Author Topic: Some quest clarity suggestions  (Read 370 times)

Vrab

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Some quest clarity suggestions
« on: July 14, 2017, 11:32:48 AM »
Hi!

First of all I must congratulate the dev team on a job well done. This game really feels old school in the best ways possible. That said, I do have some complaints, mostly due to trouble I had in solving several quests.

As the game has no checklists and pointers and thank God for that, it relies on dialogue for clues as to where to go and what to do and that is certainly welcome and immersive. However, I feel like at several points this wasn't handled well enough. I'll talk about cases I noticed in my first playthrough.

First, the Look for Cornell quest. While I later noticed that Tanner mentions that I should probably look for the help of one of the oligarch factions in Core City, this is quite an offhand remark. Asking around Core City I learned that Cornell's gang members have been seen around docks, so I went to the docks and figured that they must be hiding in the sewers. Needless to say, I spent many hours running in circles around sewers, discovering the very place that will later end up being Cornell's hideout entrance, but since I wasn't sent by the oligarch I couldn't get to him. Which I didn't know. In my opinion, it would be nice if the requirement to join an oligarch faction is more strongly stressed out. It was exactly because the game relies on clues and hints to point the player that I spent all those hours searching around sewers in vain, so making it clear that in this case it is not possible would make sense. As it was I had to consult google which is always an immersion destroyer.

Second, in the Deep Caverns I had several issues.

For starters, Leo's quest to find the knife. The whole at the entrance to the complex instruction felt very vague since "complex" could mean just about anything before the player figures out the exact nomenclature. As this is the quest that should be done early on, this didn't help. I ended up finding most of the missing parts for the gate mechanism, wiping out Tchortist base and reaching the gate itself before actually finding his damn knife. To make matters worse, since for a while I thought entrance to the complex might mean the main gate I came through after talking to Six, I searched that map and... found a shiv. And happily ran back to Leo. And then felt very disappointed. :D

After that, about opening the gate, I had to consult google again about removing the organic material. This was messy all around. First, Leo gave me the clue that there's a machine near the warehouse district where I should start looking. Sure, it was there in the closed off building, but I couldn't open the door. Of course I couldn't do it because the power was down. So I ran back to Arke station to check if I forgot to turn anything on. List was showing that everything I could power up was powered up. So I left Arke and went back to Hollow Earth and kept running in circles trying to figure out how to get inside or if even that is the place where the machine is. After hours of this, google told me that it indeed is the place and that I need to power it up from Arke station as I originally thought. But I could swear there was no option to power up anything extra last I was there. Turned out that the options that would go over 100% are simply omitted from the list. Which made me think they didn't even exist. So sure, when I powered down the residential area, new line appeared allowing me to power up Hollow Earth main complex. When I reached the console first I must have clicked on whatever, which eliminated the other options, which I haven't noticed on first glance, which made me think that options presented are the only options available. It would be nice to see these things even if there is not enough power. That there are lines that don't work (south elevator, prison, etc) only reinforces the notion that the options visible are the only options available.

Then we come to opening the gate. Fixing it was straightforward and clear. But removing the organic material much less so. Sure, I finally powered up Hollow Earth complex and opened the door to the closed building and found the machine Leo talked about. But I found no clues what to do about it. So I just stood there, slowly stacking Eye of Tchort, trying to figure out what am I missing. After a while I concluded whatever I'm missing is on google and yeah, learned of the mushrooms. Now here it's possible I missed something among the chat messages of Biocorp scientists in residential building, however there's just so much of it there that I must ask to be excused for forgetting about potential biocidal mushroom talk. I remember some talk about mushroom forests, but can't recall if any mentioned that deep inside it there's a place where one can find component for grenades. If so, my bad, but still would be nice to clarify that bit somewhat further. I also remembered later how Six told me that there's something in the mushroom forest that Tchort's creatures seem to be afraid of but not only is this not exactly clearly telling me what I needed to know, but it was told before I even entered the whole complex and while I was overwhelmed with all the information Six gave me because I had no idea of the things he's talking about.

EDIT: Forgot, that I have to get high on spore infection to reach the pulsing root was also kinda weird. Leo literally says he got high on those and woke up in a strange place but it doesn't make much sense that this is the actual way to reach anything, sounded more like a joke. It's very counter intuitive to stack up a debuff on purpose. I literally had it happen by accident because I'm just too skilled at dodging things that place stacking debuffs on me.

And finally, I had perfectly no clue what to do with Mutagen puzzle. I read the chat where one guy explains to the new guy how atoms combine, but I still had no idea what my goal is supposed to be. I read here that I'm supposed to create the Exitus mutagen, but it's not exactly hinted in any way apart from the machine rejecting it as forbidden compound or something like that, which didn't really make me think that's the thing I need. Could be my bad of course, but I can only see why in hindsight. At the moment it seemed like it's just a dud, redundant object.

Anyway, that's what I can think of now. I accept that most of the cases could be solved with paying enough attention to detail, but since I had no problem with this otherwise, it is still at least inconsistent compared to the rest of the game when it comes to clarification of goals.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 11:40:54 AM by Vrab »

Tygrende

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 02:12:30 PM »
I agree that the connection between finding Cornell and joining one of the oligarchs could be made more apparent since it's not very intuitive. Tanner does suggest that but he doesn't make it sound like the absolute prerequisite it actually is. Same goes for the connection between Arena and oligarchs.

I think Leo's knife quest is just fine as it is. You can't expect him to give you the exact location, the whole point is that he lost it after all. You're supposed to search for it and it's not that hard to find. It's true you might get it a little bit late depending on where you start, but even then you should get some use out of Echoing Soliloquy.

It's true that showing the entire list regardless of power level would be an improvement.

As for removing the organic material on the gate, as you said yourself, Six explicitly mentions that tchortlings wouldn't pursue him into the Mushroom Forest and that may contain something that might help you get rid of it. It's kind of a major area too so it's only natural you should visit it if all else fails.

I really don't like the whole "inhale spores" mechanic though. Just like you said, purposefully stacking a debuff in order to progress the main questline is extremaly counter-intuitive.

Mutagen puzzle is, well, a puzzle, so it is supposed to be not all that clear. I like it the way it is and don't think the player should be told exactly what to do. Not to mention it's optional.
 

Vrab

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 02:40:26 PM »
As for removing the organic material on the gate, as you said yourself, Six explicitly mentions that tchortlings wouldn't pursue him into the Mushroom Forest and that may contain something that might help you get rid of it. It's kind of a major area too so it's only natural you should visit it if all else fails.

This is more or less how it worked for me, but when I first visited it I didn't manage to find a way forward but just kept running in circles among ever respawning mobs with dwindling ammo and hypos. So in that regard it's possible it's more about the way progressing through the forest works than knowing the solution is there. Once I knew for certain that's where I needed to go to find whatever I was looking for I simply kept running in circles until I accidentally stacked up the debuff. So it could be that just changing the way that works, for example by making it clear that Leo's story is in fact not a joke, would be enough.

The problem with Six is that his dialogue is rather long and happens before I had any idea of what to expect. So as I got overwhelmed by learning the layout of the region and figuring how the Eye of Tchort works and all the rest of the trouble one typically encounters when first entering a large new area of the game I kinda forgot much of what he said, at least the tone of it as in if it's actually an instruction or just some background lore.

Still now that I think of it, it was more about how to progress inside the forest than knowing I had to go there. It's in any case obvious I'll eventually have to go there since as you said it is, well, there. So it must serve some purpose. That's pretty much how I went through the labyrinth. But stacking up on a debuff on purpose was just not something I ever counted on.

Darthgrey

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 05:20:44 PM »
Heh, I had the same problems during my walkthrough and all the same problems in Deep caverns. I accidentaly got high on spore infection, accidentaly powered up Hollow Earth and I missed pulsing root during looting( Thank God we have google, but even with google I did not solved mutagen puzzle... Also due to game bug I did not had chat with Six, so I had to google many things, but even with that chat quest with cleaning gate from organics is not obvious.

epeli

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 11:28:08 AM »
I have to agree the oligarchy questline issues. These points have come up a few times over the years, so the devs are aware of them for sure. I guess they might improve that part if they find time for it, but it certainly isn't a priority since there's no way to get stuck at that point and the problem of not knowing how to advance that particular quest resolves itself for most players simply by doing more stuff around Core City.

Another point I agree about is the Arke power console. It's a small thing, but it sure would be better if unavailable options were grayed out rather than hidden. I think I mentioned this to the dev who wrote it back when DC was new, not sure. It probably got lost in the deluge of DC feedback.

But other than that, I don't think the devs intend to change Deep Caverns much. It really tests the player's reasoning to figure things out without explicit guidance, but Six explains your main objectives which leads you to more detailed hints (Leo, the gate mechanism, etc) as you explore. As for the mutagen puzzle, there's a third console in the area just above the mutagen combinator explaining the role of Exitus-1 and Exitus-2, giving you a clear goal to work towards.

It's in any case obvious I'll eventually have to go there since as you said it is, well, there. So it must serve some purpose. That's pretty much how I went through the labyrinth.
PS. Relying on that logic might not always work in Underrail! The labyrinth itself is a good example of this; originally the last gate part wasn't there so the place was a completely optional, sort of hidden backstory area. Buut I guess Styg wanted everyone to enjoy deep worms. ;)
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Vrab

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 07:13:50 PM »
But other than that, I don't think the devs intend to change Deep Caverns much. It really tests the player's reasoning to figure things out without explicit guidance, but Six explains your main objectives which leads you to more detailed hints (Leo, the gate mechanism, etc) as you explore.

Well that is the point of contention here then, because I felt like my reasoning wasn't so much tested as my self discipline and resolve not to just run to google. I'm just playing for a second time and now that I actually know what is what I can follow Six's dialogue and understand what is he saying much better. But when the player is first thrust into the new environment (which is that one time when things like this matter) having 1 npc tell you important details in the form of hints before you even know what is going on and who after that leaves permanently is in my opinion stretching things bit too much. I'm certainly not suggesting things get changed much, I think that a simple clue thrown in at one or two places would go a long way to totally eliminating any confusion and allow the player to actually engage the challenges instead of aimlessly trying to do the right thing by accident. A log entry at one of the computer consoles for example or a note somewhere would likely be all it takes.

In any case, I get I sound like wanting nerfs to the content and I don't doubt you had your fair share of that so far. However my gripe here isn't with difficulty as it is with clarity of purpose. I'm ok having to think my way through a problem and spend a lot of time doing it, I'd just like to know what I'm doing it for. Except for a few instances that I named, game did this very well. The SGS murder investigation quest was for example very enjoyable in this regard. Or opening the GMS building when I had no sneak skill, was too weak to confront the robots and haven't figured the ventilation shafts yet so I spent a while figuring their patrol routes and camera mechanics. As long as the goal is clear everything else is fair game. But I didn't have that same feel in the case of organic removal.

epeli

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2017, 06:09:32 AM »
I get your point, it's valid criticism. Personally I think there are enough hints to figure all the major parts out without totally aimless hunting, but the hints' representation could always be better. For example Leo's dialog about inhaling the spores was always there, but shortly after release it got tweaked so the player character can react to that information. That little interaction let players notice and remember it much better without changing the hint or its context.

We could still get similar small tweaks, but the reason I said DC probably won't change is because Styg is quite content with the endgame being what it is, in both positive and negative:
Quote from: Styg
It does seem that, for better or for worse, we did succeed in creating an end-game that sticks out.

While there's always a thing or two that needs tweaking due to all the different builds, with their particular strengths and weaknesses, and general diversity of options in the game which might not have all been taken into account equially - I'm, personally, quite happy how the area turned out and not all that unhappy with the effect it has on people that play through it. It does seem players more in every way - in time, patience, brainpower (since a lot of stuff requires figuring out). It breaks the usual cycle of explore, exterminate, loot and return to town cycle that was the standard (very pleasurable) formula up to that point.

If this makes a lot of people (rage)quit before finishing the game, so be it. It was not my intent to make it so, but I'll take it - because for those that do finish it, there is added value of having beaten that last challenge that proved insurmountable (for various reasons) to most.
Styg can be pretty stubborn and stays true to his vision even if it isn't received as expected. But if it's any consolation, there won't be more areas like DC as many players just didn't like it.

Also, I understand this isn't about difficulty or content nerfs. I'm not trying to blindly go against that or anything along those lines, I'm just trying to give realistic expectations of what changes might happen. There's probably going to be a period of tweaking & improving old content once the expansion is released, although most of that will probably be towards the new expansion content. But there are overarching changes coming to the entire base game as well, so it's not like the base game is done and forgotten. We'll see.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 06:11:28 AM by epeli »
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Vrab

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 11:58:06 AM »
Styg can be pretty stubborn and stays true to his vision even if it isn't received as expected. But if it's any consolation, there won't be more areas like DC as many players just didn't like it.

Also, I understand this isn't about difficulty or content nerfs. I'm not trying to blindly go against that or anything along those lines, I'm just trying to give realistic expectations of what changes might happen. There's probably going to be a period of tweaking & improving old content once the expansion is released, although most of that will probably be towards the new expansion content. But there are overarching changes coming to the entire base game as well, so it's not like the base game is done and forgotten. We'll see.

I get it, that's fine. With what people often ask and expect from games it's really better to have a stubborn dev than one that "listens to the community" and everything else that euphemism implies.


epeli

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 03:04:16 PM »
They do listen, they just don't follow through that "always implement everything the community wants" part of it. But rest assured that good suggestions are safely buried somewhere in a never-ending todo list and might get implemented someday in our lifetime. ;) The dev team is a little small for an RPG of this scale, things take their sweet time. Small tweaks too - something that would take only few minutes to implement could take years to make it into the game if other small stuff keeps getting prioritized over it.
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Vrab

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Re: Some quest clarity suggestions
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2017, 04:02:56 PM »
They do listen, they just don't follow through that "always implement everything the community wants" part of it.

Oh don't think I was being negative. I've witnessed a few games go down the hill because devs caved in to complaints that tend to not be legitimate for the most part and have it all called "listening to the community", I kinda developed an allergic reaction to the phrase lol.