A quick snapshot of some of the action we saw over the beta
It’s been little over a week since we put the planes, bosses, and faction fleets back into the hangar, and that’s given us time to go over the feedback and data, start making changes and prepare for the December open period! The data allowed us to go through matches from close to 20,000 unique players who helped us test, 40 million effort points spent, and the turnover of 320 territories. We received a few hundred direct feedback from people, and over 150 responses from our survey. From a data collection and feedback standpoint, this was the most successful testing period we’ve had for Alliance.
A big thanks to all the players who took the time to play, test, give feedback, and fill out surveys on our expansion. That data and feedback drives us to improve the game and pushes us in the right direction.
Follow along to see what we learned, the parts we’re proud of, and the parts we’re improving. Also, please go to the fixes section for not only a recap of all the issues and experiments during the test period, but also for a few fixes that we’ll patch in today. We’ve moreover added a draft of the post war lore for the open testing period that we’ll add in game.
What We Did Right:
New Ultimate Abilities
The new special ability got a lot of use and a lot of love from the Beta. Feedback was overall very positive from across the spectrum of player levels and skills. Juxtaposed the feedback for abilities against that for the skill upgrades from the last open period, we’ve clearly moved in a positive direction with player person progression, and that’s been gratifying to see. The tar bomb and mine ejection were a bit underwhelming, and we’re looking to improve them. Also, we are creating more abilities for players to unlock and use including shields, pushing enemies, support clone dummies, and more!
A Whole New User Interface
The new UI is currently in game, and it took a few revisions based on feedback to improve it over a short course of time. We were able to use the testing period to experiment with a few different layouts and implementations possibilities, and get feedback on them from a larger group of people very rapidly. We did take a bit of risk with very agile development on production, which we very rarely do. While this caused a bit of anxiety on some veteran players, the risk was overall worth it, as we were able to iterate and try ideas quickly, and ultimately coming up with a UI revision that most people are happy with. All the feedback and emails we received helped us with improving placement of certain elements, examining info hierarchy of some functions in more detail, and finding ways to improve the chat and community sections of our game.
As we mentioned before and during the open period, the new UI is still work in progress. Some sections are not done yet as you all noticed, and some parts need more work and revision.
We were really excited to show off this new and unique ship, and based on feedback, it seemed that the ship lived up to expectations. This was one of the most used ships in the open period with a slew of players giving positive feedback or affirmation to this asymmetrical sky beast. By comparison and based on data, we’ll be targeting the Magnate for balance adjustments. As a side note, we’ll also be looking at the Lens Array and the Coil for balance adjustments as well.
People who participated in the war and pre-war phases got their first taste of missions, and the players completed the missions amazingly quickly. We were happy to see these not ignored by leaders and passionate players and while we want to do more to show these off, it puts our mind at ease knowing the core concept works so we can keep adding and improving upon it.
What We Need To Improve Upon:
We put in a lot of work to try and and solve this issue stemming from the last open period, where skilled players could fight and end a match in Retrieve in under one to two minutes. Yet, with the introduction of the new Stormbreaker ship and new special abilities, our previous efforts proved inadequate in stemming players from jetting through the match and grinding out points for their factions. This was painfully obvious from the data, feedback, and our own observations in game. We are now working on ways to make this rush strategy harder and riskier to pull off while still making it a viable one.
The Challenge of Normal
This time around we got novice games to a much better place, with the expected win rates largely in line with our expected values. We still want to tune them a bit, but overall the “novice” difficulty is in a much better place.
However, the same could not have been said about normal difficulty and above. For a multitude of reasons, many of these games resulted in losses for players, the actual win rates across the board (with the exception of Retrieve) were lower than expected. The discrepancy in normal difficulty matches were quite a bit larger than we anticipated. While Assault and Survival game mode matches had win rates that were a lot closer to our expected values, they also skewed long in terms of match length.
We’ve identified a few factors that caused lower than expected win rates as well as long match lengths in certain game modes, and we are now making balance adjustments to address these factors. We are also adjusting rewards for partial wins higher as well.
One of the biggest issues with balance we saw was single ships trying to play Defense and unable to both attack and defend at the same time. We are now looking this issue to make sure Defense maps are better balanced for single ships as well.
Underpowered Weapons and Ship
While a majority of the new ships and weapons were fan favorites, (especially the stormbreaker!) some new equipment didn’t work up to snuff. The Lens Array, Lightning Coil, and Magnate all fell below where we hoped they’d be. Player feedback and data are pushing us to look again at these pieces of content and buffing them into the fold.
Single Ship Matchmaking
We saw the matchmaker making a lot of single ship matches again. This was an issue in the last open period as well. While we made fixes and improvements from last time, this test period exposed a few more issues. There were some more bugs with it that were solved, but we’re also realized that we needed to change up the novice match logic and constraints. The legacy from Skirmish PvP actually didn’t apply to or fit PvE conditions as we learned. So we’ve made some more fixes and improvements in preparations for the next open period later this month.
World & Faction
We got a lot of great data back from the war. Many players put in a crazy amount of time and effort to fight on our mmo-Risk board. However, the participation overall was relatively low. This was in a way to be expected, as this was our first integrated implementation, and the focus had been to get the meta game functionally ready. The emphasis going forward and the next milestone is to work on UI clarity, player education, and hooks for this system and meta game to make sure everyone feels the urge to spend their warchest, to make tactical choices, and to be more invested. The World UI also had a few ease of use issues such as leaders being confused as to what to do. Lower participation in the meta game also resulted in part from balance issues such as Retrieve Mode speed runs. With better tutorial, UI ease of use improvements, gameplay hooks, and balance adjustments, we should be in a better place with World and Faction progression for the next open test period.
12.5.2016 Hot Fix Patch Notes:
- Fixed Party voice chat icon
- Bringing back red/blue team color for team voice chat
- Fixed incorrect match lobby outline
Recap of Fixes During Test Period:
- Player title, 'Sentinel' misspelled
- Match lobby fixes and layout experiments
- Chat layout fixes and layout experiments
- Warning message is blocked by in game menu
- Back button on the voting dialogs was not clickable
- Weird hover tooltip background
- Chat messages are showing from blocked players
- Joining a passworded game issues
- Lobby chat's scrollbar missing
- Player name display issue in match list
- Unresponsive player popup
- Clan level display
- First time players can't play tutorial if they access it from header
- UI for confirming or cancelling video settings
- Profile status does not update when leaving created lobbies
- Player names and info overlap inconsistently
- Can't exit chat tab settings by clicking on other tabs
- Text overlap in match list
- "Tab to switch channel" message to only display when applicable
- Refer friend not working properly
- Chat modes change when you check out the score screen [TAB]
- Ship pictures are missing when viewing each ship stat
- Match list alignment fix
- Tooltip fixes
- Event list does not show start time correctly
- Clan member role not showing
- View friend profile / clan in match leading to bad (dead) states
- Item/gun tooltip position fix
- "Profile" menu does not have an option to take you to your profile
- Back [ESC] from crew form takes to you main menu instead of PLAY menu
- Tip position fix for selection window
- Clan tag doesn't immediately appear when a clan gets a new member
- If chat display is hidden, it doesn't immediately appear when unhidden
Once again, war has swept across the land. The Outsiders’ War, named after the unusual alliances formed, was quick and but narrowly decisive. The war was kindled by the Chaladonians as they claimed mines from the Merchants for new heavy manufacture, and secured land from the Baronites to protect the farms from being overburdened and stripped bare of resources. Despite exploiting weak Chaladonian convoys and retrieving unheard of amounts of essential goods, champions like Skyraider of the Fjord Baronies, TzeroX of the Angleans Republic, and El Yuron of the Mercantile Guild could not stop the likes of Hai Fisch, Slipt, Letheliah, and Oppressedzebra from bringing about war.
Historically, the Angleans and Chaladonians aren’t known to get along. However, some goodwill might have been brought to the tropical isles by Waper, who was known to fight for both factions before the war began. Ultimately, the Angleans and Chaladonians formed the Primal Conservancy, at 6000 members strong, to prevent fertile lands and water supplies being spoiled by the cutthroat capitalism of the Utilitarian Assembly. Backed by the Merchants and Baronites, the Assembly fought for free and open trade with 5500 supporters. Despite looking down on the Merchants’ habit of trading labor so freely, the Baronites could not strike the market pacts they required to feed their growing migrant population.
The two alliances fought tooth and nail over resources and territories with RearAdmiralZill, Shinkurex, Lysanya, and gloowa bringing in many territory victories for the Assembly while Dementio, EXPEREMENTATOR, Diehard.zero, and Gevurah secured resource domination for the Conservancy by completing key Missions. In the end, The Mercantile efforts waned dramatically as the world transitioned into war while the Baronites struggled to shoulder the weight. Clearly, the Fjord Baronies stood to lose the most if they suffered a defeat.\n\n
In the end, the Primal Conservancy was successful in protecting the bulk of the resources that they needed to ensure the future of their factions, and perhaps the futures of any faction willing to share. The Utilitarian Assembly failed to acquire enough new resources to incentivize the formation of new commerce agreements. The forces of the world have shifted and it will take some time for the dust to settle and for balance to be found. Perhaps, then, new alliances will be forged to fight for a different interpretation of the world.