Author Topic: Let's talk about Charms  (Read 758 times)

yclatious

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Let's talk about Charms
« on: March 25, 2022, 12:47:28 pm »
I've crunched these guys out, done the grind, punched the frogs and noted it all down, I think I've earned the right to give an opinion worth listening to. Let's start with naming the problems and to delve into improvements.


Problems:

The activation method is derrailed, having gleamed the inner workings of how it actually acts in-game. Testing would have been nearly impossible if a certain someone didn't supply me the hex codes to shift, and it had taken over a year until I made a thread and made a call to action for anyone to have a clue of what they did, having been the man who ended up doing the action anyways. The fact it took a year to have any kind of concrete idea of what even one of these did is a travesty, and a sign of bad design. Most people thought it was a prank Styg, literally a gypsy scam, and that's not how you do a alternative feature like this.

Booth is present and static. He doesn't move, even if his location in the sewers can vary, but he's always there. Coral isn't. In fact I can barely ever find her even as I track all the way through every bar the South has to offer, making it a downright chore to even try and buy a charm after the early potential SGS/Junkyard location. I never found her after that and I have tried hard, and it should not be this hard to find a woman who wants to sell me animal body parts for good luck.

Her flavor is lacking and I can't help but to enjoy Booth more. While Coral has a nice picture to her and the whole thing of the spirits trapped inside the charms is kind of neat, it doesn't really compare to you having a literal mark of your achievements stapled onto your skin by a man who has dedicated himself to marking those that show by his doorstep, not even charging a charon for it. Booth marks you with the accomplishments of your journey, each perk thematic to the achievement or what you've done, and while in my opinion none of these are build key or super strong, I can't help but to try and seek him out and to have a little progress marked onto my character, literally in this case. It's the kind of flavor I love about Underrail and the South, getting tatoo'd by a mutant in the sewers, the guy himself marked with a damn Crawler on his skin, not letting his condition slow him down as he marks you with whatever you choose, a mark on your journey. Compared to a travelling saleswoman, Booth is just both easier to find, easier to get something you like and just so damn flavorful, how can I not love this guy?

The clarity of charms, or rather the absolute lack of it, is something I can't stress enough as a massive problem. It's understandable to have a mechanic not be fully data mined and fully comprehended and dissected in a game, it's another to have hidden modifiers related to belief of charms actually affecting it and by proxy, stuff like Coral actually cursing you if you call her out on being a scammer, which previous to the crunch I did, I could not blame anyone at all for. The fact the curse is hidden is god awful, as anyone unaware or playing as a first timer could easily just think "Ah, she's just fucking around and meant to be a scamming saleswoman, lemme call her out on it" and then get hexed ingame for his entire playthrough. It's not good at all Styg, and I'm not saying for you to show the 50 second charm buff, but good God, don't do this either.


You'll have noticed all of these aren't related to balance at all. Truth be told, I had to punch frogs 6000 times on some tests to find a different Styg but it isn't even about balance that I'm worried about. A minor buff to these would maybe be something interesting to consider, but the issues here push aside the actual number crunching from the sweaty Dominating optimization and focus on the issues inherent with the charms. Their presentation is strange, their effects cryptic, their flavour is lacking, their nature is hidden. People groan when they see Coral and don't bother with charms, they delete the Coral file so only Booth appears and if you sincerely want Charms to be not just a part of the game but a good one, here are my suggestions.


Improvements:

Make the activation method less insane. Make it so your charm vibrate or slightly glow whenever inside the activation period when equipped and to settle down when its over. This will make it clear Coral isn't scamming you and there is some actual shebang to it, perhaps only if you try to inquire and talk as much as you can about how they work and such so your "faith" is rewarded if you believe it to be better that way. Also makes them actually practical to use and not a complete meme to guess whenever they are even working or not, which is BAD DESIGN.

Make Coral much more static. I know she is a wandering saleswoman, but you can definitely do something like shoving her in Rail Crossing while the Faceless are there, then leave for Core city until the Cube is stolen and then to chill at the Hanging Rat until the end of the game, maybe sometimes hanging out in SGS or Junkyard again. Make her stay in some kind of "guaranteed" spot with a few different places to go to instead of having to go on the Dude Marathon whenever you want to talk to her.

Maybe make her more likable as an NPC? Having her with her own ghost stories and the like she tells the Player if he believes in the charms and wears them as they talk, some cryptic hints at stuff she's seen, monoliths and more, perhaps even a special kind of merchandise for a trapper in the know of the paranormal, like if you've seen the spooky rectangle or what comes out of it/Dom utility tower and she shares some limited merchandise bolts for a crossbower. She has some potential as a character honestly, so you can play with her being like a less grief stricken Katya and to give her own insight into things over a bottle of brew or two.

The hot spicy suggestion is to have her not be "either or" with Booth. Both can coexist and not cause issues in either balance or flavor, but in fact can coexist and make stuff cooler, a tatoo'd one man army kissing up his charm as he heads on out to the dangerous tasks he's given, praying for good luck with his progress marked on his back. That's beyond flavourful and having more NPCs like that in the South is something that's always appreciated, as good NPCs can sometimes make the world feel beyond alive.


I know development in Infusion is under way, but even if nothing gets done on the game we have now, which would be understandable, I just don't want charms or anything similar in design to be in Infusion. Even if you don't change anything within the code, please do change the design you have in mind, because Charms, as they stand, are bad enough people are diving into the files so they never see Coral again. That's a sign that something isn't right and that something needs to change for the better.

Vagabond

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2022, 01:47:20 pm »
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you did the math, I would like to hear what exactly do the charms do. If not exactly, then in general terms what is modified and not, how long do they work, what are the debuffs.

Aside from that, I'd add that a high Will/Intelligence Psi user should be able to get all this info in-game, and/or with the help of Juice, similar to how the Torch is got.

Barry

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2022, 02:18:59 pm »
The sheer difference in quality makes me think it could've been an experiment from the very beginning to gauge player reaction to useful and useless random content because of a push towards random content and much of the content having no reason to do it like the dungeon fragments (no unique loot and the quality of the loot itself is too low), while on Dominating the Ice Tower and Arena Masters provide situational rewards at best (temporary defense bonuses if you are damaged by cold and the demolitionist belt).
The nature of the random elements themselves come from a solution to maintaining flavor for the game with subsequent runs because a lot of the dedicated players were playing the game over and over again, but there's 3 problems:
- The random content is entirely random and there's no way to manipulate it save for file editing
- The random content is not significant enough for the dozens of hours players will spend going through the same routes (like killing the Beast or detonating Camp Hathor's rocks)
- The random content can't be defining enough or else people will get angry that such an useful thing is gated behind RNG
One point I agree with more than usual is that there's no real reason to just not have all the RNG-locked content in the same run, and thus in the process it can also be afforded to give more significant rewards because it's not random, therefore there's no problem if it's "too strong".
All in all unless there is something like "long-term game content" that roguelites tend to do (like new unlocks in the world based on what you do and they're unlocked in subsequent runs) then I think there should be less emphasis on random and more emphasis on alternative ways to do things. Phreak's questline was a VERY GOOD addition because you were no longer railroaded into serving the Oligarchs to progress the main story. It should be up to the player to find new content to experience, new ways to get past problems and new ways to reach their goal, and RNG is only a band-aid solution that doesn't work well with the game as is.

yclatious

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2022, 02:36:05 pm »
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you did the math, I would like to hear what exactly do the charms do. If not exactly, then in general terms what is modified and not, how long do they work, what are the debuffs.

Weren't around for the threads huh? Basically:
>Siphoners increase chance proc bleed so good with knives
>Psi beetle increases chance to critically hit with psionics but lowers resolve
>Warthog grants you a fortitude buff if above 25% food buff duration but grants you a malus if below
>Burrower appears to be armor penalty based crit on throwing knives
>Rathound, white cat and dog seem to be scams
>Hopper charm is global crit chance
>Crawler is stealth as per the words of the other Anon doing code
>Coil spider is increased taken electrical damage, no increase to damage dealt, likely something about lighting distance as its bonus or whatever
>Holding the charms enables these effects to happen, kissing them gives you a 50 seconds invisible buff which makes the effects more pronounced, must be holding them to have them work, apparently has a extra hidden modifier related to how much you act like you believe in the charms when you speak to Coral that varies the power of these, act like they don't do shit and they don't

Vagabond

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2022, 04:05:36 pm »

>Rathound, white cat and dog seem to be scams

>Holding the charms enables these effects to happen, kissing them gives you a 50 seconds invisible buff which makes the effects more pronounced, must be holding them to have them work, apparently has a extra hidden modifier related to how much you act like you believe in the charms when you speak to Coral that varies the power of these, act like they don't do shit and they don't


Thanks, and yeah, I usually use forums for important to me or really big stuff, like one i'm thinking about now, so I  miss a lot and only skim through topics.

Also, damn, in one of my runs I bought a cat charm, seems like it was a waste, thought it'd add luck.
Also, also, thanks for the mechanics info, now I understand how to properly use it.

Guehlfirf

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2022, 04:44:31 am »
This is amazingly retarded. Coral is a gypsy scammer but your character makes charms work anyway through sheer self-deception and datamining.

As for the topic i agree that charms need more clarity. Self persuasion dialogue options are nice but there needs to be some indication that this leads somewhere. Maybe after enough dialogue options player can get a feat called believer or something. Same with the curse.


Sykar

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2022, 04:34:27 pm »
So she is not useless after your first encounter? Always seemed to me that you just meet her, get a charm and maybe buy a hopper leather if you have need.

Easy

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2022, 03:38:18 pm »
Seems that it's now impossible to figure out at the start whether you got a Coral playthrough or a Booth playthrough. I just started a new playthrough yesterday, first thing I did was check the SGS docks for Coral, intending to restart if she was there and keep restarting until she wasn't. She wasn't there, and also wasn't in the cantina or anywhere else in SGS (yes, I looked, did I mention I hate Coral). Then, a few hours later, I go to the docks to head off to Junkyard, and there is fucking Coral.

I mean look, I get it. An NPC with hidden effects is the kind of trolling of players that gives this game some flavor. Having that NPC be mutually exclusive with an NPC that provides clear benefits, Booth, is less cool, but still OK as long as you can tell at the start of a playthrough which one you got. I'm pretty sure that is how it used to work, since in every prior playthrough since Coral was added I got Booth as long as Coral wasn't at the SGS docks at the start. But now, being able to get several hours in to a playthrough where it looks like you got Booth, and then Coral pops up, is really annoying.

So maybe go back to her always being at the SGS docks at the start if you got her. Or have the player get an email at the start of the game about her vs. Booth, or something.

PaposikG6

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2022, 06:12:30 pm »
So she is not useless after your first encounter? Always seemed to me that you just meet her, get a charm and maybe buy a hopper leather if you have need.
To be honest, leather she sells is of such low quality that it is rather laughable, unless you really cannot find it anywhere else.
Seems that it's now impossible to figure out at the start whether you got a Coral playthrough or a Booth playthrough.
In last update, devs made it so that Coral can spawn first anywhere because they noticed people just restarted the character when seeing her at 1 lvl in docks. She can even not spawn at all in Junkyard and you can meet her first in rail crosssing or other place.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2022, 06:16:55 pm by PaposikG6 »

Crows

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Re: Let's talk about Charms
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2022, 02:40:35 pm »
In one playthrough I found her for the first time in Hardcore City Bar, and the Hanging Rat in another playthrough.

 

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