I think we can all agree that the morale mechanics in Cataclysm are handled pretty awkwardly. No matter what we do, representing something as nuanced and complex as mood with a single quantitative value will be at least a little bit unrealistic, but I certainly think we could do better than we’re doing now.
The biggest problem I see is the way morale modifiers stack, both positive and negative. Standing out in the rain for too long results in crushing depression… but then you can binge on junk food and you’re all better. If you binge on junk food when your mood is neutral, you end up with a sugar high that rivals some drug highs. As I see it, this is a problem.
I propose two changes:
Collapse different morale modifiers of the same type into one modifier. For example, instead of having separate “enjoyed potato chips” and “enjoyed chocolate bar”, you would have a single “enjoyed junk food” modifier, or even just an “enjoyed food” modifier. Similarly, reading five different boring textbooks should not make you bored for five different reasons – you’re just bored from reading stuffy books.
Logarithmically diminish the returns on each individual morale modifier. Snacking on some junk food should give you a moderate, short-term boost to morale, but binging on junk food should not result in intense euphoria. Similarly, after standing out in the rain for ten minutes without any rain gear on, you should be soaked through. Staying out in the rain for another hour shouldn’t lower your morale all that much further. To model this, we take the sum of the enjoyability (i.e. what is, under the current system, the final morale modifier) and pass it through a logarithmic function to get the final morale modifier. When further stimulus is introduced (e.g. you get wetter or eat more junk food) the enjoyability is incremented, not the final result of the morale modifier. We can adjust the coefficient of the logarithmic function to more heavily or more lightly weight a given type of morale modifier (e.g. junk food or coldness and wetness).
Different types of morale modifiers might also wear off at different rates. Again, eating junk food ought to afford a short-term morale boost, but shouldn’t last all day. Eating a hearty and healthy meal might grant a longer-term morale bonus (thus providing one possible reason to put junk food morale modifiers into their own category).
What do you guys think? Good idea? Bad idea? OK idea, but not as good as some other idea?
I think that the morale system is mostly fine (in that it isn’t obviously broken in any way and it’s already implemented) but it is a system that is easily abused (mostly for the reasons you discussed).
I can’t think of a better system, per se, but diminishing returns on similar morale-affecting items would be great. As you’ve pointed out, being perpetually happy is as simple as repeatedly consuming ‘pleasing’ things until you’re over the moon.
Specifically, I think that alcohol is something that many, many players abuse for infinite morale. There was a forum thread very recently that basically read ‘I’ve been abusing alcohol. Now the game’s trying to stop me in the only way it knows how, with withdraw symptoms and negative morale. How do I keep abusing the game system so that I don’t have to deal with this?’
My opinion has always been let’s just nerf alcohol joy and portions, but something like what you’ve proposed would also inhibit this sort of exploitative behavior. It does also sound like a fair bit of work, though.
It was less that I was abusing alcohol for infinite morale - though that was a nice bonus. I was making the character an alcoholic because alcoholic former soldier was the character idea i was going for regardless. The real issue wasn’t numbers but duration, and how that interacts with batch crafting. If it automatically consumed alcohol so focus wouldn’t decay too much during crafting, then I wouldn’t be complaining.
That being said, categorizing and logarithmically applying morale bonuses/penalties does sound like a good idea. Though I also think that some morale boosts (reading books for instance) should probably have longer duration. And there should probably be a few more ways to gain morale if catagories are collapsed. Like a deck of cards item, which would give a small boost, and probably be in the same category as the game watch.
It feels good to watch your skill xp chunk upwards after crafting a single item. Also, a bit of extra strength is useful when trying to carry loot to the safe place where you parked your foldable scavenging cart.
I didn’t say anything about liking it or disliking it; I just said that it was awkward. If we have to agree to disagree that “boo hoo I got wet; what’s the point of fighting” is a little awkward for a battle-hardened veteran of Tel Megiddo, then so be it, but I sure hope we won’t have to!
I think the main thing would just be to condense similar morale types into “had a good meal”, “was uncomfortable”, etc. and then cap particular morale buffs… If extra coding was really needed, maybe make the buff last a bit longer if you go over the cap. The logarithmic falloff is just a fancier way of making a cap.
While I agree that some morale should be nerfed because it’s the apocalypse if I was in a a survival situation I and got caught on a rain I wouldn’t be pissed of to the point I need to use 2 gallons of heroin just to go from cripling depresion to angry with the life
I’m not saying that morale should be nerfed or buffed so much as I’m saying that it should be balanced. As things currently are, being wet makes you way too miserable and binge eating makes you way too happy. Initially I saw these two cases as indicative of a larger problem, but based on Kevin’s remarks I think the problem is probably more diffuse than I thought. If there already is a cap on morale penalties for being wet, then it’s way higher (lower? further negative, I mean) than it ought to be. I can maybe see a “Hates Being Wet” disadvantage (possibly acquirable as a negative side effect of feline mutations!) that would make morale penalties for wetness behave as they currently do, but for normal characters they should NOT behave the way they currently do.
As a side note, I think some of the messages associated with morale should be changed. “What’s the point of fighting?” is a particularly egregious example, especially in contexts where the only reason your morale is low is because you’re cold and wet. The point of fighting is not dying, you dolt!
For a replacement line, I’d suggest “You’re too miserable to fight effectively.” This makes more sense – if I were soaked and shivering, I’d be miserable. Certainly not so miserable that I’d be questioning why I’m fighting for my life, but miserable. Similarly, “What’s the point of studying?” could be replaced with “You’re too miserable to focus on studying.”
As for flat caps vs. logarithmic fallof: the main reason I think logarithmic falloff would be better is because it would indicate its nature more intuitively to the player. It might be more complex under the hood, but in practice, it should be pretty easy for players to notice that the higher they get, the more drugs are required to continue to go higher. A flat cap is much more opaque, since until you’ve reached it, it might as well not even be there.
Another specific example of The Jank That Is Morale that I experienced recently.
I was doing the lab challenge, and had broken an arm. I had fortified a living quarters area and was resting there to heal. Food supplies were running low, so I brought myself from famished to full with something profoundly unappetizing (I don’t remember what it was). Naturally, this tanked my morale. I did have a novel on hand, though, so I read that to get my morale up, and managed to get my morale positive again. I then read some textbooks, but was interrupted when my morale buff from the novel wore off, making me too depressed to study. I read the novel again to bring my morale back up, and then read some more of the textbook before being interrupted again. I alternated beteween the novel and the textbook this way until I was tired, and then slept.
Now, the way I play, alternating between novels and textbooks is pretty normal, and I don’t really see a problem with that. What was weird was just how far my morale oscillated. It was probably the combination of boredom from the textbook and disgust from the food that brought my morale so low. We’ve already established that food morale is especially wonky, but the situation gave me another idea.
What if positive and negative morale stimuli were allowed to occupy the same category, thereby cancelling each other out? What if reading the novel made first removed the morale penalty for being bored of reading the textbook before starting to add its bonus? For food, this means that tasty food could be used to get rid of the taste of bad food.
Maybe some stimuli could mitigate negative morale, but do not grant positive morale. For example, clean water might have an enjoyability rating of 0, but it could possibly be used to wash away bad flavors from the mouth, raising food morale toward zero.
I think the list of morale being changed is less important than the what makes your toon happy/sad.
I like a list of what does what. I like to know why my toon is happy/sad. I like this to know what I have to do in order to correct a problem. You just got run over by a mack truck. Sure my toon is now unhappy. I save the game and load up a month later and have no clue as why they are unhappy. Then I can’t fix the problem.
Purely example sake. The flip side to this argument is also a problem. Just eat lots of candy to feel better. But you never get fat or thin. Implement the fat/thin system like GTA San Andreas
We already have treadmills and other crap to exercise.