CoC: Required reading for our TH9+ players

March 5, 2015

Fantastic writeup on TH9 base design.

Everyone in Supreme Cream at TH9 or who is about to move up should read the linked info above and start working on improving your TH9 layout, and then continue to improve your layout based on war results.

For non-CoC players, the above is just a small glimpse into why CoC is far deeper and more difficult/complex than it seems at first glance. The game really is a monster of a strategy title, and as soon as you think you have it figured out or are getting decent at it, you either move up and have to learn a bunch of new stuff, or you have a war like we are having right now and realize you have a LONG way to go to be more than a pub-stomper player/clan.

Easy to play, hard to master is an old game design mantra, and CoC is a prime example of it done perfectly.


Crowfall: The winners don’t need help

March 5, 2015

Building a bit off this post from Az (link coming later, site blocked due to work network) about winner and loser motivation in Crowfall today, but a quick note first: I think Az is missing or discounting the fact that ‘jumping in’ to a winner world (which itself will only work in the faction vs faction worlds, as you can’t join the winning side in the FFA or Guild vs Guild worlds) isn’t that helpful in Crowfall based on the (granted, very limited) info we currently have.

You build up what you can potentially walk away with over time on a world, and already the devs have indicated that even if you are on the winning side, if you joined late your reward percentage is diminished. If scaled correctly, you should earn more reward for your time finishing strong on a losing world than jumping into a winning one late. And if you are abandoning your work on a losing world to play an alt on a new world (to jump in early for max reward), there is always the chance that you don’t end up picking the winner this time either. We’ll see if reality aligns with expectations, but at least on paper the system isn’t critically flawed (no 4th pillar or manifesto here, at least not yet).

I think what is critically important however is to get the reward scales ‘right’, and by right I mean not making winning too good, and not making losing a “quit the game now” situation. After all, winning itself feels good. You don’t actually win anything when you beat everyone else in a boardgame, but you still feel good about it right? That feeling along has value, so even if everything else was equal, the winner feels better than the loser.

We know the winners in Crowfall will get a larger percentage of their stashed loot, but really this percentage doesn’t need to be huge. Rewarding the winner by making it easier for them to win again is a recipe for disaster, and it’s why almost all professional sports leagues ‘reward’ weaker teams with better draft picks; parity is far more entertaining than utter dominance by a select few (sorry that the Pats are so much better than the rest of the NFL that they still dominate in spite of this, but that’s what happens when the greatest QB of all times is paired with the greatest coach of all time.)

Another aspect of rewards is you don’t need to make them help you win the next time. ‘Fluff’ rewards work, as do leaderboards. In addition to just the feeling of winning, a guild or player will be additionally motivated if it means getting their name in history, or on some score sheet. In WoW, the top guilds compete for world firsts, even though there is no ‘real’ reward for doing so; the loot isn’t better the first time a boss is killed, and imagine how much worse the raiding scene would be if that was the case? If the first few kills rewarded better items? Crowfall needs to avoid this, or create additional systems (seeding based on previous performance?) to counteract it.

What’s new and interesting in this entire mix with Crowfall is the length of time too; we are talking months per world, and we haven’t seen how the average player will react to that length of time. We have plenty of examples of far shorter timeframes, be it arenas or battlegrounds in MMOs, or now the average MOBA match. We also have EVE and its decade+ of warfare, along with other ‘forever’ examples in MMOs. If you want to count ‘soft’ resets (increase in level cap) in themeparks, those are often years apart as well, and are a borderline apples/oranges comparison. But we have never seen what happens when the clock is set to months, and that alone is a huge unknown.

Hell, right now, even I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it really. I think I’ll love it, because to me it sounds like a long-enough timeframe to get really invested, but not so long that the next reset seems like it’s never going to happen, but maybe once the game is live I’ll feel completely different. It’s an exciting prospect, but also incredibly dangerous. If it feels ‘wrong’, Crowfall might be doomed regardless of everything else. Quite the gamble, but that’s what the MMO space SHOULD be about.


The Turbine info has been right here for years

March 4, 2015

Link to the first of many Aylwen posts.

If the general gist, and even some of the exact details were news to you, you haven’t been reading this blog long have you?

Still, it’s nice to have someone ‘officially’ confirm what I’ve been saying about not just LotRO itself, but F2P when it comes to Turbine for years now. Bonus points to Aylwen for the line about the poster with the “millions of others” tag line; still stands as such a great example of Turbine’s goals vs reality.

Maybe I’ll go look through my LotRO-tagged posts and see who was doubting me and what they had to say. Guessing I’ll find at least a few gems.


Trolls aren’t always people either!

March 4, 2015

Theme day on the blog!

Somewhat random, but this video is a good glimpse into the winter we are having here in Mass. I post this from my office as the bedroom above me is not-so-slowly turning into a waterpark, and I have icicles over twenty feet tall and close to a foot thick hanging from basically every part of the roof. Let’s not talk too much about the weird yellowish ‘water’ pooling in the basement either.

The home insurance guy I talked to sounded like he was one call away from jumping out of a very tall window (and not into a fluffy snow bank), and I can’t blame him. Credit where it’s due, he gave me all the info I needed and basically said they cover everything related to this mess, so that was good.

But hey, at least I’m not selling hotbars for a living, so it’s not that bad.

:off to rotate bucks and play “what’s leaking now”:

 


Troll day continues, hotbar salesman is back!

March 4, 2015

So so good!

Embracing the Paradigm Shift: Converting a Premium Team to an (Enthusiastic!) Freemium Team

First of all, how great is that title for that talk? Reminds me of “Up in the Air” (awesome movie btw) when they talk about how best to phrase “you’re fired” to people. That’s the hotbar salesman here, expect rather than everyone being directly fired, some of them get the ‘opportunity’ to work on a Freemium Team.

Schubert advocates for a terminology shift from the word “whale” to the word “patron.”

“These people are very important, and we can start by treating them with some fucking respect,” Schubert told his audience.

The fun one could have in suggesting terminology shifts around the F2P model in the MMO space…

Talking about respect to customers when it comes to F2P is hilarious though. Is the hotbar salesman aware that the model he is talking about only works when you trick enough dummies to overpay for crap? This is the same guy not only selling you hotbars, but multiple forms of lottery lockboxes, right? The guy who’s former game is getting ready to bombard the cash shop with cheap movie tie-in crap? This is like a black hole calling the pot a little dark.

But really this is what F2P does to people. You can’t be a normal, decent human being and make F2P work in the MMO space. You have to become the hotbar salesmen, always attempting to dupe the next dummy for a buck. And when that dummy figures it out, you move on to the next, or dig even deeper into the slime bucket to again attempt to get a little money off someone. And most of all, when you do hook a whale, you do everything in your power to fully gut them. You don’t care if some weak-willed fool can or can’t afford the thousands he is spending; all you care about is that once he is hooked, you continue to provide bigger and bigger ‘deals’ or ‘opportunities’ to them to keep that money rolling.

That’s the ‘game’ you are designing when working on a F2P MMO. It’s just a vehicle for what in most industries would be called a scam, and the scam artist behind it talking about ‘respect’ is amazingly crazy.


Storybricks closes with a fantastically trolly mic drop

March 4, 2015

Per MassivelyOP:

[The] majority of the work we have done is about EverQuest Next and is co-owned by Daybreak,” the letter said. “We look forward to the release of EQN.”.

If that one bolded line is all the MMO genre gets from Storybricks, I think we can all agree it was worth it. Well played.


Crowfall: The winners stand alone

March 2, 2015

If there is one thing I still regret about Darkfall, it’s AV not making the now-gone MVP forums public after they did away with the program; a lot of good ideas and discussions all gone because I don’t think AV knows how to update or manage their forum software. More to today’s point; one of the ideas thrown out that had a good amount of backing was the idea of seasonal servers that would reset and could be ‘won’ based on different point systems. That sound familiar?

Imagine if AV had beaten Crowfall to the punch with one of their major features? Classic AV though; get a good idea, sit on it, and then end up going with something else (worse) instead. Moving past that little bit of amusement, lets talk the idea itself.

The biggest and most obvious fact is that everyone who plays an MMO on day-one loves it (bugs/crashing aside). There is just something about that ‘new world’ feel that works, and I think anyone who has played an MMO day-one can relate. Crowfall being able to replicate this feeling, especially with random geography on each world, is huge.

It’s huge for current players getting a built-in motivator to kick it up a notch, and its huge for former players and potential new ones as it gives everyone a ‘start this day’ indicator similar to the launch of an expansion.

The downside is perhaps similar to eating candy, maybe too much of a good thing isn’t that great? Right now I don’t see that being the case for me personally (the start of a new Civ game is always enjoyable for me, even after dozens of games), but the MMO space is a little different, so we will see.

The other downside is the counter-effect; when you know a world is set to end, only those truly invested in the ending (likely the winners) will stick around. Everyone else will likely be long gone, and so I can see worlds ending not in a final epic battle, but in days or weeks of cleanup by the winners. And if the cleanup time is lengthy or a pain, I can foresee even winning to be more grind than reward, and that overall would be a huge problem (think EVE null territory battles; some epic fighting, then a bunch of structure grinding).

I’m curious to see how Crowfall handles things in this regard, but overall I still like the general idea for the game.


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