25 days ago - Neon Sirius - Direct link
Hi Nomads!

Now that many of the new features and changes have been revealed (though as you will soon see, it’s not quite the last of it), we feel much more confident talking more about and giving you more insight into this new direction for the game.

This week’s devblog will be all about the upcoming Base Building & Packing changes, and also an extension of our very first post back in early April. Now that there’s so much more information about the next season out, we feel like it’s a really good time to get into some of the more drastic changes and making sure we are keeping you in the loop in regard to our vision for the game, the approach we’ve chosen for this new season and generally the direction the game will be taking for the future.

As we talked about before, some of these changes come from a very simple place: many previous systems clash with our vision for Season 5, and that can mean we either disable them temporarily, or rework them entirely if they don’t work with this new direction.

Season 5 in many ways is intended to have very lean gameplay experiences, no unnecessary stuff, even if they are things that back in the day took us massive amounts of effort to implement - if they don’t work with the new season, they shouldn’t be in the game at all. Everything has defined intentions and purposes and in many cases, is re-designed from the ground up when needed.

This also means that for our S5 testing phase and release, we won’t be immediately releasing everything, every map, with every new POI and mobs, etc. we’re gonna start with the content we feel the most comfortable about, and see how it plays out in real scenarios with real players.
We’re players too, but there’s obviously not enough devs for playtesting to be at the scale the game is designed to be played, so seeing how you play with it in the public tests is still something we’re looking forward to and something that will provide us with massive amounts of invaluable feedback.
Afterwards, the plan is to rapidly drop more and more content through Season 5, as well as rapidly iterating and balancing whenever we see it’s not working how we want it to work.

With all that said, let’s get into the main topic of this devblog - Base Building, PVP balance for bases, and how these base building changes play into the removal of lobby mechanic.

Base Building & Lobby
First thing we talked about when it came to PVE oases was quite simple: they are not meant to be a lobby, because we don’t think the lobby mechanic fit the game at all anymore.
PVE oases come with many threats, constant sandstorms roam the map and destroy unsupported structures and abandoned Walkers and stations over the oasis. Bases are more than convenience, they are a big requirement for safekeeping Walkers and other belongings from the weather, hostile creatures and hostile players. Everything not built on properly supported structures is going to decay naturally, if it’s not first destroyed by these roaming sandstorms and other weather events.

The base building changes we’re getting into are not only implemented to counteract the weather balance and generally clean up maps now that everything is something physical in the world, but rather they are now a much bigger part of the new Last Oasis, mainly because there’s always been a major issue with the pace of gameplay in LO.

In most survival games, there’s a sort of natural pace; there are moments of intensity, and moments of peace where you can relax and do things normally in your base or collect common resources in peaceful areas.
In Last Oasis, you don’t have that most of the time, there is a weird contrast in that regard. Most of the time you can even be chilling on your Walker, but somewhere in the screen there is a timer ticking down letting you know that maybe the oasis is about to burn, or that it will be gone soon and you need to be very prepared and careful, or decaying structures, or just straight up a player ganking you already because you got distracted for a minute or two.

That last example is very much part of playing a PVP game, but we don’t think it should happen 100% of the time, at any time, anywhere.
We think some places in the world should be safe, that you should be able to have moments of peace and quiet that aren’t immediately interrupted. Initially, the lobby was meant to be that, but it clearly didn’t work out for a myriad of reasons we already explored - among them and related to our changes to base building, there’s just no homely feeling about a bunch of UI, a lot of icons for Walkers and maps, etc.

Ever since our first days developing and playing Last Oasis, and even more now that we’ve changed so much of it and we get to playtest it internally, we always felt there was this “homely” feeling missing from LO, and that can’t be replaced by abstract, intangible things like the lobby (even if they look like amazing ideas in theory, which is one of the reasons we stuck with it for so long). There is very little fun in that, very little interactions you can have (even simple stuff like managing inventory of Walkers, or checking packed bases, that kind of thing). There is no fun in escaping from great dangers, for example, and suddenly getting thrown into some UI where you just see some Walker icons, other map icons, and it’s all interactions with a bunch of buttons.
That’s not fun.

And that is why one of the main goals for bases - whether they be very large, semi-permanent places you can call “home”, or temporary, nomadic settlements - to be somewhere you can build up to create peaceful areas to have that contrast in pacing that’s so important for us. Having this gameplay be just some UI is something that’s so far away from what we consider a good experience - for example, I (Neon), can say it’s so much more fun to have pretty much the same experience, but instead of dealing with all the UI stuff, it’s all happening entirely in the game world. And it’s not just very specific situations like getting away from danger into the safety of your base, it’s also something as simple as logging off for the night. When playtesting this myself, it felt so much better that the place I call “home” in-game is somewhere I can physically go to when logging off the game, instead of getting into this UI screen that was the lobby, I find it a lot of fun and full of more interactions to travel to my base, opening the gates that lead to where I keep my Dinghy, it just feels so much more real and fun compared to old LO.

Base Building & PVP Balance
While our current vision for Last Oasis is very much PVE focused, the PVP continues to be a major part of the game, but our approach is quite different from last time in this regard.

PVP is a core part of Last Oasis, and it will never stop being a core part of the game, but PVP is no longer meant to be the core gameplay of Last Oasis (meaning, the only thing “worth doing”, or the thing that everything leads to eventually).

We want combat with other players to be part of the emergent gameplay aspect of the game, and base building changes are one major step towards achieving a better balanced pace of gameplay for PVP and PVE.

Last Oasis always struggled trying to keep a balance where it remained a full loot PvP game, but it was also not extremely harsh, and that’s a compromise that was very difficult to maintain with some of our mechanics, especially things like the lobby.
PVE oases not only allow us to make the safe parts safer - they paradoxically also allow us to make the PVP parts more ruthless. Bases in PVE regions for quick recovery from defeats. On the other hand, PVP oases are providing the player a choice on whether they want to expose themselves to usually pretty brutal PVP, or not. We expect that eventually most players will base off near PVE oases, but for the most part will play around and from PVP oases - that is how it’s balanced to be, and how we’ll continue to iterate to improve it to achieve a properly balanced pace of exciting PVP situations, and moments of tranquility.

We want these moments of intensity, whether you’re fighting difficult PVE threats, or more emergent situations like facing off against other players, to be very intense and always a fun experience, but we also want there to be moments of peace and quiet that aren’t immediately interrupted.

Practically speaking, what this means is that for the early stages of PVP battles you need mid-tier structures to really get that protection against attacks from hostile players, whereas low-tier bases are mostly meant to protect against PVE threats and weather events.

To allow storing walkers inside of bases, many new basebuilding pieces will be introduced in Season 5, in particular hangar walls, ceilings, and gates, allowing you to build comfy little places for your Walkers. Furthermore, the base building system has been overhauled to finally allow much more freedom in vertical building.

Since we’re on the topic of bases, we’d also like to address a point of confusion regarding last devblog and schematics balance - and that’s related to balance and quality of life.
Many schematics in the game are meant to be very rare, and very valuable.
What this means is that building a giant clay or cement fortress will take much longer than it used to, now that it’s not simply unlocking the technology and then pouring resources into it.
What it doesn’t mean is that the majority of essential schematics will be dropping as a single consumable, but rather as several per loot drop.

Most schematics that are practically impossible to live without will be available in moderate quantities and at common POI, but as you progress and advance to higher tier buildables, Walkers, base parts, etc. more advanced versions of those schematics will become rarer and more valuable. For example, it will be moderately easy to arrive at an oasis and construct early wood and sand-based structures as temporary refuge, but much more difficult to achieve the same using clay and cement structures.

Base Building & Packing
For our first version of the public test, we have been heavily considering the removal of the packing mechanic. There are many reasons why we think that’s a good idea, but before I get into that, I want to say once again that the promise me made back in May is still very much in our minds when we talk about these changes internally: There is undoubtedly other solutions that are far less drastic than complete removal of the mechanic, and we want to hear these. We want to know more points of view on how packing benefits the game overall, so, if you have suggestions, let us know.

With that said, right now we see the possibility of removing the packing mechanic as a good thing, because it fits the balance and approach of the new season perfectly. Right now, we see the game heading in a much more roguelite direction, blended with the survival and open world mmo aspects that it already has, and we really like an experience like that.

Surviving needs you to invest in an area, you can’t bring everything with you and be completely self-sufficient. You go out in what’s essentially an expedition out of the comforts of your base - whether it’s in a PVE tile or a PVP map doesn’t matter - and you bring with you what you need, water, weapons and tools, extra armor sets, some materials for either a temporary base to protect against the weather or some small initial production stations for crafting ammo and other necessities.
You can stay there for as long as you can, or rather for as long as you survive there, and if you feel like you’ve accomplished what you went to do, you find a path through the sandstorms, and return home with your loot.
There are no certainties that you will return with more than you brought, or that you will return at all, and that is very much where this rogueliteness aspect comes from.

With that kind of gameplay in mind, packing comes into heavy scrutiny from us, both in terms of balance, and what it brings to the new design.
Whereas before it felt very nomadic to have the ability to travel somewhere new and basically plop down a whole massive base wherever you wanted to settle, right now we’re not very happy with that concept. From our point of view of the new season, to have the necessity of building temporary settlements (that eventually need to be abandoned if you don’t stay in that area for long) fits the nomadic aspect of the game a lot more, while also helping the balance and design stay in check.

There’s lots of small changes, and many larger changes that are all meant to work together to transform the game into an entirely new version of itself. We know that for many, this means some things that were once considered core parts of LO, those things not being in the game anymore or being completely changed to fit this new approach, it may not sound great, and that’s okay.
We have no doubt that for some (especially our oldest, veteran players of the game, the ones who participated during the alpha, the beta waves, and also including the Early Access peeps), when they launch Season 5 public testing and they start their journey in a new oasis, they will not feel like they are playing Last Oasis anymore. And we can very confidently say if you feel that way, that is a good thing, that’s perfectly okay, the game is changing completely, and if when playing it you could do the same things as you did during Season 4 or earlier seasons, and have the same results, then we wouldn’t be doing a good job.

For us, now that we are getting to the point where we can see these changes realized and can playtest them internally as a full game, instead of testing individual parts of the update, we think it looks amazing, and we can’t wait to have more people playing it, testing the new version of the game, and most importantly letting us know whether we’re achieving a much better Last Oasis, with the fresh, fun, completely new experience that we ourselves see when we boot up the internal testing client.

A final decision will be made during the beta test and, regardless of which option we end up deciding for the official realm, private realms will have the option to turn these individual features on and off as wanted. As mentioned before, for us, Season 5 is a massive change in direction - if you want “LO Classic”, private realms have the ability to turn off most of these changes.

— Neon






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