Author Topic: Come to the end of the plotline. so here are my observations (Spoiler-heavy)  (Read 147350 times)

AlanD

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Smashing game, exploration and mapmaking have been my main occupations in computer gaming ever since "Adventure".  I love the idea of being a teleoperator for an interstellar planet rover, and that on its own would have drawn me to this.

Below are some comments and thoughts from my experience so far.

* Is it possible to improve the contrast and legibility of the distance/direction display when moving the rover?  I can *just* see the display, but it is white on a very pale grey background, and my friend can't see it at all.  It's important because a move of 0 m still gets you another photo-opportunity, allowing timelapse photos from a single position.

* I would like the ability to hide old track info and photo locations on the map.  Some places are now overrun with little grey dots.   A way to limit the track/photo display by date would be best.

Profile issue:
[spoiler]After you get a new rover, your profile still shows the old one.[/spoiler]

* It would be good to have the ability to add a tag icon or notes to your map for places to go back to and views that deserve further exploration. At present I'm assembling my own map for my annotations, from the squares I've defuzzed, but it is time-consuming.

* The limit of three tags per photo is occasionally very frustrating.

Giving the player more to do:
[spoiler]To make it more hands-on, how about leaving it up to the player to arrange the sounds in the right order?  The symbols are there on the monument so it does not require any musical ability (the traditional source of complaint about sound-based puzzles)[/spoiler]

Astronomical error:  well, astrophysical I suppose -
[spoiler]There are two moons but no tidal variation in sea level at all.  This is really not possible.[/spoiler]

Sandy
[spoiler]Areas of sand, for instance on the isthmus where the first rover is lost, show ripples that are characteristic of water having flowed over it.[/spoiler]

Weather With You
[spoiler]There is no precipitation of any kind, rain, hail, sleet, snow, shower of frogs - you get the picture.  Rain is one of the sources of erosion, and erosion must be taking place as we have sand and soil, not to mention stones, rocks and boulders.

Sort of answered by Rob here

Rob - Re: Stesen's thread of suggestions
Reply #2 on: November 11, 2013, 05:29:06 PM

Like many deserts, we suspect that this desert has a wet season and a dry season.  Unlike most deserts, the timing of this one's wet season my depend on available graphics programmer hours.

[/spoiler]

Misty Mountain Hop
[spoiler]Seen from afar at night, there seems to be mist over the sandy isthmus.  I thought this might be water, or some kind of fluid flowing down from the main island, but having camped out on the sand for several nights, there is nothing to see close-up.[/spoiler]

Sands of Time
[spoiler]I have found at least one sand mound, that has been formed by some outside agency.  A turtle-analog burying eggs?  A grave?  A creature undergoing metamorphosis?  No IR signature and no change in state over several days of observation.  I think I found another one, but so far have only a night shot of it and not from close up.  It's on the slate for further investigation.[/spoiler]

Happy Trails
[spoiler]No tracks or trails, not even from the rover :o[/spoiler]

[spoiler]No dung, and no nest building by animals.[/spoiler]

I'll Be Seeing You
[spoiler]Things that glow are generally terrible at being light-sensors as their intrinsic glow will wash out any incoming light.  Cat's eyes (for instance) glow only by reflection, (the reflective layer in the retina is to improve night vision).  Could the glow be associated with the sensors but not actually from them, like a glowing "eyebrow" or whatever?[/spoiler]

Geological grumble;
* There are a lot of dikes and I can't help feeling they were put there to prevent the rover having a clear field of view some of the time.

Really good remote routefinding and terrain navigation
[spoiler]The "tethering algorithms" represented by the red boundaries make very little sense when compared to the ground features themselves.  Frequently the rover will be on a steep rocky slope, halfway between shore and summit, where the terrain is most inhospitable.  In other places, comparatively easier ground is forbidden.  It would make more sense to have the boundaries at or near the top of such shoreline slopes.[/spoiler]

Dates are nice, and often come from deserts:
* The downloaded hi-res pics have filenames based on the date and time they were taken. That make them difficult to match up to the server-based pics, which are dated "x hours/days ago".

Sufficiently Advanced Technology:
* It would be nice to know more about the planet and the system (planet and moon orbital periods and inclinations, location of Artocos island on the planet e.g. how close to the equator, rough sizes and locations of other landmasses etc etc.)  All of this must be available to XRI who managed to put a lander down first time at a distance of ten light years or so.

SF story reminiscence 1:
[spoiler]So how did XRI manage this interstellar hole - in - one?  Assistance from Outsiders?[/spoiler]


smili

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AlanD,   some comments on your post:

I also would've liked to have to solve the sound puzzle myself too.  [spoiler]I was wanting to see the machine come to life, maybe shooting arcs of lightning out to the the monoliths.  I sortof just wanted to understand what the point of the machine was, and why it was on this island w/ a small land settlement.  Is it a little communications outpost?  Does the land settlement have anything to do with the the endgame/ or is it a separate issue (I think maybe they're separate).
[/spoiler]

Another main interest.
[spoiler]The hydropods
Click for my thoughts on it.  Don't click if you haven't thought about them.
[spoiler]
I had a good shot going up the sandy slope where my first rover got destroyed.  There was nothing there prior.  My theory:  [spoiler]The hydropods are a way for the intelligent creature that disassembled my rover to carry it's environment with it - kindof like scuba gear for humans.  [/spoiler]
[/spoiler]

[/spoiler]

I also wanted to see tides - maybe giving me a chance to get out to that little island.

Also wanted to catch the big motobiont [spoiler]hunting, but gave up trying.  Just saw him sleeping and walking around.  I assume he stalks the chickens on the island.[/spoiler]

Ultimately it ends up with more unanswered questions about the world than answered.  The conspiracy plot while resolved was largely separate from my interest in the world itself, and I wanted to know more about this world that I was exploring.

btw.  the mounds you mention.
[spoiler]There's one by the first artifact.  I thought it looked like a grave - especially considering the etching on the white piece - but the story never really went there.[/spoiler]

At first I was driving around to avoid the tall dikes like you mention, then maybe a week into the game I realized I could drive right through them without issue.  I felt same way about the steep slopes.  Because I lost my rover at the start I was being careful not to lose the next one, but by the end of the game I'm just driving up the sides of mountains.  I agree I think they were there to provide cover, but it worked OK imho.  Made it nice payoff when I got up high and could see long distances unobstructed.

I think wind can create some of the wavy sand patterns you mention.

Brendan

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There are several things you guys mention that are planned or being actively worked on right now.  Brian has been experimenting with rover tracks.  No guarantee that they'll go in, we want to make sure they actually look good, but they are being worked on.  I believe tides are also being looked into, thanks to you and Ainia. ;)

Regarding the end of game with the [spoiler]Central Monument activating.  There is more to it that we've always had planned but didn't finish implementing before launch (actually we didn't even have the recorded sound of it activating in til a few weeks ago), and is being worked on now.  After it's activated a narrow, very intense beam of light will be visible emanating straight up out of the center of the monument, bright enough that you can see it during the day and tall enough that you can see it from anywhere on the island.[/spoiler]
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 03:20:34 PM by Brendan »

FlandersNed

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Those are some good observations. I did wonder why there was no tides, and I also wondered why some red lines are where they are, considering the rover can drive straight up 60 degree inclines

smili:
[spoiler]I have my own theory on the hydropods.

I'm not sure how far you are into the game, but I have finished it, so there are spoilers all the way through.

[spoiler]I have a feeling that the intelligent beings of the planet are actually amphibious, as the desert climate of the planet makes it too hot to stay on land for long periods of time (apart from the razorbacks and the bristletongues).

The hydropods in my opinion are actually the food source of these creatures. They take it to land when they work and leave them behind once they retreat back into the ocean. This would explain why they are scattered around the dismantled rover and then eventually on the next island, not to mention how they are underwater.[/spoiler]
 [/spoiler]

I'd also like to complement the devs on creating such an immersive game. I can say with full certainty that I have finished the game AND cleared out the entire island of Arcatos!
As such, I'm leaving the rover [spoiler]on the top of the tallest mountain[/spoiler] until the next island comes.
Rovin about.

AlanD

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Smili, some responses :)


I also would've liked to have to solve the sound puzzle myself too.  [spoiler]I was wanting to see the machine come to life, maybe shooting arcs of lightning out to the the monoliths.  I sortof just wanted to understand what the point of the machine was, and why it was on this island w/ a small land settlement.  Is it a little communications outpost?  Does the land settlement have anything to do with the the endgame/ or is it a separate issue (I think maybe they're separate).
[/spoiler]
Puzzling things
[spoiler]The monoliths and central monument certainly act as a kind of Sentinel cf Arthur C. Clarke's short story that was the precursor to the movie 2001.  In this case there is a separate beacon sending out a come-hither signal.  I wonder what that signal contains: information on how to build a stardrive, perhaps?

But who is the Sentinel signalling to?  It can't be the creatures that disassembled the rover, since they are obviously still on-planet.  So I think there are at least two intelligent species involved at this point.

The ruined geodesic items may be shelters from a long-ago expedition (but not necessarily the one that placed the monuments and obelisks. or the transmitter) or may be almost-buried landers or ships from such an expedition.  No way to tell without a digger (so why isn't there one on the rover, or have I answered my own question).  This also raises the possibility that there may be alien teleoperated rovers that we have not seen yet.[/spoiler]

Quote
Another main interest.
[spoiler]The hydropods
Click for my thoughts on it.  Don't click if you haven't thought about them.
[spoiler]
I had a good shot going up the sandy slope where my first rover got destroyed.  There was nothing there prior.  My theory:  [spoiler]The hydropods are a way for the intelligent creature that disassembled my rover to carry it's environment with it - kindof like scuba gear for humans.  [/spoiler]
[/spoiler]
[/spoiler]

Further damp thoughts
[spoiler]I have a panorama shot taken by the rover in the same location that it was destroyed at.  No Hydropods there beforehand.  Watery sandripples though.  (they are smaller and shallower than windblown undulations, at least round here, but I am no expert on sand formations).

The hydropods are obviously associated with whatever took the rover apart.

And if you've paid attention during the endgame you will also know that they appear there, in two states.

Strong evidence that there is an intelligent marine species around, perhaps using hydropods as reverse-scuba gear?[/spoiler]

Quote
I also wanted to see tides - maybe giving me a chance to get out to that little island.

I agree:-
[spoiler]There have to be tides - even without moons, unless the planet's orbit is perfectly circular, there will be solar tides.  Those two moons really should have a noticeable effect on sea level.  Unless the whole island is floating (and that's been thought of before in SF,  though I can't track down the stories just yet)

In defence of the developers, calculating the tides associated with two moons and the sun is likely to be quite complex[/spoiler]
Quote


Also wanted to catch the big motobiont [spoiler]hunting, but gave up trying.  Just saw him sleeping and walking around.  I assume he stalks the chickens on the island.[/spoiler]

Ultimately it ends up with more unanswered questions about the world than answered.  The conspiracy plot while resolved was largely separate from my interest in the world itself, and I wanted to know more about this world that I was exploring.

Beasties
[spoiler]My friend and I have located two sleeping spots for the razorbacks - and there are at least two animals, as we've both seen two in shot at the same time.  We think that they each have their own sleeping spot.

Neither of us has yet seen a razorback stalking any prey, never mind making a kill.  We think that the bristletongue is the most likely prey, as the other known animal species hide at night when the predator is active.  Unless there is another animal that we've not seen, maybe one that comes out of the sea at night?

So far I have been stalked by a razorback in locations close to bristletongue herds, but in the course of observing the herds from a static location for three days or so I've not seen any sign of a razorback, and I've positioned the rover to have a view behind some obvious hiding places.  More observation is needed.[/spoiler]



Quote
btw.  the mounds you mention.
[spoiler]There's one by the first artifact.  I thought it looked like a grave - especially considering the etching on the white piece - but the story never really went there.

[spoiler]Which artifact did you discover first - the southern obelisk? 

I would have liked either to see some of the translation data or to be given enough clues to make a stab at it myself.  [/spoiler]

smili

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Beasties
[spoiler]My friend and I have located two sleeping spots for the razorbacks - and there are at least two animals, as we've both seen two in shot at the same time.  We think that they each have their own sleeping spot.

Neither of us has yet seen a razorback stalking any prey, never mind making a kill.  We think that the bristletongue is the most likely prey, as the other known animal species hide at night when the predator is active.  Unless there is another animal that we've not seen, maybe one that comes out of the sea at night?

So far I have been stalked by a razorback in locations close to bristletongue herds, but in the course of observing the herds from a static location for three days or so I've not seen any sign of a razorback, and I've positioned the rover to have a view behind some obvious hiding places.  More observation is needed.[/spoiler]

Hmm.  thanks for that info.   That's interesting
[spoiler]I didn't realize there were 2.  I saw one in a very different part of the map than the other, but assumed it was the same one.  I've never seen 2 in the same shot though.  I also sat around watching the chickens (bristletongue) for a long time, but never saw hunting behavior either.  I kept seeing the Razorback walking around, but never could figure out where he was going or what he was doing when he got there.  There's really not much on the island to support two big predators like that (much less 1 predator) - maybe they don't eat much?[/spoiler]

Quote
btw.  the mounds you mention.
[spoiler]There's one by the first artifact.  I thought it looked like a grave - especially considering the etching on the white piece - but the story never really went there.

[spoiler]Which artifact did you discover first - the southern obelisk? 

I would have liked either to see some of the translation data or to be given enough clues to make a stab at it myself.  [/spoiler]
[/quote]

No - the shard very early in the game that's buried upright in the ground w/ letters scratched into it.  To the w/sw there's a little unnatural looking mound that to me made it look symbolic / like a tombstone to me.  I thought it might've been a message/sign also.

garner

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Some additional thoughts, having just finished the game:

I really liked the concept of exploring this distant planet via time delay and waiting to see what the pictures would look like, but the illusion was spoiled somewhat by the sheer number of living things out there. After you've left the starting area, you know you're going to see dozens of funky plants in every single shot - the place is far too fertile to be even remotely plausible. There's no thrill of the hunt, and after a while I didn't bother tagging a lot of stuff because it all looked the same.

It could have been more creepy. For example, you've taken half a dozen shots of rocks and sand, then suddenly you get one with something blurring past the camera. Instead it's very colourful and 'safe'. Lost your rover? Don't worry, we've got a limitless supply of them.

The analysis of the species didn't seem like the kind of thing a scientist would write. The names were a bit incongruous, too. Also, how could somebody produce a full colour sketch of a typical specimen from a single shot taken at night?

I would gladly have paid to reduce the waiting period, but by the time I was getting fed up of spending four hours between moves I assumed I was pretty much at the end. I wasn't, though. If it had been clear that there was more to do, I would have paid.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 01:42:32 AM by garner »

DemosMirak

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Some additional thoughts, having just finished the game:

I really liked the concept of exploring this distant planet via time delay and waiting to see what the pictures would look like, but the illusion was spoiled somewhat by the sheer number of living things out there. After you've left the starting area, you know you're going to see dozens of funky plants in every single shot - the place is far too fertile to be even remotely plausible. There's no thrill of the hunt, and after a while I didn't bother tagging a lot of stuff because it all looked the same.

It could have been more creepy. For example, you've taken half a dozen shots of rocks and sand, then suddenly you get one with something blurring past the camera. Instead it's very colourful and 'safe'. Lost your rover? Don't worry, we've got a limitless supply of them.

The analysis of the species didn't seem like the kind of thing a scientist would write. The names were a bit incongruous, too. Also, how could somebody produce a full colour sketch of a typical specimen from a single shot taken at night?

I would gladly have paid to reduce the waiting period, but by the time I was getting fed up of spending four hours between moves I assumed I was pretty much at the end. I wasn't, though. If it had been clear that there was more to do, I would have paid.

About the number of living things, why wouldn't there be? If you drop a rover on a random patch of earth, you're standing a pretty good chance to encounter a lot of species. The only exceptions on this are deserts and mountain ranges, of which the later still harbors a good amount of life. And sure, there could have been a bit more diversity, but remember that most of earths diversity is in its, seas, insects and microorganisms, all of which are not find able with the current rovers.

I do agree it could use a bit more danger, let rovers be attacked by razorbacks, I say, but that would require a lot more programming work, and even more of a supply of rovers. What fun would it be if you lost your rover and be locked out of the game as a result. Perhaps a small delay in activating the new rover would be good, as to let it calibrate itself. And remember, according to the story, you are on of the better rover drivers out there, it makes sense that they would want you to keep on working.

As for the descriptions, perhaps those are not the full scientific write-ups, but more something for the drivers, wouldn't want to bore you with dry, be it made-up, facts. And for the sketches, that something of a fun vs. immersion thing, and they chose for fun on this aspect.

Auroness

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Although we never see any of the others, there are other drivers out there. I assume when I send in a photo to be identified, that is is being compared to other photos, and possible other investigations before we get a response back. The other drivers may be submitting at the same time, so the response we get back is rather generic, or to save bandwidth, they simply repeat the same response to every driver.
Mixed in other stuff, you may find bits of my own journey - http://auroness.tumblr.com/

garner

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Having lots of other drivers is a bit strange, when you think about it. The island is small, so how did the others manage to miss the monuments? Is Turing managing them all? If so, it seems you're the only one who's actually making any discoveries. And what kind of spaceship would be big enough to deliver multiple rovers and GPS units to a distant planet?

DemosMirak

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Yes, I think that you can assume that XRI went quality of quantity as for rover drivers. Perhaps those with lesser test scores than us geniuses are hired to only look at the pictures, but since we get them firsthand, and all classified pictures get intercepted before the second round lookers, we would be the ones discovering.

As for the rovers we do encounter, I suspect the rover near the lander is property of our xenobiologist, we all know turings rover, the rover near the end of story is of someone who's name I'm not gonna tel, and that leaves no rovers to be specified. So I guess indeed quality of quantity.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2014, 03:38:12 AM by DemosMirak »

AlanD

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I think the idea is that there are relatively few rover drivers, and you are not in touch with any of the others, apart from the XRI employees Turing and van Susteren.  Otherwise it makes no sense that we are all given the same set of tasks as though they were new to each of us, and that we have to defuzz the island map on our own.

It means that we can't engage in shared exploration within the game.  We can share experiences here but they are OOC, not within the framework of the story.

I have at least one picture with the lander and two rovers in it, from early on.  Both are JR-S type, so can't get over the sand, I suppose.  I assume there are relatively few XR-K rovers.

There are only 18 rovers in the lander and we only ever see six hatches open (although I'm going to be generous and assume that's an oversight, as the same hatches are open even at the end of the game) so we can assume that after the two that are already accounted for there are only three others wandering about and at least two of them (probably all three) are JR-S types.

KathAveara

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A thought of my own.

Starry, starry night.
[spoiler]The stars as seen from Epsilon Prime perfectly match the stars seen from Earth. However, the real star patterns seen from Epsilon Eridani are quite different. Being an amateur astronomer, I know my way around the stars, so I didn't even need to check to know that the stars were wrong. Personally, I'd like to see the night sky reflect the true night sky in that solar system. I can provide comparisons if anyone's interested.[/spoiler]

AlanD

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A thought of my own.

Starry, starry night.
[spoiler]The stars as seen from Epsilon Prime perfectly match the stars seen from Earth. However, the real star patterns seen from Epsilon Eridani are quite different. Being an amateur astronomer, I know my way around the stars, so I didn't even need to check to know that the stars were wrong. Personally, I'd like to see the night sky reflect the true night sky in that solar system. I can provide comparisons if anyone's interested.[/spoiler]

Kath, that is my next area of exploration, once I've finished photographing [spoiler]sleeping razorbacks[/spoiler]

[spoiler]By eye, I had guessed that the positions of the few constellations I know reflected a different relationship to the Milky Way belt than I was used to.  I've not done any detailed investigation yet though.  The killer would be to find that Eridanus still had all its stars.......[/spoiler]

I have a couple of programs that will allow you to view constellations from a remote pov, outside the solar system.  10 light-years isn't very far in constellation terms, most of the stars we see are much farther away, as you know.  But the effect should be clearly visible.

KathAveara

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The effect is very clearly visible. Of the constellations I can recall seeing in pics, most still have all their stars, but the patterns should be heavily distorted.