Replayability and FTL

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Replayability and FTL

Hi,

Absolutely loving the game. First time I went early access because I couldn't resist and further still joining a forum to comment.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I've got a shotgun and staying on top of ammo, armour, crobar and basically on top of everything. I got attacked by 3 wolves in the night and hardly took a scratch, I ate them. That was before getting eye surgery. I have completed the game right? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

My suggestion is this:
FTL was really replayable because when you completed it with certain tasks, you could unlock a new ship for your next playthrough.

Perhaps something like this could be implemented for Neo Scavenger? What if you started with only a few available skills, and the rest are unlocked over time. For example; you unlock Botany (which is a bit OP) by delivering the Urn to Hatter without killing anyone. Or perhaps more based on a point system like Don't Starve.

It seems that the game is won if you have Strong, Tough, Melee, Botany/Trapping among other things basically makes you win the game. I think it would be cool if I had to finish the story as a Weak Frail Hacker first before I could play it the easy way.

Cheers,
Otis

First of all, the game isn't finished yet so it is not possible to "win" it. Also, while the skillset you've given is somewhat easier to play, it won't allow you to see a lot of the game's lore/fluff. Also, most of the encounters in the game have different situations in them, depending on the skills you have chosen.

Also, why should the game artificially restrain the player? Right now, if you want to play feeble hacker, you can. Want to play badass cannibal martial artist instead? No problem either. There is no reason to lock off the content behind "unlock" mechanics, and forcing players to play with characters they don't enjoy in order to get to those they would like to play.


<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
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Totally valid points which I agree with.

However it DID work for FTL. Both styles are valid.

In this game, unless the developer aims to make a hell of a lot more story, I think this 'unlocking' system has worked well for games with multiple playthroughs encouraged. I'm not usually a fan of achievement based games, but it made me play FTL for a lot longer than I would have otherwise.

The thing is there does come a point, as in all survival games, where the threat of death disappears and I have no problem giving all my twinkies to children or risking injury to save an old man. Playing the game looking for new things to hack or elusive additional content has become a bit of a chore.

So right now, as an avid gamer but with not unlimited time, I am considering stopping playing for now. Sure it would be fun to try a new playthrough as a totally different style of character, but it would be more fun to simply play a different game. However if I had some motivation...

I don't know how many more skills are in the pipeline, but how about this: Complete an achievement under certain circumstance to unlock CANNIBALISM skill. You can always be a cannibal anyway, but this would mean you can eat their brains for maximum nutrition. Now you're right, maybe we shouldn't restrict ourselves. But if I knew that I had unlocked a new skill after a successful playthrough, dammit try and keep me away from playing more Scavenger until I've tried this new skill.

Since Scavenger is a player experience rather than XP game and you'd have to be Korean to have a successful playthrough the first time, multiple playthroughs are implied. Am I to walk the wastes for hours and hours till I get bored? Or artificially force myself to play a different character just to challenge myself? Or is there something that's going to make me want to try a new playthrough.

Perhaps less BASIC HUMAN slots to start with? Perhaps start with a choice of only two, but as you manage to complete the story with each skill you obtain more slots, up to 6 perhaps.

Could set this game aside from being a game with one extremely fun successful playthrough and fairly stale endgame survival, to being one that keeps bringing us back like FTL. I didn't enjoy playing as the stupid Rock Ship in order to get the stealth cruiser, but actually I was surprised and excited the whole time playing out of my comfort zone and being rewarded with my true favourite. If I had unlocked a new skill in this playthrough, I would come back for more, but right now I am going to give it a break.

To be honest I, like you, would prefer it the way it is, but only if they add a LOT more end game content.

And some encounters aren't available in every playthrough, like Bob, Stoat, or the white lady.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

Haven't found any of these.

There is something to be said for playing for 2-3 hours with nothing happening followed by the sheer excitement of something significant. The organic ones have been more interesting, like noticing you're tracked by wolves. The encounters like feeding twinkies to kids, would have worked well when I was still struggling for food, but at this point was no problem and so all of these have felt pretty inconsequential.

I am looking forward to meeting one of these factions. My character is kind of suicidal now.

I think now that armour has been released, the challenge will soon rise to meet it.

It's all a matter of taste. Personally, I did play FTL for a bit and I can say it's not a bad game - it has quite a few nice features and ideas shown.. but somehow I couldn't get really excited by it. Finished it once, then played a few more games with different ships, checked a few more events and decided to leave it, for reasons related to the discussion and this suggestion:

Little annoyances aside (like disappointment in how indie devs try to board roguelike bandwagon just because their RPG has permadeath) I actually disliked quite much that pace of the game and what one may do is forced onto player. Such kind of thing may bring fun for some, but for me it's the 'bad' kind of replayability where I play not because it's really great experience, but because I have to endure unpleasant work so I can get the features that could very well be available from the beginning.

I don't mind new options, skills etc revealing themselves during the progress of the game - after all, that's what the whole cRPG genre progression is based upon. But I like the fact they're logical consequences of certain actions during that play-through, decisions that often bear their own sacrifices or things that were available to me from the beginning, not a set of gimmicks meant to encoruage me to replay the game over and over. Same with a bit of randomization - things being different between gameplays, some minor events unavailable in some places for the sake of others don't disturb me as long as their effect isn't big, but if I'd be barred from some sizeable gameplay elements like most of the traits, locations and so on till I'd finish the game first a few times, I'd be disappointed.

I can understand worries Phonix mentions, and, as already said, there already is some content - and it will be greatly developed - to encourage replayability. However, it won't be replayability for the sake of max completion rate, but for the sake of getting slightly different story, different take on some things, different situations - from general randomization of the world, loot etc to non-vital events scale of differs between gameplays.

Also, we may be quite sure there will be far more end-game content than it is right now, if only because there's nearly none currently finished, at least plot-wise. While the development of this game is nearing last phases, there is strong push and expectation by the community for many more events, items etc and the general story, big part of which things Dcfedor simply said are planned and we will probably be able to experience before the final version.

To be honest, if I get tired after long session of playing NEO Scavenger, I have no problem with taking a break instead of replaying every new version, which may be an option some may find considering. There's so many other things one can do and enjoy in the time between few major releases, and the return is so much sweeter when one's able to experience all this new and fixed content after period of waiting. A good exercise in patience, too, for those who care about such things.

Anyway, don't worry Phonix, there still enough going on and coming in that you should be able to keep playing. Have fun finding all those rare/hidden items, locations and events!

Yeah I think the unlocking system may have been a bad idea in retrospect. Depends on whether it's a long haul kind of game or whether he wants to encourage us to try multiple character layouts.

I guess any good game should ask: Is this a series of single 4-8 hour playthroughs, or one where once you are on top of the game, you continue like that forever (like an MMO).

I really want this game to be the latter because I'm enjoying it so much and can't bring myself to suicide or delete a character just to keep the game fresh. I haven't played Zomboid, but I like the idea of a finite amount of resources so that eventually you WILL die. Don't Starve gave you the option of making a new world with the same character, but that didn't really appeal to me.

I think what would best suit this game is perhaps an NPC or 2 that can certainly kill you whoever you are, and the only option is to avoid them, and they will try to chase you. A bossfight might be a cheap shot in a permadeath game, but to be honest I would have totally accepted it if, at the cabin with the silver urn, I got faced with a ridiculously tough bossfight that would require me to have all my shit together to win. I went in there packing full heat, and came out with a scratch...

Here is a fresh idea altogether: For example Botany+Medic=Pharmaceuticals. Botany+Ranged=Poison Arrows. Trapping+Hacking=Hi tech traps (such as blinding with a flashlight or more reliable noise traps). Melee+Ranged=Very scary, ability to throw weapons and hit with guns more effectively. I'm having fun just thinking of them. Medic+Engineer=Ability to craft Nanomachines. Athletic+Melee=New unique option in combat. Tough+Guns=Rocket Launcher.

This was an interesting read. Replayability, longevity, and the end game are a recurring topic in my development, so it's useful to see players' points of view. And having played FTL, I have a frame of reference for that aspect of the discussion, too.

My gut feeling, right now, is that I'd prefer the game to leave all options on the table from the get-go, rather than unlocking skills or tools through successful plays. The unlocking mechanic can be fun and motivating, it's true. I've logged many hours in Forza-like games due to such mechanics.

That said, it doesn't always work on me. FTL is actually one case where I put the game down a few games after I beat it. I wasn't motivated enough to play more after that. Sure, I wanted more ships, but either I didn't see it happening any time soon, or I just didn't want them enough. Maybe that's an issue of balance more than a faulty mechanic, but it's relevant.

On the other hand, I've blown an equal number of hours on the Civ franchise. Civ locks absolutely nothing away (that I recall), and yet, I was always drawn to play a new game there. In fact, I paid close attention to what drew me into that game and tried to model some of NEO Scavenger after it. My hunch was that it was the early explore phase, where one reveals the map and collects artifacts, while fighting/avoiding barbarians. You can probably see much of that in NEO Scavenger's main game mechanics.

Another game which held my interest for an extraordinary time was Twisted Metal 2, back in the PSX days. My brother and I played it incessantly. We had our favorite characters and play styles for much of it. But we also enjoyed exploring the other characters and their abilities, and tried to beat the game with each to see their endings. Your "comfort zone" comment reminded me of this, as many of those characters were designed differently than I would've chosen. Yet, I enjoyed the fresh approach to problem-solving with them. And the carrot-on-stick there was the endings. (Though I'll admit they did have a couple unlocks.)

Regarding 4-8 hour playthroughs vs. MMO-style, well, that might not've been the best choice to offer me. I find myself hating MMOs a great deal lately :) I've played a few before. EVE Online, WoW, Pirates of the Burning Sea, City of Heroes, Neverwinter, Warhammer...wow, I've actually been through more than I thought. Anyway, of that list, I've only played the first two more than a few days. In WoW, it was mostly friends that kept me playing, and I even lost interest in that within a month or two. EVE was slightly longer, and only because I came back to play it for another month almost a year later.

Yes, MMOs hold little power over me, I guess. I think I've grown immune to the endless, incremental leveling. The tedious "this-vs-that" stat-comparing every 4 loot drops. In fact, this might be the reason NEO Scavenger has no stats :)

Anyway, if we're choosing 4-8 hour sessions vs. the MMO character-marriage, it's the former by a long shot. The game would have to be Fallout 1/2 or Arcanum in quality and depth to keep me interested for the long haul, and I'm no match for entire teams of professionals like Troika nor Looking Glass. I can't write a branching novel worth 30+ hours of play each character.

What I can do, however, is provide some interesting levers for players to pull that produce different play experiences each time. Let the player choose whether they want to charge headlong into battle (melee/tough/strong), skulk in the shadows (hiding/eagle eye/tracking), be the mountain man (trapping/tracking/botany), or tether their survival to short trips from civilization (mechanic/hacking/electrician/locksmith).

And furthermore, I can make certain choices meaningful, opening some paths and locking others. Players can use the same character to learn about their past in one game (talisman? wrist strap?), or maybe they focus on the cause of apocalypse in another (headlines, paydata, and lore). Or maybe this character is going to confront that walking nightmare face-to-face. You have met the Merga Wraith, right? Speaking of boss-fights, maybe you should consider that your ultimate challenge. After all, I did put some content in there to reward you :)

My biggest fear, at this point, is whether I can deliver on the end-game. Expectations are high, and one of the recurring themes in the praise I get is "so much potential." That scares the hell out of me, frankly. High expectations can be quite destructive, and I hope that whatever I come up with for remaining story satisfies even a little in the shadow of that potential.

My plan is to have three, or so, orthogonal paths for the player to follow: chasing leads on their amnesia and cryo, chasing leads on the talisman, and chasing leads on the apocalypse. Any or all of them are fair game, each game. Some choices will block certain paths, making some games more or less fruitful than others.

My hope, however, is that players start building a picture of what really happened in their minds after multiple games. They devise theories (because the clues are imperfect and incomplete), and share/discuss on the forums. I don't plan on drawing the curtain back in NEO Scavenger to "reveal the wizard." There are some chances at a peek here and there, but the ultimate secret probably won't be revealed.

There will be answers, though. Some better than others. And it'll be up to you to both find them and interpret them.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Cheers for taking the time to write, was a really interesting read. I enjoyed the many hours in this game far more than most TV shows I watch, so really I am star struck.

On reflection I definitely take back this suggestion. I think I am always in search of the holy grail of a game that could be played forever, and this was almost it.

I'm not such a fan of MMOs either, but for a while with WoW I thought 'finally, the ultimate game where I can become king!'

I guess the only way to give a game eternal life is to make it online, because only that human interaction could go on forever.

Anyway, cheers for the forum and the inspiration ;D

Also I really like the idea of having different stories that are exclusive to each other in the end game, especially if these had some impact on survival (if that's what you meant). Something that will help in the post end-game survival to beat the record, especially if that becomes really difficult. After trying out different combinations of story outcome rewards, they can make plans on how to go for a record survival run.

Saying that, for £7 I paid you could sell it as is pretty much.

Very interesting read. Thank you for the insight.

I am enjoying hunting the countryside for scraps of information and putting it together in my head.

I kick myself whenever I get kicked out of Detroit, but every time, I learn a little more.

This game, like all others, has its limits, but also has great strengths. I really hope to see a Neo Scavenger 2 that ties into/furthers the original experience. It would be interesting to have a choice of three or four characters to choose from and play as. These could start concurrently with Phillip Kindred's story or carry it over. It would be amazing to be able to load a saved game from Neo Scavenger 1 to start a game of Neo Scavenger 2 and have some crossover. It would be daring and awesome to create a sequel that has an entirely different game play mechanic (Mayor of settlement (like ATN) and managing citizens / Urban gameplay (inside Detroit) rather than in the wild / prequel (experience the "end") / Ohio or Canada (over water or toxic sludge)). I think there are limitless possibilities.

Ultimately, you have a great game already. Potential, sure, that too, but I'm already satisfied with my purchase as is. The game play is challenging and compelling. The story is interesting, but the freedom to do whatever is also great. When I was younger, I had tons of time to sink into RPGs and MMOs. Now, I prefer challenging game play that makes you think accompanied by a "realistic" (story is imaginary, but characters behave realistically) story.

It's a little early to be talking Sequel right now. Let's not scare him TOO much.

I think changing the game drastically like that at this point is out of the question.

*Throws IPad and picks up Razer Tablet*