Brainstorming ways to make FE even better

Riding off into the sunset
Riding off into the sunset

Fallen Earth has really captured the deepest parts of what first attracted me to MMORPGs.   I’m constantly running into things which are totally unknown to me and the entire time I am logged in I never once come across anything that feels intuitive.  It’s the complete opposite feeling that I get when I play the WoW/LotRO/WAR/Aion model.  Time flies by because I am so engulfed by everything — I am totally immersed and lost in this virtual world.  I’m constantly brainstorming ways to improve the game because I want it to be perfect.

There are a couple mechanics/systems in Fallen Earth that I’ve been thinking over today at great length.

First, Durability.

I want to see items lose durability and eventually be destroyed.  Repairing them should lower their overall durability (perhaps a Condition/Durability system) and eventually they are destroyed.  Item wear is important in a player-driven economy and sandbox game with PvP/PvE/Economic elements.  Crafters need to always be in demand — always.  This means that players should come to crafters to buy great stuff, go out and use it, break it, and come back for more.  This keeps crafters continually working for business.  If items do not permanently break then even the happiest customer is a one-time customer.  Happy customers need to be repeat customers.  Everything should break eventually, even the best stuff in the game.

Second, Experimental Crafting.

Right now the crafting system is very similar to SWG.  You get the materials, you put them together, and wait.  Great!  It does indeed work.  However, I would like to see an experimentation system added to the game as well as resource quality.  For example, not all copper should be created equal.  Parts of the world should yield better quality copper and it should rotate like it did in SWG where sometimes better copper can be found here than there.  I might find copper with .99 quality and really want to make items that use copper because I’ll be able to experiment and make substantially better things than someone using .75 quality copper.   I should be able to experiment and increase the damage at the cost of durability or range, etc.  Allocating experimentation points while crafting could really expand the market and create a niche for the people who truly want to focus on crafting.  Increasing the quality of raw materials through a resource quality system and then allowing players to increase and customize intermediate goods will allow for customizing the final good to be exponentially more rewarding for the crafter and the customer.  I’d love to talk more about this if anyone is interested.

Third, Factions.

This is a part of the game that I am least familiar with, but one that I am very much interested in learning about and voicing my opinion on.  I was talking today with Bartlebe (friend playing) and we decided that we both think Factions should be a more permanent choice.  This idea that you can “play the wheel” and be liked by all factions turns the system more into a powergamer thing than something that defines your decisions in the game.  Killing someone of your faction or an ally of your faction should bring harsh penalties.  The decision you make to join a faction should really carry some weight because it should both reward you tremendously by unlocking vasts amounts of content but also lock you out from the factions you chose to forsake.  However the faction system plays out in the game, it needs to be important and it needs to have a feel of permanence and dedication to it.

My character is up to 55 Ballistics, 55 Science, and 45 Rifles.  I have a Shotgun, a Rifle (that I crafted!), some nice clothing (that my friends crafted!), and a brand new and improved Horse (that I crafted!).  I’ve spent most of the entire day just collecting resources.  It’s really quite impressive that I spent the whole day crafting yet at the same time advanced my character almost two levels, amassed a small fortune (then spent it), upgraded all my gear, and explored for the first time in a large radius around the city I’ve called home.

That’s all for today!  I’m sick again so I’m calling it a night.

  • First, “playing the wheel” doesn’t let you be liked by all factions. It’s generally referred to as “grinding the wheel” for a reason: your old friends do hate you for betraying them, and every step around the wheel of makes following steps harder. Faction losses are always double the faction gains. So, it doesn’t take as much to get your mutation injections and a few AP missions early on, but capping a faction for a capstone ability means that from then on, it’ll take a ton of work to be friendly with anyone else.

    The problem with durability is that, under the current system, any character with crafting stats can master every craft. It’ll just result in every player raising a crafter or two to cut out the middleman, and kill the economy on everything but materials and quest drops.

    As for experimental items and variety in quality levels, that’s one part stacking, one part information overload, and one part PvP balance. Different quaity crafting materials wouldn’t stack in your inventory, and we have limited space for that. Items with the same or similar names but differing quality levels means I can’t just look for a particular item on the AH, I have to read every single one and compare stats and price points. Lastly, uncommon items that are even 5% better than same-model items with equal stat requirements just creates a twink market and a poor environment for PvP below cap.

  • Factions aren’t a zero sum game. The total amount that people hate you is twice the amount that people like you, so your net reputation is always decreasing. You can’t be friendly with everyone at the same time, and it would be incredibly difficult to grind around the wheel.

    I do think it’s interesting that you can actually ally yourself with 2 factions. If I only build rep with say, the CHOTA and the Vistas, then those two reinforce each other, and I could eventually max out my rep for both of them.

  • I’m really puzzled that you are finding FE “unintuitive” and, by implication, radically different to other MMOs. I’m loving it, but honestly it’s really, really familiar and so far I’ve hardly run into anything that wasn’t immediately recognizeable from other MMOs I’ve played.

    I never played the original SWG, which appears to be the benchmark for comparisons, but to me FE seems very similar to pre-Luclin Everquest or early DAOC. The two major differences are that the crafting is much, much easier (it’s got to be one of the easiest crafting systems I’ve used) and the aim/no auto-attack combat (which is also pretty easy to use and actually varies only very slightly from regular MMO combat).

    The faction looks much the same as faction in any other game to me. There’s a bunch of factions, go up with one, down with some others, only issue is how much time you’re prepared to put in.

    Item decay is never a good thing in my book. It’s a skill-based game at heart and choices will have to be made. While there will be little market at low-skill for crafted items, because everyone will be making their own, later on people who aren’t dedicated crafters will need those points for other things so they’ll have to buy their gear (or get it as drops).

    The crafters’ future market will come from the nature of a successful online game: yes, items won’t leave the game, but expansion by expansion most of them will become worthless and only the dedicated crafters will be making the new desirable items. People in game keep talking about FE being designed to go to 150 levels (not sure where the evidence for this is). If so, your old level 45 top-of-the-range crafted rifle is pretty quickly going to get destroyed or sold to a vendor just to free up vault space.

  • Okay, I just worked this out because I have nothing better to do.

    Suppose I build 100 rep with the Enforcers. My rep wheel looks like:
    Enf:100 Tec:50 Tra:-100 Cho:-200 Vis:-100 Lig:50

    For some reason I decide I want to be a CHOTA instead. So to “grind the wheel”, I first build rep with the Techs until the Travelers stop hating me. I have to build 200 rep with the Techs. Now my wheel looks like:
    Enf:200 Tec:250 Tra:0 Cho:-400 Vis:-500 Lig:-350

    Now I start building Traveler rep to get my CHOTA rep out of the red. I have to grind 800 Traveler points. Now my wheel looks like:
    Enf:-200 Tec:650 Tra:800 Cho:0 Vis:-900 Lig:-1950

    You see the problem? Now the Vistas and Lightbearers absolutely hate me, and it’s getting harder to grind rep. If, God help me, I want to grind the rest of the way around the wheel, I will have to gain +1800 with CHOTA, then +7500 with Vistas, and then a whopping +21,800 with Lightbearers. Now my wheel looks like:
    Enf:0 Tec:-37,950 Tra:-49,400 Cho:-16,250 Vis:18,400 Lig:21,800

    Nothing says, “Pick a damn faction and stick with it” like exponential growth 🙂

  • @WalterD: You can easily max out two factions walter, but you still only end up with three friends, and the one you didn’t max has to be ground up from enemy as a secondary ally of the second faction you raised. It’s much simpler, if feasible, to just pick the center of the three factions you want and raise both the other two by concentrating on the center. It’ll take longer to max the second, but you’ll get the third with it.

    @Bhagpuss: one point of evidence in favour of a raised cap is that the highest level recipe in the game requires ten levels above cap to have the minimum stats to craft it.

  • Also Beta testers have stated the devs plan was for 150 and there is even a world map out there showing another 3(?) sectors, as well as the things in game which currently cannot be used/achieved with current levels.

    Durability and factions I’m kinda mixed feelings about. Comfortable with the current system, not going for any wheel grinding myself. When I was in S2 I hit my goal faction town first, than one of my allies until I had faction for max faction items in S2 ,then moved on.

    As for crafting I think they havea great system that is missing something, just not sure what. Some type of specialization maybe so everyone couldn’t craft everything, not sure.

    Glad to see you’re enjoying the game Keen, you know you can’t leave at 15 days now, right? You’ve expressed way too much enjoyment. You’d miss all the real fun!

  • @Jezebeau: I think I was thinking of something slightly different. Seems to me there are 2 ways to raise faction. (A) The normal way, that I think you’re referring to, focusing on a single faction and ending up with one maxed out, two friendly factions, and 3 enemies. Past this, you can’t build faction with both of your allies, since they cancel each other out. But then there is also (B) Raising two adjacent factions simultaneously, and ending up with two completely maxed out factions and 4 enemy factions. Seems like you could get double faction rewards this way. It’s the only way I can really see of “gaming the system”, since going around the wheel doesn’t seem possible in practice.

    Okay, no more commenting for me!

  • Once again, you are building my interest in a game. FE sound much like Dawntide, but ready and available now. I have been on an FE blog/forum/podcast/guide kick all week. I’m hoping to have late next week to paste in my trial code and try the game out.

    I think that one of the things (if not the greatest thing) that made EQ addictive was the gambling/chance aspect. Every kill was like pulling the arm on a slot machine, hoping to get what you needed to complete your quest. Every press of the Combine button was a chance to be successful (and have the lights and sirens go off in your head). Usually “chance” is a bad word in games, especially in boardgames. But it is a strong motivator in MMOs.

    As I have suggested above, I have not played FE yet, but I think that having a chance to craft a special version of an item (I think Aion crafting has this actually) or to get special loot drops, or a crit chance for combat, can be good. Right now, everyone can craft everything, given enough time. Maybe there should be chance of failure too.

    It does seem like there needs to be some kind of sink for wares, because the game will end up with millions of crafted items, only a small percentage of which are used.

  • Hmmm sounds neat I think they might be right that you can only have a slice of the faction pie and not the opposing side’s slice too.

  • I have not played Torchlight yet because I hear this version is a single player game. I’m waiting for multiplayer.

  • The free to play MMO is going to be a couple years in the making, not that its a rush. If no multiplayer is a deal breaker, then yeah, this version of Torchlight isn’t for you. However, its a damn good game in my opinion.

  • Noticed this older post. Interesting that the things you mentioned have been announced as being part of future patches at least durability and factions.

    In the case of experimental items, the somewhat rigid relational db back end has potential performance benefits but constrains the ability to make truly custom items. Later in the crafting tree you do get to make experimental weapons but this is actually just a random draw from variations on the theme of the weapon being worked on.

    The object-oriented SWG model is superior but I suspect that in time FE will approach that level of sophistication. The combination of former SWG developers and a huge number of pre-NGE SWG players will no doubt combine to ramp up the crafting system.

    The game has flaws but gets better with each patch. I have met the lead devs and feel that while they may lack the budget of larger games, the running room their corporate parent has given them will allow for continued growth in quality.