Hi everyone around:
I have pledged Fractured on KickStarter and have now been playing the alpha tests since approx. Dec 2019. When I played the game for the first time, I really was impressed by it. But in the last month and years this has changed. I really would love Fractured to be a game that would motivate me for years and this post will be my attempt to make it the great game that I would love.
What is following now is a big feedback that I collected and noted down several weeks! Yes it is long. But I thought a lot about it and I am sure that it is a valuable feedback and collection of ideas. Please feel free to ask me about it, because I doubt that my text is able to entirely explain the system and the logic that is behind it. But of course I give it a try:
#1 General Feedback on Alpha Tests
The way the Alpha test currently work are not beneficial. Not for you as the developers and not for us as players or testers. I have listed some reasons and hints for you how to stop that.
- We do not know what to test! Information on how things should work are rare and often only mentioned during a video. We need proper documentation how things should work to test them. Maybe also add a test log so that we can find out if a bug occurred or if not. This does not help us and also not you. You need more precise bug reports.
- Your test subject and design is wrong! We need to grind and build up the city before actually testing the things you want to be tested. Additionally you had bugs that destroyed half the game. Example: Field fertility -> No trade, to easy rank up, Boom.
- There is no test schedule! The interest in the tests drops tremendously after about a week, but you schedule „new content“ several weeks after the start. Either find a way to make the game interesting for a longer time span or schedule the new content to be released just before interest drops
- Do the basics! We are testing high level features. A lot. But the game still lacks fundamental features such as a proper chat, a proper access right management, configurable roles and permission in guilds. A proper map (with personal markers and stuff) a working mini map (zoom, etc.). You really should address this first. It will make testing easier and the game mechanics etc. don’t suffer for these reasons!
- You miss a lot of bugs! Every time I start the game I recognize a lot of bugs. Too many to track them all. A log that glitches into the ground, a floating tree, a misplaced bridge, mobs that are stuck in the air and don’t attack. You should make them easily trackable. Add an ingame bug reporting function to the game that let the player enter a short description and send it along with some logs, game data and a screenshot to the devs.
#2 The game design
Fractured was advertised as a whole new kind of game, but until now, you failed. You have to make a decision and you have to decide soon. You have to decide what you want Fractured to be: Do you want it to be that new and different game? Or do you want it to be the same boring kind of game that already exists a thousand times? The latter might look more beneficial. But those games lose their attraction quickly. The really good games either brought a great story, brought a new mechanic or founded a genre. See Half-Life, see GTA, see WoW, see Portal or the Total War games.
In case you decided to be the latter, you can stop reading here. I will probably not be playing your game in the future, but I wish you all the best and good luck.
In case you decided to bring on a new and different game: Congratulations, you have my support. And you will now get a ton of ideas of which I believe will help you to make Fractured the unique gaming experience a lot of us, including me, are looking for. A short piece of information up front: You might notice after you read my whole writing that his is something like a perpetual mobile. A system that can fuel itself and therefor may be fun for a looong time.
#2.1 Wrong Focus
To start directly into the right direction, we first have to determine why the game is currently heading down the path towards a standard „boring“ game. It is: Fighting!
This probably sound scary and surprising, just because the whole game is focussed on fighting. It really is. All the things you do, harvesting, mining, building, crafting, ranking up your city, is just needed to build better gear and to make fighting easier. And it goes even beyond. What can I use knowledge for? Higher stats and new abilities. What do I need them for? Fighting!
But what is the reason to fight? There is none. And this is why Fractured will fail going down its current path. When the players have achieved the highest gear, when they killed all the mobs and bosses, then the game is over. And if you are lucky you end up like WoW, which attracts players again every 2 year by bringing a new Add-on. If you are not, you will end up like almost all other MMORPGs. You will be forgotten after some time.
So, now we know that we need other focuses. Of course we will not remove fighting from the game, it still will be essential. But it will only be one of many ways to have fun in Fractured. I will now dedicate a whole chapter to everything that has to change. Please keep it mind: My ideas may not be perfect, but I bet that picking just one will not work. You need a few.
Long story short: Can I be the best archer, wizard and sword fighter all in one character? No I cannot. That is good. Why can I craft the best light / medium / heavy armor, the best sword, the best bow and the best mage staff then? Yes, but I should not be able. And if you know say it depends on the tech tree of the city, forget about it, I will get to that later. One character should never be able to craft everything.
So we just found out that we do have a full talent tree plus tons of abilities just for fighters. But nothing similar for crafters. If you really want to support crafting as play type. You have to implement it. Here are my recommendations:
Get rid of the tech tree (at least the way it currently is). Mining, Farming, Smithing, Tailoring, Woodworking, Alchemy, Architecture, Enchanting. Make it a skill tree! Just like the one you have for fighting. But: Make skill trees (at least for crafting) not that easily switchable, I also would like to skill trees for fighting not easily switchable as well, but that is another topic.
Get rid of the tiers. Honestly, what are they good for (absolutely nothing, say it again y’all). Either the best gear is overpowered and no one uses weaker gear or the best gear is not worth the effort. In the end tiers end up in programmers and designer creating things nobody wants to use. Replace it with special weapons: Silver and Moon Steel against undeads, Gold and Sun Steel agains unholy creatures, and so on.
Standard weapons + crafting abilities. A basic knife, a basic sword and the average armor is something a lot of blacksmiths can do. But very durable gear or very light gear? Maybe even very prestigious gear (I will come back to prestigious gear later). There could be abilities to need fewer materials, lower smelting temperatures or less fuel and to craft specialized weapons.
A gear designer Every fighter can pick a weapon, a set of abilities and armor. Thereby various play style of fighting styles are created. Why not making something like this for crafters. Let them build their own blueprints for armors or weapons, which result in special specs for the gear. This way you may even not have to bring new content live over and over again.
To bring it to an end: Crafting should be something you have to specialize in. Just like you have to specialize for a fighting style. It will be yours to decide if you should be able to do both, fighting and crafting, or just one of them.
I bet you know it yourself: Trading is and always was dead in Fractured. This has several reasons.
The first and simplest reason is that trading is not needed, except for crops for the city upkeep. This looks as if it is easy to fix. Simply make more resources exclusive and therefor targets for trades. And I will encourage you to do so. But not by restricting access, but by making traveling, especially with a wagon, a lot more dangerous. You should also implement my crafting ideas, which will make gear more exclusive as well.
But besides this easy measure you will have to go a little deeper into the benefits of trading. Why does someone trade? There are four reasons:
- Someone does trade for (buy) something that he or she cannot craft or mine itself
- Someone does trade for (buy) something if it is a lot easier than crafting or mining it
- Someone does trade (sell) something if he or she has too much of it
- Someone does trade (sell) something that he or she can craft in order to get something that he cannot craft
As you may notice, in Fractured none of the 4 reasons will happen.
- Every player can craft everything. (1. + 4.)
- Trading is not easier at all (2.) You have to go for long ways, your wanted Item can be sold while you are on the way, you need to farm or craft the coins to buy it and it is always more expensive than crafting it yourself (why should someone sell it for less), and your wanted item is probably a lot rare than the resources to craft it
- You never have to much.. You need several wagons full of coal and ore to craft a full set of armor. Why should you sell it? (3.)
For this 4 reasons I have some ideas which will not only solve the problem but also make the game for fun:
- Implement my crafting ideas. This will make gear harder to obtain and therefor trades more likely
- Make mining and gathering of resources harder. But not by placing fewer resource nodes, but by a more aggressive environment (see my ideas in the sections NPCs, Cities, Political System)
- Make trading easier (for example by reserving and item for a fee, or NPCs, see NPC section)
- Implement travelling NPC merchants who buy at one marketplace and sell at another
- Make the upkeep costs for the cities more variable, including weapons, armors, etc. (See section Cities)
In case you believe that this will not help, you should consider replacing the trading system in total.
You could install market rights for some cities and they take fees for executed trades (see my Political System section)
This section will be a relatively short one. We need NPCs, a lot. And we need real NPCs, not just mobs. We need merchants, we need bandits, we need farmers / miners and guards. The NPCs will make this whole game work. Let me explain:
This is simple, they will make trades. For their „own profit“. They buy at one market place, literally travel to another market place and sell it there. They never interact with players directly, only through markets. And of course they only buy or sell if they earn money. By implementing this, selling and buying will be easier and therefor more likely. They will also be good targets for bandits, both NPC and PC. NPC merchants should retreat more and more if there are PC merchants. They are just an element to make trading work.
- Bandits and other enemy humanoids
They will make the environment more dangerous. In my opinion it should me almost impossible to travel offside of the main roads alone, even on the main roads it should be not that easy. This will stop players from doing everything on their own and cooperation is a lot more likely what will make the game interesting
They will be the opposite of bandits and therefor make the environment safe. But they need to be supported by the cities (see Cities section for details)
- Farmers / Miners / Builders etc.
It might be the case that there are players who want to do mining or farming. But there might also be cities in which no player wants to do it. Here is the solution for it.
Shortly summed up: Almost everything that can be done by player can also be done by NPCs. This will help everyone to play as he or she likes and it will also make the world live from the beginning of the game on.
Note: Those NPCs should never be that cheap that you can run a whole city with them. They should just support to make the game less grindy if you reached a certain level of wealth and to keep the game from being stuck, as it feels so often during the tests.
Additionally there should be „high“ NPCs which have positions that will never be reached by players, such as deities or arch kings. See the section political system / religion.
What are cities right now? Mainly Crafting Station Hubs. This has to change. Cities have to be central game elements.
Here are my ideas how to achieve this:
Renew city ranks and reform the city upkeep
The current implementation of city ranks is linear, boring and mostly annoying. Why is this the case? Yet again it has several reasons:
- You simply rank up a city by playing a lot. If you have one or two hands full of active players you rank up quickly. Therefor it is something you just do but not really enjoy.
- You have to grind a lot for ranking up a city. This is boring and annoying.
- Upkeep is very linear, it is just based on the rank of your city, nothing to think about, nothing to plan. Once again boring and possibly annoying.
- The tech tree is crappy since it makes you to almost not craft anything until you have ranked up.
To make cities have the impact on the game they should have we must rethink a lot. Let us start at the tech tree.
Currently a lot of buildings are locked behind the the tech tree, which is based on city ranks. I would recommend to avoid this for almost all buildings. So when you start a city it should be a minor settlement, which you have to build up, but you should have available almost all buildings. The only (currently available) buildings I would lock behind a tech tree are the marketplace and the prison. So yes, every city should be capable of building palisades and everything else right from the start.
So but what about the ranks now? They should still exist, but it should be fewer. Maybe something like settlement, village, town, city, metropolis. But what are these ranks now for? The improve the buildings you have. Let us have a look at the Palisades. They might rank up as follows:
- Rank 1 „Settlement“: Simple wood palisades with closable doors. They can protect you but not much more
- Rank 2 „Village“: Wooden palisades / wooden walls with guard walks around them. The protect you and you can defend from them.
- Rank 3 „Town“: Stone fundaments with wooden walls, with more protected guard walks. Better protection for the city and the defenders on them.
- Rank 4 „City“: Stone walls with defending weapon slits. Better protection for the city and the defenders on and in / behind them. Maybe defending weapons can be placed in places where the walls are thinner.
- Rank 5 „Metropolis“: Stone walls with platforms for defensive weapons. Even more protection and no weaknesses for defensive weapons.
Something like this should be applied to all buildings, if you want ideas, tell me, I am just not going to put them all down here now, would be too much.
But you see, city ranks are not just bringing tech points anymore your city really becomes more and more what the rank calls it. It is advantageous to strive even for the highest level but also ranking up a little makes your city immediately feeling better.
Now it’s getting even better. From the rank „town“ on you are such an important city that you are granted market rights. Therefor you can now build a market place. From the rank „city“ on you have advanced territorial rights and can therefor imprison the evil guys, the prison is unlocked. Technically it should be fine to build the buildings earlier, but you cannot use them.
Additionally every city should be able to „book“ some NPC services. This is not really booking but more like organizing: The city is organizing for example:
- NPC guards to protect the city or the roads, mines or fields around the city
- NPC farmers to automate the farming (the plan what to plant has still to be set by players, only if environment is safe)
- NPC miners to automate the mining (crafting still has to be done by players, only if environment is safe)
- NPC builder to automate build buildings (materials have still to be collected)
- … (more can be created of course, harbors, traders, I dunno…)
Of course you attract more NPCs if you have a higher rank. In the beginning you can probably only effort one of these NPC services. And you have to provide tools, weapons, armor etc. to your NPCs. The areas which should be guarded have to be set by the players. Secured city grants prestige, secured roads attract merchants (PC and NPC, cause they won’t be robbed), secured fields, mines makes farmers / miners possible and the more secure the more farmers / miners are available. Other NPC services.. we will see.
Note: Of course players can secure an area as well. If bandits are killed a lot in certain areas (not bandit camps!) they should retreat to a minimum (like 1 bandit a day). If this remaining bandit is not killed anymore, after three days the number is doubled. After three days again, and again. Up to a maximum. By implementing this mechanics NPC and PC guards could exists. But PCs always should be the ones who secure an area in the first place.
As you can imagine the ranks are not easy to achieve. So what should the system behind it be? Let me tell you:
- The ranks have population requirements again. Only if you attract a lot of players, you can become a big city.
- The ranks may additionally have economical, religious or political requirements such as marketplace revenue. For the religious / political requirements please have a look at the section „Political / Religious system“
- The ranks have costs in form of coins, wood, stone and ingots. The actual costs depend on the buildings you have already in your city. They are needed to upgrade the buildings. This leaves space for strategies / tactics of how to achieve high population with few buildings etc.
- The upkeep costs are determined similar, they are based on the number of buildings in the city including the player’s houses. But there is another thing which is added: NPC Service costs.
- In order to attract new players, the cities can provide resources or even fully build houses for new citizens. If a player leaves a city, his house stays there. The city can decide if it will be offered to new players or destroyed.
This has several big advantages. The players do not have to pay for their own upkeep anymore. So also if some players are on vacation or drop out, the other players are not punished by loosing a rank. But having too many inactive players is still a problem. And it leaves room for a lot of strategies of how to attract players and to manage city life.
#2.6 The Environment
As I mentioned before, the environment should be hostile. This can be achieved by several factors:
- Beasts and animals, which will leave the area when settlements and or NPCs / PCs get closer
- Bandits which will maraud around in the uncivilized territories. They rob PCs and NPCs (merchants and so on)
- Giant beasts and epical creatures that guard special places of interest or rare materials (dragon hort, e. g.)
- World bosses (fun, heroic players, etc.)
This will make the city system work. NPC or PC Guards will make the territories safer, which will enable trading, mining, etc. Of course both NPC and PC trading, mining, etc. Safety is the most important thing in the game. Actually it should be anyway, it is still a survival game! Therefor safe homes and places are important, there are some mechanics that will make this work:
- Logging out should only be possible close to a campfire or within a city
- Players who log out in the wilderness very likely be robbed the longer they stay logged out, if you leave your wagon in a (non-evil) city this should not happen, but of course still can (evil players, PvP, Dunno about PvE)
- Players who log out being not in a tavern / hostel will still lose their saturation and energy, of course at a reduced rate based on the location
This safety mechanics will make cities very important and beneficial. It will still be possible to play just as a citizen and not care about much of it, but if you want to engage in this politics and strategies you can. Let us now look on what the political system may be.
#2.7 The Political / Religious system
I have written a lot of how the game should be. We are not dealing with the topic why or what the game should be. It should encourage players to play. Playing is of course collecting materials and exploring the world. It also is fighting, both PvE and PvP (based on the server of course).
You might expect a very complex system now. I have to disappoint you. It will be simple. Ok, I am a little dishonest. It will be hard to implement, and hard to balance. But the mechanics is easily explained:
- There will be great political and religion leaders such as a high king and deities / gods.
- Political leader(s) (may only be one)
- have demands (coins, food, materials) from
- Regular taxes for cities
- Festivities (marriages, birthdays, funerals)
- Events such as food shortage in the capital
- declare wars (in case some cities do no pay or have a wrong religion or move over to another king, if there are multiple)
- favor / disfavor religions (higher taxes for „wrong religions“)
- Might be hard to balance that not one city is hit hard all the time
- I expect high kings to die from time to time and the new king has other interests, therefor demands or favored religion can change
- have demands (coins, food, materials) from
- Deities / Gods demand
- shrines / temples to be devoted to them and
- sacrifices to be made (animals, wars against mobs,
- therefor they grant buffs such as
- higher guard moral
- higher fertility
- higher mine outcome
- higher attraction for some NPC groups
- or send debuffs in form of plagues (similar to buffs, but negativ) if sacrifices are not made
Basically that’s it, but why do we need this? This is simple: It causes conflicts between cites and unknown demands. This will make wars, raids, trading etc. necessary and forces the cities to rethink their current politics to meet the requirements or suffer the downsides.
2.8 PvE, little PvP, full PvP
How to support now the different play styles:
- PvE: NPC led cities and bandits (not all cities can be taken by PC, PC bandits can only attack NPC cities / merchants)
- Little PvP: PC led cities and NPC bandits
- Full PvP: PC led cities and PC bandits (NPC cities and bandits will still be there but everything can be taken over)
Little PvP may be the same as Full PvP BUT with hard limits on bandits camps and cities taken over by PCs).
#2.9 Cities vs. Guilds / Nations
Actually I have no "release ready" idea on that topic right now. The features is not really implemented yet or at least not tested. We will have to see what has to happen here.
#3 Further ideas
- Bandit camps can be taken over by players
- Pirates and Pirate camps on islands, ships on the sea
- And so one (feel free to contact me)
I know it has been a lot, but I am eager to hear any thoughts on my ideas