Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Zaflis »

I would also recommend a later map or more that goes beyond the rocket launch. Using power armors, dealing with behemoths, artillery, infinite sciences... Even the slower players would get a taste of the endgame and know what waits there.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by bobucles »

Oh hey, are we talking about campaigns?

Each of the two proposed approaches have their dilemmas. A huge problem with the growing world concept is that you may pick a factory design that works well in the early constrained stages, but gets completely ruined by future map growth. For example you might have placed ammo production in a "safe" corner, which then expands to reveal a pile of biter nests. That sucks, you couldn't predict it, and now your factory design is ruined.

A problem with the scenario approach is how much it constrains player style and railroads design. That's not always a bad thing though. The full game options can be overwhelming to new players, so smaller focused goals can help organize and keep tasks in persepctive.

Some daft fool wrote a thing up a while back. Dealing with the scenario approach is not easy! So much of the game progression depends on previous goals, so if you can't take those previous accomplishments into a new scenario then you end up doing the same things over and over. That can get repetitive and boring especially if there's not enough newer options to stay engaged.
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by ssilk »

- Factorio needs a story, because that drives the sense for the player and gives the whole campaing the reason for existence.
- Compilatron should ask to help you (if it sees, that you might need help).
- Factorio needs something to enable the player to see all the graphic details, that are not part of the factory. The trees. Water. The sounds in the wood. Lakes, many times larger than the minimap. The different biomes.
- That allows also to make big (auto-generated?) "intermediate" (interleaving?) levels, that connect two campaign-levels.
- It allows to make levels where the player needs to creep through rows of biter-nests, but also to discover hidden places, or have just simply to discover the right way through a labyrinth of stone.
- Intermediate levels allows to learn more about transport (*).
- The last level is not the end, it returns to the first level: bring the rocket through!
- The intermediate levels allow to learn also about how to transport things (from level to level).
- You cannot go back (of course), you can only forward.
- You don't need to play the intermediate levels, you can leave them out.

Long story:
What I thought about the FFF: Why not a story?
Kyralessa wrote: โ†‘
Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:12 pm
No story.
But the story is what makes the goals interesting!
I need to underline that.
<mark><click on underline text>
I need to underline that.

Well, I mean I played the Campaign now several (I think 5) times. And I played the old also several times.
And the main difference is that the old one explains much more, and there is this epic part (I think) in the old campaign where you need to pack the stuff into the car, drive around 200 kilometers away to a station, which is completly eliminated when you came in. And then you need to rebuild stuff from what was left.

That was cool.
My thought on that part: "When the game is finished I need to drive those 200 kilometers myself". Of course not really 200 game kilometers (6250 chunks) :D , but maybe threehundret chunks (10 kilometers)? More or less... it should take a while and why not making it interesting? ( Post Collapse Nauvis )

But generally those maps can be auto-generated. Because they can be quite boring. Time to free the mind. Some doozen chunks on a straigt street, but sometimes through dangerous waters. But it would allow me to see all the beautifull landscape. The different types of trees. The water. Driving down a wonderful and boring coastline (like in Halflive II). The different biomes. Lakes many times larger than the minimap (can't see the other side). Besides many small (autogenerated) ruines of old factories. More chests with material, if you like collecting.

It would allow creeping levels, basically silently driving around a very large (long) map, trying avoid biter nests. And of course things should happen if you go too deep into the forest. :) But basically this part doesn't give the player much opportunities, it's main part is to connect two levels with some distance - so that it doesn't make much sense to go back and so need not to be programmed.

It would give me the a slight touch of the real size of what the game could be.
Not "Automate green science because that's what we think you should learn next."
But "You need to construct a train to retrieve goods from the spaceship across the ravine, because XYZ." Or whatever.
Sense is important. And it's easy to get one into here!
And of course to construct a train you need to automate green science, but that's what the player has the pleasure of figuring out for him/herself. The story presents the problem, and the player invents the solution, and thus learns the game mechanics.
Not sure if I support this one fully. When I saw my cousine (9) playing, I need to help her at some points.
I can think about this: Story and task comes from the "game", but sometimes you want Compilatron to help you. But more or less only on request or when it is clear, that you need help; Compilatron asks if he should help and you can choose or not.
I've said this before, but my favorite level in the original campaign was the one where you get to the wrecked base and discover everyone's dead, and you need to bring all the systems back online. I played it quite a few times, because I kept improving my understanding of how the various systems interacted and how to best arrange the smelting, or the railroad tracks, or other things. I'd love to see more levels like that.
See above! This part of discovering the mystery about the crash is far the best in the whole campaign.

I wanted more.
I wonder why the campaign is viewed as just a tutorial in the first place. Why can't it be an end in itself, instead of a stepping stone to free play?
Whoooo, that released some neurons, that waited a long time in me.

That was what I liked on the old campaign. And you know what: I drawd a bit around this evening. Here are the results:

Thinking in a Circle
The first pic shows the separate level campaign design, but only as circle:
Picture with a circled campaign design
Connect the Beginning with the End
Now it lays on it's hands: We end the campaign where it starts! The rocket needs to be put back to the first level.
Closed circle
And What is now Missing?
The mission to bring the rocket back to level1. Of course! So we need and Intermediate Level (or a Connecting Level), which is nothing as a more or less long tunnel where the player has more or less freedom to go through. Those levels can be enormous big. Which depends on transport medium. (*)
Because you generally cannot built anything in them they are straight forward.
Intermediate Levels, connecting the parts of the circle
Because that might be a risk in gameplay I would like to add, that it should be possible to leave those intermediate level out. You don't need to solve them to continue.

(*) How to transport items? There we can use all of what Factorio allows:
- By foot (player inventory) between L1 und L2
- Car (vehicle) between L2 and L3
- Belts between L3 and L4
- Trains between L4 and L5 (also the good reason to make a big train level like in old Campaign)
- Robots between L5 and (modified) L1
We can use that to bring items from Level1 to Level2 (and so on). And before there are misunderstandings: You cannot go back (of course).
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by RobertTerwilliger »

Way campaign should go is determined by two factors: level finishing estimated time and quantity of levels in campaign.
If level is long enough - you should go with new-level-new-map approach.
If campaign is quite long - continuous rebuilding will be boring (since you will quickly run out of "different" starting conditions) and you should stick with expandable map. OR split it in hybrid way - few long expandable levels.
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by ohmusama »

Campaign style 1 was how the Supreme Commander campaign worked. Sometimes the map expansion was a surprise as enemies showed up on an unprotected flank or sometimes you were ready for it. Either way I enjoyed that style.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by mOoEyThEcOw »

My only comment on the current plan is that I think branching the Purple and Gold science and then bringing them together for the rocket would be a better way to organize it. Both because it lets people make a choice during the campaign (that is often made during free-play) and because I think it lets you constrain the scenarios more. Purple could teach people advanced production and logistics strategies with trains, nuclear power, coal liquification, etc. Gold could be more combat oriented along with very difficult terrain to encourage the use of advanced drone logistics technologies and combat technologies.

Branching could work for either campaign design, either two different areas to expand to pick from, or two different missions. I would almost say blue and black could do with branching as well. Where Gold would require Blue and Black (because it's a combat mission sequence) but Purple could require just Blue. But that might be a bit too much.

That would be my main input. I do think with how cleanly Gold and Purple technologies are separated at the moment it would almost be a waste to not branch on them.
Last edited by mOoEyThEcOw on Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by InspectorDave »

If you go with the expanding campaign, you should increase the map size like a Fibonacci spiral!

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by BlueTemplar »

Henry Loenwind wrote: โ†‘
Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:30 pm
You are a bit too fixated on "The One Campaign", I think.

There's no reason to not include a number of campaigns, scenarios, teaching maps, and so on. Just put the one you have right now into the "campaigns and scenarios" main menu folder, give it a nice name and description, and then plan your new "new players should start here"-campaign to be featured in the main menu.
That was also my initial reaction, but... :
- Sprucing up the old campaign for 0.17+ might require quite a lot of effort.
- IIRC the old campaign is designed for brand new players. (Or am I confusing the campaign with the introduction ? Don't remember whether the one follows from the other story-wise or not...) Having two of them, but players not seeing the point of playing both, because hardly anyone wants to do missions that are too easy might be a huge waste of Wube's resources (see point above).
Also, don't put too much teaching into the "main campaign". I think it would make more sense to have the capability to start (and return from) another scenario map from inside a campaign and then have short teaching scenarios (and/or challenge maps) for certain things. Offer them during the campaign, so people who already know how to do stuff can ignore them and continue with the story.
We have the in-game tutorials, but brand new players that didn't choose freeplay might need something that doesn't take them out of the game...
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by alefu »

You seem to think that it is bad when the campaign is different from freeplay. But I think if they are too similar, there would be no reason to have both. I really liked the old campaign with it's small missions with increasingly difficult tasks. There are other games like e. g. Anno 1404 that also have a campaign and freeplay and where the campaign also works kind of this way.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by nuhll »

bc 500 players factorio needs 10gbits??? :o :roll: :lol:

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment (new player view point)

Post by Holyinja90 »

Campaign reassessment feedback:

I am a new player, (less 50 hours) and while I have watched a lot of videos of Factorio before playing my first experience to the game was the now cancelled campaign introduction. I absolutely loved it - particularly how much of a challenge the bitters were, and i could see how difficulty settings could be added to the game entirely based around pollution and reactions to it. Simply put i have never played a campaign quite like that and loved how it wasn't "easy" nor forgiving to my pollution. haha!

Though as i had the benefit of watching lots of videos i had some idea of understanding for what to do next, and how to do things. I could see this being very difficult for new players without some hand holding and having a helpful robot to assist, even with blueprints would be helpful. The quick key and shortcuts also needs to be explained in detail - if i didnt watch you tube i wouldn't know half of the ones I do. :-D

So i prefer the expanding base approach - though i would add there should be 7 levels. 1 for each science. The oil, and robots, and advanced oil part of the game is very complicated and confusing. Creating network controls for robotos, for power and soloar/steam switches, these are all aspects i had to google to figure out. I have also still not jumped into trains yet, nor nuclear power or advanced weapons. I have just gotten blue science for the first time.

To me basing the campaign around each science level being a region is the natural progression of factorio and within some of those science areas there should be mini-expansion as well. Ie tutorials on oil, on trains, on robots, and then refreshers on how to take full benefit of them later on as extra upgrades are unlocked. Although the mini tutorials that poped up in the campaign may be an awesome way to do that if there was a video for each upgrade to explain it that could help too. Ie rocketry shows a video of mad-max chasing biters with his rocket launcher! :D A video of trains shows the awesomeness possible with huge networks, could even grab these videos from the huge and awesome community.

Finally i wouldn't worry too much about having to rebuild as areas expand, that is a part of factorio. Trying to do it better. I am ashamed of my first attempts and would be happy to receive a chance to improve the design, though maybe with some helpfully scattered resources like the introduction campaign.

At the end of the day though i am sure to enjoy whichever option you decide on.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Kilumanjaro »

Jumping in to echo a popular opinion here... I think there is space in Factorio for both styles of campaign.

Traditional style multi-map affairs will be great for storytelling and introducing concepts to very new players. i.e... One map, biters are introduced, and the survivor (or Compilatron) decides he needs to a. prepare defenses and b. find a way to escape the area. Mission goals become 1. have 25 turrets and 1k ammo in you inventory and 2) research automobilism and build a car. Mission ends when you reach a distant point on the map with your turrets and car. This will teach that green science = mobility and the importance of defenses. The next mission has then has the survivor stumbling across a now destroyed iron outpost with rails running nearby. Mission goals naturally will be mine ore into a train while defending the outpost. Good training for players to see what an outpost is, and know it needs defending. Then next mission riding that train into a smelter attached to a partially destroyed factory with trains of ore periodically arriving from off-map to keep the player supplied. This approach can show the new player the possibilities with a bit of handholding and exposition, and uses a narrative between maps to tell a bare bones discoverable story.

The expanding map design is more suited to players that have a bit more knowledge of how the individual pieces and concepts work, but may need a bit of coaching on how to tie them all together and how to make the grand-scheme decisions. They will naturally live to regret some of their own simplistic early design choices, teaching either how to refactor and reorganize, or how make a big bowl of delicious spaghetti as decided by the nascent player. I'd call it an "intermediate" level campaign.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by _CJ_ »

- No story.
- No exploration gameplay.
Oh, cmon. Is this another experiment with community to see if we hate it? I thought about it when you decided to scrap new campaign... I know this whole campaign thing is huge deal for you and its not easy to make it good but just don't throw it away. Stop thinking about campaign == tutorial... that is completely unnecessary. I love those minitutorials which you can do when you discover e.g. trains or signals. It is easy to follow, easy to understand, you just try it and it works. This can be one way how to show player (if he wants to see that tutorial - if not don't push it) how to setup his base in campaign. There is absolutely no need to push everything into "campaing" tutorial. Short introduction tutorial with advices from Mr. Compilatron and minitutorials to show correct setup if someone need it. Then real campaign can start... I would say that doing it as clasic campaing like e.g. in Age of Empires where you limit player to some "age" is ok. Also it would be nice to stay on one map and if you want to restart just let player choose some checkpoint from his own map - add check points where save is permanent (not just quick save) so player can go back just to re-do last part if he wants :)

Also if there is no time to do it completely until 1.0 just don't. Do some easy short campaing with short story and after 1.0 you can focus on big campaing with whatever you want (let's say "DLC" campaing). Second option I see is to add first part of campaign into 1.0 and then adding more bits slowly after. Just don't mix it with tutorial. And also don't stop with one story campaing... there can be multiple added slowly after 1.0 :) Both styles you mentioned are good - do both, each in one campaing - rather than don't do story and exploration at all.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment (new player view point)

Post by BlueTemplar »

If no time for the full campaign : "Factorio - Episode 1" ?


Hopefully not too off-topic :
So, people are now
Holyinja90 wrote: โ†‘
Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:42 pm
[...]watch[ing] a lot of videos of Factorio [or other video games] before playing [...]
Why ?!?
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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by ToneMcStone »

I think the lack of exploration/choice of map expansion in the campaign could be partly solved by allowing the player to chose to unlock a new area like city skylines based off total research points. Maybe with a bonus for certain key researches.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Kyralessa »

Here's what I wrote on this campaign topic three years ago. I still agree with myself :D in regards to all this:
I do hope you'll look at improving the "story" part of the game. The current campaign is enjoyable and does the job of teaching the mechanics, but I feel like the game could benefit from a more elaborate story and more varied goals. It would be relatively simple to also increase replayability by giving the campaign multiple difficulty levels by increasing biter activity, reducing ore yields, etc.

Probably my favorite mission in the existing campaign was the one where you discover the biter-destroyed base and have to restore it to functionality, replacing belts, rebuilding train tracks to the remote outposts, and so forth. I think more missions along these lines would be a good start.

(Least favorite mission? The following one, where you have to basically kamikaze through the alien waves. I felt like I couldn't afford to set up any sort of production given my limited resources, so I just repeatedly barreled through until I managed to make it once.)

Just brainstorming a bit, I could see missions where you have to:
  • Build trains to bring lots of stone back to your base, in order to build landfill to reach a certain place across the ocean
  • Build a highway between a couple of points, defending against biters on the way
  • Transport specific and distinctive items from one point to another, building the train line to do so and keeping it safe
  • Build MK2 armor filled with exoskeletons, for the purpose of making a mad dash through biter territory to an end goal
  • Use a personal roboport to travel across the map toward a goal, using inventory given at the outset to overcome obstacles, and then cleaning it up for the next obstacle with a deconstruction planner
  • Build a certain item or set of items with unusual restrictions, such as no belts, or only long-handed inserters.
  • Build a transport rail system between multiple points (no goods transport; just a double-headed train that makes a series of stops)
  • Set up a complex liquid-transport system, starting from on initial fixed positions of various oil-based products.
I'm sure others can come up with better ideas...

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by meganothing »

Abarel wrote: โ†‘
Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:45 am
1. Freeplay: procedurally generated map with or without any built structures, presenting a generic objective.
2. Sandbox: a variant for freeplay mode that allows "cheating" to kill enemies, get items, edit the terrain, etc.
3. Scenario: hand-designed map with some already built structures, presenting some challenge as a serie of objectives.
4. Campaign: collection of scenarios, connected through some kind of story.
5. Tutorial: a mini-campaign focused into teaching the basics of the game to new players.
6. Demo: a complete or limited way to experience the game, usually through a chapter of a campaign, or a scenario...
Abarel got a point here. If we look at what players may need from the different types:

4. The campaign main draw for players is having some story, either as an alternative to freeplay or because they want some structure and handholding on the overall progression. It means it is for relatively new players and advanced players. So a difficulty setting (presets for biter growth...) would be nice and a story is VERY important.

3. Scenarios on the other hand can be of two types depending on target audience: Either to teach specific concepts (for players new to that concept, i.e. tutorial, handholding) or to give a unique challenge (for advanced players, difficult, may even have unique rules). No story necessary but the former type can concentrate on showing how trains work, the latter would need no teaching at all, just throw the player into a situation with a big problem


Now how can you create a campaign story efficiently? The NPE showed how but also had too many active elements and preconditions making it a debugging nightmare. I would suggest the following:

1) Compilatron can tell stories and is the ideal instrument to give background details about things in the past. It can give them out simply after some time passed and the player is near/talks to him. Since most of that is not essential to playing the game it is easy to add and not prone to bugs. It is also the ideal instrument to inform the player of interesting places he should visit, for example after getting a car, after hitting specific milestones or when it is time to go to a new area in the expanding campaign.
1a) Since the story is somewhat satirical with the player ruining the ecology of a formerly clean world, the stories and explanations of C. should be laced with (hopefully subtle) satirical/sarcastical humor.

2) The rest of the story can be told by old half-destroyed factories you need to reactivate, crashed spaceships that yield some infotext of what you discover and resources to find (for example a random advanced piece of military equipment early in game, from a shield to a complete artillery train with some ammo, to make each playthrough a little different). Those events are "activated" by the player going there and are also very bug-resistant

3) Don't design any biter attacks. Those are difficult to balance, debug and they feel out of place. The player will handle the biters if they are in his way to any objectives, any which way he wants. So just provide enough objectives (places with resources or information) and the biters will be in the way very naturally.

Speaking for myself I would travel to ship wrecks far away just to read some text from a biologist telling me background stuff about the social hierarchy of biters, a treatise about how we bless this backward planet with our technology, a treatise painting a wonderful future for this VERY stable colony (while satirically hinting at the reason why it will fail, if you read between the lines), or notebooks entries pointing at the next place of interest to be visited. For people less interested in text there could always be something more. For example half of a power station you just have to complete again and get a new base of operation up and running, a few resources, or a long forgotten piece of rail network. Everything is essentially passive stuff you just have to distribute on the map and leave to the player to discover and react to in whichever way he wants.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Gemma »

I'm going to post about my personal experience as a newbie with the old tutorial / demo and how it shaped my view of the game because this feels important to me. I don't really have any reason to post this, I just love this game and want it to be the best it possibly can be. I will preface this by giving some details about myself as a player in case it matters to you who the opinion is coming from. (If it doesn't matter to you then you should skip... the next 3 paragraphs.)

When I tried out the demo before getting the game, I had never seen anyone play Factorio and had no idea what I was getting into. I saw the trailer, instantly fell in love with how pure it felt and the sense of humor and fun that was shining all through it, searched for the game and discovered that it had a demo - perfect! I love demos! This was my first time playing a simulation game since I was a girl (Sim City, Theme Park, Theme Hospital), so it was a particularly exciting experience. I didn't read any guides for the game because I prefer to play blind, and after the demo I jumped into freeplay and starting building a completely insane and chaotic factory. It was an abomination that somehow did function, but only barely and with occasional player intervention (see spoiler).


The most compelling part of the game for me has always been letting my factory grow as if it were an organism, rather than trying to forcefully apply the rigor of top-down planning to make it the most efficient and organized thing possible. I think I find this way more interesting because it lends itself to finding unique solutions more than the other way (not that there are only two ways of course), and the real dopamine high of playing Factorio for me is struggling for hours with a problem without getting anywhere until I eventually, finally find a way to solve it and the new piece of puzzle fits seamlessly into the rest. I think others feel that, too, with their own approach.

I have tried making a factory the better or more objectively correct way, and it was fun and satisfying in its own way but it didn't hold my interest the way my somewhat crazy botless factories that grow out of themselves do. I have about 120 hours of playtime now, which is a lot for me, I don't spend much time on videogames in my life. I scrapped my second attempt at a factory after I learned blue science on it and wanted to start over, scrapped my third due to loss of interest (main bus, bots etc), and my fourth is still maturing. I still haven't launched a single rocket, not because I haven't had the means to (third base was easily capable of it, I just found it more interesting to build a 24-car deathtrain and ride off into the sunset) but because I've been enjoying the other parts so much that I haven't felt the need to progress there, and I guess I'm not super end-game oriented.

So when I hear you the devs appreciating how important it is for the player to have the freedom to control how they approach the game, it makes me very happy, and while I didn't play the newer tutorial that has now been scrapped, haven't played any version of the campaign (I don't know what the Compilatron is), and therefore can't comment on those, I think the change shows a wonderful mindset. After I played the demo and bought the game, I played the tutorial again because I thought it might be different and enjoyed it enough the first time that I didn't mind. Plus I thought the practice would be good anyway. Sure enough, things that had seemed mildly confusing the first time were obvious the second time and I was already starting to optimize. By the time I finished it, I had an intuitive enough understanding of the basic mechanics (note: I had not yet learned automation) to confidently jump into my first factory attempt in freeplay. But before I move on to that I want to comment more on the tutorial itself.

It was good, I think, that the missions were separate maps, and weren't just one continuously expanding map. I think it would have been overwhelming to have to learn how to make different factory components work together in a functional way as the factory grew in size and complexity beyond the first couple of science packs. It was good to learn about different factory components in isolation, reset, then learn about a new component which would then be introduced into the previous component in a measured way. It was somewhat jarring, however, to abruptly have my progress cut off at the end of each mission. I don't think this was a problem with the missions being separated, or the reset itself, I think it was a problem with the way the reset was presented to me.

I think the way to solve this is to create excitement about the next mission for the player, give them something to look forward to so that they're eager to reset and move onto the next phase, rather than looking backward with a feeling of loss. The first time through the tutorial, it was jarring because I didn't have a sense of direction. By the time I got to the final mission of the tutorial, and my character was searching for the wreckage and I knew that I was going to investigate, I was invested and looking forward to the next mission. The biter attacks added a feeling of suspense, because I had something unknown coming between me and my objective - were their attacks going to escalate? was there going to be a swarm of biters at the last minute? I didn't know. I had stopped caring about the reset and was more interested in what was coming next, and in what I was going to discover. Of course, the tutorial ended before I got to find out.

So, in short, I think an effective way to make the resets a non-issue is to create some semblance of a story, even a very simple one, that has the player looking forward. But... you appear to have drawn a line in the sand about not wanting any story, which is understandable. I'm not sure if there's a way you can create something like a story that would have a similar effect. There might be? Nothing to comes to mind.

I think that if I were to have played a campaign with a continously expanding map as my introduction to the game, I would have been taught implicitly that rebuilding was a required part of the game. I think there is very little chance I would have created a factory capable of producing red/green science that would then have been capable of being expanded into blue science and beyond in a functional way. It would have been beyond my skillset as a player at that point. I would have had to have razed everything and started my base again to try to make it work. And in some ways rebuilding is a fundamental part of the game that you have to learn, but I think if you read about how I prefer to build my bases then you may understand that I prefer to not rebuild and rebuild until I have something perfectly functional and efficient, I prefer to build on top of what is already there and find ways to make it work. But that requires a level of understanding of how things interact that took me dozens of hours and multiple resets to learn. And I think if the campaign were structured in a way that forced me to rebuild, then I may not have developed into the Factorio player that I am today, and I like the player I am today. I'm not the best player, I don't have the best way of playing, there is no "best way" of playing, but I like the way I play and I think it's good for me. And, furthermore, I think if the design is probably going to force the player to rebuild in order to keep progressing, as I believe it would, then isn't that effectively the same as a reset and a new map?

When I started my first factory in freeplay, the one in the picture above, I was still constantly learning about new mechanics and interactions and everything else. It took me something like an hour of freeplay to realize that automation was even a thing, but I was never upset about having bumbled about uselessly for so long because the learning was entirely self-directed. I was enjoying the process of figuring things out. Learning automation then led me to realize how important factory layout was, and so on. But after several hours in my first map, by the time I had successfully automated red and green science, I wanted to reset to apply my new understandings. It was a natural ending point for that factory. It wouldn't have felt right to keep going, and if I had tried, I would have spent more time trying to repair the damages of my lack of understanding of game mechanics that were woven into the fabric of that factory than I would have spent discovering new things. And I am worried that with a continuously expanding campaign map the player would be forced into this state of limbo, where they would be carrying around dead weight. When I think of this I think of a snake shedding its skin. Resetting feels to me like a necessary process.

Which maybe means that the trick to having the player not feel a jarring sense of disappointment moving from mission to mission other than a story is to somehow place the resets in such a way that the player will already want to reset before they are led into it. Or maybe it's as simple as allowing the player to continue on their map if they want to, rather than forcing the mission to end when the objective is reached, so that they can then progress when they feel the time is right.

Well, you have probably already brought up all of these points in your internal discussions and you all have a way better understanding of all of this than I could hope to, but hopefully my perspective helped at least a little bit.

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by Oktokolo »

The main problem of the expanding campaign (infinite possible situations) can mostly be eliminated by:
Always reveal new resource patches when expanding the map (new resource patches' richness could depend on resources left in old part of the map).
Expand the map by making some of the existing natural barriers removable. So biters can only run in from a direction that was safe before the map expansion after the player actively removed a barrier.
Auto-save before each map expansion.

Of course, that would need some, not too goofy, barriers and ways to remove them. Apart from the obvious cliffs / cliff explosives and water / landfill, there could also be:
The already mentioned ion storm - but it goes away by itself when the map has to grow.
A radiation zone only traversable with powered personal shield.
A lava stream wich has to be cooled by feeding it tons of water to make it solidify and let the player pass.
Camps of biters that are too strong until the player gets his military powerful enough (basically the Gothic way of blocking off most of the world until the player is strong enough).

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Re: Friday Facts #329 - Campaign reassessment

Post by vaendryl »

I understand that the campaign is primarily designed/intended to help educate the player so that they have an easier time playing freeplay, but it strikes me as odd to have 1 game mode designed to teach another game mode.

what's important to the point I'm trying to make is that I'm differentiating "tutorial" from "campaign" here. a tutorial is a brief primer (or a set of brief primers) that gets you going.
a campaign is a long-term way of playing a game that is fun and rewarding as its own thing.

I think the devs are trying too hard to conflate the two.

take a game like starcraft 1. there's an optional 1 or 2 missions that are super basic and 100% focussed on getting the player up to speed (a tutorial). the rest of the missions do teach and train critical gameplay skills the player needs in other game modes (like skirmish, ladder, etc) but the campaign is still very much its own thing.

and ultimately, the best way to get better at laddering is laddering. no matter how blizzard would change the campaign that will never change.

so, in the the developers mind what do they expect players to get out of a new campaign? the confidence to do the whole thing over again but this time without training wheels?
i dunno. that just doesn't strike me as the right way to go. I think having 1: an actual tutorial, 2; an actual campaign, 3: freeplay as it exists (but with integrated optional help system explaining advanced subjects) would end up giving a far more complete package for a 1.0 version.

I think the old campaign was doing really good things, but I wished it was considerably longer. the restarting didn't matter much to me as each new level could passively teach new things, and it's par for the course when playing a campaign. having old ruins to build on top of was brilliant.
that said, I think the new campaign had some great new features too, though. mostly in terms of new quest objective UI, expanding map and hiding secrets (though those came a bit too late). I also think being able to focus a player's attention on certain things with a moving camera is a useful tool in a campaign.

TL;DR campaign should be a campaign. with story and everything and it should be compelling to play as is and exist besides freeplay. not just be a precursors to it.

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