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Edward Harvey

A (hopefully) constructive criticism on Naval Action.

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A (hopefully) constructive criticism on Naval Action.

Intro:
When I first heard about the development of a game tackling the beautiful age of sail in the late 18th/ early 19th century I was instantly hooked. Like many of you I've watched Jack Aubrey capture the Acheron and like some of you I've seen Hornblower rise up the ranks of the Royal Navy. Being able to do all of this in a game got me immensely excited. 
It started off really well. The game features absolutely beautiful graphics. The combat in itself is quite deep and is easy to learn but hard and fun to master. The sound of firing a complete broadside into the enemy is simply exhilarating. I also immensely respect the decision by the developers to stick to a hard time-period and not add 'freak' galleons from centuries before just because they look 'cool'. 

But the game's development feels stalled to me. Yes, there have been updates and as of February 2018 there's have been regular changes to the game's combat mechanics and balancing. We're finally getting a proper UI which is starting to look quite handsomely already. Nevertheless, I get the sense that the game in it's current state, with it's current features, is not far off from what the final product will be. Which is not enough in my opinion.


So let's start with the actual criticism:


The open world
The open world (OW) is devoid of any interesting activities to do besides combat. Every port is the same as the next. The whole world is literally as wide as an ocean but as shallow as a puddle. A lot of people rightfully complain that the OW is simply to large and should be scaled, so it's less tedious to get anywhere.  My answer to that is; the world needs to be filled, rather than scaled. It needs to stay interesting. The magic of games like WOW or Guild Wars is that different areas have a different colors, npc's, architecture, weather... I could go on and on. 

For Naval Action this could mean:
1. Unique architecture for towns of different nations (I know that the development-team has been doing research for this but where is the result?) Also what about native settlements?
2. Different ports provide different items or services; from bustling shipyards that provide complete refit opportunities to ravaged towns that eagerly want to trade their rotten fruit  to kick-start their economy again.
3. When you are conducting your business in a port, what if you could actually see the different buildings or citizens going about their daily tasks. Maybe some dockworkers are laying the first timbers on a player-ordered ship in the distance. Just a single shot of the port along with your docked ship. With only some things animated it would be more than enough. It doesn't have to be Sim-City.
4. Approaching enemy controlled ports should have the players risking their ships because the local fort is firing on you. 
5. This would technically mean the game becomes unplayable because you might not be close to any neutral/allied ports for much needed repairs. In real life however, there's plenty of captains that did repairs on deserted shores. Making new masts from trees nearby. You would still rather repair at a neutral or friendly port of course. (Perhaps these emergency repairs come with a penalty).
6. Give smugglers the option to buy and sail under false flag, to circumvent said forts. Also, instead of the whole forged papers mechanic, I'd rather see the option to become a privateer and fight for whoever you fancy. Being an actual officer of the king's navy still being the alternative. Both coming with different perks.
7. More types of sea-traffic: fishermen, mail vessels, native rafts, envoys etc. The ability to interact with these ships besides combat. Provided they are neutral/allied. (for instance: buy fish from fishermen, when no port is nearby. More on goods later).
8. What if you built a reputation with a town over time?; doing business often at the same port could give discounts. Whereas, if this port was recently in the hands of a different nation, they might give you a hard time. Perhaps even using their fort cannons on you regardless of any wars going on. 
9. Storms and general rough weather. Perhaps some actions are required by the players to prevent any damage during storms.


Ship & crew management
Another thing that bothers me is that you can't make a ship feel like your own. Sure, it's not even your property to begin with; for in the end, it's the King's ship. However, these men sailed for months, often years on these ships. It became their home:

'And though we be on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship is ... *insert your preferred nation*.' - 'Lucky' Jack Aubrey.

10. Maybe introduce some RPG elements whereby incidents happen on the ship and your judgement is called for. 
For instance: A crewmember slipped and fell to his death while working the sails. do you:
Option A: give him a proper christian burial (speed decreased by 10% for 5 minutes)
Option B: throw him overboard with all haste (crew morale -10% for 5 minutes)
This could happen in the form of a pop-up menu similar to Crusader Kings 2. 
I think these random actions would also break the monotony of the Open World somewhat.

11. I loved the implementation of the lieutenant system, but what if they start of as midshipmen. Then, after an action you decide who gets a promotion and who doesn't. Perhaps they have randomly generated names to remember them by (and perhaps a little portrait too). Obviously you'd have to part with them at some point, so they can command your prize vessel(s).
12. What if these gentlemen officers develop traits over time that influence the overall conduct of your ship. (for instance: 'the Master-at-Arms is a bit too fond of his cane: crew morale -5% / +5% reload time.) Perhaps the RPG-like pop-up menu's from point 10 comes into play here as well. Your actions as a captain determine what your young officers will become like.
13. Perhaps you can invite the officers to dine with you once in a while.This could give a buff of some sort (useful right before a battle). This could be visualized by silhouettes at the windows of the stern-galley, as well as shanty's being sung). Perhaps this action is a consumable and requires you to buy Madeira wine at particular ports.
14. Taking in new crew to replenish fallen experienced crew should give you a debuff. These new men were farmers and/or prisoners before, they need some time (and the nine-tailed cat) to learn what it is to be a seamen. Of course major ports do have experienced 'able seamen' ready to get ganked by your press gang.
15. What if we could change the attire of the little bugger's that reload the guns. 
16. Ship's stores; I'm not saying NA should become a survival game but having stores that dwindle over time could make voyages more interesting. Stuffing your ship too much makes it sluggish. Not enough stores and your crew morale suffers. You could choose to load all types of shot. Or stick only to regular ball shot and save weight. (less weight could mean more listing though since you are missing ballast.

Other possible implementations:
17.  A naval news paper that chronicles the events happening in the world (this will only get refreshed during port visits):

- Wars that have started, escalated or ended. (including trade wars)

- Ship actions: single ship duels that ended spectacularly, major fleet actions etc.
- Actual, real news that happened during that time such as: Land wars being won or lost back in Europe. Elections etc.

18. Escort missions: 

- Escorting new governors, indiamen, etc. where you fail if you lose the escorting ship.

19. Somehow visualize what your actions are contributing to your nation.

20. Option to promote someone in your group to Commodore (giving him or her a broad pennant for visual sake). Giving this person the authority to give orders which pop-up in a more noticeable way than the regular team-chat. 


Outro:
These are just some suggestions that I think would make Naval Action my dream game (I'm pretty sure for others too). I sincerely apologize if any of these features are already being worked on and I jumped the gun. I'm a game developer myself and I know how hard it can be sometimes to make the game you want to make. 
Hopefully this critique doesn't come across as self-entitled. I just feel that this game, like Elite: Dangerous has an extremely solid base to build from but is suffering from being fun for longer periods of time. 

I would ask too that the comments don't get too toxic for whatever reason, but stay friendly and constructive. We are all captains.
PSA: I do not play Naval Action actively, I hop in once a while with a fellow captain to see what's changed but to say I know the 'meta' of this game would be a lie. If, with this lengthy post I talk out of turn please say so.

PS: English is not my main language so forgive me for any typo's.
 

I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,

Edward Harvey, 

Edited by Edward Harvey
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21 minutes ago, Edward Harvey said:

1. Unique architecture for towns of different nations (I know that the development-team has been doing research for this but where is the result?) Also what about native settlements?

 

21 minutes ago, Edward Harvey said:

3. When you are conducting your business in a port, what if you could actually see the different buildings or citizens going about their daily tasks. Maybe some dockworkers are laying the first timbers on a player-ordered ship in the distance. Just a single shot of the port along with your docked ship. With only some things animated it would be more than enough. It doesn't have to be Sim-City.

Admin said they had something like this planned and it might be added after they're done with tutorial and UI. I hope to see this sooner rather than later...

 

Edited by Landsman

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Just now, Intrepido said:

I absolutely agree with your pov about the open world.

However devs plan is to finish UI, interface, localization and probabably release the game shortly after that. If this is confirmed, it will turn into a rushed release that will suffer the same consequences as many other games that were launched without enough content (like no man´s sky).

I'd rather see they rush content for the official release than have no content at all. It gives new players at least the impression there's more to come instead of a big open world with nothing to do really. That's how you lose player base fast. 

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7 minutes ago, Landsman said:

 

Admin said they had something like this planned and it might be added after they're done with tutorial and UI. I hope to see this sooner rather than later...

I sure hope so, it just seems a bit backwards to me that it hasn't been added in all this time...not even a placeholder.

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3 minutes ago, Edward Harvey said:

not even a placeholder

Well, placeholder are probably the 2 cookie cutter building styles we have right now? :P

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9 hours ago, Intrepido said:

I absolutely agree with your pov about the open world.

However devs plan is to finish UI, interface, localization and probabably release the game shortly after that. If this is confirmed, it will turn into a rushed release that will suffer the same consequences as many other games that were launched without enough content (like no man´s sky).

We aren't even in beta though? How could release be right around the corner, there's so much still missing. :o

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46 minutes ago, Slim Jimmerson said:

We aren't even in beta though? How could release be right around the corner, there's so much still missing. :o

Considering it took them more than 4 years to get this far, forgive me if I'm a bit concerned. 

Edited by Edward Harvey

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22 hours ago, Edward Harvey said:


13. Perhaps you can invite the officers to dine with you once in a while.This could give a buff of some sort (useful right before a battle). This could be visualized by silhouettes at the windows of the stern-galley, as well as shanty's being sung). Perhaps this action is a consumable and requires you to buy Madeira wine at particular ports.

Dont get me wrong, some ideas are great.. 
But what you are suggesting lies way away from the current focus of the development and is never going to be implemented in THIS game. Some of the elements you describe would be a part of the new game. But because you mention them in terms of NA here is our managing expectations message.

When we were sending initial pre-order keys one phrase we used in it was - expect the worst. Same phrase was given to all users who were invited to closed testing (long ago): expect the worst!

We never planned to play with your brain creating castles in the sky, selling you non existent future. We find it extremely important to manage expectations. We never sold you tiers on kickstarter and always promised to deliver 4 well - beautiful world, beautiful ships, combat and sailing models. 

This was/is our promise to customers when customers voted for us on steam green light that allowed us to sign a contract with Valve. We broke valve greenligh record then as one of the fastest green lights.
T5Ip6xc.jpg

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=259130636

We delivered on ALL these promises. And exceeded them 10x. For example instead of 10 ships we have a lot more. And instead of 3 preset maps we have 16mln square km of caribbean.

You buy the game as it is described now on the steam page. http://store.steampowered.com/app/311310/Naval_Action/
We all desire the whole world and davy jones and krakens. But for 40 dollars without subscription you can only get what is described on the steam page

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10 hours ago, Edward Harvey said:

Considering it took them more than 4 years to get this far, forgive me if I'm a bit concerned. 

4 years is nothing when you develop a game.  We don't normally see that cause we aren't apart of Alpha's and early stage of development.  Let me give you a little time table of some other games and most of these are big bugget and company titles.  If a game is being developed in under 2 years more than likely it's crap, copy of old tech or other games and doesn't last long and they have half a dozen or two carbon copy games to compete with.  Name me one game like this one and don't be listing off some sily cartoonish pirate game.  I'm talking about a realistic Age of  Sailing game.

PSF0Bx6.jpg

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11 hours ago, Slim Jimmerson said:

We aren't even in beta though? How could release be right around the corner, there's so much still missing. :o

Beta game stages are honestly very short in development.  They are once all major game mechanics are put into game and now they are just fine tuning things. I honestly can expect us to move into a beta stage once UI is implemented and they finally decide on how RvR will work.  Other wise most of the other changes are just small details on the all ready very detail fighting system.  Many other games changed whole RVR systems after release so they can still move to Beta and change the RvR a year or two from now if it's not working any more.

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5 minutes ago, Sir Texas Sir said:

4 years is nothing when you develop a game.  We don't normally see that cause we aren't apart of Alpha's and early stage of development. 

Texas is a voice of reason as usual!.

Multiplayer games require some time to cook and find the perfect balance. Adding alliances/removing alliances takes time but it helps to find the formula, for this and future games.

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11 hours ago, Slim Jimmerson said:

We aren't even in beta though? How could release be right around the corner, there's so much still missing. :o

What is missing mate? All promises are delivered and more was done. Now tutorial, ui and localization are under way and you can help fund more content by buying premium ship packs and other goods :)

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3 minutes ago, admin said:

Multiplayer games require some time to cook and find the perfect balance. Adding alliances/removing alliances takes time but it helps to find the formula, for this and future games.

Yep I understand it as I have beta testes and alpha several games over the last 20+ years.  EA is a new concept to help small game developers and the younger gen doesn't understand this is what normally goes on behind closed doors.  You are actually getting better feed back than having a bunch of pro-experts doing super testing behind closed door and zero feed back from casual players that would buy your game.   I been happy with the last 2+ years I been involved with this project even if I at times don't see eye to eye with the development team, but ya'll have listened to some things i said and others to make the game better for all players.

2 minutes ago, admin said:

What is missing mate? All promises are delivered and more was done. Now tutorial, ui and localization are under way and you can help fund more content by buying premium ship packs and other goods :)

That why I keep telling folks I'm not surprised if we go to a beta stage when we get the big UI patch.   Would be a good time to do a port wipe and one last testing of the things and be ready for a release at the end of the year.  Than ya'll can be free to add more content like ships and quest and such to the game since your more free from the development parts.

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This is a game that has gripped me like no other I have played.

It definately is not a game for the casual Player, NAL is going to be for them.

Yes, there are Elements I dont like or have issues with, but over time, with us,(testers), they are addressed, and we have the opportunity to voice our concerns and ideas.

If they are implemented is up to the admin and development Team, all we can do is carry on testing and voicing our concerns and preferences.

We have to get away from the toxicity which is unfortunately prevalent in some of the Forum Posts, if the admin doesnt Reply to a question, cut him some slack, he "probably" has a real life, they will look at it eventually, but it is their game and their decisions at the end of the day, all we have to do is log in and sink stuff.

Keep up the good work, one day we will see a finished and polished game, and I for one cannot wait.

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People say there is a lack of content for players to stay around but I wonder how many hours of content people expect. You already get hundreds if not thousands of hours out of the game as it is. I myself have 3600 in 3 years and pvp is still as exciting as it was on day one. Most games loose 90% of their player base in the first month. Once the UI is done and the game gets the marketing it needs I believe it will do just fine. My only wish is that there will be a British 2nd rate(neptune) and a US 1st rate added to the game someday. I doubt it but let me wish :)

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1 hour ago, admin said:

What is missing mate? All promises are delivered and more was done. Now tutorial, ui and localization are under way and you can help fund more content by buying premium ship packs and other goods :)

would still like to see more to do in the open world bro. we need some escort missions. pvp missions. raids. meaningful ports.........just more to do with this big open world and nice pretty ships...  

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It is what it is. You can add layers of complexity and detail ad infinitum, but you can only do what resources allow and it is a bloody good game as it is and as admin says, already way beyond what was promised, so I'm not complaining. Having said that though, how much time and resources does it actually take to have an in port wind indicator or narrative driven missions or even a kraken? It seems to me if it's relatively easy to implement, then it might as well be done.

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Most reviews are made by people that came to the game with their own expectations and like the forum shows people tend to interpret a lot. So they raise their own hope ... tenor.gif.12c4b6b3a5ff7782adfe90fbf4c15aea.gif

Its not the game fault its their own fault.

The only thing that went wrong is that reviews were allowed before the game is released. Things can change a lot therefore the target grp can change as well so its obvious that people turn to haters and rate the game bad just to blackmail devs.

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21 minutes ago, z4ys said:

Most reviews are made by people that came to the game with their own expectations and like the forum shows people tend to interpret a lot. So they raise their own hope ... tenor.gif.12c4b6b3a5ff7782adfe90fbf4c15aea.gif

Its not the game fault its their own fault.

The only thing that went wrong is that reviews were allowed before the game is released. Things can change a lot therefore the target grp can change as well so its obvious that people turn to haters and rate the game bad just to blackmail devs.

who-moved-my-cheese-principles.jpg

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1 hour ago, z4ys said:

Most reviews are made by people that came to the game with their own expectations and like the forum shows people tend to interpret a lot. So they raise their own hope ... tenor.gif.12c4b6b3a5ff7782adfe90fbf4c15aea.gif

Its not the game fault its their own fault.

The only thing that went wrong is that reviews were allowed before the game is released. Things can change a lot therefore the target grp can change as well so its obvious that people turn to haters and rate the game bad just to blackmail devs.

A while back when we where waiting on the big wipe patch to come and I wasn't to happy with the passing of it I went through the reviews the most I could.  I did put some good counter points instead of negative feed back.  A lot of the reviews where folks that either had less than 40 hours in game and this type of game you haven't even got your feet wet with 40 hours.  The other types are what you explained folks that expected something else like NA:L and didn't get it.   The last was the folks that didn't even play the game (yes called them out on it) and only reviewing off what they seen on youtube or a friend told them.  I'm sure there are a few others like the butt hurt players that do stupid stuff and get ban and than the honest reviews, but the negative reviews where mostly guys with hardly any play time.

Oh and I have not given an official review of the game yet cause it's not released.  If I wanted two I can do 5 reviews but I'll wait until it's released.   Which also makes me wonder how many of those bad reviews are alt accounts of one player?

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3 hours ago, admin said:

beautiful world

Almost there in my opinion.... only the towns / ports look a bit boring and almost all the same... once this could be done the world is really beautiful and every port is worth seeing.

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2 hours ago, Hullabaloo said:

It is what it is. You can add layers of complexity and detail ad infinitum, but you can only do what resources allow and it is a bloody good game as it is and as admin says, already way beyond what was promised, so I'm not complaining. Having said that though, how much time and resources does it actually take to have an in port wind indicator or narrative driven missions or even a kraken? It seems to me if it's relatively easy to implement, then it might as well be done.

This!

Most players i have talked to just cant understand why it is a problem to insert some Sid Meiers Pirates style missions. 9 parts of a treasure map, every part is leading to the next part. Sail to this town, trigger a little private one ship Portbattle to get in the town. Sail to this area, lookig there for special AI fleet ... got all 9 parts of the map, you get the location of an battle instance with some epic AIs in (with a liitle pirate Island only in the battle instance).  The tools/features are already in the game ... why not combine them to some bigger?

 

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1 hour ago, Sir Texas Sir said:

 

Oh and I have not given an official review of the game yet cause it's not released.  If I wanted two I can do 5 reviews but I'll wait until it's released.   Which also makes me wonder how many of those bad reviews are alt accounts of one player?

Somebody  gleefully said in global chat the other week, that they have 5 accounts and have left 5 bad reviews and they still log on very regularly. I can't quite get this type of thinking. It's very much like those 2000 hour reviews who say it's no good

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46 minutes ago, Trino said:

This!

Most players i have talked to just cant understand why it is a problem to insert some Sid Meiers Pirates style missions. 9 parts of a treasure map, every part is leading to the next part. Sail to this town, trigger a little private one ship Portbattle to get in the town. Sail to this area, lookig there for special AI fleet ... got all 9 parts of the map, you get the location of an battle instance with some epic AIs in (with a liitle pirate Island only in the battle instance).  The tools/features are already in the game ... why not combine them to some bigger?

 

because hand full of devs doing more important stuff. After the game is released and people like it and they think putting more money in NA is worth it they will improve - my guess

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