PopeUrban

Stuff that needs fixed before a "sanctioned" campaign

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Crowfall is not ready for "Sanctioned" campaigns with permanent rewards. Here's why.

Campaigns are cool. Its awesome to see it coming together. However there are MASSIVE blind spots on the project's status at the moment. In no particular order, here are the ones that I feel break the campaign model. Why does this feel like ACE is barreling headlong in to hype when they've been so careful to give features time to cook up to this point? What's the rush?

1: Teleporting through walls.

This is supposed to be a thing duelists and only duelists can do on a long cooldown. Currently any character with a teleport can violate walls, which means violating the early warning system for forts and sneaking unintended classes and roles in to keeps. This issue is over a year old. And continues to largely invalidate massive portions of the fort/keep gameplay loop and the importance players place on maintaining walls and other structures.

2: Population Balance Limits

This is just a necessary step for faction campaigns. Because faction campaigns are largely built around random people looking for a leg up by bandwagoning on to the largest blob, the most efficient method of winning is... joining the winning team. Without systems in play to somehow restrict the population, and with the heightened incentive of actual rewards for campaigns you're not only going to see the same blowouts we already have. You're going to see the severity of that pop imbalance multiplies by greed.

3: Talent Balance/disciplines

You literally just increased the overall complexity of balancing your combat by a factor of 3. Clear problems have already emerged, and most players don't even have "midgame" gear and vessels to gauge how broken or not broken various permutations of stats+vessels+talents even are. You simply can not start offering permanent rewards in a system where the inherent class balance is so volatile. ESPECIALLY when you're literally changing the entire system again so you have no clear motivation to even balance it because that balance work will be null and void with talents 2.0 restricting the node and power choices further.

4. The Scoring and Scoreboard

The scoring encourages avoiding PvP and nightcapping.. The scoreboard literally does not work to track the few things it is supposed to track. Campaigns are currently decided by who has the most patience rather than who has the best soldiers. Lots of people have suggested ways to modify this and I'm certain the ACE team is also on the ball with fixes. Making a "sanctioned" campaign the first test of these fixes is, quite frankly, a bad idea.

5. The Siege vuln window

Having all vuln windows start simultaneously doesn't work. Defending owned assets is obviously higher priority for a faction than attacking enemy assets. It takes the same amount of time for each faction to successfully defend its assets by killing the bane trees. The current state of siege is that they don't happen because you're placing players in a situation where they are required to simultaneously defend and attack. Players aren't going to do that. Vuln windows need to be stepped so each faction has an opportunity to both attack and defend on separate schedules or you'll see a whole "official" campaign of... empty sieges.

6. Import/export metagaming

The ability to export from anywhere in the world is ridiculous. The ability to import 200 items is ridiculous. Tying these values to a vessel to allow players to effectively access infinite imports and exports undoes the entire system. Anyone with an extra account or one trusted friend literally invalidates the entire system even if the import/export count was 1. If ytou want people to craft in campaigns, stop making it so easy for them to craft an infinite amount of stuff in EKs and import/export an infinite amount of items.

7. Objectives that matter/uncle bob

Score only matters for wins. While I'm sure people in a sanctioned campaign will care about wins, keep in mind that your reward model for the final game is wins=exports. This means people with nothing to export have zero incentive to win. This leads to a slipperly slope of early capping resulting in HUGE point returns and an ultimately unassailable point advantage. Your "uncle bob" analogy is alive and well in the current campaign  model, even in campaigns as short as 4 days. Your campaigns are not doing the one thing they were designed to do: create a competitive, engaging thronw war where victory seems worth trying for up until the end.

I hope this doesn't come off as overly negative. I honestly just see a game that is much improved but not ready for competitive prime time, and a dev team that is increasingly concerned with putting forth hype to oversell an underdeveloped product. Crowfall IS gfetting there, but you're putting the cart before the horse.

Edited by PopeUrban

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I'm not sure I'm on board with every detail here completely, but this is a clear summary of the serious issues as I see them too.

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Solid post, but I really did not like how you ended it with that underline part, especially since finding and addressing these types of problems is the primary stated goal of all the rapid short campaigns. 

I also don't think the game needs to have all these things fixed prior to the first "official" campaign.  "Perfect is the enemy of good" 

Some need to and will be, but talent balance is at least one of those things that will happen endlessly, and certainly does not need to be right before the game is competitive enough to be fun.

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49 minutes ago, PopeUrban said:

2: Population Balance Limits

This is just a necessary step for faction campaigns. Because faction campaigns are largely built around random people looking for a leg up by bandwagoning on to the largest blob, the most efficient method of winning is... joining the winning team. Without systems in play to somehow restrict the population, and with the heightened incentive of actual rewards for campaigns you're not only going to see the same blowouts we already have. You're going to see the severity of that pop imbalance multiplies by greed.

One way to limit is to add a percentage limit. Once a faction has 10% more people than the the one with less members it doesnt accept any more players.

This would help keep things balanced.

Unrelated to the problem but also interesting would be creating items where a guild can invite more members while ignoring the limit. It could also be a VIP bonus.

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13 minutes ago, KrakkenSmacken said:

Solid post, but I really did not like how you ended it with that underline part, especially since finding and addressing these types of problems is the primary stated goal of all the rapid short campaigns. 

I also don't think the game needs to have all these things fixed prior to the first "official" campaign.  "Perfect is the enemy of good" 

Some need to and will be, but talent balance is at least one of those things that will happen endlessly, and certainly does not need to be right before the game is competitive enough to be fun.

Not even saying "perfect" really.

Currently you've got a massive overhaul to class powers that is a few weeks old. I'm not naive enough to expect "perfect" at any point ever. However "not a first draft" is a good breakpoint. This is literally a first draft of the talent system (or if you're generous, revision 1 o the first draft) and its associated promotion classes. Is that really the time to say "hey this is good enough to tell people they're playing for keeps?"

Is a broken scoring system's first try at a fix a good time to tell people they're playing for keeps?

Is a system that encourages lack of competition a good time to tell people they're playing for keeps?

TBH I think we need multiple "real" length test campaigns to even suss out a lot of these issues. The way the blogs and press releases read, they're not written as if campaigns are still in a massive flux state as to how they even get scored and are mechanically extremely fluid and undecided. My end underlined bit is my honest thoughts on the matter. That hyping up some sort of official "crowfall's first real campaign" is woefully premature given the current game state in my personal opinion.

There's also one I didn't mention as I believe it goes without saying

Server performance is still horrible in exactly the kinds of large battles the campaign system is meant to encourage.

So yeah. I'm not trying to poorly made socks on ACE here. I have immense respect and admiration for this team. I literally gave them a bunch of money because I believed in them before there was a game at all. 5.8 is amazing. What I'm saying is, quite simply, the tone of new feature releases has shifted from "we're going to see how this works" to "we're going to make plans to treat it like its done whether it works or not" and I find that immensely troubling.

I know ACE cares, but there has been this growing impulse to over-market the game that feels unwilling to be frank about the state of the game in the pursuit of better press and more exposure. That bothers me. It feels at worst dishonest and at best naive. I don't claim to have all the answers here, nor am I in control of development. I'm not a social media 'influencer' I'm not even important enough to speak on the investor's boards. I'm just a user who has been excited about crowfall for a long time. My only skin in this game is to have a fun game to play for my guild and I.

It feels like that is taking a back seat to putting butts in seats and getting positive press. I'm sure that is unintentional, but that's the sense I get of it.

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I agree with all points, but at this point in order to get real determined participation in longer campaigns, the campaigns actually have to well, sort of "mean it". Otherwise, you just get people half-assed playing for a day to see what's new then going back to lurking or whatever.

I don't imagine this first "real" campaign will feel very fair for a lot of people, but getting as much participation as possible in a format as close to the eventual real thing as possible is probably what ACE needs right now in order to move the ball forward.

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47 minutes ago, PopeUrban said:

Not even saying "perfect" really.

Currently you've got a massive overhaul to class powers that is a few weeks old. I'm not naive enough to expect "perfect" at any point ever. However "not a first draft" is a good breakpoint. This is literally a first draft of the talent system (or if you're generous, revision 1 o the first draft) and its associated promotion classes. Is that really the time to say "hey this is good enough to tell people they're playing for keeps?"

Is a broken scoring system's first try at a fix a good time to tell people they're playing for keeps?

Is a system that encourages lack of competition a good time to tell people they're playing for keeps?

TBH I think we need multiple "real" length test campaigns to even suss out a lot of these issues. The way the blogs and press releases read, they're not written as if campaigns are still in a massive flux state as to how they even get scored and are mechanically extremely fluid and undecided. My end underlined bit is my honest thoughts on the matter. That hyping up some sort of official "crowfall's first real campaign" is woefully premature given the current game state in my personal opinion.

There's also one I didn't mention as I believe it goes without saying

Server performance is still horrible in exactly the kinds of large battles the campaign system is meant to encourage.

So yeah. I'm not trying to poorly made socks on ACE here. I have immense respect and admiration for this team. I literally gave them a bunch of money because I believed in them before there was a game at all. 5.8 is amazing. What I'm saying is, quite simply, the tone of new feature releases has shifted from "we're going to see how this works" to "we're going to make plans to treat it like its done whether it works or not" and I find that immensely troubling.

I know ACE cares, but there has been this growing impulse to over-market the game that feels unwilling to be frank about the state of the game in the pursuit of better press and more exposure. That bothers me. It feels at worst dishonest and at best naive. I don't claim to have all the answers here, nor am I in control of development. I'm not a social media 'influencer' I'm not even important enough to speak on the investor's boards. I'm just a user who has been excited about crowfall for a long time. My only skin in this game is to have a fun game to play for my guild and I.

It feels like that is taking a back seat to putting butts in seats and getting positive press. I'm sure that is unintentional, but that's the sense I get of it.

I have been feeling things are moving a tad too fast since the day the live server went down an they said they needed to fix things before bringing it back.

I thought they would go through massive fixings to make things proper to 5.8 going live and was expecting a time window of about a month to get things really fixed and done. less than 1 week later live came back.

The same happened with this test campaigns. The said they were taking things slow, that they wanted to use these unsanctioned campaigns to make sure everything was working before the first official campaign ever. Now, 2 weeks at best with, what, 5 or so incredible short campaigns and they already gave us a date to move things forward?

Sorry, early january is like next week and, unless I missed something, no big changes happened since those unsanctioned campaigns started. I just cant see in what way they could think: "yep, that's it, I think we are ready for the next step."

All this with the holidays at full swing where it can be said they wont be getting any real work going 'till January starts. Things just dont add up.

Edited by BarriaKarl

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1 hour ago, PopeUrban said:

You simply can not start offering permanent rewards...

I make no argument against any of your points, except for this one.With at least one more wipe comming before launch, nothing we gain or accomplish is permanent at this point. We will all be going back to zero again.

The 'sanctioned' campaigns are only the next small step forward, and another opportunity for us to poke holes in the next game system.

Are there legacy issues? Yes. Should those issues stop ACE from going to soft launch? Probably. Should it stop them from moving forward with completing critical game loops? I don't think it should.

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I'm uncertain as to why people seem to think the way campaigns have been ending is the result of some kind of population imbalance. Plenty of people have been avoiding cap'ing outposts simply because they think it's boring. When Balance and Chaos refuse to play the game Order will always win. I see the resulting scores of these short campaigns as a motivation problem, not a population problem.

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1 hour ago, VaMei said:

I make no argument against any of your points, except for this one.With at least one more wipe comming before launch, nothing we gain or accomplish is permanent at this point. We will all be going back to zero again.

The 'sanctioned' campaigns are only the next small step forward, and another opportunity for us to poke holes in the next game system.

Are there legacy issues? Yes. Should those issues stop ACE from going to soft launch? Probably. Should it stop them from moving forward with completing critical game loops? I don't think it should.

 The way the blog is phrased these "sanctioned" campaigns do not appear to be paying rewards that get wiped.

If this is the case, There's literally nothing to separate 'sanctioned' and 'test' campaigns and thus no need for a distinction.

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I agree with most of what the OP is saying but the one thing I have a disagreement on is that there should never be any sort of hard cap on population. You might run into a scenario where you can only play with some of your friends or some of your guild which is a deal breaker.

The way to balance population and eliminate bandwagoning IMO is that campaign win rewards should scale based on the level of imbalance. If your faction dominates the server population wise, you should get a smaller reward (or maybe none at all). Likewise, if you are able to win while outnumbered you should receive a bigger reward. The key is getting players and guilds wanting to swap around and mingle.

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Keep in mind these Faction vs Faction vs Faction test campaigns are only one of the major campaign types; likely the easiest one for the devs to get started with. The guild vs guild(s) campaigns will be structured very differently, probably with a matching feature to ensure tiny/inactive guilds aren't up against huge/active ones. Of course the everyone individually for themselves campaigns will be inherently 'balanced' in terms of populations. There may be other kinds of campaigns, with or without rulesets that put them greatly apart from these.

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1 hour ago, Nerd said:

I agree with most of what the OP is saying but the one thing I have a disagreement on is that there should never be any sort of hard cap on population. You might run into a scenario where you can only play with some of your friends or some of your guild which is a deal breaker.

The way to balance population and eliminate bandwagoning IMO is that campaign win rewards should scale based on the level of imbalance. If your faction dominates the server population wise, you should get a smaller reward (or maybe none at all). Likewise, if you are able to win while outnumbered you should receive a bigger reward. The key is getting players and guilds wanting to swap around and mingle.

Simple fix: If you're in a guild, you join campaigns as a guild. That's why they exist. To be systemic descriptors of groups of people that play together.

Don't allow people to choose factions assign them as needed as guilds or individuals join.

Use same population balance measures. 5 people join as a guild, okay, fine, that faction still has +5 players. Now the next 20 person guild get assigned somewhere else. Now that the faction that got the 20 person guild is ahead in pop, the system puts the next X players, guild or not, in the next factionuntil it is overflowing, and so on and so forth.

Now it is impossible to bandwagon, and if you want to play with specific people you form a guild with them. There are no more "balance guilds" or "chaos guilds" or "order guilds" outside of the scope of a single campaign.

If you want to be part of a specific faction, go play an FFA campaign where your guild or someone else's IS the faction and pop balancing is a non-issue because its not the point of the mode to have a balanced population.

Edited by PopeUrban

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2 hours ago, moneda said:

I'm uncertain as to why people seem to think the way campaigns have been ending is the result of some kind of population imbalance. Plenty of people have been avoiding cap'ing outposts simply because they think it's boring. When Balance and Chaos refuse to play the game Order will always win. I see the resulting scores of these short campaigns as a motivation problem, not a population problem.

Its not so much that that's the cause. its that pop imbalance is a logical contributor that WILL be an issue even IF its not an issue at the moment.

Right now results are a combination of winning not mattering, scoring being boring, and pop imbalances for various time zones. All three of these are equally important issues ACE needs to tackle if faction campaigns are going to work for their intended purpose.

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On 12/28/2018 at 4:45 PM, PopeUrban said:

2: Population Balance Limits

This is just a necessary step for faction campaigns. Because faction campaigns are largely built around random people looking for a leg up by bandwagoning on to the largest blob, the most efficient method of winning is... joining the winning team. Without systems in play to somehow restrict the population, and with the heightened incentive of actual rewards for campaigns you're not only going to see the same blowouts we already have. You're going to see the severity of that pop imbalance multiplies by greed.

It would be nice to enter a campaign as a group. Seems like picking a campaign won't be a snappy decision. How exactly should a guild determine if they can get everyone in and on the same faction? How this system will be implemented will determine the size of guilds. Zerging could be a viable option, depending on how loose the limits of each faction or campaign. It feels like this goes without saying, but good idea to address it now.

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