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Topics - Vagabond

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Bugs / Can't get Institute reward.
« on: August 10, 2022, 09:34:14 am »
I finish all Institute quests, go to Eidein to get my bio belt, but for the n-th time, I can't. I click on the "join Investigation" and then Genetics options, and get nothing.

Am I missing something? Is this a bug or am I doing something wrong? This isn't my first playthrough with such a problem.

Suggestions / Cut-Throat and Energy Edge Emitter + other Knifes.
« on: August 05, 2022, 07:48:26 pm »
An Energy Knife acts as a mini lightsaber, at least from what the description and icon looks like. Basically a laser cutter on the edge to give better cutting potential, but for some reason it doesn't affect Cut-Throat, which it should. After all, you are going for the throat region and having a lightsaber cut through it compared to normal steel is far more effective.

I would add to this that all Serrated Knifes should also give better bleed damage but shorter duration, while Daggers could give additional bleed duration, but worse bleed damage. Combat Knifes on the other hand could give a flat -1 decrease in CD, or a decrease in AP cost by 5.

The Hook is also a nice addition to buffing Cut-Throat, only wish there were more similar buffs to basic weapons. For example if the target is incapacitated then you can use Cut-Throat from any direction.

General / Underrail Infusion Fan Suggestions/Ideas Megatopic.
« on: June 09, 2022, 08:59:48 am »
Warning! This will be a huge gigantic 2-part topic and it won't have a TL;DR.

First thing's first, let's start with what will be written below, and how to approach it. Here will be all the suggestions and ideas that I want to be added in Infusion, including explanations and simple examples (for most) of how I see it being implemented. Since Infusion is in what I assume pre-alpha/alpha, I am going for the most part off basic guesswork and logical assumptions, plus the very little information I do know about Infusion. Therefore judge it according to that. As a side note, some ideas have been written before by others, so credits go to their respectful OP. I won't be adding more to this, but I assume others want to in the comments, and generally that is what I am expecting to happen. So think of this topic as an unofficial collection of fan ideas,

Anyhow, the very first suggestion that I consider to be of key importance for Infusion is mods and mod support. I would put it into priority number 1 above everything else, simply because mods can add everything that can't/won't be added listed below, making it the ultimate addition.

The length to which modding is allowed should be that of Doom 1 and 2, STALKER, Fallout/Skyrim etc. This means giving modders the ability to make all types of mods, from simple dynamic portraits to total conversions, to adding DLC Expansion Pack level new content. Mods, as proven many times over, give longevity to games beyond initial support and in some cases act as free promotions to increase sales, if they are of superior quality and fame. Modding also allows potential talent to be hired into the official team too. Needless to say I can go on and on with endless examples on the benefits of mods.

That being said, there is a downside to modding, particularly in indie games and games in early access or beta testing. As an example we have the notorious Project Zomboid. A game which on paper is amazing, but the absurdly long dev time (which did speed up slightly at the time of writing) and pre-release added modding support, made the devs look like amateurs in comparison to modders, from cars, to guns, to maps, to features and bugfixes. And unlike Fallout 4 or Skyrim, which are buggy, but feature finished games you can play vanilla, PZ is not. This is something I assume Styg is aware of, therefore I'd like to openly say that it's best to add modding support at the very last development cycles.

Using OG Underrail as an example (which is something I will be using a lot), I'd say modding support should be added around when the main regions are mapped out, excluding Deep Caverns. Key word mapped out, i.e. having the main layout be built, but all the smaller details still to-be-added. Why then? Because I do not know how exactly Infusion is being developed and what is done first. But I do know that you don't make a map and not have anything in it to play with, so I guess by that time Infusion will be more or less fleshed out and have a solid gameplay core with basic story in place. Imo this is the perfect moment to add partial, or even full, modding support. Players by this time would've already posted on the forums all key issues and suggestions, leaving everything else as burning blueballed ideas to be added as mods. So while the main dev team is working on finishing the game to it's 1.0 release, players are working at their own pace, while having a bases to work off from, the kind that won't brick, break or make their mods obsolete.

That's all for moddings, onto next one.

Character Building And You.

Strength, Dexterity, Agility, Constitution, Perception, Will, Intelligence. As these are the current Base Abilities and I don't know if it will be changed, I will be using them as a bases, same thing with skills.

Underrail is a CRPG where your build matters, and is mainly focused on combat, that being said, some builds are better than others, which also includes meta builds. While a more experienced player can min-max, gear grind and win with a crowbar, the general, average player amongst the targeted audience won't go into such masochistic meme builds, which makes character building a issue of wasting time and trial & error (the near universal experience of "played for X amount of time before ditching and starting a new game"). The reason for that is usually "oh no I thought it would(n't) do that" or "I should've picked another thing". And while there is a website specifically for character building, you still need to test it from square one in-game. (I'll address this a bit lower.)

Then again, the beauty of Underrail is that every challenge, probably aside from the final boss, can be solved with any build, since the game provides all the tools necessary, at least to the extent to not have save scumming be an irritating solution, meaning even mistakes in builds can be mitigated with proper tool usage. This rises the question of balance, meta and OPness. Dropping any pretense of tryhardism, elitism and puritanism, any build should be equally able to finish the game on an equal footing, i.e. with _proper_ investment and execution all builds should be good at killing _everything_.

Some will say that you aren't suppose to be good at killing everything, to which I say read on.

So, how exactly do you do it? "If everything is OP, nothing is." Starting from Base Abilities, maxing into a core Ability should be rewarded with in-world actions. For example, a character that is maxed out in Perception, could find a secret, stealthy clan/group/faction that specializes in this Ability, which in result may give a build that utilizes Perception as it's main stat additional bonuses/feats/items unique to that. Strength main? A group of bodybuilders somewhere in the City will accept you and teach a secret thing or two. Agility? Parkourers, who you first need to catch, for them to acknowledge your aptitude. These additions should give your maxing an extra umph to make it that much better.

Same thing with Skills. All skills, not just a small handful, need to be able to affect a wide range of things in the world. A stealthy char can slip past guard speech checks with additional gear (Fallout New Vegas does this in the casinos). A thrower can play a game of basketball or baseball to get buffs, or be able to toss a gas grenade into an out of reach ventilation system. Just a few examples. And at maxed out skills (which should be a base, non-effective skill check), all should provide access to additional bonuses.

Generalization should also be rewarded. A jack of all, master of none build should be rewarded with unique rewards specific to these builds, like a "Swiss Army Knight" feat where you get a +5 bonus to specific skill groups when using X item. Obviously, they shouldn't be better than specialized builds, but they should be noticeably enough to reward players that want to play such builds.

Now, on to addressing the testing part. Hypothetically, assuming all builds are equally balanced and that is a public fact (notice that I excluded previously said ideas), how exactly do you test it? Under you I mean the player. Well, luckily we have Seeger from Expedition who gave us a very nice hint at a very special VR place in Hexagon.

That's right, in Hexagon (and AFAIK it will be one of the locations in Infusion) there is a Matrix level simulation room, and if Seeger did not mistake his explanation and experience, it means it can replicate _anything_. By now you understood what I am getting to. This is basically an in-game build tester, which can be integrated into the gameplay, story and exploration mechanics on such a level, it's hard to even start explaining, but I'll try.

Lets start from a simple data gathering experience. On your journeys you can start collecting experiences (the non game kind) which can later on be downloaded into the simulation, so the more you experience, the more you can download into it, from enemy types, to locations, to hazards. Or you can buy/find these data from specific places. Lots to work with.

Builds? Did you start off with a meh build, and don't know what to expect or how it might work against certain things? Do you want to imagine how it's like to be a psi char? Now you can! Pump your char level to 30, pick all the feats you like and test to your hearts content. Min-max or not. That being said, it does kill the difficulty somewhat, as you can just test out all the builds and key encounters, and be done with it.
One way to tackle this is to carry over from all playthroughs all saved data (making the simulation room a universal saved data room), meaning you can't test out any and all builds without either finding the information for it, or having built into it initially. This way you can still future test your current build, while rewarding players for exploring and trying other builds, and at the same time NOT wasting their time, in a way this also promotes replayability. (Hint-hint, one of the rewards for going a jack-of-all-trades build).

Best Defence is a Good Fence.

That's all fine and dandy, but what about balance? Surely if everything is OP, then it doesn't matter what you fight, there won't be a challenge, it'll all feel the same! I disagree. There are many factors outside a characters build that can affect it - be it's weakness, that is the balancing part. So while you can one-shot everything, it doesn't mean YOU can't be countered. Again, I only said that every build should be good at killing everything, I never said about being killed. Then what does kill you?

In general Underrail has for every build a counter and a hard counter, something that will make your day a nightmare, but it also works the other way around. But there is also environmental dangers and (dis)advantages, there are positioning and preparedness. I'd say having a scout build that is aimed at intel gathering (and promoting such builds) should be a powerful strategic choice. This includes being able to figure out weaknesses, armor types, resistances etc., but I digress.

The problem with hard counters and counters is that you need to go out of your way and sometimes build to be able to defeat them. Like for example a pure TC can't do anything against robots, leaving only EMP as the only solution, but what if you didn't put points into traps, crossbows and throwing?

Each and every location should be built around every key offensive and mobility stat*. What does that mean? It means that by putting points into any of these stats, you have the ability to figure out on your own how to solve the problem at hand in every location, no matter what, preventing a theoretical softlock, hence the title: "... a Good Fence", a hypothetical escape route out of a sticky situation.
* In Underrail, what I call key offensive stats are your offensive skills (including psi), your main maxed Base Abilities + secondary Base Abilities, while mobility stats are your stealth, pickpocket, lockpicking, hacking, persuasion, intimidation, mercantile, electronics, mechanics skills + Agility, Strength, Dexterity (mainly Agility).
Let us jump over all fences as agility monkey boys, or let us break open a locked door as protein jacked jocks, let us in or out one way or another, but make it so we have to earn it. Give us multiple solutions to an encounter depending on what build we have. If we can't kill something/get through a location, then send us on a tough ride to solve it another way. The point is that players need to be given options that reward being prepared, observative, creative when dealing with combat encounters. While not on immersive sim levels like Prey (as much as 2.5D allows), there are still many ways it can be done. Yes, it's more difficult to make, but it's more worth it, you can always bump HP, DMG and enemy quantity after.

Take the aforementioned TC vs Robots situation. How exactly does a TC kill a Robot? By manipulating other more powerful creatures into fighting for him. About to fight those 4 Nagas? How about TC a Sea Wyrm to break the window and flood the room, short circuiting the robots. Obviously, this works if a companion system is in place... and swimming... and it's actually a window into the Black Sea, and not an aquarium.

And if save scumming as a means to bypass a challenge is something you want to punish, make it so you can only save at specific spots (i.e. campfires, beds).

Damage Types For Every Type.

Considering what kind of new enemies we can potentially encounter, I am more interested in the types of damages that will be. I myself propose a few new additions to the existing system in Underrail. DR/DT apply as usual.

Mechanical damage should be split into several types: Slashing(i.e. blades, claws), Piercing (i.e. guns, spears), Impact (i.e. blunt weapons, thrown, beyond-armor effect), Explosive/Pressure Wave.

Heat, Cold, Electricity, Energy stay as usual. So far I haven't come up with anything to add to them.

Psionic/Psychic Damage. TC uses this, so do any psi hazards.

Biological, Acid Damage gain two types: Liquid (Poison, Acid Vials), Gas (Toxic Gas, Corrosive Clouds).

Radiation Damage.

Pure Damage a.k.a. Unresistable damage. Think of it as a God like damage type.

I didn't go overboard with more new types and only added what imo made sense, both as a natural addition and expansion to existing ones. Obviously certain damage sources can have several of these combined, since the purpose is to give two things: better clarity/readability and more options, as strange as that may seem, mainly for Mechanical Damage.

While a Toxic or Corrosive Cloud can act different, it just needs two different approaches, but Mechanical Damage is a bit more nuanced, as it's the most common type. With these additional types, certain old skills can have new ways off application, which previously would've been impossible or too far gone to happen. Take for example Cryokinesis, a shard of ice is sent flying into someones face, dealing Cold and Mechanical damage, with DT/DR negating as usual. But apply the new types, and now the ice shard can gain Impact and/or Piercing damage, making it more versatile in application to different enemy types. Too basic? Sure, but it's effective. What about guns? Beyond-armor effect exists, from broken bones to internal hemorrhage. An up close shotgun blast might not kill the target, but it can debuff it enough to make it a viable kiting tactic. Speaking of debuffs.

(De)buffs And Where To Get Them.

More of them, both permanent and temporary. Disable, disarm, knock-out, maim, blind, suffocate, empower, motivate, rally etc. I could go on listing more, but I think the point is made. As long as they are unique, useful and give an extra layer of suffering tactical application of force, I am all for more of it. This is pretty much the smallest suggestion.

Having a Role in a Play.

What isn't small is this however, and the suggestion is a bit divisive. From one side we have a combat-first character progression and the RP element comes second in Underrail, whether that is a financial or development time issue, or just a personal preference, I don't know. On the other we have those that want to have more value given to their choices.

I, however, would rather not have RP elements and, lets all say it, romance, unless it actually had a meaningful gameplay result. Whether or not co-op or companions will be added (discussed lower), the roleplay part is something that could either make or break Infusion, and I would rather enjoy having a semi-limited, but well written dialog options like we have in Underrail, than being "whoever I want to be" like in (*insert generic bloated RPG game*).

The way I approach this issue is going from the get go to the extreme. Genocide runs, pure evil options, joining bandits as the most obvious, or being Jesus Christ himself. If the gameplay and story will suffer from those approaches, then I'd rather not have them, as by including options for those kind of runs, you'd have to include for everything else in-between, which is far more difficult than balancing the gameplay for immersive sims imo. I also don't want to romance Vivian, Ethan, Amelia, Theodore, The Rathound King, Evelyn or any other potential partner through a generic persuasion check just to go downtown for a boon. A personal quest, sure, but what exactly beyond that? The Ferryman is original in that he gives an exhilarating philosophical dialog, which you have to earn by having a high enough intelligence, and yes, I do consider it a quest, as after it you bond a little bit like grandfather and grandchild, and gain a feat. As for actual romance, it's very rarely done right, and without a companion/squad system, the usefulness of it goes down the bare minimum.

That being said, completely limiting player choice is also something I'd rather not see. A good example is actually the Institute of Tchort. While they are a bunch of fanatics, they do have structure and purpose. While working for them, I did have a thought of actually joining them for real, abandon SGS, the main quest and kill all the Faceless, but because such an option isn't given and I'd have to eventually face the Faceless on their territory, I always went with helping Tunnelers, as the benefits far outweighed the negatives.

 In Expedition this was given note, by being able to join the Pirates, unfortunately not the Natives. It's done properly, both narrative and gameplay wise. You have a small introduction to the flora and fauna combat of the Black Sea and at a key moment given a story changing choice. The fact that this is given in the DLC gives hope that such option would be expanded upon to the main storyline or even sidequests affecting main storyline in Infusion, because that is cool.

The key point from this is not being afraid to break the main storyline and give meaningful story and gameplay affecting options, be they big or small, where it actually matters. A backup save file always exists otherwise.

Suggestions / Dodge/Evasion buff.
« on: March 11, 2022, 12:10:31 pm »
Dodge and Evasion are lackluster and require a huge investment to have a meaningful effect.

The reason for that is the binary nature of these skills. Aside from Evasion reducing AOE damage, Dodge and Evasion are simply an RNG skill, where you either do or do not get hit, and even with a 10% chance you can die to an unlucky burst or get a debuff that completely negates your stats.

The best way to buff these stats is to add additional damage reduction. Here is an example of how it can work.

While keeping the accuracy calculations as is, a damage calculation is added on top, which is split into several categories: Graze Shot, Close Shave, Minor Hit etc. You can add additional names as ideas, but the point is, that there are several thresholds that decide how much less damage you take. I'd personally divide them into 4 parts, to each it's own name. Depending on your Dodge/Evasion skill the percentage that one of the category takes effect is calculated and a flat damage reduction is applied.

So, it'll go like this (DMG reductions and chances are hypothetical):

Level 1 (Major Hit) 10% DMG Reduction. 70% chance to take effect.
Level 2 (Minor Hit) 35% DMG Red. 20% chance.
Level 3 (Graze Hit) 50% DMG Red. 9%
Level 4 (Close Shave) 90% DMG Red. 1%

These are added on top of a normal hit, in total making it 5 Levels of damage. Debuffs, such as off-balance, immobilization, incap and stuns still take effect. Only off-balance halves the % chance to take effect, immobilization reduces it by 3/4 and incap with stun work as usual. This way all builds that put points into Dodge and Evasion can still reap the benefits, while those that specialize into it can still have a fighting chance against heavy counters and not depend solely on RNG, at the same time it doesn't make heavy armor obsolete, of course IF and only IF proper balance is made. Ideally, heavy armor, should be a reliable source of consistent high damage reduction, where as Dodge/Evasion is a damage control option working on principle "you will get hurt, but you'll live."

Again, all numbers, chances and percentages are hypothetical. I personally do not know the exact, perfectly balanced stats, nor a perfectly balanced system with a smooth effectiveness progression, and am merely sharing an addition that seems a logical extension of a rather barebones system. After all, why shouldn't you be able to partially dodge a melee attack or bullet?

Suggestions / Unique item upgrade.
« on: May 12, 2021, 01:19:53 pm »
As a preface I'd like to clarify what I mean under Unique items. It includes, besides one of a kind items, all items you can get through enemy drops, bought or found, but aren't craftable.

Now onto the topic at hand. Unique items, be it armor or weapons, while having their use, are usually outclassed even by normal gear a few levels later, and completely overshadowed by crafted items. Which makes uniques a more of a collector's thing to horde at your house and not utilize properly, exceptions being a few handful of items, like CAU armor, Regalia, Power Fist, Jackknife etc.

Giving a direct buff to uniques is a bit obtuse and may break the balance, but there are alternatives:

1)Utilize crafting skills with feat(s). A simple, yet effective method.

-At 90-100 skill points in either crafting skills (mechanic, tailoring, electronics) have a feat available called "Reverse Engineering" or "Artisan Craftsmanship". This feat may or may not require "Disassemble" as a prerequisite, as see fit. The feat enables a new crafting option with a large variety of slots to accommodate all types of uniques. By slotting in a unique item, the upgrade material is based off their normal item counterpart, e.g. shotguns use shotgun frames, armor uses plates etc. Each unique should have an approximate base Quality level and is depended relative to similar quality items when it is found. That base quality level is used to determine by how much the unique is upgraded (and which minimum level quality it needs).

Example: Salvation-12 (which I from now on will call SPAS-12) is a unique combat shotgun, therefore in the upgrade window it will require 3 combat shotgun frames of all different types: sovereign, despot, tyranny. The formula (a rough example) for added quality/stats is something like this (x+y+z)/3-SPAS-12Q. If the formula is correct then you don't go above the average quality of the upgrade component's sum. In addition to basic stat boosts, you can add other upgrades, such as extended mag or foregrip.

2)Have a master weaponsmith and armorer in Underrail, mainly in a location like Foundry or Core City. The process is similar to first example, only you give the item to the master and he/she upgrades it to the needed amount. It is an alternative to no-craft focused builds, even though it somewhat cheapens the usefulness of crafting, which is why the price for upgrading should be high and time consuming. Not just charons and a time wait. Maybe a specific item needs to be found, and each unique item has it's own. Some people have suggested to get a unique frame from disassembly, but since frames are the ones deciding the damage, and can't be upgradable in the base game, here, they have merit, as the frames can be upgraded to a higher quality and later used in personal crafting.

3)The most simple version, a basic upgrade workbench. You put the item in, give it money/upgrade blueprint/data etc. and receive an upgraded item. No crafting skills required, only getting the bench, money and data.

The result of whatever option is chosen is a unique weapon or armor that can be utilized on par with crafted items and not become irrelevant 2 levels later, while still retaining it's unique nature. AKA becoming viable and possibly used in meta.
Certain uniques can even have a unique upgrade, like the H&K MP5 with a silencer can become an H&K MP5SD with a corresponding model/icon.

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