Returning Player: A Review

Discussion in 'Feedback' started by Roflcopter_Rego, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Roflcopter_Rego

    Roflcopter_Rego Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The purpose of starting this thread is to give players who have played fairly consistently over the last few years an idea of how the game appears from the position of a relative outsider, as well as give some suggestions and start discussions about what can be improved that is within the realistic scope of both the devs AND the wider community.

    The Good

    • The core gameplay loop is still great fun and really addictive.
    • Changes to the lobby system and bots have worked.
    • Vehicle handling is in a really solid place.
    • Research balance is the best I can remember it. Whilst people will whinge endlessly about this or that being overpowered, different comms really seem to go for different options, to the extent that I have seen and used all but one armour (reactive) and two engines (bio/electric). This is comparatively fantastic.
    • Cannon/missile balance is also good, with good options for both.
    • The draft system works well more often than it doesn't. I've noticed that at low player counts I seem to really unbalance the teams (I assume because I am treated like a completely new player), and the commander variance plays a large role, but it's better than it ever was before.
    • Likely in part due to the above system, there are very few dead games - where one team has no comm for 5 minutes and they lose over the next 20.
    Could be improved

    • Infantry loadout is more confusing than ever. There are more weapons than ever, and the scripts seem to run counter to the design decision. I still have no idea what to pick as engineer - SMG1/2 seem to behave really differently but are equally capable at different ranges, just with different fire patterns. Shotguns are really bizarre due to the pump rate, meaning that headshots feel super unfair if they happen to you.
    • BE/NF balance in both infantry and tanks are off. I've seen on the forums that this was due to the scripter before Security not using any data to implement changes, and the recent changes in terms of buffing both BE rifles and tanks are going in the right direction. I would say that you have not gone far enough here - both my own observation and community perception is that there is a strong bias towards NF tanks. I have to ask here - if you just copied the NFAR onto one of the BE rifles exactly, would anyone care?
    • In game community aid for new players. Over three weeks I've seen well over 100 new names, and just looking at the scoreboard its clear that they are at least newish. It feels like there is less communication/encouragement of new players than in the past, and a big part of this is...
    • Clans. What happened? When I started playing, I knew I could ask someone is CW or EPIC a question and I'd get a proper answer (even BSID would help occasionally!). Tagged players would usually squad lead, and you knew there was someone to follow who knew what they were doing. In CW, we encouraged everyone to comm pug games if required and had internal guidelines and expectations about how to behave when doing this. It was also a nice aspiration to join a clan, if you ask any old player they'll reminisce about applying to different clans, like a community promotion.
    • Video tutorials and commentated gameplay. This was just not as much of a thing in 2012 as it is now, and it seems crazy that this hasn't been mentioned more in recent years. Empires' core gameplay is really simple and intuitive for most gamers, yet there are so many nuances that increase the skill ceiling or act as a roadblock. An explanation in video form could be short and very effective, unlike the tutorial which is woeful. If a dozen people spent 3 hours designing/scripting the videos, then 20 hours recording and editing footage, it should be possible to create a series of 3-5 videos under 10 minutes each to explain and, crucially, show Empires' many complexities. "How do you comm?" "Watch the video." "What is squad lead?" "Watch the video." Crucially, this requires zero dev time.
    • Substandard maps in rotation and an over abundance of voting. I am writing this post in spec (sorry). I joined to emp_railroad_bc1 , an excessively bland rectangle with little to recommend it. The server is now on emp_massacred_rc1 , which at least looks finished but plays like an objectively worse version of Slaughtered, whose footprint the mapmaker has used. As we go into 'peak time' the player count has halved. It would be interesting to see the player counts on map switch, but my guess is that there are ~10 maps, among them the stock like mvalley and canyon, which retain players substantially better than others. There are maps without textures in rotation. The plugin's decision about what is a high and low pop map are wrong.


    It would be interesting to hear others' thoughts on this, especially as most of these development points are not actually aimed at developers!
     
    MegaMLGgaming likes this.
  2. Not Kidpaler

    Not Kidpaler Member

    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    0
    So, yea. We get about 150 new faces a week. Surprising right? Just recently we got above a 0% retention rate so were actually growing to an extent. The last 2-3 years people didnt really care about new people, but thats shifted quite a bit. Weekdays, around 7pm Central time, people start getting on and we use that time to help get new people up to par. We also train new people on being commander during this time as well. So while it may not be as good as it was in the past, its much better than its been recently.

    Personal opinion, glad its gone. While clans could MAYBE help answer a question, overall it just promoted toxicity. Clans always try to undermine each other, no matter what game it is which overall leads to toxicity. On top of this, the clans would also hold closed events which would bar entire players from playing for a weekend while the vets had their "event". Locking out new players from a game on weekends, when about 70 new faces come on, is bad and we should never try to encourage that so if they do come back I hope they realize this is bad. The population really took a hit over the years and only recently did it start to kind of recover, so that also attributed to the downfall of the clans.

    So if you go in game and type map tutorial/tr_tutorial into console, youll get thrown into the new tutorial system. I realize its not perfect as im still working on it, but there will soon be a full tutorial for making vehicles, basics of commanding, and an overview of each class instead of our current "Here you are, go learn" tutorial.

    So I was there for that "peak time". Massacred is actually regarded as a better version, in play, of slaughtered because it isnt just 1 chokepoint. Regarding the peak time, theres these funny little dead hours and thatwas one of them, right before peak time. There is also this dead time as well for weeknights between 4pm central and 7pm central. These dead times are hard to overcome, but it does happen.

    Also, regarding the maps being selected, massacred WOULD have been fine had we had the 8v8 that we had the round prior. We didnt because 8 people left on map switch. It chooses the maps based on the player count at the end of the round, not taking into account when people leave it actually makes the map to big.

    One last thing about the maps, its actually a huge effort right now to fix up the maps with missing textures and such. A lot of the maps we are trying to save, because most maps were simply lost. We recovered a lot, but missing materials are still a thing and we are trying to fix it. If you have any, we'd appreciate it!


    Hope this helps out a bit, some of it is personal opinion some are ongoing efforts.[/QUOTE]
     
  3. Sgt.Security

    Sgt.Security Member

    Messages:
    3,135
    Likes Received:
    139
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I disagree with this, very.

    The "death" of clans had nothing to do with the recovery of population, at any time. If anything people left when clans "died".

    Clans and people's affinity toward them are the reasons why we generated a reliable group of vets, most of vets you know had been in a clan.
    Which, allow me to remind you, is one of the very fundamental reasons why we could stay alive.

    Clans played (or even playing, as we speak) a big role as the "social function" of this game. In short, people made friends.

    Don't underestimate the "social function" of the game.

    You can't just toss clans and their contribution away like tissue papers.
    Having the population to support clans is a privilege and you get that in every single game out there.


    Toxicity is a side-effect which we can easily handle. Clan stack is no longer possible.
    Most of the reasons you can hate are actually gone or much less likely to happen.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
    Roflcopter_Rego likes this.
  4. Roflcopter_Rego

    Roflcopter_Rego Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'd argue with NKidpaler on the clan thing, but Security I think has summed it up perfectly and I don't think I could do any better!

    "So if you go in game and type map tutorial/tr_tutorial into console, youll get thrown into the new tutorial system. I realize its not perfect as im still working on it, but there will soon be a full tutorial for making vehicles, basics of commanding, and an overview of each class instead of our current "Here you are, go learn" tutorial."

    This really comes down to modern game design, and from what I just checked out it seems like more of a tech demo/practice than an actually useful tutorial (also, it's hella broken).
    Tutorials were far more common in the past than now - I don't think I've bought a game in the last 5 years with a tutorial. The reason is simple enough - they're extremely un-engaging gameplay and if you've got a free game especially, then people will leave within 3 minutes.

    What do games do instead:
    • Iterative and increasing complexities. For example Cities: Skylines - you start with about 3 things you can build and 2 utilities to manage. As your city grows, you have more requirements. Empires actually does this quite well considering it's online only - it's the way we all learned! Unfortunately the natural launchpoint is to play riflemen or scout, which brings in toxicity from other players.
    • A scripted story hook. For example Mirror's Edge, where the first level is the training ground, where you respawn quickly and someone tells you exactly what to do at each step. Difficult to do online.
    • Iterative demos. For example Starcraft 2. You are literally required to place the buildings where you are told to at the start of the first few levels. Not possible without massive dev time for one-off features.
    • Intensive matchmatching. For example League of Legends - when you start playing you are exclusively matched against new players, ensuring that as you learn by observation you will maintain 50/50 winrates and stay engaged (although LoL also has a traditional tutorial - it's an old game!). Not possible for Empires, I fear. Can lead to intense frustration during middle abilities for you and others, as there will be random gaps of trivial knowledge you or your teammate just never picked up.
    • And BY FAR the most common: Pay YouTube (and Twitch) influencers to cover your game after they have been coached to play by the devs. For example: Stellaris, TW:RTK, Apex, MTGA, HOI4, Civ6... Pretty much every game released by any non-Japanese games company. If you advertise and tutorialise at the same time, then your audience goes into the game able to experience it at its best from minute 1! This is by far the best option for Empires as a game, but I don't think there is someone with a 1mil sub account or a few grand to throw on sponsorship just hanging around.
    So failing all the above options, you've got to adapt to the most effective and engaging strategy you can - and I think its the last option. I don't believe that there is literally no one capable of video production in the community, and if it was pushed by some prominent figures I think you could get a good combo of mock-game footage and actual game footage to combine into (short!) videos. It would also be something to link in a reddit comment or similar if the topic came up.

    On the other hand - and I know this is going to be unpleasant to hear - a formal tutorial that's a bit amateurish that feels like it comes from the early '00s may actually do more harm than good if it obstructs interesting gameplay.
     
  5. D.D.D. Destroyer

    D.D.D. Destroyer Member Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,500
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Roflcopter_Rego likes this.
  6. mrmeow

    mrmeow Member

    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    youre probably speaking as a person who was in a clan.

    clans were extremely annoying, and made empires stuck with a fixed and limited player base. clans let empires live for quite a while but also really discouraged new players. now it's different because of the idea of auto-balancer and XP, but clans at their worst would turn off new players and even lone player vets because of insane stacking.

    this is not really an issue now i think with the autobalancer but just saying.
     
    Not Kidpaler likes this.

Share This Page