News

Perfecting your Laboratory

By Bruno Dias, October 21, 2021 ·

Today we are launching a series of updates and quality of life changes to the University laboratory.

A note for newer players: Your own University laboratory becomes available some time after obtaining a ship, as part of the mid-to-late game Watchful progression.

Originally, the Laboratory allowed making progress through an unlimited deck of mostly discardable cards. We’ve known for some time that this combination – discardable cards, infinite draw – doesn’t really work. To play optimally, players would discard the majority of their draws, in order to repeatedly play the best branch on the best card over and over.

This meant that making progress required a much greater number of clicks than usual, which was a significant quality of life problem. It also made the activity feel much more repetitive, and it meant that the vast majority of the cards and branches didn’t have an impact.

We’ve wanted to address this for a long time, but we wanted to do it right – not just reduce the amount of clicking but revamp the lab in a more comprehensive way to make it something we were happy with. We also chose to extend the update with a little new content and some additional polish – including a new lab experiment, new items, and new art for the Ambition-related lab assistants.

Cards in the Laboratory deck are no longer discardable – taking away the main source of excess clicking. But to support this change, we have made many more alterations and additions to the lab; simply making the existing cards non-discardable would not have led to the kind of experience we wanted the laboratory to be.

For example, the lab offered little incentive to recruit more than one lab assistant; with non-discardable cards, this effect would be even more perceptible, and players would be pushed to dismiss any assistant other than the very best one. So, this update includes several things to push towards having a more fully-staffed lab: Low-efficiency cards that appear only if you have two or fewer assistants; cards that get better with a better-staffed lab; and systems that encourage mixing students and experts together.

To fulfil these design goals, this update adds over a dozen new cards dealing with all aspects of the academic experience. You may find yourself having to entertain tedious University donors or washing your own glassware. You may rely on the aid of a Secret College, or shock and appal by mixing Latin and Greek roots. If you’re so inclined, you may find ways to perform ever more ill-advised experiments in the service of advancing science. So what if your eyebrows might get vapourized?

The lab now makes use of several new qualities. Research Preparations makes every Watchful check in the lab easier, helping players with less developed attributes ease into a project. Several of the new cards can be dismissed once they are no longer useful, giving you some control over the shape of the deck. Experiments now look more different from one another, too – some cards only appear on longer experiments; there are now more advanced skill focuses with appropriate cards.

Some of these qualities are novel resources. Unlikely Connections enable laboratory experts to contribute research at a higher rate even outside their fields of expertise, giving them greater utility. Unexpected Results and Unavoidable Epiphanies can be spent to generate bursts of research – the latter tends to be generated by experts, but can be most easily spent with the help of a fully-trained student. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself in possession of a few Unwise Ideas – follow them up at your own peril.

These items will become Collated Research at the end of an experiment, though at a fairly modest rate – it’s always best to spend them to generate research during an experiment, if you can. They add a new layer of complexity to the lab, for those of you who enjoy optimizing, but they are not required to complete any given experiment. You’ll always be able to make progress, but there’s room to strategise if you play your cards right.

This update will be going live today. It’s the product of a lot of work and iteration; we hope it revitalises the laboratory for players who already have access to one, and makes it a more delightful space for players who are just gaining access to it.

20 Comments

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Z Oct 27, 9:50pm

Very happy with this. I've always had a full staff of characters I enjoy rather than keeping just a single one active for ""efficiency"" purposes, so I'm glad to see those people knocked down a peg. :^) Can't wait to try out new experiments after I'm done grinding Hallowmas~

Sean Hennessy Oct 27, 8:14pm

Finally, I can click on April again!

Lathrael Oct 24, 9:11pm

Lab got totally sh____d, more so if you are correspondent. (Unless you have end-game levels of asoc) Freeloading Artist now clogs up your lab deck instead of normal one. Great. Before you say it's 3 EPA, either it's not 3 EPA (because hard persuasive check) or you have unlocked far better money making actions by now. It would require endgame items plus 230 persuasion to make it %100. And by then, when you are working in lab you would want research not a random card that gives you a meager 3 echoes. They had too many ideas that are different but almost all of them seems like a miss. I don't think lab needed a nerf...

Pixie Oct 23, 6:21pm

Though it’s just the first day I’ve tried the new update, and the standard research cards are quite more interesting than previously, but while doing the specialised research like “The Theory on the Anatomy of a Pinewood Shark” cards for “Consider your Aquaria” have such a low draw rating, that I’ve earned only around 20 Piscine research per almost a 1000 Laboratory research. Need 10 more and quite frustrated to waste the actions on the non-discardable research I don’t need anymore.

J. Oct 23, 7:46am

Oh and a card from the Dean now shows up if I get rid of a staffer to try to pull the amphibian research card more often... so now I've burned forty actions to see it three times. only 104 more research to go... very tedious not being able to discard useless cards.

Ada K Oct 22, 12:17pm

Here's my take on the laboratory revisions after one day of play. I am creating Mirthless Compendia of Statistical Observations with a goal of upgrading my lab equipment. I am also grinding Watchful so I can advance the railroad story. I was annoyed to discover, after doing the un-discardable Parabolan research card, that I had just ruined my almost-complete Compendium. Since I want to maximize the cards I play that improve Watchful, having one of my three cards stuck as something that I really, really, don't want to play is annoying. Overall it is a good change, but perhaps it would benefit from some small tweaks. Note to other commenters: If you want to train your students, you have to do it with a regular action, not from an Opportunity card.

Julius de Poisson Oct 22, 10:41am

This is really well done! I am very impressed and enjoying it immensely so far. This may rival the Bone Market for complexity and fun. Thanks FBG!

J. Oct 22, 8:18am

Was surprised to suddenly draw entirely new cards midway through my Inquiry into the False-Snake, but the new options seem quite good on the whole. Only awkward thing is being unable to discard most of the cards... not very convenient when I have 1500 research but still need 132 amphibian research and the card scarcely ever comes up...

One with Vast Networks Oct 22, 2:42am

Love the new April. Will miss the endless scones and stories with her and Lettice. Was stoked to see the options on the resupplying card. Yes! At last! Another use for my Vast Network of Connections. Legend Ambition was hard to beat and I never felt I got the full value out of going for that ending. I mean of course I allowed them not to pay me my reward on account of it spelling doom and gloom for London but I always felt there were more interesting options cropping up for the other ends. Especially since I already had the railway and bone market stall. Oh, the free drinks are nice but it says that everywhere I go someone owes me something but really, they didn’t. Until now. Now I feel like the average common London merchant is saying, “Thank you for not casting us into eternal damnation. Have a discount.” If only I could actually get them to serve me my cacao at Beatrice’s...

Sad without tea partner Oct 21, 7:52pm

Seems that Mercy has drank her last tea then. So sad.

Zeculo Oct 21, 7:32pm

I quite like the changes, though I feel like there was a missed opportunity to add in some use for Missing Research Assistants. Perhaps in the future.

Anna Libertas Oct 21, 7:29pm

Overall I'm enjoying the change but students take much longer to train now. I just investigated queenly attar (450 investigation) and my gifted student didn't progress a single point. I understand if that's what you intended, but I'm not sure how I'm ever going to be able to unlock the visionary now....

gryffinp Oct 21, 6:40pm

"or shock and appal by mixing Latin and Greek roots." Is this a typo, or an esoteric linguistic scholarship joke that I don't get?

Professor Fungis Oct 21, 5:01pm

I appreciate the improvements to the cards, and it’s a lot more fun to play now, but I do wish at least some of them were discardable. There are occasions when I visit the lab strictly to share tea with the Mercy, as she is the best option for reducing Nightmares and Wounds. Making all the cards undiscardable means I will have to spend more actions doing things I don’t necessarily want to do in order to meet with her.

Baron Lagavulin Oct 21, 1:40pm

This is even better than what I was hoping for when I was eager for a lab revamp! Great work!

Kye Oct 21, 1:29pm

I look forward to trying it out when I return from zee. I always knew my assistants were getting up to something while I was away! Thank you for all your hard work on FL.

allen Oct 21, 1:21pm

from first impressions, looks and feels much better! overall quite cool, thanks

Newly printed Mr. Cards Oct 21, 11:23am

I swear, you folk just predict what I need. The ambition reward rework came out two days before I finished mine and now this Just as I'm starting the grind for Discordant studies 2 you update the lab. Thanks!

Fuligin Wolsey IV Oct 21, 11:10am

I have been playing for almost a year now and I really have to say, in the loudest voice possible, this has all been ridiculously good work! Mysterious living events, a new swashbuckling Zee-venture spectacular, the placing of tracks to regions unknown, and now this expansion of a personal favourite of mine, the edification of one's self through knowledge. Red, infernal or otherwise. Bloody good show, you are to be commended! Yes you! All of you!

Krayven Oct 21, 10:57am

A fantastic and comprehensive update. The lab was fun for a while, but was rapidly becoming an occasional place to just to advance a story, or grind out certain items. This seems much more enjoyable. Thanks for taking the extra time to give it the extra polish and finesse.