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 Some feedback on invasions (LONG post!)
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calliaphone
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 08:00 PM UTC (Read 10118 times)  
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Okay, I'm a lightweight I know, but I can't hack the pace of this invasion thing.

Don't get me wrong - I really like the idea. It's exciting! There's a new challenge, and outposts aren't as safe as we thought they were. I like having to RP around unpredictable obstacles - I just kind of sweep them into the plot/character-development and it adds to the richness for me. And it's also triggered some wonderful moments in RP. Some of the wilder heroic excesses I've seen have been superb - absolutely hilarious, I've laughed my socks off. Also, I love how everyone's united to fight together, it's really enhanced the sense of community.

But ... since it began, my overall experience of the game has been much less fun and much more stressy. Not stressy-exciting. Stressy-miserable, OOC. And I don't think I'm the only one. So what's going on?

Speaking for myself ... I'm a role-player, not a power-player. I level up where it serves character, and I'm addicted to story. Big or small plot, I'm not fussy, but I want that narrative arc. There is some of this built into the progression towards each DK. But because the drive always comes back to life, I tend to regard the whole DK thing as a framework, and get my fix through reading and writing RP.

The invasions have so far been very intense. Threat-levels seem to be high or higher much of the time. Walls get built up when it's calm, and then come crashing down to zero, day after day. Everyone's throwing themselves into defence like there's no tomorrow. Spending all their stamina, getting covered in gore or ripped to shreds in the jungle, and then cracking chronospheres to carry on for longer. Yay! I don't mind people doing that, at all. Whatever they enjoy. But I don't enjoy doing it all the time. Click-click-click-failboat - it's driving me crazy.

I know I don't have to. I can do what I like. But in fact - it's not quite so easy. It's really hard to RP non-invasion related stuff, when the streets are full of exhausted players flopping about waiting for the end of the world to come, or bloodied heroes staggering in to get rat-paks before going out for more, or people nailing themselves to planks against impossible odds. I honestly feel guilty leaving them to it. But even putting that aside, how can you ignore them and just RP a card-game or whatever, without feeling like a bit of a dick? Perhaps for this reason, defence has become the main focus of RP attention in outpost chatspaces, for days and days, and some role-players are getting stressed by it. We want to play other stories too.

Perhaps if it was a huge great plot point, if something big and climactic was being puppet-mastered by CMJ, then we could all look forward to life being changed, but stable, in the future. But, unless I'm much mistaken, this isn't the case and invasions are a permanent addition to the game. Like the Drive rebuilding itself, walls will fall and be rebuilt, outposts will be overrun and re-secured, ad infinitum. Role-playing heroic defense (or comic-heroic defense), in a high-intensity war that can't be won or lost, is pretty wearing and unrewarding - I find. So it seems to me, in the long-run, we're going to need to RP it differently, or else the RP's going to be a lot less fun.

Some of this is just that we need to settle down and get used to the new conditions. Eventually we'll adapt, and not all be so hysterical about it, and will accept that sometimes we'll have to deal with an overrun outpost because we didn't defend it enough. And we might also get more organised. Split the work up, so people can do their bit, and not feel they have to be permanently "on duty".

But I think some tweaks on the game side might also help. Here are some suggestions:

1) Longer periods at lower threat-levels, so the shit isn't going down all the time, all over the place. So that people can get used to the constant threat, and occasional outbreaks of real trouble, without feeling like the end of the world is constantly nigh.

2) Perhaps if monsters are concentrating in one or two places, others might experience a lull. So the troops needn't be spread so thinly all the time.

3) If rebuilding used more stamina but added more hitpoints, per click - it wouldn't take so long to burn up your stamina, and would leave more time available for RP (without the guilt of knowing you've got stamina left and aren't contributing).

4) If the walls come down to zero, and the threat level is max - surely the town must be overrun at that point? And surely it must then require everyone present to fight fight fight for a while, to drive the monsters back before rebuilding can begin?

5) If the town is overrun, then I'd like to see the text reflect this, and for the rebuilding not just to be about defences, but also about rebuilding inside. I.e. instead of just bouncing back up the hitpoints and dropping a threat-level, let it stay down longer, and use the text to reflect that the town has Been Through Something. And perhaps for the services to reflect that for a while, even when the attack has been repelled. Until it's been rebuilt enough.

6) Also, if a town is overrun - it would be nice to still have a chatspace available in which to be hysterical or valiant - just, with frequent monster attacks (maybe somewhere with a list of people slain, so if you're chatting hysterically and stop b/c you're failboated, people can see that at a glance).

7) Perhaps, also, the monster attacks inside the outpost could continue at reduced frequency, until a "walls secured" threshold was reached, somewhere above zero.

8) Also also (!) if a town is overrun - the text could maybe offer a particular map-square to those who decide to flee, where we could RP a refugee camp in the jungle.

Okay, I think I've exhausted my stock of ideas for today. Time to post and shut up. And whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd really like to see what you all have to say on the subject.


 
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g_rock
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 09:15 PM UTC  
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So, how do you really feel, Callia? Razz

In all seriousness, I agree completely. I was all gung ho to fight off a big invasion once in a while when I first heard about it. Then, I realized that the threat would be constant and overwhelming. (I suppose the module is called onslaught for a reason) Here are my thoughts:

From an RP perspective, G isn't the guy who'll stand by and watch while there's a need to fight. He'll be the body they find beneath the overturned skronky pot amid the charred rubble, feet so far up monster arse they look like slippers. However, this big, heroic battle...thing...I had thought it'd be, doesn't work out so well when you can't win the fight.

I also agree that it detracts from other rp concerns, having to use all of your stamina and time fighting or building, instead of travelling and doing non-fighty stuff. I've noticed this has sidetracked GERM's latest already half-assed endeavor.

However, that being said, I do feel like this is closer to how the island was intended to feel. I mean, we're dropped naked from a plane into a critter infested jungle, our only respite being some hastily cobbled together towns. It shouldn't be a cushy vacation spot.

My thoughts on changes:

Instead of a constant slow build up of monsters everywhere at once, with occasional spikes, perhaps make it much more infrequent, but a true ONSLAUGHT of monsters. Say, one or two every couple days, at one outpost, but it requires the coordination af HOLYSHITEEVERYONEONTHEISLANDRIGHTNOW! to beat them back and liberate the city because it happens so suddenly (i.e., instead of 404 going, in the course of an hour or two, blue...blu/green...blue...green...green/mauve...ecru/cyan) and then an attack, there's maybe a variable 5-30 minute window to rally the troops before it goes to absolute hell. This would also allow for the evilly fun problem of false alarms (alert level spikes for 15 minutes, then nothing happens--could account for monsters getting more clever) Then, if the monsters breach, they could retreat, leaving only devastation for us to deal with. (<---Yeah, it's a preposition, ya wanna fight about it?)

Then, if the outpost falls because everyone worked together and still failed, it could take longer to rebuild in between invasions, and getting the HP over the threshold to be functional could be a cause for celebration. Flavor text after a breach could be along the lines of

"404 has fallen to the hordes of monsters. Sure, it's hard to tell, but the scrap heaps are somewhat deeper and everythings just that much more covered in oil. It's time to start the rebuilding."

And the businesses stay closed, and that message remains, until the city builds back up to, say, 25000 hp.

Just my thoughts.


 
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Count Sessine
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 09:23 PM UTC  
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First of all... WHAT SHE SAID. From my conversations with other players, this is what a lot of us have been feeling.

I don't have a lot to add. Calliaphone has pretty much covered the territory. One point: on being able to reinforce in larger increments -- already, we have eight players at 100%, and there are many others who are very, very close. It won't be long before the entire first page of the HoF list is made up of people who have maxed out the skill.

Right now there's no reward structure for continuing to work on the skill after 100%. You don't get any better at it no matter how much you hammer. In the other thread, there's been a fair bit of support for being able to say that you hammer 5 or 10 boards at once, so it's clearly something people want. But should it come free? It will be more valued if people have worked for it.

How about letting the larger-increment reinforcement links open up as you keep practicing past 100%? It would even make a certain amount of sense -- there are physical limits beyond which reinforcement can't become less tiring per board, but you'd still be able to become more efficient.

This way, from a gameplay point of view, there'd still be a goal to aim for.


 
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Sydney Fletcher
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 10:22 PM UTC  
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YES YES YES YES YES.

I cannot express how much I agree with everything that has been said here. I like the Invasions as a story arc -- it's forced a lot of characters to step up to bat, myself included. I love the teamwork, and the universal change in RP tone has been fascinating, but I'm exhausted, both in and out of character. You can only keep up the defend-to-the-death mentality for so long. That mentality is great -- in small doses -- but as a long-term staple of character, it's not interesting or fun, especially with no end in sight.

I think spreading out the attacks would go a long way towards helping people adjust to this new iteration of the game, as well as get back into the normal swing of life on the Island. I miss the old happy-go-lucky feeling in the Outposts, the casual conversations and games. The only place really open to that anymore is the clan halls, and those have their own unique limits.

I think these reactions are fairly universal, and I'm sure people will get accustomed to this new way of life and tone down the trench-warfare mentality over time, but we have to be given enough space from the game in order to do this. Perhaps if attacks came in longer-term waves -- a couple of weeks without them, a week with, and so on.

How we ultimately solve this problem is debatable, but some way or other we are going to have to figure out how strike a balance between war-life and life-as-usual.


 
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Bakemaster
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 10:29 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+Sessine

already, we have eight players at 100%, and there are many others who are very, very close.


And who would be at 100 as well, IF it didn't take 15 minutes of boring-as-fuck keypresses just to use a single day's worth of stamina on repairs, leading them to jump off the cliffs of 404 in exasperation when faced with four full chronospheres... Rolling Eyes

And it's not as if this is meaningless grinding just for its own sake; the reinforcement is badly needed! I'm on a rank 6 DK as a robot, and I haven't been playing long enough to have an overwhelming amount of HP or stat bonuses. This shit is hard. I'm not complaining about that; I want it to be hard! BUT it means that I can't just go thwacking at monsters willy-nilly to reduce threat level; I have to pay attention and take it slow. I'm of more use reinforcing than fighting, due to my low level, high difficulty rank, and desire to play a race with a 60% defense debuff. Now, I want to make absolutely clear that this is my choice—I could in a sense solve my problem by lowering my rank, rolling a different race, avoiding my home village, or whatever. But the onslaught module is right now greatly increasing the amount of pressure on me, and on others in similar situations, to play the game in a way other than how we desire to play the game. A way that is particularly tedious, as well. So the question becomes: Is this pressure unwarranted? Is it too much? I think it is.

On a lighter note, I ran out of Improbability Bombs while throwing myself against the swarms that are currently overrunning CC404, and then got jumped by a stronger mob than I've ever even seen before. I decided to hit it with the bug spray just for shits and giggles, and was pleasantly surprised by the result of my accidentally perfect timing in the face of what I expected to be certain doom (click thumbnail for larger image):

I am a bit disappointed in the exp, though. Thought I should get at least a billion, given the relative levels. I hadn't even turned on my Servo Arms.


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CavemanJoe
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 11:02 PM UTC  
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This is all very interesting feedback. The impression I'm getting is that folks in general are fond of the idea, but the algorithms by which monsters are sent out could use some work (and the usability aspects of reinforcing the walls, too).

The wall-reinforcement thing isn't quite as trivial as it appears at first glance because of the varying amounts of Stamina that would be required as the player levels up - but it's certainly no huge thing to pull off. The algorithm changes... Well, Sessine and Zolo and I were talking about that when I was first thinking about Onslaught, and I think it's time to re-think the way monsters are assigned. I'll keep working on this.

(in the last game I made - a game for arcade cabinets based on Dinosaur Comics - it took about two weeks to write the core game, then six months to fine-tune the numbers to achieve a perfect "feel" to the difficulty curve. This is simpler in some ways and more complex in others, but I'm sure I'll nail it eventually)

When it comes to semi-permanent damage being applied to the Outpost - that would be awesome, but I'm still looking for ideas on how to best implement that. Keep 'em coming.


 
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tehdave
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 11:28 PM UTC  
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Disclaimer: The following rant does not represent the views or opinions of the Network or any of its affiliates. It may or may not reflect views of reality. You have been warned.

The Outpost Invasions, when they first came in, were great. There was a brief period where everyone banded together and DEFENDED THOSE OUTPOSTS! The RP in New Pittsburgh the first night was great. It was a battlefield, and it led to some great RP. It even led to my character becoming what he is now: a tiny Vietnam-era US Soldier. I was planning on going Midget for a while anyway, and the whole battlefield thing works well. (Good at fighting, etc.) The problem becomes, I was planning on going back to a more normal Dave after the invasions died down.
They Haven't.
I mean, I don't think it should be thrown out entirely, it's a good idea. It just seems like the outposts are under CONSTANT invasion (at least, most of them are. I've personally only seen Kittania at a heightened alert once, though I've heard it's been overrun before) and there's hardly a lull. As G said, GERM's half-baked idea for an endeavor has been pretty much put on hold because of this, and personally, I'm kind of tired of it myself. If I want to go questing, it'll send me to, say, Squat Hole. But if IC is at a 50 or higher metric, I hate leaving it like that, so I run out into the jungle, fight until I'm out of stam, and come back in to see nothing has changed. And this is a Midget's full stamina bar worth of monsters killed. I understand that it's designed so that multiple people need to be fighting but still, I'd LOVE to see that my contribution is making a DENT, much less a difference. And then I end up fighting two or four masters, and that's less time spent going for my quest. And like G, Dave isn't one to run away, or stand and watch. He'll be the body next to G's, plasma gun half-melted from overheating, lying on a pile of British Bedstead Men, Gazebos, Hitchhikers, and Undead Dreaming Catfish Gods.

But when the battle can't be won, only delayed, it kind of puts a damper on the whole thing. I like G's idea of every couple of days, an outpost comes under real attack, that requires pretty much the full attention of every contestant on the island, and leaves that outpost (at least its description) changed for the next couple of days either way. Then at least it would seem like the defense matters.

< /rant>


Isn't sanity just a one-trick pony anyway? All you get is one trick: rational thinking. But when you're good and crazy, oooh, oooh, the sky's the limit.
 
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monsterzero
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 11:30 PM UTC  
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I've been mostly-away and am new to the invasion stuff, but so far my impression agrees with the others here. Yes, it is exciting at first but it seriously interferes with other game goals. I am not yet much of a RPer but I can see this would be maddening. And reinforcing the walls is really boring. An automatic "Reinforce some more" option (analogous to automatic fighting) might help some.

Shortening the duration of invasions would be great.


 
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Bernard
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 11:36 PM UTC  
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I'm in agreement. I love Outpost defence. But it needs (for me) to be less 100% 100% of the time. GERM has started drinking in response to the stress. This isn't big. It is clever, however.

What a wonderful idea it is. Capital show Dan and Z and Sessine, a huge round of applause from me.


 
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g_rock
 Monday, January 11 2010 @ 11:57 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Bernard

GERM has started drinking in response to the stress.



Now, that's like saying the invasions have made midgets irritable. But, being "forced" to stay in close proximity to the bar is definitely a silver lining for GERM, despite what the PSK staff may say.

Edit: By the way, I think I forgot to mention in my previous P&M session that I really do love the concept, and I'm very glad that the machine is learning, and the game evolving.


 
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Hairy Mary
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:03 AM UTC  
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Wholey agree with almost everything that's been said above. Calliaphone said is first and best. I won't repeat.

A few minor issues. Calli first.
Suggestion 4. (Monsters over-running outposts.) That is in fact the case.
Suggestion 8. (Refugee camp for roleplayers.) What about the map square directly underneath (not south) of the outpost in question? I haven't looked at these places, but surely they're still OK? This might work for suggestion 6 as well?

Like Sessine's suggestion.

Now another point to add.
I'm 99% role player. I was carefully keeping Cantankerous Biggs at level 10. I want a character that can get around to whereever I want him, without worrying about it to much. Level 10 gives access to plenty of req to buy whatever you need and I've built up my chem pack till it's mighty potent. I'd hate to meet Horatio for tea, I'd have to start grinding through to get to a reasonable level again. I keep at level 10, as opposed to 13 or 14 because I'm a bit of a nervous Nelly who likes to keep plenty of room for mistakes. Good job too, because after tonights shindig in Squathole, I found myself on level 13. Eek!

Allow me to expand on that. That's starting from significantly less exp than is needed to get to level 10, to get to enough exp to get to level 14, (and hence have my master hunt me down) including 7 trips to the failboat (I think, this is judging from the drop in all the favour I was slowly building up). This is when, for the second half, I was desperately trying to fail as much as I could. I was using favour to get off the boat with less than 40% stamina, and on the last occasion less than 30%. Damned hard to fail too much when the game keeps sending you level 1 and 2 monsters, but giving you the exp for monsters of your level.

I don't think I'm the only one who doesn't want to meet Horatio, people who are trying to build trading empires for example, have to start all over after meeting Horatio. You (CMJ) have carefully put in place many different ways of playing the game, which is great. Some of them involve not going through a DK. Now maybe I could have been more careful, I've learnt a lesson, and I'll certainly be more careful next time, but still.

The point of all that, was to say, make it easier for us to not level up when we don't want to. In particular, let killing monsters give you exp proportional to their level, not yours.

I do like this new addition, it's good fun in a lot of ways, it gives a good backdrop to roleplaying, it's got people working together far more than they ever have done before that I've noticed, and it's got people spreading around the Island more. (It used to be that Biggs had at least a comment on pretty much every page in Squathole. Not anymore!) But...

I) Give us all a bit more of a break from it, it's taking over everything.
II) Give us some way of speeding up the keyboard grind of building defences, and
III) Scale the exp to the monster level.

Of these I) is, IMHO, by far the most important. It is, as Callia noted, starting to get stressful.

On a rather lighter note, I like all the little internal references, well the two that I've noticed anyway. Elias making an appearence in IC with his callia shells, and the giant Midget in the Hole. I do rather like these sort of touches. Nice One.


 
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Bakemaster
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:06 AM UTC  
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I think people's expectations can be summed up thusly:
- Attacks relatively more intermittent
- Failure relatively more devastating
- Walls relatively more useful/less tedious

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WHAAAAAT

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I SHALL REQUIRE MANY QUARTERS

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EDIT EDIT: Alackaday! Some shits have defaced the site where the game is hosted? How very odd and unwelcome.


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Anonymous: spannerheadx
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:16 AM UTC  


sing it, sisters!

I was just typing what TehDave was saying about feedback joy on your efforts in the jungle.
(Great drunks think alike.)


 
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Hairy Mary
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:23 AM UTC  
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When it comes to mucking about with multiple barricade reinforcing turns, you don't have to worry about changing stamina rates too much. Charge it all at the initial (higher) rate. I can assure you that people will still happily accept the slight lack of efficiency for the sake of being able to just get it done.


 
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g_rock
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:28 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Hairy+Mary

When it comes to mucking about with multiple barricade reinforcing turns, you don't have to worry about changing stamina rates too much. Charge it all at the initial (higher) rate. I can assure you that people will still happily accept the slight lack of efficiency for the sake of being able to just get it done.



Or, perhaps is there a way to reuse the 10x fighting algorithms? What happens to the stamina costs there if you level up in normal fighting on turn 7 of 10?


 
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Adder Moray
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:39 AM UTC  
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The frequency is amazingly strenuous.

Between Pyre Kasen and myself, we have managed to hold SH throughout the break. But today, Pyre's player went back to classes, and I had to pack for going back myself. The day life as usual resumes, Squat Hole comes down.

We need far more lulls now that the real world is coming back.


 
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Bakemaster
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:41 AM UTC  
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Compared to some skills, Reinforcement seems awfully quick to level... In a matter of days we've got people at 100, compared to fighting and traveling skills where *nobody* has hit 100 so far in Season Two, period. If you simply increase the stamina requirement and the HP effect, and leave exp alone, the main complaint (tediousness) will be mitigated. I don't think you'll find many whining about it taking more days to max out what's already a pretty easy skill to max.


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Count Sessine
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:50 AM UTC  
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Quote by: g_rock

Quote by: Hairy+Mary

When it comes to mucking about with multiple barricade reinforcing turns, you don't have to worry about changing stamina rates too much. Charge it all at the initial (higher) rate. I can assure you that people will still happily accept the slight lack of efficiency for the sake of being able to just get it done.



Or, perhaps is there a way to reuse the 10x fighting algorithms? What happens to the stamina costs there if you level up in normal fighting on turn 7 of 10?


CMJ did say it would be no huge thing to pull off. Big Grin But Hairy Mary's right, people wouldn't mind if it was done at the initial higher cost, because crossing a level boundary, especially at the higher levels, doesn't happen all that often. If you cared about saving the wee bit of stamina that much, you could always keep an eye on your progress and go back to board-by-board hammering when you got close.

In fact... (speaking as someone who has clicked all the way through every one of the learnable stamina skills so far)... it would be better that way. Give the player the possibility of a little bit of strategic optimization.

Quote by: Bakemaster

Compared to some skills, Reinforcement seems awfully quick to level... In a matter of days we've got people at 100, compared to fighting and traveling skills where *nobody* has hit 100 so far in Season Two, period. If you simply increase the stamina requirement and the HP effect, and leave exp alone, the main complaint (tediousness) will be mitigated. I don't think you'll find many whining about it taking more days to max out what's already a pretty easy skill to max.


For travelling, hunting, and fighting skills, that's true. (Though I should point out that fleet-footed Z has attained 100 in Running Away... as of some time ago.) But for any of the learnable skills, there are quite a few people at 100. This includes the really-difficult Cleaning the Carcass. When there's a perceived advantage to having a skill, some people have always been willing to take the time to sit through some exceedingly tedious click-sessions.

Besides, it wouldn't be fair to players coming along later to make it take longer to max, now.


 
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calliaphone
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 12:55 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Hairy+Mary


A few minor issues. Calli first.
Suggestion 4. (Monsters over-running outposts.) That is in fact the case.



I've seen quite a few occasions in IC when the walls hit zero, the threat level was max, and no monsters came, it just stayed like that, the walls hovering around the zero mark for ages. It was very different in NP, when the place was totally overrun - no options available except fight/build/run like hell. I still haven't figured out how IC got away with it, but it made very baffling play!


 
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Hairy Mary
 Tuesday, January 12 2010 @ 01:03 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Adder+Moray

The frequency is amazingly strenuous.

Between Pyre Kasen and myself, we have managed to hold SH throughout the break. But today, Pyre's player went back to classes, and I had to pack for going back myself. The day life as usual resumes, Squat Hole comes down.

We need far more lulls now that the real world is coming back.



That's a wee bit strong there Adder. Yes you, Pyre, and possibly some other AiB's did a great deal, but not all by yourself. Biggs put a lot into keeping up the barricades believe it or not, (and you've got every reason not to, given the way role play was going) he's now got reinforce skills level 70, so he did something. Yes, I appreciate that you were a vital part of the defence, possibly even a majority of the effort, and that the Hole would probably have fallen a lot sooner without you. But not all by yourself, there were others as well.


 
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