Feedback overview of TerraTech 0.7.5 as a naive player.

ZeroGravitas

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#1
Why it might be worth (devs) reading this: most of the forum posts and suggestions tend to come from expert and returning players, who take a lot of background knowledge for granted. I've used notes I took (and screenshots) to go back a month (or so) to when I was totally new to the game (not having watched videos online either).

Yes, I know individual suggestions are the way of the land. I am doing those too, in order of importance.

:D:cool:Praise - I really liked the...:

Campaign's complementary cognitive duality - exploring, harvesting, blasting enemies, etc, is great for relaxed, mindless play. With a seamless transition to much more deliberative, involved technical design possibilities, if/when the brain power is there. Suits me great, as I have a technical background, but also Chronic Fatigue with brain fog that makes relatively simple thoughts literally unthinkable. This fingerprint best matches Terraria's balance of options between endless mining, loot-em up or building projects. Odd a comparison as that may be, but a positive one.

Slick start - the early game was far more polished and smoother than I was expecting for an early access sandboxy game. (Great job!:)) The missions kept things flowing quickly, right through to almost GSO level 4. There really was no grind, you could almost slow things down a bit, as far as new players are concerned.

Intuitive - the build interface is very clever in being able to facilitate immediate construction in 3D with a 2D interface and no extra UI buttons. I really appreciated the minimalism.

Crafty Mike - more of this please! His missions were a great way of introducing all the crafting concepts. They didn't quite cover everything though, so please add a couple more on the end to finish explaining a few nuances (once it's nailed down).

Crafting materials adventuring - I designed several techs and had some of my best excitement jaunting off to (seemingly) distant biomes for a few specific resources, bringing them back on silos. I think gathering should keep pushing further world exploration.


Pushed to craft - I liked the push to build a base and craft, with limited availability of some blocks. Although it didn't seem advantageous over just grinding enemy drops.

SCU capability step up - or rather, not having the inventory ability to start with; it was such an awesome relief and surprise when I finally got around to picking up my first SCU, having begun despairing about manually organising my hoard of parts on the ground...:rolleyes: Although, in a way, it was almost too big a leap to receive in one step, with so little work to gain it.
 

ZeroGravitas

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#2
o_O:(Biggest Problems:

Location confabulation - No map!?! The rotating compass and number only co-ordinates really got me turned all around. Not being able to remember where I had explored for biome locations was extremely frustrating, early-mid-game. Then not being able to re-find bases, once left behind, in later mid-game. Or nicely located monuments. I hadn't even realised that the trade stations are arranged in a regular 1Km spaced grid until I went as far as starting to plot landmark co-ordinates in a spreadsheet!...


Crafting calamity -
disappointing that crafting turned out to be basically borked, with so many bugs. Taking a lot of tinkering to figure out it wasn't just me. Then making having a (resource) base kinda pointless, and so gathering resources kinda pointless (potentially my favourite parts). Having submitted lots of bug reports on this, I'm hoping (and it seems) that there's a push to fix crafting. My first base had major game crashing issues too, that eventually forced reloading to an archived save and abandoning it, so I hope this isn't another pattern of problems that punishes static building.

Breathing space to test designs, particularly first fliers - hopefully this will be partly remedied with a fix to friendly techs not blocking random spawns, allowing a safer base area. But figuring out how to fly is tricker, as trying to take off necessarily involves quite a lot of movement, and culminates in fluttering out of the sky upside down a lot, then having to limp back to safety somehow. I lost quite a lot of irreplaceable plane parts like this. And accidentally leashed some monsters back to destroy my (smaller) bases...

Having players simply use creative mode or R&D (for owners) is not a solution, in my mind. That immediately spoils all the block content to be unlocked later in campaign, destroying motivation. A cut-down version of something like R&D (accessible in campaign after a certain juncture), might suit - providing access only to blocks you've unlocked. A simulation space, with scenery temporarily replaced by a white/grey grid. Or perhaps learn to fly missions, in the same vein as Crafty Mike...?

Enemy Techs - at first I supposed they must be drawn directly from other player's games, they were largely so haphazardly designed. (But no.) I would really have liked to have seen far more carefully crafted, pretty, distinctive designs, like the ones in the menu screen brawl. Even if that meant a bit of repetition; familiar 'faces' (that make you go "oh cool"), far better than an un-memorable blur of bricky and pancake shaped things. I mean, there were definitely good, interesting ones too.

Spawning roulette -
the selection of enemies seemed increasingly 'lumpy', between starter level GSO trash too small to hit and looming hulks of certain death. Some kind of pattern to the deployment would be nice, perhaps regional (or biome based, or map control based with new mechanics). So some places have no tiny techs, others have no giant techs (and some way of knowing to expect this). 'Exploring' is too homogeneous as it is.

Performance - game slow-down from having just one gun-covered tech near base was pretty appalling (on my new, high-end desktop). A gang of such techs was literally unapproachable, due to locking out controls and delay between frames. I know optimisations are on the cards; it'd be worth months out of the development schedule to mitigate this, even if it means stripping out a whole lot of worst techs, too.
 
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ZeroGravitas

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#3
Shield-battery meta - having to very slowly snipe-drain the batteries of one enemy pyramid of batteries for 10minutes isn't that great the second time around. But also, having to go recharge regularly is kind of tedious, taking a long while, and you have to, because loosing shields means loosing parts, means regressing progress. It even feels a little cheap, sometimes, defeating enemies only because your tech has more battery power and you can choose to engage only when fully charged. (And very early game because most enemies have no bubbles.) But I have no ideas better than that little cheat, to be honest.

Devastation
- loosing one's main tech is just too much of a setback. It will always have all the latest, best, irreplaceable weapons and parts on, meaning many hours of grind to re-gain it, late-mid game. (Or almost game over if one's unlucky with a large enemy spawn, you can no longer tackle, at your base.) I didn't have this hit me particularly, to be fair. But I got into the habit of backing up my save file repeatedly, and just reverting if a big encounter went bad.

Many niggles - as to be expected from a game in development, but will save them for another post.

Non-campaign modes seemed pointless - sumo felt like a totally aborted effort, from just trying it out. No more than 5 minutes of play for me. Gauntlet - I'm not a fan of racing games, to be fair, but I found this very frustrating/infuriating, although a little more involving with designing the tech. Perhaps these are more meant to be developer testing grounds for new campaign features and mechanics, though? (Creative mode doesn't appeal to me, but I know for many it will, particularly without R&D access.)
 

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#5
OK, so looking through some of my videos of the play-through, I realise I should really have mentioned these points above as problems too (fairly high up the rankings):

Friendly AI:

Mobile tech AI was very poor, of course, with my first little, unarmed 'follow'er naturally running off after the first enemy tech it saw, like a dog with a squirrel. Then my little fighter drones were unable to keep pace and inevitably got stuck on the first tree or rock they came across and just stuck there. Although a couple of them could actually help take some heat in battle I didn't judge it worth while entrusting them with the parts.

I had bigger trouble with making a rotating turret (having never seen it done), I got very confused:
  • Why would it not stay in 'Idle' mode? (Irritating to edit.)
  • Is the twitching tracking a distant enemy I can't see?
  • Why would it not fire, even though it was moving? (Fixed anchor base tech fired fine straight off...)
  • Does a regular cab suppress the firing somehow?
  • Is an anchored AI able to control the rotation of a rotating anchor, or does it need to be the base part itself...?
I tried leashing enemies in for it to shoot at 3 times, checked the wiki and finally YouTube before figuring out that it has to be set to 'follow' you, and the twitching is meaningless (unnecessary video of some of that, below).

I partly didn't say anything, above, as I've seen Jason (for one) in a stream talking about how friendly AI is in bad need of work, so I guess it's coming anyway. But just stopping the 'Idle' mode from twitching would perhaps be a quick fix that would make a big, immediate improvement here.


Block orientation - I had a several fights with trying to re-orient sole cabs, after they'd snapped to a different alignment. But "F" and "G" keys only work with multiple cabs (so need to add a second as a work around). Also, the order of re-orientating blocks seems totally unfathomable, getting exasperating with parts that have a large number of attach points, like component factories.


Loading techs - another current WIP feature (I think?). But I failed to find the tech I was looking for in my list so many times... The interface is so cramped and there's no built in way to manage save files, or even separate the ones created in separate game modes. Alphabetising them is probably better, but I'd prefer to be able to see more recent saves too. Being able to assign some to hot (number) keys would be perfect (for SCU, turrets, charging/sell stations, etc).


Thanks for reading. Keep up the good work on this cool game.:)