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Please rework lab research Messages in this topic - RSS

Tsar Koschei
Tsar Koschei
Posts: 412

27 days ago
I've posted about this previously, but I feel like it bears repeating, because in my opinion there's no problem as prominent and no part of the game currently that's anywhere near the level of frustration involved in lab research.

Generally speaking, there's only ever one card you're interested in playing for a given research project. This fact runs completely counter to the mechanic built around the card deck. It's like the problem of the old Bone Market structure, only arguably much, much worse since you spend so many actions on the reserach cards. It's an endless cycle of drawing and discarding, sometimes a dozen times or more for a single action, until the right card comes up. It gets much worse if one or even two of the limited three hand slots are blocked by non-discardable cards.

Quite frankly it's just awful, and with research so central to all the new lategame content, both in terms of specific story projects, echo grinds and getting certain limited resources for other goals... I don't know about all of you but it's driving me crazy. PLEASE rework it and replace the deck with replayable storylets!

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Sanguine Ribbon Society tournament champion.

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idyl
idyl
Posts: 182

27 days ago
Agreed. I think a fairly simple fix would be putting a lock/unlock requirement on said storylets, depending on if you have disgruntlement too high or the equivalent of whatever causes you to have those undiscardable cards. That way you'd be forced to deal with your Menaces/issues before continuing research, but wouldn't have to repeatedly draw and discard to find the option you want.

--
“Te Occidere Possunt Sed Te Edere Non Possunt Nefas Est"
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NotaWalrus
NotaWalrus
Posts: 329

27 days ago
I'm honestly not sure what the design goals of the current lab is, but I don't think the storynexus system is well-equipped to meet those goals.

Infinite draw small hands work best when they force you to choose between suboptimal options. That is the concept behind Flash Lays, Heists, Moulin expeditions and now the Party. For this to work, said suboptimal options have to be undiscardable. Menaces become important to manage precisely because they introduce bad cards into your hand.

Right now the lab almost works this way, except that most cards are discardable and during most projects there will be only 1 or 2 undiscardable cards in your deck. In order to have your hand filled with undiscardable bad cards which force a difficult choice, you'd have to let two menaces reach a problematic level. The reason this doesn't really work either is that usually the only menace that will be rising is Disgruntlement. The end result is that during 95% of experiments the opportunity deck is just a really annoying way of choosing the best storylet.

I'm really just not sure what kind of gameplay FBG even wants from the lab, and how the use of an infinite draw small hand opportunity deck is supposed to help achieve that.

Also the implementation of assistants is just terrible. They add new cards which may be good for particular experiments without offering any drawbacks except for tedium. The only way to trim the deck is to dismiss the assistants, which is spending actions (in-game resources) to reduce tedium and that's just bad game design in general. There is no in-game benefit to keeping your lab understaffed, yet I've seen many people do so just to reduce tedium a bit.

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Ignacious, the Fluid Professor, he will accept most social invitations, including boxed cats and affluent photographers (but only betrayals), though he is absent-minded and might take more time than entirely necessary. He apologizes.
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NotaWalrus
NotaWalrus
Posts: 329

27 days ago
I'm gonna go ahead and spitball a lab rework. I have zero hopes of FBG actually using any of it, but it's fun to armchair game design.

I've done a fair bit of laboratory research irl, and I find the way research works in FL to be completely unrepresentative of that experience. I'm never waiting for opportunities to work with colleages or with particularly interesting pieces of equipment. I always have everything set up beforehand, and then the process of lab work is just a grind until I'm done. I think this experience is actually something FL is equipped to handle well. If anything, "grind until done" is the quintessential FL experience.

If it were up to me to redesign the lab, I'd do my best to recreate the experience of real research, which largely consists of two parts: first you set up everything you need, and then you grind until you're done. The better your equipment, your knowledge and your team, the more efficient that grind is. If a particular sample is going to be useful, you know I'm going to have it next to me always. That is to say, it really bothers me that, for instance, during amphibian research I can only study my occular toadbeast when it shows up in my hand and also when the Airs of London are right. Why wouldn't I have my frog by my side always, ready to study?

With this in mind. I would rework the lab by introducing a single new quality: Lab Efficiency. Lab efficiency would be calculated at the start of each experiment based on your equipment quality, your assistants, your skills and your possession of relevant items. For example, if doing rubbery-related research, I would add the level of lab equipment, the level of Shapeling Arts, a bonus for each assistant (better assistants giving better bonus and assistants which are particularly suited to the task giving an extra) and then another series of bonuses if the player has a fluke-core, a rubbery dragon, a pulsating amber and/or a perpetually festive rubbery friend (These are the current options in the Shapeling Focus card). There would also be penalties for the sum of your levels of all main menaces and a big penalty for disgruntlement among the students (maybe scale it quadratically).

Once all these calculations are done under the hood, you have a single number that represents how well-equipped for this particular experiment your lab is. That number is the amount of research you get from a single storylet in the lab simply called "do research", which is a broad watchful challenge whose difficulty rating varies by experiment (which, I think, makes more sense than the current system where all experiments are equally hard).

A failure in this check would yield less research and also add a few CP of a quality called "mishaps at the lab". Once Mishaps at the Lab reaches a certain level, it autofires a Complication storylet which functions similarly to the Bundle of Oddities in that you roll a value that randomly decides what went wrong. Maybe equipment failure caused you wounds. Maybe a specimen got out and wounded someone, raising nightmares and suspicion. Maybe some of the research was lost, or turned parabolan. Naturally, you'd have options of using resources to mitigate the damage, or if you have students at the max level, you could get them to handle it in exchange for disgruntlement.

Instead of students leveling up randomly when they help out, they would level up at the end of the experiment, adding disgruntlement if at max level (This, I feel, makes a lot more sense).

Of course, there's one big drawback with this system: We'd lose all the delightful flavor text. The admittedly shoehorned solution I'd have is to add all that flavor text into the main "do research" storylet as 0-cost branches. The description of these storylets would also tell you how much this item or quality adds to your Lab Efficiency, and locked options would give hints to the player of how they might improve it.

Under this system, the lab would become about exploring London and managing your team so that you are best-equipped to research whatever you want to research. Increasing your MAGCATS stats would have tangible consequences in the form of increasing lab efficiency for relevant experiments. As an aside, the broad watchful challenge at the center of it all would be more interesting than it seems, because the gains from it would potentially be affected by MAGCATS and so it might be worth it to equip more Artisan of the Red Science even if it hurts Watchful a little.

Obviously it's not gonna be done, but I think this would be a neat system that we haven't really seen implemented anywhere. I like the idea of having an activity where making investments and having a wide variety of cool items is the key to improving efficiency. I guess this is part of why I really like the idea of paying a dividend to the shareholders.
edited by NotaWalrus on 1/29/2021

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Ignacious, the Fluid Professor, he will accept most social invitations, including boxed cats and affluent photographers (but only betrayals), though he is absent-minded and might take more time than entirely necessary. He apologizes.
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phryne
phryne
Posts: 1452

27 days ago
Is this really such a big issue? I've done almost all the lab research possible and I mostly just use whatever cards come up. I haven't even progressed up to the Visionary Student on most accounts.

For one thing, why should scientific research be easy? That's not how it is.

And personally I don't think FBG have to rework things just because some people are impatient.

--
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Judaspriester
Judaspriester
Posts: 176

27 days ago
phryne wrote:
Is this really such a big issue? I've done almost all the lab research possible and I mostly just use whatever cards come up. I haven't even progressed up to the Visionary Student on most accounts.

For one thing, why should scientific research be easy? That's not how it is.

And personally I don't think FBG have to rework things just because some people are impatient.



Im at 129 Prestige right now. I like the idea of the lab itself, but i really don't like the current implementation.
Right now you have 2 ways of doing research, even if prepared well:
1. you play the "casual" way: Like you already mentioned, just play the cards as you get them
2. you play the "efficient" way: discarding everything except the 1-2 cards that give you the biggest amount of research.

I usually do the second one. While its better EpA wise (which I somewhat care for, after I have read the interesting storylets), it results in alot of clicks per action. Sometimes I have to discard 5-6 cards between 2 actions. If you want to burn down 30 actions that way, I think you can imagine the time consumption.
The problem for me is not spending time with the game itself, its time spend that doesnt feel worth it. In this case the time you spend for discarding.

So I would really prefere to see the system changed in a way that we have fixed storylets for doing the research in stead of drawing cards. The menace problems (like Nightmares or Disgruntment) could be solved in 2 ways:
1. as auto-fire once a certain treshhold (e.g. Nightmares 5) is reached.
2. as alternative success/failure that can happen after the treshhold.

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"You say 'Prison Cell', I hear 'Holiday'"
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Tsar Koschei
Tsar Koschei
Posts: 412

26 days ago
phryne wrote:
Is this really such a big issue? I've done almost all the lab research possible and I mostly just use whatever cards come up. I haven't even progressed up to the Visionary Student on most accounts.

For one thing, why should scientific research be easy? That's not how it is.

And personally I don't think FBG have to rework things just because some people are impatient.

So just because you're not troubled by it, the source of the problem must be the attitude of anyone who is? Suffice to say I neither appreciate the implication, nor am I impressed by the "argument".

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Sanguine Ribbon Society tournament champion.

No loitering, coffee at Caligula's or Affluent Photographer, please.
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NotaWalrus
NotaWalrus
Posts: 329

26 days ago
phryne wrote:
Is this really such a big issue? I've done almost all the lab research possible and I mostly just use whatever cards come up. I haven't even progressed up to the Visionary Student on most accounts.

For one thing, why should scientific research be easy? That's not how it is.

And personally I don't think FBG have to rework things just because some people are impatient.

So what you're saying is that you have not engaged with the lab enough to even graduate a single visio but you are ready to dismiss the complaints of the people who make heavy use of it.

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Ignacious, the Fluid Professor, he will accept most social invitations, including boxed cats and affluent photographers (but only betrayals), though he is absent-minded and might take more time than entirely necessary. He apologizes.
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Catherine Raymond
Catherine Raymond
Posts: 2687

26 days ago
phryne wrote:
Is this really such a big issue? I've done almost all the lab research possible and I mostly just use whatever cards come up. I haven't even progressed up to the Visionary Student on most accounts.

For one thing, why should scientific research be easy? That's not how it is.

And personally I don't think FBG have to rework things just because some people are impatient.


I personally agree with Phryne, and I used the Lab fairly heavily for a while. Still, different people may have a different view of how lab research currently works in the game, and all of us are entitled to give our feedback and suggestions to Failbetter.

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Catherine Raymond aka Mrs. Rykar Malkus http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/Catherine%20Raymond (Gone NORTH)
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Hattington
Hattington
Posts: 419

25 days ago
phryne wrote:
Is this really such a big issue? I've done almost all the lab research possible and I mostly just use whatever cards come up. I haven't even progressed up to the Visionary Student on most accounts.

For one thing, why should scientific research be easy? That's not how it is.

And personally I don't think FBG have to rework things just because some people are impatient.



To be fair, lab research isn’t about bugging 1 particular student over and over and over again without even touching your own equipment or conducting independent research of your own until they get so sick of mistreatment you either have to bribe them with food or graduate them which instantly clears up any bad press about your lab’s draconian working policies either.

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phryne
phryne
Posts: 1452

25 days ago
I've never even had student disgruntlement, I only know about its existence from the wiki smile

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NotaWalrus
NotaWalrus
Posts: 329

25 days ago
phryne wrote:
I've never even had student disgruntlement, I only know about its existence from the wiki smile

Well, abusing students is the optimal way to do research under the current system, and it is extremely tedious to do. That is a design problem, and remains so even if a subset of players prefers not to use it.

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http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/NotaWalrus
Ignacious, the Fluid Professor, he will accept most social invitations, including boxed cats and affluent photographers (but only betrayals), though he is absent-minded and might take more time than entirely necessary. He apologizes.
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Amalgamate
Amalgamate
Posts: 595

25 days ago
It's a disconnect between the mechanics and the way to play it. You can certainly PRETEND the mechanics are something else.

If you have all the different cards available and are intended to pick the best one, then they should be storylets, not cards, so you don't have to flip lots of cards to find the one you want.

If you're supposed to pick from the several you have available, then they should be nondiscardable.

Or if some cards are supposed to be a "nice bonus" and some are supposed to be the staples, then some should be in storylets and the card deck shouldn't be infinite - then we'll go through the cards as nice bonuses, and get most research from storylets.

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Social invitations of all kinds welcome! Deadly sparring, plant battles, etc. I can also send sips of cider.
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Tsar Koschei
Tsar Koschei
Posts: 412

25 days ago
phryne wrote:
I've never even had student disgruntlement, I only know about its existence from the wiki smile
In the context of this discussion, this is much like someone proudly announcing that they've never read a book. I'm a bit unclear on why you've inserted yourself into the conversation when you evidently lack either an understanding of or an interest in these mechanics, or indeed both.

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Tsar%20Koschei

Sanguine Ribbon Society tournament champion.

No loitering, coffee at Caligula's or Affluent Photographer, please.
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Diptych
Diptych
Administrator
Posts: 3706

24 days ago
Woah, hey now. There's no need to be rude. It's an open thread - people are allowed to share their perspectives.

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Tsar Koschei
Tsar Koschei
Posts: 412

24 days ago
Didn't see you intervening after phryne's first reply to remind them of their manners. I'd hardly say they were any less brusque.

But fine, I'll put the kid gloves back on.

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Tsar%20Koschei

Sanguine Ribbon Society tournament champion.

No loitering, coffee at Caligula's or Affluent Photographer, please.
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theonie
theonie
Posts: 111

24 days ago
Hattington wrote:
To be fair, lab research isn’t about bugging 1 particular student over and over and over again without even touching your own equipment or conducting independent research of your own until they get so sick of mistreatment you either have to bribe them with food or graduate them which instantly clears up any bad press about your lab’s draconian working policies either.
No, it's about bugging as many students as you can possibly squeeze into your lab and/or grant budget...though bribing them with food certainly doesn't work after the first year and graduation might not be instant but much is forgiven by it so all in all, I'd say this is a pretty accurate parody of academic labs! smile

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Alonto
Alonto
Posts: 14

7 days ago
One of the things that bug me in the lab is that after building a large lab and getting lots of talented assistants, the mechanics of the lab incentivize me to use as few assistants as possible, usually only one.
Also, while I really like the fluff text of interactions between assistants, if it doesn't provide any research or anything else then IMO it shouldn't cost an action and discard the card.
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Tintinnabulum
Tintinnabulum
Posts: 104

7 days ago
If we're musing on things we'd like to see in the lab.... It'd be neat if we were able to work on two experiments at once, if the lab is large enough (which the fate level might allow, for all I know, though I doubt it).

There's been a couple of times where I'd started, say, a cartographer's hoard, and gotten a third of the way through, and then something came up where I needed e.g. surveys on short notice, so I had no choice but to drop the hoard. If I could've dispatched an assistant to mess about with surveys-- with reduced returns per action, I guess-- that would have been helpful.

Or I guess it's not a matter of two experiments at once-- but a way to put one on hold to work on another, complete that one, and return to the first one (perhaps with some slight penalty of a few research points-- chemicals denaturing or whatnot). Surely there's a way.

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