A few thoughts


  • Hi all,

    I've been playing ECO since Alpha 4, and i've got many hours played in Alpha 5. I really love the game and I hope it succeeds. Environmental issues are a big deal to me and I think this game is really going to fill a gap in the market.

    I just thought I'd write down some of the thoughts I have about the ingame systems. Apologies if these ideas are already planned or have been discussed to death somewhere else.

    Work Requests

    The division of labor in ECO is really interesting, but it's caused situations for me where I have to wait around on the server for someone to come online and ask them "Hey could you make x amount of <insert thing here> for me?"

    It would be really nice to be able to put in "work requests" at a workstation. Perhaps all workstations could have an extra tab, called "requests". The person placing the work request would have to provide the materials for the item first, and would have the option of providing incentive item(s), rewarded to the crafter once the job is done. Items made in this way should probably show up in the requester's private storage to prevent theft.

    This would make a big difference in lubricating the wheels of commerce in ECO, and in mitigating the requirement for people to be online concurrently.

    Of course, maybe the goal of the classroom iteration of ECO is to get students to talk more and communicate verbally, in which case this system could be disabled.

    Tool Smithing

    Right now, this skill is almost completely useless. It only takes several skill points for players to get one of every basic tool, and those tools will last them the whole game.

    To remedy this, tools could be split into two tiers. A basic tier, obtainable through initial skills and craftable at a workbench, and a superior tier, craftable at the anvil.

    The difference in tiers could be fewer calories used or more blocks carried at a time, but I think a better idea would be to introduce a durability mechanic. Superior tools would last much longer than basic tools. This would keep the tool market active by requiring players to replace their tools regularly.

    Unused building elements

    There are some building elements that are rarely used. A prime example is roofs. In the server I play in, I haven't seen a single structure that has a roof block on it. Everything is just boxes made of logs. The lack of roofs makes the buildings look a lot less interesting. I see two ways to remedy this:

    • Make roofs a necessary component of a building with regards to workstation requirements.
    • Make roofs far cheaper than they are now. I mean something like a default cost of 1 log/2 roof tiles, with further efficiency through skills. This would give people a real incentive to make them.

    One or both of these could be implemented.

    Food

    Unfortunately, I think there is a bit of a failure in communication as to what actually constitutes good food in ECO. Part of this is because there's no tutorial or in-game guide telling players that more-processed food is more nutritious, but another part is simply how the food tooltip is displayed.

    Take Wheat for example: It has 60 carbs, 150 calories, and no other nutrients. When I first saw that, I thought, "Wow, 60 carbs and only 150 calories! That's nutritious!" But really, the average nutrients (and therefore the effect on skill gain) is only 15, because it contains 0 fat, protein and vitamins. I was also surprised to learn that the nutrient:calorie ratio has no bearing on how nutritious a food is.

    One thing I think that could be done is to display the "0" amounts of nutrients in the tooltip, to better reflect how that food is actually going to affect skill gain.

    End-game goals

    This is one of my biggest concerns for the longevity of ECO. A game is supposed to last 30 days, but to keep a game like this going - outside of the classroom - players need a greater sense of purpose and permanence.

    Perhaps some players will find enjoyment in the sandbox, and put their effort into building aesthetically pleasing cities while living in harmony with nature. But, a lot of people are going to get bored with the game very quickly.

    Fortunately, I think this is where the mod support has huge potential to pay off.

    The ecosystem simulation will be absolutely key to the endgame, and it's what sets ECO apart from other games. If the ecosystem is engaging and dynamic, players will remain interested long after the meteor is blown up. I really hope that more love is given to the ecosystem side of the game. I'm sure it will.

    That's all for now. I've been loving ECO and I hope to see more people in the game. Thanks for reading!


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  • Thanks for the feedback!

    With regards to your 'work requests' specifically, that is something that is being done now with the contracts system.



  • Another thing that falls in the "Unused building elements" category: lighting.

    There's nothing wrong with having some purely aesthetic items, but having no gameplay purpose to this whole category of items is really unfortunate, because the lighting is so pretty in this game!

    My idea for fixing this:

    • Have all crafting on workstations be halted at night, unless the workbench is near a fueled light source.
      and/or
    • Make nights near pitch-black, so players need light to get around.


  • Those ideas or sooo good!!



  • Lighting wise plan is to do a 'floodfill' of sunlight and rework the terrain shaders and whatnot to use that value to compute the amount of light the sun contributes to lighting. This light value would also affect plant growth, I imagine, so you couldn't make an underground farm.

    In particular this will make underground mines and caves pitch black without some other form of lighting, so an elecricity grid or other light source will be more or less required.



  • @Nes said:

    The division of labor in ECO is really interesting, but it's caused situations for me where I have to wait around on the server for someone to come online and ask them "Hey could you make x amount of <insert thing here> for me?"

    It would be really nice to be able to put in "work requests" at a workstation. Perhaps all workstations could have an extra tab, called "requests". The person placing the work request would have to provide the materials for the item first, and would have the option of providing incentive item(s), rewarded to the crafter once the job is done. Items made in this way should probably show up in the requester's private storage to prevent theft.

    This would make a big difference in lubricating the wheels of commerce in ECO, and in mitigating the requirement for people to be online concurrently.

    This is exactly what I'm working on with contracts, which will be like our quest system. Initial contracts will be transport, building, and crafting, and it will pretty much work exactly as you described. Almost done with it.

    To remedy this, tools could be split into two tiers. A basic tier, obtainable through initial skills and craftable at a workbench, and a superior tier, craftable at the anvil.
    The difference in tiers could be fewer calories used or more blocks carried at a time, but I think a better idea would be to introduce a durability mechanic. Superior tools would last much longer than basic tools. This would keep the tool market active by requiring players to replace their tools regularly.

    Very good point, I like this idea. @craig-jong whatcha think, would be an easy addition I beleive.

    Make roofs a necessary component of a building with regards to workstation requirements.
    Make roofs far cheaper than they are now. I mean something like a default cost of 1 log/2 roof tiles, with further efficiency through skills. This would give people a real incentive to make them.

    Also agreed. We have discussed a hammer that lets you craft items in place like roof tops, so its easier to build them. Adding a requirement for them would be easy as well.

    Unfortunately, I think there is a bit of a failure in communication as to what actually constitutes good food in ECO. Part of this is because there's no tutorial or in-game guide telling players that more-processed food is more nutritious, but another part is simply how the food tooltip is displayed.

    Take Wheat for example: It has 60 carbs, 150 calories, and no other nutrients. When I first saw that, I thought, "Wow, 60 carbs and only 150 calories! That's nutritious!" But really, the average nutrients (and therefore the effect on skill gain) is only 15, because it contains 0 fat, protein and vitamins. I was also surprised to learn that the nutrient:calorie ratio has no bearing on how nutritious a food is.
    One thing I think that could be done is to display the "0" amounts of nutrients in the tooltip, to better reflect how that food is actually going to affect skill gain.

    Good point, and the food system is something we've iterated on a lot. Originally it was 'total nutrients' consumed, but there were lots of problems with that which made us switch to 'average' (ie, eat lots of garbage food, do all the work you need, then eat the good stuff before you logoff). I agree presenting this better is very important.

    End-game goals
    This is one of my biggest concerns for the longevity of ECO. A game is supposed to last 30 days, but to keep a game like this going - outside of the classroom - players need a greater sense of purpose and permanence.

    Agreed here as well. Mods will be a big part of longevity/replay, as well interesting simulations. Replaying with different groups should yield pretty different results too. We're also going to build a connected exo-planet colonization game that will let you build a spaceship on Eco and go into this new game if youve bought it to terraform another planet. This game will be called Exo and just got funded by the NSF (you heard it here first, shhh). That will add a lot of end game interest.

    Another thing that falls in the "Unused building elements" category: lighting.
    There's nothing wrong with having some purely aesthetic items, but having no gameplay purpose to this whole category of items is really unfortunate, because the lighting is so pretty in this game!
    My idea for fixing this:
    Have all crafting on workstations be halted at night, unless the workbench is near a fueled light source.
    and/or
    Make nights near pitch-black, so players need light to get around.

    I like it, as a general goal I like everything to have a gameplay purpose beyond aesthetics, and light falls into this category. I dont want to incentivize players to walk around in the dark to save resources. @craig-jong this could be easily done by making lights modules for tables. We should get that system nice and easy to add stuff like this.

    Thanks a lot for the feedback all, really helpful to discuss this.



  • I've only been playing for a few days now. I've played several different survival games, creativerse, minecraft, trove, how to survive.. to name a few, so I'm not diving into deep uncharted waters without some prior knowledge of a "survival game". I know this is really early development and feedback is essential for growth of your game.

    From what I've gathered, in some frustrations, the game play isn't consistent, no experience gained while doing same tasks to progress faster. I'm having to wait for each game day for 1 point or several to level up a skill that could potentially either hinder my operations, or set me on a new adventure. There really isn't any other faster progression aside from waiting for skill points. Which if I was a school student, it would be glorious, as when I would return the to game, I would have skill points to administer. It seems, at the games progression now, you don't really gain much experience working. I mean logically if you cut enough trees down, you gain knowledge, granting experience to allow you to work more efficiently placing points to make workloads seem effortless and streamlined. As with a possible real life situation, a basic campfire, finding wood, and making a structure shouldn't be grand task as that is basic survival, should be pretty quick and effortless. Like perhaps in the future a tutorial explain what certain skill sets do, and how it would maximize their workloads and play-ability.

    Skill tree needs descriptions as to why this said person needs to put points into it to progress, or a description stating they need this first before being able to apply points in this said skill tree, eliminating a stalemate on progression upon wasting points on something that person cannot use immediately.

    Also, the elimination of the need for a deed for every item separately could possibly reduce visual and script lag. Personally I believe that once you've placed down the first claim plot, any plot afterwards (unless changed while standing on that plot) to inherent permissions set by the Father plot. This would significantly reduce the need for a deed for every item that has a possible storage (unless permissions on that said object are changed otherwise). Also should be able to see visual claim plot borders to maximize the claim plots, and not overlap them, wasting claim stakes for only half of a plot. There really isn't a solid visual indicator aside from a variation of color through the coordinates on the mini map to indicate plots you've obtained. For now it's a guessing game when farming, in hopes you do not farm in a public area and loose half of your crop to someone else because it borders or overlaps public domain.

    From what I've gathered thus far, yes this game is in an alpha stage, still a lot of work to do. However, I would like to see more in the lines of experience when repeating work, as if you're burning calories, doing the same task, you should gain more experience, knowledge to make the workload seem less tedious, and more meaningful as you progress. rather than having to wait 12 hours to progress to gain enough points to unlock a skill-set desperately needed to progress in the very beginning.

    As for the map, it's a nice touch, but it's quite laggy. And believe me when you have the map, and the chat window and your backpack open you can bet to see somewhere in the lines of 6-8fps if not less while they're active, if not a complete crash to desktop all together. A flat topographical map, or a "satellite image" wouldn't be a bad idea, with an option for a more rounded, animated map if your system can handle it.

    Now with clipping, or moving up a stair like terrain, it's not an easy task, shouldn't be difficult to walk up 1 block, unless the measurement of 1 block is like a meter squared, then I could understand why you couldn't. We should be able to hold some stones while we're mining in our backpacks, and this still goes on with the knowledge and progression of the said person, doing the same tasks will eventually make you stronger, thus being able to handle a larger load to carry back.

    These are some things i've ran into whilst playing, I'll be sure to find more as I progress. Thanks for allowing the opportunity to purchase and try your game out, it's quite nice to look at, the textures are spot on, and beautiful. i love the lighting, and how the light casts on the ground and/or walls you've built. Just needs some solid optimization for different graphic cards.

    Thanks again, Gronknor.



  • Unused building Items

    Another, third, incentive for roofs would be a weather element, especially the winter elements :-)

    A fourth, birds. Bird that like to swoop in and eat grain or just drop bird droppings everywhere on your work surfaces ;-)



  • @JohnK said:

    We're also going to build a connected exo-planet colonization game that will let you build a spaceship on Eco and go into this new game if youve bought it to terraform another planet. This game will be called Exo and just got funded by the NSF (you heard it here first, shhh).

    Woah! That's amazing news!

    Staying focused on Eco, though, I'm glad to hear about your plans for contracts and a revamped lighting system. Obviously you've anticipated these issues.

    Regarding food, I think that the system is pretty good where it is now. It just needs to be explained to players a little better.

    One interesting thing the system causes now is a division between laborers and "skilled" workers. Players who perform manual labor a lot will need to eat more food to replenish their calories, and unless there is a constant supply of the most nutritious food, their skill gain will not be as good as those who simply eat a few portions of the most nutritious food available and don't do any manual labor at all.


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