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My central complaint about my favorite video game


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I've enjoyed Oxygen Not Included for what steam tells me is nearly a thousand hours, across lots of updates, seeing the game change and grow and add elements I'm excited to play with. But there's one update I'm really excited for, the one that doesn't add anything new. I know reading that my reaction would be confused given that some of my favorite updates are those that have done things like add trees. But I hope the need for a different kind of update will become clear.

As I've played, I've struggled with a number of issues that I don't believe it would be wise for the devs to spend a lot of their energy solving, such as how my small computer makes it difficult to play the late game’s increased complexity. I also would not suggest anything of a preference such as to favor a particular mob.

What I believe the game needs more than anything else is a revisiting of balance. One of the central joys of the game is having problems that can be solved in many ways. I at one time always belined digging to the oil biome for plastic, but I've more recently gone for the slow steady drecko ranches. This has been emphasized by the different kinds of asteroids having very different problems to solve with very different resources to do it. However the biggest thing undermining this, is when interesting solutions are not valid solutions.

I remember some time ago where morbs were an interesting way to get oxygen. The oxygen is free, but finding a way to get enough of it and make it safe was an interesting challenge I liked trying to solve. However I almost never do this because i learned even with a lot of effort, it could not work on any scale worth using. If i want to have fun building it, it kind of needs to be in creative mode. Tho morbs are a favorite example, there are many others such as slicksters, who i like as a solution to carbon, but cannot stand a chance as a part of an ethanol set up. Something notable about that example is that ethanol is a great addition to the game that I'm very happy about, and yet it came at the cost of another. This is a problem that you can find in games such as Magic the Gathering, where if you have old cards, you want to play them and enjoy what you once had, but it should never have become obsolete relative to new cards. 

So if there was to be an update revisiting balance it would be important to look at elements of the game that could be fun but got drowned out, can morbs be adjusted to fit the game as it is, perhaps something as simple as increasing there output, or can they even be changed in a way that gives them a relevance that didn't have before, what if we play with some silly idea like what if they ate sulfur. And as much as doing that would bring great improvements to the enjoyability of the game as it is, i think something could be done to greatly increase the long term health of the game. I believe it's possible to observe the game to see what its central principle are and use those to create a framework to guide present changes and future creations to fit well with itself. GURPs did this in an elegant way, their goal was to make a tabletop RPG that could work in any setting or story, so a major part of the solution was to create a currency system that made it possible to compare the values of any particular trait one might add to a character. Such a system could bring interesting choices to light such as the abondance of carbon, it is definitely cool to have the ethanol cycle produce so much carbon it creates interesting problems, but what amount should that be in context with the carbon consumed by slicksters, and carbon skimmer, or the amount made by different machines. 

I believe asking questions and making changes about parts of the game that may not have been viewed in come time can work wonders to improve the game as it exists now, and pave the way for the future of this game we love.

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