|Update: Table It|
March 6, 2020
Someone observed that you can't put plated omelettes on the table, which is weird. Of course, no plated food is containable, because you can't shove it in a backpack or storage box---it's a plate of food, after all. The table is also implemented as a container, which means that plated food couldn't go on the table. Up until this point, an object was either containable or not, and beyond that, the only granularity was the required container slot size. Tables and storage boxes can store larger items than backpacks and baskets, for example. But there was no way to say, "plated foods can only be stored on the table."
This week, I added a named tag system for containable items that can only go in certain types of containers. All the plated foods are containable, but earmarked to only be containable on the table. This new property was added to 39 objects, so there's now a huge variety of new table-top items.
This feature can also be used in the future for other special types of containable items.
Let there be green paint and green walls.
Behold, a much-needed Dung Box.
May you plant sapling cuttings directly from your shears.
May letter stock be three times more plentiful.
And several other fixes.
Still working my way through the list of reported issues. Only 108 left.
|Update: Black Wall|
February 29, 2020
Still working my way through the remaining reported issues. Only 123 left!
Highlights from this week: an overhaul of the tool-slot system to make it less error-prone and consolidate some of the dead-end tool choices, less-griefable rails, removable roses on hats, and black painted walls.
The biggest change is the way that committing to learning a tool works. While you're in the process of learning, you now get one free use of every available tool. After using a tool once, you've almost learned it, but you haven't yet committed to spending a tool slot on it yet until you use it one more time. This dramatically reduces the feeling of wasting a valuable tool slot on something that you learned by accident.
I'm also in the process of phasing out the "eating bonus" that was put in place during the first big Steam sale. This means that the food supply will get a little bight tighter over the next few days, and the game will be a bit more challenging. Keep in mind that this is balanced by a reduced rate of food consumption. So even as the value of each bite of food is reduced some, the frantic feeling of "needing to eat constantly" won't resurface.
|Update: No Solo|
February 14, 2020
I've got murder on my mind. I was taking a look at the life logs recently, and saw a somewhat normal murder rate of around 6%. Then I ran the analysis a different way, and computed the murder victimization rate. This is the percentage of active players on a given day that are the victims of at least one murder. I ran this analysis on Thursday, February 5, and I was shocked by what I found: a whopping 25% of active players were murdered at least once on that day. Turns out that this was an anomalous peak, but other recent days weren't that much lower, as seen in this graph:
This analysis motivated some of the changes last week to kill waiting times and curse visibility, and you can see the minor effect of those changes toward the end of this graph. But still, I wasn't entirely sure what was going on.
Mid-week, I added a new kill log to the server, letting me see who was landing the kill hits, whether they were solo or part of a posse, and who was being saved via healing. This log did not paint a pretty picture. Since the log was set up on Wednesday, there have been 174 kills, 153 of which were solo killers, acting alone. There were only 21 group kills, and 34 instances of players being saved by healing. Yes, that's 87% solo kills.
And what's the problem with solo kills? Well, a more detailed analysis of one day's log showed that 62% of the solo kills were done in cold blood, unprovoked by previous murder, while only 20% of the group kills were done in cold blood.
That brings us back to why killing is in the game in the first place. Why not just remove it entirely? Because you need to have a way to "vote someone off the island" who is violating village rules. Otherwise, laws become impossible. Killing isn't the only kind of possible griefing, and removing killing entirely makes everyone powerless to stop those other kinds of griefing.
But if you really are voting someone out of your village by killing, and that's the point of killing, solo killing really has no role to play. If everyone agrees that this person should go, you don't need to kill them solo. You can form a posse and kill as a group.
Solo kills are unilateral actions where there is no group consensus. Most of the time, I'm guessing, solo kills are simply griefing, full stop.
Over the past two years, I've added loads of adjustments and limitations to solo killing in the game. Now we have a panoply of warning mechanisms and advantages for the victim. You GASP, the killer looks and sounds angry, you can track the killer off-screen, the killer must wait 12 seconds, and the killer runs more slowly than you. In practice, given all these advantages for the victim, solo kills should be all but impossible. But I've seen it myself: the victim just standing there for 12 seconds, like a sitting duck.
This means that most victims of solo kills are new players who don't know how these warning systems work. This means that most victims of killing are brand new players. That is really bad. Being killed is one of their first experiences in the game.
And like I said, the presence of solo killing does not help with the philosophical point of killing in the game---it doesn't help us vote someone off the island as a group.
So why not remove it entirely?
There are still two cases of solo killing that are dear to my heart.
First, we have the wilderness situation, which I've come to call the Two Hermit Problem. If you're one-on-one in the wilderness, and someone is bugging you, I want you to be able to protect yourself. I want you to be able to say, "scram," and mean it. Even if the person isn't bugging you, the fact that you CAN kill each other is part of the magic of the game. You can kill each other, but choose not to, and that's beautiful.
Second, we have the guarding scenario. With 1-v-1 killing, a guard with a bow can get a bead on a would-be intruder outside the gate, and then open the gate to let people pass through, while preventing the intruder from passing through the guarded area.
The way killing works now in the game, I've been able to preserve the first case, the Two Hermit Problem, but I've had to sacrifice solo guarding, at least for now.
Here are the changes:
In order to kill, you need to form a posse of the minimum size, given the population in your area. In higher population areas, that size is 3 people. But in places with less than six people, the posse size is half of the area population, rounded up. The area is a 30-tile radius around the killer. So if there are only two of you out there, 1v1 killing is still possible. But in a mini-camp of three people, two of you need to conspire against the other in order to kill.
This min posse size is capped at 3, which is what you need in higher population areas.
When you try to kill someone, you still go into murder mouth mode, but you also get a DING message explaining the minimum posse size in your area.
With this change in place, we'll see what happens to the murder rate over the next few days.
|Update: Who's Who|
February 9, 2020
You might call this the information overload update.
First of all, in-game, hit ESC. There was always a graphical hint showing the controls, but over time, the list of "hidden" verbal commands has grown quite long. Now you have a hint sheet for all of them.
There's one new command on this list, and that's the /FAM command. Type this on the chat sheet to see +FAMILY+ labels pop up above the heads of nearby people who count toward your genetic fitness score. These are the people that you need to take care of if you want to climb the leaderboard, have a healthier old age, and unlock more tool slots.
But what about far-away family members? Aside from your mother and grandmother, all of your genetic fitness offspring are younger than you, which means they were born after you (so you had some chance to help them survive). When one of these babies is born, your character will call out, and you'll get a temporary arrow pointing back to the birth location. You will also see +FAMILY+ labels above the heads of all your family members each time a new baby is born.
A similar system has been added to help you keep track of relationships in the leadership system. When you receive and order from your leader, you get a temporary arrow pointing back to them. When you issue an order as a leader, you get an arrow to your closest follower (so you can get the order-passing process started), and you also get +FOLLOWER+ labels above the heads of all your nearby followers.
Note that, thanks to these arrows, issuing an order to your followers can actually help them follow you---when traveling as a group.
Also note that exiled followers don't receive orders or see these arrows, so you don't need to worry about griefers using them to track people. And as a leader, people only get an arrow point to you if you issue an order. So you can control exactly when people can track your location.
Next, to bootstrap the leadership system, everyone auto-follows their own mother, if their mother has no other leader.
Okay, okay, that stuff is pretty cool, but there's one more massive improvement this week. For a long time, curses have been personal. You chose who to curse, and there's a guarantee that the cursed people won't be born near you for the next 30 days. Cursing is a way to say, "Get away from me in the future, I don't want to play with you anymore."
But of course, that didsn't stop people from migrating later in life, returning to the same village repeatedly to cause more trouble. And even though you cursed them, they were impossible to recognize.
Not anymore. Now, each person you curse gets assigned a permanent 2-noun label. Whenever they appear in your game, they have black speech bubbles, and they appear to babble this 2-noun phrase periodically. Only you can see them doing this, though. Other people who have them cursed see a different label. But this will allow you to recognize the same bad actor in future lives.
There are also a bunch of other little changes. A lone griefer can no longer block other people from getting born on low population servers. The waiting period for killing is now 12 seconds, and is cut in half for each member that joins a posse. Posses of three or more people cause the victim to gasp repeatedly in terror, producing a "T" off-screen sound marker. Twins no longer count toward posse size. Human-caused wounds all have a waiting period of 15 seconds before healing can be performed (a gushing state), preventing teams of two griefers from tag-team healing each other repeatedly. When your leader dies, you get information about who replaced them.
After letting the dust settle on the latest genetic fitness score changes, it seems that there is a de facto ceiling around 52. I've adjusted the tool slot curve to account for this:
|Update: Seeking Experts|
January 30, 2020
Still working my way through the list of reported issues. Sometimes it seems like the list is growing faster than I can chip away at it, but I am making progress, and the game gets better each week as a result.
The biggest change this week is that you get a hint when you pick up an unlearned tool about who around you already knows how to use that tool (look for the + speech bubbles above their heads). No more wandering around asking everyone.
A bunch of fixes have been made to the reflector so that it makes better decisions about when to start splitting the game's population up between two separate servers and when to go back to using a single server.
Animals no longer walk through spring-loaded doors.
When you issue an order as a leader, you now receive a confirmation that your order worked.
Let there be dung buckets.
Let there be stacks of empty buckets.