Feedback on Subnautica, around some few aspects of the game

Casual_PlayerCasual_Player a really good question Join Date: 2016-08-30 Member: 221875Members
This was going to be on the "Cyclops far from be usable thread", but I felt it wasn't it's place there, mainly because it wasn't exactely in context.. Thus, the new thread.

* On the Open World:

Subnautica isn't open world anymore, with closing and restricting player access just to fit the "story". If you want an example of open world games with story nicely woven into then, try these:

- Skyrim

- Witcher 3.

*These games did something that Subnautica never will be able to achieve. They created a story inserted on a world, not the other way around. Subnautica started small. Then grew following the "story" it wanted to tell, and there is nothing wrong with that. But then you realised this was supposed to be an exploration game on a open world, and started adding biomes hoping the players themselves would find them by curiosity or sheer luck (the mushroom caves), and it ended up with this. This isn't and open world game, it's a collage of things around a central pole. At these times, the "invisible wall" around the edges of the map works wonders, with things like gradual health drop, radiation zones, etc.

Don't anyone come saying anything near "they are big studios...more people...more money...early access" when you can't decide, almost releasing the game, what kind of game you want to make. Nice one adding biomes to the void while the probability of finding them is low because there is no true way of orientation on the map (unless you count the "cheat" copy the jpg of the map to the game directory). Remove the "open world" tag from the SN steam page would at least be a very reasonable thing to do at this point.

I don't expect you know how to make an open world game, but the least I would expect is you deciding on something and sticking to that path.

* On the mandatory use of sneaking

If you want to learn how cloaking and sneaking works, mostly because of the insistence of adherering to it instead of giving a chance of defense (cutting the PRAWN power supply, and effectively forcing the player to explore the ILZ and ALZ on that new Cyclops with ultra Sea Dragons roaming the place). Try these two games if you guys need reference on how cloaking and sneaking mechanics work

- Thief 1 (or Thief Gold): best sneaking mechanic I ever seen. the Player can fight, not very well, but he can. Best to sneak around. Different surfaces required different strategies to bypass.

- Deus Ex (the original, not the second, that abomination): player could use permanent upgrades and they modified they way cloaking and sneaking worked.

You want to make a game without giving the player weapons to defend himself? Fine. You want to place this player on a zone full of enemies and force them to fend for themselves? Fine. But don't come saying you had to remove invulnerability of something for reasons (because that is what that anwser ended up being, frankly, "balance the game") like one of the dev team said on another thread, and that was insulting.

* On the lack of weapons

Nothing wrong with that, but need to buff the resistance of player made things on the game. To date, according to even the PDA's, the only things that managed to do some real damage to both Precursor and human tech were the leviathans (a Reaper, on the case of the Degasi Base at the DGR, and the Sea Dragon, at the Precursor lab). That means our stuff isn't supposed to be so fragile, that a Cyclops isn't supposed to be sunk by things smaller than a leviathan (or rocks, because that's plausible). Yes, we are not the "apex predators" on Subnautica, but guess what? We wouldn't be the apex in our own world if not though our cunning. If on this world, Subnautica, we can create something and we are able to modify it on a molecular level, depending on the size of our creation, it is within the realm of plausibility the Cyclops to be invulnerable, or receive damage only by leviathans and rocks. Make our tools on this world more resistant. Humans on Subnautica are travelling the damn galaxy, so how in the world they have exploration vehicles capable of sinking to fish smaller than leviathans?

That's it. I have been keeping this to myself for some time, but it would do more harm than good not saying it.

EDIT: cunning and opposable thumbs, but you got the idea

EDIT 2: I'm very sorry, but the more I read this, the more I realised I let escape some typos and things that could alter the context of what I'm trying to say. There should be none more as of now.


  • kingkumakingkuma cancels Work: distracted by Dwarf Fortress Join Date: 2015-09-25 Member: 208137Members
    edited May 2017
    Definition of "Open world" -> "Open world, free roam, or (more loosely) sandbox are terms for video games where a player can move freely through a virtual world and is given considerable freedom in regard to how and when to approach particular objectives, as opposed to other video games that have a more linear structure to their gameplay."

    You don't need to do the story. Someone (I forget who) had 400+ hours ingame, and yet had never been to the ILZ. Heck, half my worlds are just me building seabases whenever I want to. I KNOW somebody is going to say SN is "Linear", but it's not. Linear games:

    Any Platformer

    Anything with a campaign

    Now, GTA is counted as a open - world game, yet it has a story. Linear means you need to complete one part to go to the next.
    The deep grand reef base is still there even if you haven't been to the island.
    The ILZ is not closed off when you haven't looted the lost river. The Aurora is still open even if you haven't found all the lifepods. You can get the exosuit without going to the PRAWN bay. You can get the cyclops before the seamoth. Heck, you could use pipes to get to the prison if you wanted to. You can explore. That's not linear, that's open world.
  • AmbaireAmbaire Join Date: 2016-06-27 Member: 219206Members
    Agreed regarding the cyclops etc. Nerfing the prawn power just makes me sad.
  • the_marinerthe_mariner US of A Join Date: 2016-12-29 Member: 225653Members
    This. Everything about this.

    Subnautica used to be about exploring an open world full of unique biomes and creatures, and now? The Lava Zone entrances have been gutted for 'the sake of the story' - players are FORCED, not encouraged - FORCED to go down a linear path that holds their hand the entire way. If the entrances in the Dunes and Crash Zone are removed, all of the atmosphere and sense of exploration they granted is lost.

    Devs, I get that you're trying to accommodate for the new players. I really do. But by no means does this mean removing the core essence of Subnautica in order to get more people to play. What's happening is that you're making Subnautica a story-driven, shockingly linear game that forces players to go down the route pre-determined by you, the devs - a route that removes any player choice whatsoever.

    And while we're at it, why don't we talk about the new additions to vehicles? The Cyclops used to be safe, you could count on it to protect you from pretty much anything. Now? Unless you're moving at 3 miles an hour, WARNING: CAVITATING -- EXCESSIVE NOISE. The devs are trying to implement stealth to 'make the gameplay deeper', but without real knowledge of how to do so, it's failing miserably.

    Devs, earlier in development you guys were open to suggestions. You responded quickly to bugs, you made changes based on player experience; hell, you even gave us a tour of your vacation house! Now, it seems like you're closed off. None of the feedback about the signals, or the entrances, or the glass Cyclops has really been responded to. The best you've really responded are a few placatory statements over on the official subreddit.

    What happened? It seems like what's going on is a response to all the exposure YouTube has given you. The few imbeciles in the community pressure you to make the game easier, more mainstream, more 'betterer', and you succumb.

  • Casual_PlayerCasual_Player a really good question Join Date: 2016-08-30 Member: 221875Members
    edited May 2017
    @kingkuma Except it's not. By your definition, even No Man's Sky can be defined as open world. If it is the same thing over and over again, with little differences besides aestethics, then it's not a world, just a giant sandbox. That's why I put Skyrim and Witcher 3 there - because those are examples of open world games, with different regions.

    Subnautica doesn't know what to do. You know very well the devs are talking about forcing the player to go through the Lost River to reach the ILZ by sealing an entrance, like they did with the Dunes, just because they want the player to go through that place. Want something open world? Leave all of them open, each with their own characteristic, and leave the exploration to the player. Open world games are difficult to create because you need to put content into them. I don't feel that is the case with Subnautica.

    The line between giant repetitions and an open world is very clear.

  • gamer1000kgamer1000k Join Date: 2017-04-29 Member: 230121Members
    edited May 2017
    I agree with the OP.

    The devs have made a commendable effort with this game (and it's miles ahead of almost all other early access indie games), but it's still looking like they made the (sadly) common mistake of not having a comprehensive game plan at the beginning. I realize that plans change during development, but just looking at the current state of the game and trello, it looks like not enough thought was given earlier in the development process as to how all the game systems would interact with each other.

    For example, the decision to not include a mapping feature appears to be now producing a lot of issues with discoverability and navigation that seems to be a root cause of the current push for more linearity in the game. Omitting a map is fine for a highly linear game with maybe a few secret areas, but IMHO is a necessity for any type of open world game unless you want the player to frequently be lost and miss things, and not be able to find things again later.

    Same issue with not including weapons. It's fine to leave out offensive weapons, but then the game needs to be planned around this fact with a lot of thought given to alternative gameplay. Right now the player is encouraged to use tools as crude, improvised weapons (or even dedicated weapons like the Seamoth perimeter defense system). The only other option is the broken Cyclops silent running stealth mechanic that magically makes enemies go blind.

    Cyclops navigation is yet another issue that seems to not have been fully thought out. The devs seem to want the player to take the Cyclops to the ILZ, but then the only routes they provide are extremely tight and difficult to navigate.

    I'm sure that most games (even big AAA titles from veteran studios) go through these growing pains during the development process, but it's much more apparent with early access titles.

    In the To-Do portion of Trello, there's a card for playtesting the game. Hopefully this will let the devs experience some of the issues we've encountered with the game, and take steps to address them before release.
  • JackeJacke Calgary Join Date: 2017-03-20 Member: 229061Members
    kingkuma wrote: »
    You don't need to do the story. Someone (I forget who) had 400+ hours ingame, and yet had never been to the ILZ.
    That's me. :)

    All those hours in a number of games over various versions. A lot of them very short. Been to the Aurora in 3 of them, once made the PRAWN suit but didn't use it that much. My current game is Experimental and my next step in the story and general exploration is the Aurora. But my new base was next to the Grand Reef so I did some Seamoth deep exploration into the Deep Grand Reef and the start of the Lost River.

    The developers want Subnautica to be successful. That's why they're shifting the balance towards supporting the story as that's most likely to help them there. They have a good world and now they want to bring out a good story. And they just can't ignore what goes up on Twitch and YouTube about their game. Even if some of the streamers and video makers appear to be lacking in appreciation of this game.

    They have to be worried about people losing interest in Subnautica, either before they buy, or after buying and playing and then speaking up about the game adversely affecting future sales. This is their day job and they need the sales of Subnautica to pay themselves.

    However, I do worry they will go too far. It's not issues like the fragility of the Cyclops or the aggression of the wildlife that are the greatest problems, as they have been adjusted in the past and can be again if UWE hear enough about the current state of the game and whether it's working or not.

    I worry about the major changes that will be hard to go back on. Like the change to the parts, paths, and accesses of the ILR. Those should be made in a way that "makes sense" and here Subnautica can really shine in being an open world to explore.

    There shouldn't be a conflict between the open world to explore and story. Things that "push" and "pull" the player through the story and the story locations (like the signals which are a good "pull") can make sure people won't get lost with the story. And making where that story plays out a beautiful world will only help.
  • AmbaireAmbaire Join Date: 2016-06-27 Member: 219206Members
    Subnautica doesn't need a story. It's a perfectly fine sandbox exploration thingy without it. And I like the sandbox exploration thing. If it deviates significantly from 'underwater minecraft-like', I will be very disappointed.
  • Casual_PlayerCasual_Player a really good question Join Date: 2016-08-30 Member: 221875Members
    Ambaire wrote: »
    Subnautica doesn't need a story. It's a perfectly fine sandbox exploration thingy without it. And I like the sandbox exploration thing. If it deviates significantly from 'underwater minecraft-like', I will be very disappointed.

    My point is, somewhere along the line, the focus was lost. Story or sandbox first, then somewhere the devs went the other way. And, for me, this decision ended up degrading the game. What good to the story if there are vast amounts of space with only terrain difference between them, because the rest is the same empty of content thing (the precursor caches are only revealing trivia). What good it brings to a giant sandbox where just a small area is used, and forcibly modified (or will be) to accomodate the story, crippling the "open world", but continuing adding biomes with "new" things that, frankly, doesn't add sand to the sandbox? Damn, the Ghost Leviathan is a Reaper without tentacles! Unless you actively look for it, the Mushroom caves will go unnoticed.

    That is the point. Changing directions like that will have consequences, and some of these can bring everything down. And that is what happened to Subnautica. Either finish the map first and then insert the story, if any, or stick to the story and restrict the map to it, at most giving the "illusion of freedom" to the player, keeping the "invisible wall" close if you need to use it (and explain it either via terrain or plot device). Tell me, games like Bioshock and Prey are linear, but can they be considered open world? The same with System Shock.
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