|Update: Solo Challenge|
September 25, 2020
A bunch of impactful changes this week, mostly inspired by the deluge of new players from the recent Steam sale.
First of all, there's now a second phase in the tutorial, meant to help new players get accustomed to the game in a less high-pressure situation. New players often just want to experiment and learn crafting without having a whole village depending on their efficiency. Furthermore, being plopped into a thriving and cluttered village as a new player can be overwhelming. You just learned to chop kindling with a hatchet in the tutorial, and suddenly you find yourself in an environment with dozens of unknown tools. Yes, getting born into the middle of an existing situation is a fundamental premise of the game, but it's not a great environment in which to experiment with the basics.
So, after the main tutorial, there's now an optional solo challenge. You are thrown out into the wilderness, naked and alone, to try your hand at solo survival. You can opt out of this right away, if you want, or you can keep trying until you pass the challenge by surviving from scratch until age 60. For new players who don't opt out, they will enter the main game at least knowing how to take care of themselves in a hostile environment.
Since the game keeps track of which phases of the tutorial have been passed (or bypassed), and no one has passed this second phase yet, even veteran players will find themselves thrown into the solo challenge at least once.
And of course, just like you can revisit the tutorial whenever you want, you can revisit this solo challenge too, almost like an alternate play mode (which many players have already been simulating by connecting to low population servers).
Next, tool slots have been disabled. I was never fully satisfied with tool slots, since most players just ignored them, and they didn't really contribute to interesting cooperative interactions. However, they were still in there, pestering you with endless DING messages as you went about your business.
The behavior of expert way stones have been expanded to help you find poly-lingual people: if you touch your own expert way stone, you are directed toward the closest language expert.
New players start with a fitness score of 0 now, instead of 30. This means that they generally see their scores go up in the beginning, which is good for morale, but it also means that having a new player as a baby will be likely to help, not hurt, your own gene score (as long as you help a new player live longer than 0 years, you will earn points).
And finally, dealing with griefers. More players means more griefers.
Personal curses now last 90 days instead of 30 days (don't forget that you can always forgive someone if needed). And curse labels (DOLL KING or whatever appears in black above the cursed person's head) are now shared between players, instead of being unique per cursing player. So the same person, when cursed, always has the same label for everyone who has cursed them. Thus, players can compare notes about griefer behavior.
For quite a while, it has been very hard for solo griefers or small groups of griefers to kill. Killing requires some form of village consensus, either through a large enough posse or through convincing the village leader to exile the target. Since leaders tend to be high-fitness individuals, griefers have a hard time becoming leaders.
However, griefers can still cause plenty of trouble in other ways. Planting the wrong crops, moving stuff around, stealing stuff, and hiding stuff in the woods. Yes, you can eventually convince the leader to exile them, and then eventually hunt them down to kill them (if they don't get away first), but all of that takes time. Meanwhile, they can keep causing trouble. Killing is also a pretty severe way to deal with a thief, but so far, it has been the only way.
This week brings you a new, less sever way: ally gates. Leaders can mark certain gates, designating them for ally access only. All allies of that leader can move through that gate. To stop someone from moving through the gate, the leader just needs to exile that person. And the ownership of the gate is inherited by the next leader when the current leader dies. Thus, you now have a new way to stop a trouble-maker: exile them, and suddenly, they can no longer travel in and out of the village, through the gate. You can even trap them inside, making them easier to confront and deal with.
The other nice thing about ally gates is that they are spring-loaded, so they automatically open and close as you walk through (and automatically keep non-allies out).
And sports cars can smash mosquito swarms on their windshields.