Crowfall: The winners don’t need help

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.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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6 Responses to Crowfall: The winners don’t need help

  1. Ravious says:

    From my understanding, the winner wins more only goes in one direction, which seems how it’s supposed to work. Factions that have guilds and people running and winning for them in the lower worlds, should have a greater advantage in the upper worlds.

    This is partly why I think the Crowfall design is so elegant. You can’t win the big wars without winning the little battles. It just so happens the little battles largely take place on another world.

    It is also not “unfair”, IMO, because some campaigns won’t allow any import. Winning elsewhere does not help with winning that campaign. In some worlds, everybody starts on equal footing… ish, at least in terms of import/export.

  2. JJ Robinson says:

    This all sounds really interesting, but I can’t get hyped or sucked into a discussion about a game that is 2 years from being even close to playable.

    I understand this is more about games in general, but I’m surely not the only one rolling their eyes when they see any post about Crowfall.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    I’m scarcely following it closely because it’s not my cup of tea at all so I may have got this wrong: there are only a small number of “Worlds” each match, right? The four they have on that diagram? And there’s only one instance of each?

    If that’s right, and the matches last, say, three months, what happens if the result is already a foregone conclusion around week seven? The arguments you put up for why the Winners might keep going are valid but why would anyone else bother?

    Moreover, once the matches are more than half-way through, which still leaves more than a month to go, who’s going to pick up the game and jump in on anything other than the winning side? Okay, the FFA rules world avoids that problem and the 12 faction world is presumably less likely to show a very clear outcome until near the end (you’d think…) but the 3-faction World could easily be dominated by one faction very early on.

    Actually, I just went to the website to fact-check and I think this is the bit that isn’t getting the attention: “Each campaign world exists for a set duration – typically 1 to 3 months — or until some “win condition” is met.” That “Win” condition could be some pre-designated “overwhelming victory” points total and some matches could end rather abruptly if one team pulls a long way ahead.

    I imagine the whole thing when it arrives will end up being a lot more like 1-4 week matches than 4-12. I think they will need to keep people moving through a lot faster than some commentators are imagining to avoid stagnation.

  4. So lets keep in mind here that the fact that these worlds “end” is unique. In a Guild Wars 2 or any other paradigm game (even EVE), the status quo lasts forever. Guild Wars 2 fans might argue that the matches reset at the end of the week, but your opponent is the same and nothings really changed.

    In Crowfall not only do the worlds have an ending, the conditions by which the “rules” are chosen is just as important. If a 3 way server constantly gets dominated or ruined in some fashion, they can simply opt to ever do that type of ruleset again.

    They want to put up worlds which people want to play in, which are fun for the player base, and which aren’t so lopsided that it ruins the previous two notions.

    As much as you can nitpick the idea that one side can (and likely will) win, the fact that players only have to bear through it for a short time span is important. If they can’t handle whatever tier it is they are playing at, they can move down to something easier.

    It really is genius.

    More to your original point, PVP games aren’t your cup of tea? Is that right? Why do you care if a game like this is “lopsided” or not? People who aren’t PvPers playing devils advocate on a game they never intend to play really piss me off.

    It’s like me complaining that your PVE experience is so one sided, the players alway win. You don’t give a crap about my opinion because I never PVE. Why should we care about yours?

    • bhagpuss says:

      The “it” in that opening sentence is “Crowfall” not “PvP”. Also it’s not my “original point” – it’s just a gloss on the reason why what I go on to say may not be correct i.e – I haven’t been following this game all that closely so I might not be remembering this correctly. It’s a rhetorical invitation to other commenters to correct any factual errors I may be making out of my own ignorance or misunderstanding.

      As for assuming I don’t PvP, that’s a big leap from nowhere. I’m very bad at PvP but I’ve been doing it pretty consistently in every MMO that allows it since DAOC.

      Crowfall is, what, two years away at least? We don’t have any clear idea how it will work in practice. All anyone can do at this stage is speculate. And express opinions.

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