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Combat & drugs

I would like to give some constructive criticism about the way drugs and combat relate eachother in Sindome.

I do understand that a while ago there was a GM alt who purposedly took a bunch of v-202 at once giving him 100+ points across their entire stat sheet. And that the current limitation in drugs is put in place to avoid an incident like that.

During my experience fostering combat characters and leading them into combat situations I've noticed that most of the time, if not virtually all of them, players omit use of v-202 and other combat stims, either because of negligence or because they're aware that it is a very hard to use drug in a real combat situation due to how long it takes to consume versus how short the effect can be.

In Sindome combat comes out of nowhere and you never really expect it. By the time you're attacked, you take out your vial, and "prepare" to inject it, you've probably already taken three hits and attempted to hit your foe with the damn vial of v-202 twice. Why is it so cumbersome? The problem is that the preparing phase takes a really long amount of time and makes the drug virtually useless (especially since the effects only last a couple minutes so you have to time it really well) unless you've planned the combat very ahead of time.

I think the game would see more demand for this type of combat stims in real combat situations if we tweaked the limitations a bit and simply removed the "prepare to shoot" phase (which is currently not present in all the other drugs, such as pills, IIRC), but give a higher cooldown time between consecutive injections.

Agree. People keep talking about autoinjectors and stuff but that requires coding and there are higher priorities at the moment. I suggest removing the "prepares to take" thing and if you want to add autoinjection cyberware, put it back in when and if that's implemented.

I also think that most drug benefits are too short, too weak, and too uniform since the change. I basically only use them for RP purposes now and couldn't conceive of any way for most of them to provide a tangible benefit that was worth the price tag.

As for duration - Sindome is a game you generally play for hours. Things should last a little while, maybe even as long as they do IRL. I get combat stims being short acting but like, the fun of doing drugs is mostly in being high and trying to deal with shit. IRL weed is like a 20-40 minute high if you're smoking and LSD is eight hours of technicolor bullshit.

I touched on this very same issue in the drugs thread in I think new features forum. Realistically my last character should have been a combat stim junky, but I knew better because unless you prep before rushing into the fight or are on the sidelines and about to jump in to help your buddy then it is a handicap. Maybe that’s the intent, I dunno, but it makes more people just avoid bothering with them as opposed to the times of olden days where carrying a vial of vee was the standard.
Stims did have their effect extended but it's still realistically only something you can do if you are ambushing someone and they're standing somewhere you can get away with violence in.
I also think that most drug benefits are too short, too weak, and too uniform since the change. I basically only use them for RP purposes now and couldn't conceive of any way for most of them to provide a tangible benefit that was worth the price tag.

I was basically arguing this in another thread, and even the pure RP purposes come with too many drawbacks. I think they were way over-nerfed. A lot of people WANT to use candy for fun/RP and it's just kind of a hassle all around. The fact that you auto-OD on sufficient hits regardless of your stats is another turn off.

I meant to say "I agree with Vera" there, too.
Yeah I basically preferred every aspect of the older system except for the withdrawals. I never saw what the issue was with drugs actually being useful. They're pretty easy to get and any case where someone advantaged themselves by cutting off the flow of v-202 or whatever would be CPAF.
i want my character to be bane from Batman and carry a vial of combat stims on my back with pipes leading into my body that injects me when im in combat so I get all buff and faster and stronger in general just like bane

no but seriously i do think combat stims are just not worth it unless you know where your enemy is at, wait one room to the side, do the drug and walk in to initiate

since the above scenario doesn't happen a lot and it's way more fast paced usually then well combat stims become a bother and a risk

As someone whose built PC's around drug use in the past - I do find myself avoiding them entirely these days. From what I've gathered - there is a solid ability to still do jinx'ing which makes me happy but it does sound like the balance for combat-use just isn't there.

I don't have much to add but it is very indicative of change being needed purely based on the level of veteran players expressing this. If you folks can't figure it out - I don't think anyone else can.

I just think all players should feel incentivized to use drugs to make their characters better at what they want to do, and the value proposition should make the chyen and drawbacks feel worthwhile. Not everyone needs to do drugs, but they should feel like being sober is holding them back.
I'm not trying to be critical here, just to identify what I personally feel is a problem, but the way duration, comedowns and diminishing returns happen with multiple hits also seem counter-intuitive to me from a gameplay perspective. I understand that multiple hits provide diminishing returns for the sake of balance. You can't just get toxin binders and snort nine packets of marcy and shatter the ice on the city's homeostatic environmental mechanisms because that also wouldn't be very realistic, you'd be going way past the bounds of what candy should believably do.

But having said that, I feel like it's currently confusing/opaque enough where you wouldn't necessarily want to use it because you don't know what you're getting all the time. Combat, as people have said, is more or less a non-starter except in specific situations. Non-combat, there are definitely applications for a few specific drugs, but the way it works now, I feel like if you're trying to optimize you're doing four different types of candy and if anything, that to me feels more immersion breaking and game-y than the system even was before.

And more importantly, recreational use still has lots of drawbacks that never existed before, especially regarding the comedown period.

I'm interested in hearing thoughts on how we could better balance all aspects of drugs.

1. Price

2. Duration of effects

3. Stacking

4. Creation time

5. How long it takes to use (needs to be long enough for another player to attempt a disarm)

6. Availability

7. Strength of effects

8. Strength of after effects

9. Duration of after effects

10. Withdrawal scripts & effects

11. Addiction

12. Interactions with other drugs

These all need to be balanced together. We cannot consider one, without considering the rest which is why it's difficult to balance. The system is not finished. We are always looking for ways to better balance it to solve for current, past, and possible problems.

Thanks all!

Slither

1. Price

A lot of this is determined by players. Currently I think everyone is paying too much for most drugs from a gameplay perspective, but it makes enough sense RPwise. I think lowbies and nobodies should still have access to drugs, even if they are priced out of the best or rarest ones.

2. Duration of effects

I don't think any recreational drug should last under half an hour. If they followed their IRL counterparts we'd be looking at 40 minutes for weed, 4 hours for endo and dez, 8 hours for the hallucinogens.

This could make them kind of an amusing value proposition. Taking LnA-3z at a party and then having to talk to a Judge or your boss because an emergency comes up is really very funny. It's also important because scenes in Sindome tend to be pretty long and it's weird sobering up five minutes after smoking a bowl. I understand there are some activities you don't want people walking around with forever buffs for, but drugs come with enough drawbacks that I don't think it's the biggest problem in the world.

3. Stacking

This seems fine. I think stacking drugs of the same type should come with diminishing returns, and I think there should be some kind of reasonable cap on how much you can boost your stats overall.

I think you should have a sense of how fucked up you are, even if it's hazy. Maybe a line in your ht or on your stat sheet. I also think you should be able to easily tell if you're drunk. I can't think of any reason why that would be obscured from the player - I can tell how drunk or high I am in real life, or at least get some idea.

People who get toxin binders are essentially giving up a cyberware "slot" for a benefit that is currently not all that worthwhile, and drugs are expensive, time consuming, and stealable on top of that! Binders should give healthy people a -lot- more leeway.

Picking binders instead of, say, synaptic stimulus should probably give someone the ability to temporarily boost their speed (or whatever stat) up a bit higher than the stimulus would have if they're coming with a comparable PDS load.

4. Creation time

This also seems fine. A lot can happen in the amount of time it takes to produce most drugs. I think if it was any longer it'd make production a lot riskier financially and if it was shorter there would be way too much product.

5. How long it takes to use (needs to be long enough for another player to attempt a disarm)

I think anything more than one turn total is not going to see any use inside of combat. SD already disproportionately advantages the attacking party. Remember also that someone shooting drugs might not have their weapon out and will have some inventory juggling to do that might take up more time/typing/turns/etc.

6. Availability

Players and factions do a good job with production and distribution, and anywhere they fall short, staff could opt to have like ViriiSoma or NPCs from some faction or another start pushing.

It might be interesting to take v-202 and ex-d7 out of the machines and limit them to corporate requisitions, factions, and PC manufacturers.

7. Strength of effects

The recreational drugs are too weak. Yes I know cocaine doesn't actually make you into A-Train IRL, but this is a video game, and mRc isn't cocaine. The downsides are many (and drugs aren't free), so taking a hit or two should feel like a pretty significant boost.

I think nanos work as a good gamefeel benchmark. Drugs probably shouldn't be better than that, but maybe the really good stuff could get close.

8. Strength of after effects

I absolutely think you should get ridiculous hangovers if you took a lot of cyber drugs. Also I think Endoprine shouldn't ding endurance when it fades because that interferes with its whole anti-PDS schtick pretty badly.

9. Duration of after effects

These should never last longer than the high did, and in the case of drugs that have a lot of negative side effects while you're high, they maybe shouldn't last long at all.

10. Withdrawal scripts & effects

These should be quiet and internal but convey a sense of urgency. The recent Nevadone one by Ephemeralis is fantastic stuff. However I do not think you should get withdrawals at all unless you are addicted.

11. Addiction

Currently you get addicted 100% of the time if you use drugs a certain way. I have lived an extremely colorful life and that's not really how it works. I know these are cyberdrugs and ViriiSoma wants people strung out on them, but I do think there should be checks against the user's endurance and/or intelligence to simulate drugs with tendencies for physical or psychological dependence.

No that doesn't mean addicts are dumb IRL, we just don't have a stat to represent someone realizing that maybe they shouldn't smoke weed before they go into work even though they really want to.

I have also argued for more granular progression into addiction in the past. I still think that's a good idea. Also the Velosan/Hemostax/Vitality patches probably shouldn't be addictive.

12. Interactions with other drugs

Mixing and matching drugs to mitigate the downsides or maximize the benefits feels pretty CP to me.

RPwise I think drugs are working pretty great. I also think that with some gameplay tweaks the game feel would help make that feel a lot more immersive. Drugs should seem like a good financial investment for a character who wants to get mechanical benefits from them. Sorry for hugeposting.

I want to encourage that some weight be given to what Vera mentioned about addiction.

I am not sure how to tackle it from a game balance or code perspective, but the Addiction levels seem to be way too severe. My character has only done non-combat drugs. That being said, they got addicted the first time, every time. That's just crazy.

To me Addicted means that if another character offers my character a drug that they are addicted to, it would be OOC to decline. No ifs, ands or buts about it. That's pretty harsh for recreational drugs without any real PVP bonus.

Also on the subject of addiction, I think that the lower quality drugs should be less addictive. At the risk of a TMI IRL example, if someone offers me some janky, seed filled, brown dirt weed, I'm not going to smoke it. On the other hand if they offer me some freshly cured, fragrant chronic, I'll probably take a hit or two even if I wasn't planning on getting high.

The same dynamic should be at play in game. The cheap vending machine drugs have a bunch of negative (stat wise) side effects. My character probably doesn't want those side effects, and as a player I'm going to steer away from them. On the other hand, some high grade drugs are going to side effect free and I'll go out of my way to try to get those. That's where the addiction kicks in. You get the good stuff. Your body wants more of it, and eventually you settle for the not so good stuff because being the little bit of edge that you get is better than no edge at all.

To take things to another level, it would be awesome to be able to @offer drugs to another character. If they are addicted enough, they should automatically take them. I see this as an IC mechanism to enforce the "Addicted" flag. OOCly, as players we might decided that we just got done dealing with withdrawls, just want to relax and RP, or maybe don't want to deal with the stat tweaks associated with the drugs, so we'll skip the offered drugs even though our characters are ICly addicted. It would be cool to not have the choice.

Substance addiction (as opposed to dopamine addictions) is believed to be caused by a part of the brain able to manage stress. A weak stress-manager causes the desire to flee to the source of addiction.

So what if your ability to handle this stress degraded with each clone? Like a slow-burn DCD effect. Or maybe just time spent in the dome. It's a stressful place.

This would let newer players experiment more freely, while veterans will experience addiction at the regular rate.

@ynk

I understand where you're going with those thoughts. But if the intention is to mimic stress, I think you have the immy / veteran dynamic inverted. Immigrants would be more stressed from being in a new environment and lacking the coping mechanisms (friends, stable employment, etc.) to help them cope. Veterans on the other than would be less susceptible to those environmental factors.

I think that's pretty complex to try to model in code, and balance in terms of game balance.

If you overcomplicate it it probably won't make it in. Most of the improvements I suggested here are just a matter of sliding some numbers around.
Forced emotes break stealth and historically this alone has been enough to keep me from using drugs that have withdrawal scripts. Yes you can always get more weed or whatever but sometimes you need to be somewhere doing something right now and your character needs to not look like an incompetent asshole because they smoked once three days ago.
@Hek: Understood. 😊
@Vera

This can lead to those murders people don’t like :D

*Smoked weed a week ago

**surveils known enemy faction asset

***Is getting info with no intent to kill

**** SUDDENLY GET THE WEED CRAMPS AND TARGET ASKS WTF YOU ARE DOING AND BEGINS MAJOR PANICK WHILE DRAWING WEAPON

****** MURDER COMMENCES

******* You wonder why the sticky icky causes cramping and if you should continue to smoke it, turning you towards a clean and sober path

I'm just saying, look at the opportunity cost here. Drugs currently cost a not insignificant amount of money and only confer a tiny benefit while forcing you to deal with withdrawals, negative side effects, aftereffects, and addiction. You're paying money for them, it should be better to have them than not.
I think I dropped a wall of text on Slither a few town halls ago about almost every single point touched already in here and then we had some back and forth.

Honestly, I thought that this was already in the works from what I heard in the last town hall. Maybe they are still tweaking it and testing it, trying to find a sweet spot or maybe it got backed into the priority rotation due to lack of code monkeys, no idea.

To Vera’s point, I think refactoring all the withdrawal and experience scripts to only include tell and force think without forcing emotes is ideal.

It may also be viable to limit force emotes to just combat drugs like V, Venom, Ex, and maybe Nevadone? But this should be done in a precise fashion where it’s statistically unlikely you get a shitty forced emote and part of the risk of going through combat stim withdrawal.

I think in our giddiness to implement drug withdrawal - we forgot balance.

Different drugs vary in terms of how addictive they are already. Just as an FYI.
Please see the other posts about drug addiction and drug withdrawals as well as the rolling August 2019 bug fixes and updates thread for me addressing some of the issues raised in this post.

Also, to address the idea that stacking reduces effectiveness of drugs-- when you stack a drug it extends the drugs overall effects for the length of the new hit you took, because you're reupping. So if you got a bonus, waited a while, and then took another hit, you wouldn't get double the bonus, but you would get additional bonuses to your stats, and the length that all the effects last would be extended.

On top of that, taking another hit of a drug when you are experiences after effects removes the after effects.