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Tool Durability


PhotriusPyrelus
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First, this is in discussions and not suggestions for a reason (of course, if the moderators feel differently, that's their prerogative).  I'm not saying anything should change, I may prefer it, but that's not my intent in making the thread.  While I would personally like to see durability as an 'industry standard' mechanic die a fiery death in the magma chambers of Kīlauea (along with RNG Critical Hits), I realize that's a pipe-dream, and the developers here have deliberate reasons to include it; at least I hope they do and they're not just doing it because that's what MineCraft did.  So...  what are those reasons?  I'm genuinely curious, because I don't understand it, and I would like to.

And let's nip the 'realism' argument in the bud right here; I'm not terribly interested in it, but if you were going to say that consider this: real tools last for years (decades, even) - even with consistent use - if you're not leaving them out in the elements to rust and rot.

What I am interested in are game-design arguments.  What does it add to the game?

On my view, it's just an additional resource tax on...anything the tool is used to do.  If I take a copper pick and hammer and I mine 300 regular nuggets of copper, I didn't actually make 1500 units of copper, I made 1340, because the pick cost 100 mining them, and the hammer lost 60% of its durability crushing the raw ore - that's an 10.6r% loss!  So why not just reduce the amount of copper gained, since that's the ultimate effect?  (and for the record, I have the same issue with durability in MMOs; it's just a tax, so reduce gold drops and avoid the tedium of visiting the repair NPC; and if you need a 'death penalty', deduct gold straight from the character's wallet or bank, like Diablo 2 did)

I'm very interested to hear from people who like the system on why exactly it is they like it, what it adds to their experience.  I completely understand the dopamine we get from crafting that very first tool.  It's such a satisfying experience to get that last nugget of copper go to your crucible, smelt, cast, wait (not so fun but meh), and then stick it on the end of a...well...stick.  I can see finally making that first bronze, then iron, then steel one being similarly rewarding.  What I don't understand is how it is rewarding to have to regularly craft replacements.

When tools are liberated from a durability system, it makes losing them to a bad death that much more painful.  Instead of "Meh, it was half-destroyed anyway" it's "Aw man, that was my lucky prospecting pick, now I gotta make another one."  It opens the door for more meaningful modifications or enhancements in the future, too, like MineCraft's enchanting.  I was extremely selective with enchanting before Mending was added because what was the point?  It was going to break and I'd have to do it all over again.

I want to be clear that I'm only talking about tools (and weapons), not armour.  Armour's whole purpose is to protect the wearer from injury by absorbing the punishment itself...  though, I'd still rather see something a little more interesting than a magical durability bar that completely destroys the item when it's exhausted, but that's straying dangerously close to suggestion talk.  Now that I think about it, I'm not 100% sure how clothes lose condition in the game.  If they only get damaged when you're attacked, that's reasonable, but if they wear out in a matter of weeks of normal wear, well that's just silly, too.  As I write this, I'm wearing a t-shirt I've had for...probably 25 years.  ...I feel so old.  ;_;

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6 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

as an 'industry standard' mechanic die a fiery death in the magma chambers of Kīlauea (along with RNG Critical Hits),

I don't need to read any further. Whatever it is you're going to say after that, I wholeheartedly support it. Especially the point about Critical Hits.

Edited by Omega Haxors
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7 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

real tools last for years (decades, even) - even with consistent use - if you're not leaving them out in the elements to rust and rot.

Well, yes and no. Depends on the tool, if it was a high quality tool in the beginning or not, how you use it, maintain it, clean it, store it, what condition you want or need it to be in for the task and if you have good options to repair it if necessary. Let's just say I managed to break even a welder's hammer. ;)

7 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

As I write this, I'm wearing a t-shirt I've had for...probably 25 years.

And you've worn it while doing what? If you had the same lifestyle the character in the game has, I'm sure that T-shirt would look a little different now.

7 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

What I am interested in are game-design arguments.  What does it add to the game?

- It gives you a reason to do more - more of mining and crafting and everything involved like exploring for new deposits, and if you like those things, it's great. Just making one set of tools/weapons and having it for the rest of the game, and everything needed for it is done forever? Pretty boring. You do it and then it's over. That works only in games where the focus is on other things.

- It gives you another reason to get better tools, because they last longer, so getting a steel axe is way more satisfying and exciting if it is not only faster, but also lasts a lot longer than for example a flint axe.

- It adds the aspect of having to know your tools and planning ahead and making sure you have enough for the things you want to do. It adds another option to fail, if you don't bring enough pickaxes for a long trip to get an inventory full of chalk, for example. That makes it more satisfying if you brought just the right type and number of tools. And again, it makes better tools more interesting, because you might just need one inventory space for a certain steel tool while you would have needed to block several slots with the same tool in copper.

Adding the option to be able to repair tools might be nice though, especially if you have to build a device for it or find a special component.

 

But if you play on your own server or singleplayer, you can set your tool durability to 400%, if you like that.

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9 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

What I am interested in are game-design arguments.  What does it add to the game?

 

I believe part of it would be to drive progression.

Imagine yourself playing Vintage Story. You just made yourself a set of copper tools. These tools never break. You can now mine rocks and pile up cobblestone walls - or heck, shape them into bricks, or quarry raw stone for building materials. You can saw wooden boards. You can scythe grass. You can chisel fancy blocks. You can craft a windmill.

You're done. Why would you continue progressing? Why bother looking for tin? Why bother learning how to smelt iron? Why bother digging up meteors and constructing cementation furnaces? Nah, just stick with the tools you have and build a fancy home base instead. Eventually, you might go and do the other things, the mining and prospecting and other metal tiers... but you'd do them because there was nothing else left to do. Not because you needed it. You might say: but you need better weapons and armor to fight the harder enemies underground. But that's not true. Because you have no reason to go underground. There's nothing that you need there. Maybe you'll go explore there, sometime. But not for progression. Rather, because you can, and because there's nothing else left to do.

Admittedly: that's an exaggerated picture. But at the end of the day, the fact that your tools break is a progression driver. You want something better than copper, because copper breaks quickly. By contrast, a steel tool will last you a long, long time. One steel prospecting pick lasts as long as eleven copper ones would. It's one reason to want steel.

 

 

Another part of the goal is likely to facilitate longer-term play, particularly on multiplayer servers.

The most common player fantasy about multiplayer in games like these is: let's build a village. A community where everyone has their niche. Where we have a farmer, a blacksmith, a potter, a miller... Let's have an economy, where you trade for what you need with what you can provide to others.

It's not just that this allows people to be part of a community, a tribe (and human beings are still hardwired by evolution to want to feel that way). It also facilitates joining a multiplayer server in the first place. You start off with nothing, while everyone else had weeks to play already. How could you possibly catch up, and find yourself a place in the community? Why, by specializing, of course. You don't have to catch up in all the progression systems, but rather just one of them. Just get the prerequisites for one thing taken care of, and you can be useful.

Unfortunately, that player fantasy is a lot harder to realize than you might think, particularly if the game is supposed to be playable in singleplayer as well. In many ways, making multiplayer better can result in design decisions that are diametrically opposed to making singleplayer better. And vice versa. It's an incredibly difficult problem with no easy solutions.

But, this post is not about that. Your takeaway should simply be that there's a player fantasy that many people really wish to see, but which at the same time is hard for the game designer to provide.

And tool/item durability is one of the few methods the designer has that does not automatically result in a conflict with singleplayer gameplay.

Imagine again that nothing you crafted would ever break. That means as soon as each player has obtained any given tool, or weapon, they'll never need another one. How, then, does a player become a blacksmith in a multiplayer village? Literally no one needs their services more than once. And indeed - if just making one thing once is all it takes to satisfy demand, why would another player bother with visiting the village blacksmith in the first place? They might not even be online right now! Just make the thing yourself and move on. By contrast, if tools do break, then there's just that little bit more of a reason to have someone in the village who you know always has a chest full of pickaxes you can get at a moment's notice. And it makes sense to get multiple tools from them ahead of time, so you have a reserve for when they are not online.

It is an enabler for the fantasy.

Indeed, some people would like even more of this. One of the inspirations for Vintage Story is the Minecraft mod TerrafirmaCraft. In it, handheld pottery such as bowls and water jugs have a 1% chance to break with every use. I've seen people ask to bring that to Vintage Story. Why? Because they play exclusively on a multiplayer server. And that mechanic gives the village potter a reason to exist.

 

 

And well, another part may well be that the game is designed the way it is precisely to make it harder. That there is tool durability precisely to make forgetting to bring a replacement a failure mode. If your pickaxe runs out, you aren't finding that tin vein today, and you'll have to survive some more with lesser tools. If your sword breaks, the drifters eat you and you die. Chances are, the game wants this to happen to you. Because you could have brought more picks. More swords. You could have prepared better. And you didn't. Now you pay the price.

 

 

Not saying that the mechanics as they are now are the best that could ever be. But, you asked for game design justifications for tool durability. These points are some, if probably not all, of them.

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1 hour ago, Streetwind said:

 

I believe part of it would be to drive progression.

Imagine yourself playing Vintage Story. You just made yourself a set of copper tools. These tools never break. You can now mine rocks and pile up cobblestone walls - or heck, shape them into bricks, or quarry raw stone for building materials. You can saw wooden boards. You can scythe grass. You can chisel fancy blocks. You can craft a windmill.

You're done. Why would you continue progressing? Why bother looking for tin? Why bother learning how to smelt iron? Why bother digging up meteors and constructing cementation furnaces? Nah, just stick with the tools you have and build a fancy home base instead. Eventually, you might go and do the other things, the mining and prospecting and other metal tiers... but you'd do them because there was nothing else left to do. Not because you needed it. You might say: but you need better weapons and armor to fight the harder enemies underground. But that's not true. Because you have no reason to go underground. There's nothing that you need there. Maybe you'll go explore there, sometime. But not for progression. Rather, because you can, and because there's nothing else left to do.

Admittedly: that's an exaggerated picture. But at the end of the day, the fact that your tools break is a progression driver. You want something better than copper, because copper breaks quickly. By contrast, a steel tool will last you a long, long time. One steel prospecting pick lasts as long as eleven copper ones would. It's one reason to want steel.

 

 

Another part of the goal is likely to facilitate longer-term play, particularly on multiplayer servers.

The most common player fantasy about multiplayer in games like these is: let's build a village. A community where everyone has their niche. Where we have a farmer, a blacksmith, a potter, a miller... Let's have an economy, where you trade for what you need with what you can provide to others.

It's not just that this allows people to be part of a community, a tribe (and human beings are still hardwired by evolution to want to feel that way). It also facilitates joining a multiplayer server in the first place. You start off with nothing, while everyone else had weeks to play already. How could you possibly catch up, and find yourself a place in the community? Why, by specializing, of course. You don't have to catch up in all the progression systems, but rather just one of them. Just get the prerequisites for one thing taken care of, and you can be useful.

Unfortunately, that player fantasy is a lot harder to realize than you might think, particularly if the game is supposed to be playable in singleplayer as well. In many ways, making multiplayer better can result in design decisions that are diametrically opposed to making singleplayer better. And vice versa. It's an incredibly difficult problem with no easy solutions.

But, this post is not about that. Your takeaway should simply be that there's a player fantasy that many people really wish to see, but which at the same time is hard for the game designer to provide.

And tool/item durability is one of the few methods the designer has that does not automatically result in a conflict with singleplayer gameplay.

Imagine again that nothing you crafted would ever break. That means as soon as each player has obtained any given tool, or weapon, they'll never need another one. How, then, does a player become a blacksmith in a multiplayer village? Literally no one needs their services more than once. And indeed - if just making one thing once is all it takes to satisfy demand, why would another player bother with visiting the village blacksmith in the first place? They might not even be online right now! Just make the thing yourself and move on. By contrast, if tools do break, then there's just that little bit more of a reason to have someone in the village who you know always has a chest full of pickaxes you can get at a moment's notice. And it makes sense to get multiple tools from them ahead of time, so you have a reserve for when they are not online.

It is an enabler for the fantasy.

Indeed, some people would like even more of this. One of the inspirations for Vintage Story is the Minecraft mod TerrafirmaCraft. In it, handheld pottery such as bowls and water jugs have a 1% chance to break with every use. I've seen people ask to bring that to Vintage Story. Why? Because they play exclusively on a multiplayer server. And that mechanic gives the village potter a reason to exist.

 

 

And well, another part may well be that the game is designed the way it is precisely to make it harder. That there is tool durability precisely to make forgetting to bring a replacement a failure mode. If your pickaxe runs out, you aren't finding that tin vein today, and you'll have to survive some more with lesser tools. If your sword breaks, the drifters eat you and you die. Chances are, the game wants this to happen to you. Because you could have brought more picks. More swords. You could have prepared better. And you didn't. Now you pay the price.

 

 

Not saying that the mechanics as they are now are the best that could ever be. But, you asked for game design justifications for tool durability. These points are some, if probably not all, of them.

I personally agree with pretty much all that is expressed in this comment, and understand why it is necessary and helpful for tool and weapon durability to work the way it does.  I do, however, like the idea of being able to keep a tool or weapon indefinitely for the sake of history, or sentiment, or whatever you want to call it.  I think there is some value to allowing for such things in a game world such as Vintage Story.

I'd like to see a mechanic where, when a tool or weapon wears out it's durability, it becomes "damaged". It can still be used at that point but has a fairly good chance of shattering to bits and being lost.  To fix it and restore it to like new condition, one needs to take it to a smith and repair it, basically taking an ingot of metal and repairing it.  Metal resources consumed, favorite tool or weapon retained. A win on both sides of the discussion, in my book.

I know this was not a suggestion post. The author asked what we like about the system while they also expressed some things they wished were different. I like the system as it works and understand the reasons for it, but would like to see that one extra dynamic added that allows for some nostalgia with regard to tools and weapons we have used and acquired over time.

~TH~

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23 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

And let's nip the 'realism' argument in the bud right here; I'm not terribly interested in it, but if you were going to say that consider this: real tools last for years (decades, even) - even with consistent use - if you're not leaving them out in the elements to rust and rot.

Real tools also break all the time, all it can take is you pushing it a little too hard trying to finish up a task, trying to brute force the task instead of trying a different approach, or just using the tool for something it was not intended, like debranching a tree with a knife. Is it really too much to think a tool put togather by a person without a smith background (I didn't see any folding, tempering, or quality control on those metal tools, let alone maintenance) can break by someone using it all the time? Weapons are constantly abused in fights so I don't see a problem with them breaking at all.

I do wish we could recycle parts of broken tools though, you would have to choose between saving it or chucking it to make the most of the limited inventory space.

23 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

What I am interested in are game-design arguments.  What does it add to the game?

As the others have said, it adds a new avenue for improvement/comparison, namely in that better grades of tools/armor/weapons will last longer before breaking, meaning you don't need to make as many nor pack as many for a job.

Durability also helps reinforce the difference between the materials and makes some more valuable.

I think it is fine in some games, it drives you to try out other items or methods and so exposes you to more of the game . In other games it really is just a tax on the players time, but I do not think that is the case for Vintage Story. If you want to get metal in the game you have to go mine it. Sounds easy right? But the metal is rarely near your home so you need to travel there. Once there you have to dig for it and if your pickaxes break you have to leave and return with more. You are probably in the wilderness so there is a chance of animals attacking you, or you finding some goodies on the way. You also have to eat more food now, so you have to spend more time farming/hunting/foraging or make a bigger farm/ranch. When you go back you have to clear it of drifters that spawned in there before you can mine the ore, and you may have to come back multiple times thanks to a limited inventory. You could make fewer trips but you will need pickaxes that last longer so you have to build better infrastructure to make them (bloomeries, cementation furnace, etc.). 

Now if your pickax never broke, you could go once, mine everything, never come back, and thus never have to do anything else. How boring would that be?

There is also the idea that more attention is given to the industry that produces the item. How much knapping would you do if your stone tools never broke? Maybe do it 8 times a game?

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Recycling tools in order to restore their durability seems like a good system. You would still have to go through the process of reforging them, but you're not losing any metal in the process. Instead of losing the tool at 0 durability, it just gets rendered useless then you can take the stick off and reforge the head.

As for the stone tools? It makes sense for those to just have the head shatter into dust, leaving behind the stick.

We take for granted just how abundant metal and sticks are in the game, but on some configs and especially in multiplayer, finding them is way more frustrating than it needs to be and it would be nice if you could just recycle what you already have. It would make the tool durability system a lot less frustrating than it already is.
 

EDIT: Come to think of it, metal tools kind of do have ridiculously long durability bars. It would be really unbalanced to lower them in the current state, but if a recycling system was put in place it would make sense to dramatically reduce the metal durability and allow reforges. Maybe for lower metals like copper this isn't such a big deal, but for steel and up you're talking about days worth of processing just to obtain those precious steel ingots. Right now all you can do is turn down the durability in the config, but then that makes stone tools so ridiculously brittle that a spear won't even last for 1 single surface drifter.

Edited by Omega Haxors
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I appreciate the considered responses.  I would like to address some of them.
 

Regarding durability as a progression prod

I cannot disagree that increased durability is an impetus to upgrade, but I don't think it's necessary.

First, people naturally want 'the best'.  The delta between the best and what they have doesn't even need to be that big (1% might be a little too low, but 5%?  10%? That's plenty), they're going to want the better thing.

Second, I think breaking speed is being drastically underrated and underappreciated.  To borrow fro MineCraft (only because I have so much more experience with it) there's a HUGE difference in time-saved when using a diamond pick over a stone pick.  ...I would know, I dug out an obnoxiously large hole with stone tools (because they were cheap, and mending didn't exist; it would've cost hundreds of diamonds).  It took *FOREVER*.  Then I did it again (years later) with fully enchanted diamond or netherite tools and a beacon.  The difference is night and day.  I don't quite know how much different higher tier tools offer, but I do know using even just a lame stone shovel instead of punching clay/dirt is about a 50% reduction in time per block.

Lastly, an alternate way to push players into upgrades is like Terrarria (where tools don't break) does: require you to have higher tier tools to break different materials.  I'm not sure if Vintage Story does this (even if it doesn't now, it could in the future).  I know you need higher tier tools for higher tier metals, I just don't know about deeper stones; I found a cave that led much deeper underground than I was ready to go, so the drifters kept me from inspecting my surroundings too closely.  The magma looked beautiful, though.


Regarding Multiplayer Roles

I don't have much experience with multiplayer servers in this game.  While I can appreciate wanting that kind of specialization fantasy...  I'm not sure this game is meant to be the place for it (also not sure it's not; just don't know).  But as it's built right now, it really doesn't seem to lend itself well to it; that could certainly change in the future, and the seeds of that are here with the Tailor and the Hunter, but they could easily decide to go another way.  As it stands right now, any player can get a hunk of clay and make a bowl (or any other clay product).  You don't even need any special tools for it like a smythe does with his forge and anvil.

I don't understand why - if I was on a multiplayer server - I would wait around for 'the potter' to get online to make me a thing I want instead of just finding some clay and doing it myself.  That fantasy you're describing is something the game itself may allow you to choose to do, but it isn't anywhere near enforced and would have to be a sort of gentleman's agreement between the players on the server.  Contrast with ECO, where the game itself pretty much forces players to specialize and work with others because one player just can't get the SP to learn everything himself.

Even accepting the fantasy argument, there hopefully will be a number of other things a smythe can make.  Even now there's torch-holders and lanterns.  As long as people are building, they're going to need more lanterns to light up stuff.  Hopefully we get all kinds of other neat decorative blocks, like metal fencing, chains, bars.  Tools that break obviously increase the work load, but I don't think they are necessary to give the smythe things to do.  Pretty much every other fantasy (except maybe farmer?) is going to hit a point of saturation of his good or service (Lumberjack, for example, could produce wood much faster than it could be consumed) unless people are building.

 

8 hours ago, Silent Shadow said:

Now if your pickax never broke, you could go once, mine everything, never come back, and thus never have to do anything else. How boring would that be?

Strongly disagree.  You'd have to come back regularly for food or to drop off your haul; inventory space is limited, and whatever food you bring (and mining is hungry business) is either going to spoil with haste or in a crock that takes up space even after it's empty, limiting how much "Rock and stone!" you can bring home.  You're also ignoring the copious amount of scouting you'd need to do before hand to know where all that metal is, and if you know generally how much metal you've scouted (or even just how much you want) you can just, like, I dunno, bring more picks?

2 hours ago, Omega Haxors said:

Recycling tools in order to restore their durability seems like a good system. You would still have to go through the process of reforging them, but you're not losing any metal in the process. Instead of losing the tool at 0 durability, it just gets rendered useless then you can take the stick off and reforge the head.

As for the stone tools? It makes sense for those to just have the head shatter into dust, leaving behind the stick.

A)  That's an interesting compromise.  I like it.  I had thought of something similar, but thought including it would be a little too suggestion-y.
2)  Stone tools are probably the ones I have the least problem with breaking; they are by their nature, slap-dash and shoddy, and the material they're made of is relatively brittle and more given to shearing and fracturing.

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8 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:
18 hours ago, Silent Shadow said:

Now if your pickax never broke, you could go once, mine everything, never come back, and thus never have to do anything else. How boring would that be?

Strongly disagree.  You'd have to come back regularly for food or to drop off your haul; inventory space is limited, and whatever food you bring (and mining is hungry business) is either going to spoil with haste or in a crock that takes up space even after it's empty, limiting how much "Rock and stone!" you can bring home.  You're also ignoring the copious amount of scouting you'd need to do before hand to know where all that metal is, and if you know generally how much metal you've scouted (or even just how much you want) you can just, like, I dunno, bring more picks?

Perhaps I was unclear, but the problem is that if items never broke, you would probably never need to do more than one mining trip for an ore as the items would never break. If you don't need to go under ground any more, why would you need metal armor? Leather armor and Gambeson are more than adequate for the surface. You are also only going to be scouting once anyways.

You could bring more picks, but then if you overestimated the amount of mining you had to do, you have to chose between dumping picks or leaving ore behind. If you didn't bring enough, then you are leaving ore in the mine. There is no real indication of how much ore is there until you see it or are so close as to get a propick read on it.

 In either situation, you have to do more of the game as I said in my earlier post. Tool durability forces you out of one activity and into other parts of the game that you might otherwise ignore if given the chance.

8 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

require you to have higher tier tools to break different materials.  I'm not sure if Vintage Story does this (even if it doesn't now, it could in the future).  I know you need higher tier tools for higher tier metals, I just don't know about deeper stones

Vintage Story does in one regard, namely the metal working requirements for iron and steel. You need an iron anvil to refine blister steel, and you need a bronze anvil for iron blooms. I am pretty sure there are no rocks that you cannot break with a copper pickaxe.

9 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

Second, I think breaking speed is being drastically underrated and underappreciated

Don't get me wrong, it is nice to have, but unless you plan on removing the top layer of soil from a continent or clearing a forest, it is not that important. Steel is roughly 25% faster than iron, but most players do not bother with making most tools out of steel. The jump from copper to bronze is not that great either so I imagine most people would just stick with copper unless they found tin on accident or if they wanted to do a long term project.

I don't think work speed or damage are strong or universal enough impetus to get the better tools.

9 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

I don't understand why - if I was on a multiplayer server - I would wait around for 'the potter' to get online to make me a thing I want instead of just finding some clay and doing it myself. [...] As it stands right now, any player can get a hunk of clay and make a bowl (or any other clay product). 

This is true, but it is not very convenient to do. You have to gather the clay and some fuel, form the object, and then fire it for a day or so. You can also save yourself the time and just buy it from the potter who spends his time making clay objects en mass and has an inventory ready to be purchased (or just give him your order and do something else while he works on it). Once you have the clay object though, you never need to buy it again from the potter, so his industry would die out if no new players joined the server and bought from him. This is why people think there should be a chance to break pottery (among other items) on use.

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16 hours ago, Silent Shadow said:

Perhaps I was unclear, but the problem is that if items never broke, you would probably never need to do more than one mining trip for an ore as the items would never break. If you don't need to go under ground any more, why would you need metal armor? Leather armor and Gambeson are more than adequate for the surface. You are also only going to be scouting once anyways.

You could bring more picks, but then if you overestimated the amount of mining you had to do, you have to chose between dumping picks or leaving ore behind. If you didn't bring enough, then you are leaving ore in the mine. There is no real indication of how much ore is there until you see it or are so close as to get a propick read on it.

 In either situation, you have to do more of the game as I said in my earlier post. Tool durability forces you out of one activity and into other parts of the game that you might otherwise ignore if given the chance.


I could go in game and take one stack of stone and do nothing but hack down trees with it and then I'd never need wood again for the rest of my time playing.  One chert/granite/andesite/peridotite axe has 50 durability, so one stack (64) of one of those kinds of stones gives you 3150 (=50*63 because you can't nap the 64th stone in a stack; you have nothing to nap it with) durability worth of stone.  In one inventory slot (well, two counting the axe itself).  Since when you're timbering, you'll naturally get plenty of sticks.  That's good for just under 197 stacks of logs (or 12 wooden chests full of logs, with 5 stacks left over) and who-knows how many stacks of sticks and tree seeds (especially if you break most of the leaves with your fist).

Do people do that?  If no, why do you think they would with metal?  Even if a you wanted to do what you suppose an unbreakable tool would allow you to, you're still very limited by inventory space.

You need probably two crocks, a bowl, two slots for torches (one slot in off-hand or tool bar, one slot in the inventory in case the held one gets doused), a weapon, probably some poultice - that's seven slots right there.  You'll pick up several different kinds of each ore (especially if you have to mine in different stone types) which will take up their own inventory slots, unless you bring a hammer to crush them which is an 8th inventory slot.  You'll also get a bunch of stone because why wouldn't you pick it up, unless you never plan to ever build with stone, and probably a fair bit of at least one kind of dirt, maybe two or three.

Does a tool with unlimited durability let you go for longer?  On average, probably so (especially if you have a mining sack or two), but you're still going to have to balance supplies; take too many and you can't bring back as much ore, bring too few and you'll have to head back before your inventory is full.  Not having to take two or three picks doesn't completely eliminate that calculation, just makes it slightly simpler.  Which I will concede is a drawback, but I think the benefits outweigh it.
 

16 hours ago, Silent Shadow said:

I am pretty sure there are no rocks that you cannot break with a copper pickaxe.

Maybe it could be (or already has been) considered that Tier 2 should only break Sedimentary, Tier 3 can break up to Metamorphic, and Tier 4 is required to break Igneous?  :shrug:  That said, that there are plenty of metals already in-game which cannot be mined with copper.  You're not breaking quartz or iron (or anthracite, or borax, or black coal, or some other presently-lacking-a-function metals) with a copper pick.  The metals which require iron aren't really useful for anything yet (except meteoric iron), but they are in the creative inventory, so we'll probably get a purpose to them eventually.
 

16 hours ago, Silent Shadow said:

Don't get me wrong, it is nice to have, but unless you plan on removing the top layer of soil from a continent or clearing a forest, it is not that important. Steel is roughly 25% faster than iron, but most players do not bother with making most tools out of steel. The jump from copper to bronze is not that great either so I imagine most people would just stick with copper unless they found tin on accident or if they wanted to do a long term project.

I don't think work speed or damage are strong or universal enough impetus to get the better tools.

And why would anyone upgrade to steel when steel is apparently such a pain to process and the tool is just going to break?  Speaking only for myself, if I only have to do it *once* for each of my tools, I'm much more likely to invest the time and effort to upgrade it.  If I have to do it every time a tool breaks, why bother?  Just slum with the lowest quality I can easily mass-produce (I suspect this is why stone picks don't exist).  A steel pick has 2.5x the durability of iron.  If it's too much more than 2.5x the bother to make, it's irrational to make it (unless you need titanium).  And as I mentioned in my OP, when replacing tools isn't a foregone conclusion, mistakes which force you to replace them become much more significant (and punishing).

You think most people would bother with getting netherite tools in MineCraft if not for the mending enchant?  I sincerely doubt it.  The relatively marginal improvement over diamond (~33% increase in durability [iron to diamond is a 524.4% increase]) isn't worth the effort.  Yes.  They're better.  Yes.  People would want them.  But the cost/benefit analysis doesn't add up.  You'd be better off just mining diamonds for twice as long than spending half (or all) of that time looking for netherite.  Heck, I didn't even use diamond for tools and armour until after mending; diamonds were too valuable as currency, and I had orders of magnitude more iron.  For picks, 3 diamonds ~= 18 iron ingots or 2 blocks of iron.  You think anyone - even before Iron farms - would have paid 3 diamonds for a measly 2 blocks of iron?  Lolno.

But with mending - so you only have to upgrade each of tool once - that upgrade to netherite is very enticing.  That 33% increased durability goes from "as if" to "heck yeah!"  ...and losing it goes from "well, that sucks" to "<voice = Darth Vader> NoOOoOOOOooOOoOooooo! </voice>"

You are right, though, marginal increases to speed and damage aren't strong enough impetuses ...on temporary tools.  I maintain that they are on permanent tools.

And apparently, if "most players do not bother with making most tools out of steel", neither is increased durability.

16 hours ago, Silent Shadow said:

This is true, but it is not very convenient to do. You have to gather the clay and some fuel, form the object, and then fire it for a day or so. You can also save yourself the time and just buy it from the potter who spends his time making clay objects en mass and has an inventory ready to be purchased (or just give him your order and do something else while he works on it). Once you have the clay object though, you never need to buy it again from the potter, so his industry would die out if no new players joined the server and bought from him. This is why people think there should be a chance to break pottery (among other items) on use.

Again, if I spend all my time planting and harvesting trees, I will outstrip the whole server's demand for wood pretty quickly.  Markets in games with a consistent population have points of saturation.  ...unless people keep building.  In which case they will always need metal and clay (and wood and stone) products for decoration (and structure).  Especially as the number of those decorations increase, which I can't imagine they won't.

And isn't that kind of the whole point of these kinds of sandbox games: to build sandcastles (not literally sandcastles)?

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Tools definetly wear - i guess i could show you iron knife blades that got a third of their thickness and a fifth of their original length, and axes that have about 1/3 of their original blade left. Then sure, they last longer than they do in this game. On the other hand, mining a hole or building ha tower only take a fraction of real life time, so if we compare the work the tools does, i don't find it to unrealistic. IRL their braking point surely would be more random, and it would be harder to know how long before a tool is going to brake. But i'm not sure that is something players really would want. 

For me, this adds another factor to take in account when using tools that adds to the complexity of the game. Sure, the idea of being able to mend tools would be something i would like to see in the game. I still think it should require metal. Then, i don't think i would like to see durability in all instances of the game. If realistic, things like the windmill or the helve hammer would surtainly be constructions that would wear a lot. Replacing some sails or an axle, sure, but if the helve hammer itself broke or the crusher caps and they had to be redone regularly, i think that would be a bit to much for me...

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4 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

Do people do that?

People do not do that because it would take around a couple IRL hours to accomplish and the game will force you to stop and fulfill your character's needs, not because people do not think they will need the wood (and they might depending on their goals). I can reasonably make 5 axes per min, so 63 would take 12.6 minutes. It takes roughly 2 seconds per log cut so 6300 seconds (105 minutes) to exhaust all ax durability, perhaps double if you take the time to get rid of the leaves by hand. So around 2 hours to get that job done, ignoring the time for inter-tree travel, de-branching, and drifter interference. Even with a tin bronze axe it would still take over an IRL hour. The limiting factor for timber is not tool durability so it doesn't matter in this regard (I could more than fill all 4 leather backpacks (24 slots) or all 4 linen sacks (20 slots) with what I could chop down with a single tin bronze axe), but it is a different story for mining.

5 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

Even if a you wanted to do what you suppose an unbreakable tool would allow you to, you're still very limited by inventory space.

With a single tin bronze pickaxe I could mine 450 blocks in about 15 minutes for around 600 stones and/or ore chunks. 600 stones/chunks will take up 10-12 slots. Aside from the hot bar, you can get 40 slots for mining products but only 24 for anything else. All you need is 80 flax fibers and 1600 bronze units to make the mining bags, which is easy to acquire for anyone in the bronze age. You basically have room for 4-5 bronze pickaxes worth of stuff. You could also pack 2 iron pickaxes instead and save 2 to 3 slots thanks to it having ~2.22 times the durability of bronze. A steel pick could do the work of about five and half bronze ones and save 3 or 4 slots, not to mention the speed gains. With those free slots you can bring in more medicine or supplies so you can mine longer (more room for crocks) or safer (ladders and fences) which is good for winter, or on harder difficulties with higher hunger rates. This is why durability matters for pickaxes unless your metal needs are quite restrained, and is one of the interesting ways durability adds depth to the game.

Players also do not need to make a calculation beyond reacting their experience, which will show as more slots/ore per trip for higher durability pickaxes.

5 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

Does a tool with unlimited durability let you go for longer?

Yep, you would only need one slot to max your inventory. For other tools like axes, maybe not unless you went on a long expedition.

5 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

You'll pick up several different kinds of each ore (especially if you have to mine in different stone types) which will take up their own inventory slots, unless you bring a hammer to crush them which is an 8th inventory slot.

Don't do this, it is more space efficient to keep it as a chunk and absorb the extra slot than to break chunks into nuggets. A full stack of medium grade ore chunks breaks up into 2 full stacks of nuggets and rich breaks up into 2.5 stacks. Even poor grade chunks break up at a ratio of 1 stack into 1.5 stacks. 10 broken stacks of poor grade chunks will become 15 stacks of nuggets, so just hold the rare crystallized chunk and accept that maybe two or three slots won't be totally filled.

5 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

That said, that there are plenty of metals already in-game which cannot be mined with copper.  You're not breaking quartz or iron (or anthracite, or borax, or black coal, or some other presently-lacking-a-function metals) with a copper pick.

You are right, I did not know that bronze or even iron was required to mine some ores and minerals in the game.

6 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

And why would anyone upgrade to steel when steel is apparently such a pain to process and the tool is just going to break?

It is not so much that people do not value the various capability increases from iron, but the fact that steel is effectively the end of the game. If people played for a longer time beyond when they reached the cementation furnace then I bet we would see steel tools more often (if you already built the cementation furnace, why not just load it up every now and then?). Would you make any tools at the end of the game knowing you would not use them? Maybe some neat ones like a sword or even a set of armor, but you are not expecting to use them often.

Steel tools do break, but they also last much longer than the other tools, weapons, and armor. Steel durability is over 100% more than iron for many items like swords, so it lasts more than twice as long, while also being faster. If durability were not a factor then the devs would have to push the properties of metals up and up to make them worth the cost of upgrading to more complex facilities.

6 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

mistakes which force you to replace them become much more significant (and punishing).

Why? It is not hard to replace 4 or 5 tools, as we have seen with the current needs from the effects of tool durability. In fact, I would say that is probably the least terrible thing about dying. Armor is kept by the player upon death so the amount of metal you lose is much less than a trip to the mine can bring, especially with extra slots saved by needing only one tool. If anything it should be less punishing, because you don't have to worry about tools (and thus metal) going to waste and you will be losing fewer tools (why bring replacements for tools that do not break?). With infinite durability, you could have a pool of metal to make replacements with because you are not constantly replacing broken tools.

You might be thinking of the loss of more unique tools as seen in minecraft with enchanted tools whose individual characteristics may be hard to replicate, but there is no such tool in Vintage Story that can be crafted by players. Each tool (for a given metal) is made with identical stats and once you set up the infrastructure to make it, there is not much more work required to keep making more of them, even for steel.

I would not compare netherite from Minecraft to Steel in Vintage Story as the jump from Iron to steel is currently over 100% more durability and for much less work (more concentrated ore) than required to get the lessor 30% durability jump from diamond to netherite (with only a performance bonus of +1 damage for tools and weapons and no work speed bonus). Not that it matters, as steel (and netherite) are at the end of the end game so why bother getting it? Those items are an achievement, not a tool to be typically used over time.

6 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

Again, if I spend all my time planting and harvesting trees, I will outstrip the whole server's demand for wood pretty quickly.

I doubt that, not only because you would have to spend hours to provide enough for just you, but you would also have to break to gather more stones and get food. Keep in mind all the firewood needed for each person; firewood to fire the containers needed for their food storage/cooking, the firewood needed for cooking each meal, the firewood needed to make charcoal (at a 3/16 conversion ratio for firewood to charcoal) for everyone's tools (and their replacements, not to mention armor), their houses, and their profession (farming, barrels, mechanics, ranching, etc.). It quickly adds up and that's before vanity projects and moving the wood to where it would be useful. In a more capitalist group, nobody would trade with you for more wood once you satisfy their immediate needs so that wood would just sit until they used up their supply (better spend some time getting, or give up more valuable stuff for, containers to store the wood or else enjoy chopping it again), so I highly doubt you would continue chopping in favor of getting food to eat or better equipment. Invisible hand theory and all that.

But let's say you do. Would you not say that is a reason for wood items to have limited uses or a potential for reliable damage to wood buildings? So that saturation is never permanent and people have a reason to specialize into all tasks? If there were more items with durability, then there would be more of an economy in multiplayer don't you think?

7 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

And isn't that kind of the whole point of these kinds of sandbox games: to build sandcastles (not literally sandcastles)?

That is the goal of sandbox games, of which I am not sure the survival game Vintage Story falls into (unless in creative mode). The point of survival games like Vintage Story is to make use of scarce resources and time to satisfy the needs of your character so he doesn't die, as well as to progress to a state where survival is not a question anymore. Vintage Story has added a lot of decor items and mechanics, but the focus remains on survival. Once you can survive with minimal effort most people either start a new game or build a vanity project and this is no different in multiplayer.

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I'm going to stick with game design arguments, since you specifically asked for these.

If you break down the gameplay loop of Vintage story far enough, you eventually arrive at something resembling "explore -> overcome challenge -> acquire loot -> craft". It's a very old loop, the same that stands behind the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, Minecraft itself, and really pretty much the entire open-world genre, because it's very powerful. Each of the steps is rewarding to the player and they support each other when one of the pillars falters. Even though Vintage Story is still fairly early and underdeveloped in places (to give just one example, the "overcome challenge" step is fairly weak, as prospecting for ores is arcane and combat against drifters isn't very satisfying) it still works well enough to keep people hooked  for hundreds of hours.

It does need a strong and constant motivation, though. Overcoming challenge is exciting, but our natural response to risk and danger is to avoid it when there is something on the line. It would be nice to upgrade your bronze axe to iron and chop down trees faster, but is it really worth it to brave the nightmare drifters in the deep for it? And if you do go there at all, it's more akin to an expedition or a miniboss "fight" - dip in for just long enough to get what you need and run, mining any more just wastes your time and risks drifters sneaking up on you.

Tool durability doesn't leave you that choice. You have to go out and look for more ores, overcome the challenge, because if you don't, you will eventually be reduced to the basic stone tools and the steep labour cost of having to make new ones all the time. Without the constant economic demand of tools wearing out, the game loop starts breaking down - exploration may still somewhat hold due to the need for seeds and rare materials like lime and salt, but VS offers fairly little challenge other than finding ores and dealing with underground drifters, and ores would lose a great deal of their value as loot and crafting material. It's not the only possible material sink of course, but removing it coul easily lead to a fairly serious and time-consuming redesign of the game.

There's also one more reason for durability, and that is resource management. Each action you take to change the game world has a cost to it. Unlike in Minecraft, if you just dig around without actively looking for ore, chances are you'll lose your pick without much in return. When you have only copper tools, a big part of your metal budget will be spent on survival needs and looking for new ores, but each new tool tier makes this cost a smaller part of your budget, and leaves you more to shape the world with as you wish. Iron deposits are huge so once you have a good helvehammer setup, the game really opens up creatively. Without tool durability you always have this freedom from the moment you craft your first tool, and it can no longer be part of the progression. The only cost to shaping the world would be your own time, and on average, players are notorious for valuing that time little compared to in-game resources or even their own labour.

The implementation is not perfect of course, and you do raise very good points - tools feel very generic and disposable now, and it might come in conflict with future tool-related features. There's certainly a lot of ways to improve on that without removing the resource sink of durability, though.

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I would like a more realistic approach, whereby tools get blunted and then have to be sharpened.  The lower down the tier the metal, the quicker it blunts, and the longer it takes to do work with it, until eventually it acts like a tier lower and wont work materials its meant to be able to.
Sharpening is a process that takes time and involves making a whetstone (and possibly a grinding device further on in the game.)  *however* sharpening could also reduce the life of the tool, eventually leading it to break.

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1 hour ago, BookofMica said:

I would like a more realistic approach, whereby tools get blunted and then have to be sharpened.  The lower down the tier the metal, the quicker it blunts, and the longer it takes to do work with it, until eventually it acts like a tier lower and wont work materials its meant to be able to.
Sharpening is a process that takes time and involves making a whetstone (and possibly a grinding device further on in the game.)  *however* sharpening could also reduce the life of the tool, eventually leading it to break.

I like the idea of durability being linked to tool use, but material loss being dictated by the use of the whetstone. Gives an option for those who want to save up on metal (essentially reforging) while giving a more convenient but lossy method for those who prefer faster gameplay. It also opens up the possibility of tools being better when sharper without being too much of an annoyance. Those who want to use up a ton of metal can experience a really fast paced experience with tools that shred through mountains while those who are more patient can simply use their tools down until they're too dull to be usable, then reforge. Ultimately the best experience is going to be somewhere in the middle and will change based on how much the player values their time verses their resources. Those playing singleplayer will prefer stronger faster tools, while those in multiplayer can instead use those materials to make the 8th set of plate armor.

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Whetting or sharpening your tools in other ways is interesting gameplay mechanic that invites choice, I like that, but I do think that eventually a tool should still just break, this way not only your ability to make tools but also maintain them becomes interesting gameplay, and as in real life a poorly kept and treated tool lasts very little at all, but a well kept and treated tool can last a lifetime.

Though it would require a rebalance in material abilty, I'm not sure having a tool get worse over time would be any fun if done poorly, like if with how good steel is now and you use up half of the "durability" it would turn into effectively an iron pick that would feel bad, I think the focus should rather be on rewarding people who seek out methods and effort to keep their tools in better shape which would increase the efficiency of your metal at other costs

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I think it would be cool if sharpening were part of the crafting process. You take the tool from the mold/forge and put a finished edge on the tool. Durability should still decrease with use but there could be a separate property of tools: sharpness. Having a sharper tool/weapon would have a higher attack damage or harvest speed, but the sharpness level would fall with use and every time you sharpened it, the durability would be decreased. Players would have to decide between maximizing tool speed and weapon damage, or maximizing the tool's lifespan albeit at slower speeds.

Recycling should be a thing, but the majority of the metal should not be recoverable, as it would reduce the amount of mining the players needs to do as well as all the supporting activities done to support mining.

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On 9/13/2021 at 5:27 AM, Rahjital said:

It does need a strong and constant motivation, though. Overcoming challenge is exciting, but our natural response to risk and danger is to avoid it when there is something on the line. It would be nice to upgrade your bronze axe to iron and chop down trees faster, but is it really worth it to brave the nightmare drifters in the deep for it? And if you do go there at all, it's more akin to an expedition or a miniboss "fight" - dip in for just long enough to get what you need and run, mining any more just wastes your time and risks drifters sneaking up on you.

Tool durability doesn't leave you that choice. You have to go out and look for more ores, overcome the challenge, because if you don't, you will eventually be reduced to the basic stone tools and the steep labour cost of having to make new ones all the time. Without the constant economic demand of tools wearing out, the game loop starts breaking down - exploration may still somewhat hold due to the need for seeds and rare materials like lime and salt, but VS offers fairly little challenge other than finding ores and dealing with underground drifters, and ores would lose a great deal of their value as loot and crafting material. It's not the only possible material sink of course, but removing it coul easily lead to a fairly serious and time-consuming redesign of the game.

You know, if you don't force players to do something, most of them will do it anyway if it's fun.  Why do people sleep through Temporal Storms?  Because they're not fun.  As I've said several other times throughout the thread, there are other - and in the future will be even more - non-tool uses for metals.  You don't need tool durability to coax players out into the depths of the world.  If they want gold/silver-lined lanterns, they're going to need to go get those metals.  And who knows what other cool decorations may be implemented in the future to incentivize players to dig deeper.  Tool durability is not as necessary to get players mining as most of the responses here seem to think.  Does it add incentive?  Obviously.  Is it required?  Not in the least.  I've never felt like I had "enough" metal in Terraria (which has no durability system).  I might not always mine every deposit I find when I find it, but I've never not-mined it because "I have enough".

"Tool durability doesn't leave you that choice."  A) because we wouldn't want players to have choice in a game, right?  =P  2) what exactly is "on the line"?  The biggest death penalty is having to walk back to where you died; the only thing you really lose is your nutrition.  III) "steep labour costs"?  Stone is *EVERYWHERE*, you can't walk 5 blocks in a new area without tripping over some.  If you're going to call out napping for "steep labour cost", be sure to factor in prospecting and mining time into metal tools.  When you do that, the labour cost of stone drops to almost nothing by comparison.

And let's not forget opportunity cost.  Every unit of metal I spend on something dumb like an axe (for which stone works just fine) is a unit of metal not spent on something that only metal can do (picks, saws, etc).  But...  if you're liberated from the durability system, suddenly metal axes might actually get crafted because they don't need to be replaced and offer increased efficiency over stone.  They might be the *last* tool you make, but they will get made.  At present, I'd be quite surprised if the number of people who regularly make bronze axes is more than a single-digit percentage.

 

On 9/13/2021 at 5:27 AM, Rahjital said:

There's also one more reason for durability, and that is resource management. Each action you take to change the game world has a cost to it. Unlike in Minecraft, if you just dig around without actively looking for ore, chances are you'll lose your pick without much in return.

I will concede that is one major drawback of infini-durability: being able to just mine randomly until you find stuff.  I still think the benefits are worth that cost, but I do concede that's a draw back.  Though players who learn how to find ores properly (note: I am not one of them; I have no idea how to use the prospecting pick  @_@) are still going to have a huge advantage in ore/time.

As for "resource management", if the goal is to reduce the amount of resources available to the player, then the same effect is accomplished by just reducing the amount they can find.  Why all the extra song and dance?

On 9/13/2021 at 5:27 AM, Rahjital said:

players are notorious for valuing that time little compared to in-game resources or even their own labour.

Oof.  That's me you're talking about right there.  XD

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Tool Durability is in the game for the same reasons hunger, healing over time, having to fuel your furnaces and cooking stations, dark nights, and other aspects are in the game. They are challenges for the player to overcome but not in a "I did it" kind of way, but a "I built a system to overcome it" way.

Temporal storms are a challenge on harder difficulties because of the increased creature damage and much bigger food cost to skipping them. Most people do not like them on lower difficulties because they do not add much to the experience.

3 hours ago, PhotriusPyrelus said:

because we wouldn't want players to have choice in a game, right?

There are plenty of reasons to restrict choice in a game. Hard choices are much more interesting to make than easy ones, but they are only possible when the easy/best options are not available. Such things may not matter for a creative game, but for those who want a more survival experience, such choices are much more interesting to deal with. Players are also notorious for giving themselves a bad experience in order to proceed with a game as Rahjital said.

Players have the choice of sticking with stone tools with a low investment or they can put the work in for better metal tools that out perform stone tools in numerous ways. 

Edited by Silent Shadow
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