Crew Combat Buy Off - Lure Away improvements
The greatest thing about running open development is receiving amazing feedback from players that helps improving your game. The hardest thing about open development is identifying what the actual problem is that your players are having an issue with.
The perfect example of all this is Crew Combat in Vagrus, which is an aspect of the game that players complained about fairly regularly. After adding the Flee/Appease option, it got slightly better but not as much as we had hoped. While digging for the reasons, we came to some interesting realizations. Whenever we heard someone getting irked about how they bled out against a much stronger enemy, we asked whether they tried appeasing them and they pretty much all said "No, 'Flee' implied losing big time".
So we renamed the button from Flee to Buy off/Lure Away to better indicate the appease options lying underneath it. It got slightly better again. Yet many players still ignore it. When we asked why, we learned that they had a bad experience with it. They used the Auto Offer function that gave away all their slaves, which in turn resulted in a workforce shortage and sent them into a death spiral. Boom. Never touched the option again.
The Auto Offer function was indeed something that we left unfinished. It only offered money and crew, but not cargo, nor items. Thus, it often proposed a deal that was far from being optimal. So from the player feedback, "Crew Combat is insanely hard" we got to "a small piece of the Appease feature was left unfinished and coupled with no explanation, it led players to fight unwinnable battles they should be just avoiding".
The good news is: we are adding Item Offers and shoring up Auto Offers in the next build. And hope to see more players get the hang of when and how to avoid fights that are way out of their league.
Items are a resource that is often overlooked. They have no weight to be considered in the cargo hold and can accumulate silently. Items looted from events or combat encounters can turn otherwise unfortunate ventures profitable - if sold in the right place.
It also makes sense that these valuables be traded or used during Crew Combat appeasing. They can even add new flavor, since the various enemy types are interested in different items - tribal folk in trinkets and charms while Necromancers in ancient tablets and arcane texts. We even decided to introduce beast lures and Undead charms that are highly effective against those kinds of foes.
Items are split into two categories. Well, more like three. The items listed in blue are the ones that will help the player the most to successfully Appease the enemy (or aid their Flee in case of Beasts or Undead). The second group lists the items that can also be used but with less efficiency. There is also an implicit third category of items that the player owns but cannot be leveraged in the given situation.
Auto Offer Improvements
With Item Offers added into the mix and considering the feedback we deciphered, we spent some time shoring up our Auto Offer logic, too. For one, now it offers cargo and items as well, though it does not apply advanced mathematics to optimize the offer, there is an underlying logic that takes the enemy's goal into account. It will offer Supplies and edible goods first to voracious opponents, valuables to looters, mounts to poachers, and so on.
We think - and hope - that these changes will bring us one step closer to addressing some of the unintended difficulties players face in the game as we continue to improve other features as well.
Winning the Game: Renown Victory
As we are gearing up for the 1.0 release of Vagrus, we are finally coming around to implement the victory mechanics, which means that you will soon be able to complete a playthrough! There are caveats, of course, since we are still in Early Access, but we thought it was time to discuss what to expect (now and later).
Even in the first game design documents, winning the game was connected to Ambitions - Wealth, Fame, Knowledge, as well as some hidden ones perhaps. That is, you will select an Ambition at character creation and you win the game by reaching that Ambition through gameplay, then completing an Event that will reward you with a victory.
Once victory is achieved, the game will offer you to continue in Freeplay Mode. This is mostly for fun or if you wish to complete some additional stories, because Achievements are turned off, and the longer you go, the less sense some stories will make when you put them in the context of elapsed time. Still, we wanted to give players the chance to keep on wandering the wasteland if that was their desire.
Once you complete a victory, you will receive a victory screen - for now. We are planning a series of screens touching upon the most important storyline states and companion questlines, but initially, only the single Ambition-related screen will be added, primarily because we want to hold back on story reveals and endings until 1.0. Also, only a Renown Victory will be available for the time being as some things are still being worked out for the other two.
We are looking forward to hearing your reactions to the Renown victory and see how easy or difficult you find it to reach.
By 'alternative Wyrms' we do not refer to a group of odd subculture, but a series of new enemies that are coming to ruin your day! These Sand Wyrm variants share the general look of the basic creature with slight modifications (and in some cases, differences in size). The reason for this diversification is that the long, high-end storyline involving them we are working on called for more and more varied enemies to make fights interesting and keep players on their toes.
And so please welcome the Armored Wyrm, the Frenzied Wyrm, the Spitter Wyrm and the Great Wyrm. We hope that they will cause the right amount of trouble.
Lately, we've been working on the Abolitionists, too, a unique faction that is a bit hidden and up until now, their presence was very minor apart from their main base of operations. The next content build will include a new system that you will be able to use to unlock new faction locations for the Abolitionists. This involves getting ciphers from an already unlocked location (initially their main base) and taking it (within a time limit) to a new settlement where it will unlock the faction's presence there.
This system will flesh out the somewhat shunned Abolitionist more and we hope that it will lend the much needed depth and infrastructure to a slaveless playthrough. We hope more of our players will now be motivated to try a successful Abolitionist run.
Stay tuned and conquer the wasteland!
The Lost Pilgrims Team
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