ECO Season 1 - post mortem


  • Before I get into the grit of it, let me take a moment to say ECO is a great game with a good concept. About 12 of us got together and coexisted on a server and both saved and doomed our world (we were curious to see all endings). In an effort to make the full release of this game as amazing as it possible could be, we all worked on this write-up to list out things we would like to see changed and implemented into the game. Our ECO experience was fun, but we want to make it even better. We finished on version 7.3.2, so some of the things outlined here may be irrelevant by now.

    Inventory management.
    Sorting and organization is a must and ECO’s system is not exactly user friendly. When accessing a chest, stockpile, or whatever it may be, other linked storage areas in a close proximity are also listed in no particular order. This makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for. Them being listed in order of proximity, how full they are, or player-given name would be a definite improvement.
    On that same line, if the player reorders the storage areas in the menu, the storage list should stay in that order until the player moves them again. It should not reset when the menu is closed.
    When a player is re-organising items from the opened inventory to multiple linked inventories, it would be nice for the inventory they initially accessed to always be shown on the menu – pin it to the top so when they’re scrolling between various storage areas, they can easily drag and drop from one place to the other without needing to constantly scroll between the two storages.
    Items that do not have storage, such as a door, should not have the storage option on their menu screen.
    Linked inventories needed to be unlinked from every storage area connected to it. It should be automatically unlinked from everything with one click. On the same note, if I disconnect the current inventory from a remote one, the link should be severed from the other direction too.

    Whitelisting
    When you change the security on a chest/door/etc, it, by default, changes the security of your claim (due to the “inherit” setting). This is very confusing to the first-time player, and is very rarely the intent to do so. Instead, changing your claim’s permissions should be accessed only through the deed itself.

    Bugs we’ve encountered

    • Falling through the world.
    • Colours being wonky https://clips.twitch.tv/ObliviousGleamingClintmullinsTheThing
    • Physics issues https://clips.twitch.tv/RealSpineyPizzaMikeHogu
    • Being around the equator messes up the waypoints https://clips.twitch.tv/RoughPoisedApeKappaPride
    • Stockpiles and backpacks sometimes, but not always, have the same icon
    • Stones will randomly appear in a large radius around the mine after an excavator is used.
    • There is a delay between using a held tool and it working in the world, i.e. a scythe on long grass gives you the fibers instantly, but the game takes a second or two to render the shorter grass.
    • Large amounts of trees would lag the server, as would the excavator.
    • Updating the server is a huge pain. The configuration files were overwritten with each update, including server settings, whitelists, etc. It also requires a steam login which makes automated updates impossible without compromising security

    Claims and building
    Connecting deeds has been a pain of ours. We weren’t looking to make different areas when expanding our base. It would be lovely to have a new claim connect to the deed it’s been placed adjacent to. If it’s not surrounded by any other claims, it could have a new deed. But if land that is directly connected to another claim is claimed, it should automatically belong to the existing claim.

    Building, though fun, needs some work. The default block shape does not fully connect to the thinner walls. If a default block (or any other block that is not a wall), is placed on the same y-level as a different block, it will not connect on the longer side. For example, the second story of a house will always have a gap between the floor and walls, if the floor is a 1x1 block and the walls are the .5x1 shape. As a builder, this was very annoying and made it difficult to design around the gaps. The same can be said for roofing.
    Roofing was very difficult to place if you didn’t know how it connected to another roof block. The bottom of the roof blocks should be the same tone and texture as the side of the default blocks.
    It is very annoying to see the darker toned-roofs outline the ceiling.
    It would be nice to be able to change the color of, or paint the building materials.

    The ghost block of the item to be placed has been difficult to get used to. At times we were unable to distinguish between what’s already placed and what we are about to place down. De-saturating the ghost block a bit more and making it more transparent could go a long way.

    Building materials are very limited especially when you’re a builder in other games. Having vastly different textures for different building types would be great. I would build my sheds and workshops out of logs if I could, but machines need higher tier materials, so each of my buildings - no matter the use - look all the same. That’s no fun.

    We felt that we had no other incentive to have a house other than to gather skill points. And as tricky the rooms are to build, they yield little to no emotional reward. Finding a use for the house would add greatly to the game. More decorative items, a fridge to counter food spoil times, the need/option to sleep, allow usage of the chairs, beds, bathroom items. Add decorative items that don’t interfere with the housing points, like paintings, flowers, candles, plates, cutlery, etc to allow people to add their own personal touch to houses, so all building’s don’t look the same inside.

    Game content
    We are aware the game is in beta and not fully released.
    Below are options we believe could help create a more immersive experience by modifying existing options

    • We had no idea of what is available for us in late game, what we should be grinding for and why. Some sort of a tutorial system that helps first-time players figuring out what’s there as content could be very useful. Maybe not in game, but as a youtube channel or a well designed wiki.
    • Make fish useful. Right now, fish lack use. You can cook them, but that is it. There should be more recipes that use fish. Maybe implementing fish oil or various fish types, like clams and lobster, would assist this.
    • This next point does not affect all servers, as we were very environmentally conscientious. Apart from a few occasions, we had no use for the web UI. Expanding its use, what it monitors, alphabetically ordering everything the in-game and web UI for searchability, setting up notifications might be useful for servers like ours.
    • The Law system is restrictive in how laws are made and what they can and cannot track. For example, there’s no currently an option to reward planting trees/any other plants even though it’s a big inherent lesson of the game to keep track of the vegetation.
    • A trade system should be implemented so it is easier for players to sell resources without the need of currency. Currency is fun and a good idea, however, all of the currency went towards our chef, farmer and carpenter, but the mason, metal worker and more (which we admittedly did not progress very quickly to make this extremely useful in our first 30 days), and missed out.
    • Speaking of currencies: the different currencies make things very difficult to handle. We understand that there’s a mid-game mechanic with the mint and the exchanger, etc, but by the time we were able to craft it, we evolved past the need of a currency system. Mainly due to being annoyed with the existing one.
    • For those who prefer exploration, adding in ruins or rare landmarks, ravines could be fun to stumble across.

    We’ve also devised some ideas around skillsets:

    • Hunters – add injured animals and more tracking options, like blood trails or footprints of an animal you injured. Maybe even add hostility to wolves and foxes, to make it more interesting.
    • Breeders (new skill?)– add farm animals, the ability to tame certain animals, etc.
    • Farmers – improve the soil system, add automation, greenhouses, farm animals for fertilisers.
    • Chefs: add a reasonable food spoil time
    • Builders - need way more decorative content and options. Painting, branding, etc. Allow them to sell specific items that only they could place. At this moment, a builder needs to place down the specialty items which limits the creativity of the non-builder players. We would’ve loved to purchase the special items off of the person capable of making them.

    Automation
    Automation is key and should be added for later-game content for carpenters, builders, metal workers, etc. Things like conveyor belts, minecarts, and lumber processing to ease the grind of transportation.

    End game
    We were all looking forward to this and made a mad rush to be able to save and doom our world. The “destroy the meteor” option was lack-luster. The animation was very cool, but the reward did not add up to the work we did to save our planet. All we got was a congratulations message. Maybe give us something in-game as a reward, such as additional skill points or a novelty item.
    The animation for the doomsday ending was AMAZING, but the meteor landed where none of us expected – we saw it falling in a trajectory that suggested it would destroy the area in front of us, but it landed a couple hundred meters next to us. - https://www.twitch.tv/videos/259807667

    Add the meteor chunks when that land on the earth: We went exploring and only found holes. It would have been cool to see the meteor and larger space rocks strewn about the land.

    We were all very surprised when the meteor didn’t kill us or the planet. Sure, there were gaping holes and the radiation did kill a lot, but it wasn’t lasting. We could still play the game and survive after the impact. Maybe change this so the world continues to decay until it completely dies?

    Overall
    Despite everything listed, we were happy with our ECO experience and can’t wait to see what the devs have in store. The graphics were wonderful, the in-game sounds were delightful (though more bird calls would be nice to hear), and the world actually felt alive. It has the making of a fun and relaxing game, and with some improvement, it can be amazing.

    We will be doing a Season 2 once there's more mid-game content to explore. We're all really looking forward to the already announced plans and can't wait to play more!


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  • Thank you for the thoughtful post. You have a lot of great ideas there, many of which mirror other players and some of which we are already looking into incorporating into the game in the near future. It would help us greatly if you added each suggestion to our Github. https://github.com/StrangeLoopGames/EcoIssues/issues

    We really appreciate you and your support!

    Shay McLean
    Community Manager
    Strange Loop Games



  • Will do! :)



  • Well, the endgame and post meteor impact is developable. Some days ago i wrote an idea of how it could be more challenging without to be unfair. Maybe you give it a try. Any feedback welcome ;-)

    http://ecoforum.strangeloopgames.com/topic/4567/setable-meteor-diameter-to-change-level-of-difficulty-pre-post-impact-challenges

    I like your ideas. Especially that animals should have something like a blood trails for better tracking after being shot. That fish is kinda useless isn't first time i read it here.


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