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vvhorus

The Merits of Early Access

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Hey all!

This thread was inspired by @The Touch of Grey Gamer's thread "Only time will tell." Thought of posting this there but I did not want to hijack his thread, so I decided to create a new one instead.

This was the first game that I ever bought in early access status. Most likely it will be the last. I did not come to this decision because the game in its past/current state wasn't fun (I've devoted entire weekends to it), but because I've come to the realization that I'm ruining the experience of playing the final product when it finally releases.

I've played close to 300 hours since I bought the game back in December 2016. This might sound a lot (it does to me considering that I don't devote too much of my free time to gaming), but it's nothing compared to other players I've seen, nor the amount of hours I've put into other games. In @The Touch of Grey Gamer's thread I've seen players have double, even more than triple the amount of hours as me already. These past few updates I've only played about a week after the update releases, then it's off to do something else. This has been due to me losing interest fairly quickly. I'm not the kind of player who forces myself to play a game just for the sake of playing that game. You won't see me building grand palaces, Mario Kart race tracks, giant "pajamas" statues, nor cutting planets in half just for the sake of playing Astroneer. Although those are great things to accomplish in the game, they are not required game objectives. Those are just side activities to "artificially force" oneself to come back and finish those. I'm a big fan of story missions and lore in games. They don't necessarily need to be linear. The game could be open-ended enough to complete requirements in any order, but have enough cohesiveness to allow you to make sense of what you are doing. Astroneer currently lacks this element. You're basically done once you unlock everything in your catalog, then it's off to either start a new game, sight see, make something big just to pass the time, or play something else. SES has created these awesome open environments that lack structure and lore. The game has its fair share of other issues, but I digress.

I understand that some of the reasons players buy early access games are out of curiosity, low price point, to play it before anyone else (even though anyone can buy the game in its current state), and to support the developers. Discovering a game in its early access stage can be fun and exciting. Astroneer has certainly been that way for me, at least in the beginning. However, I also think that early access games might create kind of unfavorable reactions due to bugs, lack of content, etc., and those could potentially prevent the game from growing. Word of mouth in gaming communities spread like wildfire, and displeased gamers are more likely to share their experiences with others than happy players. It's surely a double-edged sword.

When I bought the game, 4 friends of mine also bought copies at the same time. Out of us 5, I'm the only one who "still" plays, even though I haven't touched the game in about a month or so. A couple of them are already looking at Osiris as a possible Astroneer replacement (it's included in one of the latest humble bundles). When I asked them why, they replied that Astroneer, although fun, was too repetitive and multiplayer was unplayable. The current state of multiplayer was a big turn-off for them. They also stated that they will wait until final release to give the game another opportunity.

To all of you I ask: what are your thoughts about getting Astroneer as early access? Do you feel you're potentially spoiling the experience of a released product? Do you think you will devote another 1,000 hours to it once it releases, knowing that at its core it's the same game you've already spent xxx or 1,xxx amount of hours? What other experiences have any of you had with other early access games? What are your thoughts about early access games in general?

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Hey awesome post. Being vulnerable in a sincere and constructive way is touching.

Watching the game progress from where it was to where it is has been enjoyable. I love exploration and that is what I do in every game I play. From Skyrim to Minecraft I am off exploring as soon as possible trying to find interesting things...like caverns, quests, etc... I love starting over...and apparently this is weird. My family rolls their eyes when they ask me if this is the same game or did I start over and it is always, nope I started over. If a game doesn't have replayability I lose interest. I want the freedom to explore and astroneer gives me that freedom. Yes it could give me more but I still find myself starting over because I do not like the grind but pursue the newness of another area, building a north pole base, underground cavern base "slightly" different this time that I can get with this game.

All that to say that early access gives me more of what I seek in games. The newness can change with the next update. Even the latest update with new ores, recipes, chemistry lab, etc... is fun to figure out for me. I will be playing as long as the game is evolving at a decent pace. If I get forced into a channel that I must pursue to advance then that will be the end. 

Creative mode will be nirvana for me. Not being tethered means I can go anywhere exploring anything. Looking forward to it. I think it is @TouchofGreyGamer that talks a lot about the beauty of the game in his/her posts. Being able to explore that beauty is something that isn't just appealing to the two of us.

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1 hour ago, Wary Explorer said:

Watching the game progress from where it was to where it is has been enjoyable. I love exploration and that is what I do in every game I play. From Skyrim to Minecraft I am off exploring as soon as possible trying to find interesting things...like caverns, quests, etc... I love starting over...and apparently this is weird. My family rolls their eyes when they ask me if this is the same game or did I start over and it is always, nope I started over. If a game doesn't have replayability I lose interest. I want the freedom to explore and astroneer gives me that freedom. Yes it could give me more but I still find myself starting over because I do not like the grind but pursue the newness of another area, building a north pole base, underground cavern base "slightly" different this time that I can get with this game.

I like exploring and discovering stuff as well. What's holding me back from spending another 300 hours in the game is that replayability value. I started three games in this last patch, each one pretty unique, I would say. I unlocked my catalog three times already, so starting over and doing the same thing a fourth time was kind of unappealing to me. Since I have little experience playing early access games, I don't know if other games like to use the "early access" label to excuse a lack of anything. Content-wise, based on the game's development roadmap, I personally don't expect anything major until release. Terrain 2.0 is just aesthetic, and dedicated servers is a functionality update. Hopefully we will get something more than just a couple of new recipes or a few new materials...

 

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I got Astroneer because I wanted to see how games were made from the ground up, something which Adam actively took part in to begin with, but now we see almost nothing of, except the odd vlog which may or may not glimpse some background work.   In this repect, buying into the Astroneer Ea has been almost completely pointless.

However, as for gaming, I'm not really a finisher of games, I often find myself trying to reach a sort of perfect moment in the game, trying to complete missions flawlessly, swiftly etc.  I can spend days, weeks even months perfecting an approach to a specific mission in a game.  Sometimes I think I must have some form of ADHD.  I spent some 4000 hours in Ark, just building bases, that's about all I ever did, plus tame some dinos.  I never got engaged in pvp, never visited the caves or even killed more than one world boss, rarely went in the water cos sharks.. and stayed away from jungle/swamps cos snakes.. and big ass flies.

Yet I managed to rack up 4k hours..

In Civ 5 and 6 I am over 3k hours and rarely finish the games, often quitting about 80% in, then restarting.  I like the challenge of having nothing and making something out of it.

Most games are much harder for those first 30minutes than they often are for the rest of the game, where you basically cakewalk over everything else.  That I find boring.

So in Astroneer, I don't research everything, I make do with small solars or only 1-2 solars or no trucks or using only the small shuttle.  I make the game as hard as possible, like never using tethers on the moon, just using the filters.  Maybe a tank or 2.  I spend alot of time just randomly digging, building walls, weird looking stairways to heaven etc.  I guess I'm really just a random player who is more interested in the mystery of a game than in the actual game.. seeking out aspects that weren't designed into the game or doing what really could be considered quite odd or insane.  Like standing at the top of a mountain staring up into the sky just to watch planets fly past...

And it is there that I find the most enjoyment.  Playing the actual game.. not so much.

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17 hours ago, Martin said:

I spent some 4000 hours in Ark...

In Civ 5 and 6 I am over 3k hours...

Those are some serious numbers! I just hit my 1.5k hour mark in Warframe this past Monday and I still can't believe it. I used to play a few games over and over back in my teens, but back then there was no way to track your game time like Steam and other services and games currently do. One of my friends bought Ark and is bugging me to get it as well. Also, I own a few Civ games which I acquired through Humble Bundles, but still haven't tried them yet. I used to play Age of Empires and similar games quite a lot, so I might give Civ a try...

17 hours ago, Martin said:

Most games are much harder for those first 30minutes than they often are for the rest of the game, where you basically cakewalk over everything else.  That I find boring.

I agree. Warframe being case in point. At the beginning you don't have much power to finish some missions. Now, 23 mastery rank levels (out of 25) later, I have a selection of what OP frame/weapon loadout to bring. As for Astroneer, the first couple of hours is where it's at: those initial moments when you desperately need to gather resources and research pods to make your base and get to the next step of building a transport. I usually do three different save games and go as far as unlocking everything in the catalog, then I stop: 1) I can't bring myself to start over a fourth time, and 2) the save game will be broken on the next patch, so I don't bother spending much time doing anything too grandiose. I make a point to visit every planet at least one time, but once that last bit of tech is unlocked (usually either the dynamite or fireworks), I'm gone.

17 hours ago, Martin said:

So in Astroneer, I don't research everything, I make do with small solars or only 1-2 solars or no trucks or using only the small shuttle.  I make the game as hard as possible, like never using tethers on the moon, just using the filters.  Maybe a tank or 2.  I spend alot of time just randomly digging, building walls, weird looking stairways to heaven etc.  I guess I'm really just a random player who is more interested in the mystery of a game than in the actual game.. seeking out aspects that weren't designed into the game or doing what really could be considered quite odd or insane.  Like standing at the top of a mountain staring up into the sky just to watch planets fly past...

And it is there that I find the most enjoyment.  Playing the actual game.. not so much.

I do research everything, not because I need everything, but because I get so much bytes that I just go to town in the catalog. I usually don't build shredders nor trade platforms. I can easily get any resource I need by hopping into the small shuttle, or the large one if I ever build it. I usually spend a lot of my play time making one huge smooth ramp down a hole into the caves below on every planet that I make a base. For me, caves are the life line of the game. Exploring those is where I find my most enjoyment.

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1 hour ago, vvhorus said:

 I usually spend a lot of my play time making one huge smooth ramp down a hole into the caves below on every planet that I make a base. For me, caves are the life line of the game. Exploring those is where I find my most enjoyment.

Just after I grab compound I build a ramp down to level 2 or 3, whichever I hit first. I literally just pick a spot near base and start digging a slope down. Grabbing a research pod is easy in the caves and I also use them to store all my extra compound, resin, ores, etc... just leaving them in organized piles. Once I have a buggy I run it down to the cave with a power cell or battery pack I have likely found by then in the cave on a dead astronaut and start exploring deep into the caves.

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I hope when they bring out t2.0 that they keep those semi lit caverns, which you can see in, deep underground.  Always liked those big empty spaces loads of space to build in.. hehe.

Also on the topic of endgame boredom, one of the reasons I'd like storms that bury or damage your base, is to keep us busy, repairing, replacing modules etc.  Give us a reason to keep mining etc.  Not just to keep building bigger and bigger.

Edited by Martin

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On 10/10/2018 at 10:37 AM, vvhorus said:

To all of you I ask: what are your thoughts about getting Astroneer as early access? Do you feel you're potentially spoiling the experience of a released product? Do you think you will devote another 1,000 hours to it once it releases, knowing that at its core it's the same game you've already spent xxx or 1,xxx amount of hours? What other experiences have any of you had with other early access games? What are your thoughts about early access games in general?

I'm glad I purchased Astroneer in early access. I've had a lot of fun over the years despite me pulling my hair out every now and then. I have been playing it fairly regularly since I purchased way back in December of 2016.

I don't think early access spoiled the experience of the soon to be released product. However, if I knew then what I know now, I may have waited. So now I don't know. Good question. Would I be happier in December if I had not purchased in 2016? Yeah, now I'm not so sure. Had I limited myself to playing Astroneer would I be happier now? Had I waited until release? Could I have waited until release? Good question!

I may play 1k hours or more once it releases in December. It depends upon the content. I know the Purple Triangle of Love could be the door that opens a lot of content/challenges/quests however I have no idea. It could be something as mundane as "collect 500 resin" or maybe other buildables come with the Purple Triangle of Love that will make the game even more complex and challenging? If however the Purple Triangle of Love is something that I deem moronic then I'll do what most do when an update comes out.... play until every new thing is unlocked and used. Then put game on shelf until next update is released. With more than 800 hours played I'm confident I know just about everything there is to know. I'll know within mere seconds if the release is worth anything or not. Remember there is a new planet to be released in December so that is worth a visit fer sure. 

I think this is my third early access purchase and I've had zero issues with any of them. I like early access because it gives me the opportunity to tell a perfect stranger, "take my money I trust you" In a world full of hate, I like that I can still trust a perfect stranger. Plus this game was only $19.99 so no biggie. If it were $50 would I still have purchased it early release? Yeah, the game is that beautiful. Artistically, colors, shading, etc. Would I have purchased early if I would have known that updates and fixes would take ffffffooooooorrrrrrreeeeeevvvvvveeeeeerrrrrrr, hell no! That IMHO, is the downside of buying early. There is always the company and its fanboi's answering "early release, early release" to any and all questions. I did not feel any real sense of urgency during the entire rover steering fiasco did you? IMHO, the entire rover fix was put on the shelf and ignored or at the very least that is how I felt. In that particular example my complaints were 100% ignored, IMHO. Had I not purchased early I would have no idea what-so-ever about the total and complete inability to use rovers for what was it, over a year? (And by inability I mean as designed as intended.) A purchaser in December will have zero idea about how terrible the rovers were and for how long. I'm not saying it would be a bad thing to be ignorant of that issue. I'm saying yeah maybe I would not mind being that guy.

Moving forward I hope that SES communicates more often and does not take forever and a day to produce bug fixes. Because up until this point I'm not inclined to give SES a passing grade in either category. I'm not sure what the magical difference will be between today (10/11) and release date December is, however I'm hoping to Jebus that SES has a the very least a plan to address these two glaring shortcomings.  

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2 hours ago, Martin said:

Also on the topic of endgame boredom, one of the reasons I'd like storms that bury or damage your base, is to keep us busy, repairing, replacing modules etc.  Give us a reason to keep mining etc.  Not just to keep building bigger and bigger.

I would not be against that. At least it would give storms a real reason for being, and not just to force you to wait it out doing nothing or to hide in a cave...

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So it looks from vlog 32 like we'll get one more patch which should incl the new 2.0 moon, but the rest of the game will remain as is.   Then they're planning on doing nothing until release of 1.0 which will be a complete makeover into 2.0 and new resource models, etc.  Dunno what the etc aspect will materialise as, but from what I've seen, the clouds, trees, general flora looks good, new rocks, resources looks good. 

Will there be a story.. missions? No idea.  That side seems very hush hush.  Wishful thinking at this late stage maybe?

I suspect 1.0 will literally be what we have now but at terrain 2.0 and alot of cosmetic changes, as per the dev roadmap.  Which imho I think is a terrible shame, but I'm happy to wait and see.

As for storms, I do hope they and weather will develope in the game, into a thing, I'd be all for various types of storms rather than just boxes ie hit damage, maybe we could get stamina draining storms, electrical storms that drain power, sandstorms that blind you, hurricanes and tornados, firestorms that literally force  you indoors or underground etc.  That depending on planet kill you outright or damage your base, destroy vehicles etc.

That said I think the roadmap is seriously out of date or else someones idea of second half of 3rd quarter is in the 4th quarter period.  Because almost none of it is ingame yet.

Edited by Martin

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1 minute ago, Martin said:

As for storms, I do hope they and weather will develope in the game, into a thing, I'd be all for various types of storms rather than just boxes ie hit damage, maybe we could get stamina draining storms, electrical storms that drain power, sandstorms that blind you, hurricanes and tornados, firestorms that literally force  you indoors or underground etc.  That depending on planet kill you outright or damage your base, destroy vehicles etc.

ESC
Save game return to main menu
What storms? 

The Purple Triangle of Love may be a portal to missions? It has to do something so I'm thinking we go in there and pull up a menu, select which mission(s) we accept, then play on? 

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Well that's a thing for many people, but there's also exit state saving, ironman type 1 save only saving systems etc.  So log out, log in, would just result in 'oh it's still a storm.. '

I'm not against circumvention of design, I look at it more as part & parcel of the immersion of the game, so I'll happily sit in my hab or seat during a storm, go make a cuppa, have a smoke or something.  Alt tab and read forums.. then go back to the game when the storm passes.  Or I'll dig down and hide and wait.. dep on circumstances.

Yeh I was talking to some on steam chat about the purple thing, imo it looks like some artifact that's blown out of proportions.. but it could well be a mission giver, ai run base or something, maybe a giant hyper market for resources and techs.. maybe rare techs you can only buy with very rare resources etc.

Edited by Martin

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35 minutes ago, Martin said:

Yeh I was talking to some on steam chat about the purple thing, imo it looks like some artifact that's blown out of proportions.. but it could well be a mission giver, ai run base or something, maybe a giant hyper market for resources and techs.. maybe rare techs you can only buy with very rare resources etc.

I think this is what I am most interested to find out about. I don't need every detail but a couple of clear hints sure would make the hype train leave the station on this topic.

Edited by The Touch of Grey Gamer

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