A true vision for the game from the community (LONG)
I am not quite sure if this forum is dead now, is KEEN planning to abandon the game once the SE-hype and -sales are over, or do they plan to focus stronger on this since SE will need less attention in the future? Are they gathering feedback or have given up? Who knows... Either way, one thing is clear: The development up to this point feels extremly marketing-driven, with little understanding of what the game needs. KEEN needs a vision for this game, they need to understand why this game can be good and they need it fast. I will try to do my best.
A VISION FOR THE GAME
Medieval engineers attracts or could attract 5 kinds of people, and the market for 4 of these is huge: History lovers, creative builders, survivalists, adventurers and to a small degree, modders. Sadly, none of these groups currently get the best they could out of this game, which is ok, since it is still in EA. I will try to discuss the potential and wishes for each of these groups to the best of my knowledge. In some way, this will be a compilation of a lot of popular feedback, and I will link the highest voted existing feedback.
Popular youtubers like for example Shadiversity (youtube), Skallagrim or the Metatron have build their Channels around medieval architecture and weapons, reaching 500k+, 1m+ and 300k+ subscribers respectivly. Shadiversity is the best to mention here, because he owns ME, promised a review once it is fully out (if the game is released as it is now, I would doubt it though) and focuses specifically on castle design a lot. What I hear from ME's community and his, is that there already is some overlap. Why isn't there more?
History lovers love history, but ME only resembles history from very far away. I will list some points that might sound ridiculous to some, but are a straight downer if you are part of this community:
- The machiculations (youtube) in this game are an unexcuseable joke. "But realistic machiculations are too small for our big rocks, they have to be usable!", I hear KEEN say. Blahblahblah, first of all, you can always shoot through them with a crossbow, even smaller ones, and second, how often do you use them anyways? That's right, never. You know what you do all the time? You look at them. And you don't want to get eyecancer. Relevant feedback
- The walls with arrowslits and windows are too thin, especially for the round tower parts. A castle has to have thick walls on the outside period. Here is a picture of how a nice secure room in a round tower should look like. Compare that with what you can get in ME. This and the machiculations are enough to have someone like Shad sh*ttalk your game for 20 minutes straight. Don't worry, he hasn't done it. Yet.
- Crucial blocks are missing from the game (see Creativity - missing blocks)
- Real castles and buildings are not build at 90 degree angles all the time. Relevant feedback
- Weapons in this game are meaningless and generic. I will never understand why we got a Mount and Blade fighting overhaul that noone cared about while having 0 weapon diversity and also noone to fight (actually I know why). Real halberds, spears, bows, twohanders, that is what we need. Model real historic weapons and give them real historic names instead of "Steel sword, better version of the Iron sword, duh". Noone cares about your stupid steel swords, game! You know what people care about? Knecht Kriegsmesser! 1 million people care about that! Get some nice weapons and some of these weapon lovers might get interested into the rest of the game.
To sum it up, there is a real market for just having your game historically accurate and historically interesting. You should work on that.
Do I really need to explain to the studio that made Space Engineers why creative building attracts a massive amount of people and keeps them invested for hours, as long as they just get enough freedom to build? If that doesn't do it, I can also mention Minecraft, but that has to be enough... In my opinion, both SE and ME are creative building games at heart, that is what the players actually spent their time with when they play. That or gathering the resources. Hence, problems in this area should be fought like you would fight heart disease. So, what are the problems?
- Crucial blocks are missing. Stop relying on modders to do your work for you. The base game has to be fun too. I mean: ladders (the ingame trapdoor is currently only useable with mods, wtf?), connections between small and big roofs, more roofs in general like blue textured ones, roof with window, further more brattices, more diagonal blocks, glass windows in-game (not modded).
- Again, completly prohibiting the overlap between grids is the most anti-creativity idea you ever had. Feedback.
- Some sort of pulley system is needed. Why else would you have "Engineer" in the title. Feedback.
To sum this section up, building freedom and block availability are crucial for this game. Basic features and blocks are still missing, sadly.
Gameplay features (Survivalists, Builders and Adventurers)
The two things aboth don't make a full game yet, there needs to be something else. Currently, we have a very weak survival feature and an almost nonexisting fighting system against braindead AI. It happens pretty fast in this game that you get to a point where you ask "And now what?". We need more things to do.
- Clothes and armor (here again: historic design, historic names!). I shouldn't feel "finished" with the game until my character wears some great armor. Feedback.
- Domestic animals like chickens, cows, horses, pigs, cats, dogs. Give the player something to care about that also reduces his resources. Provides also new gameplay (riding, milk, meat without hunting, companiens). All the animal AI needs to do is walk around a bit, can't be too hard. Feedback1 and feedback2.
- AI workers. Something to improve your economy while also eating resources. Now, I have seen that after 4 years, KEEN still hasn't produced a barbarian AI that is capable of running towards you in a straight line without f*cking up. So I really don't expect much here. Just let us craft a worker at a bed, assign something like a forge to him, and from that point on, the forge works twice as fast. The AI itself will sometimes play a working animation, lay in the bed, check for chairs to sit on, that is it. Maybe even that is too much I don't know. In that case, just have him work at the forge forever. "But we are KEEN, if we do something it has to be great and sophisticated and epic". No. You are KEEN, incapable of producing any form of AI for 4 years. At this point, delivering a pile sh*t would be better than nothing. Just having more people around you in game would also make it feel much more alive. Feedback1 and feedback2.
- AI soldiers. Again, very basic, you craft them at a bed, set waypoints for them to patrol, they attack nearby enemies with either ranged weapons or melee. Or you tell them to follow you. That is all. Again, if this is too much, just make them all ranged, have them stand in one place and shoot enemies. Related feedback.
- Conquering lands, and yes, I mean in SP. Put some enemy settlements on the planet and with one go, the game doesn't feel "finished" before the last one has been raided. More on this under Game World - Barbarian settlements and enemy castles.
To sum this section up, this has to be the most neglected part of the game and heavy work is needed here. Anyone who plays this game in SP is soon faced with this vast emptiness that we really need to combat.
Game World (Adventurers and Survivalists)
In a world where every second game has to brand itself as "open world" to sell itself, I find it quite selfaware that ME doesn't choose to do so, even though it is "entire planet". The whole thing is empty and useless. You only care about that tiny spot you build in. And that is bad. With a bit of work, ME could become so much better in this regard. And the moment you fill the world with life, this game truely becomes "entire planet".
- Fill the map with neutral/enemy camps, castles and small towns. Too much work? The community will happily do it for you if you create a contest. You may want to make 2 versions though: realistic medieval world and fantasy. Might also generate some publicity in the process. Put a bit of loot into some chests, add some defenders, add a central flag to capture, done. From now on, enemies spawn at nearby enemy settlements instead of random points on the map, and in greater numbers if the player dared to attack said settlement before. Feedback1 and feedback2.
- Maybe even create factions, where the world starts as neutral towards the player (maybe one hostile barbarian faction), and if the player attacks a faction, every settlement of that faction becomes hostile. And, once again, because I know KEEN has a huge ego - all enemies have to do is run at you, lke they do now. Nothing sophisticated as long as it is there. Everything else important can happen in the players head and will happen if the world is just believable enough.
- New enemies: different armors, different weapons, especially ranged ones, greater numbers. Make them an actual threat so you need walls and AI defenders if you want to take on multiple or bigger factions.
- Wild animals: wolves, rabbits, birds, snakes, boars, wild horses. Just add more life to this empty world. You can hunt them, domesticate them, lure enemies to wolves, what do I know. Feedback1 and feedback2.
- A functioning weather system with rain, fog, sunshine, snow that changes how the same place in the world looks at different times. This doesn't have to be sophisticated. Rain in unmodded Skyrim is literally an effect playing in front of the screen, and that game sold in unbelievable numbers. Make some changes to colours on top of that and you are good. Related feedback.
So to sum it up, this is close second to neglected topics that could make this game great. "World is empty" is everywhere in the criticism and drives players away from buying the game. And yet there is so much potential here. Completly unused, sadly.
I honestly can't comment on this. I don't play survival that much, all I know is that there is a huge market for survival games in general, and that it might be worth to add some more features like thirst and temperature. Combine that with an actual threat through barbarians, which currently are a joke, and you have something here. Once the world is filled a bit, and someone makes a mod that replaces enemy soldiers with zombies (or the devs add that for halloween), we suddenly have unlocked a big potential playerbase. But currently, the game around the survival is too empty, the survival not that challenging and meaningless.
Sad to say, but the modding community is this games only strentgh right now. The situation however, could be improved:
- Fix your stupid modding tools, KEEN. Why are half the programs in your current SDK broken, so that we have to download an older version as well. Not that it is complicated or anything, it is just funny that you rely on modders so much and the first thing you say to a potential modder is: Hey, we didn't bother to fix our tools for years now, because that would require actual work from our side, sry lol. The bar of entry into modding should be as low as possible.
- Don't break simple mods (like block mods) with updates anymore. Should be easy at this point I hope. Parallax textures, new models, we have it all now. So safe ride from here?
- There has to be a clear direction and vision for this game. Modders mod because they believe in the game. Right now, modders are quitting, because they see how little KEEN believes.
You owe these people everything you have so far, respect them.
If you put all of this together, you have a medieval world that is alive, and in which you can build your medieval settlement with secure walls in the face of all the outside threats, who are lurking around just to kill you and take your resources. A world that requires and offers creativity, building, progression, conquest, an entire planet to be made yours. There is no doubt in my mind that ME can be a great game, and there is massive potential there to be unlocked. And there is also no doubt that KEEN is a studio that could unlock this potential, if they wanted. But do they???
So this got pretty long, which should show you that the game has people who really want to love it but currenty can't. Also, I had to fix my sleeping shedule and needed to kill some hours. To the one person who actually read this - thank you. If you are from KEEN - I am pretty sure at this point that noone from your side even reads the forum anymore. A lifesign would really help.