First off let's make it clear : I love the game and how it's growing. But there's something that's been bugging me since the beta : As a gamer who works 40 hours a week, has a girlfriend and many things to do in a week, it is often hard to have a gaming session that's longer than 45-60 minutes. And for Sea of Thieves, 45-60 minutes is barely enough to accomplish anything, since you have to :
- Find a group of like-minded players, or go solo (which slows you down) (5-10 minutes)
- Gather a bunch of resources, because you never know what you might run into (5 minutes)
- Rotate through a bunch of voyages until you find one that is worth the small amount of time you have (5 minutes)
- Get to your voyage's island(s) (5-10 minutes)
- Find and gather whatever you have to (15-25 minutes, depending on voyage)
- Bring it back to an outpost (5 minutes)
These are very rough estimates of the time required for each activity (I'd go and find the right numbers, but I don't have the time to!), but as you can see the best case scenario still requires about 40 minutes, and the worst case scenario requires a whole hour. All of that for a single voyage that you might lose completely to other players.
The problem here, is that it takes way too long to get started. If you are playing many hours, that's fine : you do the first two steps only once for multiple voyages. But if I was planning to play during lunch time, I'll probably just play something else since I know my time investment isn't worth it.
To be clear : the objective is not to speed up progression. It's to either
- Shorten the game loop, allowing players to get more done in a "short" time-window of 30 to 60 minutes
- Provide game loops that are shorter and less rewarding than the current existing game loop.
I think there are multiple ways to fix this. Here are some ideas :
- Lessen the time required to gather resources. If I can keep some of my resources between sessions, I could save time on the tedious search of resources at the start of every game. This would only affect the start resources when you first spawn : You would still start from scratch after being sunk.
- Make it easier to have the voyage you want : When buying voyages, there could be an indication of how long that voyage will last for. For example, you would have one short voyage that requires you to go to one or two islands, a medium one that has maybe 4-5 islands, and a longer one with multiple chapters.
- Create a new activity that doesn't require you to leave the outpost. Pirates spent a lot of time at sea, but also quite a lot on land pillaging cities, taverns, playing poker, etc. This might not fit in with the creative direction in the case that SoT pirates are meant to do almost everything out at sea, but the idea is still worth a thought.
- It should be possible to advance a Trading company by doing shorter activities. Already, a step in the right direction was taken with weekly events like the skeleton thrones event. During that event, a solo player could easily do some thrones to get doubloons, then allowing him to advance in the trading company of his choice. This is good, but not enough : Many of these commendations require a lot of time, organization, and crew members.
- Implement a new mechanic allowing crews to sail faster. If there was a risk-reward mechanic that allowed more experienced players to sail the seas faster with some sort of extra risk, it could mitigate the short play-time issue. This would also have a potentially positive impact on ship chases.
TL;DR : What I'm asking for is the ability to play a little bit of Sea of Thieves everyday and get even more invested in it. Without this, players like me end up choosing other, shorter games, while SoT slowly drifts away from their "games they are currently playing" list.
Edit 1 : I believe this suggestion is not about "catering to casuals" or "people who don't like the game enough to invest time in it". This is about making Sea of thieves a habit. Look at all the addictive games out there. They ALL have a short game loop for when a core player doesn't have a lot of time. World of Warcraft has daily quests and short instances, League of Legends has bot matches, Overwatch has quick matches. All of these provide some sort of reward, without being the most efficient way to do something.
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