One of the recurring issues and complaints that players hit is losing their Settlement identity. This is often a point of conflict in the game and can cause unhappiness for players who care about their community and associated identity.
This is not really solvable via community management intervention because the rules of the sandbox allow players to do things that others find frustrating. And often they aren’t really breaking any rules. It would be much better if the sandbox itself had better structure to reduce these points of conflict. (But we will always require community management around the edges.)
We have a number of things in the pipeline that we think will address the problems. I wanted to highlight them here to get collective feedback and make sure everyone is aware that we’re working on this issue gradually.
Guilds will always retain their Settlement identity: In the coming Guild + Messaging update, players will be able to create a guild, join the guild, and then align their beacon with the guild. If all the aligned beacons in a settlement meet the thresholds for being a settlement then they will be a guild settlement. The guild will always be able to name their settlement and this will show on the compass, planets in the sky and when entering the settlement - as a standard settlement. This alone will allow players to protect and control their identity.
This is equivalent to all the aligned beacons having a single owner of the guild. Hence it’s possible that the guild will also become the Warden of the entire settlement. The guild aligned beacons will have their own leaderboard for prestige within the guild settlement. The guild settlement will also show up in any bigger settlements that they might be a part of. It’s possible that the guild will then become a Viceroy of the planet.
Switching to plot rather then chunk resolution: The Guild + Messaging update also switches the settlement evaluation from chunks (where you could be 3 plots away and still connect) to a pure plot resolution. This will hopefully make it much clearer for players to understand when they will and will not connect. (Reminder that it’ll actually be plot columns. We often talk about touching - but we really mean the columns touch, ie a plot in the sky can touch a plot underground as their associated columns touch.)
This will make it much clearer about what it going on. The original chunk resolution was an optimisation to make sure that the settlement evaluation would be efficient. But it would have caused even more confusing when guild settlements mixed with non-guild aligned settlements. This was instantly hit on the Testing servers and so we concluded that we needed to do the work to switch to the plot resolution.
With both of these changes players will always be able to create and retain a Settlement identity. These are both coming in the next update.
So you can now keep your identity. But what about prestige and gleam towers?
The following changes are already in development and will be coming after the next update.
Normalising the Prestige scores: Some of the block prestiges scores are inconsistent with their cost of creation. There are certain blocks than can be mass produced easily to generate significant prestige. We plan to renormalise all the block prestige scores so that their score is aligned with their costs of creation.
Refactoring the Prestige calculation: We also want to iterate the prestige scoring system itself a little. We want to the scoring system to better reward variety in the beacons: material variety, chiseling variety, and value variety. We’re also going to present some more details about the prestige score into the beacon GUI to help all players understand where their score is coming from.
As this request for feedback returned an 80% approval we have proceed with the development.
These 2 items will significantly reduce the option for building refined gleam towers. Hence the process of gaining prestige will be better aligned with the effort you put into the collection, processing, crafting, building, chiseling and variety in your beacons.
The system still doesn’t claim to deal with aesthetics and still doesn’t include any player voting input.
When this is released all prestige scores will change and will be instantly recalculated. Wardens may change. Capitals many change. I imagine some will complain about losing prestige (whilst others will gain) but we think this is an important improvement for the structure and fairness of the sandbox.
Finally, players often complain about losing plots in or around their beacon. A plot becomes available and someone else snaps it up before they were able to. Players often think that there is a higher entitlement to plots near their current build. But currently the sandbox treats all plots neutrally. If it’s available then anyone can beacon and claim it. This is a neutral and hence fair system.
But players who have lovingly spent hours developing their build can often be left frustrated that there is plenty of other land that could be claimed - why build so close to them? Whilst the current system is neutral I don’t think it’s successful if it leaves players unhappy. It is true that there are huge amounts of plots available across all the worlds.
Some of this comes down to players wanting some control over who claims and builds around them. At the moment it’s a claim-first-argue-later system. The following proposal attempted to resolve this:
- Protected buffer zones around beacons: This would give all beacons a limited buffer zone around their beacon. The zone would disallow other players claiming any plots within their buffer without prior agreement and permission. This would change the system from claim-first-argue-later to agree-first-claim-later. The buffer zones would likely be small 1, 2 or 3 plots. When buffer zones overlap then neither party would be able to claim plots without prior permission. So this is mainly a limiting system. It doesn’t beat simply claiming plots ahead of time and securing the land you want.
This proposal also received an 80% approval and so we will likely proceed with it.
This system doesn’t claim to resolve issues of beacons being boxed in. This will still be protected by the CoC and happens rarely.
- Guilds allow players to protect the identity of their Settlements by aligning their beacons with the guild.
- Plot resolution settlement evaluation will make it clearer when settlements are touching.
- All block prestige scores will be normalised against their cost of production.
- Prestige scoring will better reward and encourage variation.
- Beacon protection zones will give players control over who claims plots next to their beacons.
We hope that these changes will make players feel more comfortable and in control of their environements. But also allow players to continue competing for the title of Warden, the rank of Capital and the ultimate honour of Viceroy.
The first step will come with the release of Guilds.
Let us know what you think.