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Planet Explorers Released!

Author Topic: My Impressions[marked]  (Read 297 times)

GriffonK

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My Impressions[marked]
« on: April 25, 2017, 02:18:06 PM »

Hello all,

    So, the first thing I would like to say is I have really enjoyed my time with Planet Explorers. You guys have all the right elements to make this game truly one of the greats. Settlement building, designing your own, well, anything. Guns, vehicles, aircraft, etc. I also really loved being able to import my own textures to truly customize the things I can create. Fantastic. Really.

    Now, that all being said. You guys at Pathea took the game out of EA, which I applaud on the grounds that I can't even name a single build / craft / survival game that has taken that step (and look at Ark: Survival Evolved, that game already has paid DLC and they still hide behind the EA title). However, I really don't think that was a good idea. To call this a full game is a serious misrepresentation. It seems to me that you have mostly given up on the title, which is a complete travesty. I am going to start by listing the things I noticed that really need to be finished or fixed (or both) and then make my own suggestions (I am by no means an expert, just one gamer voicing an opinion).

1) Loading times. I don't just mean loading into the game, I mean loading while in the game. While exploring in Adventure Mode the game stops and stutters so badly and so often that most people are just going to turn it off and uninstall the game for that one reason. The rate of stops is extreme, and it needs to be a top priority. It's a straight game killer for most people. Not to mention that half the time (not exaggerating when I say half the time) my saved games won't load. They stop at 21% and the game crashes. Not good, to say the least.

2a) The Story: Now, I generally actually liked the story. However, there are many loose ends and unfinished quests. Some things are out of sequence, making the experience feel quite disjointed. The story should be much more smooth and streamlined than it is. I really think it needs a complete overhaul, to be honest.

2b)Now, I will also lump the Voice Acting in with the story, since it's mostly something you only hear often enough to worry about in the story. The voice acting ranges from barely adequate to "Oh lord, I must hit space just so I don't have to hear this guy/girl talk". A lot of it is so so bad (looking at you Alfonzo) that it's going to turn people completely off. Not to mention that people such as myself will miss parts of the story because they can't bare to hear the awful sounds of the voices. My suggestion here would be to just get rid of it completely (other than maybe the little things your followers will say while out adventuring). If the voice acting isn't all at least adequate, then just make it text based. You might be surprised at how many people even prefer that.

3) Dungeons: The dungeons are a cool implementation, and I enjoy them being there. However, why are they so empty? Especially the ruins, which is my biggest complaint in this department. There's nothing but big empty rooms and long empty hallways. Talk about completely uninteresting. The dungeons really should be full of props, such as control consoles, storage crates, bedrolls, gunracks, etc. Them being so barren makes a really cool feature completely lackluster. Also, I really feel that the last room in dungeons should be much more challenging than it is, and the reward much more substantial. I also feel that the human enemies should not drop meat, but instead have them drop currency. Just makes more sense.

4) World Generation: When generating a map you really shouldn't ever have to worry about the map being 90% water. Having to make several attempts just to even start playing can be incredibly frustrating, and just shouldn't be a thing. Also, don't even say it's the seed, because I tested that. I created several different maps with the same exact seed and the same exact settings to find that is just not the case. 4 out of 5 were still covered in water.

5) Simple Polish: Though, lots of it. IE: Monsters spawning right in front of my vehicle while exploring is incredibly frustrating, massive frame rate drops in seemingly random places, random crashes, etc. etc. I will also repeat my earlier statement of the saved games not loading. Such a major major issue (and I am not speaking of loading older saves into new versions). The game is rough in its current state. It still feels very much a beta.

    All that being said, I truly believe you guys have the foundation of a game to rival anything even remotely close to its genre. This game has the potential to be up there with the best. However, with the community being so small and the game on such a downward spiral, it seems to me that Pathea has mostly thrown in the towel, and therefore just released it as is and moved on to their new project. I really can't emphasize enough that you really could make this a smash hit. Though, it does still need a lot of work, and it should probably even be re-released after this much work under a new (but similar, of course) name, such as APB. That game failed so hard out of the gate, but then they revamped it and re-released it as "APB: Reloaded". I really think Planet Explorers could use such a move, and if joined with all the work and fixes it needs, Planet Explorers could easily be on that most popular Steam list. I just can't say it enough, you guys could do it. You've shown you have the vision and the know how, it just needs more follow through. You're in mid swing. Are you going to drop the bat and just move off, or are you going to really follow through and hit it out of the park? I truly hope it's the ladder, because I really do have a lot of love for what you've created here.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2017, 03:29:42 AM by Dorist1 »
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Dorist1

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Re: My Impressions
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 03:29:12 AM »


1) Loading times. Loading in the game largly depends on your specs as well as the setting. You can try lowering the graphics setting options to see whether it gets better. Also, check on voxel cache in Options can help with loading in game, yet, the bad thing is, it may lag the loading time of the whole save to some extent.

2a) The Story: This whole story is free only with some mainline quests. Some of the sideline quests would be omitted if not taken in time. That might be one of the reason that makes you feel this way. However, it give you more freedom in the story line.

2b)We admit that the voice acting is not so good. But redoing the voice is a lot of additonal works, which is not avilaible for us currently. As a work around, you can adjust or take off the voice in the sound panel in Options.

3) Dungeons: Meat from humans are their foods, not the human meat. :D

4) World Generation: Try not setting the biome as water or wet. This setting would bring a lot of water to the map.

5) Simple Polish: If you can't load a save from the latest version and you've played for a while in it. You can try clear VoxelCache under installation folder first and try reload the save.
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GriffonK

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Re: My Impressions[marked]
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 03:44:28 PM »

Well, as I said, those were my suggestions as a gamer. The development team can feel free to ignore them, of course. I can't say that is totally unexpected, sadly.

1) As for the loading, not a chance it's my PC, brother. If this thing runs Ghost Recon: Wildlands on high settings at 60FPS, there's no way Planet Explorers should have issues.

2a) Yeah, I get having freedom and everything, but when I do quest A+B+C+D and then NPCs have dialogue options that refer to choices / events that have already happened in these quests as if they haven't, that's disjointing.

2b) I am well aware I can turn it off and it would take a massive amount of work to redo them, which is why my suggestions was to remove them completely. Some players will hear that and make an immediate opinion of the story and/or game. First impressions are hard to overcome, and gamers are picky.

3)  I know the meat they drop is supposed to be their food, but since it's not cooked meat or anything it is still a bit.... off putting. Also, that was just an example.

4) The biomes were set to dry.

5) How in the world can you even refute this thing needs a metric ton of polishing?

Look, I was making suggestions to make the game appeal to a much broader audience. Those are things I really think need to be done to generate interest in the game. I have been watching the Steam statistics, and it's telling a sad story. Again, of course you can ignore this, and that is your right and I hold no grudges. I would just like to see the game hit the potential it has and for the developers to have jaw dropping success.
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Luminaire

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Re: My Impressions[marked]
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2017, 03:49:44 AM »

Hi there, GriffonK. Sorry the response isn't something you were hoping for.. Maybe I can help a little..

Firstly, thankyou for your support and wishing to make PE better. PE certainly does have a lot of potential, but it's that potential that has overwhelmed the team to a point that they just weren't able to deliver their ambition... Simply put, the team wasn't experienced enough to take on a project of this size, and as a result they've done what they can to solidify what they can, where they can.. With the dwindling reception of investors, along with the constant struggles to overcome the continuous complications they weren't prepared for over the years, the best they can do is try to stabilize the current project and try something a bit simpler for a while, rather than continuing to add and change things until it's an unrecoverable mess.. There are many features and details they wished to be in PE that they just couldn't deliver, and i'm just not quite sure that PE will be able to reach that goaled state... Pathea is however still working on PE, and your feedback is not in vain.. If anything, it will at least give them better ideas for future projects. This feedback is still important.

As for what dorist pointed out, i want to respond to #1 and #5.

PE uses a voxel grid for it's terrain, rather than a mesh. This means that it has to run more calculations and requires more resources than a normal "graphics heavy" game that uses meshes does. It's not entirely abnormal for a game like PE to have poorer performance than a visually stunning game like ghost recon.

To give a better explanation, In a game like ghost recon, the terrain is fixed. It has a fixed mesh, with texture placing and scaling that are pre-determined. In a game like PE, there are additional calculations that need to happen. It needs to not only calculate the resources within the terrain, but it must also create and render shape, collision, and calculate and place textures onto that terrain on the fly, and -then- render it all visually, rather than simply reading and rendering pre-defined variables, like in ghost recon.
It just simply has more work that it needs to do...

I don't know if PE could be optimized more or not. But this is always going to be more difficult to get flawless performance in a game of this structure, and may ultimately be impossible. It may also have to do with the engine it's built on. I don't know if Unity is very good with this..

5)
Voxel cache is meant to be a means of getting around having to live-calculate the terrain. It keeps track of the terrain and loads from voxel cache instead of as you're travelling. This can cut down on the cell calculating and hiccups, but it also requires more time to load initially. If non-travelling load times are large, it may be due to the voxel cache being large. If you're getting constant hiccups in loading terrain as you're moving along, voxel cache may help prevent it. It has it's usefulness, but it's in one light a "pick your poison" kind of deal :-\


Currently, "Throwing in the towel" is not quite where PE is.. The devs have stretched and done what they can, but this project was too large for the team.. A lot of experience was garnished from all this, and pathea's future projects will hopefully be more in line with what they're capable of delivering..  Right now though, there is still a very small team still working on PE, and they will continue to work on PE for a bit longer to see how play-worthy they can make it (bugs, performance and other issues they may be able to solve).  They have talked about taking a break from PE for a while and coming back to it again. There are again, still things they want to add, but this will require them to step away from it for a bit until they've gained a little more experience, in order to come back and actually be able to deliver what they have planned.

As for PE coming out of EA, this wasn't necessarily due to the devs being satisfied or believing that the game was complete.. The details are a little vague to me at this point, but if i'm understanding correctly, this was largely due to some sort of publishers.. I'm an out-of-office team member, and try to keep up with the politics and state of the team, but communication isn't always solid and consistent, and sometimes it's a failure on my end..

I don't know if any of this makes you feel better or worse about it all, but being transparent about it, as well as doing what we can to try to solve any issues within our abilities is probably the best thing we can do at this point. I hope this at least helps a little. If not, then I apologize.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2017, 03:54:06 AM by Luminaire »
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GriffonK

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Re: My Impressions[marked]
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2017, 11:53:44 AM »

Hello, Luminaire.

   Your reply helps quite a bit, actually. I am quite grateful for it. You shed a lot of light on what's going on behind the scenes. It's unfortunate that's the way things are, but certainly understandable. I will continue to play Planet Explorers, and still hope the team can come back to it in the future. If not, it's still a really fun game, especially for the low price point. Thanks again.
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Iron Newt

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Re: My Impressions[marked]
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2017, 06:28:12 PM »

With regard to the stuttering. For various reasons I decided to water-cool my SSD. This has massively reduced the amount of stuttering I'm experiencing in PE, especially when flying quickly over unexplored terrain.
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