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

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Sean K
Sean K
Posts: 2

6/26/2015
Intro


I love this game, so consider this tough love. I generally only point at what I think needs improvement, but this doesn't mean that I don't like the rest. I do.



General


- It would seem that the ambitions serve as victory conditions, whereas the actual victory conditions, which are the legacies, are not pointed at as directly. This is misleading at best, deceptive if we push it.
- The journal tab is extremely lackluster. We’ve had usable quest logs in games for years by now, so I don’t really know what went wrong here. We need a clear list of what to bring/do where. Of course the player can take notes as he plays, but what’s the point in having an in-game journal if you still need an out of game journal?
- The Something Awaits You mechanic is weird. Faster ships often have to sit in the docking area waiting for the SAY token, which is just annoying. It also discourages docking because the timer is reset every time you dock. It would be much more bearable if the timer wouldn’t reset, so that I could dock at the light-ship when returning to London, without having to wait for the SAY token either before the light-ship or before London. Some ports also lack any SAY events.
- More engine power means less fuel efficiency. I understand the logic behind this, but coupled with the current SAY mechanic, it basically means that there is no real incentive to upgrade you engine, unless you can get one of the officer’s engines that have built-in fuel efficiency.
- The ship sale values are way too low. 5000 refund for a dreadnought? Seriously? Let me store the ships I purchased and swap freely between them instead of forcing me to sell at a ridiculously low price.
- Speaking of ships, enemy ships drop so little loot, that they’re often not worth the fuel and supplies you use during the fight. They really need to drop more stuff.
- Same thing goes for zeebeasts, although to a lesser extent, because the bigger ones do drop supplies. In general hunting is not a profitable activity though, which is frustrating, given the price of the ships and equipment you need to do it somewhat safely.
- The hunger bar would be more interesting if I could move the feeding threshold. There could be penalties associated with waiting too long to feed the crew, but it would allow me to stall the feeding a couple of seconds to get to that dead crab I just killed, or dock in the chapel of lights.
- The terror bar and the terror “clock” are actually okay-ish once you understand how they work. However, I think it would be more intuitive if it were updated a bit more often to check for nearby coasts and/or lights.
- The SAY interactions in most ports offer to little information about their consequences, making it sometimes difficult to make informed choices. I’ll go into more detail about this in the detailed port feedback, but this is a recurring theme, so I listed it here. Once you know all the consequences, there also are too many moot choices. Shepherd Isles comes to mind.
- The pages stat is a learning stat. Those are very boring and most of the time not profitable to invest in (as in spending secrets to improve it) unless you plan for a VERY long game. It also seems that the free fragments the stat grants are only counted when you do get a secret, and increasing the pages stat afterwards doesn’t reduce the number of fragments you need for the next one.
- The Legacy choice granting pages is also lackluster, since by inheriting the previous captain’s chart, you lose a huge amount of fragments from exploration.
- There needs to be a stat breakdown in the context menu on stat mouse-over. I want to see my base stat and what impacts it (ships, equipment, or officers).
- There are only benefits to being a cannibal. No drawbacks whatsoever come to mind.


Detailed port feedback


Fallen London


- There is no reason to sell red honey on the docks rather than to the devils. They pay more and there is no penalty to dealing with demons.
- Same goes for giving moves in the great game to the Diplomat instead of the Admiral.
- Selling souls to the devils needs to be possible in the shops tab, since it’s a bulk item. Clickfests are funkillers.
- When delivering the last Sphinxstone pile, you have too little information about the two people you get to choose between. You basically have no clue as to who they are, except that the woman is linked to the geode. You get to know nothing about the man.
- At no point does the game inform you that the admiralty will no longer be available if you increase the dawn machine’s sovereignty too much. This would be okay if you could deliver port reports, revelatory charts or strategic information to the diplomat instead once the admiral is gone.
- Once the scholar has gone mad, several items are completely useless.
- If the Likely Lass gets killed because of Salt’s Curse, there is not a single other person you can have a child with in the entire city. This is strange. It would be more believable if it would simply reset the romance arc, maybe with a penalty for having lost a loved one.
- The trade route between London, the surface and the iron republic is so profitable that it makes all other trade routes pale in comparison. (Get sailors and fuel and sell coffee and sunlight and get rid of menaces in London, get sunlight, supplies and trade runs (sacrificing sailors) on the surface, sell supplies and buy coffee in the iron republic, buy fuel if no coffee is available, rinse and repeat). No big risks, all terror is lost on the surface, huge profit. Even more so while the coffee can still be sold on the surface. This works every time and all locations are fixed on the map. You even get fragments from the surface trade runs. Even the coffe to linen trade can’t compete with this.
- There is no use for the favors gained with the antiquarian
Hunter’s Keep


- A very nice port. It’s just a shame that it lacks any SAY interaction once the sister’s arc is complete.


Mutton Island


- A nice port with interesting choices depending on your current stats.
- The Tavern probably is too strong in the early game as it allows you to gain 2 stat points for only 230 echoes on average. This means that you can get from 25 to 50 in Iron and Veils easily for around 5750 echoes, which is not that hard to obtain, especially with heirlooms.


Codex


- No SAY interactions.


Whither


- Interesting port, but Stone’s attention seems to be way too cheap compared to the others two. The watchful curio can be obtained for as low as 77 echoes in Khan’s Heart (not reliably, but still), while the secret for Salt’s attention and the live specimen for Storm’s attention cost 999 echoes and 500 echoes each respectively.
- The “ask about the drowned man” interaction is too expensive for the little gain. Make it a gamble that at least has a chance at competing with Ireme as a source for secrets.


Venderbight


- Very nice variety of SAY interactions.
- All “Provide what you have promised” variations have one obviously better choice.
- The “sample today’s special” interaction states that it is a more effective way to reduce terror than the dusty glass of wine. This is a lie. The game notes shouldn’t lie.
- The last curator’s quest is a very interesting quest encouraging exploration. There should be more like this. However, the ship reward suffers the general problem with being unable to store ships.
- The last tour operator’s quest is also a good example of the type of quests I’d like to see more of.


Canal and Surface


- When you come down from the surface, you get a new SAY token, which makes sense, but it doesn’t show you the usual lamp icon.
- Collecting sunlight on the surface can’t wound you like it can in Aestival. Why is this?
- The Yearning, Burning menace lacks numerical feedback in dialogs and is poorly explained.
- I need to be able to see my hold while I’m on the surface.
- Fuel and supplies need to be available in the shop tab on the surface. Clickfests are fun-killers.
- The cargo run is profitable even when you fail the event. It’s a no-brainer as long as you have crewmen left.


Iron Republic


- The calendar mechanic is interesting if a bit confusing.
- The stat gamble on the port report is a bit annoying.
- The Icarus in Black is a bit too expensive, considering that the ammo is even more expensive. It simply doesn’t compete with the caminus yards gun in terms of bang for your buck. Removing the secret from the costs would help here.

The Grand Geode


- It’s a good port.


Mount Palmerston


- It’s a good port.


The Salt Lions


- It’s a good port. Could use more variation in SAY options.


Demeaux Island


- It’s a good port.


Shepherd Isles


- If you don’t plan on using “The rest of the zee”, the “tale of the three graves” is the obviously better choice. The other tales need to be buffed.
- There is absolutely nothing to do here if you don’t have a SAY token.


Abbey Rock


- Could use more interesting SAY options


Station III


- Could use a shop where you can buy ship equipment for heartmetal ingots.


Fathomking’s Hold


- The scintillac trade game info says the pears are useful in Khan’s heart, while they’re actually are useful in Khan’s Glory.
- Reviving a drowned officer is a bit too expensive.
- An interesting variety of SAY options. The crocodile option should increase one’s expertise in parts.


Port Carnelian


- The various options to get a port report have a disappointing variety in outcomes.
- The “Influence affairs” event uses the cannibalism picture for no good reason.
- The stat challenges for the network increases are way too hard.
- The SAY option to look for sapphires is not competitive with the network options.


Frostfound


- The SAY options don’t compete, taking tea is way better than asking about the castle.
- The frostfound castle event is really hard. It’s ok that it is, but the stat loss at the bridge is really crippling and there is no way to know about it ahead (on your first try at least) so that you could prepare by bringing an element of dawn with you. Just a hint at needing extensive knowledge of the zee (the items you need before the final room) and light on you side (the element of dawn) or something like that would do. Godfall's citadel tells the player exactly what to bring, so why can't frosfound do the same?


Gaider’s Mourn


- It’s an OK port, but the shop is really a joke. Why would one sell or buy stuff here?


Pigmote Isle


- A fun story arc and a good port.


Avid Horizon


- No SAY options.


Chapel of Lights


- No SAY options.


Godfall


- No SAY options.


Polythreme


- No SAY options.
- The Unfinished Clayman can really wreak havoc on young captains, the stat checks might be a bit too hard.


Wisdom


- No SAY options
- Unless I got something wrong, the “exchange a prisoner for a secret” option allows creating infinite money if one has managed to reach 175 pages.


Port Cecil


- A very interesting port, but it should have a shop that sells Scintillac, even if it is at inflated prices.


Uttershroom


- The Blemmigan spreading is a fun quest, but the rewards are lackluster. If you’re not on the quest for your father’s bone, you have no use whatsoever for the sporule. Maybe make it sellable to the scholar?
- Could use more SAY options.


Adam’s Way


- A very interesting port with many choices.
- The connection between the port report event and the red table event is confusing and unnecessary.


Nuncio


- An interesting port, but the SAY options are too imbalanced. There is always one obviously better choice.


The Khanate


- No SAY options in Khan’s Shadow
- Too few SAY options in Khan’s Glory
- Khan’s Heart offers a nice example for how the SAY options should be balanced against the network options. Most SAY encounters are just as interesting as advancing/using your network.
- The stat checks for the network improvements are way too hard.


Isle of Cats


- Interesting port, but could use more SAY options.


Visage


- Very nice story port, but seriously confusing. Maybe some more hints at what to do when with which mask could be added.


Varchas


- A very nice story port, but there is not enough to do there once the city has fallen.


Irem


- An interesting port with good shops, but it could use a SAY action for when you don’t have any coffee with you.


Empire of Hands


- Probably the best story port in the game
- Could use a better hint at how to get your soul back if you sold it.
- Needs a shop tab for fuel and supplies, as they are bulk items.


Aestival


- A very nice port with interesting options, but the amount of supplies you need to ship there to build up your colony is just too much (up to 1000 if you use none of the other options).


Chelonate


- No SAY options
- Couldn’t find any use for the whalebone trophy there. Is this bugged?


Saviours Rocks


- Can’t really tell, I haven’t visited this port too much.


Kingeater’s Castle


- No SAY options.




To be continued if there is interest.
edited by Sean K on 6/26/2015
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backelie
backelie
Posts: 4

6/26/2015
Sean K wrote:

- Fuel and supplies need to be available in the shop tab on the surface. Clickfests are fun-killers.


This is my biggest gripe in the entire game. (Same for selling supplies at Abbey Rock.)

I'd rather have nerfed prices than having to click several dozens of times, that's just bad design. (It also makes little sense that fuel is cheaper in Naples where it's "expensive 'far from hell'" than it is at the Canal.)
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Diptych
Diptych
Administrator
Posts: 3426

6/27/2015
Sean K wrote:
It would seem that the ambitions serve as victory conditions, whereas the actual victory conditions, which are the legacies, are not pointed at as directly. This is misleading at best, deceptive if we push it.


Not sure what you mean by this! The Ambitions are absolutely the victory conditions - the Legacies are nice bonuses, but generally don't end your game.

Sean K wrote:
There are only benefits to being a cannibal. No drawbacks whatsoever come to mind.


The drawback is that eating people is wrong!

edited by Sir Frederick Tanah-Chook on 6/27/2015

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

6/28/2015
Sir Frederick Tanah-Chook wrote:
Not sure what you mean by this! The Ambitions are absolutely the victory conditions - the Legacies are nice bonuses, but generally don't end your game.


Some ambitions unlock absolutely nothing, others do unlock the legacies. Think of the carnelian exile's storyline. It costs you basically all you've got to unlock absolutely no benefit whatsover for your next captain. Whereas getting a scion or any other legacy is beneficial for your next captain.
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metasynthie
metasynthie
Posts: 645

6/29/2015
One could certainly make the case that the Carnelian Exile's ambition is the most ultimate victory condition. (And it does unlock something very small in future incarnations, in three variations, even.)

--
Positively antique
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/metasynthie
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lord1box
lord1box
Posts: 62

7/6/2015
Sir Frederick Tanah-Chook wrote:


Sean K wrote:
There are only benefits to being a cannibal. No drawbacks whatsoever come to mind.


The drawback is that eating people is wrong!

edited by Sir Frederick Tanah-Chook on 6/27/2015


Doing the wrong thing can hardly be considered a drawback in a game if

Overall, I think the OP has a lot of good feedback.
edited by lord1box on 7/6/2015
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38thDoE
38thDoE
Posts: 60

7/8/2015
I agree with most of the OP's points.

It would be great to get some more information or stories at some of the ports.

Also, why does the best store bought engine sell for 0E ?
edited by 38thDoE on 7/8/2015

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/38thDoE
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fortluna
fortluna
Posts: 306

7/8/2015
There are good points, like the whalebone token, and who wouldn't like more sunless sea content? But by sorting islands indiscriminately according to SAY, you've ignored how they used the game mechanisms to say something about every port. If you read the text it gets easier to understand why opportunities are sometimes rare and rewards lackluster or uneven, beyond the doylist explanations - you don't really want to see the gates to outer space change whenever you visit; you're watching to make sure it stays closed. You're going to be bilked when bargaining with an island full of pirates, and you go east to abandon your mortal life, not get rich.
I know there should be balance between having too little money available to early captains and streamlining every storylet for max profit, but p sure the zee isn't here just to make captains wealthy?

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