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How newbie friendly will Crowfall be 2 months after launch?


MacDeath
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Or 6 months or a year?  PvP games require a good population of players to work well. Players ARE the content. both friends and enemies.  And, to keep the population up, we need a steady stream of newbies. Why? Because veteran players WILL leave the game from time to time (for many reasons) and if not replaced, the population gets too small to have good action.

If a Newbie comes in as a white vessel with poor gear and tries to compete with those in Blue or Orange vessels with epic gear and gets his/her butt kicked EVERY time will they stay long enough to become veterans? Most won't, IMO, unless they have the option to join a good guild that will carry them til they get good.

What methods can ACE use to keep the game attracting new players?

Discuss,

Mac

 

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Well this may not be a substantial thing, but on stream I talked about a catchup mechanic in the form of daily activities that would boost your point generation X amount of poitns extra per day.  The activities would basically be just playing the game:  pvp objectives, harvesting nodes, crafting things and would incentivize people logging in everyday.  The boost would probably have some sort of diminishing returns on people who are farther along the skill tree to prevent them from getting even further ahead, but still provide a nice incentive to log in to attain them.

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I also think the game needs to push in-game guild UI so that newbs can quickly join a giant casual-friendly guild. This needs to be really easy and immediate, and cannot involve leaving the game for the browser - something that is weird and confusing, when every game with guilds I’ve ever played managed this all in-game.

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In https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2157/soapbox_why_virtual_worlds_are_.php 

Doctor Richard Bartle  said:

"

Now I'm sorry to be the bringer of bad news, people, but here goes anyway: even for the most compelling of virtual worlds, players will eventually leave. Don't blame me, I didn't invent reality.

If oldbies leave, newbies are needed to replace them. The newbies must arrive at the same rate (or better) that the oldbies leave; otherwise, the population of the virtual world will decline until eventually no-one will be left to play it.

Point #1: Virtual worlds live or die by their ability to attract newbies

Newbie Preconceptions

Another quote, this time from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams:

If we build it, they will come.

Well, maybe if you're an Iowa corn farmer who hears voices inside your head telling you to construct a baseball stadium, but otherwise…

A virtual world can be fully functioning and free of bugs, but still be pretty well devoid of players. There are plenty of non-gameplay reasons why this could happen, but I'm going to focus on the most basic: lack of appeal. Some virtual worlds just aren't attractive to newbies. There are some wonderfully original, joyous virtual worlds out there. They're exquisitely balanced, rich in depth, abundant in breadth, alive with subtleties, and full of wise, interesting, fun people who engender an atmosphere of mystique and marvel without compare. Newbies would love these virtual worlds, but they're not going to play them.

Why not? Because they're all text. Newbies don't do text.

Newbies come to virtual worlds with a set of preconceptions acquired from other virtual worlds; or, failing that, from other computer games; or, failing that, from gut instinct. They will not consider virtual worlds that confront these expectations if there are others around that don't.

Put another way, if a virtual world has a feature that offends newbies, the developers will have to remove that feature or they won't get any newbies. This is irrespective of what the oldbies think: they may adore a feature, but if newbies don't like it then (under point #1) eventually there won't be anyone left to adore it.

Point #2: Newbies won't play a virtual world that has a major feature they don't like.

Not-So-Newbies

Here's another quote (kind of), from a private study of 1,100 players by the Themis Group. Themis's researchers asked veterans of 3 or more virtual worlds how many months they'd spent in their first one and how many months they'd spent in their second one. Dividing the second figure by the first, we get these averages for time spent in the second virtual world compared to the first:

EverQuest 80%
Ultima Online 70%
Asheron's Call 70%
Dark Age of Camelot 55%
Anarchy Online 55%

Players spend considerably less time in their second virtual world than they do in their first. Why is this?

Well, the first virtual world that someone gets into is very special to them. It's a magical, enchanting, never-to-be-repeated experience. You thought it was only you who looked back wistfully on your early days like that? Nah, it's everyone.

This has consequences. There used to be a virtual world called NeverWinter Nights, unrelated to the BioWare RPG, on AOL. When it was closed down, its refugees descended on Meridian 59. They immediately wanted M59 to incorporate every piece of NWN functionality that they could remember.

In general, players view all their subsequent virtual worlds in the light cast from their first one. They will demand that features from their first world be added to their current world, even if those very features were partly responsible for why they left the first world. They'll say they hate treadmills, but if their first experience was in a virtual world with treadmills, then they'll gravitate towards other virtual worlds with treadmills, all the while still hating them.

There's a long explanation for this, to do with the search for identity, which I won't delve into here because you only need to know that players do behave this way, not why (that's a different rant). Read my book (Designing Virtual Worlds) if you want the full story.

Point #3: Players judge all virtual worlds as a reflection of the one they first got into.

Short-Termism

No quote this time.

When a virtual world changes (as it must), all but its most experienced players will consider the change on its short-term merits only. They look at how the change affects them, personally, right now. They will only make mention of possible long-term effects to help buttress a short-termist argument. They don't care that things will be majorly better for them later if things are minorly worse for them today - it's only the now that matters.

Why is this? I've no idea. Well, I do have an idea, but not one I can back up, so I'll keep quiet about it. The fact is, players do behave like this all the time, and it would only take a cursory scan of any forum after patch day for you to convince yourself, if you don't believe me.

This short-termist attitude has two outcomes. Firstly, something short-term good but long-term bad is hard for developers to remove, because players are mainly in favor of it. Secondly, something short-term bad but long-term good is hard to keep because players are mainly not in favor of it.

Design that is short-term good but long-term bad I call "poor". Virtual worlds are primarily a mixture of good and poor design, because the other two possibilities (outright bad and short-term bad, long-term good) either aren't implemented or are swiftly removed. Good design keeps players; poor design drives them away (when the short term becomes the long term and the game becomes unfun).

Point #4: Many players will think some poor design choices are good.

Summary

OK, so we now have the four points I need to launch into my tirade. These are:

Point #1: Virtual worlds live or die by their ability to attract newbies
Point #2: Newbies won't play a virtual world that has a major feature they don't like.
Point #3: Players judge all virtual worlds as a reflection of the one they first got into.
Point #4: Many players will think some poor design choices are good.

I can now construct a line of reasoning that supports my initial assertion.

The Newbie Induction

Under point #4, players will eventually quit a virtual world that has poor features. Under point #3, however, they won't necessarily recognize that a feature which caused them to leave was indeed poor. Under point #2, they won't play those virtual worlds that lack this feature. Under point #1, those virtual worlds that do lack the feature - that is, those with the better design - will die through dearth of newbies. Any absolute newbies, for whom this is their first virtual world, will be educated to believe that this is how things are meant to be, thus starting the whole cycle again. Q.E.D.

"

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The will be a catchup mechanic with passive training that you can grind/pay your way through. However...

There is a huge misunderstanding among new players that catching up on passive training with veteran players give them the same chances in the game. The fact is it does not.
You can train your Blacksmithing and Mining to the max level, but once you go out mining, you need good harvesting vessel, runetools, harvesting gear including jewelry, harvesting food etc. Once you mined ore and you are ready to start crafting, you need a crafting vessel, crafting gear, crafting food, crafting bench in your keep, defenders (because you can get ganked while crafting), etc. etc.

You have to be a part of community in Crowfall if you want to compete. You are either part of a guild and share responsibilities or you are a part of the market and build relationships with harvesters and crafters.

You can be a completely untrainined gatherer, go around the world and gather plants, then cook needed food for your guild and get top gear in return.
You can be a completely untrainined combatant with easy to escape build and run pigs to build your guild keep and get top gear in return.

There is a million of examples how you can be proud a member of a community without having passive training.

You are valuable, because you play a role that your community needs. Passive training is just a way lock yourself into that role, once you decide what it is.

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2 hours ago, ComradeAma said:

The will be a catchup mechanic with passive training that you can grind/pay your way through. However...

There is a huge misunderstanding among new players that catching up on passive training with veteran players give them the same chances in the game. The fact is it does not.
You can train your Blacksmithing and Mining to the max level, but once you go out mining, you need good harvesting vessel, runetools, harvesting gear including jewelry, harvesting food etc. Once you mined ore and you are ready to start crafting, you need a crafting vessel, crafting gear, crafting food, crafting bench in your keep, defenders (because you can get ganked while crafting), etc. etc.

You have to be a part of community in Crowfall if you want to compete. You are either part of a guild and share responsibilities or you are a part of the market and build relationships with harvesters and crafters.

You can be a completely untrainined gatherer, go around the world and gather plants, then cook needed food for your guild and get top gear in return.
You can be a completely untrainined combatant with easy to escape build and run pigs to build your guild keep and get top gear in return.

There is a million of examples how you can be proud a member of a community without having passive training.

You are valuable, because you play a role that your community needs. Passive training is just a way lock yourself into that role, once you decide what it is.

This is something I'm not sure the game is working hard enough to lay out.

That passive training? Its role specialization, and economic advantage, but it isn't really useful power in and of itself. Everything it gets you, you can get through interactions with other players much more quickly and easily, and you are valuable by virtue of being another set of hands to do something valuable with them. Power comes from cooperation, no matter how advanced your training is. Even if one were to sit around and skill out everything on the tree for years they're still pretty much screwed without that cooperation. They're not going to resource efficiently, gather efficiently, fight over POIs efficiently, and generally all of that training is wasted when not in service of a greater goal. That super mega legendary vessel? Garbage if you're using it to venture out alone. That super legendary gear? Garbage if you don't have a way to replace it. Those maxed out crafting skills? Garbage if you're stuck harvesting everything yourself.

Personal power in a game like crowfall is completely insignificant in comparison to institutional power. I'm not sure the NPE in its current form really nails down the sense that this is a team game, built as a team game in its messaging.

This paradigm people have in mind of "I have to stack up to existing players" doesn't really express how the game actually works. Can we ease the transition in to chosen roles? Absolutely. Some limited catch up mechanics and really nailing the new player's transition from GR to infected to factions to dregs is a huge need as those world bands are effectively the closest thing crowfall has to matchmaking. The game needs to work harder to train players that there are places they should not want or need to go at certain levels of economic or social advancement, and it needs to work harder to make those middle advancement bands in infected and factions compelling experiences in their own right that don't leave players feel like they're just spinning their wheels waiting to play the "real" game. GR is shaping up to do a pretty good job of pushing players along its path and depositing them when they've moved past it, but Infected has to bridge that gap, and Factions campaigns need to be able to catch players long term, or even permanently unless they feel like they've got the support base of other players that is required to move to dregs and actually have a good time.

The current paradigm of tossing new players in to a meat grinder with experienced vets and expecting them to compete over scoreboard points with no rewards doesn't do much to serve the vets with interesting new opponents, or the new players with challenges fitting their place in the progression mechanics.

How do we fix this?

For one, finishing the NPE in infected is a great start. Players should be trained explicity how all the campaign systems works, and be required to do them before moving on in some fashion. Before you're allowed to leave infected for the first time you should have captured an outpost, captured a fort, and successfully attacked or defended a keep by hitting a tree. You should have delivered disciplines to an NPC crater, and you should have deleted your starter vessel and replaced it. At that point, and only at that point, having done all of this on at least one character, should you be permitted to move on.

Faction campaigns should be your default landing spot from this point. Finish the NPE's tasks in infected? Congrats, welcome to factions. Factions need to tell you exactly how divine favor works and tell you exactly why you want to compete for it by giving you rewards. Participation in these objectives on at least one character should be a prerequisite for unlocking dregs, and that participation should result in a practical demonstration of divine favor rewards so you also know why you want to KEEP competing in the future.

From there your choices are your own. Do you stay in factions and compete for divine favor among an ever shifting set of random allies and enemies, or do you join a dregs guild, or do you try to invent one? These three options need to be explicitly communicated to players as the three long term options available to them as paths for further reward and advancement in a big giant full screen cinematic to really drive home "you have arrived at the game, and THIS is what the game is about. Power, Wealth, Glory, winning campaigns and being rewarded by the gods. You require allies, and your path to victory is up to you."

Edited by PopeUrban

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

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Some of the campaigns will be God versus God, or Faction (Sun, Moon, Earth) versus Faction.  If they choose those campaigns, then their "team" will contain veteran players, so they will be on equal footing as far as team composition, provided they use that faction chat to find allies.  

I see your point though.  Mine is that Crowfall can use campaigns to gate new players together.  There's no reason that campaigns can't have maximum or minimum passive skill point totals associated with entry, just like what we see now does not allow vessels below a certain threshold in level to enter.  

Just saying that there is stuff they can do, and I think we will see some exploration of this type of thing as they tighten things up and allow for more testers active.

 

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/invite Playername via chat and /leavegroup via rightclick on your player frame would be a nice start. This is just silly that we have a game that is unplayable alone and not a single tool for collaboration.

We don´t even know if such tools are planned. A roadmap like that of Star Citizen would be nice. Wouldn´t need to have that much detail for such a long timeframe, but details for the next year and rough milestones for the time after would be nice.

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A point to keep in mind is that newbies dont need to fight vets.

FactionvFaction is the obvious solution. Both teams should have the same-ish number of Vets so it is a non-issue. Other than that I will be surprised if we dont have a Newbie only variant of some rulesets.

There is nothing stopping Newbies from fighting among themselves. The only issue would be pop. But the Devs can maybe mitigate that with some rules if necessary. Like newbs and small guilds only? Seems like it would be fun to me. 10-15 Vets shouldnt cumberstomp newbies.

So, yeah, dont have newbies join the ruleset where all the old hands are at.

Edited by BarriaKarl
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3 minutes ago, goqua said:

Some of the campaigns will be God versus God, or Faction (Sun, Moon, Earth) versus Faction.  If they choose those campaigns, then their "team" will contain veteran players, so they will be on equal footing as far as team composition, provided they use that faction chat to find allies. 

This will only work if there is a DREGS campaign at the same time with better rewards for all guilds. Otherwise there will be organized guilds and unorganized new players in that faction campaign.

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/15/2020 at 9:18 PM, goqua said:

There should be each tier of campaign active at all times post-launch.

Do you mean 'should be' as in 'I hope there will be' or as 'ACE has said there will be'?

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21 hours ago, MacDeath said:

Do you mean 'should be' as in 'I hope there will be' or as 'ACE has said there will be'?

Wouldn't make much sense to have 10 Dregs and 0 Faction going. Game won't survive with only Dregs.

Real question is will there be enough players to fill up multiple campaigns post launch so ACE can stay in business?

 


 

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On 10/24/2020 at 5:37 PM, MacDeath said:

Do you mean 'should be' as in 'I hope there will be' or as 'ACE has said there will be'?

The way they outlined their original vision, at least my interpretation of it, was that campaigns would be concurrent, and we could choose the risk/reward level campaign we wanted at any time. 

I think picking a campaign from a list is a poor way to present the entire game "universe", giving it a lobby shooter style feel.  I like to see them weave the worlds together, like in Eve Online, so it felt like you were progressing in difficulty or transitioning into more dangerous areas by going from campaign map to campaign map, but we will have to wait and see. 

If they stick to the current setup, then there may be rulesets not always available because of lore, or any reason really, but there should always be at least the 3 campaign type we have now though: God's Reach, Infected, and Dregs.  I hope they find clever ways to give us more variety. They could always implement transitional rulesets. 

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I don t know why... but i do not caution Dregs mentality, especialy when it s Guild vs Faction, but Faction VS Faction all the time could work, like TESO or Warhammeronline, it could work. 

The complexity of Dregs give to the game too much difference gap in the number of Players Guild and Gear Quality Stuff that members can bring to the campaing. 

I feel there is something wrong with Dregs and Import and Export thing, i don t know what it is, i just can t make my mind on it :(

Edited by Matos
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1 hour ago, Matos said:

 

I feel there is something wrong with Dregs and Import and Export thing, i don t know what it is, i just can t make my mind on it :(

I Think full paper-doll looting and easier to craft gear would go along way to address this. 

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