[Mega Thread] Balancing Exploration and Player Combat - Part 3

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    Exploration and combat are both very important to the Sea of Thieves experience. This is why, Safe Zones and PVE only Zones are not currently something we are exploring for Sea of Thieves. You can read our public comment about it in this PC Gamer interview with our Design Director Mike Chapman.

    As the game, the world it inhabits grows and changes, we want to hear your thoughts on how you are finding the balance of the two play styles when you play.


    Here's previous discussions on this topic:


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  • I'm sorry to sound harsh but exploration is non-existent in the game as it is right now.
    Exploring in videogames means searching for new places and getting rewarded for it with Lore/exp-gold/cosmetics.

    This never happens in SoT for some clear reasons:

    • There are too many places to explore since 80% of the map is water and the other 29% are quest islands, that only leaves that 1% of unnamed islands that feel pretty cool to explore but it's just too little
    • Even when exploring those locations you don't get rewarded at all, in fact you get punished in terms of exp/gold since the time you use exploring and not getting anything is time you could be using to do quests.

    I don't really have many ideas on how to fix it that don't require a complete overhaul of some game mechanics so I can't help you with that (Sorry)

    I was expecting the game to have many more cosmetic items that you would get by exploring, doing achievements and special quests that spawn from time to time. (I'm not talking about community events)

    Take a look at how old games handled those kind of things if you want "fresh ideas"

    Hope it's useful somehow.

    (Player combat is fine)

  • @khaleesibot
    Unfortunately a majority of the time is spent in unwanted combat or ship chases anyway, meaning that exploration is pretty much non existent.
    If you try & explore an island, 9 times out of 10 your ship will get sunk while you are on the island anyway, again making it rather pointless to try.
    If players want to battle, they can force their play style onto anyone else, i don't see how you can balance that!

  • I have to agree there really isn't any exploring going on. You need to possibly add more npc enemy's to fight or run into. For someone like me getting in fights I tend to die really fast in like a hit or 2 to players that look way better. I'm on Xbox.

  • To use an answer from the cosmetic megathread dyes.

    If dyes / paints were added to the game, allowing you to recolour areas of your clothes and ships then players would be driven to get the colour schemes of their choice. This would mean adding more varieties to hull layout as unlockables rather than the current repaints that exist but honestly thats not too hard in the grand scheme of things.

    By adding dyes you can tie them to a split of quest based, title locked colours and exploration based.

    EG

    Gold flake, unlocked for reaching lvl "x" with gold hoarders.

    Ink black, for surviving a kraken encounter.

    Topaz blue or jade green, for exploring the uncharted temple ruins in the middle of the map. (maybe make something to do here like a pressure plate temple entry. Just something to actually do here. It looks great but there us no purpose to it as of yet.

  • @khaleesibot Hiya!

    Balancing the 2 of these things is extremely difficult for the type for game you are trying to make, as the threat of PvP needs to be constant, however for exploration you need to feel safe somewhere because if your ship goes down then you lose everything you may have found whilst exploring. Also, as said above, there's not really much to push us to explore, bar the occasional chest in the island or washed up loot.

    Firstly, you guys need to add some incentive to explore: Hunting(requires way more animals, some will be exclusive to certain islands, others to other islands which requires us to seek out different islands), Fishing(as before), Secret Locations(like your underwater caves on the unmarked islands), NPCs hiding on islands (you have all these cool caves and camps but nobody in them... seems a bit wasteful), Proper lore(there might be but I haven't found anything. You need like old diaries and papers that you can then store on your ship to read through whenever), location specific cosmetics[so hunting animals for their pelts to craft specific items, a secret vendor (like Xur in destiny 2) that moves around islands so you have to search for him each week or something for expensive exotic items]

    Secondly, either leave things as they are but if you want more balance then my suggestion would be to add an explorers faction. This would give you a ship smaller than a sloop, that has no cannons and is very slow so you can't grief players, but also takes no cannon damage so you can't be griefed?(not a great idea, as I know it goes against that feeling of danger, but it's all I can think of right now) This could give you things to discover(like the cave paintings and locations we have to find in riddles) which would be how you earn XP and gold from this faction.

    Would like to hear what y'all think about my ideas or if anyone can expand on, or has anything better than my indestructo-ship! xD

  • What exploration? I found an underwater cave on an uncharted island. It felt really cool. I expected to find something special. Maybe even a special chest guarded by a skeleton captain or giant spider etc. Unfortunately it was empty. Felt like I was completely wasting time.

  • We need reasons to explore. The Gold banana event was cool and gave people a reason. More live events like that would give people motivation.

    Another idea is having treasure stashed away in nooks and crannies of islands but not just one chest, maybe 5-6 items total. That way people would be motivated to look.

    Also if you gave cosmetic rewards for commendations earned people may strive to earn the commendations because as of right now they are just an afterthought

  • @wturok said in [Mega Thread] Balancing Exploration and Player Combat - Part 3:

    I'm sorry to sound harsh but exploration is non-existent in the game as it is right now.
    Exploring in videogames means searching for new places and getting rewarded for it with Lore/exp-gold/cosmetics.

    This never happens in SoT for some clear reasons:

    • There are too many places to explore since 80% of the map is water and the other 29% are quest islands, that only leaves that 1% of unnamed islands that feel pretty cool to explore but it's just too little
    • Even when exploring those locations you don't get rewarded at all, in fact you get punished in terms of exp/gold since the time you use exploring and not getting anything is time you could be using to do quests.

    I don't really have many ideas on how to fix it that don't require a complete overhaul of some game mechanics so I can't help you with that (Sorry)

    I was expecting the game to have many more cosmetic items that you would get by exploring, doing achievements and special quests that spawn from time to time. (I'm not talking about community events)

    Take a look at how old games handled those kind of things if you want "fresh ideas"

    Hope it's useful somehow.

    (Player combat is fine)

    As far as the "Balance between exploration and player combat" goes, I think it's quite balanced already. Whenever I want to find player combat I look for the fort skull or do some active scouting and usually find a ship, if I only want to go on voyages I can usually avoid combat pretty easily.

    However as @wturok already mentions, the exploration is basically non-existent because there's just not much incentive to go exploring. You go on voyages and do the thing you meant to do, sometimes finding an additional gunpowder barrel, treasure map or chest while looking for your main objective. Apart from that most of the islands don't seem to offer anything to take a look around.

    I have a few suggestions to improve the exploration aspect:

    • Passive exploration encouragement: Make the islands feel more alive

    While everything looks gorgeous in the game, most of the islands feel barren, dead and have nothing happening on them. Apart from the occasional chicken, pig, snake or skeleton you won't find any other life on the islands even when the island is fully lit at night. Spreading more interesting things on the islands like NPC's, books with lore, quests, random rewards or special activities it might be more interesting to explore the islands more.
    I do remember a time before the animals / skeletons / message in a bottles / random chests, it has already improved, but there's definitely room for more improvement.

    • Active exploration encouragement: Send people on exploration voyages

    There are some very nice looking areas in the game that most people will never visit because they're just sailing around for their voyages. By adding a faction focused on mapping every single area and landmark in the world of Sea of Thieves you would help people visit the areas they would normally not visit. "The Explorers Guild" or "Carthographers Inc." (or something like that) would present players with a piece of paper containing an islandname and the image of a landmark or a direction towards finding uncharted land or underwater locations "North of island X" or something.
    Completing a voyage when opening the map at the correct location and rewarding you on return. Maybe actually draw a map as a physical handin object. Rewarding you in a similar way with some gold, titles and upgraded items.

  • Proper lore(there might be but I haven't found anything. You need like old diaries and papers that you can then store on your ship to read through whenever)

    @Thewolfman321,
    This really is a great idea, collecting items from lore and being able to review these stories would be welcome, add illustrations or enrich these stories would be a new life for explorers

  • @logansdadtoo For me its just way to noticeable that they force you into proximity of other ships. I can easily tell when the quests are doing it and being a sloop main it can get tedius.

    I have no issues what so ever of bumping into other players or being attacked, but let it happen naturally stop pushing to the same island as the rest off the server. I cant explore if im constantly being forced to the ancient isles where the rest of the ships on the map are. I mean theres no exploration in the game anyway but you get the jist..

  • @logansdadtoo That's weird, I feel that you are exaggerating. When parked at island we rarely get attacked. Of course, we also pay attention to our surroundings...

  • I think I have a solution for this! Check it out Here!

  • @wturok said in [Mega Thread] Balancing Exploration and Player Combat - Part 3:

    I'm sorry to sound harsh but exploration is non-existent in the game as it is right now.
    Exploring in videogames means searching for new places and getting rewarded for it with Lore/exp-gold/cosmetics.

    This never happens in SoT for some clear reasons:

    • There are too many places to explore since 80% of the map is water and the other 29% are quest islands, that only leaves that 1% of unnamed islands that feel pretty cool to explore but it's just too little
    • Even when exploring those locations you don't get rewarded at all, in fact you get punished in terms of exp/gold since the time you use exploring and not getting anything is time you could be using to do quests.

    I don't really have many ideas on how to fix it that don't require a complete overhaul of some game mechanics so I can't help you with that (Sorry)

    I was expecting the game to have many more cosmetic items that you would get by exploring, doing achievements and special quests that spawn from time to time. (I'm not talking about community events)

    Take a look at how old games handled those kind of things if you want "fresh ideas"

    Hope it's useful somehow.

    (Player combat is fine)

    This is on point. I just had to add, if all of the islands were populated with items or animals or bad guys that actually reward you for fighting them(still haven't received marks for the hundreds of skeleton crews defeated)
    At least it wouldn't feel like a waste of time exploring. Also if more then 3 different skeleton forts would activate there might be some variety to the fort battles.

    A few more ideas:

    A Map Guild that encourages you to explore and make the maps better wouldn't hurt. Gives guild xp for completed maps returned and finding unmarked treasure/secret caves.

    A Lore Guild that has you collect books and scrolls would be fun too.

    A player based economy might help clear up a lot of this too.

    As far as combat I have no complaints, it feels like gta with boats. Wish there were disposable weapons as a 3rd option. For example rocks to throw, throwing knives, stick of dynamite..

  • I'm sure others have made this comment too, but the game as it is feels like an early alpha game. It is barebones and there is hardly anything to do.

    Also, hardcore PvPers tend to think this is Tom Clancy's Pirate Warfare or something, because they think the point of the game is to hunt down other ships and sink them.

    If you are someone that values exploration more than combat and raids in this game (like me), the game as it stands is not for you. Hours of your time can get wasted thanks to toxic trolls who have nothing better to do than look for ships to sink.

    I enjoy hardcore PvP games myself, I love Gears of War and Battlefield, but I'm not interested in playing this game like a typical PvP shooter. This is not how this game was advertised. Thankfully I didn't purchase it as I got 2 free months of GamePass that I activated specifically to try this game out. I don't think I'll be buying it in this state, nor will I subscribe to GamePass after my trial is up.

  • The following link contains two tests I did with the blunderbuss on an even wall: https://imgur.com/a/c61yV

    I fired 3 times against the wall, from left to right. The first two times were at the same distance from the wall, the difference was that the leftmost was using aimed down sights and the center one I used hipfire. For the rightmost shot I merely walked briefly towards the wall on the first picture and fired with just hipfire, on the second picture I measured one compass pace foward and hipfired again.

    Basically from left to right: ADS spread - Hipfire Spread - closer to the wall (one pace foward) Hipfire spread.

    What I want to highlight is that it was claimed that bullets leave further ahead of the player whenever you aim down the sights, however it is not entirely the case, as you can see the shape of the spread is different when hipfiring or ADS, and the distance doesn't make the spread close in as much compared to the ADS spread.

    Why do I bring this up? Blunderbuss shouldn't have it's spread decreased whenever you aim down sights. This would balance the blunderbuss in a way you get to still have the burst power of a shotgun, still being able to sneak up a point blank one shot kill, while at the same time reducing the chanse of a one shot from a non effective distance. This would make the current pvp metagame change a bit from BB spam to more variety with the pistol and the sword, even the sniper. The recent nerf to the BB damage may have been a better solution, but what I propose would indirectly reduce the damage of the weapon anyway.

  • @urihamrayne That's a weapon balancing issue though, not exploration/combat balancing.

  • @greaseman85 said in [Mega Thread] Balancing Exploration and Player Combat - Part 3:

    Also, hardcore PvPers tend to think this is Tom Clancy's Pirate Warfare or something, because they think the point of the game is to hunt down other ships and sink them.

    I tried to address this in the closed thread, too.
    The issue seems to be that it's not about loot (which is a claim I hear a lot from the side "opposite" of yours).
    It's just "let's sink a ship"... something that real pirates would never do. Mainly because it makes no sense. Loot, THEN sink... ok, I get it (which might not make you happy, though)
    Just sinking is illogical.
    Yesterday night we passed a solo sloop player. Two shots in front of the bow and he waved a lantern.
    Went on board, looted a chest, sailed on.

    So a tip for the "let's sink everything all the time" faction on the forums.
    It's more efficient to intimidate and loot, because your victim can sail on and work for you.
    That's not an opinion, that's math :)
    If you want to argue math... oh boy...
    If you scare off all the players by making their experience horrible you will eventually end up with and empty game.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't and I'm sure as hell not trying to tell you what to do.
    Just think about it :)

  • @lefaux2 Thank you. There's nothing wrong with interacting with other players or engaging in ship battles, or stealing loot, etc. The problem is sinking ships and killing other players for the LOLZ, especially an empty ship docked at an outpost.

  • @themilkman-vaec said in [Mega Thread] Balancing Exploration and Player Combat - Part 3:

    We need reasons to explore. The Gold banana event was cool and gave people a reason. More live events like that would give people motivation.

    More campaigns are definitely something we're excited about bringing to the world of Sea of Thieves. @zz-emerz-zz is our Live Campaign Producer and she's hard at work!

  • I would like to explore more but with the fear of losing your ship makes that harder. It wasn't so bad before as you could quickly return to the island/underwater cave you were exploring. Now because of the skull fort respawn distance fix, if while exploring your ship is sunk by a skelly cannon or a pointless pirate sail-by shooting and you get killed by a shark while exploring, you are sent to the other side of the map.

  • Not sure if this belongs here or not, but I think some of the values for merchant crates needs to be adjusted. Specifically the supply crates for cannon balls, bananas, and wooden planks. I found a message in a bottle 4 a banana crate after loading 50 of my bananas into the crate I turned it in for a whopping 300 gold and barely noticeable increase in reputation. Honestly I would have spent more than 300 gold to buy a crate of bananas, as those 50 bananas are worth more to me then a measly 300. Supply for ships should be worth more than the majority of other Merchant items as they are harder to procure in large quantities while currently we are unable to purchase Supply from a vendor. When compared to a voyage that wants a Golden Chicken that is worth over 900 gold on average, I don't see why resources we actually need and used on the ship would be worth so little especially with such high quantities required. Just my two cents on the matter and thank you for reading.

  • I typically do most of my "exploring" when sailing in a sloop. Basically, I start off grabbing a few animal crates and then circling around the map hitting up shipwrecks, checking spawn points on islands for random treasure, and collecting gold animals. I call this "exploring" because there really is no exploration. No random items to interact with and no rewarding secrets to find, its just sailing around and collecting stuff. Take a look at the movie Labyrinth for things I would like to see to make the world more alive. Things like that little worm that says "Don't go that way", the stone heads that give false warnings, or the cat looking thing with head on top and bottom that gives confusing riddles.

    One thing I think would really help is if some of the mechanics from riddles were incorporated into the world that could be found and activated organically. Being able to find customization out in the wild would be nice as well. More animals would be great along with some kind of Ethology faction. There is a ton of stuff that could be done but I feel the current world size limits the options.

    As far as combat, I don't have any problems. I don't think I have seriously tried to sink a ship for about 2 weeks. It is rather easy to avoid combat in my opinion. I keep my head on a swivel and am always on the look out for approaching ships. It helps that I know what I am doing when sailing so I never feel like I have no options.

  • @gordon-sevencav I agree. I'm at about level 30 for each guild and it's becoming a mega grind with not much pay off.

  • I really want an offline mode for a more passive experience.

  • @thewolfman321 said in [Mega Thread] Balancing Exploration and Player Combat - Part 3:

    Firstly, you guys need to add some incentive to explore: Hunting(requires way more animals, some will be exclusive to certain islands, others to other islands which requires us to seek out different islands), Fishing(as before), Secret Locations(like your underwater caves on the unmarked islands), NPCs hiding on islands (you have all these cool caves and camps but nobody in them... seems a bit wasteful), Proper lore(there might be but I haven't found anything. You need like old diaries and papers that you can then store on your ship to read through whenever), location specific cosmetics[so hunting animals for their pelts to craft specific items, a secret vendor (like Xur in destiny 2) that moves around islands so you have to search for him each week or something for expensive exotic items]

    All of these are great ideas. Your idea about the explorer ship was terrible, I do not support that at all. However let’s get back to discussing your excellent ideas and how they could make the pve and combat balance much better.

    If Rare add loads of fun and rewarding things to do in the world, then people will play the game the way they want to play, perhaps fishing and selling fish for gold. The combat crazed people may even take a break from pillaging to explore other ways of making money and having fun.

    At the moment the only fun thing to do in this game is get into mad battles, I am a combat crazed player. I also know that I would much rather invest my gold into ten barrels of cargo, then sail it to another outpost to make a profit. With the risk of losing my investment I would not be combat crazed. A nice working economy in game would be a fun distraction from combat.

    I also know I would love it if I could buy a fishing rod and fish to make money. Perhaps bait attracts sharks which grab the end of my line and threaten to break my rod? I then have to fight sharks until I can carry on fishing and make my fortune. Fishing rod durability and bait costs would add to the risk/ reward system and the working economy.

    If players could trade gold then the combat crazed players would get employed as protection for cargo haulers( I know I would enjoy making money this way, far more than just bashing other ships to death because it’s the only fun thing to do at the moment). This would require a “fleet” mechanic whereby the crew bond and lack of friendly fire extends between ships.

    These are just some ideas, I am sure there are many more things that other people have come up with that are amazing. As long as people’s ideas keep the combat balanced and don’t involve xp or weapon stats, then I support their ideas. People should be able to do as many fun and profitable things as you can cram into this game, so they can really live in the world the way they want to.

    At the minute cosmetics are the only thing you can buy, this is cool but ultimately it gets boring. What if players could form pirate gangs and all work towards buying a pirate hideout? Somewhere in game that has a secret entrance and is instanced from other crews( or not but I really don’t know how that would work). These places could be a safe place to hide treasure until other roving pirates leave the nearby outpost.

    In summary, the game needs more things to spend gold on, this will give gold far more value. Ultimately the game needs way more things to do, this way people will get distracted and not be as combat crazed, effectively solving the problem of too much pvp.

  • At this point I have nothing else to say about this topic, because Rare clearly doesn't want solutions, this is just an empty garbage can thread for everyone to drop their awesome ideas and the developers to never open it up. I just can't wait to see this game sink as they continue to completely ignore a huge percentage of players that just don't want PvP. I haven't opened it for weeks, uninstalled already, I can't [redacted] believe I'm having more FUN playing a purely competitive game (Overwatch) than a supposedly PvPvE game. And I can't believe they have an actual PvE mode and this doesn't. Just ridiculous.

  • im going to repeat my post from the previous mega thread since i posted it near the end before it was locked.

    I would really like it if there were more ways to obtaining voyages other than buying them from factions.

    i recently started playing the game differently. in which i did not buy any voyages from factions and simply explored different islands i wanted to go to, picking up whatever i found. one of the most exiting things to find is a message in a bottle with its own voyage. finding these items feels like fate, like i'm destined to go on this adventure. however, i've only found one or two on my adventures, and the play style in general is starting to prove not as rewarding as buying voyages.

    besides messages in bottles, there should be more ways to obtain voyages,

    one way of doing this is to basically place and hide them everywhere while also increasing their chances of spawning. when i say everywhere, i mean within island jungles and caves, not just washed up on the beach.

    it would also be cool if NPC's could give you voyages they happened to find, but lack the bravery, resources, or time to do look for it themselves.

    yet another way of doing this is to have NPC enemies randomly drop them.

    ive also created a more detailed concept as well here.

  • @navarita
    Plays a pvp sandbox
    Gets mad there is no passive mode.
    Thanks for showing you have no idea what kind of game you are playing

  • Azcrack here is one of those players who feels the game is fine being just PvP. Which I feel doesn't suit anything considering Rare has created these threads specifically to find a balance between Exploration and PvP. Meaning that it's NOT pure PvP.

    In the meantime Rare, the basic issue is as everyone else has said: there are many islands to explore but no real reason to explore them. Sure you'll occasionally come across an uncharted island and exploring them is cool (especially underwater ruins). But you have left no real reward for any player-driven Exploration. I have found places that look fantastical but are completely empty of either Loot or Lore. Even your basic islands hint at a wider experience with tribal paintings and old forts/ruins but once again the place is completely bereft of any kind of interaction. You might find the odd chest or a couple explosive barrels but that's about it. Where are these tribal inhabitants? How have they made so many things but are nowhere to be found? Why is there no in-game way to find Lore other than the incredibly rare Journals you can sometimes find?

    Bottom line is that everyone says MORE CONTENT OF SOME BLOODY KIND PLEASE!!!

    That's it, that's what it boils down to. There are too few reasons to BOTHER exploring or sailing about unless you're roleplaying as a certain type of person or whatever (once did nothing but get chickens and offer them to people as KPC, Kentucky Pirated Chickens). More expansive wildlife, more ruins, more ways to find Lore in the game. Until we have more content to drive different styles of play this issue will continue without end. I would suggest getting your various teams together and start putting out tiny but consistent additions every week very soon.

  • Ya as more content is released like events and just generally more things to do, i believe it will get easier to grind rep. And all the ppl who play this game just for pve (for some reason) will have alot less pressure

  • @da-lootmasta
    And for the record i dont think just pvp is fine. We have to have something else to do besides kill eachother. But i love that pvp is the core of the game. That the constant threat is always there. It just boggles my mind that ppl come to an open world pvp game and think they should be able to play in peace.

  • @nwo-azcrack said in [Mega Thread] Balancing Exploration and Player Combat - Part 3:

    @navarita
    Plays a pvp sandbox
    Gets mad there is no passive mode.
    Thanks for showing you have no idea what kind of game you are playing

    You again. You are the one with no clues as to what game you are playing, because this game has never been described as a "pvp sandbox game", this is what YOU think it is.
    And for the umpteenth time, someone wanting to play offline, or on a PvE server, or whatever, in no way affects your ability to be a toxic troll on a PvP server. And don't come back with "Rare's vision blah blah blah" because I don't give a [Mod edited].

    And no, PvP is NOT the core of the game, that is supposed to be an organic and naturally progressing part of the game.

  • @greaseman85
    I dont argue with children. You really have no clue what type of game you are playing. Enjoy never getting pve servers

  • @nwo-azcrack The only child here is you, going on every thread in the forums with the same asinine comments. Go play the game your way, but trust me, changes will be made otherwise there won't be anyone left to play this game other than toxic 15 year old trolls like you. Microsoft won't allow that ;)

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