into problematic situations (like into a Zee monster), and make you think on your feet as far as navigation is concerned. Sure, you may have PLANNED for those 4 supplies to get you back to London... but then that harsh current kicked up and blew you off course.

The vortex mechanic is already in game, so I wonder how hard it would be to implement currents?
edited by Demiansky on 3/8/2015
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SporksAreGoodForYou
SporksAreGoodForYou
Posts: 291

3/8/2015
They have that a little with the ice and wax(?) storms, but you're right. I would totally go out of my way to ride a good current to my destination.
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Dagmar
Dagmar
Posts: 25

3/8/2015
Demiansky wrote:
I've developed an unhealthy obsession with Sunless Sea, but one thing I'm finding is that I never, ever lose my captains to hunger or loss of fuel. I basically always make it to where I'm going without ever cutting it too close and as of yet...
If you've literally never even cut it close then you've been playing it very safe by, at least initially, overstocking fuel and supplies. You're basically the architect of your dilemma.

The kind of rhythm and feel for how much fuel and supplies you'll need to stock and where and how you replenish that stock to keep profit margins optimal is something that takes most players time to master. Adding more variance into the mix may further discourage new players as they're already dealing with having to expend extra fuel and supplies due to snow and wax-winds that slow ship movement, zee beasts and pirates which for the most part they should avoid until they get a better ship and guns (and for whom they'll still expend extra fuel and supplies if they engage them), and not knowing how much fuel and supplies they need in general by not even knowing where any ports may be.

Another thing is that all a mechanism like that is going to do is encourage players to overstock even more with the only effect being that the game will feel more of a grind for them as it will slow down game pace for them regardless of their play style.

Finally, currents run in fairly static patterns in oceans and are identifiable. That's how trade routes were and are planned on the surface world. That means that if they implemented currents in Sunless Sea, they would still largely be predictable and useable to your advantage on a learning curve which, again, ultimately, wouldn't give you the experience you're looking for (although it would be an interesting new element to the game).
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SporksAreGoodForYou
SporksAreGoodForYou
Posts: 291

3/8/2015
I'm comfortable that given the island layouts change magically with every captain, currents could magically change magically with every few Time: The Healers.
edited by SporksAreGoodForYou on 3/8/2015
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Demiansky
Demiansky
Posts: 7

3/8/2015
Dagmar wrote:
Demiansky wrote:
I've developed an unhealthy obsession with Sunless Sea, but one thing I'm finding is that I never, ever lose my captains to hunger or loss of fuel. I basically always make it to where I'm going without ever cutting it too close and as of yet...
If you've literally never even cut it close then you've been playing it very safe by, at least initially, overstocking fuel and supplies. You're basically the architect of your dilemma.

The kind of rhythm and feel for how much fuel and supplies you'll need to stock and where and how you replenish that stock to keep profit margins optimal is something that takes most players time to master. Adding more variance into the mix may further discourage new players as they're already dealing with having to expend extra fuel and supplies due to snow and wax-winds that slow ship movement, zee beasts and pirates which for the most part they should avoid until they get a better ship and guns (and for whom they'll still expend extra fuel and supplies if they engage them), and not knowing how much fuel and supplies they need in general by not even knowing where any ports may be.

Another thing is that all a mechanism like that is going to do is encourage players to overstock even more with the only effect being that the game will feel more of a grind for them as it will slow down game pace for them regardless of their play style.

Finally, currents run in fairly static patterns in oceans and are identifiable. That's how trade routes were and are planned on the surface world. That means that if they implemented currents in Sunless Sea, they would still largely be predictable and useable to your advantage on a learning curve which, again, ultimately, wouldn't give you the experience you're looking for (although it would be an interesting new element to the game).


I disagree on just about every point. I never overstock on fuel and supplies and generally make it back to London with 1-2 each. If I have to, I can just pick up one or two extra for 20 echo. I've never "cut it close" meaning I've never eaten my crew. Also, every voyage is always profitable, even after I save most of my "big" rewards for my scion. And why are we so concerned about new players? Dying is part of the game. I was a newer player once, and since I started the game weeks ago, I've only died once (thank you, Mt. Nomad). Maybe it sounds weird, but I kind of wanted to die more than that.

As for the last point--- I already addressed that in the OP. Vortexes could cause shifts in the currents during the game so that a lot of the time you'd have to think on the fly. As of now, the game just feels too easy. I never have problems out at sea and every voyage doubles the cash I've put into it.
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Lomias
Lomias
Posts: 83

3/8/2015
I love this idea, it will be fun!

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Lomias
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Rocket Heeled Jack
Rocket Heeled Jack
Posts: 311

3/8/2015
SporksAreGoodForYou wrote:
They have that a little with the ice and wax(?) storms, but you're right. I would totally go out of my way to ride a good current to my destination.



I made reference to it when I wrote "In Iron Clad", but the problem with currents in a game is that they would also be predictable, the only way that you could translate it into reasonable interest would be to have something where the currents were normal till suddenly they weren't, and have something occurring that was affecting the currents, but then it would very much depend on the captain in question treating it like a momentary annoyance (like Fog...) or understanding that something has gone wrong and being (a) mindful enough to investigate and (b) knowledgeable enough to know that something is wrong....

Not convinced it would be a good idea from a game point....

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Rocket~Heeled~Jack
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Passionario
Passionario
Posts: 776

3/8/2015
Has your life grown too safe and predictable?
Are you tired of hauling tons of fuel, supplies and trade goods everywhere?
Do you long for danger and adventure on high zee?

Buy Stymphalos-class Steam Launch today!

--
Passionario: Profile, Story, Ending
Passion: Profile, Appearance
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Rocket Heeled Jack
Rocket Heeled Jack
Posts: 311

3/8/2015
Adventure? There should be an option to swim home if you get your ship blown out from under you...

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Rocket~Heeled~Jack
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Dagmar
Dagmar
Posts: 25

3/8/2015
Demiansky wrote:
I disagree on just about every point. I never overstock on fuel and supplies and generally make it back to London with 1-2 each.
That's pretty much the definition of overstocking fuel and supplies. When your UI says 1-2 units of fuel it actually means 2-3 because after the 1 disappears you still have one full bar of fuel after it disappears. There are other choices you get that can further extend that supply depending on your resources. If you push the envelope on your fuel reserves you can find out what they are. The same holds true for your supplies. Your play style is what is denying you these experiences. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is that, and not a lack of variance in fuel and supply consumption, that is preventing you from getting to experience what happens when you "cut it close".

That being said I don't have a problem with the concept of introducing currents to the Sunless Sea, but you should realize it probably won't impact on your ability to experience death or near death from lack of fuel or supplies. You will be able to hedge against that possibility by maintaining the margins you do for fuel and supplies when you hit a port or by adjusting them upwards if that's what's needed. Your own words pretty much sum it up:

Demiansky wrote:
I can just pick up one or two extra for 20 echo.
Adding currents into the game may simply end up meaning that instead of spending 20-40 echoes you end up spending 200-400 echoes with more frequent and/or greater in between purchases based on nothing more than luck. That's why I said it only makes the game more of a grind by cutting into your profit margins. If you're inclined to lose 20-40 echoes to eliminate risk by maintaining a very safe buffer for fuel and supplies there's no reason to believe that you'll be less inclined to spending more than that over the course of your voyage if the alternative is frequent death by chance.

The only way that's going to change is if it can happen so often early in the game before you can create any kind of buffer in echoes that you end up dying from sheer attrition of resources in echoes, supplies and fuel. That means that players can end up dying repeatedly simply based on bad luck. If they get over that hump before quitting the game, you're right back to where you started with a large enough buffer in echoes and an overall route that is profitable if less so by implementing the same risk averse practices you're currently using on a larger scale.

As stated before, you're the architect of your current situation. If you want to experience nearly dying from starvation or almost sinking out at sea from lack of fuel you have to take greater risks. The fact that you're not willing to do so with the current game mechanics means that nothing changes unless the frequency and randomness of currents can turn the new player experience into one of repeated death for no other reason than bad luck rather than a lack of understanding of game mechanics and content. The latter entails a constructive learning experience through death which is why players are told not to be afraid of dying in the Sunless Sea. The former does not. It would simply be bad game design.

Demiansky wrote:
And why are we so concerned about new players? Dying is part of the game. I was a newer player once, and since I started the game weeks ago, I've only died once (thank you, Mt. Nomad). Maybe it sounds weird, but I kind of wanted to die more than that.
Then you should have taken greater risks. The perspective of a new player is very relevant. You no longer have it because you know many things that a new player isn't going to know and your perspective on how they will deal with an added difficulty mechanic that could end up killing them a lot more is extremely subjective, especially since you've avoided the experience entirely of having to repeat the same content over and over again due to multiple deaths early on in the game.

Your experience as a new player isn't reflective of that of all new players or even most new players. There was a post this past week from a player that said they died repeatedly from Bat Swarms, which are the easiest things to kill in the game. There are numerous posts from players who had a hard time with the game that might not have continued to play it but for their posting on this forum and getting advice from other players and, given the small percentage of players that actually even bother to read game forums, it's hard to get a measure of how high the attrition rate is for the game. That's something that Failbetter Games can't ignore not only because it may be reflective of game design issues but also because Failbetter, even as small independent studio, has to consider the revenue impact on its ability to develop additional content for the game and make some margin of profit.
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MisterGone
MisterGone
Posts: 139

3/8/2015
The simpler solution is closer to what Sporks suggested: make the vortexes move.

Every time the player gets a "Free Evening" (so the game knows they're IN London), it rolls to determine if any in map vortex moves position, and then if they do, move it there. It wouldn't be a huge distance away from where ever the origin points are currently, but it could move within a range around each origin point. They could also change in the size of diameter, shrinking and expanding within a range, so as to never be fully predictable.

If two vortexes hit each other (because there are two pretty close by near Port Carnelian), they combine into a unique super vortex that's really HUGE, and does lots of extra damage if you're sucked in.

Currents aren't a bad idea in theory, but in practice I'm guessing they'd either be so subtle an effect that no one would notice them (so why even include it), or they'd be so strong that they'd be interfering in a way that makes players thing the game's control scheme is broken: "why is my ship constantly listing to the left right now? WTF? Is this Desert Bus?"

The vortexes are big and dangerous and noticeable. The problem is that they're so stationary that you never really have to worry about them or alter course once you see where they are the first time. They need variation to create a sense that you can never really be fully safe on this sea. Even with the sea itself.

Another idea - Have the fog weather effect add back the "fog of war" effect on islands.

Currently in the game, when you go to a place you haven't been, a lot of islands are darkened an hard to see against the backdrop of the sea until the player gets close enough and triggers their reveal. I've ended up bumping and crashing into a lot of lillypads near Wisdom while avoiding enemies due to this effect in fact.

If the effect were re-implemented while they were stuck in the middle of a fog bank (or other storm), you'd have the interesting situation of fog actually affecting the player as fog affects real ship captains. Which would be a pretty good, super immersive threat, and make the game a touch more interesting and unpredictable no matter how much experience you actually have with the game.

--
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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leahsfiction
leahsfiction
Posts: 6

3/8/2015
Different mechanic, but what about having a random event pop up on too-successful captains? (Just blame it on one or more of the gods.) Say, if you have >10 fuel, >10 supplies, and enough crew to go at full-speed. There's gotta be a set of conditions that equals "rich and bored zee-captain in need of a little reminder".

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/leahsfiction
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Jabster
Jabster
Posts: 6

3/8/2015
I understand your dilemma but I think it's pretty inbuilt into the game. The early few hours and first few captains are, to me, basically an extended tutorial. Once you understand the concept of how to generate echoes and a rough idea of how much fuel/supplies you need it's pretty hard to run out unless you take massive risks. Currently the bigger problem I have is managing terror but given time I'm sure that will become much easy itself.

Managing resources is important but surely the game is really about exploring not micro-management?
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Demiansky
Demiansky
Posts: 7

3/8/2015
Rocket Heeled Jack wrote:
SporksAreGoodForYou wrote:
They have that a little with the ice and wax(?) storms, but you're right. I would totally go out of my way to ride a good current to my destination.



I made reference to it when I wrote "In Iron Clad", but the problem with currents in a game is that they would also be predictable, the only way that you could translate it into reasonable interest would be to have something where the currents were normal till suddenly they weren't, and have something occurring that was affecting the currents, but then it would very much depend on the captain in question treating it like a momentary annoyance (like Fog...) or understanding that something has gone wrong and being (a) mindful enough to investigate and (b) knowledgeable enough to know that something is wrong....

Not convinced it would be a good idea from a game point....



Well, that's why I said they should change. I mean, things "change in the Zee" don't they? I think the vortexes should be controlling the currents, and they might switch directions, move, etc. It should be a not-so-frequent, but abrupt change so that that player has to think on his/her feet. Your mirrors might determine how well you "judge" the strength of a new current, so someone who makes a crappy mirror check might get swept up to the Avid Horizon with 2 fuel and 4 supplies. Would make for some interesting circumstances.
edited by Demiansky on 3/8/2015
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Demiansky
Demiansky
Posts: 7

3/8/2015
Dagmar wrote:
Demiansky wrote:
I disagree on just about every point. I never overstock on fuel and supplies and generally make it back to London with 1-2 each.
That's pretty much the definition of overstocking fuel and supplies. When your UI says 1-2 units of fuel it actually means 2-3 because after the 1 disappears you still have one full bar of fuel after it disappears. There are other choices you get that can further extend that supply depending on your resources. If you push the envelope on your fuel reserves you can find out what they are. The same holds true for your supplies. Your play style is what is denying you these experiences. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is that, and not a lack of variance in fuel and supply consumption, that is preventing you from getting to experience what happens when you "cut it close".

That being said I don't have a problem with the concept of introducing currents to the Sunless Sea, but you should realize it probably won't impact on your ability to experience death or near death from lack of fuel or supplies. You will be able to hedge against that possibility by maintaining the margins you do for fuel and supplies when you hit a port or by adjusting them upwards if that's what's needed. Your own words pretty much sum it up:

Demiansky wrote:
I can just pick up one or two extra for 20 echo.
Adding currents into the game may simply end up meaning that instead of spending 20-40 echoes you end up spending 200-400 echoes with more frequent and/or greater in between purchases based on nothing more than luck. That's why I said it only makes the game more of a grind by cutting into your profit margins. If you're inclined to lose 20-40 echoes to eliminate risk by maintaining a very safe buffer for fuel and supplies there's no reason to believe that you'll be less inclined to spending more than that over the course of your voyage if the alternative is frequent death by chance.

The only way that's going to change is if it can happen so often early in the game before you can create any kind of buffer in echoes that you end up dying from sheer attrition of resources in echoes, supplies and fuel. That means that players can end up dying repeatedly simply based on bad luck. If they get over that hump before quitting the game, you're right back to where you started with a large enough buffer in echoes and an overall route that is profitable if less so by implementing the same risk averse practices you're currently using on a larger scale.

As stated before, you're the architect of your current situation. If you want to experience nearly dying from starvation or almost sinking out at sea from lack of fuel you have to take greater risks. The fact that you're not willing to do so with the current game mechanics means that nothing changes unless the frequency and randomness of currents can turn the new player experience into one of repeated death for no other reason than bad luck rather than a lack of understanding of game mechanics and content. The latter entails a constructive learning experience through death which is why players are told not to be afraid of dying in the Sunless Sea. The former does not. It would simply be bad game design.

Demiansky wrote:
And why are we so concerned about new players? Dying is part of the game. I was a newer player once, and since I started the game weeks ago, I've only died once (thank you, Mt. Nomad). Maybe it sounds weird, but I kind of wanted to die more than that.
Then you should have taken greater risks. The perspective of a new player is very relevant. You no longer have it because you know many things that a new player isn't going to know and your perspective on how they will deal with an added difficulty mechanic that could end up killing them a lot more is extremely subjective, especially since you've avoided the experience entirely of having to repeat the same content over and over again due to multiple deaths early on in the game.

Your experience as a new player isn't reflective of that of all new players or even most new players. There was a post this past week from a player that said they died repeatedly from Bat Swarms, which are the easiest things to kill in the game. There are numerous posts from players who had a hard time with the game that might not have continued to play it but for their posting on this forum and getting advice from other players and, given the small percentage of players that actually even bother to read game forums, it's hard to get a measure of how high the attrition rate is for the game. That's something that Failbetter Games can't ignore not only because it may be reflective of game design issues but also because Failbetter, even as small independent studio, has to consider the revenue impact on its ability to develop additional content for the game and make some margin of profit.



So are you saying I should play irrationally? The game shouldn't be challenging only when someone plays like a dummy. If you run out of fuel or food, its not because you took a risk. It's because you were bad at math or just plain careless. The calculation is very simple. You go X distance on Y fuel. There is no number rolling involved. And yes, I always make sure I have 1-2 fuel in the tank of my merchant cruiser, even if that means I have to buy a bit at slightly higher prices from another port because I wanted to take a detour and chase after that Zee monster. Not having that 1 percent extra in my hold is worth not dying without a fully prepared heir. If I have to spend 10 extra echo from time to time, so be it. I fail to see how I'm somehow "doing it wrong" for playing smart. You shouldn't have to play with reckless abandon to get the "full experience of the game." Sunless Sea says, from the very beginning, you will die a lot. I haven't. That means the game needs to throw a few more curve balls.

I'm not interested in dying from luck for no reason, but I am interested in luck giving me a bruise from time to time because I took a risk. I'm interested in being punished for pushing the envelope, but right now, it's not even possible to play analytically and push the envelope. This game is supposed to be all about the perils of seafaring, and one of the things that always struck fear in the hearts of sailors throughout history was being blown off course. But in Sunless Sea? I have complete run of the Zee without any impediment, which means I can always be where I want whenever I want without ever being blown off course. No sailor, even TODAY, can enjoy that luxury. Yeah, sure, it'll make the game "harder," but your argument against "hardness" could be applied to virtually any mechanic in the game. Is it okay that a player can get remote killed by Mt. Nomad without even knowing what it is? Is it okay that a player get murdered on the docks of London because he didn't realize he was supposed to deliver that package in a certain duration of time? You could argue no in all those cases.

And if shifting currents is too taxing for new players, why not simply add them in once the 50th day has passed in-game? Something has changed in the Zee...
edited by Demiansky on 3/8/2015
edited by Demiansky on 3/8/2015
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Dagmar
Dagmar
Posts: 25

3/8/2015
Demiansky wrote:
So are you saying I should play irrationally? The game shouldn't be challenging only when someone plays like a dummy. If you run out of fuel or food, its not because you took a risk. It's because you were bad at math or just plain careless. The calculation is very simple. You go X distance on Y fuel. There is no number rolling involved.
I see. So anyone that doesn't play with a self absorbed narrow minded mind set like yours is a "dummy" who can't do math or is just plain careless? Meanwhile those of us who have played less conservatively have an infinitely greater understanding of the details of what happens when you press fuel and supply consumption to levels that you were too risk averse to pursue and can use that to our advantage (all because we understand the true math involved of which you're apparently still completely ignorant). Have fun with that.
Demiansky wrote:
And yes, I always make sure I have 1-2 fuel in the tank of my merchant cruiser...
This is a truly LOLable statement. You're referring to driving around in an 8000 echo ship as if it reflects the gaming experience of new players in a failed attempt to advocate a implementation of currents while completely failing to address how your poorly thought out concept fails to address the new player experience?

The rest of your little screed isn't even worth addressing because you blatantly fail to address how your proposed mechanic in any way whatsoever will suddenly grant you the experience you claimed to want in your OP or how it isn't bad game design.
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Alexis Kennedy
Alexis Kennedy
Posts: 1374

3/8/2015
We don't do flamewars around here. Locking the thread: please be nice on other threads.
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