First of all, the first two paragraphs are background on this post and on me. If you don’t care about any of that, skip to the suggestions in the bulleted list below!
Background on This Post
I started playing Boundless about 3 weeks ago and since that time have put in over 100 hours! I told myself that once I got to 100 hours, I’d gather my thoughts and put a post in the suggestions forum around various things I think would be awesome for the game since this is an early access game and, having bought into it, I feel responsible to help contribute towards its growth.
Background on Me
I’ve got a metric ton of experience playing voxel-based games and recently came over from Creativerse where I put in over 500 hours. I have also put in hundreds of hours across Dragon Quest: Builders (can’t wait for DQ:B 2!), Minecraft, Rift (dimensions were the player housing in Rift and while not voxel-based, the idea was very similar to voxel-based games in that you gather, place and build till your heart’s content) and a couple others. Additionally, I have thousands upon thousands of hours spent in MMOs dating back to Ragnarok Online’s NA release over a decade ago and tracing through FFXI, WoW, Rift, FFXIV, ES:O, Aion, Tera, and more. As an aside, I’m also a developer for a living and have hands-on game development experience (a small gaming startup where we ended up doing a lot of outsourced work for bigger studios such as EA). My experience there includes DirectX programming (primarily around UIs), 3D modeling with 3D Studio Max and a tiny bit of Maya, animation with Character Studio (plugin for 3DS Max), and OO C++ and Java.
This section covers tweaks to the existing game that would go a long way:
- Leveling needs an adjustment. In general, leveling should be a bit faster. The most efficient way to level after, roughly, level 30, shouldn’t be holding down spacebar and LMB or RMB to place blocks under you until you’ve hit the limits of the skybox and then hammer/axe/shovel your way all the way back to the ground over and over.
- Piggybacking on 1, I believe the first place to adjust is feats and objectives. In general, the tier 1 and 2 feats need their XP reward increased (doubled or tripled) even if it means the effort to get there is slightly increased. Objectives need an adjustment as well. In general, things need to reward a bit more XP. I feel the Tier 4 and 5 feats are tuned well at 40K and 150K but I do feel that some of them need their values tweaked. Many of them have unrealistically high requirements for the XP reward.
- Swimming still needs an adjustment. Leaving the water is still frustrating. You should remove the ability to “jump” from water when there is no land anywhere nearby and just let spacebar be a gradual “rise” while absence of spacebar be a gradual “fall” in the water. When within 1 block of land and spacer is hit while near the surface, jump should be enabled. 182 update: It seems swimming was adjusted in this patch and is a bit better now. I still feel the ascent and descent via spacebar seems slightly off and the ability to get out of the water is inconsistent but it is definitely improved over the last patch.
- Coal needs to be more potent or more abundant (in terms of how much is dropped from nodes). Right now, coal is a major crafting roadblock. Myself and several folks from our settlement spend 3-4 hours per day farming coal and we still run out every single day.
- Mob spawning needs an adjustment. I will often log on and be greeted by 8-10 mobs right outside my main plot but after clearing those, can run in any direction for literally an IRL minute or two before finding another anywhere. It may already be the case that mobs have spawns preferences but I’d like to see spawning follow some form of density management where, perhaps some mobs spawn frequently near water while others spawn near lava and others spawn in mountains, etc.
- Detailed explanations of talents are needed. It took a good amount of Googling to find a dev response on a Steam thread explaining what mastery does and that post was from a while back so there’s no guarantee that’s what it still does or to that extent. It would be extremely useful to have information, using hammer mastery as an example, that stated the following in the tooltip: Increases your effectiveness with Hammers. For each such mastery talent acquired, your hammers hit 15% harder and swing 15% faster.
- In addition to 6 above, remove the penalty incurred for lack of mastery when attempting to use a higher-quality tool and, instead, unlock the use of such tools at levels. For example, perhaps wood is all that’s usable until level 5. Stone unlocks at 5, copper at 10, iron at 20, silver at 25, gold at 30 and anything beyond gold at 35 or 40. This kind of gating is much easier to understand and provides additional, clear benefits to what is otherwise a very “blah” excitement from leveling.
- Currently, tools lose durability just from swinging even it doesn’t actually hit anything. Durability should only be lost if the tool is actually used on something.
- The gradual creep in talent costs should be removed. Make each talent a simple multiple of 5 talent points and hard-code the values as appropriate.
- Please remove the highlighter-colored “fog” on planets like Vulpto. Holy @#!$ it’s painful on the eyes to travel around Vulpto.
- This one is a nitpick but it might help immersion if you tied the weather effects a bit more closely to the terrain. For example, the southern deserts of Solum probably shouldn’t be getting blizzards.
- Combine slope, bevel, and square chisels into a single tool that can swap “modes” via a hotkey. This is a nitpick, but with all three as separate tools, I cannot fit all tool types into one hand.
- NEW Bump the power of iron level tools slightly. Right now, I have max power, max axe mastery and with an iron axe, it often takes me two swings to clear a level 1 planet’s trunk. For QoL purposes, I think it would be nice if, at the iron level of tools, assuming max power and mastery for that tool type, level 1 planet resources always clear in 1 swing.
- NEW Increase the availability of various types of gleam - especially red.
- The game currently suffers a lack of incentives to explore - which is very problematic for a game built atop procedural generation. There’s is essentially nothing to find. Once you’ve seen a couple caves, you’ve seen all caves. Once you’ve gone to each of the available planets, you get the idea of that entire planet. There are many ways to improve this experience. One such way would be more mob diversity in combination with the mob density fixes I proposed earlier. Another improvement would be to borrow from other voxel-based games and randomly spawn treasure at either hard-to-get-to or hidden (or both) locations to incentivize exploration.
- Add the following chat features:
- pm/tell/whisper - can be available between any two players, limited to members of the same settlement or limited to just friends. Any are fine.
- A settlement “channel” within which any members of a settlement can chat (a’la guild/clan chat in MMOs). As for global/world chat, I’m actually opposed to these in the interest of community building an incentivizing exploration and the social (friendships, etc) aspects of the game.
- I’d love to see a system put in place to combat players coming into the game, claiming a plot or two, then never logging back in. These plots are strewn all over the planets and it’s especially annoying when attempting to expand your own plots. One way to do this is to institute a policy of 2-3x fuel usage penalty for plots to which other players share adjacent plots so that active players such as myself don’t have to wait, say, 10 weeks for that dude I ended up expanding towards to have his stuff go wild. Clarification: This 2-3x fuel penalty would be something that would begin after, say, a week of not logging into the game at all. It could perhaps start at 2x fuel usage and each week increase by 1 to 3x, 4x, etc. If a player has reached at least, say, 4x and runs out of fuel, their plots should immediately be set to “wild”.
- The talent system, in addition to the tweaks mentioned above regarding talents, could use a facelift. In general, talents like “Improves your effectiveness with hammers (by some moderate % increase to power and speed under the hood)” are not interesting. WoW dealt with this same issue many years ago when the talent trees were filled with talents such as “Increases your Strength by 5 per talent point”. While it’s perfectly fine to have some talents that are incremental improvements such as increasing effectiveness with hammers, in general they should be one-offs and each instance talented should be more potent. Here are some examples of what I’d consider decent talents:
- Instead of Hammer Mastery, Shovel Mastery and Axe Mastery, have one talent called something like “Experienced Gatherer” with 3 tiers: Increases your power and swing speed with hammers, shovels and axes by 33/66/100%.
- Instead of a talent like “Increases your resistance against heat damage by x%”, Introduce a talent under Survival simply called something like “Incombustible” that makes you immune to lava damage. You can certainly make it an expensive talent if you’d like to make the decision making process as to whether it’s worth it interesting.
- Character creation: Currently the models and variations available are decent for an EA game, but in the long run (and certainly for release), some form of character creation with the ability to customize your character before entering the game world will be necessary and with more options than what are currently available.
- Account-bound storage via a new type of storage block/shelf item that’s craftable. This would encourage alt-play.
- NEW Introduce excavators or similar. In Creativerse, excavators are craftable items that, when placed, can be activated with “E” and then explode in 5s destroying an entire 9x9, 12x12, or 16x16 section of blocks. The blocks destroyed in this manner are included in a little pouch you can then pick up like any world item. In this way you can quickly gather quantities of materials, so long as you put in the time to craft excavators. In Creativerse, excavators vary in potency (9x9, 12x12, or 16x16 I believe) and also by strata level (Creativerse organizes their worlds into “layers” such as soil, rock, igneous and corruption, in that order). The need to craft excavators that work only a specific level of strata is actually something I DIDN’T like so I’d like to see exavators (or similar) in Boundless just be one type that clears anything but perhaps with potency variations (9x9, 12x12, etc). One caveat, in Creativerse, and resource blocks such as ores are not destroyed by excavators. Everything around it may be destroyed and added to the pouch you can pick up but you have to manually mine the ore. I like this approach as excavators should be about clearing areas quickly for basic blocks.
- If you die a second time before the “You have been defeated” overlay fully disappears, it can cause the overlay to stay permanently until you restart the client.
- I hesitate to report this because it’s really convenient to use but alas it’s a bug: if you move into a tight space with your character, say down at lower altitudes in a cave, and you look up and jump into a space that you can’t really fit repeatedly, the game “bounces” you all the way up to the surface. Super convenient for getting out of caves but I can’t imagine that’s how it’s intended to work. Sorry all :(.