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My Assessment of the Survival Overhaul

Discussion in 'General' started by notintheface11, Mar 4, 2019.

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This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.
  1. notintheface11 Trainee Engineer

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    18
    I know that experienced players have been posting these walls of text ad infinitum after the survival playtests started, but I wanted to add my own thoughts to the white noise. Hopefully Keen sees this and incorporates it into all the other points of data which will inform how they proceed with development.


    My background: I’ve played SE for about 400 hours, which is paltry compared to some others around here, but it’s easily my most-played game in Steam. I got it in mid-2015, so I’ve been around since before planets. Almost all of that playtime has been spent in solo survival, either in a vanilla world or a community scenario like “Escape from Mars” or a Doctor Octagonopolis world. Survival is why I play the game; when I’m designing in creative, it’s with the intention of projecting my design into a survival world and using it there.


    Having finally put in some serious playtime on the new update (I really only got to tinker during the playtests), I’ve been able to test some of the new survival features in an “on-the-ground” setting, which for me is a Star System start on earth-like. Here are my thoughts.


    Ores/resources


    First the good. Making stone a refinable resource has been absolutely huge and has really made the grind of a bare-bones start much more palatable. Seriously, I hadn’t even considered how huge this would be. Nickel is now not a rare commodity and power cells/motors have effectively been moved to tier 1 status in small quantities. Stone is still inefficient for generating large quantities of iron, but you can bring it back from your mining operations and drop it in queue after your pure ore, because why not?


    I haven’t played in space yet, but nerfing asteroid resource veins is, on paper at least, a really good change. It will take time for me to decide whether that makes it worthwhile to set up mining operations on planet once you are established in space, but if not, I think ore veins on planets should be slightly easier to mine on a large scale, e.g. thicker or closer to the surface.


    There is still a significant bottleneck mid-game on planets when cobalt, silver, and ice become necessities. In particular, if cobalt is nowhere to be found, the player is restricted from building assemblers (which removes the ability to queue up component lists on a per-block basis) and atmo thrusters, which extends the pointless grind until they can find cobalt or metal grids. I’m not sure how to fix this, but if ore veins are procedurally generated, perhaps cobalt should be slightly more common. I was lucky enough to find some within 5km of my base, but I’ve seen others who haven’t been so fortunate.


    Perhaps I’m just getting lucky or my planet mining techniques are getting better, but iron does seem slightly easier to come by now, with stone as well as with ores. I think it should be easier still. Iron should be something you can practically pick up off the ground (I guess you can but it’s inefficient). That’s my personal preference but it annoys me to have to drop literally everything so I can drive 4km to the nearest iron vein.


    Power Generation


    Other than the stone/survival kit changes, this is probably the most significant change of the update. And first of all, let me say that it’s actually really cool to have to think about power for once in survival. In the past, one small container of uranium was basically enough to power your base forever, but I’ve been forced to get more creative with my power management. Initially I didn’t like the fact that uranium had been removed from planets, but I’m gradually coming to see the wisdom behind that change, and honestly I think it’s a fun way to add progression to survival.


    The wind turbines are great. They have a nice cost/power generation ratio, look amazing, and create nice alternatives to reactor power in atmospheres. No complaints here.


    The changes to solar panel costs are long overdue and much appreciated. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to use them effectively unless you install a script to make them sunlight-facing. I do use such a script, of course, but if something is in the “top 5 tips to give to noobs” like a solar script is for me, I feel it should be at least addressed by the devs.


    Batteries: the nerf to their starting energy is really painful (but probably needed to happen), and it takes forever to charge them. Furthermore, there is still an issue with the auto recharge setting where they will just continuously steal from each other, losing 20% in the process and eventually wasting all of your stored power. There needs to be a setting where you can tell the batteries not to recharge from other batteries. Small batteries are really cool-looking and compact, but I feel that they are nearly useless for any purpose. I’m not sure exactly how to balance this, but I feel that at the very least they could start with more energy.


    Hydro engine: I’m sorry, but this block is almost completely useless, for reasons that are becoming increasingly well-documented by the community. First, and this is often overlooked in the critiques imo, it’s just not fun to play with. The fact that you have to build the engine, a hydro tank, and a h2/o2 generator, AND jump-start the grid with electricity makes it an absolute headache to even get up and running. Even as a backup power source for a base, it takes an unfeasible amount of ice to store enough fuel to make the effort worthwhile. I’ll be experimenting more with this in the future, but for now my hydro engine is turned off while I just use wind power for a fraction of the effort. I hate to think of relying on it in zero atmo conditions, but if this block stays as-is, that means I will consider reactor tech a must-have for these situations. I’m not sure how to balance this, but even if it’s unrealistic, I feel that making it more efficient would go a long way towards making it worth feeding it your precious ice.


    The New Blocks


    I’ve touched on most of the new survival blocks already, but here’s a few quick hits on the rest.


    Survival Kit: This is a cool idea for scenarios especially, and I absolutely LOVE the visual design on it for large grids. My biggest issue with it isn’t with the block itself; it’s that it makes Med Bays an extraneous, expensive luxury block that gives you virtually no reward for teching up and progressing. I think this could be solved creatively in a number of ways that don’t involve nerfing the Survival Kit, but Med Bays really need to exist for a reason other than faster recharge and skin swapping.


    Ladders: These are going to be a godsend for my creative builds especially, so a loud thank you to Keen for stabilising the physics enough to make this happen is in order. The visual design is also on point imo. I just want to echo the community’s critique that it would be nice to have a version that includes a passageway/enclosure (and I 100% understand KSWH’s aversion to compound blocks), and I really think we need to have the ability to place blocks from a ladder. If you need jetpack fuel to build your ladder in survival, they become considerably less useful. I also think they’re a tad expensive, but that’s just my opinion.


    Miscellaneous


    Scenarios: Learning to Survive is nice and does what I think it needs to do, combined with the campaign. It’s a little confusing and unclear at times, but some minor tweaks and QA should iron that out. Never Surrender is…. Underwhelming. I understand what Keen is trying to do, but the result gives the impression that it’s sort of lazy and half-hearted. While I like the fact that there’s a challenge scenario in the game now, I can’t see myself getting set up in survival just so I can plink drones (that were already in the game) for a bare-bones base. One of the best times I ever had in SE was when I had turned on 3-4 community NPC mods and spawned in with my friend in a big IMDC Destroyer. We pretty much immediately took a big hit from a suicide drone and for the next 3-4 hours we were scrambling to repair, fight off the new encounters, and get a decoy system/snub fighters up. The feeling of defending a crippled ship against steadily rising odds was so fun, and it’s a feeling that Never Surrender pales in comparison to. I’m not sure I’d change anything about that scenario, but this is just my two cents for Keen if they decide to add more content like this in the future.


    Temperature: First of all, I personally am extremely grateful that Keen is not implementing a food/hunger/thirst system. That has been done a million times before, and it always ends up being tedious and distracting. Adding another layer to the suit energy mechanic was the right move. That said, it’s pretty superfluous right now, even in space, and could probably use some tweaking. I think radiation/grid temperature would be a cool way to expand off of this, but that may be best left to the community.


    Progression: This is the one new feature that I can say, without qualifiers, is terribly implemented. Having to build blocks you don’t necessarily need in order to access blocks you want is silly, artificial, and needlessly grindy. Some grind is good. Some is just tedious and boring. This is definitely the latter. I think I could probably deal with this if there was something at the upper end of the progression tree other than reactors, ion thrusters, and jump drives. I know Keen doesn’t seem to be in the mood to add any more new blocks, but if a sandbox game is truly what their end goal is, adding some more opportunities to be creative would be huge. The modding community has loads of inspiration: weapons, teleporters, huge engines. All of these would greatly enhance the sandbox feeling of the game, as well as add an endgame tier to survival. I really feel that Keen should consider this.


    Conclusion: This update moves SE survival in the right direction for something that feels like a full game (yes, even most sandbox games have some kind of direction). I think most of the new features are great, even if they could use some adjustment and rebalancing. I do wish that the update had been a little more substantial, and that KSWH had put more effort into the scenarios, encounters, and breathing some more interactivity into planets. I don’t think any of those things are particularly difficult tasks, since the community has accomplished a lot of them with mods. Nevertheless, I continue to have faith that Keen will listen to the community and try to turn SE into the best version of itself. Thanks Keen for your hard work and passion over the years!

    Parallel reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/spaceengineers/comments/axacbu/my_assessment_of_the_survival_overhaul/
     
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  2. mojomann71 Senior Engineer

    Messages:
    1,803
    If you want Keen to see this, they probably wont. They monitor the support site and Discord almost exclusively now. Just copy and paste this to the support site under General Support / suggestions :)

    https://support.keenswh.com/spaceengineers
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. notintheface11 Trainee Engineer

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    18
    Tyty, still worth keeping up here for discussion.
     
  4. Stardriver907 Master Engineer

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    3,122
    I liked your post, but I don't want to add any white noise ;)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Calaban Junior Engineer

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    909
    The op never even got to the npc encounter content additions... a good 80% of the update... also specifically for the SP experience

    Get to space already! Its not called "picturesque mesa Engineers"
     
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  6. Dax23333 Junior Engineer

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    657
    I did notice some new cargo ship names flying around in the sky when I tried a moon start, but couldn't see any real info in the change log. Guess it comes under survival gameplay improvements? I noticed a R.U.S.T Freighter was spawning, had two at once at one point. Are there many more new ones? Exploration ships as well?

    Even if there are not many new things up there space is much better. The cargo ships even attack you sometimes, sitting around on one asteroid can get messy. When I say attack I more mean just float past unusually close, at which point they get close enough to you to start spawning drones (which do chase you). Gonna need to run or fight, something planet gameplay lacks.

    On a side note the moon start I found a bit naff honestly, you start with a functional rover so immediatly have full mobility and where I spawned (near the pole I think) there was loads and loads of ice. Spent a few minutes grinding out stone and had a couple of solar panels stuck on the rover, soooo power is not an issue now? For something labeled as hard it really wasn't. Maybe I prefer too much the kind of setups where if you don't immediatly get out and engineer some stuff you're gonna die a pointless and agonizing death. Like no helmet survival, which needs another go with this update methinks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
  7. Calaban Junior Engineer

    Messages:
    909
    There are encounters/derelicts that are exploreable now. They are the brief flashes every 60 sec of "mayday", or just a blank "SPRT" signal.

    These are the new content I was referring to. They are the encounter bases, shipwrecks, sometimes ambush sites or even attacks in progress, minefields, etc... All variable with what comes with them (two wreck of same type may have different "events") and of at least a dozen different types.

    [ REDACTED- SPOILERS]

    ... So much to see/explore/salvage/ fight/move into! - but only out in space.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
  8. ObjectZero Apprentice Engineer

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    361
    I might be having a bug with mine. O see the "mayday" but it does not last 60 sec' not even anything near that. It's more like 5 or less for me. Does it turn off when you mouse over it?
     
  9. Calaban Junior Engineer

    Messages:
    909
    It flashes briefly every 60 seconds or so. Meaning you have to hunt/ search it out a bit. ..explore.. as it were... ;)

    But hey- it's better than before where we needed a mod ( radar) just to find any of them
     
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  10. mojomann71 Senior Engineer

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    1,803
    I am still on my Earth-like planet...maybe one day I will reach space and get to explore these ships. ;)
     
  11. ObjectZero Apprentice Engineer

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    361
    @mojomann71 Getting to space really isn't that hard. Well that's using a small ship. I'm still building a large ship to test what it'll take.

    But I want to have a ship with a few weapons on it before I go poking around other ships.
     
  12. mojomann71 Senior Engineer

    Messages:
    1,803
    @ObjectZero I could get to space if I wanted but just taking my time in no rush getting there this time. I rarely play on planets so it is a change for me. I am trying to get to enjoy planet side, that is a big trying...lol.
     
  13. Spaceman Spiff Senior Engineer

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    1,539
    Get moving, buddy! Space is full of so many things now. But those on-off red markers always have teeth (active turrets), so approach carefully.
     
  14. vadersson Trainee Engineer

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    78
    Watch out for Maydays however...
     
  15. Calaban Junior Engineer

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    909
    Hey, we wanted more involved NPC content. that counts.

    Whats the point building spaceships if they never ever get shot up and need repairs from time to time? I happen to like limping home with a smoking reactor and thrusters only in 2 directions.. batteries at 3% and oxygen gone... plunking down for a rough landing and coldly vowing revenge. I now have a clear objective to work towards.
    Plus it keeps the blood warm. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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