BobTheBard Posted December 28, 2018 Share Posted December 28, 2018 Hello! Since this is a lengthy post and a lot of people don't like reading lengthy posts, I put a TL;DR a couple posts down. It wouldn't fit in the main body. I started playing this game actively during A16 with a group of friends, and found myself enjoying it. I'm primarily a builder, and that paired well with my friends who tended to be fighters and explorers. I was happy minding the base, repairing weapons, building walls, and mining while they were off scavenging and the like, so most of the hours I've spent in this game have been from the perspective of a builder and gatherer. With that in mind, Alpha 17 has been a huge step down for me. I'm still playing it, mind, because I have a friend who is fun to play with and we still have fun in the game together, but I'd no longer play the game if not for that. Allow me to put forth my perspective on why the builder-gatherer lifestyle, like mine, is so unsatisfying now. As a prologue of sorts, I'd like to just say that I think A17 has de-emphasized a lot of the 'survival' part of this survival game. We might have different definitions of survival, but for me the ultimate goal of survival is to establish a defensible self-sufficient stronghold, to have safety and security in a hostile world. This is presently a tedious and daunting prospect for reasons I'll discuss below, but in short the game's current direction discourages that entire mindset. You're instead encouraged to go on an offensive footing and stay there the whole time, which is the opposite of survival. The ideal playstyle for the current alpha is playing like a raider or bandit, running around looking for targets to engage, taking over a place just long enough to kill everything and loot it, and moving on, only stopping to stash the best bits at a central location you rarely spend any time at. It's shifted from being more like Minecraft to more like Fallout with just one alpha. First, let's talk about the perk system. If you want to go the builder lifestyle you need to spread those points out across four of the five different stats. Intellect is needed for the forge, which is critical in construction efforts. Strength is needed for resource harvesting, except for food (farming is also a key part of the survival archetype I outlined above) which you need Fortitude for. And finally, because you use the most Stamina of anybody in gathering resources, you need to invest in Agility even if you don't need any Agility skills. That's four stats. A good combat character can easily get by with just two with a dip in a third. Then there's the level-gating, ensuring you're going to be using stone axes for a long time unless you get lucky and pull some iron tools out of a Working Stiffs box since you don't get forged iron until level 10 (which requires you to build a more-expensive bellows for your forge, meaning lots of scavenging) and can't make your own iron tools until level 20. The playstyle of the builder is simply the most expensive one out there in terms of XP investment, and it takes the longest to get up to speed giving it the lengthiest early game. Second, let's discuss gaining XP. It used to be that us builder types could scrounge up enough XP by mining and harvesting to get where we wanted to by relying on the passive gains (the learn-by-doing mechanic) from actually harvesting resources, and eventually we'd outlevel everybody because mining was simply the best source of XP in the game. The latter part was obviously absurd, but the correction swung things too far the other way. Escaping the early game (which, as discussed above, is longer for a builder-type than for everyone else) now requires killing zombies. A lot of zombies. And if you are a builder, it requires killing those zombies without investing into any perks that makes killing zombies faster since you need those points for other things. While the combat player only ever needs to build a little bit, thus ensuring they're usually engaged in doing something they enjoy, the builder now has to spend a significant amount of time doing something they don't enjoy just to be able to do what they want to do. Third, the new AI. Complaints about digging zombies aside, the new AI makes base design simultaneously too hard and too easy resulting in it being completely unsatisfying. It's too hard to make an aesthetically-pleasing base because of the zombies' laser focus on weak points and their high block damage, which means it's not worth laying out a base and upgrading it later since they'll just trash the weaker section. You need to make sure it's all at roughly the same strength. However if you want to design something with zombies in mind, this same laser focus on weaknesses makes funneling them into a killzone childishly easy. Slap down a room with a long hallway and fill that hallway with barbed wire and the zombies will pour in, get tangled, and turn into headshot bait. I used to take pride in making bases that were both pleasing and functional, but now in A17 I'm having the easiest horde nights using the laziest designs at any point since I started. Worse, I don't have much of a choice in this - If I don't create a narrow chokepoint the zombies will make their own equally narrow chokepoint, as they did on my first horde night in the new alpha. I'm not normally much of a challenge player, but this feels just as cheap as hiding underground and waiting out the horde. Fourth, land claim blocks. I'm not much of a large-scale builder myself so I can't speak from personal experience, but many who are now have an issue where their single allowed claim block can't cover the size of what they want to build. I can see the appeal in building huge-scale projects - I've more than once wondered if I could totally renovate a huge POI or even one of the smaller towns. With the changes to claim blocks there's no more wondering because I know I can't do it. This dampens my enthusiasm knowing that even once I do hit the endgame and get to the point where I am akin to a god I still have limits on what I can do. Fifth, the value of being a builder has largely been nullified. Because zombies target weak points and tear through most blocks in a hurry there's little value in having a fortified base. Gone is the satisfaction of building a wall that can stand up to hordes long enough for my panicky friends to get their brains in order when a random horde appears and start shooting. Because quality no longer affects damage or protection the only thing high-quality gear is good for is mods, and those are capped. Gone is the satisfaction of getting my skills up to another quality level so I could give all my friends weapons that do more damage, tools that harvest more resources, and armor that protects them better. Now, without a good supply of mods, that Tier 1 axe they looted from a box is just as good as the Tier 6 I can't even make yet. And with the requirements for crafting mods being so high, requiring both perk points and schematics, it's much easier to just get them by putting those perk points in Daring Adventurer and doing trader quests. With all this taken into account a combat-heavy player can get most of what they need through other means, rendering the builder's role largely pointless apart from converting resources into forms the combat player needs to repair his things. Sixth is a simple one. The changes to tools, specifically the claw hammer and nail gun, have made building take longer. I'm honestly not certain why this was, since the 'combat' aspect of this - repairing things - doesn't seem any slower. All this change does is slow down the speed at which buildings can be placed and upgraded. This means that larger projects and renovations now take a lot longer to do, and I for one can't figure out a reason why this change was made in the first place. The beauty of construction and renovation is in the planning and the finished product, not the actual placing and upgrading of frames. Making the most boring and tedious part take several times longer has not done any favors to the builder playstyle. Finally, let's talk stamina. Stamina is mostly an early-game problem, yes, but what an early-game problem it is. When I started out I remember toggling my second monitor on so I had something to read while waiting for my stamina to regenerate all the time. Resource-gathering would put me to sleep, not because of the repetitive activity (I rather enjoy that) but because of the sheer amount of time spent doing nothing at all. Resource-gathering is an exercise in idling until you build up a large, reliable stock of coffee or beer, which might not happen for a while if the RNG gods aren't kind to you. This gates the entire playstyle more than anything else and was responsible for a large chunk of my initial hostility towards A17. All this adds up to make the A17 changes really painful for a builder-gatherer type like me. The game has gone from being in the Minecraft genre, where you can choose to build or fight as suits your style, to being something more like Fallout, where building is a minigame and fighting is the primary objective. All of the elements - The spread-out perks, the XP gain being tilted in favor of combat, the AI tearing bases apart, the land-claim issues, the much longer build times, and the changes to stamina - combine to make the builder lifestyle totally impractical. This is disappointing to me, both because I dislike combat as a style and because I think the raider life goes against what I feel a survival game should be. I'll continue to play for as long as my friend does, but a large part of the game's appeal for a player like me is gone. I hope that this post helps the developers understand why they're losing players like me and the things they could look into improving to make sure the builder playstyle isn't a casualty of the development cycle. 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