Feedback after 20hrs of SP only

  • Dear Strange Loop,

    I've been playing your game now for 20 hours on SP only and am so impressed I am about to buy a server with some friends. This is a brilliant game and you're doign something magnificent and original. I'm not yet through the tech tree - I've just unlocked bricks and the blast furnace. For context, I'm 37, male, professionally employed, and spent about 500 hours building in Minecraft.

    Here is some feedback, in no particular order:

    1. World generation. My SP worlds have all had tall cliffs with a lip of dirt at the top, which makes climbing impossible. Weirdly, cliffs with those lips also tend to have chasms at their feet, which makes navigating the world quite hard (especially given the limit of one dirt clod per shovel). I assume this is earmarked to be fixed later but I haven't seen any commentary anywhere so thought I'd add it.

    2. Ecosystem modelling. I can't really figure out how to use the 'cause and effect' screens to see how I can affect populations in-game. Bison seem to die out within a few days without me changing anything, while I've clearly done something to Elk and Wolves that have made both populations grow out of control. Wheat and Beets seem to have died off. I'd love to be more empowered to make sense of all the data - for example, to put markers in game so I can find them on the browser map, or to have the browser map track individual plants or animals so I can find them when there aren't many left and assess how to save them. I've seen people talking about 'endangered species' but I can't find the game listing them anywhere or alerting me to that status. you've put such love and care into the ecology system, i'd love to see it be more present and engaging in-game. Fixing the way the graphs and data work will let you make informed choices about how and where to gather, hunt, etc. It would also help make sure that anthropogenic change has a larger effect than just accidental ecosystem engine change (like buffalo extinction).

    3. Agriculture makes no sense in SP - please fix it if possible! Also the sheer weight and type of data for farming is baffling. A tutorial would really help.

    4. I think there is too little attention currently on environmental consequences of human activity. I think the visibility of polluted ground is excellent, and the unsightliness of dead plants is as well. I'd love to see some way of making polluted air also visible. Given food and room quality buff your skill point gain, maybe pollution could debuff it? Anything to make the effects of your actions really felt. Currently the only way you are affected by environmental pollution is that you can't advance in technology because all the bison or wheat are dead, and you have to restart the game.

    5. This causes a second problem: You don't know what effects you're having until it's too late, and the only way out is to restart or cheat. If you (or the game engine) have killed off all the bison, you should still be able to get tailoring, it should just be more costly. The eco-research engine should be able to deliver the same outcome for different efficiency costs - high-efficiency with the right resource, low efficiency with the wrong one. This is already present in, say, different recipies for salad or pitch, but it's not quite there. If you notice bison are extinct you should have a moment of sadness, shame, and shock, and then have to work double hard to make good the absence - not think, oh well, I'm locked out of the tech tree, guess I'd better restart. It makes me feel less invested in the world seed, because I don't have time for the consequences of my own actions to sink in. I want to feel more connected to the environment when playing Eco, not less.

    6. This leads me to your roadmap. I feel like the most important things on it are waaaay down the list because players seem to want flashy improvements. Ecosystem - the thing that REALLY sets your game apart - is third-last. There are a lot of vehicles in this list. I'm glad to see bug fixes and terrain generation so high, but the pattern of requests seem to be demanding more in-game objects and tweaking the game to be a minecraft clone. Please resist this urge! With all due respect, players don't really know what's good for them. I know I've only got one vote but if you can get the ecosystem and waste models right, the game will jump to the next level, whereas if you just put trains in it will just distract form the masterful core game experience of managing your effects on a living model.

    Keep up the good work - this game is wonderful.

  • Hi, @boots01 Thanks for the feedback! We really appreciate it! I'll pass on your thoughts to the devs.

    1. Why do you think that agriculture makes no sense in Singleplay? Maybe your planet is to big for you alone. At the moment ECO is much better for multiplayer. On a Planet with 0,54km with about 8 players, agriculture is absolutely essential. If you play longer, you will see, that agriculture is also very important in singleplayer, unless you want to travel half of your time. Otherwise you wont be able to cook better food.

    2. I would really appreciate a much bigger impact of pollution on the whole planet, instead of just a small area.

    3. At the moment you don't have effects, that you can't deal with, unless you eat the last ones of a few plants and throw away their seeds. But this will only happen once to you because next time you know, you have to care about it.
      You dont need bison, because its just bigger than a hare, turkey, wolf and elk. Only the fox is special because it gives fur pelt.
      If you lose all land animals you still have just a small problem. There is also fish, which is impossible to kill on the complete planet.

    4. Really? Players don't know whats good for them? Maybe you should not talk like this about people who played much more than you, especially when you know nothing about multiplayer. Railroads would have a very big impact on player to player economy. When you play some more hours, in multiplayer, you will get to know that economy is what makes people stay longer on bigger servers.

  • Good ideas and thoughts you guys. Let's continue the thoughtful discussion!

  • Micha you need Bison carcasses for research - butchery, I think.

    I take your point about my MP experience - I am in the process of starting up a server with some friends. I can see that railroads would be more important for MP, and I can see that the notion of a player economy is one of the more exciting parts of Eco.

    But there are so many games with economies and railroads - minecraft (with mods) is one that immediately springs to mind. Eco offers a chance to be something so much bigger and better. When I say 'players don't know what's good for them', I refer not to Eco players specifically, but players of games more broadly. They have a habit of asking games that are different to be the same as games they already play - see the preponderance of FPS games in Steam's top 20, or the requests to put weapons in Subnautica, or the desire to get rid of Hardcore mode from They Are Billions.

    I'm not saying Eco players are dumb - I'm saying the devs should stick to their guns and make the environment the key part of the game. Players always want the same thing and the success the game already has should show that they know better than the players.

  • Oh also in response to your first question Mica: Agriculture makes no sense because nothing grows while you're offline. it's very hard to get a farm going unless you leave your machine running all day and night.

  • I think a good solution for farms would be to make crops in single player only take at most an hour to grow. With them taking 24+ hours, you basically need a humongous farm to get enough crops to eat while working until you get cooking researched and progressing.

    I agree 100% about players and what they want.
    If devs only followed players suggestions then it could (theoretically) become a completely different game. What if "eliminate the entire pollution system" gets suggested and becomes the top voted for suggestion? The main aspect of the game would be gone. Players often only look at short term play goals and not long term playability. Water takes the path of least resistance. Most players want instant gratification and ease of completion for satisfaction of winning (the happy 'I succeeded' feeling) so suggestions may be geared towards accomplishing this. They succeed in 'winning', get bored because they don't want to replay because they already won, and possibly leave negative reviews or complain about the game being too short or too easy to complete. This isn't a criticism of players, it is just an observation gained from 20+ years of internet gaming including 10 years of running servers for an internet game that is now closed. It is simply human nature to want to "finish" something efficiently and quickly, how efficiently and quickly depends on ones personality regarding their desire for closure and fear of failure.

    But it is a fine line to tread. The dev's have to keep the game entertaining enough to keep the player base happy and keep the game selling while still maintaining control of preserving their personal desires for the game so it doesn't just become another voxel based minecraft clone. When I ran game servers my ideology was "I don't change things after the server opens so if you don't like it go elsewhere". But there was no income to worry about so it didn't matter if my servers succeeded or failed. Any changes players wanted wouldn't happen until the server was closed to start over from the beginning up to 6 months later.

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