All hands on deck! Incoming wall of text!
Not being able to have any input into who I’m picking to be my founding members of my Merc group undermines the feeling of being head of a merc group.
But this doesn’t really have to be solved by customization. Just give us a long list of random people and let us pick 3.
No input is because it’s a ‘take what you get’ kind of beginning. That is also reflected in how you don’t choose your starting location and starting gear.
If more control absolutely needed to be implemented I’d prefer something like an extra difficulty setting that affects the total value of your starting team. Settings could be easy, hard and random. Like, easy raising the minimum value, hard lowering the maximum value and random changing nothing. Picking or buying your starters from a random list I can also live with if it absolutely has to be implemented. Customising your starting characters, however, flat out does not suit the design. The current way os starting works, however, works just fine and suits the game perfectly.
Maybe people aren’t addressing it because it’s a ridiculous assertion. Skyrim, GTA V, Minecraft, Terraria, Mount & Blade. These games are all insanely popular and not what anyone would consider “tight design”. Freedom is what people crave right now. Sandbox is the current fad. Look at all the survival games out there where people just want more and more stuff added constantly because they’re “fun features”. If the devs want to make something else, that’s their choice of course. But your point seems pretty far from reality.
BTW, a lot of good ideas there, hope to see many of them in game eventually. But the low-hanging fruit are the simple concepts that have the broadest possible impact on the player model of the game (The Simulation Dream). I believe customization is an easy win there.
This comparison doesn’t work on several levels. To start, a game doesn’t have to be financially successful to be great and a game that is financially successful isn’t necessarily a great game.
Secondly, those games aren’t designed as badly as you might think. They do, however, have more flexible themes than this game and are less reliant on quality over quantity. That’s why Dark Souls is a better comparison as a successful game, as that game does rely on it. Skyrim for example wants the player to feel free and awesome. This is reflected in the gameplay and world design. You can customise your character, go wherever you want and are a capable fighter from the start. It compensates for any quests that compromise this through the sheer amount of them. They can do that because they have a large team with a near limitless budget and a readymade modding community. Now, I dislike the design of Skyrim, but not because it fails at knowing its audience. GTA V can do the same thing in terms of volume, giving players the ability to follow a serious story or just play around in the sandbox. They can only do this because they have the funds needed to essentially make two games. Minecraft can ignore matching gameplay to story and has design that emphasises interaction with the environment. It gives the players the building blocks to play with and then sets them loose, so the players essentially generate content on their own and together. The core design here is really damn solid. Terraria puts these same design ideas in a 2D world and puts more emphasis on struggling with your surroundings through the adventure elements. Again the execution matches the design ideas. I never played M&B, so I can’t compare it in terms of design, but I doubt that it makes design decisions that contradict what the game is trying to be.
Thirdly, they are all real-time games that emphasise freedom of movement through directly controlling your avatar, who is a single person. Most of them are also first or third person, with one being 2D. This in combination with real-time means that you directly control your avatar and in that way interact with the world. Resulting in you more strongly identifying with that avatar and giving the player a sense of freedom and immersion. Real-time games are also more popular than turn-based games and single and first person are more popular than the top-down perspective.
Fourthly, all of them have relatively accessible difficulty levels and multiplayer (except multiplayer for Skyrim). This difficulty is crucial to their success, as it emphasises the feeling of freedom the player wants. Difficulty limits the actions of a player in a game sandbox game. Less difficult therefore means more freedom for the player. Mass appeal sandbox games don’t force people to play the hard way, but make it optional as mods or menu options. The importance of multiplayer and effectiveness varies per game (as shown by Elder Scrolls Online), but it is of particular importance in Minecraft and Terraria. They add the element of not just creating for the sake of yourself, but to show it off to others.
The developers here need to focus on tight design, because they don’t have the funds needed to intentionally make mass appeal a success. They also can’t compensate with marketing campaigns, expect the players to expand the game themselves or insert massive amounts of content into the game. Their aim is to make mercenary company simulator in land under threat by itself excludes many parts of sandbox gameplay and they lack the means to make alternative modes. Trying to go for mass appeal is therefore an exercise in futility, because this is a niche game by its very nature. Turn based, an inflexible them, highly difficult with no easy mode, relatively simple graphics, limited freedom, top-down perspective, no controllable avatar and no multiplayer or co-op. Their target audience basically consists of hardcore gamers and the occasional convert. Achieving mass appeal would require rebuilding the game from the ground-up and to turn it into something completely different. Therefore those games do not make for a relevant comparison for how to approach the design of this game. They should instead look at games like the Darkest Dungeon, Dwarf Fortress and FTL. Those games achieve their success through finding a niche and then going all in.
Glad to hear that you like the ideas! :) Though stuff like probably never implemented though, unless some people make some full-conversion mods. That’s why I’m against this change. The developers simple cannot afford to implement non-crucial ideas.
They already do, so this cannot be used as an argument against customization. When you find a guy with the right face and decent stats, you rename him. That’s how customization is done now. No one can argue that customization will change the game, because it’s already done. The question is, should it be less infuriatingly annoying to do.
That’s not actual customisation, just restarting until you get favourable result. Just like how you can copy the save file in Dark Souls and save it incase you do something wrong.
You’re playing the leader of a company who doesn’t fight with the company. At every other point in the game you get a list of available people to pick from. You can see how they look and their background, just not their extra traits and their stats. Why couldn’t that be done at the start? How would that damage the narrative?
Because you have no influence on which recruits you get to choose from. It’s like how you can choose where to go once the game starts, but you don’t choose your starting location.