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Crowfall early game and player retention


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I've been watching Crowfall since 2016 and have taken a few stabs at joining the beta throughout the years. I'm not interested in joining a guild and really playing the endgame until launch because I don’t want to burnout. So, I normally level a character or 2, get some basic gear, roam the open world, have a few fights, realize that I can’t go any further without a guild, and leave until there are more updates.

Before checking in this time, I noticed that there's a lot of negativity surrounding Crowfall.  I think the New Player Experience and leveling is giving people the wrong impression of the game. For me, the game is far less enjoyable (outright boring even) than when I played before. I used to could quickly get a character going and it didn’t take long to get to PvP. Now, I essentially have to level to 30 to complete my character going. I played for hours, got bored of grinding npcs, and left before I even stepped foot on the real battleground. This seems to be what’s leading to bad feedback.


I see 2 major problems that could hurt the game long term:

1) Leveling is long and boring, and the NPE makes people think this is bad WoW clone

2) There is no pipeline from newbie exploring the game to guildie fighting in endgame 

 

Who wanted leveling? Does anyone enjoy it? Is it just for the gold sink for leveling alts? Are we really expected to grind mobs to level like 20 years ago? Am I missing something? 

I get that starting with one attack and slowly gaining more is nice for learning to play a class, but I think the old system where each class had ~8 abilities was simple enough. I certainly enjoyed it more. Immediately being expected to navigate a talent tree is daunting for someone who just stepped into the game. Talent trees in general are bad because they inevitably devolve into puzzles that people just google the answer to. The game has been so much worse to me since leveling/talents were introduced because it feels like a chore blocking me from the real game.

It was discussed in another thread, but I think leveling should be removed, stats should come from gear, boring +dmg skills only in passive training, talents can be made baseline or moved to disciplines, find another way to pick subclass. At least ask yourself, “What are we gaining from leveling?”

 

Player attraction and retention seems to be a problem. Outside (and even sometimes inside) Crowfall specific forums, people are trashing the game.  It’s already been written off as a failed Kickstarter by many. I was really sad to see this, and I later saw that a lot of YouTube reviews are harsh. After playing the NPE, I actually kinda get it. Marketing needs to get on this ASAP

New players and especially streamers need to see PvP within the first 15-30 minutes. People aren’t seeing the real game! What they are seeing is the long tutorial that makes this game look like a horrible WoW clone. 

Another issue is that people who could eventually get sucked into endgame may not want to join a guild right away. I know this is not a game for soloists and there will always be a point where you’ll need to socialize, but I think you hit this wall too quickly. Let people learn the game solo and at least have something to do. Can you keep the lights on with just subs from the big guilds? If so, this is all less of an issue, but I don’t see how. How do guilds grow and maintain their ranks? From what player base? 

 

So, in addition to removing the painful leveling I propose reconfiguring the different rulesets (ie layers of the multiverse) into a pipeline that naturally pushes players from the safety of God’s Reach into the heart of the hunger. This is basically the original layer descriptions fleshed out, and this isn’t a completely original idea:

God’s Reach (Faction vs Faction): A safe island per faction with an optional much shorter NPE tutorial. One small central island that’s nothing but constant fighting. No stakes. No Blue/Purple+ gear/vessels. A handful of capturable objectives. Just a fighting pit to learn to play, try a new class, or just mindlessly smash.

The Infected (God vs God): I may have swapped the names here. This will be the main game for the casual/solo players. Everyone picks a God to fight for. At the end of each season, the bottom 3 teams are eliminated. Eliminated teams are automatically allied with a surviving struggling team (7-10, 8-11, 9-12, etc) and can compete for smaller rewards. This gives players a taste of the real game, but it’s still accessible. Provides guilds with potential recruits.

The Shadows (Guild vs Guild): The real game. No explanation really needed. Once players have gained experience in the Infected, they'll likely want to join a guild and can move to the Shadows

The Dregs (Free for all): Shadows and Dregs always seemed too similar, so might can be merged. Dregs could have more extreme rulesets like friendly fire or something if you wanted to.

I think this will give players a clear, natural path from day 0 to endgame

 

Anyways, I know I am long-winded, so I hope you find something useful in this feedback. I did make a video of the NPE and how I got here, but it’s long, scatterbrained, and kinda bad tbh. Important points are already in this post. If you're interested: 

https://youtu.be/o9d7LVzSnW4

There is a real person on the other side of each avatar. We are all just sitting in a chair, pressing buttons, and staring at a monitor. Have fun! Be as competitive as you want! Claim the throne! Just remember. We're playing advanced make-believe with centaurs and castles. Don't take the game or yourself too seriously, and treat people like you would if we were sitting across from each other at the card shop (Don't think I'm going easy on ya though)

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11 hours ago, Woe said:

People are so lazy that they dont want to even think, imagine play a game who make me think about my talents

If players are expected to think, they should have access to a knowledge source to make informed decisions and critically think.

Hidden numbers/math, poor tooltips, laundry list of stats, broken mechanics/power, etc make it hard for a brand new or even experienced Crowfall player to know what does what.

If Major Disciplines so obviously costed 5 points for example, zero people will not understand this. That is not true however. Easy thing to miss that basically means reroll. That isn't even one of however many stats people are expected to go over with a fine tooth comb and understand the intricacies.

 

 


 

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11 hours ago, koridia said:

1) Leveling is long and boring, and the NPE makes people think this is bad WoW clone

Hopefully they streamline the process further. God's Reach itself is 90% useless empty area. There needs to be some degree of exploration/travel but needless running has no value. NPE 3 might improve on this.

I disagree that leveling should be removed as it won't be. I don't like it myself, but I understand the reasoning. With the upcoming talent rework, maybe it will be more enjoyable but no idea.

Respecs were said to be coming as well so hopefully stressing about one talent point here or there won't be an issue anymore.

11 hours ago, koridia said:

2) There is no pipeline from newbie exploring the game to guildie fighting in endgame

PvP within the first 15-30 minutes

Some sort of newbie PVP island would be good. Maybe this is coming with NPE and more siege like tutorials. DAoC's battlegrounds for lowbies were fun in of themselves. Just a castle in the middle that 3 sides fight over for fun. Easily make that into a quest driven learning experience before hoping into actual camapaigns.

As they aren't removing leveling, people should need to get to 30 before experiencing that though as many classes need all their tools to be minimally viable. Going into battle with half a power bar wouldn't be great.

 


 

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I doubt most people think when filling out talent trees tbh. Someone maths out the optimum build, and if you don't run the fotm, you won't get invited to groups. That's a bit of an extreme example, but I bet most people either pick what feels best or copies the answer. It's why it's never truly felt like customization to me. If I want to try something different or grab a fun talent, I'll get roasted for it.

Before you play, go fill out this spreadsheet.

There is a real person on the other side of each avatar. We are all just sitting in a chair, pressing buttons, and staring at a monitor. Have fun! Be as competitive as you want! Claim the throne! Just remember. We're playing advanced make-believe with centaurs and castles. Don't take the game or yourself too seriously, and treat people like you would if we were sitting across from each other at the card shop (Don't think I'm going easy on ya though)

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2 minutes ago, koridia said:

I doubt most people think when filling out talent trees tbh. Someone maths out the optimum build, and if you don't run the fotm, you won't get invited to groups. That's a bit of an extreme example, but I bet most people either pick what feels best or copies the answer. It's why it's never truly felt like customization to me. If I want to try something different or grab a fun talent, I'll get roasted for it.

Before you play, go fill out this spreadsheet.

This happens regardless of the game or character options. Some take the time to learn and experiment and many others just google "what's the best."

No clue what they have planned with the talent/disc changes, but could be a step in the right direction to letting players have more freedom of choice and options.

Winning and having fun don't always go hand in hand. Picking a DPS Disc for a healer doesn't make sense in a team game, despite the fun factor for the player. Again same as any game.

As is, very little in the base talent tree is overly important. 1% more crit or 20 AP isn't going to make or break a starter character. It's better to train every power and not need them then skip them to get tiny stat increases, at least while learning.

Picking a viable Promotion class and getting a few key talents does matter though, but currently is trial by error as what sounds cool might be garbage. Hopefully we see this fixed in 6.2.

People are way too worried about getting the super god build on day 1 not realizing they are going to get rolled no matter what they choose by people that actually know how to use the builds.

Not until players have a decent vessel, gear, passive training does "spreadsheet" gameplay need to happen if at all. Much of this game is very superficially complex. When it comes into the details of crafting/harvesting and how particular stats work it does require some team brain power, but for an average fresh player this has zero value.

 


 

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I'm going to have to agree with the part about leveling. What is the point of leveling in a heavily PvP focused MMO? I fully understand that character creation is not suppose to be available willy nilly but forcing players to dive into a couple dozen hours worth of leveling before you get into the "real game" is an unnecessary hoop in 2020. I also get the importance of the NPE, but that experience should include PvP almost immediately from the start. That doesn't mean that I think PvE shouldn't be a component of the game, but it should be entirely about resource gathering rather then an arbitrary leveling grind. My "level 1" character should be able to jump out into the world and be a PvP viable option.

As for solo play, I do agree that there should be some way to engage with the game as an individual, either as a player who doesn't want to join a guild full time, or as a new player who is just getting their feet wet. In Shadowbane, I joined guilds and even formed my own long lasting guild, but I was also able to play independently. For some that might just be going out into the world and ganking other individuals or players who were leveling. For me that was playing a thief. I was out there stealing loot and playing cat & mouse with scouts and other players. Also, being a mercenary for hire in a PvP game should be something that the game embraces, so much so that it provides features and functionality to do so.

Finally, I'd like to say that Eve Online seems to have found solutions to a lot of these issues. Crowfall would do well to take from their example. I think, for the most part, that they are trying to do just that, but hearing people complain about the NPE and the need to level all the way to 30 before getting into the actual part of the game that all of us are here for my have been design error that needs to be considered.

Edited by zenasprime

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On 9/2/2020 at 1:48 PM, APE said:

Winning and having fun don't always go hand in hand. Picking a DPS Disc for a healer doesn't make sense in a team game, despite the fun factor for the player. Again same as any game.

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on this. Let players have their fun, even if it means building less then optimal character for group play. My Aracoix Thief in Shadowbane wasn't built for group play and was horrible at standing in a fight. Instead of going for a dex build like nearly every other cookie cutter thief in the game, Blackfeather was build for speed, stanima, and resistance, none of which were actually good for combat. What it was exceptionally good at was stealing your loot and getting away with it. There was barely a scout in the game that could catch me, and if they did, they had a hell of a time slowing me down or killing me, precicesly because I was build to not ever fight them but to run away and not take damage.

 

And while I do enjoy the group PvP opportunity that the game is going for, if it doesn't include some solo aspect on par with the Theif from Shadowbane, hell, if it doesn't include a pick pocket disc, I may lose interest in the game and not even play.

Edited by zenasprime

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1. I get it that i have to lvl up a character for the first time.. But!

Why the hell should i even bother to lvl vessels each one longer then another? Did i forget the basic concepts of the game and i need to be reminded? Am i wonderful that each time the reminder is way longer then the previous one? 

 

 

2. About the new player experience. I totally agree that it is getting new players in a very wrong direction for PvP game. I dont think lvling is even needed in this game and its giving players a wrong impression.

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6 minutes ago, Demiwolf said:

2. About the new player experience. I totally agree that it is getting new players in a very wrong direction for PvP game. I dont think lvling is even needed in this game and its giving players a wrong impression.

In another thread someone actually said...

Quote

Woudnt be a problem if pvp player just targeting other pvper.

As if in an open world PvP game, denying the enemy resources shouldn't be an option and that "PvPers" shouldn't be attacking "PvEers". If this isn't a complete misunderstanding of what this game is about I don't know what it.

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The thing with Lvling is that it is built in with the concept that it should be skipped. It is either pay up with items or waste time lvling it. Where actually lvling it is incredibly boring.

At the end of the day lvling is basically a resource sink.

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12 hours ago, BarriaKarl said:

The thing with Lvling is that it is built in with the concept that it should be skipped. It is either pay up with items or waste time lvling it. Where actually lvling it is incredibly boring.

At the end of the day lvling is basically a resource sink.

This.

Its only function is to apply a cost to rolling new characters so people don't constantly insta-roll FOTM builds once they have nice stacks of necromancy supplies and runes.

Its a speedbump to prevent rampant alt-itis the same way mob respawn timers are a speedbump to prevent instantly stacking up huge piles of mob loot.

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Rub rock on face and say "Yes food is eaten now time for fight"

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The game was never intended to be a drop in/drop out call of duty-esque zero commitment game. Leveling does two fold:

  1. It makes you take some kind of ownership of your character by forcing you to invest time into it.
  2. It gets people out in the world doing things besides beating on doors and blobbing around the map.

It's another thing that gets people (hopefully) out in the campaign world doing things, making the campaign feel more like a living breathing world / mmorpg and less like an instanced battleground.

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1 hour ago, izkimar said:

The game was never intended to be a drop in/drop out call of duty-esque zero commitment game. Leveling does two fold:

  1. It makes you take some kind of ownership of your character by forcing you to invest time into it.
  2. It gets people out in the world doing things besides beating on doors and blobbing around the map.

It's another thing that gets people (hopefully) out in the campaign world doing things, making the campaign feel more like a living breathing world / mmorpg and less like an instanced battleground.

This about sums it up I guess. Some severe hyperbole earlier in the thread also, couple dozen hours of leveling? No, getting to 30 is a couple of hours..

Obviously the NPE can be vastly improved, but I can't see any form of abolishing leveling that would be better than what we currently have. 

Officer of The BlackHand Order

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22 minutes ago, Zushakon said:

This about sums it up I guess. Some severe hyperbole earlier in the thread also, couple dozen hours of leveling? No, getting to 30 is a couple of hours..

Obviously the NPE can be vastly improved, but I can't see any form of abolishing leveling that would be better than what we currently have. 

Getting to 30 is only a couple of hours on a basic white vessel. it takes exponentially longer as vessel rarity increases (to keep people from hot swapping between quality vessels too often)

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17 hours ago, zenasprime said:

I'm going to have to agree with the part about leveling. What is the point of leveling in a heavily PvP focused MMO?

Resource/Time sink.

PVP immediately would serve no purpose and with the current character progression systems would be a poor experience for most. The game might have PVP, but I'd argue that non-combat roles, tasks, experiences, and conflict are as if not more important. 

With the optional to skip leveling through sacrifice, it's up to the player to figure out how to do so. For those unable/willing, then they can grind away.

My hope is the NPE when more finalized gives a taste of PVP/siege to complete the game loop. Redesigning things so people can instantly or even more quickly hop into PVP just to get rolled because they have no idea what they are doing doesn't make much sense.

17 hours ago, zenasprime said:

As for solo play, I do agree that there should be some way to engage with the game as an individual, either as a player who doesn't want to join a guild full time, or as a new player who is just getting their feet wet.

Solo play is an option but is extra challenging as the game is entirely geared towards group play. There is nothing stopping someone from trying to be a mercenary. Why a guild would use them instead of just recruiting someone is beyond me though. Mercenary guilds are one thing, individual players are another.

17 hours ago, zenasprime said:

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on this. Let players have their fun, even if it means building less then optimal character for group play. My Aracoix Thief in Shadowbane wasn't built for group play and was horrible at standing in a fight.

And while I do enjoy the group PvP opportunity that the game is going for, if it doesn't include some solo aspect on par with the Theif from Shadowbane, hell, if it doesn't include a pick pocket disc, I may lose interest in the game and not even play.

I would like to see build options like this but likely won't for a while if ever. People are free to do whatever they want and some guilds might even embrace that, but those out to win will be like any other game and have expectations for members. Why are players XYZ going to try hard and share their winnings if ABC are just screwing around with meme builds.

Expecting Crowfall or any game to have a similar design/options as other games isn't realistic. Regardless of the Shadowbane influence, this isn't Shadowbane.

IMO Crowfall is a glorified MMO Arena/Battleground that happens to be larger and last longer then what is found in other games. The ultimate goal is to win. If you individual goal is to rob players just for fun, doesn't make sense why it would exist in of itself unless it served the overall game design. As is, thieving exists, just kill other players and take their stuff.

 


 

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I love how folks defend ACE adding leveling into this game when it was specifically listed as something that would NOT be in this game. The games core design didnt have it and now folks wonder why the whole leveling mechanic is broken and makes little sense. Sorta like when they added dropped loot and broke any chance of economic/harvesting/crafting loop. 

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17 hours ago, APE said:

Regardless of the Shadowbane influence, this isn't Shadowbane.

It very much IS the spiritual successor to Shadowbane, if not just Shadowbane 2020. Nearly every part of the game design touches on Shadowbane and either takes from it or is directly inspired by it.

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6 minutes ago, zenasprime said:

It very much IS the spiritual successor to Shadowbane, if not just Shadowbane 2020. Nearly every part of the game design touches on Shadowbane and either takes from it or is directly inspired by it.

I don't disagree, but expecting specific features or experiences from Shadowbane to exist in Crowfall might be a mistake. They've actually talked about having some sort of thief discipline but I wouldn't hold my breath one such things happening anytime in the near future if ever. If that it what makes or breaks a game, to each their own.

 


 

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