Feedback so far


  • I'm making this post of how my first few days' experience has been, including frustrations with bugs, new player experience and overall enjoyment of the game thus far. This is intended as feedback for the devs and I'm well aware of the game's alpha status. Many items I mention are quite possibly issues already reported and being worked on, some may be NYI orplaceholders. I'll skip the obvious stuff like placeholder text and icons but I want this to be verbose to ensure I'm not omitting genuine bugs I've simply dismissed as works in progress.

    Opinions

    The new player experience is very lacking, that's to be expected in development. I'm hoping to see some introduction to basic keybinds within the client. Tab to unlock cursor & 'e' for "use" took a while for me to figure out.

    I'm no fan of items magically appearing out of nowhere. I enjoy the concept of Eco because everything has a "system" behind it. However, when learning early skills, new tools and items appear on my action bar without explanation. I can appreciate how this is necessary given current mechanics, but it'd be nice if there were a requirement to craft them.

    Please make it so that I can gather seeds from tree branches even after they've fallen. Cedar trees are pretty tricky to strip before being felled and it's honestly a pain to gather enough seeds.

    How come the "seed yield" skill doesn't apply to birch trees, but it does to cedar?

    As far as I can tell, there is no way to destroy items once created. I'd very much like to rid myself of the excess seeds I've been producing.

    Currently, the wooden stairs appears in the player's hand as a simple crate and offers no indication which way it'll face when placed.

    Love the nutrition system, it's pretty engaging trying to watch diet to get the most skill points ASAP. Tying in to that, I love how skill points are scarce enough that one must rely on fellow players to supply goods and services outside their current skill set. It's been fun trading with the wife, my food from my farm in exchange for her building materials.

    I think this is a big one: Currently, very little happens in the game to engage the player with short term goals. I think that having short term goals that may or may not inhibit the ultimate goal of averting disaster could make for an interesting point of conflict and lend itself to more prolonged game play from players. I think it's telling how there's a flurry of activity after a patch, but weeks later it's difficult to find more than one person playing on any given server. Yes, it's alpha, but the basic premise has been implemented and it doesn't appear to encourage people to stick around for the long game. Given this game's dependence on multiplayer, I'm somewhat concerned about its health if it can't accrue play time even at this early stage. That said, I look forward to the proposed quest system and hope it gives a breath of life to the game and its community.

    Chests currently have a weight limit and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's a consistency thing t be in line with limits on player backpacks and vehicles but I'm not convinced it's necessary.

    Bugs

    Skill trees often fail to display properly. Many inactive skills are only partically drawn or are completely invisible. Sometimes, prerequisite lines are drawn and sometimes that are not.

    When placing a chest from a stack of two from your action bar, both chests in your action bar are used, but only one chest is placed.

    The farmers bench is currently a chest - I assume this is placeholder.

    Water is very buggy, rarely fills adjacent blocks as expected and has lots of display glitches - I assume it's very much WIP.

    Fire has a graphics bug where crazy artifacts shoot across the screen when looking at it. When viewed from a distance, fire appears to float in the air. Nifty beacon, but probably not the desired effect.

    The logging speed skill "reduces the time to fell a tree". It's actually also very useful for hunting. I simply don't bother with a box: it's much easier to just chase down my prey and one-shot it with my +2 axe.

    Players backpack weight limit is not enforced when picking up many items. Harvesting plants and collection meat is a notable example as I'm allowed to pick up as much as I like without restriction.

    Land claim items lack any worldUI. Currently, I work with cues from UI elements tell me when I'min or out of my property and/or simple markers such as clumps of dirt to indicate property boundaries.


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  • thanks for the detailed feedback and opinion. i have forwarded them! =)



  • Great feedback, thank you very much. A number of these are known bugs, the rest we will fix. Good to hear your thoughts on the various systems too, especially your point about short term goals. This is something we have a lot of time to experiment with (after Alpha 5, we will be iterating on the existing feature set till release a year out). I think as we flesh out the economy and tech tree and what you're able to do and build it will extend things quite a bit. I'd also like to highlight the current player goals more distinctly (the skills yet to be discovered and the progress of players towards them). Thanks again and hope you have more feedback update.



  • I've been thinking since making the OP and want to expand on a few things. This is pretty much a personal philosophical take on games in general. Consider this post brain food.

    The new player experience is very lacking, that's to be expected in development. I'm hoping to see some introduction to basic keybinds within the client. Tab to unlock cursor & 'e' for "use" took a while for me to figure out.

    A simple info screen, possibly when joining a server for the first time and available via escape menu that details the basic controls would be sufficient. Reams of popups for feature after feature a player encounters for the first time are jarring and prevent a player from immersing themselves into the game world.

    Currently, very little happens in the game to engage the player with short term goals. I think that having short term goals that may or may not inhibit the ultimate goal of averting disaster could make for an interesting point of conflict and lend itself to more prolonged game play from players.

    This paragraph hints at a whole host of issues that I haven't really described properly. Many of these issues I don't see being fixed by announced features and some even being exacerbated. I want to be clear here, so forgive me if this comes off a little rambley.

    By short term goals I mean activities that players can engage actively. @JohnK I noticed you cited the skill system as something that works as a short term goal. It works to an extent but it is ultimately a passive system. Passive systems do not require player action, they ultimately work on a timer. Active systems reward the player for interacting with the game, but the rewards stop when the player stops. The skill system, growing plants and breeding animals and crafting orders are all passive systems. The skill system, during the first play session rapidly grants access to new skills - the player is rewarded for playing actively and can expand his skill set. However, skill acquisition slows to one per several hours and as a result, it becomes another passive system and the player must look for other activities with which to entertain and reward himself.

    Now, passive reward systems are fine when they accompany active reward systems but it's the active system that Eco ultimately lacks. When actively playing I'm rewarded for running round killing animals for meat, I'm rewarded with resource gathering wood, plants, stone, ore etc. I'm rewarded for building stuff. These things are pretty cool, in my opinion. However, the concept of a virtual lego set is already pretty famous and Eco isn't going to see a large influx of player activity post Minecraft. There's another problem.

    Currently, I'm punished for playing actively.

    If I fell too many trees, I'll run out of wood in the long term. If I kill too many animals, there'll be no meat in the future. If I gather too many plants, pretty much everything dies. In many ways, if I play too much, I'm punished. As a result of this, I'm less likely to be online when my friends come on and want to play with me. There are many reasons why MMOs incorporate repetitive "grindy" tasks. Not only do they encourage me to subscribe for longer to achieve goals hidden behind "kill 1000 monsters" achievements, they encourage me to be online and available to potentially talk to and group up with online friends.

    I'm not saying the systems are bad. I think they offer some great long-term challenges. The game just lacks something to pull me in the present rather than the future.

    There's more to come, but I think I'd best split this into a multi-post.



  • @darkensign said:

    By short term goals I mean activities that players can engage actively. @JohnK I noticed you cited the skill system as something that works as a short term goal.

    Agreed on that, I was referring not to the building of skill points but to the acquisition of new skill books, a process which requires skilled players participating across the board harvesting, building, crafting, research, etc. These are intended to be the 'level ups' for the server, with each subsequent discovery being harder to obtain and requiring more extensive and diverse collaboration, and bringing and connecting all the aspects of the game together. They're the high level goals that everyone will be working towards, and displaying progress and goals more clearly I think will help a lot with what you're describing.

    @darkensign said:

    In many ways, if I play too much, I'm punished. As a result of this, I'm less likely to be online when my friends come on and want to play with me. There are many reasons why MMOs incorporate repetitive "grindy" tasks.

    This is another particular challenge we're taking on with Eco, making an online game that does not require grind, but still has a lot of active things you do. The solution we're building towards is the community projects that you engage in: road building and transporting goods, creating and fueling power systems, crafting, building, trading in the economy by buying and selling goods and services (service sales will be key, as its the quest system). These are all in service of the research aspect, and to level up they'll all need to collaborate. We want ecosystem impacting things (resource gathering) to not be a source of the grind in the game, as that's something players need to be smart about and limit, so these other aspects will be things we flesh out in greater detail. Participating in the social institutions of the game, the economy and the player run government, will also be major activities.

    Thanks for the insightful feedback, really appreciate that you get the design challenges we're facing with the game, they're definitely ones I recognize and believe we can find solutions for that will set us apart from the usual grindy stuff you do in games with something much more interesting and collaborative.



  • The justice system.

    I'm going to be brutally honest: I genuinely believe this will be a waste of your time. I think that when it's implemented and the initial flurry of interest dies down that that vast majority of public servers will simply leave it disabled. The few that use it will be virtual wastelands. It's not nice to say, but I think this system tries to combine key mechanics which simply aren't compatible with each other.

    I like the basic idea: Turn a magic server-wide field that renders certain animals invulnerable into a mechanic that must be managed and enforced by players. It reinforces the notion that we must work together in order to survive and I love that.

    So, where's the hate coming from? In a nutshell, it comes from griefing. It's common in games where players are expected to work together. Unfortunately, the hinted "punishments" for breaking in-game laws simply aren't going to deter players from aggressively killing everything they see and force the server's player population to play with a handicap or can even effectively kill a server by destroying just about every food source.

    It is vital that players aren't discouraged from playing with others in a game so dependent on multiplayer cooperation. See my previous post for the reasoning why. Having an open server where players are vulnerable to griefing is quite possibly the best way to ensure no one plays there (except griefers).

    That said, I like PvP and I think there could well be a way to implement it in a way that encourages players to fight, can offer short term goals, rewards active play and gives players a difficult choice between immediate and long term rewards. I'll just dive right on in with it:

    Remove the proposed justice system: start with a clean slate.

    Instead, implement factions. Members of the same faction all agree to follow the laws set out by said faction. Each faction may have its own leader, much like servers can have leaders now. Members of factions do not honour the laws set by other factions. Factions that violate each others laws are effectively at war: Players must fight to ensure their laws are upheld. Of course, going to war means skill points spent on combat skills, resources spent on building weapons and armour instead of more productive/environmentally friendly projects, it means resources not spent on avoiding that meteor impact.

    War could mean players simply kill each other. It could mean enemy factions do not honour each others' territory claims and can freely destroy each others farms/trees/buildings and rob from enemy chests. I think there's a lot of scope for some meaningful world PvP with this system.

    Now, there are many things this suggestion doesn't really flesh out, such as inherent problems with asymmetric PvP, different time zones and neutral factions/players not in a faction to name a few. It's what I said in my last post: Brain food.



  • The solution we're building towards is the community projects that you engage in: road building and transporting goods, creating and fueling power systems, crafting, building, trading in the economy by buying and selling goods and services (service sales will be key, as its the quest system).

    I'll admit I have my reservations but this system does sound pretty darn awesome.



  • @darkensign Great points, and I agree griefing is going to be a major concern and something we need to design around. The nice thing about the justice system as you mentioned is that it gives you conflict, which I like having come from player interactions rather than NPC interactions, and a justice system could do that in a really interesting way. At best, maintaining justice becomes an additional 'cost' on civilization, but is possible.

    The naive implementation of law breaking would be a disaster as you say, people would simply come in and kill a world overnight. But I believe there are more complex methods that can manage that and keep it under control, perhaps there is still a hard limit and you cant chop down every tree overnight, or tear down other's buildings, while still being able to violate the law somewhat. I think other less invasive law-breaking, like tax evasion or illegal dumping, could be interesting without being a source of griefing. So it's something I'd like to experiment with while being fully aware of the dangers of griefing.

    War is another interesting one, because it moves the conflicts between individuals to between organizations. It's also insane from an ecological perspective, and thus a great thing to implement. It also has tons of issues that would need to be sorted out, more than criminal justice I would say, but it is something I would eventually like to do after release sometime.

    Thanks again!



  • All good things. I look forward to seeing how things play out.



  • More feedback.

    Utility requirements. I get why we have them, particularly for more advanced equipment but I think they're a bit over demanding at the moment. I don't see a need for any requirements for the earliest stuff, particularly chests.

    It would be nice if trade counters' requirements were loosened too. Something like requires shelter/roof but not so much interior space or walls. I think it would be a nice option to have open facing shelters will trade counters for a more open plan/trade bazaar sort of feel.



  • Regarding your comments on the justice system. You say the problem is vulnerability to griefing, but the rival factions solution you propose doesn't address that problem at all, it just turns it into a game mechanic. In your example, all griefers would have to do to attack a server is not be a member of the primary server faction.

    I think the main problem with the current idea of the justice system is unfeasibility of law enforcement. While I understand John's desire to keep the game focused on player interaction, most servers simply don't and won't have the manpower to effectively enforce their laws. You have to assume each player only has a few hours per day to play the game, and even though the world of Eco is small, each player only occupies a small fraction of that world while they are playing. On top of that, most players will not actively be looking for law violations. The simple truth is that a griefer can log into the server at 4 AM and shoot all the wolves in the world dead while everyone is asleep.

    There needs to be a way for law enforcement to be effective even with sparse player population, and that simply can't rely on player enforcement alone. The feature will be disabled on almost all servers if it doesn't work. The most obvious solution in my opinion is the inclusion of NPC guards that can patrol certain areas as determined by the player government or leader. (maybe make the first few free and require upkeep for larger forces) These guards would not replace PVP law enforcement, but supplement it so that people can sleep easier at night knowing their server will not be on fire or a complete barren desert when they wake up. At higher tech levels, the players may be able to build security cameras or other systems that alert guards to crimes.

    Also, don't get me wrong. I like the idea of separate facitons being able to enforce different laws on different parts of the world, and maybe different laws applying to players in certain areas based on their faction membership, but that feature would not be a solution to the justice system problem.



  • @Spruce-Goose said:

    Regarding your comments on the justice system. You say the problem is vulnerability to griefing, but the rival factions solution you propose doesn't address that problem at all, it just turns it into a game mechanic. In your example, all griefers would have to do to attack a server is not be a member of the primary server faction.

    The point of that paragraph was to confer a basic concept, not cover details and potential pitfalls. The issue you mentioned is solved by having faction-less players follow ALL laws of all factions. Where two different laws clash, the more strict of the two laws is enforced. It's not realistic, but it does prevent griefing.

    I think the main problem with the current idea of the justice system is unfeasibility of law enforcement. While I understand John's desire to keep the game focused on player interaction, most servers simply don't and won't have the manpower to effectively enforce their laws. You have to assume each player only has a few hours per day to play the game, and even though the world of Eco is small, each player only occupies a small fraction of that world while they are playing. On top of that, most players will not actively be looking for law violations. The simple truth is that a griefer can log into the server at 4 AM and shoot all the wolves in the world dead while everyone is asleep.

    Exactly. There's also the issue of carebearism - where players won't engage in PvP regardless of any advantage.

    There needs to be a way for law enforcement to be effective even with sparse player population, and that simply can't rely on player enforcement alone. The feature will be disabled on almost all servers if it doesn't work. The most obvious solution in my opinion is the inclusion of NPC guards that can patrol certain areas as determined by the player government or leader. (maybe make the first few free and require upkeep for larger forces) These guards would not replace PVP law enforcement, but supplement it so that people can sleep easier at night knowing their server will not be on fire or a complete barren desert when they wake up. At higher tech levels, the players may be able to build security cameras or other systems that alert guards to crimes.

    Interesting concept.


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