Mutations and traits: Rebalancing

I realize there’s another topic at the top of this board regarding this, but I’d like to give my two cents on how this could be handled.

My goal is to help remove some of the metagame and scumming aspects involved regarding mutations, by making trait selection have a stronger influence towards mutation path(s).

First, before we try to fix the issue(s) at hand, let’s first review some of the underlying issues plaguing the system.

1a.) Non-exclusive traits at character selection.

Let me explain what I mean by this. You have certain traits which can be selected at character creation which you can also earn as a mutation at a later point down the line. This is a good example of poor design; you force the player to choose between having an easier start, or later attempting to meta-game the mutation system in order to gain traits which can inherently be earned for ‘free’; by putting options like these on the table, you penalize players which aren’t gaming the system for optimal trait selection.

1b.) High-value traits which while not required, offer a high level of QoL to the player, but inherently gimp the player-long term.

[b]A good example of this is Night Vision. You can either take this trait at the start, knowing that you could eventually earn the trait for free as a mutation further down the line if you have enough time, patience, and luck, or suffer a very annoying early-game due to being virtually useless at night unless you want to constantly burn through batteries.

I’d actually suggest removing Night Vision entirely as a starting trait, and reworking the way vision works at nighttime. The easiest way I can picture it working is that, after ‘x’ amount of turns while being in a extremely dark condition, your eyes would acclimate over time and your sight radius would improve. This could work on a turn counter. Conversely, the counter would decrement towards losing the gained vision radius if each turn you’re exposed to light.

Of course this would have to be capped to allow for actual ‘night vision’ to be gained by either bionics or a threshold mutation, and still have a purpose.

Another example would be Robust Genetics. Are we seeing a trend here? Traits which you can either buy early on, and pay for it by having a sub-optimal character end-game, or try to metagame the mutation system by getting it for free. Why not remove this as well, or put it behind Alpha post-threshold, as an exclusive mutation?[/b]

2a.) So, we’ve exposed a few flaws of the system already. What is the remedy?

[b]A possible solution I’ve been considering is to use the starting trait pool as a tiered affinity system. By that I mean, all of the starting traits which you can select would have an affinity towards a certain type, or types of mutation branches. I’ll give an example, Fleet-Footed. The player would need to explicitly need to select Fleet Footed if they wished to later mutate it into Road-Runner. The difference here, is that Road-Runner is currently not locked behind the threshold, when I believe it should be, as a tier 2 upgrade.

I believe if the whole mutation system relied more on static requirements instead of random chance, it would overall improve player choice and empower them to choose what they want at the start of the game, without knowing they’re gimping themself because they could later earn the trait later as a mutation, for free.[/b]

2b.) So, in a nutshell, how would this affect the player?

[b] What this means in the grand scheme, would be that the starting traits the player chooses would be exclusively gained at character generation, which could not be attained through other methods, and would later allow the player to upgrade the potency of these traits via mutation threshold.

Ideally, negative traits would only manifest at the point the player has received their tier 2 trait upgrades (when they’ve reached post-threshold).

As such, we’d be taking a system which relies heavily on luck and metagaming, and turn it into a system empowering the player to mutate how they want - what they see is what they get, essentially.[/b]

3.) Talk is great, but can you give a better example of how this system were to work?

I will attempt to lay out plans for how this would work, keep in mind, this is just a rough outline; if the community thinks this concept has merit, I’m sure they can help flesh it out.

Starting traits:

Quick (Tier 1), (Bird, Fish, Insect, Troglobite, Chimera, and Raptor affinity) → Threshold mutation (Tier 2) Very Quick
Fleet-Footed (T1), (Bird affinity) → Threshold mutation (T2) Road-Runner

Fey Eyes (Tier 1), (Elf-A affinity) → Threshold mutaton (T2) Fey Vision

This is just a starting point for how things could work, of course it will be take more time an energy to work out a lower tier and upper tier version of all traits, but again, this is just a general outline of a potential concept. I’m sure work would have to also be made regarding which traits would have to be rebalanced for a tier-2 version, and which mutation trees should have access to them.

[b]Closing thoughts:

There is another factor which I haven’t mentioned much. There could be some potential overlap between CBMs and Mutations even in this system, I’m not entirely sure how this would be handled in a such a way that one wouldn’t necessarily make the other obsolete or entirely redundant. That would be an issue best saved for another discussion.

I hope my creation of this topic isn’t akin to beating a dead horse. It’s just that once I began to realize the meta involved in this game, it really sucked the enjoyment out of it for me. Like I’ve mentioned above, I think removing some of the powergaming/mutation roulette involved to have a ‘perfect character’ will help keep the meta in check.[/b]

A big fan of the game

I do want to rework night vision (vision at night, not the trait) to scale off perception. Then the trait itself would just count as x points of perception.
I actually had a PR doing that somewhere, but it had an issue or two and I didn’t have the time to fix them. I could try to unearth it.

Acclimation sounds rather unpleasant. Not really a proper fix to anything, except maybe as a hacky nerf to the flashlight flipping exploit (turning flashlight on and off takes no time, letting you see everything without being seen).

Robust genetics:
It is a pure flaw in design. I’d love to get rid of it totally. At the moment it exists only because mutations are rather bad. It could become the default.

Trait affinity:
The whole idea has one big problem: it keeps the tradeoff between long term and short term that it was supposed to address.
More: it can actually worsen it.
For example, fleet footed can be pretty good for running around, but value of running around drops later in game. So if you picked fleet footed, you’re stuck with road runner instead of say, great pain resistance, which is now totally inaccessible.
Additionally, every (mediocre or bad) trait would need to define some affinity to keep some balance. This would require extra work, possibly a lot of it. If not done, we’d have more no-brainers and useless traits than now.
Overall could be pretty good, but needs adjustments.

Trait affinity could work better if it replaced thresholds.

I really like the idea of using having perception affect vision at night.

I’m glad some of my concerns aren’t limited to just myself.

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond, I greatly appreciate it.

i second the perception night vision thing

all in all , what you said is true , if you dont choose certain traits at game start , say pain resistant , the upgrades of said trait and the trait itself are now locked and cannot be gotten from mutation
its sad , really

neat. i feel like we should have less exclusivity

because skills and professions are a good example of QoL picks that ‘gimp’ the minmaxxing of a player

And we are not ‘penalizing’ a player for not abusing the loopholes.

the players who dont abuse the system experience no malus other than minmaxxers showing off potential for abuse.

like a dwarven atom smasher. you arent punished for not using it