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jtoddcoleman

Uncle Bob via Mega Alliance?

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Hey gang, let's take a quick walk down memory lane.

WAY, WAY back in Shadowbane beta (I’m guessing this was 2002?) we had an interesting thing happen.  Our testing community was heavily guild-focused; teams from UO and new groups were waging war and building cities and sieges were happening and, in spite of the bugs, the game was kind of working.  Guilds were going at each other, vying for domination of the Aerynth, the Shadowbane world.

And then, one day, the fighting just stopped.  A couple of the top guilds decided that, instead of fighting each other, they would work together in a big mega-alliance.  They had enough manpower and enough skill to take over the server.  That guild was called the Rolling 30s, led by a guy named Bone Dancer, and they did a pretty good job of locking the server down for a while. 

I'm looking at the state of the Trials of Malekai campaigns, and one of them looks strangely familiar.

So, I have a few thoughts.

First: if the game literally gets to a point where it is mathematically unwinnable, we can always end it early.  This is testing, and the goal of testing is to (1) find bugs and (2) learn things so that we can iterate over the design.  If we hit a point in this campaign – or any campaign – where we aren’t learning anything useful, then we can (and will) shut it down and move on to the next test.

Second: while I know this can be aggravating, I want to make it clear that this isn’t a player problem; it’s a design problem.  And it’s not an unknown out-of-nowhere design problem, either… as I said, I’ve seen this before.  One of the major reasons that we pushed off the First Sanctioned campaign is because we didn’t have a rewards system in place that would help keep this from happening (the other major reason, of course, was performance.)

Will the reward system absolutely fix it?  No, probably not… but it will certainly help.

Right now, the reward system is about as simplistic as a reward system can be: players on the winning team get a gold badge, everyone else gets silver.  EVERYONE gets the badge.  So, it really shouldn’t be a shock that players are working together to get the gold… because why wouldn’t they?

A better solution, and one that we’re in the process of implementing, uses a combination of Multi-Vector Rewards and Reward Scarcity.  I was holding off on discussing this because I wanted to lock the rewards down first, but it seems like a number of people are concerned, so let’s go ahead and talk about it now.

Reward scarcity is just that.  If every person competing at the Olympics could get a gold medal just by holding hands with their fellow participants, we’d see a lot of gold medals and a lot less competition.   So, step one is to limit the number of players who can earn any given reward.

On top of that, we need to have Multi-Vector Rewards; not just a single “do-this-one-thing-and-only-this-one-thing-to-win” rule because single vector problems are the easiest to game (and as I noted above, this reward system is about as simple as it gets).

So, here’s an example of a better reward structure (and it’s JUST an example):

1.      Gold medal for the top 20 players in the winning faction

2.      Gold medal for the top 20 individual contributors across all factions, in killing/captures/harvest/craft

Even this super-simple example is better than the “everyone hold hands” model we have on ToM… and more vectors, with varying levels of enforced scarcity, would be even better because it drives players to have to make hard choices to “win”.

Between now and First Sanctioned, we’ll be spending a lot of time working through the rewards design to help offset this behavior – and once we have more players (and more campaigns running) that will certainly help, as well.  (Dregs will, too, because guilds are more willing to form alliances than they are to form “mega-guilds” as that requires giving up their guild identity.)

As I said, if the situation on any Campaign gets bad enough, if the game literally gets to a point where it is mathematically unwinnable (i.e. another variant of the dreaded Uncle Bob Scenario) then we will end the Campaign and put up a new one, making whatever adjustments we can.

I know I could probably step in and ask the main guilds right now to stop holding hands and fight each other… but I’m not going to do that, because it would skew the test and any learning we might take from that test would be flawed.  The simple fact is: our design needs to stand up to actual player behavior, not player-behavior-when-we-ask-them-to-play-how-we-want-them-to.  Once we launch, we can’t expect players to treat our design with “kids gloves” just because we asked them nicely. 

I know that it can be really frustrating to test an unfinished game, and for that I can only say: I get it, I hear you.  All I can offer in response is: we’re watching, we’re learning, and we will continue to do the best we can to adjust and iterate as quickly as possible.

Thanks for sticking with us as we work through these issues.


J Todd Coleman

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

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JTC: 

As someone who remembers fondly those days of fighting Bone Dancer and the Burning Legion/R30s in Shadowbane Beta, I fully appreciate the reference. Back in those halcyon days, those who felt they were getting steamrolled didn't ask for early server resets or for the big dog to break apart. Quite the contrary.  We built Akalabethia aka "Alphabet City" and withstood the thundering horde and beat them at their own game. Steel sharpens steel. Those with the gumption to fight, do so. While there are certainly some in Crowfall who have taken their balls and fled for more European pastures, there are others willing to stand up and actually challenge the big dogs of the current Trials of Malekei. My hope is that you make no rash decisions concerning the existing life of this test. Give the players an opportunity to fight it out. While 7 groups of -W- did take the Chaos keep from 12 groups of Chaos...that doesn't necessarily mean that that will continue every night for the next two weeks (it was certainly dicey at the end). Order has certainly shown the tenacity worthy of those early Shadowbane days...and my hope is that Chaos will do the same. In any respect, I appreciate the insights with regard to your rewards incentives and look forward to meeting the challenge.

Edited by Gradishar

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24 minutes ago, Gradishar said:

While there are certainly some in Crowfall who have taken their balls and fled for more European pastures

Are you finding it cumbersome to move with us because its hard to move when you cup someone elses balls?

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55 minutes ago, jtoddcoleman said:

Second: while I know this can be aggravating, I want to make it clear that this isn’t a player problem; it’s a design problem. 

I dont agree with that. 

The ppl are the problem here and everywhere else. You will always have a few, which are not going for the "easy and lucrative"-way, but these will not pull the difference.

There is no design you can pull out of your cylinder to change that behavior beside from punishing the winning team... which doenst make sense, right?

 

55 minutes ago, jtoddcoleman said:

So, here’s an example of a better reward structure (and it’s JUST an example):

1.      Gold medal for the top 20 players in the winning faction

2.      Gold medal for the top 20 individual contributors across all factions, in killing/captures/harvest/craft

Since this IS JUST an example, I cant take it serious anyway, because this wouldnt change anything

 

Iam really wondering if you have any plan how to grab this issue, since I cant remember any game which was able to pull something out design-wise to counter this human behavior.

Actually I'am impressed that you sound kind of surprised that this did occur.

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Just now, Marth said:

So you are expecting people to not act like people?

No, I expect ppl to act like people. Dont even understand the question...did you see that this was related to that quoted part?

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5 minutes ago, Makuza said:

The ppl are the problem here and everywhere else. You will always have a few, which are not going for the "easy and lucrative"-way, but these will not pull the difference.

Disagree. The system is literally designed in a way that it is beneficial to do this; it isn't a player problem, it's a design problem. If there's a better or more rewarding way of doing something, that's how it'll be done. That's what we saw this trial, and that's why the design must be changed.

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9 minutes ago, Alphastaire said:

Disagree. The system is literally designed in a way that it is beneficial to do this; it isn't a player problem, it's a design problem. If there's a better or more rewarding way of doing something, that's how it'll be done. That's what we saw this trial, and that's why the design must be changed.

Because there is no design, which can fight this.

So tell me how you would design it to prevent ppl from doing the best they can to get the best outcome. Just give me one good example of gamedesign which would change this. JT would appreciate that for sure!

Even if the loosing faction would get the best rewards, ppl would start doing everything they can possibly do to loose, even if they would have to make alt-accs to play another faction to push the score up on the other side.

Edited by Makuza

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6 minutes ago, Makuza said:

So tell me how you would design it to prevent ppl from doing the best they can to get the best outcome. Just give me one good example of gamedesign which would change this. JT would appreciate that for sure!

Even if the loosing faction would get the best rewards, ppl would start doing everything they can possibly do to loose, even if they would have to make alt-accs to play another faction to push the score up on the other side.

Todd already did it in his post.

1.      Gold medal for the top 20 players in the winning faction

2.      Gold medal for the top 20 individual contributors across all factions, in killing/captures/harvest/craft

This stops guilds from joining forces and creating a mega alliance because: not everyone in the winning faction gets a gold medal, and/or you don't have to be in the winning faction to get one. It's just an example, but it's not far off from being a good change.

Edited by Alphastaire

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6 minutes ago, Alphastaire said:

Todd already did it in his post.

1.      Gold medal for the top 20 players in the winning faction

2.      Gold medal for the top 20 individual contributors across all factions, in killing/captures/harvest/craft

This stops guilds from joining forces and creating a mega alliance because: not everyone in the winning faction gets a gold medal, and you don't have to be in the winning faction to get one. It's just an example, but it's not far off from being a good change.

Like I stated above, this doesnt help.

for 1.

You need to be in the winning faction to be in the best 20, so your point is already invalid.

for 2.

The dominating faction has better access to ressources, so the harvest and crafting is already invalid. Kills is interesting, since the lowpop factions will have more easy targets to pick, but this can be counterd with alt-acc farming if you really need to go for the K/D. Captures is also invalid because ppl will just use alt-acc to capture-recapture for hours to push their score. 

There is always a way to exploit these mechanics. Give me something better

Edited by Makuza

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Just now, Makuza said:

Like I stated above, this doesnt help.

for 1.

You need to be in the winning faction to be in the best 20, so your point is already invalid.

for 2.

The dominating faction has better access to ressources, so the harvest and crafting is already invalid. Kills is interesting, since the lowpop factions will have more easy targets to pick, but this can be counterd with alt-acc farming if you really need to go for the K/D. Captures is also invalid because ppl will just use alt-acc to capture-recapture for hours to push their score. 

There is always a way to exploit these mechanics. Give me something better

1. No, it isn't invalid. Why join forces and give others a better chance of being in that faction? Better to stay in your own and let your own guild get to the top.

2. Not necessarily. The dominating faction is not always the one with better access to resources. It's that they have the better numbers, better skill, already have resources, etc. What people do on their own with harvesting and crafting is only slightly influenced with who owns the territory. Regarding alt-acc farming, you could enforce things such as: if an account has the same IP as another, do not give K/D if they kill each other. VPN will be used to bypass this, but I'm sure you can set up other rules. The same also applies to capture.

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Well pardon me if I am wrong, I would like to point out what mandalore mentioned

1 hour ago, mandalore said:

do healers get the short end of the stick?

With the healers being a group based class, sure the winning faction gets stuff, and the top players doing stuff gets stuff (most of em can kill in comparison with healers).

To space the distribution of big guilds, why not have rewards to top 5 guilds or something in each faction along with the rewards mentioned above. This should cover almost all of the healers or people playing the support classes.

I mean they are classes that mainly focus on group play and most groups are guild based from what I have seen.

What do you guys think?

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@jtoddcoleman There was no mega-alliance. You got fooled by the spin on the forums and a deliberate attempt to delegitimize the campaign.

The first siege of the NA campaign, which caused Chaos to quit competing, involved 37 Winterblades beating 60+ Chaos. We could not have brought a zerg if we wanted to, because with 60+ chaos in their zone, it was impossible to even bring matching numbers due to the zone cap. We had to fight alone, as a guild, outnumbered. Despite what some people said, it was a close fight. At the end it was a race between the defenders killing the last bane tree and the attackers killing the tree. The siege could have gone either way.

And then a vocal minority of Chaos players took to the forums to win the war there. They lied about Balance outnumbering everyone. They stopped trying to capture points because a run-away score supported their message. If they started capturing anything and closed the gap in the score, that would contradict their narrative. I am sad to see it worked.

Please watch the video of the siege that broke Chaos' will, and how the "big mega-alliance" that won it consisted of one guild fighting alone and outnumbered.

I do applaud your looking into implementing reward scarcity. Many of us have been suggesting that for years.

Edited by Jah

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1 minute ago, Jah said:

@jtoddcoleman There was no mega-alliance. You got fooled by the spin on the forums and a deliberate attempt to delegitimize the campaign.

The first siege of the NA campaign, which caused Chaos to quit competing, involved 37 Winterblades beating 60+ Chaos. We couldn't have brought a zerg if we wanted to, because with 60+ chaos in their zone, it was impossible to even bring matching numbers due to the zone cap. We had to fight alone, as a guild, outnumbered. Despite what some people said, it was a close fight. At the end it was a race between the defenders killing the last bane tree and the attackers killing the tree. The siege could have gone either way.

And then a vocal minority of Chaos players took to the forums to win the war there. They lied about Balance outnumbering everyone. I am sad to see it worked.

Please watch the video of the siege that broke Chaos' will, and how the "big mega-alliance" that won it consisted of one guild fighting alone and outnumbered.

I do applaud your looking into implementing reward scarcity. Many of us have been suggesting that for years.

You could have easily zerged Order though.  You didn't, at least not when it really mattered, and that's commendable.  When you compare the amount of people in your alliance, with the amount of people in game, its as mega of an alliance as Crowfall has seen if I had to guess.  Probably won't be the last or the worse (or best depending on the side of the fence).  I've only been here for going on four weeks, but Winterblades won all of the campaigns I've seen so far.    I don't think the "spin" of how bad it is or was is too far off the mark.  

You guys are the ones who delegitimized the campaign, and you are trying very hard to put your own spin on it to make it seem like everything was evenly matched, you guys fought hard against slim odds, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the current state of the campaign.  That's the part I don't understand.  Why not just step up and call it what it is.  Or just let the people who feel slighted debate with each other.  You know the campaign is unwinnable by any other faction now.  If they drag it out to the bitter end, we'll still be here, but it's already boring.  

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1 minute ago, firstworldpotato said:

You could have easily zerged Order though.  You didn't, at least not when it really mattered, and that's commendable.  When you compare the amount of people in your alliance, with the amount of people in game, its as mega of an alliance as Crowfall has seen if I had to guess.  Probably won't be the last or the worse (or best depending on the side of the fence).  I've only been here for going on four weeks, but Winterblades won all of the campaigns I've seen so far.    I don't think the "spin" of how bad it is or was is too far off the mark.  

You guys are the ones who delegitimized the campaign, and you are trying very hard to put your own spin on it to make it seem like everything was evenly matched, you guys fought hard against slim odds, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the current state of the campaign.  That's the part I don't understand.  Why not just step up and call it what it is.  Or just let the people who feel slighted debate with each other.  You know the campaign is unwinnable by any other faction now.  If they drag it out to the bitter end, we'll still be here, but it's already boring.  

Balance was not the largest faction. Chaos had more people than Balance on both the first night of the campaign, and the second night when the first siege happened.

Any campaign is unwinnable when people stop trying to win it. The imbalance in the score right now is a direct result of chaos giving up as soon as they lost the first siege.

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24 minutes ago, Jah said:

@jtoddcoleman There was no mega-alliance. You got fooled by the spin on the forums and a deliberate attempt to delegitimize the campaign.

The first siege of the NA campaign, which caused Chaos to quit competing, involved 37 Winterblades beating 60+ Chaos. We could not have brought a zerg if we wanted to, because with 60+ chaos in their zone, it was impossible to even bring matching numbers due to the zone cap. We had to fight alone, as a guild, outnumbered. Despite what some people said, it was a close fight. At the end it was a race between the defenders killing the last bane tree and the attackers killing the tree. The siege could have gone either way.

And then a vocal minority of Chaos players took to the forums to win the war there. They lied about Balance outnumbering everyone. They stopped trying to capture points because a run-away score supported their message. If they started capturing anything and closed the gap in the score, that would contradict their narrative. I am sad to see it worked.

Please watch the video of the siege that broke Chaos' will, and how the "big mega-alliance" that won it consisted of one guild fighting alone and outnumbered.

I do applaud your looking into implementing reward scarcity. Many of us have been suggesting that for years.

Didn't you have a guild at each keep? Disingenuous post Jah.

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2 minutes ago, Jah said:

Balance was not the largest faction. Chaos had more people than Balance on both the first night of the campaign, and the second night when the first siege happened.

Any campaign is unwinnable when people stop trying to win it. The imbalance in the score right now is a direct result of chaos giving up as soon as they lost the first siege.

Fake news. Largest faction with gear and experience. Nothing to see here.

@weaponsx Can we get a gold star for Jah?

Edited by Tark

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Just now, Jah said:

Balance was not the largest faction. Chaos had more people than Balance on both the first night of the campaign, and the second night when the first siege happened.

Any campaign is unwinnable when people stop trying to win it. The imbalance in the score right now is a direct result of chaos giving up as soon as they lost the first siege.

Are you just trying to be modest about the fact that you guys are the most geared guild here?  Every Chaos warm body in zone doesn't stack up against the gear, experience, and organization you guys always display.  There may have been "more" red than green in the video there, but it wasn't 60+ against you head to head.  The video does show as very good fight.  I'm left to wonder had they defended from inside at choke points instead of overextending if they couldn't have made it the full 60 minutes.  But that's hindsight.    Admittedly I was a little disappointed that no Chaos showed up as far as I know on the second night.  I can't blame them at all, but we put together a small team to at least show up.  I think we got one wall half way through it's shield, but were swatted in the end.  

I wanted to tell you to stop using only Chaos to compare to, and maybe you should realize Order's situation a little more, but honestly it's on Chaos right now.  Order won't win the campaign, but if we get through the rest of the campaign and have a dozen fun stories to tell about it, I'll take that to the bank.

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@jtoddcoleman You can see some examples of the spin, and the people who were pushing it, above. Most of them are in the same guild, a guild that recently picked up several ex-Winterblades who clearly have bitter feelings about their former guild.

/who faction 15 minutes before the first siege of NA Trials of Malekai:

Balance:
unknown.png
unknown.png

Chaos:
unknown.png
unknown.png
unknown.png

/who zone for each faction present at the siege that broke Chaos' will:

Balance:
unknown.png


Chaos:
unknown.png
unknown.png

@jtoddcoleman Do you have server logs that would confirm these numbers?

Edited by Jah

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