CoC is almost perfect for me, I have no real complaints about it as it gives me the satisfyingly grinding experience of the life of an ordinary no-mark stalker of the Zone, nobody of even the slightest importance. However I have a few suggestions based on my observations, granted I haven't actually got very far yet.
1. Stripping dead mutants for body parts should not be instantaneous. Skinning and gutting even a small animal takes some time, I’m not suggesting that this process in the game should accurately reflect the real process but there should in my opinion be some time penalty, which consequently leaves the player temporarily vulnerable, making it a tactical choice rather than just gathering up freebies.
2. Freshly killed meat weighs quite a bit because of the blood and weight of the skin or fur, I’ve amended the inventory weights of some body parts to reflect this.
3. On a similar note, looting human corpses should take at least some time, rather than the rpg standard instant “take all” although to be fair as things stand this can have adverse consequences, in the sense that you can find yourself suddenly immobilised by virtue of being laden down with lots of useless junk.
4. Continuing this theme, why is it that your own player-character can be penalised to the point of immobility by weight, but NPCs apparently aren’t? With NPC looting enabled, so many NPCs have loot loads which would root the player-character to the spot. I don’t know if it is even possible to make NPCs keep their loads within weight limits, I suspect it would be difficult, and of course different NPCs have varying weight limits depending on their suits and any artefacts or drugs they may have taken. And I’d rather have NPC looting turned on even if this is a consequence.
5. Why does the helicopter always attack me in preference to whatever else is going on? Do I have a glowing target on my back? It will continue to press home an attack on me regardless of the other dozen stalkers moving around in plain sight, even if they’re shooting at it while I’m cowering in a bush or behind a wall. Now I love the idea of helicopter patrols and the Army calling in air support, completely makes sense, but I’ve had to turn it off because it’s only interested in me and will ignore whatever else is going on as soon as I turn up. And even more annoyingly, it will one-shot me while seemingly doing sod all to anyone else. I’ve only actually seen it kill one other stalker and that was because I got in his way while it was shooting at me. Okay I could just be rubbish at concealment and be wearing inadequate armour, but I’d like to see the armour that can stand up to sustained minigun peppering. By the way I was pleased to see the older Mi-2 being used as the utility patrol helicopter in the Cordon, and not the Mi-24.
6. NPCs seem to respawn in an area which you’ve just cleared much too quickly, even if you’ve checked that nobody else is around. Fair enough if it’s scavengers, human or otherwise, coming to clean up after a skirmish, but a squad of heavily armed troopers popping up out of thin air within moments, without any warning at all, is pushing it.
7. A feature in Misery that I really liked was the significant variation between the weights of respective artefacts and classes of such. Some are light as a feather, others are dense and heavy. It makes sense that they aren’t all one bog-standard weight and that choosing artefact A over artefact B could have a punishing effect, quite apart from the intrinsic properties, making artefact selection even more of a tactical choice. I’ve already changed the inventory weights of CoC artefacts to behave in this way.
8. There’s not much in CoC that disappoints me but one thing that does is the everlasting headlamp that doesn’t need batteries. The need to regularly replace batteries, even with just a worn-out Duracell with nary a squirt of juice left in that you found lying around or traded for, is so obvious that I was rather surprised that it was left out. Okay I’ve read all the fan speculation about why buildings still have lights without any obvious source of power, but you still wouldn’t expect your Ever-Ready PP6 to magically last forever.
9. The wind-up light in Misery was a brilliant idea and is exactly the sort of low-tech kit one would expect to find in the Zone, given that everything else falls to pieces. One would also not be surprised to find wind-up radios, I always take one when I go camping or sailing just in case.
10. Electronic items are quite delicate and sensitive to moisture, temperature, and radiation. If weapons and armour degrade in the Zone, then so should electronic kit. Whether due to the above, or the mysterious aversion that the Zone has to technology or anything man-made, one wouldn’t expect such items to inexplicably last forever without failing. Of course, kit can be ruggedized and probably is, but even so this doesn’t make it indestructible, and ruggedized kit is generally rather more expensive than more run-of-the-mill examples.
11. Shotgun suppressors are big, heavy, and expensive, they aren’t intended to give any real tactical advantage but to protect the hearing of the shooter. The one that you have in the game for the Saiga-12 is far too small and wouldn’t do much. To be fair the same could be said for most suppressors, only the best military ones do more than just make the muzzle report less painful to the ears.
12. Every soldier in the game is immediately hostile and hits me with incredible accuracy from far away, and they’ll pursue me across the map sometimes. Two chased me all the way from the Southern Farmstead to the Machine Yard in the Swamps. It was a fun, scary experience but that’s very motivated for troops we’re always told are a bunch of miserable underpaid grunts. Okay, since the events of CoP then it’s possible that most of the Kuznetsovs and Khaletskiys might have been replaced by better quality troops with a stronger sense of duty, who take their orders to eliminate all quarantine-breakers more zealously and with particular ruthlessness, but I think that it would be fun to at least have the occasional opportunity of bribing your way out of trouble, if you’re not actively hostile with them and they aren’t on alert. This could be set to a low percentage chance but not impossible.
13. Is there any prospect of cut-content such as the Black Digger’s Stash or the Cartographer’s Place ever being included in CoC? This might be nigh on impossible if the assets don’t exist or can’t be cobbled from other existing ones, but something like the Doctor of the Marshes should be manageable and would fit in with the freeplay ethos, I think.
14. Ghosts. I don’t mean the poltergeists, or those semi-transparent zombies, they’re just other enemies that you can kill, but apparitions, hallucinations, Zone-induced mental trauma, call them whatever you want. Stalker stories are full of such tales so it would be entertaining to occasionally have suggestions of such things, nothing too tangible, just a face at a window, a glimpse out of the corner of the eye, a glow or movement that comes to nothing when chased, mysterious falling of objects with no parent cause, something that shouldn’t be there but for a moment is, before it melts away. Think F.E.A.R. back when it was actually scary.
15. Trading PDAs and doing delivery jobs for NPCs is fine, but what about all the classified documents that must be lying around in the Zone? The hunt for the truth about Item 62 or the Perin B3 convoy instructions were fun quests in CoP, and I think that it would be quite easy to introduce similar document missions into CoC with a bit of literary creativity, or just have random document finds in abandoned facilities or overturned cars that lead you down a rabbit-hole of horror. Doesn’t have to be an never-ending bore-trawl like the Barkeep/Duty/Sin document hunt in Lost Alpha where you lose track of exactly what it was you were supposed to be doing. Something that we’re always being told is that the Zone is full of secrets and that nobody fully knows what was really going in the secret labs in those years after the nuclear accident. I’ve already got some ideas along these lines. I’m only assuming there aren’t such jobs, I haven’t got very far yet.
16. We already know that there are anomalies which distort space. What about time? You blunder into a spatial anomaly and pop up miles away, but you've come out maybe a week later, thus failing your missions because everyone assumed you scarpered or were dead, and your faction’s positions have all changed in the meantime. That shouldn’t be too hard. This may have been mentioned already though. Or, and this really shouldn’t be difficult to do, you’re searching a corpse for loot and you find stuff that’s got dates from years in the future. Think of The Final Countdown when the survival supplies on the island are revealed to be from 1977, not 1941.
17. Incidentally I haven’t encountered any spatial anomalies yet, are there any? One would expect the one in the Cordon during Clear Sky to have moved or dissipated due to subsequent emissions, don’t know if the one in the Red Forest is still there (haven’t got there yet) but there ought to be some around, and they could be used to gain an advantage and not just be a hazard, unless they plop you down in the middle of a hellhole (or nowhere in recognisable space, like what happened to Leshiy’s Mercs in CS or General Tachenko’s team in CoP.)
18. Bodies decay quickly in the Zone and then aren’t worth stripping, which is quite right and as it should be, but what about perishable food? Tinned food is fine and I imagine that Stalker sausage is so full of preservatives it could last for years, but bread and many other foodstuffs should go stale and rotten even if stored carefully.
19. I like how you’ve implemented dynamic pda messages, I tried to do this myself but failed miserably. It’s better than in Autumn Aurora where they appear to be dynamic but are actually just randomly cobbled together from assorted stock responses. My effort was based on the zone_news.script by Dorian Grey 23 that’s been floating around on avoitshin’s GitHub profile for years. I’ve expanded this significantly from 300 to 900 entries, most of which I made up myself, and I was able to at least add faction colours. It’s not dynamic but at least it’s interesting and varies. The only complaint that I have about your dynamic pda messages is the lack of variety, in my opinion there should be more random chatter, gossip, arguments, requests, offers, overheard private conversations and the like.
20. On a related note, the Stalker universe often mentions other factions, organisations, and nationalities in the Zone as it gets increasingly exploited. I know that there are various mods that put everything from ISG to US special forces in the game, and I’m not suggesting going as far as that, but it would be good to see at least some reference to others – spare uniforms, looted supplies, even just pda messages (I’ve already done this) and it would help to explain where some of the more exotic and rare weaponry comes from.
21. (late edit) There are mods that make the teleporter in Limansk functional, one has the endpoint in the wine cellar of the Old Church in the Swamps. I'm going to try to make this work in CoC, but I might tweak it so that if you use it too many times it kills you - hence why only Monolith fanatics use it.
That's it. Just a few ideas that I've been rattling around.