A Critical Examination - Perks and Playable Ships

GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Posts: 1,096Moderator, Space Cat
edited December 2016 in GAMEPLAY
Greetings Everspace community and Rockfish Games,

The v0.2 patch introduced some beautiful new systems (randomized Enhanced loot, selection between two ships, etc) and has really started to shine in the realm of replayability. The game is giving new reasons to be played again and again, most notably in the end-game state.

The end-game state is a very important element of a roguelike; more on this in a bit.

Disclaimer: I absolutely love Everspace. Nothing mentioned in this post is meant to be a jab at the hard work and dedication the Rockfish team has put fourth in presenting this powerful gaming experience to the masses. These presented points, while bold, are meant to serve as thoughtful voices toward making Everspace greater.

To start things off, let's talk about the PERKS.

Right now, the Perks serve as leveling up, but as a very slow grind. While some Perks promote customization, most of them are small, incremental changes to various stats stored in the game. While some can argue this is a good form of progression in gaming, I am going to argue against it, namely because this is a roguelike experience. But first, some context.

What is a roguelike experience?

In a traditional roguelike, the player does not level up. A traditional roguelike promotes a unique experience every time the game is played: expanding upon player options though unlockables by playing over and over again. FTL is a strong example of this: In any given playthrough, ALL the items in FTL are available from the beginning. What is not available are the different layouts and ships the player can use to CUSTOMIZE their experience.

Essentially, the unlockables in FTL are unique playstyles. The incentive to play is to experience the game in a new way through new opportunities, almost as new challenges in and of themselves. With everything unlocked, there are 28 UNIQUE player loadouts to tackle the game. This is powerful end-game content because the replayability factor is so great, giving players many different ways to come back and enjoy the game from a different angle.

When all the Perks in Everspace have been obtained, there is very little additional customization available to the player. With all the collected Blueprints, it almost doesn't matter how the game starts out because after a Sector (or two), every playthrough can be IDENTICAL. This is counter-intuitive to the roguelike experience, which is meant to create a unique experience each time the game is played.

Let's talk about PLAYABLE SHIPS.

The Colonial Scout offers a different way to tackle the game AT FIRST, but there is very little difference between the Interceptor (slightly beefier) and the Scout (slightly faster) once the later Sectors have been entered. The greatest element that makes these ships unique are the Class Restrictions. MAJOR KUDOS to this addition to the game; this starts creating incentives for playing the different ships, trying new playstyles, and experiencing Everspace in a unique way.

When choosing a ship, it should require a certain mindset moving into the game. There should be thoughts of a flexible fighter versus a tactical striker. For now, both ships offer just about the same experience AFTER the first couple Sectors. There should be a more permanent distinction even in a late Sector.

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THE PERKS AND PLAYABLE SHIPS?

PERK SUGGESTIONS
** The Perk system needs a significant overhaul. Instead of slow, incremental changes, each Perk should provide the player with some kind of new opportunity or ability. Unlocking more slots, upgrading Sensors and bonus equipment are all solid Perks that promote new opportunities.

** SELECTABLE Perks. At the start of the run, you can choose to use your +10% Shields Perk OR your +25% Hull Perk. You can't have both, just one or the other. There could be several different styles of Perks in this regard, as well. Would you choose +10 Nanobot storage, or +50% max Secondary Weapon capacity (so holding 10 missiles in one slot would become 15 missiles). But again, you could choose one or the other. There could be a wide selection of these types of Perks where the player can choose a solid 5 or 6 out of about 12 different options.

** TEMPORARY Perks. At the start of every run, you can choose to purchase a Perk that adds a +25% speed boost. But at the end of the run, the Perk is no longer activated. Instead, if you want to use it again, it must be purchased again before that particular run. Without having the bonus being permanent, it creates more tactical thought on how the player wishes to spend their hard-earned Credits. Go for something temporary, or go for something more permanent?

PLAYABLE SHIP SUGGESTIONS
** Having more incentives for selecting a ship for a particular playstyle means a more unique run when choosing that ship. Sure, there should be ways to make the different ships similar, but there should always be something unique even with the same loadouts. Having one ship a little beefier and the second a little faster is a great way towards this distinction, but I do feel this needs to be made more apparent.

** CLASS RESTRICTIONS to make the player's selected ship more exclusive (and thus a different experience overall). The Colonial Interceptor could have the Flak Cannon exclusive to it, whereas the Colonial Scout could have the Shock Rifle exclusive. The Colonial Interceptor maybe isn't allowed to use Drones, but the Colonial Scout isn't allowed to use Sub: Routines. Heavy Missiles versus Plasma Torpedoes. Shield versus Shield XC. There are a lot of different ways to make these ships more distinct in how they can be customized.

** UNIQUE ADVANTAGES. I love how the Interceptor is stronger than the Scout, and I love how the Scout is faster than the Interceptor. These differences should be vast to really showcase their unique playstyles. The Interceptor could have an extra Weapon slot but one less Consumable slot, whereas the Scout could have an additional Device slot but have one less Secondary. Maybe the Scout should roll and pitch faster. Maybe the Interceptor should have better auto-aim.

BLUEPRINT SUGGESTIONS
** While this entire post has been focused on Perks and Playable ships, I'd like to draw attention to a previous post: The Architect - A solution for Blueprints. If you are the least bit invested in the Perk/Playable ship suggestions, I recommend having a look at this previous recommendation.


CONCLUSION
The Early Access Everspace has a LOT of potential in the realm of replayability and end-game content. Perks have some powerful opportunities to become both selectable and temporary options in addition to permanent ones. Playable ships have the opportunity to really shine as independent, unique devices to experience the game.

If you have stuck around long enough to digest this massive post, I would sincerely value your feedback, your thoughts, and any solutions you may offer in regards to the topics of Perks and Playable Ships. Bonus points if you'd like to talk about the Blueprints and The Architect idea.

I hope some of the ideas I've presented may encourage new thoughts, new ways to activate the game, new forms of promoting customization, new ideas regarding playstyles and promoting the overall longevity of the game.

Thank you all for your time.

Giraffasaur

Comments

  • NenacuNenacu Posts: 69Customer, Collector Beta Backer
    As we concluded in a previous post of mine, the perk system and the ship differentiation needs to be worked a bit to really get that roguelike unique run kind of feel. Although my solution to the matter was for differentiated perk trees, unique perks between ships, and further balance tweaking, I do see a lot of merit in your solution as well. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in thinking that both ships are currently relatively the same during the endgame. I admit that I hadn't seen your post about the architect solution before now, but after reading it I have to heartily agree. In some way, shape, or form, I should have to work quite a bit harder or divert my path through where I would otherwise go in order to get access to higher tier weapons, modules, and devices. As it stands, I can usually finish out a build for Daredevil+Devastator and Coil II before the third sector is out. After that, my only concern is getting to sector 7 and finishing the run. Granted, the latest update and my forays into hard mode have changed that timing by quite a bit. I now create that run by sector 5, which seems about the right time for it to come online, but that's only due to the resource scarcity inherent in that difficulty. It's still fairly reliable that the build will come online should I stay alive long enough.

    That said, this is the kind of situation that will take a balancing act to accomplish. Currently, it seems that those at Rockfish are splitting the line between game complexity and ease of access and understanding. To me, it seems that they want everything to be easy to understand at the surface so making ideas for further customization would have to be balanced with that in mind.
  • ROCKFISH_AndiROCKFISH_Andi Posts: 1,017Moderator
    Thanks for the well-written post!

    Regarding perk progression: Generally, we want to keep the "slow grindy" progression. I adore FTL as well, and I think that players generally would not really need permanent progression in our game (game would have to be made a bit easier, but there are people who succeeded in no-perk runs) as they would be learning and gaining skill by playing. However, the current levelling up gives players a feeling of progress/improvement/achievement and takes away from the frustration when dying.

    Regarding perk effects: I agree that we should have more perks in the game that offer new gameplay instead of simply changing numbers. We won't completely change everything, but I think we will shift the balance more towards the non-numbers perks and introduce some ship specific perks.

    Regarding selectable perks: We did not mention this before, but I think the time is right, now. We will introduce remnants of an ancient race in the future. We wil have ancient glyphs for you to hunt for and alien technology. We plan on having some sort of "runes" that you can equip before each run which would grant you some benefits. You will most likely have a few rune slots so you can try out various combinations. This should work like the slectable perks that @Giraffasaur mentioned.

    Regarding temporary perks: We have been talking about some sort of "headstart" items, as well. We're uncertain if we should add them. They will probably add up to too much selection prior to a run... (ship, difficulty, runes, bonus equipment, (probably load-out in the future))

    Regarding class restrictions: Glad you like those. I personally was a bit afraid that people would be complaining about not being able to use their much-loved cloak anymore. But it seems to be fine. I guess we'll add a few more restrictions, soon.

    Regarding Blueprints: We see the problem with always managing to get your "ideal setup" once you are experienced and have all blueprints unlocked. Class restrictions would help with this a little, but we also like some of the suggestions mentioned by @Giraffasaur in his "architect post". We could e.g. also say that players can never craft tier 2 items until they have a perk and probably would need an "architect" or a "service station" or whatever for crafting tier 3 items. We'll be discussing this further.
  • GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Posts: 1,096Moderator, Space Cat
    edited October 2016
    Thank you for the response, @ROCKFISH_Andi . Overall, it's great to see players will have a little more customization to set their runs apart. I'm really looking forward to the development of Everspace.

    Runes sound like a remarkable addition to the game, and I can't wait to see what types of customization they will provide the player.

    Regarding temporary perks: We have been talking about some sort of "headstart" items, as well. We're uncertain if we should add them. They will probably add up to too much selection prior to a run... (ship, difficulty, runes, bonus equipment, (probably load-out in the future))

    I can definitely see the demographic Everspace is aimed at could become a little overwhelmed with all the available options set before them. That said, I'm very glad to hear about the thoughtful inclusion of load-outs. Truly, I think unique load-outs are another powerful way to distinguish the player ships from one another.

    Regarding class restrictions: Glad you like those. I personally was a bit afraid that people would be complaining about not being able to use their much-loved cloak anymore. But it seems to be fine. I guess we'll add a few more restrictions, soon.

    While I spoke in the initial post about creating more restrictions, I'd also like to bring to light the beauty of the ship's unique distinctions. Having more ship-specific abilities (more durable, more agile, greater energy pool) could also prove fruitful in the player's selection, though I hope the maxed Perks don't nullify these differences like it tends to do in the current version. I'm a huge fan of the greater range Scanners on the Scout, for instance.

    Regarding Blueprints ... We could e.g. also say that players can never craft tier 2 items until they have a perk and probably would need an "architect" or a "service station" or whatever for crafting tier 3 items. We'll be discussing this further.

    Want to also point this out: with the addition of Enhanced Weaponry, I think crafting has found a greater fit. Anything can be added to the ship, but the best items must be found. I think this is a great direction the loot system is traveling in.

    Very excited to see what the team has in store for us in the future.
  • BarryBarry Posts: 36Kickstarter Beta Backer, Space Dog
    Loving the fact all this stuff is being talked about and idea sharing is helping development. I also want to to see perks effect different ships and some other amazing ideas suggested here. Currently the perk tree is fun, but now we have more then one ship we need to make each run as unique as possible. So all I want to say is ROCK ON!!!
  • RattiputzRattiputz Posts: 26Common Beta Backer, Customer
    @ROCKFISH_Andi I love the idea of needing infrastructure to craft high tear weaponry as I think that directly crafting it (in order to get your favorite loadout) takes away from the rogue like experience (what if you had to do without these weapons? Are you able to survive a sector without them?). Such facilities could be implemented systematically in a jump gate orbit, in a certain sector (3 or 4 maybe to avoid being OP in the first sectors), maybe a dangerous one with a crafting timer (not like the insta-traders), at least in hard mode... I think that it would really add variety to the gameplay.
  • GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Posts: 1,096Moderator, Space Cat
    With a little bit of playing around this weekend, I must say I am very pleased in the direction Everspace is moving in. The Gunship adds a whole new type of style of play to the mix, and the distinction of Perks has both expanded the replayability and strategy factors in the game.

    Looking forward to see what the end-game feels like for the newly revamped update; more feedback soon!
  • ROCKFISH_AndiROCKFISH_Andi Posts: 1,017Moderator
    @Giraffasaur Glad you seem to like it. Looking forward to your thoughts once you've played a bit more. I can imagine that trying to finsih the game with an unperked gunship is currently the biggest challenge.
  • NenacuNenacu Posts: 69Customer, Collector Beta Backer
    Looking forward to reading your analysis of the current state of the game @Giraffasaur . I'm trying to get enough time in the three ships to get a feel for it all before I start my own write up.
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