Sentinel Greg Aug 22, 2014 @ 10:34am
META Mutation Analysis & Suggestions (long)
I'm bumping this because I think it's worth talking about and revisiting again, and I would lik e to see the opinions of some of the new players!

First off, I always end up feeling really silly in having these discussions because I trust Vlambeer's design, and their eventual direction with this game.

Still, I think it's worth talking about mutations at a higher level than individual mutations.

EDIT: This is a little longer than I was intending. Thanks for reading.

(TL;DR The rate at which you get mutations and the way you get them is too samey, game to game. I beat a dead horse for a bit, and offer different crackpot suggestions to make mutations weird.)

I have no beef with the mutation system. I actually love it, and I think it's a huge part of why I keep coming back to the game. My only problem with it is this:

Collect all the rads: I'm good enough at the game now that I can beat it without missing any rads, give or take. This means my mutations end up happening at usually the same point, run to run. The only system that alters this is occasional variations in level and enemy spawns, some crowns, and fighting horror (the crowns + horror are arguably not worth the risk, although I am fine with risk)

This usually means that I am picking the same mutations at around the same time almost every run. I know I can choose whatever mutations I want, but like everyone else here, I am playing to get as far as I can. There are certain mutations that WILL take me farther than others. Of course I like to goof off occasionally, and some of the mutations sync in REALLY cool, but really opportunistic, specific ways.

So because of all of this, despite the variety each mutation brings, in a game as short as NT your runs all end up feeling pretty samey by the end, mutation wise.

Here are some suggestions to fix this:

Investing for a risky future:

[This part is a little redundant now, as JW said that it is the inspiration behind the Patience mutation. ;)]

On the mutation select screen, instead of mutating, you can choose to instead pocket your mutation, and if you can beat the next level without getting hit, in a certain amount of time (some kind of restriction) you get an extra mutation. If you fail, you lose your opportunity for a new mutation, plus your original mutation.

To illustrate: You pocket a mutation. During that next level, you get enough rads to level up again. You beat the level and beat whatever restrictions were placed on you, earning you another extra mutation. At the level up screen, you then get to choose 3 mutations, instead of the two you would normally get. If the extra mutations aren't triggered by levels, you could potentially get more than 9 mutations by the end, if you are playing really, really well.

This could be implemented as a crown, maybe.

EDIT:
An alternate idea is that you choose a mutation to pocket, and if you succeed, you get an amped version of that specific mutation, rather than a whole new roll.

Some secret levels are accessible by only having a specific mutation
Speaks for itself.

A store, easily accessible, where you can trade rads or levels for other perks/weapons
Maybe this could be found in the crown vaults, or just another option on the mutation select screen.

A special mutation swap crown
Not sure what the upside is, other than maybe getting a good roll. Between each level, you get hit by a stray bolt of portal energy, and one of your mutations is swapped out with a different one. This needs to be really visible to the player, obviously. Which one is replaced, and what it is replaced with.

Some other system that occurs in level as an alternate way of collecting rads
There needs to be risk involved, like there is with ammo chests. Currently the only risk is having to expose yourself to enemy fire to get rads, and you're doing that all the time anyway.

Skipping rad canisters to fight horror is a step in this direction, but it isn't a system so much as a character unlock, mini-boss fight substituting for a system.

Just some ideas. Thoughts?
Last edited by Sentinel Greg; Jan 10 @ 10:14am
Showing 1-15 of 20 comments
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blakeindisguise Aug 22, 2014 @ 10:50am 
The store feature that is planned is very exciting! I too wonder if we will be selling golden guns, rads, HP, ammo, kills or whatever for stuff in shop.

The pocketing of mutations is a really cool and fun idea. Im really not sure how that would be implemented though... Everytime? or only certain times?

On the part about accessing secert levels it would be cool to need boiling veins to jump into a firy car explosion to go to a hell themed level!
Sentinel Greg Aug 22, 2014 @ 10:58am 
Originally posted by blakeindisguise:
The store feature that is planned is very exciting! I too wonder if we will be selling golden guns, rads, HP, ammo, kills or whatever for stuff in shop.
I only heard vaguely that they were planning a "store". Have you heard any more details?

Originally posted by blakeindisguise:
The pocketing of mutations is a really cool and fun idea. Im really not sure how that would be implemented though... Everytime? or only certain times?
I like the idea too. Dunno how it will occur. An alternate idea is that you choose a mutation to pocket, and if you succeed, you get an amped version of that specific mutation, rather than a specific one.

Another similar idea:
You know how they are planning on implementing endgame mutations? Maybe in order to get them you have to pocket ALL of your mutations. All or nothing.

Originally posted by blakeindisguise:
On the part about accessing secert levels it would be cool to need boiling veins to jump into a firy car explosion to go to a hell themed level!

Yeah, like that. Or an ancient proto door that only opens with gamma guts.
It would also be cool to have secret areas that are just skill based. Really hard to get to, maybe easier for some characters /mutations/ weapons than others.
elminister696 Aug 22, 2014 @ 11:19am 
Just got to say your profile pic is amazing Sentinel Greg, I am super jelly. Where did you get it, or is it your own creation?

As for the actual discussion here, I like your idea about pocket mutations, but it kind of serves the same role as the crown of blood, as with the COB you end up with double the rads you would normally get and consequently get more mutations. Or at least that is how I see it.

I do like the idea of being able to swap mutations, and secret levels that require mutations. Maybe a crown of indecision, lets you swap the last 3 mutations you got for another random 3?

The gamma guts proto door sounds awesome! I think the labs really need a secret level too, perhaps a sealed room that can only be opened by breaking a glass panel with sharp teeth? Or just teleporting into it with crystal's throne butt..
Sentinel Greg Aug 22, 2014 @ 12:03pm 
Nope, I didn't make it. That credit goes to Thomas Wellmann. You can find it here:

http://thomaswellmann.tumblr.com/post/66758295533/some-fanart-for-vlambeer-s-nuclear-throne-it-is

The pocket mutation is fairly different than crown of blood, in my mind, at least. It ends up having a similar result, though.

The risks of pocketing a mutation:
You don't get to use that mutation for the next level.
You have to meet some specific requirements
If you don't perform to those requirements, you end up with one mutation down the drain, and one less mutation you can get total. (You still level up, so if you lose the mutation for that level, you just lose it, no chance of recovery.)
You don't get any extra rads, as the extra mutations occur outside of the normal 9 levels you get. (which would actually be a really worthwhile payoff.)
The enemies aren't any harder, you just have to play better.

Crown of blood gets you to level 9 faster, though. Like I said, gambling with your mutations would ultimately allow you to get more mutations than 9, but it's completely dependent on how well you play.

I like your other ideas, also.
Solid Aug 22, 2014 @ 1:30pm 
There is a fundamental problem with this discussion; the value of mutations. The core of the problem is that the value of certain mutations is very subjective and general mutation types are often going to be more sought after (survival and damage over situational and specific). It is true that as individuals we tend to take the same mutations, but as a group there is still a lot of disagreement over what the "good" mutations are (see the Perfect J.W. Challenge and related discussions for that). The game currently does attempt to make people go in different directions with the mutation limits, but part of having the ability to chose is choosing the same things every time.

I also think your solutions are not really going to solve anything; I'll break them down into two groups...
Risks without Risks
Originally posted by Sentinel Greg:
Investing for a risky future:
A store, easily accessible, where you can trade rads or levels for other perks/weapons
A special mutation swap crown
The problem here is that there is no reason to change mutation choices and most of these could be avoided anyway. Even if people are given more mutations to chose from they are still going to go for the same general mutations. These are not bad ideas, but they do not address the issue at hand.

Buffs
Originally posted by Sentinel Greg:
Some secret levels are accessible by only having a specific mutation
This is really just a buff to certain mutations. I think this is a cool buff and the kind of thing I'd like to see in the game, but its not really a new system... buffing is just something that should generally be done to mutations to balance them out anyway.
Last edited by Solid; Aug 22, 2014 @ 1:31pm
Sentinel Greg Aug 22, 2014 @ 2:06pm 
That is a very "Solid" assessment. I had to say that, sorry. But seriously.

The most useful fix is to probably just make all the mutations equally good, as you suggested.

I guess I didn't explain my issue very clearly. I guess I didn't understand it that clearly myself.
My complaints come as a 200+ hour player. Someone starting out probably couldn't care less.
And I might have just blown this problem way out of proportion in my head. :)
Depending on the direction of the game, there might not even be a problem to solve. For all I know, JW wants to have a more reliable system to complement the craziness of weapon drops.

What I really want to see are just different scenarios the player can find themselves in later in the game.
E.G.
You find yourself only level 4 in the Labs because you lost a gamble earlier.
You pulled off a really risky move that gave you a really great "special" mutation, outside of the normal pool of mutations. Endgame mutations might fill this.

There are many solutions to this (adding mutations, reducing mutation options, require more xp to level)

What is your take on it, Solid? Is there even an issue at all?
Last edited by Sentinel Greg; Aug 22, 2014 @ 2:08pm
Solid Aug 22, 2014 @ 4:23pm 
Originally posted by Sentinel Greg:
That is a very "Solid" assessment. I had to say that, sorry.
Yes, yes, if there are any regrets about my name they are; "Solid puns", the assumption that I play the MGS games, and people trying to shorten the name for some reason.

Originally posted by Sentinel Greg:
Depending on the direction of the game, there might not even be a problem to solve. For all I know, JW wants to have a more reliable system to complement the craziness of weapon drops.
I think all J.W. wants is some more "coffee" and a bit of oil for his servos. In game terms I'd say the game needs to be grounded, but the devs clearly want the game to be able to deliver unique experiences and unusual circumstances.

Originally posted by Sentinel Greg:
What I really want to see are just different scenarios the player can find themselves in later in the game.
WELCOME TO THE CHALLENGES! - Sorry; wrong place for that. I think that might be a different debate or many different debates, but I think a lot of people, including the devs, strongly believe in this. The question is how far it should be taken.

Originally posted by Sentinel Greg:
What is your take on it, Solid? Is there even an issue at all?
I don't have a good answer for this. I suspect Rami and J.W. would say there is a problem because they are all about different situations coming up. However, I personally don't see this as a serious issue. I don't want to reveal my cards per say, but I've seen a lot of devs over engineer their games to get around problems like this to no real effect. The illusion of choice (no matter if the choices are actually there or not) is only worth so much of a dev's time and resources.

The core of this for me is that the mutations are never going to be "equal" (because of the different elements involved). Even if things were perfectly balanced players are going to have subjective opinions of things either as individuals or as a group. For example I am a defensive player and even if it could be shown that all the mutations were equal I would still take the health/survival related mutations. Personally I'd like to see more mutations, more choice, a higher mutation cap, etc. However the time Rami and J.W. have is of great value and I know they intend to move on at some time. (If only modding was a thing so the community could add to pools if they see fit.)

If there is any debate I'd like to start out of this its if the weapon mutations (and other very specific mutations) should remain as they are in the game specific mutations should be in the game as they are.
Sentinel Greg Aug 22, 2014 @ 6:09pm 
Modding... If only.
You always bring up a lot of great points, just like these.
Of course equal is subjective, and player choice of mutations can often be based on situation as much as it is on situation.

Maybe a more interesting point, and possibly more core to my problem with this all, is that the choice of mutation isn't all that difficult or interesting. And I loooove painful decisions. Really.

I think that is an interesting discussion on weapon specific mutations. I don't think there is any other place in the game to implement them, other than a crown, maybe.

I don't know. After typing so much, I'm getting all of the systems and game design goals of NT mixed up. I'm glad JW is able to keep it all straight. Maybe it is the coffee!
Nessel Aug 22, 2014 @ 6:09pm 
i actually had a similar idea today when i was playing nitrome must die, a little flash game made by nitrome, maybe even a little similar to NT even though its feel is totally different. and there they have this pretty ingenious gambling or banking system. i.e. in every level you gain a certain amount of points/coins and while taking the elevator to the next level you're asked whether you wanna play save and bank all the coins to not lose them again or gamble and by this increasing the multplicator by one. so what this means is that if you manage not to die for ten rounds and not play save on your way to the eleventh level you will have a multiplicator of ten -> 1,000 points suddenly become 10,000, when you bank them. however if you die you lose them all.

now to NT, what this would mean to mutations and rads is that every time you complete a level you're asked to either bank or gamble your rads. if you decide to gamble more rads are going to show up. the multiplicator gets reset when you spend those rads on a mutation. you can also try to wait longer to then gain multiple mutations in one portal...

hope, this was not to confusing (if so go play nitrome must die, it's free and a decent amount of fun) actually prefer this over pocketing entire mutations, kind of seems too big of a buff to me. i'd probably always pocket my mutations in the early levels and by this be a lot more powerful than usual.
Solid Aug 22, 2014 @ 8:40pm 
Originally posted by Nessel:
i actually had a similar idea today when i was playing nitrome must die, a little flash game made by nitrome, maybe even a little similar to NT even though its feel is totally different. and there they have this pretty ingenious gambling or banking system. i.e. in every level you gain a certain amount of points/coins and while taking the elevator to the next level you're asked whether you wanna play save and bank all the coins to not lose them again or gamble and by this increasing the multplicator by one. so what this means is that if you manage not to die for ten rounds and not play save on your way to the eleventh level you will have a multiplicator of ten -> 1,000 points suddenly become 10,000, when you bank them. however if you die you lose them all.

now to NT, what this would mean to mutations and rads is that every time you complete a level you're asked to either bank or gamble your rads. if you decide to gamble more rads are going to show up. the multiplicator gets reset when you spend those rads on a mutation. you can also try to wait longer to then gain multiple mutations in one portal...

hope, this was not to confusing (if so go play nitrome must die, it's free and a decent amount of fun) actually prefer this over pocketing entire mutations, kind of seems too big of a buff to me. i'd probably always pocket my mutations in the early levels and by this be a lot more powerful than usual.
I think having that as a very rare option that could come up might be cool, but I don't think it would be that special if it happened every level.
Nessel Aug 23, 2014 @ 4:35am 
so then how about the game only asking you every time you level up. you now have the option to either choose a mutation or wait 'til you level up the next time and gain a little increase in rads. - at least that's what i thought.

actually the more i think about the idea the more i think it will slow down the gameplay. it might however be fun as a score system in an another game mode if they ever plan to include one.

what nt needs, isn't a new system for mutations, it needs more mutations. some that really mix up the gameplay both in good and in bad ways. how about some mutations that seem op at first but then cause you some kind of malfunction. or some mutations that are allergic to others. well well, i guess that's all a little too vague and the game's system is actually fine already in its current state. i just want a little more variety. just too make each time you play truly unique.
Last edited by Nessel; Aug 23, 2014 @ 4:35am
Collen N. Aug 23, 2014 @ 5:39am 
I think the problem could be solved by, instead of nerfing the really good mutations, making every other mutation very good as well, and making so that the weapon-specific mutations have other effects that don't depend on weapons. For instance, Long Arms could also allow you to pick up weapons from a distance. I want to see people go, "I want to take Extra Stomach, but Gamma Guts is too good to pass up right now," y'know what I mean?
Last edited by Collen N.; Aug 23, 2014 @ 5:41am
Nessel Aug 23, 2014 @ 5:53am 
or why not have different versions of every mutation, like, second stomach mini medkits giving you 3, 4 or even 5 HP, while Long Arms has different ranges and maybe the ability you stated. Gamma Guts could deal a little more or a little less damage (or stay the same) and so on and so forth. like this you could kind of balance it out. either you have a screen of mediocre mutations but on a high level, or a lot of low level good ones. something like that.
Sentinel Greg Aug 23, 2014 @ 7:44am 
I remember early on suggesting bad mutations. But the conclusion we came to is that they are a rewarding system, and a rewarding system only. The only punishment you should get in mutations is not getting to level up, or not getting a specific mutation you might need at that point.

Also, the really nice thing about mutations is that there is no granularity. We don't have character stats like "Arm Length" or "# of Legs" or "Throne Butt-ness" that we need to put xp towards to level them up, only a little bit at a time. It's an all or nothing thing, that drastically changes gameplay.

Nessel, I think your suggestion is good, but makes the game a little too complex, and might require some redesign. What I'm envisioning is a ton of icons in the top right to try and help the player remember not only what mutation they got, but also what level they got of that muation. Mutations need to be very reliable, and it isn't fun for the player if they find themselves in the middle of a life or death situation and can't remember exactly the level of the mutation they so desperately need to work right now is.

I'm not against amped, powerful mutations. That could occur once a game, like a throne butt mutation, and allows you to pick one of your existing mutations to buff.

Also, a Throne Butt for passive abilities would be cool, if somewhat redundant.

I think it's a cool idea do have many different effects from each mutation. I like the long arms one in particular.

lordgord Aug 23, 2014 @ 8:44pm 
The only thing that has occured to me regarding mutations, is that it would be interesting to see something like a very slight bonus to taking a character specific mutations. Like 5-10% where such values determine perk.

I've definately made consious desicions to attempt a Plant, Fish, or Crystal true to character run. Just to get better at not relying on go-to perks. I tend to think to actually role play games that aren't even subtly encouraging you to, just to engage myself more. Like if you are Fish, and you are severly irradiated to the point of mutation, wouldn't it make some kind of sense that mutating further in your own direction of nature, rather than adapting some trait of another species would be easier to obtain proficiency?

The mutations would have to get split across the unrepresented characters, but I can imagine rebranding some of them would be possible. I think of which character would more easily pull bullets off of corpses... well Eyes for obvious reasons, but Robot too could adapt a magnetic field to pull hit bullets back. Steroids could pretty easily get a little stronger and quickly evolve to carry more ammo.

It seems like I just make up my own lore anyhow, but I was thinking it wouldn't take much or any noticable advantage to get a little deeper and not have to change the interface or really even bring new logistical questions to a working formula.

I hesitate even suggesting change because of how amazing of a game it already is and how much I anticipate what these amazing developers will do with the rest of their lives.
Last edited by lordgord; Aug 23, 2014 @ 8:45pm
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Date Posted: Aug 22, 2014 @ 10:34am
Posts: 20