Nutritional System Feedback and Grievances

This is more or less a Feedback post in two parts. The first part is my take on the new Nutritional system: What it does right but also where it falls overwhelmingly short. The second is more or less me whining at the devs, so I do apologise if I do come off as annoying, but this is an issue that I’m very passionate about, and I do my whining out of love.

Nutrition
I’d like to preface this by stating that a nutrition system was necessary. I’m not part of the crowd that wishes they could go back to the “Good old days of Township” where players didn’t have to worry about shoving hundreds of Pumpkin Chunks or even the dreaded cooked Apple Slices into their gobs.
My issue lies with the execution of the Nutritional system from both a realism and gameplay point of view.

Firstly, we have realism. This is quite a simple issue, at least for me. Why are players punished with fullness for eating 4 Pumpkin Chunks, but rewarded with low fullness and large nutritional gain when they throw those same 4 Pumpkin Chunks into a Cauldron of boiling water? That does not make sense on any realistic level, and the same issue is present with eating every other raw ingredient vs throwing it into water.
That isn’t how nutrition works. A good nutrition system would be tracking what the player eats, and then rewarding them based on how varied and nutritious it is. Punishing a player for eating a single Pumpkin Chunk is ridiculous.

Secondly, we have the nutrition system from a gameplay perspective. This more or less leads me onto my general grievances with the game, so I’ll try to keep this brief.
New players are not told anything about this system. They are not taught what the fullness bar is, and they are not told how to combat nutrition and survive.
The current nutritional system is just an annoyance to older players, and a massive and horrible challenge to overcome to new players. Neither party benefits here.

Grievances
This whole issue represents my biggest grievance with all of Township (and ultimately the developers).
Far too much of the “teaching” part of the game is still left to the community, despite this being a horrible design choice.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore that Township is lucky enough to have such an awesome Community that has been able to fill in the role of “tutorial”, but like I have stated in some of my previous Feedback posts, that isn’t a guaranteed way of teaching. The developers have far too much reliance on this Community, and we have already seen how this plays out badly.

The introduction of Private Servers, and allowing every Supporter to own a private server is partly the cause of this issue, as players are no longer forced onto the Public Servers to be taught how to play. This, alongside the lack of any meaningful tutorial, are the main contributing factor as to why so many new players struggle.

The worst part about this whole situation is that there is a perfectly good case study of all of Township’s pitfalls in game design right here!
This video perfectly shows how two completely new players struggle with the whole game, including the food system. They even have to die to regain their hunger because they don’t understand, and even that was taken away from us! You can no longer die to regain your nutrition?! In what world was this a good idea? You guys have had a fantastic case study of these issues, and yet you did a complete 180 and decided to make it overwhelmingly difficult for new players?

All of the issues Township has in terms of early game progression are issues lack of foresight as to the implications introducing a half-baked system such as the Nutritional system will cause. If you’re not willing to introduce a new system without explanation, and having it rely on an update to the game that is not coming for over a month now, then it should not be released.

I feel like that is more on the level of food preparation and satisfaction with taste for what the player would be eating, but it wasn’t exactly called the “food satisfaction update”.

Yeah, as cool as it is to encourage players teaching new players, it’s stupid that there is no safety net in case that fails, even a building with a bunch of books that give basic knowledge would ease a lot of that burden and insure there is a dependable place for players to learn.

It’s a good idea in the world that the nutrition system is balanced and all working well, it makes sense you can’t cheese the system to get a full bar back, but it’s the cherry on top you put on after everything is perfected.

Yeah I feel like the nutrition (from what I’ve gathered) wasn’t really the right thing to add at this time, or at least it was done poorly enough that it just falls flat. It feels like something that gets added a lot later, at least after we have the lack of teaching to other players in, and after we get better cooking in the game, I mean shouldn’t we be able to cook things right before the is a system on what we eat? It feels like stews right now are just a stand in for full prepared complex meals that aren’t in the game yet, stews are held to this high standard like a lot went into them when in reality the reason people would prefer other food is because it’s inconvenient to carry stew as it doesn’t stack, not as much of an issue if you can stay satiated for long enough to come back for another meal after a long trip, but it’s still weird that stews are treated so specially (as you mentioned) when they aren’t hard to make, just inconvenient.

All that being said I’m probably wrong on plenty of thing since I haven’t played the game in a while, though I still remember how shallow cooking was and how much it felt forced.

Edit: Also that video was a good watch, really cool seeing the first time impressions. I could see players so easily being stubborn and saying the game is bad, just because it failed to explain the hunger mechanic.

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Hey there,

Firstly, none of us on the team factors the way the community teaches itself to be the way to learn how to play. We tread on keeping things obscure because we’re keen to see how people discover things themselves. The mid-end game of A Township Tale is going to demand some observational skills for players to understand contextual puzzles for things like dungeons and trials. As we make game mechanics, we opt for minimal tutorializing to see if people can be acclimated to this level of thinking.
I (personally, not necessarily the team), don’t particularly like how people info dump on new players. It causes people’s eyes to glaze over what could be important clues to how new systems can work.

That being said, much of the ‘meta’ portions of the game will be getting its place in the tutorial. It doesn’t make sense for us to spend any effort on that the moment a system is released though. We gauge responses to see what changes we’d like to make before spending time making an in-depth tutorial.

The recent change that meant players kept their nutrition on death is there to make sure players dealt with problems using the game’s mechanics.As opposed to relying on resetting factors to ignore their problems. The idea of death being a better alternative than eating undermines portions of the game, and as such is bad design.

You seem to be under the impression that we don’t think about what we do, when it’s our lives and livelihood, and it’s been that way for the last 4 years. There is no aspect of the nutrition system that relies on the Forest update. That’s why we released it before the update. We always work on systems first, and content later, because there is no point adding things to a game if it’s not there to solve a problem. Sometimes we have a system that isn’t giving us any flexibility to provide varied solutions, and that’s when a system change like nutrition takes form.

The underlying point you make about the starting experience for players needing more guidance is valid, and we will address it. We’ll see if we can slot in some time soon since it’s been a while since we’ve evolved the tutorial. It will be more rigid as a result, very hand-holdy, and will assuredly give new players less attention spawn to the game world. But that’s a problem they’ll have to overcome throughout the duration of the main game.

It’s disheartening that you think we’re so clueless, but I appreciate your passion. And thanks for being so active on here and across the various places ATT gets mentioned.

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I don’t think you guys are clueless by any stretch, I simply feel that some of the changes that are made are meant to combat late game players, but have the effect of making the game much harder for new players, and I didn’t really mention that. I trust your judgement on the majority of issues the game faces, but this is one we simply disagree on.

It is good to hear that you do plan to expand on the tutorial, which is much needed. Of course I understand it’s an issue of slotting that into your schedule, but it’s my opinion that when a new system is introduced, that it is necessary to have some explanation in game.

Your point about the mid-end game challenges is very interesting to me, but I disagree that new players should be forced to learn through the “observation” of dying because they’re too full to eat anything. I’m sure there are other examples where requiring some initiative from players benefits the game, but they escape me right now. It’s my opinion that early game, crucial mechanics should be taught to new players, as it’s probably better to sacrifice a bit of that possible acclimation for a generally better experience.

At the end of the day, I appreciate you replying.

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The new nutrition system was kinda jarring at first but it’s taking some getting used to and full out experimenting to see what does what now. It’s an adventure on it’s own to see what can fill you up and also what buffs you get or how strong they are. I feel as if they know what they are doing with this and it will even out as the game progresses. To a newbie it does seem quite confusing as every time one comes up to me he can’t eat and is dying, I give him the quick rundown of what we know and pop a gourd to see if I can fill him up. I just see this as a system in place that we just aren’t used to yet.

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A new player is never going to be able to get used to a system… I’m not speaking from an experienced player’s view (except for the part about how nutrition actually works), I’m speaking from a new players and how I’ve heard them deal with the system.

I’m completely fine with the system, despite it not making sense in a few areas, but the way it has been introduced is not elegant.

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Yeah I really like the idea of the game being taught intuitively when it can be, but the stuff that kills players that are ignorant of it gotta be taught.

Also for intuitive teaching the game world needs to work on clear logic, (talking about the link Fyre posted) while it’s a bit weird to cook your meat with the fire of a torch, it should be most likely rewarded in a way that pushes players to use camp fires to cook, but not instantly burn the food, which I’m kind of confused about why it happened in that video.

Maybe one way cooking could be improved in both being intuitive and maybe a bit harder to use. Have it so cooking gives more feedback where you can see parts of the meat start to darken as it cooks till it all becomes cooked, and if you want the cooking to be more interesting you could also make it so you have to evenly cook it. Either way it would help a lot if you got more feedback that what you are doing is cooking it instead of it looking like it might just smoke coming off of it which can be construed as either it cooking or it being burned while they wait to see if what they are doing is right or wrong when something changes with the meat.

Not sure if it would work in practice, but I feel like it would give more needed feedback.

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Not sure that making cooking harder would help. Part of the long term goals is to increase the viability of cooking.

There’s definitely a tough balance in that hunger/nutrition has the same expectations on new players as it does long-term players. This is pretty standard for survival games, where you start it rough until you’ve built up a groove to counter that threat to your life. It’s definitely less standard for RPGs, which tend to make things borderline impossible to lose, and ramp up the difficulty from there.

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Yeah that was more of a side comment on making cooking something need more attention (flipping it to cook it evenly) the main point there was the feedback that the food is actually cooking, I might make it it’s own idea post with pictures.

Edit: I made the idea Better cooking/roasting feedback

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I 100% agree that most game developers point a firehose of information at a new player’s face as soon as they get in a game, and that is monumentally boring. When you get a new game, you have to go through a mountain of tutorial before you can get into anything fun. That is one thing that ATT avoids pretty well. I do think the whole tutorial island thing could be removed, and just bake the tutorial into the actual world, but the depth of the tutorial is good. I think food/cooking should be included in it ultimately, but it’s alpha, and cooking isn’t done, so why would they waste time putting it in the tutorial? If you are in alpha expecting the tutorial to be perfect, your expectations are insane and you shouldn’t play alphas. The guys in that video were right, they DO need to look some stuff up. If you get in on an alpha, you should expect to have to do some googling to figure some things out. You should also expect that not every new feature will be implemented with “foresight” even considered. Alphas are a time for devs to go “hey this might be a cool idea, let’s see what it’s like!” and then we see what it’s like. If you don’t like it, sure give feedback, but if you’re concerned about foresight, you’re doing the alpha wrong. Devs need to be free to implement as they please and experiment during an alpha or beta.

To the point of nutrition changes: I like them. They’re a step toward what I think the devs are going for. That said, since the update, I have made NO changes to the things I eat, only to the timing. I always eat cooked sprigull chunks exclusively, but now I just eat them when I have 1 bar of nutrition. Is that a bad thing? I don’t actually think so. For purposes of just keeping your hunger above the threshold, I think you should just have to eat some kind of cooked food. I think eventually they’ll want to make cooking a real viable skill with awesome benefits, but it’s not there yet, and that’s totally cool. I’ll cook a ton of different things once it’s implemented, but for now, spriggull chunks.

In consideration of realism, I would say it doesn’t matter. Games are not meant to be a mirror of real life. I do not want to have to think about how much vitamin C I’m getting in a video game. I don’t want to go get an MMR vaccine and then clip my fingernails in a game. Complaining about the realism of a system is about the same as saying “I’m so mad that my character doesn’t need to sleep for 30% of my playtime!” What matters is that the ideas are cohesive and make sense within the context of the world created. So, eating a raw pumpkin chunk vs eating a cooked one giving you different levels of fullness might not make a ton of sense in real life, but it can make sense within the context of the game world. Not because it necessarily MAKES a ton of sense, but just because that’s the way it is. You could argue the mechanics make it less fun (though I wouldn’t) but arguing for realism is really missing the point, especially for a game where the characters literally have no legs. You can suspend disbelief that the player characters take fall damage even though they never hit the ground because they’re constantly floating, but not that a cooked food does more for you than an uncooked one? Come on, now.

That said, I agree that thinking of it as a satisfaction bar is a better way to look at it, if you’re hung up on the realism. Instead of thinking of the yellow bar as “hunger level,” think of it as “satisfaction level” and then instead of the 5 bars of nutrition, think of THOSE as “fullness” instead. The system will make more logical sense in your brain, but will still be the same system. The reality is that, within the game, nothing actually says “this bar is your hunger. This bar is your nutrition.” You only know that after reading forums and wikis and such. In game, you just have a yellow bar that drops while you don’t eat food. What is it? I don’t know; decide for yourself. It makes sense that you could think of it as hunger, but it makes more sense that you would consider it satisfaction. And thinking of the nutrition meter as fullness reinforces that idea, because you can eat keep eating if your satisfaction bar is full, but you can’t keep eating if you have 5 fullness ticks.

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I feel that you can only argue that a tutorial isn’t necessary in a Pre-Alpha if the game has zero tutorial. Township is at a half point between having a no tutorial or having one. If you are going to include a Tutorial, then it should be at least comprehensive and teach the most important aspects, otherwise there is no point having it. I simply do not believe that immersion and enjoyment should be broken because the existing tutorial is not up to standard, and frankly isn’t particularly useful.

On your topic of Alphas… I completely disagree on the subject of Township. The developers are attempting to build a full game here, not mess around with mechanics. It is simply in an “alpha” state (technically pre-alpha, but frankly I find it very hard to believe that this game is still in pre-alpha by my standards) because the game is not in a near finished state. There is so much more content that will be added, thus it is not in Beta.

Secondly, if you’re only eating Spriggull Meat then the new system isn’t working correctly. You can survive perfectly well on infinite chunks of meat, which the devs wanted to stop, and thus shows one of the issues with the system. This isn’t an argument that I can get behind.

The reason I brought up the aspect of “realism” is because the developers purposefully talked about how they were aiming for a more realistic food system involving “nutrition” and “fullness”. This is another case where you either choose realism or don’t, and I’d say that a more realistic system would be more beneficial, as well as make more sense. I’m not just saying my idea of the nutrition system is good because it’s realistic, I believe it’s good because it makes more sense, and just happens to be more realistic. I simply believe that you shouldn’t be punished for eating one piece of one food, I believe you should be punished for not eating a variety, just like in real life with how our real nutrition works.

Finally… I really don’t understand what you’re talking about when regarding the two bars. The solid yellow line is Nutrition, and the 5 pips are Fullness.

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You’re straw manning the argument, no one was saying there needs to be vitamin C, nor real world infections nor a sleep system (needing to sleep in real life and logging out kind of takes it place in this game and a lot of others that are multiplayer).

You’re close to right when you mention consistency, the game has to follow internal realism but it also has to follow realism that is connected to what it already has, if there is a hunger system you eat to fill it, you don’t get sustenance by happy feels from eating something nice unless you really want to argue that should be lore, I think it’s more that the system for cooking is too basic so something cooked is a lot more than something not same with stew.

What is a problem with players being sustained by tasty things is that if you are teaching the players through the game world as the devs have said they want to, then you can’t make illogical things such as “more under prepared food = won’t feed you” sure eventually they will figure out what flawed logic the nutrition is based on, but when you base it off something from the real world (as the system of hunger is, which results in people assuming that more of it will be) then you make something intuitive, you let them use the information already in their heads to make contentions, though I do think this still needs a bit more time then it takes for players to join and starve to death right now.

That is just throwing out the baby with the bath water. At least you aren’t arguing “the game has magic it shouldn’t have any ties to realism at all”

That’s because the game more often than not treats the player to have legs than it doesn’t, the only aspects the player doesn’t have legs in is it being a target for other players or a distraction. And taking fall damage is something implemented for realism, it means that the lack of legs never feels like it’s even part of the lore because the game world doesn’t acknowledge it so the player don’t much notice it, it’s just a limitation VR technology that comes out to be very stylistic.

What I’m really saying is that on all levels except physical I have legs… Joking aside the game does treat players as having legs on a conceptual levels if it doesn’t on a physical level in combat and visuals, it does in traversing the world.

Sorry if I went off there, I just have a big pet peeve about people saying games don’t need realism when games obviously rely on it so much with only the most abstract games not doing so.

Also here is a cool video that talks about internal realism in games (mostly about magic systems) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYbl66iLRxk&t=1670s Not the most relevant but it’s where I get the term “Internal realism”.

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First, I would like to say, I realize this topic is a year old. Also, I am playing on the Quest 2. From an outsiders view, new to the game, and possibly an uncanny grasp of this game, i would like to say i feel you looked at this the wrong way. Realism, not sure what your issue is there, realism in virtual reality is what people want. If you eat 4 pumpkin chunks in real life, then you will be full with very little nourishment. If you make it into stew/soup then it will be less filling and more nutritious.
A good nutrition system would track what a player eats suggests what they should eat to counter bad foods or correct bad eating habits. So, being punished for eating a bland pumpkin chunk and being full but not nourished would be fair.

Common sense should be at play here. I get it, it’s a game. But it is a game meant to be played out like that with other people to survive and flourish, and prepare for a possible upcoming dangerous thing.
Combating nutrition and surviving. That is basically life. Eat right, exercise, rest every now and then. Think of it this way, if it seems like it something you could not do in real life, then you probably can’t do it in game.
You say lack of meaningful tutorial, 7 steps into it i made fire. Things are only as hard as you let them be. Many new players struggle because they come into ATT with the mentality of grab as much of everything as you can and hoard it or stash it. Then want every cheat and command because the don’t have the will to even try to figure something out.
The 2 guys in the video were a joke. Just think about it for just a second. If you and 5 to 7 people were dropped somewhere like that, with no instructions except to live and prosper. What would you do 1st?
Yes it’s a game, but don’t look at it that way. In real life you wouldn’t use a warriors hammer to nail something tiny. It could be just me but it is so simple and easy to play.
Again, not meant to hurt your feelings or anything.
Thanks