Finished Text Edits, Back to Bugs, and Feature Options

By mid-afternoon today, I was able to finish the typo fixes and text edits, and merged them back into the main game data. It was a Herculean task to find all those, so thanks again, Tactless!

And while I was struggling to get my updated XML import to work (data format typo), I finally yanked out the redundant map data in neogame.xml. There were two copies of MapMiniMichigan in the maps table, and one was ignored. I could never remember which one was which, and I'm sure it caused modders some headaches, too. So that will be gone next build.

Finally, it was back to bug fixing, as players have already started finding some issues in v0.9952b. Apart from bugs and balance issues, I'm trying to figure out if there are any other features or content I want to try and add in this final stretch. I'm aiming to graduate from beta/Early Access around mid-December, so there are a few weeks left.

The list of potential stuff is, of course, ridiculously long. Realistically, I might be able to finish a few percent of it if I focused on smaller tasks. However, there are one or two larger ones I'm considering.

One of the bigger ones is the med-evac service I've mentioned in the past. It's meant to be a "second chance" tool for players who have survived a long time and have more to lose (i.e. can afford the huge cost).

In short, it's an implant that detects life-threatening wounds, puts the player's brain on ice, and sends out a distress beacon, calling an evacuation service in. As long as the brain is intact, the rest of the body can be restored (synthetic organs, transfusions, etc.).

The downsides to the service would likely be many. First, it'd cost a huge amount of money to get the implant and coverage. Someone has to cover the cost of monitoring the customer out in the field, not to mention the hazardous ambulance service. Second, it would only work if the player died of wounds other than traumatic brain injury. Third, it wouldn't work in cases where the body couldn't be retrieved (e.g. Zom Zom's, Saginaw, etc.). And finally, each resuscitation would carry a risk of brain damage. In game terms, this would likely mean the loss of one or more abilities.

Of course, it may not be realistic to add to the world. Heck, it may not even be possible to do in the time left. However, I think it's an interesting way to help players who are trying to reach the latter parts of the plot. Random death can be really frustrating when in the late game, and this acts as a partial safety net without removing permadeath.

If you have thoughts on the matter, let me know in this post's comments!


Tactless's picture

>it may not even be possible to do in the time left
If it's the coding part, I could set it up. Sprites are out of my skillset and the encounter text would be all you, but I can try my hand at the mechanics.

Dualists: one soul, two bodies.

linibot's picture

From a gameplay/strategy viewpoint, it's theoretically an interesting mechanic. The way I understand it, it would mostly benefit players who enjoy grinding, while the rest may only be using it rarely in playthroughs that simply went surprisingly well fast, moneywise. A safety net for those who like to grind isn't a bad idea, as the cost of a random death after a long run like that does hurt. The limitations of the service would have to be properly communicated to the player, though, otherwise I predict lots of grief from disappointed insurance customers. ;) The skill loss sounds fair, and mechanically, I enjoy games that can throw a curveball like that. I also have no issues with the realism of the situation, depending on how it's implemented. Which however brings us to the potential problems.

The two issues I can see:
1) Depending on the price set, it may simply not be used often enough to make a difference to a majority of the players, so it's a question whether it's best use of remaining dev hours.
2) This would be useful for an accidental poisonings for sure (I secretly hope the poisoning thresholds are high up on that famous list of yours). ;D But the majority of random, mid to late game deaths (that aren't encounter related) happen mid-battle. Rarely do I survive a battle to only die later from the injuries. Even if the med-evac detected my life-threatening injuries, what good would it do me if I am dead by the time they arrive to pick me up? Would they basically rejuvenate me? How long would they take to arrive and what would happen in the meantime if I was attacked by someone who lore-wise would have liked to chop me up and/or eat me? What happens to my items if I'm "killed" by a looting type of NPC? What happens to potential plot items that aren't recoverable? How happy for money spent would a player be if they had to more or less restart mid-game with potentially no/few items and minus a skill? (I personally would enjoy that challenge, but it's still a valid question). Depending on the answer to those questions, and on how realistic you would like to keep it, the usefulness of the service (and, again,the satisfaction of the insured customers) may be debatable. Which again begs the question of whether it's an important enough feature at this point.

Still, don't get me wrong, I really like the idea, I remembered that thread. It's potentially a feature that can add to the depth of the game. Hopefully you have answers in your head of how to mitigate the concerns. :)

NEO Scavenger: FAQ
10 Ways (not) to Die - A beginner's guide

matsy's picture

I really like the idea, has definitely got my imagination racing! I'm instantly thinking of the film 'Repo Men'.

Could it be that when your vital signs get to a certain level you're teleported out of danger by locking on to your implant. (Been watching far too much Voyager..) Then at location 'x', they go through your 'choices'. As the current 'evacuation' method leaves a lot ambiguity for me personally. Why didn't it eat my brain? Why didn't it stomp on my head? Etc.

Then it gives you more time to work on options of payment, like being able to pay on credit and having to make payments on certain days, in a certain location. If you miss a payment, they come after you.. or they happen to have implanted a nice kill switch? Side quest maybe to find someone to deactivate this?

My only criticism would be that I don't think it would be used too often by most players. Seems to only affect end game, and games that are going rather well if it is that expensive?

When implementing the larger tasks it could be worth weighing up how much it will be used by the player base. Implementing the ability to repair would be used at all levels of the game for example. Although that could be a 'huge' task.

Rovlad's picture

I'm too concerned about "usefulness" of this. If a player is willing to go through the trouble of amassing enough wealth to pay off for his life insurance, and therefore probably has plenty of equipment he doesn't want to lose and is far enough in the story, why wouldn't they just resort to savescumming and avoiding death at their own discretion?
In System Shock 2 and Bioshock 1/2 there were "revival chambers", which were basically checkpoints. They cost the player (next to) nothing, and I still don't know a single person who didn't prefer saving/loading over using them.

Kyrer's picture

"One of the bigger ones is the med-evac service I've mentioned in the past. It's meant to be a "second chance" tool for players who have survived a long time and have more to lose (i.e. can afford the huge cost)."

I like the idea of providing players a safety-net against death. It can be frustrating to lose a seasoned character, and it also acts as an aspirational item and money sink. However, I feel your implementation might have missed a trick, as merely allowing the player to "cheat death" doesn't really offer them any further meaningful choices (above choosing to initially make the purchase); it's more like offering them the old school concept of "lives".

A tweak to this idea might be to make the implant require activation, rather than being automatic. This then provides a further element of risk management (and depth, hopefully) during combat: use the implant too early and it's wasted, but use it too late and you are putting yourself at risk.

Here's also an alternative idea to offer a "safety-net." Offer a single use "distress beacon" that can be triggered at any time. Using this item would summon a rescue ship from the city, taking a number of turns to reach the player based on how far it has to travel. This wouldn't be for use during combat, but for characters that are close to death: dying of thirst, poisoned, wounded, being tracked by dogmen, etc. I'm sure we've all been in that situation of knowing we were going to die soon due to bad luck. This solution is obviously a bit more work though ;)

Tactless's picture

That rescue ship idea could be interesting. Maybe if we're in Hatter's good graces (from selling the Blue Rot vial + drum), he would offer a hover transport service (as mentioned in said transaction).

Dualists: one soul, two bodies.

dcfedor's picture

There are some really good points here. And some of the cited concerns are enough to give me pause. However, before I get into discussing those, let me clear up some of the technical details.

First, this would be a combination of three things:

  • Preservation - The brain is preserved upon death for up to several hours. Distress beacon activates.
  • Pick-up - An airlift would be dispatched to the beacon location. Assuming a moderate sub-sonic airspeed, the entire state could be traversed in 2-3 hours, round-trip.
  • Resuscitation - Under controlled conditions (temperature, ventilation, artificial blood circulation), organs of the body are repaired/replaced, and once stable, the body is brought back to normal temperature. Recent research suggests that improper post-resuscitation techniques may be where brain damage is occurring.

Assuming the above works as described, what situations would it cover?

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Severe pulmonary hemorrhage
  • Curable diseases
  • Hypovolemic shock (bleeding to death)
  • Hypothermia

Situations it probably wouldn't cover:

  • Severe traumatic brain injury
  • Poison
  • Incurable disease
  • Sepsis
  • Hyperthermia (overheating)

Basically, this service would offer a second chance to anyone killed in a way that leaves the brain intact. For those familiar with Shadowrun, this is akin to the DocWagon service: an armed ambulance swoops in, holds off enemies while retrieving the body, and air-lifts it back to a care facility.

Response times would depend on the location of the death, location of the nearest response team, airspeed, and any complications at the evac site (e.g. ongoing battle). I'm assuming a large-ish hover vehicle has an airspeed at least as good as the Osprey, which has a cruising speed near 300mph (450km/h). Such a vehicle could leave DMC and reach the ATN in half-an-hour. And with contracts for SkyCorps, private salvaging ops, and wasteland safaris, I assumed part of the service fee went towards a handful of units in the field at all times.

What about cannibalism?

So what about Bad Muthas and Dogmen? This won't work if every morsel of the body's been eaten, of course.

However, two things may mitigate this. First, the brain factors fairly low on the priority list of parts to be eaten. Dogmen and cannibals alike are more likely to take bites out of more satisfying (and easier to reach) parts first. E.g. legs, arms, buttocks, back, chest, and organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Second, the time it takes to eat a corpse, or even cut parts away, is long enough to give the response team a shot at arriving before it's too late.

Will it save my stuff?

Maybe. It could be setup to collect any items in the hex. Or maybe just the most valuable stuff that fits. However, items will likely get lost in the process. Looters gonna loot. But even they have limits to what they can carry in a hurry.

What's the point?

If it doesn't save my stuff, what's the point? Well, it mainly saves the trouble of re-treading all the steps one took to get where they are. No need to repeat cryo, Zom Zom's, Hatter, Detroit Bank, Haggerty, and Concrete Forest.

Why not just save scum?

This is an excellent question, and I don't have a good answer for it. Save-scumming is definitely a better option if one wants a clean retry. Heck of a lot easier for me to develop, too :) (I.e. do nothing)

A note about helmets

Brain injury is a common way to go, but that doesn't mean the service can't be useful. It's possible that I could add things like sports helmets, bike helmets, or other commonplace items to reduce the chances of brain injury.

What if the player had to choose to activate it?

I really like this suggestion. I agree that it adds a risk/reward choice that's missing if it automatically deploys. And if it turns out that manual activation is too limiting, there could even be a middle ground where manual activation has a higher chance of full recovery, while auto-activation carries a risk of lost abilities.

Of course, all this doesn't yet mean it's the best way for me to spend remaining time. However, I hope this info helps answer some questions and concerns.

It's past lunchtime here, though. So I'm going to eat now :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games