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I'm curious how heavily the RNG factors in for this game. It's definitely pitched as having a strong element of RNG to it. Is it completely overwhelming the gameplay, or is it somewhat more balanced than that? I can appreciate that the horror element favors having pervasive ill fortune, but there's a certain point where there could be danger of smothering out the gameplay. Where do you think this game falls on the scale, if you've played it?
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mothwentbad: I'm curious how heavily the RNG factors in for this game. It's definitely pitched as having a strong element of RNG to it. Is it completely overwhelming the gameplay, or is it somewhat more balanced than that? I can appreciate that the horror element favors having pervasive ill fortune, but there's a certain point where there could be danger of smothering out the gameplay. Where do you think this game falls on the scale, if you've played it?
Be aware that I have only played a few hours of the game so far, but from what I have played it seems that the RNG is a minor element. Certain story actions have a chance of success based on your character's stats, and most of the map is randomly shifted around for each new character. In general gameplay terms though, it is your skills and decisions that determine how well you do, not the roll of a dice.
The combat is not random - feels more like World of warcraft. I.e. attacks have random elements such as chance to hit and variable damage but the amount of hit points evokes the law of large numbers.
In story mode its pure percentile chance system based on your stats. Most of the time you have low or no chance to succeed in an action because your char is specialized in only one of many skills. But then again - when choices depend on that skill you have a 70 to 100 pct. chance of success.

Horror is implemented as to be mostly irrelevant. You might need to sink some time into reducing horror level but its effects are generally minimal.

The map is not random generated in any way although some quest are.

Its not that you have a pervasive ill-fortune, its just that everything takes so long to do in the game - the atmosphere is great the first 20-60 minutes. Then the story starts to be constantly delayed by grinding necessary to improve your ship.

Personally i was hugely disappointed - cannot recommend it.
Post edited February 08, 2015 by topmotivated.462
Bought it today and played a fair bit and... yes there is a ton of RNG going on that may or may not screw you over. Usually it's minor things like extra rewards or bonus story fragments but it still might screw you over pretty hard at times... just not enough to deal a deathblow unless your captains life is close to ending due to being heavily damaged and stranded without fuel supplies and echos somewhere far from london.
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topmotivated.462: The map is not random generated in any way although some quest are.
The map IS randomly generated... but to a pretty small degree. The isles shift around a bit but generally remain the same distance away from London.
Basically it just means you will see the rat isle near the center of the map in one playthrough and somewhere further to the north or south in another.
It's mostly insubstantial but it's still there.
Post edited February 08, 2015 by Sonlirain
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Sonlirain: Bought it today and played a fair bit and... yes there is a ton of RNG going on that may or may not screw you over. Usually it's minor things like extra rewards or bonus story fragments but it still might screw you over pretty hard at times... just not enough to deal a deathblow unless your captains life is close to ending due to being heavily damaged and stranded without fuel supplies and echos somewhere far from london.
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topmotivated.462: The map is not random generated in any way although some quest are.
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Sonlirain: The map IS randomly generated... but to a pretty small degree. The isles shift around a bit but generally remain the same distance away from London.
Basically it just means you will see the rat isle near the center of the map in one playthrough and somewhere further to the north or south in another.
It's mostly insubstantial but it's still there.
Yes you are right about the map - there is some island location swapping, but its still the same islands. I saw you gave it 3/5, in your review; way to generous if you ask me. C'mon the game is not in a finished state.
Post edited February 08, 2015 by topmotivated.462
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topmotivated.462: The game is combat is not random - feels more like World of warcraft. I.e. attacks have random elements such as chance to hit and variable damage but the amount of hit points evokes the law of large numbers.
In story mode its pure percentile chance system based on your stats. Most of the time you have low or no chance to succeed in an action because your char is specialized in only one of many skills. But then again - when choices depend o that skill you have a high to 100 pct. chance of success.

Horror is implemented as to be mostly irrelevant. You might need to sink some time into reducing horror level but its effects are generally minimal.

The map is not random generated in any way although some quest are.

Its not that you have a pervasive ill-fortune, its just that everything takes so long to do in the game - the atmosphere is great the first 20-60 minutes. Then the story starts be constantly delayed by grinding necessary to improve your ship.

Personally i was hugely disappointed - cannot recommend it.
+1
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topmotivated.462: Yes you are right about the map - there is some island location swapping, but its still the same islands. I saw you gave it 3/5, in your review; way to generous if you ask me. C'mon the game is not in a finished state.
Well it's still randomization so you can't just remember where the islands got moved to after your captain dies.
Going by your logic FTL or Diablo 2 are not random because shape aside you meet the exact same enemies in more or less the exact same numbers (LoD changed it a bit by introducing "immigrant" monsters from other chapters from time to time).

Anyway i gave it a 3/5 (probably should give it 2/5 now that i think of it) because after some stumbling and bumbling i understood the premise. They want you to explore going further out with every trip (terror actually matters once you are very far east) but that idea is strangled by the low income that was meant to make you explore in the first place.
There is a pretty easy solution to that as all they need to do is increase the ammount of echos you get for ferrying goods (one of the ships is a merchantman dammit! why is it so useless!?) and delivering port reports and there you go! The game would jump in my book from 2-3 stars to 5.

It's horribly unbalanced but not utterly terrible and remains playable altho i must admit if you don't mind losing the victorian steampunk cthulhu theme Space Rangers (any of the series) of Starsector are far superior games right now.
Post edited February 08, 2015 by Sonlirain
I went ahead and got it. I'm seeing some of these criticisms play out. There are also issues where "requirement" is actually a cost, and you end up agreeing to things before you even understand what it is that you're doing. Pretty early in the game, you can agree to take dangerously illegal contraband to the other side of the world, but you don't know what you're getting into until too late. Well, better hope you can make the trip, because you can't come back to London anytime soon.

And yeah, just increasing the availability of merchant shipping runs and making them renewable would help a lot. Glad you mentioned Space Rangers, because that's the sort of balance that would work here.

The early game is so rough because you have to stumble across big paydays just to keep your supplies... I'm curious what the endgame is like, because a huge ship with more weapon slots and the fuel to power it seems pretty far away.
I've enjoyed the game quite a bit in the opening hours of play. It's a tough game and I have definitely failed (and learned by failing), but I like the early game focus of small margins and barely scraping by. It's a tenuous prospect, sailing the Unterzee, but that's right up my alley.

I would recommend this game to anyone who loves story and atmosphere and is less concerned with combat mechanics. Combat feels like somewhat of an afterthought - I often find myself running more often than fighting, which is fine in a merchant/smuggling game.

To answer the initial question, I don't think RNG overwhelms the game at all.
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topmotivated.462: Yes you are right about the map - there is some island location swapping, but its still the same islands. I saw you gave it 3/5, in your review; way to generous if you ask me. C'mon the game is not in a finished state.
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Sonlirain: Well it's still randomization so you can't just remember where the islands got moved to after your captain dies.
Going by your logic FTL or Diablo 2 are not random because shape aside you meet the exact same enemies in more or less the exact same numbers (LoD changed it a bit by introducing "immigrant" monsters from other chapters from time to time).

Anyway i gave it a 3/5 (probably should give it 2/5 now that i think of it) because after some stumbling and bumbling i understood the premise. They want you to explore going further out with every trip (terror actually matters once you are very far east) but that idea is strangled by the low income that was meant to make you explore in the first place.
There is a pretty easy solution to that as all they need to do is increase the ammount of echos you get for ferrying goods (one of the ships is a merchantman dammit! why is it so useless!?) and delivering port reports and there you go! The game would jump in my book from 2-3 stars to 5.

It's horribly unbalanced but not utterly terrible and remains playable altho i must admit if you don't mind losing the victorian steampunk cthulhu theme Space Rangers (any of the series) of Starsector are far superior games right now.
Oh well - i think FTL is a lot more random. You never know whats going to happen :P Also FTL
I disagree with the horror - i explored the whole map and eaten my crew etc. Had the horror at 100 a long time. Just return to London to get it down to 50 then rest a bit etc.
Anyways - agree with you wrt. to echo. More echo in general will make the game more fun - especially when you go to the other end of the world. Right now there is no reward for high risk. Im sorry i really think they suck at game design part - the text is great but the game is just not fun. I need a potential reward for doing crazy shit. Ive been everywhere - its boring and, no motherload. No real challenge - just grind. :)
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bhpratt: I've enjoyed the game quite a bit in the opening hours of play. It's a tough game and I have definitely failed (and learned by failing), but I like the early game focus of small margins and barely scraping by. It's a tenuous prospect, sailing the Unterzee, but that's right up my alley.

I would recommend this game to anyone who loves story and atmosphere and is less concerned with combat mechanics. Combat feels like somewhat of an afterthought - I often find myself running more often than fighting, which is fine in a merchant/smuggling game.

To answer the initial question, I don't think RNG overwhelms the game at all.
No offence but - how long have you played? :) There is almost no profit in trade and i can count the smuggling missions on one hand. Yes the first 100 minutes of gameplay is fun...
Post edited February 09, 2015 by topmotivated.462
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topmotivated.462: Yes you are right about the map - there is some island location swapping, but its still the same islands. I saw you gave it 3/5, in your review; way to generous if you ask me. C'mon the game is not in a finished state.
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Sonlirain: Well it's still randomization so you can't just remember where the islands got moved to after your captain dies.
Going by your logic FTL or Diablo 2 are not random because shape aside you meet the exact same enemies in more or less the exact same numbers (LoD changed it a bit by introducing "immigrant" monsters from other chapters from time to time).

Anyway i gave it a 3/5 (probably should give it 2/5 now that i think of it) because after some stumbling and bumbling i understood the premise. They want you to explore going further out with every trip (terror actually matters once you are very far east) but that idea is strangled by the low income that was meant to make you explore in the first place.
There is a pretty easy solution to that as all they need to do is increase the ammount of echos you get for ferrying goods (one of the ships is a merchantman dammit! why is it so useless!?) and delivering port reports and there you go! The game would jump in my book from 2-3 stars to 5.

It's horribly unbalanced but not utterly terrible and remains playable altho i must admit if you don't mind losing the victorian steampunk cthulhu theme Space Rangers (any of the series) of Starsector are far superior games right now.
There are ways to make a lot of echos ferrying goods, if you know where to take them - taking coffee to Vienna for instance. You can also fill your Mirrorcatch boxes on the same trip and make a tidy sum ferrying goods around europe if you have spare fuel and supplies. Hell, my first trip to Vienna gave me 50,000 echos - I suspect that to be a bug tho :)

Note: Don't save or quit the game on the surface or weird things can happen - like a lotta echos suddenly appearing or teleporting to the other side of the zee.
Post edited February 09, 2015 by tremere110
After several weeks of playing the game daily, I think I can add a few words on these issues.

First, the game is actually a lot less dominated by random events as one might think. Yes, there are lots of story options that depend on rolls with difficulty relative to your skills, but this is actually done quite intelligently.

It can _never_ screw you over if you do not want to. For example, in most of these cases there are other story options that will lead to the same goal without taking chances. It might happen that you lose an extra-reward though. In every case when you take a dangerous chance, you are _clearly_ warned beforehand. the game is quite unforgiving though when you ignore a warning. For example, if it literally tells you "do NOT do this" and you select the option nevertheless, well, you usually get what you were begging for.

In the rare cases where there is no way around a skill test, you can usually repeat it later if you fail.

There are some random events that can kill you, but they are by far not as dangerous as they are in FTL for example.
Every single time I lost a captain in this game, it was due to my own stupidity/greed/bad planning.
If you cruise around with 2 self-inflicted wounds (3 will kill you) you should not be mad when that one ultra-rare event pushes you over the edge. You should never have risked as much in the first place.

As for trading, I actually enjoyed this part of the game. Yes, it is hard, and you can hardly make any money running regular goods. If you try nevertheless, the game becomes an unbelievable grind indeed. However, the developers _clearly_ state it to be this way on purpose. This is meant to make you explore the game and find other ways of making money.

In my whole play time since release, I only "grinded" for 2 or 3 hours to afford one of the better ships. Even that would not have been strictly necessary, but I was in a hurry to get it. Other than that, once you get the hang of it, you can just play along and end up 1000 or 2000 echoes richer every time you happen to return to London anyway.

Granted, it takes a while to get that far, and a few dead captains actually help. If you choose your inheritance carefully, every time you die your next captain will start out a bit better than the last, and evtually surpass them.

Great game in my opinion, but you need patience and planning, and a mind for the weird stories the game tells.
If you do not have that, and I mean no offense, then you will simply not enjoy this game and better play a more "direct" dungeon crawler like Diablo.

For me, it is one of the best games I ever played - highly subjectively speaking.
I want to address the OP questions and potential buyers.

I bought the game on the basis of reviews and played for around a week. I lost 4 characters (called zee captains in the game) before I explored and read enough of online guides to have a successful run.

It is not a difficult game to enjoy once you realize what you are doing. You will need to figure out the basics: how to make money from initial trades, watch your fuel and supplies and then take calculated risks and simply explore. I played with permadeath and feel the tension and enjoyment is much better with it. You can use the easy mode in the game - where you can manually save.

Please understand that losing your captains is normal, plan your legacy, and do better than your previous runs - in this vein, this game is very similar to very old rogue game- Nethack. with legacy items as bonus for new captains. I suspect over time, the game get EASIER as you start with bonus reducing the initial grind. In my current run, I already plan for a child (called Scion) who has hand-me down legacy bonus. I expect the next run to be more successful.

On the RNG, it affects the location of the islands & skill-checks. I do not feel they dominate the game (again keep in mind, you should expect to lose your first few captains with permadeath or just reload if you want it on easymode).

On the grind. This is not a twitch game, the ship is intentionally slow. The slow speed of the starting ship may be an issue for some, but i got that part quickly by multitasking. Your next run should be faster with accumulated bonus.

Overall, It is truly a game of exploration with excellent writing.

Some of the stories and the near deaths of my captains are breathtaking and very memorable. I can be sailing along with full set of supplies and unexpected story developments cause me to spend more than I planned for (hint : try sailing off the map if you are masochistic). The next thing i know, the game becomes very tense as I am not sure my ship can make it back to London with depleting supplies - forcing me to eat my crew while running from sea monsters; and the sheer relief when my badly damaged ship with a skeleton crew and a captain with guilty secrets (and the curses of the zee gods) limp back into the safety of London port. For that part alone, the game is worth it.

Have fun !
Post edited June 21, 2015 by cartharsis
Way less RNG than other roguelikes. The only time I was killed by randomness was when transporting Clay Men to London. The game does warn you that bad things might happen. Well one time they did, and the event killed most of my crew, and then the ship slowed to a crawl, so I used the boost to escape a monster, and then RNG delivered the final blow with an engine explosion. So I got unlucky *and* I didn't know what I was doing.