Thanks so much

Put all your Big Ideas for the game in here.
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Madrayken
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Thanks so much

Postby Madrayken » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:26 pm

First of all, I want to congratulate you on what is probably the only genuinely scary MUD in existence. You've somehow nailed the 'needs to be a long-form game' requirement, but still kept tension very high in the game at all times, even when nothing obvious is happening.

I've not progressed very far in the game so far, but I'm keen to play more, and have begun to recommend it to fellow developers.

On the negative side, it's still a bit... hard. I know death has plenty of non-lethal get-outs (and some damn fine ideas, I must say), but that's not the issue.

At the start of the game, it's quite easy to get stuck with some permanent injury and slowly bleed to death without knowing what you can do about it. In addition, your early mobs (random dogs, for example) seem to be surprisingly lethal and aggro-et to first-time-outside-the-pub players, especially since will often bleed to death even if you survive.

Injuries like this might be realistic. But, while one could guess that sutures are needed (it is pretty obvious), I know I either missed the opportunity to find them, or they simply aren't available until later in the game. At no point in my scavenges have I come across them, which is problematic.

In addition, it seems like it's possible to get completely stuck if you run out of batteries in a dark place, as all the movement options disappear. If I'm missing something, then put it down to my idiocy. If I'm right, however, that seems like it'll be the ultimately frustrating death for an early player.

Overall, I think I might take a break for a bit and see where the balance goes in the future. While I don't want Epitaph to become easier per-se, I'd prefer more of a chance to flee from 'stoopid combat' (e.g. mutts), and a few sutures available back at the Winchester (which would also increase the tension of leaving it).

Again, thanks so much for building this game. I've wanted a good horror MUD for ages, and this seems unique, well-crafted and bloody terrifying.

cheeky
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Re: Thanks so much

Postby cheeky » Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:30 pm

I totally agree about the atmosphere. The game was a bit more unforgiving when I started out, so for me, it was downright stressful, but in an enjoyable way.

I recommend reading the help files thoroughly, as some of the things you might want to find are a bit difficult to find, unfortunately.

Commands like disengage, wimpy, and roll can get you out of fights that you can't handle.

And i think it's important to bear in mind that you don't really die, ever. So even if there are difficulties, your character, skills, and inventory are never in any real danger. The penalties are there, but they are not as crippling as they sound, and most are easily solved.

And lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help on the radio. If you can't find an answer easily, someone might know what you need.

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drakkos
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Re: Thanks so much

Postby drakkos » Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:55 pm

Hi there - thanks a lot for the post. There's a lot to feel good about in your impressions of the game. :-)

As to the initial difficulty, I can outline what my thinking is on it to see if it addresses any of your concerns with how Epitaph is evolving. In truth, I don't think it's so much a difficulty problem as a pair of interlinked issues - learning a complex game that doesn't have a huge 'body of knowledge' exposed to players, and the expectation of what new players can reasonably accomplish. I tend to advise new players that they should treat their first character as largely disposable - like getting your first car, you need to be able to write it off when the accumulated bumps, scrapes and driver inflicted mechanical failures accumulate. The second character benefits from the hard-earned lessons of the first.

However, that only works if everyone has that expectation - I've seen, from the death informs, an awful lot of incidents where people get to the Winchester, and the first thing they do is attack one of the residents there. Despite the warning, many attack again (after all, what are NPCs but friends you haven't killed yet) and die their first death. People can die in the tutorial area, which is a pretty hard-core concept but one I think underlines a lot of the game design. I think the way we deal with that is not to alter the difficulty too much but to direct the experience. As Cheeky says - when we went live with 1.0 the difficulty curve was even more punishing, with a lot of 'newbie content' basically working like 'trolling mechanics'. One of the missions you could get from the Winchester for example was 'go kill a dog', but since these are street dogs that have survived a zombie apocalypse, they outmatch most starting player skills. That kind of thing needs to be fixed and smoothed out, and as we get the bugreports coming in we do a lot of that.

But mainly, I think the difficulty is in not knowing how you respond to certain kinds of things. Wounds and decrepitudes for example can be dealt with, but if you don't know how or there isn't anyone online who can help, they can be pretty punishing. I'd prefer not to tone those down, but to make available the necessary advice (from Maestro for example) and service NPCs who can help you when nobody else can. Unfortunately, those kind of 'game logic' gaps are easy for us to miss because we already know how everything links up and it's really difficult to view the game from the perspective of someone who doesn't. Bug and idea reports on that score are hugely valuable to us.

The coming year is going to bring a lot of exciting content to Epitaph - our first custom client, strongholds and player factions, maybe even vehicles. Along with that though will come a long, prolonged job of smoothing and polishing the content that we have. All feedback is gratefully accepted on how we can actually do that. :-D

Regards,
Drakkos


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