NEO Scavenger Update v0.995: Skill Rebalance, Default Recipes, and Sprawl Services

I've just finished uploading new test beta 0.995, which includes the new skill rebalancing, starter quick recipes, and two new sprawl services.

IMAGE(http://www.bluebottlegames.com/img/screenshots/screenshot-2014-10-28a.png) Abilities now have costs according to their usefulness.

The build is available to anyone who owns the beta at bluebottlegames.com, or on Desura and Steam. Desura (and therefore, Groupees) users can use Desura Connect to gain access here, or even get their Steam keys and try it on Steam.

To access the test build on the official site, simply visit the beta page, and click any of the download links below the usual Windows, Mac, and Linux buttons.

Steam users can access the test build by opting into the beta for it.

Updates Included in the Test Beta

Test beta 0.995b includes the following changes:

  • Added code to warn user if confirming with unspent ability points.
  • Added "Last Chance" Canteen to DMC Sprawl.
  • Added St. James Parkade to DMC Sprawl.
  • Added code to allow encounters to remove campsites from hex.
  • Added code to give player basic and skill-specific quickrecipes when starting game.
  • Added resting effects to eye surgery at Haggerty.
  • Added new "GameVars" table to xml, for loading one-off data and settings info.
  • Changed skill select screen to be point-based, instead of size-based.
  • Changed Skill select to use "Abilities" and "Flaws" instead of "Skills" and "Traits."
  • Changed Skill select UI to be more symmetric, and have more concise text, to make it more intuitive.
  • Changed all eye augmentations to use new ability and flaw system.
  • Changed Battle GUI to reduce text overflow in conditions area.
  • Changed slots to disappear if invalid while dragging an item.
  • Changed ATN market fire to be small version, to free up space.
  • Fixed a bug that caused certain status conditions to get stuck if item degraded in player's inventory.
  • Fixed a bug in Martha encounter outside Grayling that caused entrance to appear in adjacent hex after player teleports.
  • Fixed a bug that allowed vehicle to be accessed after entering Grayling.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented first node in an encounter from giving treasure.
  • Fixed a bug that caused ATN Joe treatment to skip Michelle when it shouldn't.
  • Fixed a bug that caused unlocked laptops to not allow exact time of day.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented left shoulder slot from having sort button.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented music volume from changing on options screen until returning to the game.
  • Fixed a bug that caused creature clothing sprites to get stuck when surrendering/being looted.
  • Fixed a bug that caused shoulder slot items to show over torso when no shirt worn.
  • Fixed a bug that caused Yezinka to not spawn anymore.
  • Fixed a bug that caused dead-end encounter when meeting Martha at Grayling.
  • Fixed several typos in encounters.

The big change here is the new skill-select screen. Skills are now called "Abilities," and Traits are "Flaws," to make it clearer. The player spends points on abilities, and they can choose flaws to get more points. Each ability and flaw has a different point value. "Basic Human" flaws are now gone, and instead, players start with a budget of points to spend.

I've also added two new services to the DMC sprawl: a food truck and a flophouse. Players should be able to spend money on food and shelter now, without needing access to the DMC.

Players also now start with quick recipes appropriate to their abilities, for convenience. All players have basic knowledge recipes, and specialized characters get bonus recipes. Recipes can still be obtained in the usual ways.

The likelihood that this version of NEO Scavenger will work with previous saves is: unlikely.
As usual, the older the save game version, the less likely it is to work.

As always, let me know what you think of the changes, and if you notice any issues with the new build!

Comments

Tactless's picture
Tactless

Awesome, time to dig in!

One typo still seen from the pic you posted:

>These will allow more [skills]

[abilities] now, right?

Also, the flaws have redundant text in their mouseovers.

Dualists: one soul, two bodies. dualists.wordpress.com

Rovlad's picture
Rovlad

Yep, both abilities and flaws now have "weight" in all mouseovers, including when used in encounters and crafting. Nothing major, just could potentially be confusing. Nice to see you took my advice on warning the player about potential loss of points at character creation.

PS. I wonder if they count against player's encumbrance. :)
PPS. I also think it was a good call to add skill-based stuff to quick recipes from the start for player's convenience. Makes sense they should know about those recipes if they have skills to pull them off.

On an unrelated note, it would be neat to see backpacks on character sprites, time permitting. Last time I played, I couldn't for the life of me find one anywhere, and I'd definitely kill someone just to have theirs, even if it was empty. Barring that, maybe it could be seen if they're carrying any containers on a spy action?

Oh, and there is also a typo in last panel of Stoat's encounter at ZZ: "You're safest bet is..."

sjohne's picture
sjohne

I've bought NEO Scavenger months ago when it was fresh out as alpha and I liked it. Then I put it away and forgot about it... just to rediscover it yesterday!

It's absolutely amazing how much the game has improved in a few short months and the developer of this game is even more amazing. I've never seen an early access game where the dev has worked so hard, updated so often (and good stuff!) and listened to the community so well...

NEO Scavenger might not sell ten million copies but there is a large crowd out there that loves the game and that really values your immense effort.

Please keep it up :-).

That just had to be said.

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One suggestion:

When I run the game on fullscreen on my 1366x768 screen and engage in combat the font size of the combat log is way too big. Every turn I have to click on the "expand combat log" button to see what has happened in the last round. This would not be a problem per se if the expanded combat log wouldn't overlay half of the combat moves.

So every round I need to click the button, read the log, click the button again, choose my combat move, click on confirm and then repeat. Now NEO Scavengers combat system is already a bit cumbersome (but genius!!) but if the font size of the combat log could be reduced that would really speed up combat (at least for me).

Not to mention that I think there are lots of people who immensely enjoy reading what part of the body they hit with their crowbar. He!

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PS: I totally love the new skill point system. I just modded the game to play with a "superman" character :-P. It also makes total sense that not all abilities/flaws are equally "valuable" and makes me think twice about choosing. Maybe hiding and athletics would actually be better than strong...? So many build ideas! :-)

Waladil's picture
Waladil

My initial reaction to the new skill rebalance is negative. A good portion of that is purely because the skill build I used to run with is no longer an option -- under the new system, it puts me at -6 points.

One reason I react poorly to the new system is that it feels like it's actually more restrictive than the old one, despite seemingly allowing more options. I think that's because so much of NEO Scavenger's content is skill-locked, and there's no way to get new skills, aside from the eye surgeries. If you don't have Mechanic AND Electrician, it's impossible to get the 4mm gauss rifle, for example. If you don't have Strong AND Melee, you can't get the dogman security footage (those two skills together are 10 points now, fully 2/3rds of the starting point allotment).

One way that might help to alleviate this is if there was a way to buy services that could partially make up for a lack of a skill. If, for example, one could hire a mechanic for an hour in the DMC sprawl that could be used as if it were the Mechanic skill for crafting. It wouldn't be as good as actually having the Mechanic skill, since each hour use would cost money (and I'd suggest that the cost be substantial -- $100+/hr) and it would be locked to a specific place. It shouldn't be too difficult to code: Purchase the service through a dialog instead of the store interface, creates an item with massive weight (or no valid container) and 100%/hr decay rate. The hardest part might be making sure the crafting code can accept an item to fill the role of a skill, but that depends on how crafting is coded exactly.

P.S. A minor detail: All of the descriptions of the flaws start with the name of the flaw followed by a colon. However, the skills do not have the leading name&colon, and just jump straight into the description. Also, the metabolism flaw says "fast metabolism:" instead of just "metabolism:" (not a complaint, just a breach of pattern) and the fragile flaw says "frail:" instead of "fragile:".

Rovlad's picture
Rovlad

Okay, I've just discovered an interesting bug: if you position your crowbar vertically in a vehicle, such as Shop Mart shopping cart, it stops appearing as scavenging tool, presumably because it doesn't fit into the space where you select your scavenging options.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

Thanks for the suggestions and bug alerts! I've corrected the typos, and removed the redundant flaw text.

I also finally added sprites for the various containers in the game (boxes, bags). They're a little hard to see on some tiles, but probably better than not having them. One can probably assume a busy creature sprite means there's lots of stuff hanging off of it.

I checked encumbrance for abilities, and they don't seem to add to the character's tally, so I think we're good there.

I also added that ability to toggle font size on modes when the message log uses the big font. Right now, it'll persist until the session ends or the resolution changes. If it needs tweaking, we can look into that.

@Waladil, what you're describing may not be a bad thing. Indeed, in some ways it was the point of the change :) What was the build you traditionally used, out of curiosity? This new ability rebalance was meant to address the fact that some skills were more useful than others. It wasn't fair that strong and electrician both had the same cost, and it was causing some skills to be ignored by most players.

Of course, if you're more interested in a certain build than in a balanced game, there's nothing stopping you from modding the starting skill points. Simply adjust the "nSkillPoints" variable in the neogame.xml to start with more points if you want more points. That's a big part of the reason I worked on adding modding support: players can custom-tailor their gaming experience!

@Rovlad, that crowbar bug is going to be tricky. I might have to force rotation on any items accumulated for encounters.

Thanks again, guys!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Waladil's picture
Waladil

The skill build I was using was Myopia, Insomniac, Fragile, and Metabolism weaknesses, and Strong, Melee, Ranged, Medic, Trapping, Lockpicking, Electrician, and Mechanic perks. There /are/ a bunch of A-list skills there, which is why it sent me so deep into the red on the new version. I could make a variant on it by adding Enervated and losing both Mechanic and Electrician.

I think that the melee-buffing skills are basically mandatory for any character to last a while. Bad Muthas, Blue Frogs, and wild animals are rampant and can easily get into melee range if they ever find you in a non-plains area. Going around without Strong and/or Melee seems like a recipe for disaster. Things like Mechanic might lose me some abilities, like I wont be able to break down binoculars and sell them QUITE so well, and vehicles are harder to come by, but the fact remains that I need to be able to reasonably expect to survive combat.

Maybe we need to stop thinking about which skills are more or less "good" -- skills effect the game in such different ways that trying to compare Medic to Ranged is silly. I mentally break skills down into various categories, and compare them to each other within those categories -- there are combat skills (Strong, Ranged, etc), item skills (Lockpicking, Mechanic, etc), money skills (Hacking, Medic, etc), and survival skills (Botany, Trapping, Medic, etc). Some fall into multiple categories -- medic is both money and survival, since it helps heal injuries and identifies pills for later sale. Some number of combat skills and survival skills are going to be mandatory, since without those skills one becomes too reliant on luck for victory and food. After a sufficient number of those skills are taken, only then can one turn an eye to money and item skills.

Strong can be argued to fit into /three/ of these categories. It's a combat skill first and foremost, since it ups your melee damage greatly. It's an item skill, since the added carry capacity means you can lug around more things without worrying about burden. And finally, it's a survival skill because it ends up reducing how much you have to sleep (shorter fights and less tire from weight).

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

It's true that abilities and flaws are hard to directly compare. Many are orthogonal to each other. However, I think the current values do a good job of balancing builds and representing a person with strengths and weaknesses.

Also, I disagree that melee builds are mandatory, but that's ultimately a matter of opinion. To me, ranged is a perfectly viable choice, particularly if coupled with athletic or hiding. Combat-avoidance builds are definitely more challenging, but also valid.

Looking at your sample build, I would question the need for strong, melee, and ranged. Choosing strong plus melee or ranged seems like it would suffice (certainly the former two make a formidable character alone).

I'd also consider what type of person you are describing with that ability loadout. To me, it describes an aeronautical engineer that is also a family doctor who moonlights as a cat burglar when not hunting deer or professionally boxing in the light-weight class. Even being an always-hungry insomniac bookworm hardly seems like it would give him the time and energy to maintain such a life!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Waladil's picture
Waladil

In that, Ranged is actually largely a money skill for ID'ing bullets and guns. It's also for a hopeful-lategame situation where I have a gun and the luxury of using it (I.E. not planning on selling every bullet I find).

I never set up the character from a roleplay perspective, so it wouldn't make that much sense. But then, what about a person who likes to pretend to be a self-sufficient individual who can live off the land through hunting (ranged, trapping, medic), build and maintain his own home in the woods (electrician, mechanic), even making his own lock for the door (lockpicking and locksmithing are really quite related fields). However, his self-sufficiency is marred by genetically poor eyes further ruined by the hours of reading scrawled, obscure texts on supernatural occurrences, filling out webpage after webpage about them, and a weak body that was pampered by the luxuries of modern living, like constantly available medical care, junk foods, and hand sanitizer.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

If I was DMing a game with that character, I'd say trim it down a bit :)

However, I'm just writing the rulebook. And in this case, I think the current balance is fair. I may change my mind, though.

In the meantime, if you want to bend the rules, that's certainly possible! My suggestion is to tweak the nSkillPoints value in the neogame.xml to something you prefer. Changing that value will let players make whatever they want!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games