Two weeks after the discharge of Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy we’ve made our first massive redesign. Popping out of Early Entry and into full launch the rise in sheer variety of gamers and the distinction in expectations they’d, made several types of issues with our sport floor. On this case, gamers felt the stock system to be too restrictive which diminished the enjoyable of discovering treasure throughout their adventures. A redesign was referred to as for. On this publish I look again at this pivot.
Unexplored 2 is a sport about making selections. The stock design displays that. From the beginning of the design course of we wished to scale back the burden of stock administration, but additionally to have gamers take into consideration what they need to convey on a specific journey. We wished to reward gamers who enterprise out well-equipped to cope with the hardships they encounter on their chosen paths.
Once we launched the sport we have been proud of the best way we arrange the system. Objects fall into two classes: small and hulking. Small objects you by no means want to fret about. You may convey as many as you want. Cumbersome objects are extra restricted, you may have solely 18 slots obtainable, and plenty of of them would take up a number of slots. These additional slots are represented as slots taken by ‘bulk’ within the stock. Because the stock begins to refill from the top-left, the majority slots are taking away merchandise slots from the underside proper (see determine 1).
Cities perform as hub areas within the sport. Individuals typically spend appreciable time in cities planning and getting ready for his or her subsequent journey. We imagined that selections about what to convey, and due to this fact most stock administration, have been made at these instances. Throughout your journey the variety of cumbersome objects you’ll find are restricted, there wouldn’t be a lot want for stock administration when you have been having your journey. Or not less than, so we thought.
On a number of fronts this method works nicely. Individuals actually had to consider what to convey. And survival gear resembling tents, bedrolls, and durable boots are really viable selections. You possibly can convey a weapon or two, however a protect or armor considerably limits what else you possibly can convey. We successfully removed the ridiculous quantities of loot which have turn into a staple of fantasy RPGs and it was good to see gamers equipping themselves for survival for a change. Mixed with the sport’s barter system and the totally different qualities each bit of apparatus can have, it may make objects like threadbare, fur-lined boots a beneficial discover.
From a technical sport design perspective there was one main problem we by no means resolved. It was arduous to make the variety of obtainable slots versatile. An intuitive merchandise for this method could be a backpack that might add numerous slots so you may carry extra. However that by no means turned an merchandise, as it’s bizarre that the backpack would take a slot after which add some. What would occur you probably have a number of backpacks? Or worse what would occur to your superfluous objects when you drop or lose a backpack? To maintain the design clear we determined that we finest not have any objects or expertise that broaden the variety of stock slots. This additionally made the UI design simpler as we at all times knew what number of slots could be obtainable.
However from a participant’s perspective a restrict on what you carry is at all times going to really feel restrictive. Within the first two weeks after launch, but additionally throughout playtests earlier than, it turned clear that gamers didn’t at all times prefer it. Though many would settle for and recognize the alternatives it’s important to make, it could sting particularly if you would discover one thing cool however couldn’t take it, until you’re going to go away behind one thing else. It merely took away from the enjoyment of what ought to have been a rewarding second.
Unpacking the issue additional, the unintentional impact was that, though restricted in frequency, stock administration selections would truly pop-up whereas exploring a dungeon, and after they did they have been notably intrusive. We designed the sport to do stock administration in hubs, however we didn’t successfully eradicate stock administration at different instances, and that may have made it worse. Particularly for the reason that sport put you on the spot for an enormous long-term resolution if you have been in the midst of exploration.
It wasn’t earlier than lengthy that gamers began asking for greater backpacks.
So we sat down and mentioned the choices. Merely increasing the variety of stock slots to 21 or 24 didn’t seem to be a good suggestion to us. Initially, we have been afraid that it could additionally flush out every little thing we preferred concerning the stock system. Planning nicely for a journey turns into much less rewarding when it’s all too straightforward to pack for each eventuality. And second, in our expertise gamers are going to refill their stock finally irrespective of how a lot room you give them. And after they do, it does nothing to stop that irritating second the place it’s important to resolve what to go away behind proper now so as so that you can decide up that cool merchandise you simply discovered.
As an alternative, we selected a special method: we swapped out the idea of slots occupied by bulk for encumbrance. Like bulk, encumbrance is brought on by additional cumbersome objects and begins filling up the stock slots from the underside proper. The distinction, nonetheless, is that objects will be positioned on these slots. When that occurs you merely get the encumbered standing (see determine 4). This standing has little instant impact: it will increase your weapon cooldowns just a little and interferes along with your means to cover. Its impact on touring is extra extreme: on the finish of every journey you get the ‘Fatigued’ standing. This makes touring a lot slower and, nicely, extra cumbersome as a result of this implies you in all probability have to relaxation extra typically.
This design has three necessary results. First, it added a selection for the participant: you may take this merchandise however it’s important to cope with the unfavorable results, however not less than it’s an possibility. Having an additional possibility is nicely in step with the remainder of the sport’s design philosophy. Second, the system is extra versatile so it creates alternatives to have expertise and gear that have an effect on the encumbrance of things: encumbrance can go up and down with out the necessity of dropping objects instantly. Third, and I believe that is an important motive, by making the instant results not too extreme it strikes the required stock administration to a second when it’s much less disruptive and fewer anxious. As an alternative of getting to resolve what to maintain instantly, you may seize the factor from the dungeon, and make all these choices when you find yourself prepared to go away.
In the intervening time of writing we solely have rolled out the change for just a little over every week, however folks appear to understand it. From our observations it appears to do what it needs to be doing. Gamers can convey extra stuff in the event that they really need, and whereas exploring a dungeon they’ll convey nearly something they discover, not less than initially. The talents give gamers a prospect to beat the small stock if they’re prepared to put money into it. Though some gamers are already suggesting extra adjustments to the system to allow them to haul much more objects on their adventures. For them there actually by no means is sufficient house…
In hindsight we might have made these adjustments earlier. As said above, previous to launch we had some indications that the stock was too restrictive. Despite the fact that the early entry gamers appeared to be far more prepared to comply with the design because it stood. As well as, as a designer I additionally really feel that we merely generally want to face by our design. For Unexplored 2, some kind of restriction and forcing the gamers to organize and make selections is essential. If we merely had given the gamers what they’d been asking for, the sport would have modified fairly drastically.
Finally, I believe this complete redesign illustrates fairly properly the design philosophy I picked up after I was nonetheless finding out to turn into an architect. There I discovered that laymen strategies or necessities for a design are nearly at all times poorly phrased. Typically there’s a clear want behind what individuals are asking, however it’s typically arduous for them to precise that want. Sport design, like structure, is knowledgeable self-discipline, it could be unrealistic to anticipate gamers to have the ability to articulate their issues immediately or successfully. I’ve discovered to be looking out for ‘the query behind the query’. The query that if answered, makes folks say: “sure, this solves an issue I by no means really realized I had”. On this case, it wasn’t till we realized that the scale of the stock wasn’t the true drawback, however somewhat it was the dearth of selections to cope with it mixed with the awkward timing that pressured these selections upon them, that we might actually begin to deal with the issue.