Hello survivors! These past weeks we had time to playtest the game a bit more, reaching mid-game, and thanks to that, we balanced a few (=a lot) values everywhere in the game. But we also noticed some “wrong” behavior that couldn’t be corrected only by changing some values, so we quick-implemented a new system in the game: the Attrition System!
In Dead In Bermuda, we implemented this system quite late in the development – In fact, it was a post-release patch – erm erm… Because we noticed that balancing was very hard without it.
It’s pretty simple: we decided that the characters would do most of their actions in the camp. It was a good design decision, that focused the gameplay on one, limited, place.
BUT we designed these camp stations to be “infinite”: you don’t have to find these resources on the island, you just send people looking for them. It’s a bit artificial, but it also has a lot of good points, the most important one is that you need to quickly bring basic resources to make your people survive and craft things (basically, if you don’t craft anything, you’re dead), and a lot of different ones. So there would be a lot of time consumed by the characters to actually find these resources on the island.
That’s something that may evolve in future “Dead In…” games, an area that we still haven’t explored (ah ah…), but it’s a MAJOR change in the gameplay loop, so it was not the time to do it for Dead In Vinland. (there are already A TON of major changes T_T)
So we have these “infinite” resources stations in the camp, that are handy and don’t break the immersion too much (you can easily imagine that there is enough natural resources for a few people on an deserted island), but it also gives us several problems in the mid-late game:
- We can balance these stations to bring a good amount of resources for the start of the game, when your characters have bad skills.
- But they will progress through the game, bringing more resources.
- And they will build some upgdrades, giving them even more resources each time they send someone.
So the problem is, at some point you will stock an overabundance of these resources, without effort. AND even more problematic, for the food resources, you could just stick to whatever you fancy best, and never need to build other food stations…
These problems are already mitigated by the need of repairing stations you use often, sinking a bit of resources or lowering the income of these stations.
But it was not enough.
To solve this problem, like I said in Dead In Bermuda we quickly implemented a little “hidden” system which decreased over time the amount of resources you could fetch from the stations. We called it the Attrition System. It did its job, but was poorly implemented: there was no clear indication of it for the player, and no way to act on these maluses. (and moreover, it was bugged x))
Initially, we thought that we wouldn’t need this system for Dead In Vinland, maybe because we were disappointed with its dirty implementation, but also because we mitigated even more its bad effects with other systems (tributes for example).
But playtesting proved us wrong, so we decided to quick-implement it back. Just this time, we took a few days to make it well integrated into the game
SO! What we did:
- A few camp stations are now flagged as using the Attrition System. These correspond to the natural resources of the island, that could deplete over time (or they become harder to find, or you have to make a longer trip to get them)
- Each time you use these stations, the “Natural Resource” gauge of this station lowers by an amount.
- This gauge (a scale of 100%) applies a final modifier on the amount of resources you’ll gain from using this station. You’ll also gain more Fatigue while using the station!
- At 100%, the resources are plentiful and you’ll gain a normal amount of resources from using the station (after all other bonuses/maluses are calculated)
- At 50%, the resources are becoming scarce and you’ll gain half normal amount of resources, and twice the Fatigue! So the effect can be very strong.
And, last but not least, we thought that it may be hard to balance if you couldn’t gain some Natural Resources back, so we added a little REGEN value to these stations: each night, they regain a small amount of their resource gauge.
We still have to fiddle a bit with the values, but we already think of several fun possibilities: resources that drain quickly, but regen very quickly, or resources that takes a very long time to regen, etc…
With that we have a real control on the system, our designers are happy.
And this time, it’s not a secret feature hidden from the player, we have implemented a nice looking new pop up to summarize all that, so that the player actually understands what’s going on
You can access this pop up with a little button on the HUD.
And there even is a “quick look” icon right on the station HUD, next to the condition icon. You’ll notice that these two parameters have a direct impact on the action results, so it made sense to stick them together. (other parameters being: character’s skill, number of characters doing the action, and affinity between these characters)
I think that’s all! We’re rather pleased to have managed to quickly implement this feature in a matter of a few days work. It’s the kind of agility you need when you are fine-tuning your game, in the last moments of development! (but hopefully, that’s the last feature we add to the already big recipe of the game…)