Next Steps (And Spoiler Alert Starting Midway Down)

As mentioned yesterday, I'm looking into which next steps I should take in my remaining time (about 4 weeks). Yesterday, I mentioned a med-evac service as a "second chance" for characters that have reached the mid-late game.

However, as many have pointed out in the comments, there are both pros and cons to such a system. And it's possible the system may not be worth the effort. I've tried to post my response to these concerns, and more detail on my plans, but I'm still unsure if it's the best thing to work on.

In the spirit of open development, one other feature I'm considering is a "legendary reputation" system. Fair warning, if you're spoiler-averse, you may not want to read about it.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
The mythology of the NEO Scavenger world follows one rule: reality is what we believe. If enough people believe something to be true, it starts to become true.

In practice, this tends to be limited to stuff that is plausible to large numbers of people. So change tends to be slow and unremarkable. However, long-standing superstitions and folklore have centuries of head starts, which is why local legends such as dogmen and enfield horrors walk Michigan.

Since this mythology rule is the central premise of the world, it would make sense if Philip was affected by it. If enough people believe something to be true about Philip, it will start to be true. Therefore, I've tinkered with the notion of awarding Philip one of two special abilities if he follows a path that exemplifies those abilities: legendary reputations for being either "unstoppable" or "elusive."

Basically, if Philip narrowly escapes situations often enough in the public eye, he gets "elusive." And if Philip publicly overcomes adversity through brute force enough time, he earns "unstoppable." "Publicly" just means there were enough witnesses to be non-trivial. So a simple battle isn't enough, but evading the SkyCorps hoverbike in full public view is (news reports of a fugitive on the loose, SkyCorps rumors start). Similarly, single-handedly whaling on a robot in Zom Zom's before a cheering crowd is going to garner a rep, too. Each of these abilities can then be used in future encounters or combat.

Part of me worries that this may be too much of a shock for some players, as many people seem to be unaware of NEO Scavenger's supernatural hints. However, it's also kind of the point of my game's universe, so ignoring it sort of betrays the purpose of making this game world have supernatural stuff. In this battle of desires, mine wins :)

My other concern is that the reward makes sense. Assuming Philip is "unstoppable," I'm thinking that this might mean he can now do all the same things a strong/melee/tough person could in encounters, using "unstoppable" ability as a substitute. And ditto with "elusive" substituting for athletic and hiding. It's a lot of rewiring, probably, but I think doable.

The other possibility is to award new special moves in combat for either of the legendary reputations. E.g. maybe a powerful attack/escape that always succeeds, but isn't always available.

If you have thoughts on either the med-evac or spoiler systems, I'm interested to hear them!


DavidC's picture

how about instead of med-evac you could buy a one time clone "voucher" witch would activate after any death type and would spawn an almost perfect clone with items you left with him while acquiring the "voucher", the only difference would be a flaw called "cloned" this flaw would lower your stats and stack so after each time you get cloned your stats would get lower

Spoiler: Highlight to view
hive mind of sentient beings affecting the universe of game? BRILLIANT i love it

how about in encounter with strangers after successful use of talk you could get option to share a tale as a way of getting more information about lore and gaining reputation?

would cannibalism make you a beast in eyes of society? with would turn you into a beast?

i need prosthetic liver

Rovlad's picture

>would cannibalism make you a beast in eyes of society? with would turn you into a beast?
Actually, it already kinda does both.

>how about in encounter with strangers after successful use of talk you could get option to share a tale as a way of getting more information about lore and gaining reputation?
I think it would be overpowered, because there are some fractions who are (almost) always willing to talk to you. Maybe if it'd be limited to one-time use for every group, it could be plausible and also give more use to the "talk" combat move.

All in all, I much more like the legendary status suggestion, as it's both less work and arguably influences the game more. Plus, reviving in a perma-death game, when any player could circumvent death anyway by not playing fair - I just don't see the point putting work into that, especially when we're a month away from release.

There is a problem where achieving legendary status should probably be somehow signaled to the player, and I have no idea how you'd go about that. Arguably, it could be a surprise to the player himself ("whoa, I suddenly have awesome combat moves!"), which fits the lore. I'm afraid people would just confuse it with RPG-y "gaining experience" though, and not adhere it to how the world in the game works.

docbates7's picture

Two comments on the proposed systems.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
1) MedVac - the idea is excellent in my opinion. It gives a high-level use/sink/benefit for good ol HH and gives a way for players to stick around. However, I do think that it should be expensive (as you noted). Granted I have enough problems saving up for new eyes, but it would add some "end-game" depth. Besides, its a nice use for all that moola.

2) Rep System - another good idea. my concern in the "unstoppable" subbing for strong, tough, etc, is that you are probably going to need strong / tough to get "unstoppable". Perhaps unstoppable can augment those skills somehow, or give "even better" abilities? If you are going to make it a legendary status, then it should have some beef to it. Otherwise I can see people, cough cough myself cough, simply playing roulette and just forcing random phillips to die trying to trigger the perk. Again, I am sure that there are clever ways to prevent this by requiring a very long build period and whatnot.

Scavenger's picture

Regarding spoiler idea/system/suggestion.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
You did point out that one of the problems is the fact that many players aren't overtly aware of the 'mythology' and supernatural aspects (or rather, supernatural connected to that mythology). If you do not plan to follow through with medevac (it would be nice to have an option like such but it's hardly a priority for me), I'd rather concentrate on - instead of adding new special skills - simply improving current features of the game.

In my opinion, being able to perform certain feats can and should be rewarded, but in case of events mentioned, player already gets a reward of sort most of the time - and in case harder choices even better reward can be added to the game without much of additional work. Still, I'd rather have more situations where the supernatural aspect is underlined, especially the belief-changing-reality. More things NPCs can share in conversation, a few small events leaving player unsure whether they experienced genuine use of some occult/psychic/paranormal abilities/situations or it was a coincidence/highly advanced technology/sleight-of-hand that fooled them. That will make a good base for world expansion in whatever will follow current installment of Neo Scavenger.

There's plenty of bug/feature tracker entries - lots of planned tweaks, items, creatures/animals and events. Plenty of potential for making each skill have bigger impact on the gameplay. I think those things are worth some of the limited time left.

Nickboom's picture

Heyo, returning to put my piece down on this. I think perhaps the spoiler traits should be hidden. Or at least not like YOU ARE NOW BETTER. Perhaps new attacks suddenly being added or new options in an encounter. Maybe even the way people talk about the character. "Oh shit did you see that guy at ZomZoms?" Would be something interesting to hear in whispers while passing by people. With regards to the medivac I really want this, its probably something you could turn into an encounter when you go down, perhaps attempting to cling to life while they try to save you.

Official Trained Dogman

Kaaven's picture

Regarding the spoiler thingy:

Spoiler: Highlight to view
While I like the idea in general, bounding it to any single particular event/location might cause them to become another "necessarily thick that before you continue" kind of things. Instead, there should be a several instances of actions that, when done, will award player with a step closer to obtaining such a special skill (using the threshold system would be perfect) - so that player, to get "super tough mo-fo" must do, for example 3 out of those things - show cryo dogman tape at either ZZs or to Hatter, break into Cale's apartment by force, deal with Fairgrounds melons by force (addition needed), take the electrocution route at Saginaw, plus 1-2 new things (boxing mach at Sprawl?)). Similar for other ways (sneaky, people's person). Maybe even a one or two random encounters (outside of the standard rotation) which could score the player a "surprise" point in one of the affinities, just to spice things up.

If successful, he gets a super-skill that is only barely super - minor bonus to stats (+5% damage, small regen bonus) but also adds something visibly cool (I cannot help myself but want a "Roundhouse Kick" better-headbut-style battle move for bad-ass hero :D)

Basically, not some easy to acquire, always there step that players will adapt to always do.

Med-evac, while a fine idea, is also problematic. In my opinion, bounding it to money as a main way of acquiring it is bad - this game just sucks at giving player the money in even remotely "plan-able" fashion. Sometimes I reach the DMC already rich, other times I have to buy me a second boot. And that can mean players might feel forced, so to speak, to grind tanin tea or water boiling on a massive scale in order to get the service which will, without a doubt, become of a "must-have in the later game" fame. Quest + money might solve that, but as we all know you might not have time for that now.

So either drop the idea, build a quest-line for it (if time permits) or accept it's future "must-have" character and don't set the cash barrier too high. And if you decide to put it into the game, make sure to have a prepared answer to the question: "if I bought it once, why can't I do that again if I have more cash?" :D

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

dcfedor's picture

I'm going to dispense with the spoiler tags from here on, as I think this page should have sufficiently frightened any sensitive eyes by now :)

These are all good points. I'm sensing an overall lukewarm feeling about med-evac, which is useful to know. Some interest, but not an overwhelming desire. I may back off that system, as some of you have pointed out it becomes redundant if one is willing to save scum. Or to put it another way, it's a lot of work for me to provide something that already exists, and it may be better for me to focus on something players cannot do.

The legendary reputation seems slightly more interesting to you, based on feedback so far. And it's actually a pretty important thing to me, given it's role in the IP. So I may tentatively move forward on that system.

One question that's come up is how it would be triggered. And Kaaven's comment is actually pretty close to what I was picturing. The following table shows which events I thought mattered, and their relative contributions to reputation. The score 1/0/3 would mean it contributes to unstoppable, and has a relative value of 3x, so a total of +3 if the player does that encounter action.

Event Location Unstop/Elusive/Pwr Show hatter sec footage Hatter 1/0/3 Show ZZ sec footage ZZ 1/0/3 escape skybike Skybike 0/1/5 Spotted in Merga's realm Merga 1/0/10 Escaping Merga's realm Merga 0/1/10 Trap robot ZZ ZZ 0/1/3 Mechanic robot ZZ 184 ZZ 1/0/3 Melee robot ZZ 184 ZZ 1/0/3 Sec footage ZZ 163 ZZ 1/0/3 Athletic dodge ZZ 176 ZZ 0/1/3 Hiding robot ZZ 171 ZZ 0/1/3 Allegan shield bash 964 Allegan 1/0/2 Allegan sprint 963 Allegan 0/1/2 Allegan rooftop escape Allegan 0/1/2 Allegan shield bash 985 Allegan 1/0/2 Allegan sprint 987 Allegan 0/1/2 ATN Escape Forest ATN 0/1/1 Saginaw beat Bishop 1746 Saginaw 1/0/3 Max Possible (Raw) 5/4 Max Possible (Mult) 21/20

Given the relative rarities of each of the above, I thought 4 would be a reasonable threshold to get the reputation. Basically, 2 or more of any one category.

Of course, it'd be ideal if there were more situations to consider. That way, it'd be a little less sudden. However, these are the only situations I could think of in major encounters. There may also be worthwhile cases in random encounters, conversations, and battle. (It might be hard to isolate them, though, especially battle.)

Also note that Merga realm visit is x10. This is because the most powerful being on earth and its civilization are suddenly made aware that Philip killed a Merga wraith. However, recent wraith rebalancing makes defeat nearly impossible, so players must always run away. This "tankiness" change sort of bothers me, but then a thought occurred: what if the legendary reputation opens up an ability to defeat this impossible foe? E.g. some new battle move that works against the wraith? Seeing Merga's realm is its own reward in lore and personal accomplishment, so that could be a neat side-effect of the reputation gained.

The other major question is hinted at just above: what should the reward be for such a reputation? One of the simplest would be to give the reputation the same bonuses as one or more abilities (e.g. strong+melee+tough for unstoppable). The player gets the usual combat moves and bonuses from those skills.

I could also make "unstoppable" a substitute for those skills in encounters. If the player lacked any one of them, they wouldn't any more. This makes sense in the lore, as Philip would be reputed to have those abilities based on legend. This is more work, as I'll have to revisit all the above situations to add the new abilities as options (or convert them to "encounter ingredients," like I've done with night vision, so multiple items do the same thing without manually listing them all).

Of course, this leaves some players, who already have those skills, with minimal or no bonuses.

I could also make a new battle move or two for each of the reputation abilities. (As mentioned above in the wraith bit.) Unstoppable might have a periodic chance at some super move, while elusive might have a periodic guaranteed escape/dodge. These are pretty easy for me to add, apart from some balancing.

And lastly, I could add more custom-tailored cases for these new reputations to be used. Things like new super encounter choices (bust the door down!) or conversations (OMG, it's Philip!). This would be the most gratifying. Unfortunately, this would also take the most development time. And there's no guarantee I could come up with, and build/test, enough worthwhile examples.

Food for thought.

Finally, some of you mentioned that broadcasting this change to the player is a concern. Should Philip suddenly find out in the message log? Should he find out accidentally when new options show up? Or should people start talking about Philip in whispers?

As with the new abilities, the broadcasting options get harder to make the cooler they sound. The first two are pretty trivial to add, while "whispers" requires time and inspiration.

In any case, that's the current state of things in the reputation feature. I've already got a prototype giving Philip the appropriate abilities based on that table above. The questions now are "what abilities to give?" "how to communicate that change?" and "will it be worth it?"

Phew! Lots to chew on!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

linibot's picture

I'm gonna jump in to this party really late to say that yes, I find this direction far more interesting, but yes, communicating the world mythology in a slightly more open way is probably the major concern. In fact personally I would be happy with a tiny practical boon in Philip's skills (extra move once in a while sounds fine by me or a tiny percentage advantage here and there), in return for more conversations and an overall better communication of it. The thing is, if I already have achieved any type of legendary, I have probably both gone through a good part of the encounters and have good enough stuff (and skill) to deal with most fights. So how often will I be able to take advantage of my fancy new reputation? Will it be noticeable/worthwhile? It sounds like by then I'm really close to endgame, so maybe that's something to consider. (I kinda like the Merga idea too.)

The real positive I can see from this whole idea: It rewards roleplaying (picking your role and sticking with it) AND it rewards visiting secondary encounter locations. It ties the world together tighter. Frankly, I think it's really worthwhile. Just sticky to communicate right. ;) Good luck!

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