Combat Lethality in NEO Scavenger

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I think part of what makes RPG's exciting is the uncertainty. There is a small chance you could be killed unfairly. Yes, you can take fewer risks, wear better equipment, hide, run away, but chance can still kill you. That's as true for real life as it is for games with a 'random' game-mechanic. It comes down to minimizing risk and using the optimum strategy.

To the Original Post, I merely think Dan could tune the game-mechanics to balance risk.

I've not played the game loads but after a few playthroughs I got to the point where I had good gear, had done the city quest and could consistently handle dogmen (though there's still room for unlucky death). It took several hours' gameplay to get to this stage.

When the game's completed there'll presumably be many, many more quests and much more progression of some form, so you're looking at a game taking days, potentially. So you lose all that if you die. Back to square one. It'd better be for a good reason.

If you die in D&D the DM gives you a new character at the same level as your friends' characters so the party stays balanced. You jump straight back into the action. RPG computer games usually have saves. Again, you jump straight back into the action, so it's easier to laugh off some bad luck and see it as part of a rich random RPG world.

A marathon game where you can lose it all in a dice roll and have to start from square one - it's just not feasible; the market for that will be truly tiny. Some players might appreciate it in principle and enjoy posting Youtube vids showing how they've been on the same game for four years without dying, but they will be outliers; for most people it will be like that intimidating book that looks good on your bookshelf but you never get around to reading. The first time I die after spending days painstakingly progressing, I will be absolutely done with the game, sickened with it - I won't keep going back in the hope I can last longer next time, cos I have other things to do that will pay off after days of effort.

Games are a funny thing though - we know there's no actual 'payoff' really (unless you are a pro who gets adulation and money) but the promise or idea of one needs to be there otherwise the activity seems pointless. Activity needs a purpose to guide and structure it. Unfair mechanics and random death undermine purpose.

In real life you could be struck by lightning walking down the street. That's not fair, but it is part of what makes life exciting (even if it's a small chance). The same appeal can be found in most survival games and RPG's. You can minimize risk of death (and lose of progress), but never eliminate it. Both Neo Scavenger and Dwarf Fortress have a single save-game and when you die, you lose it. Of course, in DF you can backup your saves (cheating), but the idea of the game is that if you make a mistake (or have bad luck) you will have to start over. Believe me when I say you will lose weeks or months of progress. Yet, it's one of the most popular indy games of all time.

Game mechanics should be balanced. Death should have a logic to it. But "unfair" risk is a part of life.

I don't agree with all of this, but the argument's probably getting a bit repetitive now. I have in the back of my mind that this is supposed to be useful for Dan.

Good chats though - I was expecting flame wars any second. How ironic that a forum about brutal post-apocalyptic survival should do a little something to bolster my faith in humanity.

The thing I love the most about this game is permadeath. I'm glad it's still part of the game and hope it always will be. Dan took risks making a game like this, it's punishing and unlike any other game I have ever played. It's got the same effect on me as Minecraft did when I started playing. I'd RageQuit every time I died and lost my stuff but couldn't stop playing. Granted, this game may never be another Minecraft, but NEO Scavenger is different, just like it. It doesn't cater to mainstream "gamers"(if we can call them that anymore). But I do agree that this game still needs balancing and a little less luck and more skill in its gameplay, but taking out permadeath is something that I think will ruin it for a lot of players.

*Throws IPad and picks up Razer Tablet*

Chess - strategy game with zero randomness. What with that?

While I'm not a big fan of motor sports, I used Dakar rally example for a reason. While obviously a race with a winners and stuff, it's harsh conditions attract a lot of teams because they want to try themselves, check if they can finish it at all or how far can they get. And they return year after year just to try to get better and beat their personal records. And it that matter Dakar rally is a survival game - man and his machine vs. desert - as much as it is - man vs. man - competition.

That "survival" part is the same idea that exist in rouge-like games on which NeoScavenger is based. You will ALWAYS die at one point, there is no other end-game scenario (actually some of them have endless dungeons - there is always one more, harder level to go to). Point of the game is to live as long as you can, get as far as possible a and after you die/loose explore all the possibilities the game gives you (other character builds, other weapons, items) and your luck to get farther on your next try.

And this talking about randomness... In every rouge-like (and any other RPG) you can/will end up killed by monster/trap (or hunger if that is incorporated) and to be fair at all chance for death-blow landing has to be random. There is no other way of doing that cause: fixed chance is not fair and no dying brings no tension. And I really don't find NS's random generator that deadly.

You use pen and paper DnD as an example of environment where random death will not occur . OK, here we have DM to make sure first goblin you meet wont kill the whole party. And that is OK as long as you play casual DnD campaign - because it's point is to meet with your friends and have a nice time and DM provides (and kills off only those characters who really ask for it).

But ask any good master for a session of realistically played Call of Cthulhu and your characters will start to die (or go mad) fast. Party that does everything right will still have chance to be wiped out in a shoot-out with mobsters and player characters will most likely to go completely mad from only looking at some monsters. It's not because game or game master is bad but because very premise is different. And the pay-off is different too - instead of nice, chilled-out time in 3-years long campaign you will get, much shorter but very intense experience. And people like to play things like that too.

Also, returning to real life games for a second: dice, roulette, black jack, classical poker - those games are completely or almost completely random-based and so happens those are the ones people choose to play for money - cause it's more thrill so fun :D

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
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Yep Chess is not random, but I'm talking about the design and the mechanics.

However, life can be random, so you can have a bad day and lose a game you *could* have won, but the game itself is not designed with any random elements. All the pieces are visible to both players, so there is no guesswork in the actual position. All trained chess players can correctly predict the next few moves, because that's what chess is all about (so unless you make a terrible error, there should be no surprises). If your opponent doesn't play a move you predicted, it's usually a bad one (or you made a bad prediction) and either you'll be able to win because of it, or it will cost you the game. Whether life is chaotic or per-determined by physics, the design of chess is not random.

It sounds like you are saying that Neo Scavenger is a negative-sum game. That means that everyone will lose eventually (unless Dan has another idea) but it comes down to trying to lose less than everyone else. Life is technically a negative-sum game. Everyone loses in the end. But the way to triumph is to live the longest, therefore beating out your competitors. Yes, you eventually die, but losing the "least" is almost like winning in a negative-sum game.

About the chess, sorry if that sounded confusing, but I was referring to what G asked. He mentioned chess but I think that chess actually is completely irrelevant here. And also the whole post structure in this discussion broke a little when it was split onto second page.

It might sound that way, now that you mention it, but I really don't think of NeoScavenger as "a negative-sum game" (had to research the term since I never encountered it before). I think, that since it is survival game based on rouge-likes, other values are in spotlight here. Character's life and possible end-game is not that important. For me those kind of games are about:

a) challenge
b) world presented

a) Rouge-likes deliver (should at least) similar experience/emotions as the game of Tetris: player will fail in the end because game gets harder and harder, but how far did he managed to get and how well he played during that time is important. That is why that kind of gameplay is great as a base for survival game. End score is not based on binary 0-1 "win-loose" ending as much as it is on performance during gameplay.

b) When the game-universe is interesting and well written, it's lore can (and should) be the prize of it's own. Exploring the world, finding new, rare and hidden items, encounters, monsters and such is a goal almost equal to surviving more and more dangers. This is a sandbox, open world approach that starts to show up in recent games and I like it.

So if Dan ever decides to implement "win" end game scenario

Spoiler: Highlight to view
he did mentioned in one of the interviews the ability to find working space ship and flying into some prospering human colony somewhere else in Solar system

, for me it could be available from the beginning of the game, couple of tiles away from the Cryo-Lab. If player wants, he can save/evacuate/re-freeze his character (thus ending/winning the game) almost from the start. But finding out what happened to the world, who the character really is and why was he frozen, where dogmen come from or are those gummy bears you find in reality a dangerous infiltrators from space will be completely up to player/character to find out.

So in the end, in-game lore you can discover and your own performance are the score to win (and compare to your friends) and not some lame end-game video.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
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Kaaven wrote:
a) Rouge-likes deliver (should at least) similar experience/emotions as the game of Tetris: player will fail in the end because game gets harder and harder, but how far did he managed to get and how well he played during that time is important. That is why that kind of gameplay is great as a base for survival game. End score is not based on binary 0-1 "win-loose" ending as much as it is on performance during gameplay.

I hope I'm not derailing the topic, but that is the definition of a negative sum game. A zero sum game would have a binary win-loose ending; and in a positive sum game everyone would win.

Kaaven wrote:
So if Dan ever decides to implement "win" end game scenario

Yes, in this case it would shift into a normal zero sum game, and I look forward to how Dan decides to implement that. I agree that the journey is more interesting than the end sequence, and this game will be fun with or without that. This thread has a lot of interesting points and discussions in it. Thanks for your comments and thoughts.

I get it like this:
In rouge-like character's life is not important because we know for sure that end-game is death and player starts with zero world knowledge, 00:00 of survival time and no gaming experience (things that are main value here). He gains those during each play through (same as points in tetris) and in the end, even if each game ended in character's death, those values are gained from zero up, so this is actually a positive sum scenario (you cannot loose things like gaming experience or knowledge unless the game causes a memory loss).

Or did I missed the point and get this all wrong?

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
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That is not really how the concept of Game Theory is used. Instead, it relates to whether the player "can" win, is doomed to eventually "lose" or will always "win" eventually. It's a high-level concept that I only mentioned because it's an interesting way to break down the design of a game.

It works like this:

Player A Wins (+1) > Player B Loses (-1) = Zero Sum Game. (The "sum" of +1 and -1 is 0.)

Player A Loses (-1) > Player B Loses (-2) = Negative sum game. (The "sum" of -1 and -2 is -3)

Player A Wins (+1) < Player B Wins (+2) = Positive sum game. (The "sum" of +1 and +2 is +3)

Dan might not have added a end game scenario or any thing like that(unless you count dieing) but the way i see it is that if you die because of acute bleeding in the lungs you were over confided,if you die due medical purposes you were in need of food and a a berry,if you die due to frost bite you got over unencumbered or very weary and couldn't move(happened to me...I was over confident).


The main discussion here (we went a bit far from the subject:) was not the dying in general but how in combat you can be sometimes killed surprisingly fast and in unsuspected manner. Cause now any enemy can luckily hit you in a way that will momentarily kill you, same as you can do the same thing to him.
It works like that: if combatant hits, the game randomly chooses a body part of opponent, if it is head or chest and the damage is high enough victim's heart stops and he dies of cardiac arrest. That can happen to anyone (damage is slightly modified by weapon used, dogman claws, cleaver and wrench being most deadly) so every last combat can end in player's death and there is no way to predict or counter-measure that.

Point of discussion is: is that how it should be? Some guys are saying that such random possibility of death is not fun at all and frustrating, while I basically find tension that kind of mechanic brings, in general, entertaining.

Aside of that everybody generally agreed that more variety of moves/defenses could do good here.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
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You make a very good points, Scavenger, and I (mostly) agree with you. When there is mortal danger in NEO Scavenger, there should generally be a strategy for minimizing the threat or solving it outright. However, if all the player actions are taken into account then there will always cases where the player dies (as a result of those actions) but does not fully understand why. Nothing wrong with unexpected death as long as there is some logic behind it. Heart attacks aren't that common for people who exercise and have a low-fat diet (like the main character). But losing motivates competitive attitudes and when players are sufficiently challenged they'll have fun whether they realize it or not. That is a big part of why the statement that "Losing is fun" is so true.

I also think you you hit upon a good point--one which I tried to make myself--which was that the player should be able to see the consequences of their fatal mistakes (to some degree). In DF, since you lead multiple characters you get to see your people suffer and agonize over every detail of your failure to keep them alive (the end is slow and detailed). In a game like scavenger, death is simply a black loading screen. That's common for video games, but I think people want more spectacular deaths. I hear Scavenger is going to institute multiple characters, so hopefully you'll be able to see more of the "after effect" of your loss of the game, like your whole group getting cut down like trees one by one. As I said before, the moment of critical failure is typically the most interesting part of role-playing games. Even if it leads to a loss it will be spectacular.

Mistakes should have consequences and they should be brutal. A little random uncertainty comes with the territory.

I love that Dogmen are lethal in combat, but want to be able to do something like... distract them with squirrel meat, or threaten them with a torch, or blow a dog whistle. Outsmart them.

It took me two evenings to catch up on this thread. And I'm pretty sure that by the end, I forgot many of the points in the middle :)

However, I get the feeling (based on this thread, and feedback from players elsewhere) that there are some who like combat the way it is, and others who are frustrated by it. Some find it too hard, others too easy. Some want permadeath, others don't. Trying to suit one of the above will likely alienate the other.

However, there are some themes that seem to be more common ground. And perhaps there is a way to improve NEO Scavenger on those grounds without detracting from anyone's experience.

Regarding permadeath and saves, I won't go into it here, mainly because I've already talked at length about it once or twice. The TLDR version is that permadeath is a feature I'm planning to keep, but I'd like to present the player with enough tools that they feel like they are equipped for the challenge.

It's true that the game will get longer as more plot is added. It might not get as epic as some are suggesting, but I've had this vision of a complete NEO Scavenger game being several hours. And as the game gets longer, permadeath is more of a hardship.

One area I'm keeping an eye on is whether this is because the early game sucks. If players don't want to start a new game because the early game is boring, then that's a problem needing a solution. So far, I think the early game is well-received, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Another area is progression. It's true that characters in NEO Scavenger grow little apart from their items. The recent DMC update includes the first method of gaining new skills via surgery/augmentation. It's not a complete solution, more of a "toe in the water" to see how it feels. Adding more ways to grow may make the mid-game a bit more forgiving, since it means advanced players will have more tools to bring to bear on problems.

Tools are an area I've constantly been addressing, and they'll likely require more attention before we're done. I think one of the biggest ways to improve permadeath frustration (and in my opinion, one of the selling points of NEO Scavenger) is that every problem has a solution. There are a multitude of crises to have in NEO Scavenger, but there are also at least as many ways to circumvent them. Having a tool/ability/technique be "just the thing" to get out of a scrape is why I think many folks enjoy NS.

It's possible that we just have some gaps in this array of tools. As previously mentioned, maybe one of the problems without ample tools is the danger of scavenging. Perhaps if there were ways to ensure safety (maybe at some other expense), scavenging would be more fun? One could avoid combat at a cost, or spend some traps/etc in advance to get a leg up in subsequent combat? I like the idea, since it adds more strategy and room for creativity.

And speaking of strategy, randomness could be another issue. I think you guys have made many good points about the benefits and pitfalls of randomness in games. Too much randomness is bad, but I think a game like NEO Scavenger needs at least some.

For example, suppose NEO Scavenger was an empty map and an "End Turn" button. The player can move only so much per turn, before needing to click the button. Their only stat could be hunger, and it ticks down each turn. When it reaches zero, game over.

Let's suppose in variant A, the map has food in every hex. The food replenishes each turn. As long as the player ate each turn, they could keep playing. This probably wouldn't be very fun. The player's only choice would be to eat or not eat. The possibility space of the game is pretty small, and most would give up after a few turns out of boredom.

In variant B, there's food in every hex, but the food doesn't replenish. Each turn, the map has fewer food items based on where the player has been. This one's a bit more interesting than A, since there's some strategy involved. Now, the player has to ensure they eat the food in a pattern that maximizes their lifetime. However, there is likely a certain eating pattern that always produces the longest game (a.k.a. a "dominant strategy"). Games with dominant strategies are usually fun at first, but as soon as one learns the strategy, they cease to entertain (like tic-tac-toe/naughts-and-crosses). Still no randomness, but fun for a few plays.

In variant C, each hex has a small probability of having food, and it doesn't replenish. Food would appear in a pattern on the map, and choosing which order to eat them presents an opportunity for strategy. What's more, each game has a different pattern, so the replay value is higher than variant B.

However, randomness means that some games will inherently have fewer viable solutions. In fact, some sessions may start with all the food too far away to survive. Variant C uses randomness to make the game fun for more sessions, but also introduces impossible games.

So far, variant C seems the most fun to me. It has failures (unsolvable games, or trivial games), but many more satisfying games to offer than A or B. One could argue that hand-crafted food placement produces a guaranteed satisfying game, and is superior to variant C, and you'd be right. However, the player would exhaust all the hand-crafted maps eventually, while the random maps are always new.

I think what we have in NEO Scavenger is something like variant C. Many games (or combat encounters, or scavenge encounters) are satisfying, because they offer a way to use strategy to overcome obstacles. However, some games are impossible (game starts with a cold snap, monsters at every turn, and no items anywhere), and others trivial (balmy weather, every combat goes well, and food everywhere).

In the case of impossible games, I'd like to see if there are in-game tools to offer the player to ward against such failures. This way, players have more options when their primary strategy fails. It's possible that we're just missing some in-game tools to deal with major crises, such as unwanted combat encounters, or mortal wounds.

The other thing I've considered is whether it's possible to add an AI-based GM to fudge rules. I think such a tool works when used sparingly, but can ruin a game if players come to expect it or rely on it. However, it can also be used to make sure low points in the game are followed by high points, tension followed by release, to produce greater "interest curves." Basically, as humans, we like things to follow patters of tension and release, and we get frustrated or bored when the tension/release lasts too long. (Jesse Schell has an awesome book which covers this, and myriad other game design topics.)

Anyway, I'm usually looking for ways to deal with in-game problems via in-game solutions. Death (especially premature) is a problem, and it's various causes offer opportunities for resourcefulness. That's probably the whole theme to NEO Scavenger. So rather than rob the game of it's greatest obstacles, I'd like to make the player feel like they overcame those obstacles themselves, through resourcefulness, perseverance, and maybe a little luck :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Hear, hear!

Yeah, I think a game of several hours, not days, is feasible for a permadeath game so long as the beginning doesn't suck (looks like that won't be a problem) and the unavoidable deaths are rare. I would have the patience and interest for that.

I agree that the beginning is fun, those desperate first few days are exhilarating.

As an avid gamer, I would hope for more than a few hours from a final version of Neo Scavenger. But I thought of a compromise after reading Dan's comments. I would suggest increasing the number of different paths the player can take to increase re-playability. Assuming there is a basic "good" path and basic "evil" path, make them both robust. You could also include multiple factions in the game, which offer different perks and costs. That might be the direction it's going in anyway with the enclaves and the elements within the DMC. So consider the player path complexity and give each faction, alignment or decision a robust complexity.

This way, it makes perma-death even more forgivable, since it is an excuse to choose a different "path" to the end.

I would also like to stress the importance of neutral/gray morality zone/choices which are a thing underdeveloped in most games. Usually any moral choices concentrate on player's character being either the saint so pure and noble that it's unrealistic and dull or self-conceited, rotten bastard. Neutrality in most even supposedly developed RPGs is limited to either 'stay away from the whole matter' or 'I didn't do this because of any beliefs, I want my gold'. I would very eagerly see some developments in that area.

As for factions, nice idea but it depends on how it would be made. For example, while the game series like Gothic or it's spin-off (after all, made by same guys after they sold the rights) Risen offered me great deal of fun, I really despised the fact that at some point you've decided to join one of the particular groups which permanently cut you from most of the content offered by others, no matter your actions. I far more prefer sort of 'faction standing points' granted for actions and offering a way to entangle one's path with the doings of particular group more fluidly. Different quests, sometimes providing a bit of standing, sometimes providing a bit more but messing up plans of some other group, ways to redeem oneself in some group's eyes or maintaining decent relations with everyone capped quickly until player decides to show some real devotion and self-sacrifice would be what I'd like to see but that's a suggestion for far future.

Best and most realistic way to do this is to give your character motives and personality. If he's merely 'neutral' it's boring - extreme good or evil is an obvious way to dramatise situations, drive a character and make a blank slate more interesting.

If you want a character with substance that has nothing to do with polarised morality, then you give him a vendetta to pursue or a kid to look after, or a disease cure / doomsday device to find - that sort of thing. Something beyond survival, that humanises and lifts your character into dramatic or even epic territory without committing him to a good/evil role. All of those things I listed could matter to a saint or a selfish murderer; even the Kray brothers loved someone. ;-)

You could give him personality traits like being a loner, then you would suffer a penalty for tolerating, living with and helping others - a penalty in grumpiness, social conflicts and psychological ill health. You decide whether it means that much to you to put up with all this hassle to be with and help people.

I always considered dystopian, "everything is gray" morality is a vital part of any good post-apocalyptic setting. And as far as I can tell, Dan tries and manages to keep the game's encounters/story as far away as possible from falling into "good-neutral-evil trap". It is nice to see that sometimes what seems "right" is not actually a good/wise thing to do and player has to think about his character's well being first and leave heroics for worlds where every village sells red healing potions. So I trust that Dan will spare us from good settlers vs. evil raiders scenarios :D

Also, Scavenger, keep in mind that in Gothic series (don't know about Risen) choosing group was also choosing character class so it was actually very restricting. And I believe we all know that character classes (same as good/evil morality) sucks big time when it comes to Role Playing or building believable storytelling/worlds in general...

In regards to faction relations, I personally would like to see some sort of reputation system that allows multiple decisions and actions to decide character's standing with each one. But, as you said, this is something far flung at the moment.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
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If he's merely 'neutral' it's boring - extreme good or evil is an obvious way to dramatise situations, drive a character and make a blank slate more interesting.

Your mileage may vary. In this regard, it really depends on the setting and I could agree with Kavaan that - barring some more rare circumstances - gray/non-extreme morality being the most widespread is most fitting for the theme here. I don't want to dramatize every choice, I want to have a level-headed character who shows realistic attitude I can relate to, no matter if others see said character's actions as good, bad or with mixed feelings.

For obviously chivalrous paladins or genocidal deathknights I'd rather play some heroic fantasy game and such extremes personally even then sometimes were irritating me. I don't like playing fanatics, I guess (unless it's Warhammer, but ironically - Imperium in WH40K also shows gritty, gray kind of morality with devotion, duty, loyalty and selflessness combined with ruthlessness, extremism, closed-mindedness and despotism). But anyway, no, for me great heroic deeds stemming from dramatic/heroic compulsions aren't a thing I look for in this game.

Being able to change the world? Having an impact on it's history? Sure, but I don't want those being forced on me and if I will decide to save the world or whatever, I don't want storyline to stick my character into framework of 'well, if you do heroic deeds it means you have to want to be a real hero/antihero!' where suddenly everywhere I go I have to go KOTOR style - either help everyone like their loving servant or treat everyone with spite and superiority (I do like KOTOR series and extremism there is more understandable given the general theme of the choice of Light/Dark side of the Force although even then it could be irritating at times).

And I believe we all know that character classes (same as good/evil morality) sucks big time when it comes to Role Playing or building believable storytelling/worlds in general...

Storytelling - not so much, depends on the story. But it severely and rather superficially limits player character. I do agree that, again - while some restrictions may exist story-wise (stereotypical fantasy priests not using bladed weapons as their religions forbid to spill blood) - the choice, as long as it makes sense, should be up to player.

I just think that some restrictions don't give me just more distinct experiences with varied gamestyles, they plain break my immersion and limit experiences in general. I may be a heavy lancer but I shouldn't develop psychotic reaction toward holding a staff and wearing normal clothes just because I can wear platemail, be unable to whack enemy with my baseball bat just because I am tank mechanic, or be forbidden to attempt stabbing a damn heretic about to kill the high priest and desecrate temple of my god, when I judge those things worse than me breaking a tenet of my anti-stabbing faith. Of course, having some negative (but fair!) consequences makes sense - as long as it well, makes sense.

Though given trends among MMO, us free-character-development folks are actual minority as many of current generation of cRPG players don't care about RP as much as minmaxing special melee/magical/ranged skills and attacks.

But we really started getting off topic now, so I'll end my ravings here.

The beginning is easily the best part of the game, because that's when the risks AND rewards are highest. Once you've gotten fully kitted out, many of the risks remain, but the rewards part of the equation becomes much bleaker

I'll just keep it brief. Yeah I agree with you. :)

I did a brief search, but did not see any mention of difficulty levels. How about that? It may not be an ingame solution, but it might be a viable solution. Maybe decreasing encounters and events (even item variety) in easier levels to push people to play at the intended difficulty, but still appeal to people who want a kinder game.

I see a lot of people saying "Make the game harder and don't change anything else!"
And then I see people saying "Make it easier and add *insert this* and *insert that*!"
But what NONE of these people realize is that you are EACH talking about ONE specific group of people who are often smaller in number than a certain group I have yet to see.
I suppose I have to be that group's represenitive. THE MASSES!
Everyone, from the people who want an easier game to the people who want a harder game to the people who want a game they can play, get a hang of, but need tons of time to master.
You can't just appeal to one of two diffrent groups, but you have to appeal to the masses less your game tank and die. So, here is what I say.
~KEEP PERMA DEATH! While many people may say "NOOO! IT MAKES THE GAME TOO HARD!*SOB*" Well, there is your sacrifice to play a game that wont kill you every chance you get.
~Nerf either amount of 'tough' dogmen, or encounters with them(And I think the second is going to happen, some time in the future.) Because while a tough and strong dogman is a bitch, it will make it much better to have some dogmen who are just "strong" and some who are "tough" and some still you are more "athletic" or more "intelligent"(meaning, they might let you live if you happen to have a few pieces of squirrel meat and throw it to them)
~Followers, for the less strong but more charismatic people.(Dumping one of the tanks after kicking the dogman's ass) Or even for people who have a certain "Perk" or "Skill" to tame an "Intelligent" dogman, should they ever be implemented. All of these would make the game easier, but you could still have your ass handed to you by any moment, by any raider with a gun/any strong and tough dogman.
~Make guns a tad more findable or implement the crafting of crap junk weapons/the ability to make a bow and arrows with the trapping skill. While the crap junk weapons would be more powerful than the bow(extreamly so!) they have the chance to backfire and potentially kill you the bow will be weaker but in the use of a trapper, be a weapon that could pontentially save you against the few odd raiders with a loaded gun.
More than that, I can't say. But all of what I have placed here seems like a fair divide between hardness and "too easy."

So I was looting a cabin...
And then...

Everyone has an equal voice and you have a right to your opinion, but the premise that Neo Scavenger can have "mass appeal" just doesn't work as an argument. Neo Scavenger has a very specific target market; people who like violent, post-apocalyptic survival games in which you are sometimes forced to make impossible moral decisions. Dan knows who is target market is and designs according to his own tastes. If instead he designed according the whims of marketing, I don't think Dan would be happy with the game and neither would we.

Games like Shadowrun and Fallout are not for everyone, but they do very well regardless. For that reason, I agree companions would be a good addition. Dogmen should never be nerfed, because they are like Deathclaws (they're supposed to be brutal). Bullets and guns should remain scarce, because it's a scavenging and survival game. We should get more make-shift weapons to craft though. To sum up, don't make the game bland.


by the time you realize this says nothing it's too late to stop reading

permanent death:a stile of gaming of which the player has 1 life, although if you don't get to cocky and full of your self it's easier to ovoid


I haven't played the game in a while; due to work and some military stuff. When I first found it I was really into it. But then the combat got changed. And I just flat out don't like it. But more an more people an things were pushed to where it is now. I just spent fourteen minutes trying to fight a Bandit.

We fell down: 12times for me 10 times for him.
I tripped: 5 times. He tripped: 3 times.
I charged: 14times.
I moved forward: 10times
I punched: I lost count.
I landed punches: 5 times.
Bandit landed: 0 punches, he ran away or dodged, or feinted. Did not put one blow back at me.

Towards the end of the fight I suddenly died from bleeding in my lungs.

What's turning me off the most and turned me away from this. Is the combat. Last time I signed in and had a fight, it took me nearly 20minutes and I ended up just running away because I got bored and couldn't kill the bandit and my character just was to weak and I couldn't ever rest and wait in the combat and the bandit kept failing to run away.

Now I came back again and got super bored with the combat once more. I find myself just wanting to tinker around in the woods and scavenge in places instead of follow any story line because a story line may lead me to haven to have combat with something and I want to avoid that at all cost because it's just tedious. And whenever I see something coming at me or wanting to fight. I would just run away to avoid the super boring, super long, super slow click this and drop it here an all that combat that reads mostly as a 3 Stooges skit minus 1 of the two of us tripping tumbling and falling.

I liked the last and original combat system. I click the monster, and that's it. No pick this, put that, set this up. You click, it says hit or miss, then you get hit or missed, and you carry on. You don't know if you are going to die or not until the bottom tells you so.

Sadly I'm just not that interested anymore in this because of that and due to that will not be coming back. I just don't ever see the combat being fun and not tedious and repetitious and eh.


I'm definitely feeling the battles doesn't make any sense. I had a cleaver and sliced the bandit's arm off but the fight continued as I chased him down.

Anyways, this just happened.. I'm definitely dead. Hiding from creatures isn't effective at all compared to humans. I think that's realistic, since they could follow your scent really well.


The combat is defo a bit harsh, especially with the wraith and dogmans around. It is no real realistic, sometimes, the enemy is just too strong, even with all physical perks

Hint you should try to keep your necklace on

Official Trained Dogman

I did, the wraith was haunting me regardless, then i realised, it was the newest test build, so it was bugged. In stable build i had no such problem.

Agreeing alot with both sides, i just have one idea though to ease the perma death thing, A suggestion.

Maybe allow people to make a save, like a profile for a character skill set after he has chosen the traits and started ingame. So for those who have a set of skills they prefer, then they dont have to make this character everytime and can just load up that profile and start where he/she started on that character last time with the same skill set, maybe also at the choice of that person, also save the same profile after having used what options he/she had in the cryo station? So forexample, i use the mechanic skill to lock the door, and then search the room with eagle eyes and medic. And save there so the next time i die and start over on this profile then i will start at that point after i had gotten all skills, handled the dog man, found whatever with my skills and ready to leave the cryo station. Since it gets very repetitive eventually.

Sorry about my bad literary skill. Hope it doesnt hurt too much to read :P

If you want something like that, the game does not restrict you in anyway from copying the save file after you exited the Cryo Lab. Simply "Save and Quit", copy the file and "Continue" back into the game.

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However, a few copied and repurposed lines of code for the sake of saved character creation options without rest of the world coming with it would be a nice thing, not overly hard to implement and taking care of the problem with some events just not being available to the same extend between games - a thing savescumming does not cover.

From the comments, it seems like some people treat permadeath as game-improving feature.

What it really feels like is just a gimmick, an unfair rule.
I don't think any game in the world is better just because possible "game over" due unlucky click.

Considering complexity of character traits and inventory, I like the idea of permadeath, but surely there should be a way around it. Why spend hours building something to lose it all in a second? All video games have quite simplistic structure: A task, a challenge to overcome to complete it, and a reward. What permadeath does, is killing the reward part and adding punishment to the formula.

How I would handle this? Difficulty levels.

Easy - save anytime
Medium - autosave before combat, giving you a chance to try again, but not really avoid it (unless you manage to run away)
Hard - as it is right now

People play games for different reasons. Some go hunting against super rare achievements, some play everthing on super elite hard mode. But some avoid this metagaming (that has no value anyway aside brag rights) and just want to feel fullfillment and rewarded for challenges overcome. Right now, those gamers have no business playing Neo Scavenger.

With games like NS, it feels believable that people would talk about this game, compare their progress and builds, etc. You cannot really do it right now, since every playthrough ends abruptly and sadly. There's nothing to show besides "New Game" button...

I just don't think NS would be any worse game if you could save. Infact, it would be better one.

From the comments, it seems like some people treat permadeath as game-improving feature.
What it really feels like is just a gimmick, an unfair rule.

Given there are those people, apparently it doesn't feel like so for everyone, I'd like to point out.

All video games have quite simplistic structure: A task, a challenge to overcome to complete it, and a reward. What permadeath does, is killing the reward part and adding punishment to the formula.

I am quite sure that permadeath would be the 'challenge' part. Surely it doesn't kill the reward part, unless you have applications in which, after succeeding in overcoming all obstacles, you actually automatically delete everything and lose anyway. Fortunately, I am very sure NEO Scavenger isn't such kind of game - you can succumb to one difficulty after taking care of some other difficulty, but this will be nearly always (barring, let's face it, RNG which cannot be made completely just in every case) a result of your actions, short or long-term. And in between you have rewards and satisfying moments. Hell, often the process of overcoming hardships themselves is satisfying.

But some avoid this metagaming (that has no value anyway aside brag rights) and just want to feel fullfillment and rewarded for challenges overcome. Right now, those gamers have no business playing Neo Scavenger.

I'd appreciate it if you'd not try to state your personal beliefs as objective and uniformal truth as it's rather insulting because as surprising as it may seem to you, current difficulty for many is more than a reason for bragging. In addition, it's hardly metagaming, it's part of the game, sum of it's mechanics.

But I do somewhat agree with the 'those gamers have no business' part. That's unfortunate, but it may be just a matter of target audience. The game is meant to be somewhat fair, but hard, challenging and really punishing for mistakes. While I wouldn't call it a roguelike, because of quite some differences in comparison with the traditional fathers of the genre, it's the difficulty and randomized world associated with roguelikes that's meant to function in game and it is what draws some players to it.

I am afraid that it's simply not meant as light entertainment where player is just being held by hand through the story and expected to sooner or later be able to easily succeed in any endeavor, as it often happens to be in modern RPGs - a thing many criticize, but that's beside the topic. I cannot say that no casual player will absolutely find nothing interesting in it - I know for certain that some did, but it is not simply a social game about having a nice trip and comparing builds and progress at the end. In fact, I believe that while you can share and compare stories, tales of achievements etc, treating whole game in such way would cheapen the experience current playerbase - after getting through the learning curve and associated deaths - enjoys. Permadeath is very likely quite integral part of this experience.

Because of that I am ambivalent, at best, toward whole 'lower difficulty' idea. On one hand, yes, it may help players otherwise unhappy with the game and take away some pain of those unfortunate events that end the game for some and make them feel like their struggle was useless. On the other, I am not sure how much of the game and reasons we enjoy it for will be affected in a negative fashion - and it very possibly may be 'a lot'.

Apparently it's one of those situations where there's no ideal choice to appeal for everyone. In the end, most games are popular among certain group of players - and rest has to endure it, adapt or seek elsewhere. At the same time, if you find game elements very unbalanced given the framework of current mechanics, permadeath included, you are encouraged to share your findings - it may help balance certain aspects so they'll be more manageable for everyone.

I'm sorry if my criticism came of as insulting or offensive, I am very aware of myself getting too passionate about things I like.
However, if it didn't get through, I'll try to rephrase my thoughts (hopefully in more reserved manner and less broken English).

I have no problem with Tetris or Space Invaders -- let's just say -- casual games -- being hard. Those games are meant to be played during lunch break or whatever and forgotten. A gaming session is just short-lived adventure.

NS feels like it's much more. You have crafting, tons of items and loadout, heavy amount of exploration and so on. Being lucky enough, you can play for hours and hours. All to be wiped out on a bad dice roll. This is just unfair. I do know what roguelikes (NS is still very much like one, and this is what most reviewers are going to call it) are, but rarely any has felt as accessible and with as high potential to appeal to greater audience. To be honest, only game that felt as good among roguelikes is Unreal World RPG (although URW, even with more brutal combat, rarely forces you into it). I, as a player, don't want this journey to end based on pure luck.

So, if autosaving/checkpoints is out of the question, let me suggest another way to redeem difficulty curve:
The Minecraft method.

Simply, world isn't regenerated on every new game, but generated once and you can play it multiple times. Or generate new one if you wish. If you die, you die, but your gear falls next to the body, and if you're lucky enough, you can make a new character and travel to same area and reclaim some (or all of it). Following path of one character with new character with possibly different stats would make it even more interesting.

Perhaps at this very moment it doesn't make as much sense, but should game grow with more craftable, rare, etc items in it, why not? On a plus side, it's highly optional, getting to fallen character is a challenge in itself, and so on.
Or why not even make character fallen, able to be revived and returned to the playable characters pool? Sort of like RPGs or DOS-era flight sims with career mode. Long story short, game like this should expand on roguelike (or whatever you'd call it) concept, not be restricted by it.

I still disagree.

I personally enjoy the level of difficulty the game currently offers. It's hard. I bought the game because it's hard. I, personally, would dislike seeing the game watered down in order to make it more 'appealing' to the masses. In my experience, all that's ever done to games is create a subpar product.

*Waits patiently for the addition of Carroltron*

The level of difficulty shouldn't be changed simply because people paid money for a difficult game. However, difficulty levels would be nice, but only if it's not too much work.

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

This game¸is hard but that's why i paid for it and love it please don't change difficulty that would suck

Personally, i think your idea of item loss is a good one, at the very least for non-human opponents. Your Dogmen are some kind of genetically engineered dog/wolf thing, as i understand it, so shouldn't they display some sort of basic animal behaviour. You have deer meet in your pack, leave the meet and run, a dog/wolf would go for the meet rather than you. This would also encourage more hunting, as i find it much easier to get by on berries, especially with their multipurpose food/thirst uses. I like the idea that if you were tactical enough, that there would always be a right answer, but you would have to judge what that answer would be. some sort of system where you could choose to drop items, and each would have a distraction roll, with a multiplier for matching up to the right enemy. a dogman wouldn't be interested in a gun, but that dear corpse you've been dragging around, it'd probably go for that. whereas a more human enemy like raiders/looters would be more likely to ignore the deer. the calculations could end up being pretty complicated though if you're going for realism. monetary value for humans, type of meat, raw,cooked,cured for dogmen. don't know where the melonheads fit. problem is, you'd probably have to add a new skill for something that complicated, unless everyone just got it and it was only usable in combat. I haven't played enough encounters to know if it would affect any, but the ones i've had so far, i don't think they'd need any re-writing. the only one i could think of is the dogman at the start, and you have no items then, so you couldn't do it anyway(maybe if it did become a skill, it would replace the medic cryo-dump, as that's kinda the precedent for the thought. anyway, i'm sure you'll work it out. loving the game so far.

Hello just my opinion. If u don't mind.

First of all sorry for any mistakes I'm not English.

I love this game, this is actually game i dreamed of. And found, i feel happy now.
But I'm very busy person. Full time job and family don't allow me to play as i would like to.

I think this game should have some system of keeping your world/loot/or maybe even save game.

Do you know Don't Starve? I like that game. Anytime i play it, i have fun. I enjoy it. Till, i die....
Sometimes by bad luck and that makes me cry:)
After that i don't play it for.... long time... and by that i mean months. Because i don't want to go through all that grief again.
Spending my precious time in dream like and than end up like a little child after its lolly was taken off.

Only played 5-6 lives but i'm getting better and live longer and now, i'm scared to play my game.
There is so many thinks that i have to be doing but i just sit down to enjoy some gooood really good game(like this one).
And when i die and all is erased i fell very bad. Not angry but sad. Sad that i ever found this game.

You know how i found this game? Demo on steam. First i thought that it look like 10 years ago game. But after checking screenshots i saw game mechanics and i download it. Found how good it is and one of the reasons to buy it is that demo don't save when u have to leave, And i have to leave a lot.

For all of u against changes i have one message: u don't have to use the button.
But we people that are not happy with loosing everything this will be reason to play the game.
Call me what ever u want, yes i'm noob and don't like to die. Nobody is forcing u to use this difficulty/feature.

Because this is not about buying the game, we already bought the game.
This is about if it is worth to play it. When u can suddenly lose all of the
Because that's what happened to Don't Starve in my case.

And i think that devs should care about if people like to play and not only whether they buy the game. I'm not saying Dan Fedor don't care. He do, and i hope he will read my letter from customer.

Just a tip what i think is a good solution.
Minecraft: Difficulty
Project Zomboid: New character(loss of skills) but same world and u can find zombie that u used to play as.

Thanks for reading

It's not just about being forced to use/not use the button, but the effect of inability to permanently die on the whole game's intended mechanics and difficulty.

For the sake of finding a way to appease anyone, though, let me adapt your standpoint and ask - why, instead of needing a special feature just to take care of dying, you won't savescum as per suggestion above? Hardly honorable, even bordering on cheating and as mentioned, comes with it's own issues but that one simple thing - especially with the batch files people prepared and linked on this very forum - should take care of your primary issue while leaving core game intact.

As for your last sentences, while I understand where you come from, I feel a need to bring in my semi-rant, as some seem to forget a few things:

Spoiler: Highlight to view
You mention that developer should care about how much fun people have in the game, not only whether they buy it, suggesting that permadeath is actually working against the former. As you can read on this forum, though, many people actually have far more fun with it because of permadeath (or rather, some of the emotions provided by it that I dare say wouldn't be easily substituted by different system). With balancing for things unfair being done, you can see that it's probably Dan's idea (why would he implement it otherwise?) to have the game playable but with the risk of such great loss should player mess up.

I may need to refer you to the point above I made - for better or worse, Neo Scavenger wasn't likely meant to be coffee-break game. While I still stand by my belief (confirmed, too) that casual players may enjoy it, it seems that primary target audience are those who want it to be fair, hard and punishing bigger mistakes through permadeath and in connection to that fun you mention - many players would be very disappointed or even angered if suddenly the game would become another smooth-ride heroic RPG.

Again, you cannot expect that the game will appeal to absolutely everyone, not while making it possess something that will make it stand out among it's brethren. It's one of the reasons for indie gaming rebirth in recent years - people wanting to play games that would be directed at them, particular group sharing particular game developer's dream, not absolutely everyone.

Well i have to say u are right. If u remove permadeath u will break the game. I know that.

Why i didn't use savescum? Because that's pure cheating. And i do want to be punished. But not by total erase.

First i hesitate to write anything into this tread. Because just by reading all above i get the idea that decision was made long time ago.

I just wanted to share my opinion. And if nothing else i would have to use batch.

I understand where you're coming from, and I often feel the same way about losing progress. I often find myself giving up on a game for quite some time after a frustrating loss of progress, so what I do is try to savescum while holding my self to a set of self-set rules for doing so. That can be something as simple as what I'm applying, in that I will not archive/move a save file except *very* rarely, or you can apply something more strict or specific- such as deleting your save after a set number of failed attempts to make things work. To me, it can really add a lot of value to a game to create my own set of rules to play by and then very stringently holding myself to those rules.

Heck, way-back-when me and my friends even used to do those sorts of things when playing things like the original Super Mario Bros. For a simple example, that was a "no warping forwards" rule, or even "only warping to the lowest choice given. But what was even more fun, was trying to actually do well in the game while playing our version of "turbo mode" where you literally always had to be holding B (run) and the right direction button down.

Obviously that's pushing things in the opposite direction as what even strictly enforced allowance of save scumming does to this game, but in my mind- it ends up being the same thing. "Cheating" doesn't ruin games, making them too easy does, and if you can find a happy middle ground, then who's to tell you what the correct way to play a game is? Having fun is the end goal, and that's what I'm achieving with the way I play.

I play with cheats/hacks to get all skills unlimited moves + unlimited food/hunger lots of clothes and 20 shotgun shells with shotgun firing and firing about 60% hit and nothing no wounds on the dmc guard then 1 shot from a sniper and I'm dead I say the dmc snipers need to be only called for backup when your fighting at most 3-5 hexes out side dmc or on the very end of the junk town

Few things mate:
- Please consider using the stop signs ("." and ","), it would made understanding your posts way easier.

- Ranged weapon's accuracy (especially shotgun's) depends on the range to the target. Shooting from range 25 will be way less accurate than from 3-4.

- Snipers are no longer in the game.

- Since using any sorts of hacks/mods can break the game in many, sometimes unexpected, ways, any problems (technical or otherwise) occurring while using them are not "officially" supported. So please don't mention them when discussing the way the main game works. Modding sub-forum is where you can express your concerns about the modified game.

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