Engineers The Engineers is turning into a deja vu for me

Just over a year ago I was excited when Powerplay was announced. I expected it to bring longer running story lines to Elite. Stories that players could connect their commander's story line to. (Missions are the shortest story lines in ED in my view.) When Powerplay arrived it turned out quite different. For me it boils down to endlessly repeating 4 mission types to see a few coloured blobs on the Galaxy map change shape and position once a week. After 4 weeks I decided Powerplay was not for me and I never looked back.

I thought: "well... this can happen not all new content has to be to my liking".

This year I was excited about the announcement of The Engineers. To me it sounded like these mysterious people knew something we don't know yet. And them offering improvements to ships is no coincidence. Something big is coming and we need special ships for it! But it turned out quite different again. The Engineers boil down to repetitive game play to earn the privilege to give a sweep to a wheel of fortune that may (or may not) improve my ship or weapons. But for what? Combined with the big step in NPC combat difficulty it seems the goal is to create a combat mayhem arena with lots of "crazy" special weapon effects. But to me it makes combat look cartoonish with coloured lasers and ships spinning crazy fast after impulse hits etc. Also The Engineers lack commodity and module storage causing lock-in for players just like Powerplay does (paints a big target on your back visible everywhere).

After doing just 2 upgrades I caught myself thinking: "Would it be a problem if I just ignored The Engineers?". The answer is: No. They removed engineer upgrades from NPCs, I play PvE, I can still beat the NPCs, so there would be no problem.

This time I'm not going to explain it away. I think this game is in trouble. After seeing the uproar on the forums about grinding, RNG and average players being destroyed by NPCs until they are bankrupt or too afraid to play anymore. I seriously suspect that the development team's vision for the game is quite far removed from what a large number of players is looking for. Certainly what I am looking for. This thought has been in the back of my mind since release when I noticed that official promotion videos for ED contain mostly combat mayhem footage.

So, this is the question I have right now: Where is this game heading for? Right now I'm afraid this good looking, semi-scientifically accurate Galaxy with its unique, great sounding ships and huge potential for sci-fi adventures is heading to become the backdrop for 24/7 combat mayhem that you have to grind special weapons for to survive. I'd really like an answer to that question soon(tm).
 
I look at the blue print shopping lists, what it asks you to do, and actually (at the moment) cannot bring myself to do it.

For example, I detest the SRV base nonsense that's been shoe horned into the game to try and give surface landings some meaning. I'm not overly keen on driving around throwing the "what materials will I find this time" dice, over and over and over... But the Engineers want me to do this, infact force me to do it, and other things I do not enjoy (for some crafting), over and over and over...

Added to this, the entire vapid nature of going around collecting otherwise pointless stuff, just to then fullfill a shopping list to roll a roulette wheel - I just can't bring myself to do it.


I'm still confused - how like Powerplay - a potentially interesting idea, that could have created new mechanics & interesting gameplay, has been instead just turned into another overblown inane grind fest. Was there really absolutely no way to raise the bar for this?

And what's even more worrying - for me at least - is the designers actually thought we'd find getting some materials, crafting, getting some materials, crafting, getting some materials, crafting, getting some materials, crafting, over and over and over rewarding and a good way for the game to be going after 18 months?! And only after the player base got wind of this, were other avenues considered to allow leveling up, because only at that point did they consider their understanding of what players might enjoy (endure?) might be wrong.

Add to this the fact there also seemed to be the preconception (mis-understanding) that the limited number of storage slots would be adequate, as if people would/should be hell bent on collecting & managing their materials...


I'm just not comfortable with the gameplay being added TBH - Do we simply want more and more of this simplistic gameplay added, or do we instead want more interesting gameplay and mechanics added? I feel we've had enough of the former, and would now like some of the latter.




EDIT: This suggested simple alteration would seem to make the mechanics behind "The Engineers" more laid-back and accessible --> [ click here ] (& probably means storage is not required)
 
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Disclosure, I am not a "game design expert" but I am psychology student (presenting my final project, so hopefully a psychology graduate in the next few months!) and I have put a fair bit of time into studying gamification of learning and the research on reward/motivation in games.

Having put a lot of time studying those subjects, I get the feeling that is precisely what FDev lacks. I think they're playing it by ear, and it is really not working out. I don't mean it in a negative manner, and I am not trying to insult the developers, but I really think they need to take a little bit more of a scientific approach and see what is out there regarding research and theory when designing motivation/effort/reward models.

E: D is far too complex a beast to approach with half-baked ideas. And I do think that both Powerplay and Engineers were horribly half-baked ideas. Lots of comments out there in the forums detailing extensively how and why. The design rationale that seems to have gone into both patches goes completely against good design practices. Honestly, I sort of wish I would have chosen this situation as my final paper's research subject.

I think FDev needs to realize that they cant sustain the game taking that amateur-hour approach and get some people that know their game design theory to advise them and guide them in realizing their vision.
 
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Disclosure, I am no a "game design expert" but I am psychology student (presenting my final project, so hopefully a psychology graduate in the next few months!) and I have put a fair bit of time into studying gamification of learning and the research on reward/motivation in games.

Having put a lot of time studying those subjects, I get the feeling that is precisely what FDev lacks. I think they're playing it by ear, and it is really not working out. I don't mean it in a negative manner, and I am not trying to insult the developers, but I really think they need to take a little bit more of a scientific approach and see what is out there regarding research and theory when designing motivation/effort/reward models.

E: D is far too complex a beast to approach with half-baked ideas. And I do think that both Powerplay and Engineers were horribly half-baked ideas. Lots of comments out there in the forums detailing extensively how and why. The design rationale that seems to have gone into both patches goes completely against good design practices. Honestly, I sort of wish I would have chosen this situation as my final paper's research subject.

I think FDev needs to realize that they cant sustain the game taking that amateur-hour approach and get some people that know their game design theory to advise them and guide them in realizing their vision.
Its a shame the Design Discussion Forum was scrapped. It had a wealth of experienced gamers to pitch ideas to and get feedback from. Yes it wasn't perfect, but nothing ever is. But with it gone we now seem to have a game being designed by people who grew up playing sonic the hedgehog, people who think repetitiveness is 'good gameplay'. Where did the imagination and innovation go? It's frustrating as the actual foundation of ED, it's visuals, sounds, and scope, are superb, but the actual content and gameplay seem like tacked on afterthoughts.
 
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It frustrating as the actual foundation of ED, it's visuals, sounds, and scope, are superb, but the actual content and gameplay seemed tacked on afterthoughts.
Spot on. The core game idea, which is a tried and tested formula (by older Elite games and other franchises), is also excellent. It is every forage they take into expanding and fleshing it out that falls flat like a pancake. The game sorely needs that depth to incentivize retention.

That said, I honestly don't think FDev lacks of imagination and innovation. It is in implementation where it goes completely wrong. Look at Powerplay; fantastic idea that really hadn't been explored in any game of the genre before. It got a ton of people really hyped early on. Implementation? A huge repetitive slog of a grind that was hardly fun, rewarding or even worth participating.

Engineers? Same thing. Except it is worth participating since the rewards are so incredibly good. However, when a ton of people are wondering if they are good enough to actually go through the effort or just forget about it? You know then you seriously screwed up the effort/reward modelling. You cannot just depend on RNG upon RNG like that. People don't like spending hours upon hours and have nothing to show for it at the end of it.
 
I've been having the same Deja Vu feeling that the Engineers is like Powerplay all over again, something that the community has a love and hate relationship with and another part of the game I probably won't take part in. Looking back at the headline features* of all the updates, of the seven so far, I'm only using two:

1.1 - CG - use
1.2 - Wings - don't use
1.3 - PP - don't use
1.4 - CQC - don't use
1.5 - Ships - n/a (have not purchased any of the ships introduced but probably will one day)
2.0 - Planetary Landings - use
2.1 - Engineers - don't use

*I am aware that I am using other content that came with those updates, some of which is very good. Most of the other content that came with 2.1 has been good.
 

careBear1

Banned
All this must have been apparent in functional and beta testing? So I can only imagine it is deliberate, part of their game philosophy and therefore intended to satisfy their target market. Or.......
 
Its sad. I feel for FD i really do.

But i feel for them in the same way i feel for a baker who put his heart and soul into baking a cake..but the cake is just..<SFE>

The ingredients were there, the cake looks great, smells great, everyone wants the cake. But..the desire to eat more cake after you have a slice is just not there.

How they have gotten this so wrong ive no idea. CQC..Powerplay...RNG...no. no annnnnd no.
It is worrying. I wasnt worried at first but...but update after update they just seem to be miss-fires.
I dont know what is going on but damn.
I dont want to play.

Do you?
 
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I dont want to play.

Do you?
I think I am making myself play because I love the core game so much. The dogfighting? Awesome, especially with the new AI. The ships? Great for the most part. The dynamic trading galaxy, the practically endless room for exploration. All amazing.

But that core game had become quite stale after a while, and needed the rejuvenation that Horizon promised. Especially since Powerplay ended up such a mess in the interim of the wait between release and major expansion.

Now that they have this new shiny stuff to make your ships truly unique, to push them beyond their limitations, I felt it was the time to come back. However, after spending all last week looking for Polonium just to have a chance at spinning the wheel of fortune...

I am not sure I actually want to do this. I could have spent my time after work having fun, rather than the tedium that is SRV prospecting. It is literally most of what I spent my free time this week doing, and it sucked.
 
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At this point, if Frontier can fix the over-RNG elements of Engineers, I believe they have an excellent base too work from, and I'm sure most people would agree with that statement. Frontier have a plan to add more gameplay over time and the problem is that we really have very little idea what this is, so we cann only see things from the current moment in time.

I have been super critical of the Blueprint RNG, which I believe is a complete slap in the face to us gamers, however I'd personally like to encourage Frontier that they can do better and I believe in them!
 
With respect to "Engineers" many of the changes were good. The new mission screens, improved graphics, even the engineers themselves. I think that the development team however missed a step however when building the crafting system. I my own, inconsequential opinion, seeking out materials being random is fine, although mining could be improved (another story but it fits here) at least in passing. The problem is in the crafting mechanic itself. I have to be honest here, ED got this badly wrong. This has created a lot of disenchantment in an otherwise great game.

If it were in my hands. I would pull out the crafting mechanic completely file it in the drawer marked bad ideas, and dump the entire filing cabinet along with that drawer into the deepest part of the ocean, after having it crushed then burnt in a furnace at 6,000 C.

I would replace the current mechanism with a points system, where your reputation garnered you with points that you could distribute amongst the features of the module or modules you wish to improve. You could also remove points from some aspects of a module to bolster a desired feature. Such as trading heat buildup for greater range in an FSD. The results would be guaranteed, and regaining points at any reputation level would entail performing tasks for the engineer, and meeting certain goals. As an example Felicity Farseer might set tasks that involve surveying a selection of systems in a sector of the galaxy. Also she might be a pacifist, so to remain in her good-books, you would be required to avoid combat. So your reputation would fall with Felicity as your reputation with Todd increased.

So why did I mention mining. I enjoy mining. I know, masochist, right. But here is another area where a modest change makes it more interesting and skill based. The changes, ah yes. Fit the wave scanner from the SRV to your ship as part of the refinery. This would allow skilled miners to interpret the signals and decide which rocks to mine. Te prospector limpets would enhance the yields and tell you of the relative contents. Collector limpets would be recallable, and refuel-able from the controller module requiring fewer. But they would be significantly more expensive starting at 25,000c and increasing with higher grades.

Fly safe Commanders.
 
I agree with virtually all the comments above. For me, the problem is the lack of perceived progress. I spend hours and hours running around doing things I find boring, and I get nothing for it. After 100 hours in 2.1, I only have a few level 1 "upgrades", which were not actually useful improvements. I wish there were some way of knowing what I'm doing wrong. I reckon I've already spent another 100 hours reading every forum post and watching every Youtube video. I can't take much more.

At least with powerplay, you knew what the task in front of you was and how much further you needed to grind to reach your goal, so you could measure your progress and predict the outcome.
 
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At this point, if Frontier can fix the over-RNG elements of Engineers, I believe they have an excellent base too work from, and I'm sure most people would agree with that statement. Frontier have a plan to add more gameplay over time and the problem is that we really have very little idea what this is, so we cann only see things from the current moment in time.

I have been super critical of the Blueprint RNG, which I believe is a complete slap in the face to us gamers, however I'd personally like to encourage Frontier that they can do better and I believe in them!
They said 2.1 is the biggest update with a huge load of changes.... that scares me when I am thinking of the next updates.
 
I do think there is a lack of imagination at times. I'll give you an example. The rare materials, take Polonium for instance... There is no skill involved and no challenge needed to gain this item. All you need to know is on which planets it spawns, a wealth of info on which is readily available, then all you do is drive back and forth across the most boring of landscapes and wait for the random generator to decide wether it's your lucky day or not. You can find as much of it on flat plains as you can in craters, it's a myth to state otherwise as it all boils down to the random spawn that the game decides to spew out at any particular moment.

That same goal could have become far more interesting and rewarding if FD had made Polonium (or other rare elements) only spawn in challenging terrain, like rugged mountain ranges or deep ravines. Places that challenge the player and encourages the player to visit these wonderfully varied locations - something Horizons was quick to promote but has done precious little to utilize in any meaningful way - but crucially the player should be rewarded when he finally reaches that sensor contact with something worthy of the challenge it took to retrieve it.. and not be at the mercy of the random number generator that spews out a bit of iron. I can get iron racing back and forth on the blandest and easiest to explore world in the game.

Something like this utilises all the game mechanics already there. Surely all it takes is a bit of imagination from someone to pipe up and say, let's put the rarest stuff in challenging to reach locations, throw in a bit of risk, but reward those that succeed.... But no, it's always the simplest approach that's taken...., nah lets just put it everywhere and make it randomly spawn after x hours of grind. Job done. ��
 
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I've been having the same Deja Vu feeling that the Engineers is like Powerplay all over again, something that the community has a love and hate relationship with and another part of the game I probably won't take part in. Looking back at the headline features* of all the updates, of the seven so far, I'm only using two:

1.1 - CG - use
1.2 - Wings - don't use
1.3 - PP - don't use
1.4 - CQC - don't use
1.5 - Ships - n/a (have not purchased any of the ships introduced but probably will one day)
2.0 - Planetary Landings - use
2.1 - Engineers - don't use

*I am aware that I am using other content that came with those updates, some of which is very good. Most of the other content that came with 2.1 has been good.
This is exactly the same for me, but I take comfort in the ship launched fighters & passenger missions were the two things I ever wanted and they're coming next.
 
now seem to have a game being designed by people who grew up playing sonic the hedgehog, people who think repetitiveness is 'good gameplay
I totally agree with you.
This is not how Braben and Bell designed first Elite back in 80's.
Back then I was a stars pilot flying and dreaming, now I am afraid to take out my Python, my 4th combat Python destroyed by NPCs.
 
Disclosure, I am not a "game design expert" but I am psychology student (presenting my final project, so hopefully a psychology graduate in the next few months!) and I have put a fair bit of time into studying gamification of learning and the research on reward/motivation in games.

Having put a lot of time studying those subjects, I get the feeling that is precisely what FDev lacks. I think they're playing it by ear, and it is really not working out. I don't mean it in a negative manner, and I am not trying to insult the developers, but I really think they need to take a little bit more of a scientific approach and see what is out there regarding research and theory when designing motivation/effort/reward models.

E: D is far too complex a beast to approach with half-baked ideas. And I do think that both Powerplay and Engineers were horribly half-baked ideas. Lots of comments out there in the forums detailing extensively how and why. The design rationale that seems to have gone into both patches goes completely against good design practices. Honestly, I sort of wish I would have chosen this situation as my final paper's research subject.

I think FDev needs to realize that they cant sustain the game taking that amateur-hour approach and get some people that know their game design theory to advise them and guide them in realizing their vision.
Excellent post.. I hope someone from FD sees this.
 
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