Author Topic: Making new players stay  (Read 872 times)

Offline BinaryDragon

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Making new players stay
« on: May 12, 2018, 09:17:19 am »
First off, I would like to congratulate Muse Games on their release of Guns of Icarus Online, and Guns of Icarus Alliance (from here on just Guns of Icarus) on the Playstation 4 platform !

Good job, awesome to get people on console, into the player base.

The reason I write this post. Is that I have been in this game since 2014. I have seen many sales. I think I got a good idea of the problems that cause most of the new players to leave the game.

I would like to give you my input on how to make new players stay, and become a part of the community.

When I play with new people who just joined Guns of Icarus.Typically they tell me the game is awesome. They love it.And with good reason. It is indeed one of the best team based games out there. Ther is NOTHING wrong with the game itself

The problem come when they (novices) get matched against people who have 5000+ matches and they and their friends have 20. Imagine if you wanted to pick up cs:go, dota2, league of legends or team fortress with your friends. Imagine, you getting matched up against a team where 7 out of 10 players have 5000 matches played. It would not be fun for you and your friends. You would get owned and your opponents might realize how bad you are and start killing you with knifes. To "give you a chance"

In the same way, Guns of Icarus is not fun for the new players who run into stacks of high level players (and as we all know they will eventually do that). They get crushed and have a very bad gaming experience. So they exit and never come back

To combat this problem I suggest you put in place a new match making system. The one that is in place right now is not working in favor of new players. It is working in favor of veterans who are going to play the game anyway.

What would such a match making system look like ?

You select your desired class(es), you click a button and when the match is found there is no lobby. You go directly to the game. The person who is pilot, will select tools for the engineers and gunners. And while I know this takes away the "freedom" from the poor novice to pick parachute instead of a spyglass...so they at least have a chance of getting a soft landing if they fall off the ship. I think that it would help a lot in terms of getting better matches. Both for novices and experienced players

What about friends, who wants to play with their friends ?

Keep the match making lobby. Let people search as a party of friends. Let them go into the "custom game list" If they have a full team of people who are level 135; then it might take a while.And sure that sucks. But it's better than them creating a custom lobby and stomping all the novices that join.Like they do now. People who are already level 135 in any class already proved that they love this game and are probably going to stay regardless.

Typically when I bring the issue of the match making system up to other players. Their response is "the playerbase can't support this kind of system"
That might be true. The playerbase might not be able to support it. But if you keep the match making system that is in place now, you will never get the playerbase to support a superior match making. Like a snake biting it's own tail and saying "I gotta eat my tail cause otherwise ill starve to death"

finally I would like to address "smurf accounts"

Meaning accounts where a player, who is (typically) very skilled, make a new account in order pretend he or she is a novice and destroy novices who don't even see that level 135 coming at them. While i do understand that smurf account provides a little bit of cash flow. It is nothing compared to the potential value they kill with their smurf account. If they want a new nick name they can pay the 1$ fee. And while I don't know this for sure. I have a feeling that if some high level player wanted a stat reset and talked to an admin about it. They would get it .


Thank you for taking the time to read this post
« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 09:25:34 am by BinaryDragon »

Offline Corporal Ravioli

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 10:00:27 am »
I think a more selective matchmaking or tier system would be unsustainable with the current playerbase. This is not a minor issue - the snake may eat itself but there's a high chance that you won't have a snake anymore.

I think if anything lobby inbalance should be much more forward-facing with a more obvious announcement that the lobby is stacked, flag the specific offending ship algorithimically, and bar the match from starting unless every single pilot readies. Because of the populace, the level disparity would have to be huge; luckily for us, it typically is.

Regarding smurfing - half of these guys (I can point fingers but you know who you are) aren't even trying to hide it with their username. It doesn't affect the ability to join games, so it's exclusively a hiding tactic. Slimy as hell.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 10:05:23 am by Corporal Ravioli »

Offline BinaryDragon

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2018, 10:49:41 am »
There is no point in having people who played 20 matches play people who have +5000. And there never will be. It might be "fun" for the vets. But in the long run it will only make fewer people stay. Unless the new players "get lucky" and play with a person who have a good understanding of the game (such as a ca) it's hopeless. And even with a CA in the crew they can't win.From the start all the vets know that it's not gonna be a match it is gonna be a PURGE

What is the CA suppose to tell them when they lose 5-0, without breaking hull on the enemies even once ?

I am not a CA, but I am trying to think about positive things to say to a group of new players after such a thing

Offline Corporal Ravioli

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2018, 03:36:46 pm »
[...]play with a person who have a good understanding of the game (such as a ca)

This would be nice if the majority of CA players weren't the ones stacking. It's become a laughable assumption that a CA ship would split their talent across four instead of botching an entire lobby. The problem with having a CA system in a game this dependent on performing roles is that most experienced players would rather hole up than risk facing uncertainty. It's the kind of behavior that signals to me that being a CA is a mark of popularity and not much more.


As far as I've directly witnessed, the best group of people when it comes to treating new players is ALTO. They hold events that push new players onto the helm and get them engaged with the game mechanics in a way that doesn't guarantee tragedy when they fail. Lobbies larger than 2v2 greatly, greatly assist in this.

I am not a CA, but I am trying to think about positive things to say to a group of new players after such a thing

My salty go-to is "Hey at least THEY'RE having fun" with a dose of "but clearly they're low-stim if this is all it takes." A more earnest explanation revolves around the theory that veterans become more and more scared of uncertainty the longer they play. Funny.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 03:46:21 pm by Corporal Ravioli »

Offline MightyKeb

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2018, 03:53:35 pm »
I think if anything lobby inbalance should be much more forward-facing with a more obvious announcement that the lobby is stacked, flag the specific offending ship algorithimically, and bar the match from starting unless every single pilot readies. Because of the populace, the level disparity would have to be huge; luckily for us, it typically is.

This sounds like a terrible idea. One of those novice pilots not knowing how to ready up is enough to bar the match from starting at all - all because some people wanted to play with their friends and also happen to be playing for a long time. If anything, it's more incentive to play on these smurf accounts that you despise.

Otherwise, I support a more obvious way to point out stacked crews to the lobby. Lack of clarity for new players is an omnipresent fault in this game, mostly in gameplay and for certain aspects of the UI. If you can point out the stack, you can atleast warn new players what they're getting into so that the ones who score appropriately high in the pussy-player-factor can bail out of the game to preserve their ego for another day.

I also second Ravioli's response to OP's idea.

Offline Corporal Ravioli

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2018, 03:59:47 pm »
[...]not knowing how to ready up is enough to bar the match from starting at all
[...]forward-facing[...]
Sometimes I choose a word when it appears to be a much more wise idea to expound with a sentence.


There's a HUGE lack of clear messaging in this game and I think a whole lot more effort needs to be applied towards making sure core aspects of the game are prominently displayed and easily understood. This means less passive UI (stationary "ready/not ready" button) and more dynamic UI ("3 out of 4 pilots ready," moving ships from an "unready" bench to a "ready" pedestal like casting a card, etc.) that expresses more deliberate design allowances that beckon attention and spark engagement.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 04:14:09 pm by Corporal Ravioli »

Offline MightyKeb

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2018, 04:08:51 pm »
[...]not knowing how to ready up is enough to bar the match from starting at all
[...]forward-facing[...]
Sometimes I choose a word when it appears to be a much more wise idea to expound with a sentence. There's a HUGE lack of clear messaging in this game and I think a whole lot more effort needs to be applied towards making sure core aspects of the game are prominently displayed and easily understood. This means less passive UI (stationary "ready/not ready" button) and more dynamic UI ("3 out of 4 pilots ready") that expresses more deliberate design allowances that beckon attention and spark engagement.

Either way, I don't think there's anything healthy about giving any one player control to not start the match under any circumstances. That is the entire reason for 3/4ths of the lobby being able to start a match on it's own.

Offline Corporal Ravioli

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2018, 04:29:28 pm »
I realize that my specific "3 of 4" makes an implication that I did not fully intend. I do agree that having one player hold a match from starting is unfair.

Anyways, the intricate workings and parameters of a system that I'm /spitballing/ right now are hardly worth worrying over. I'm much more interested in flying ideas past players on a wider conceptual experience level first and then getting hung up later.

For our sake I'll still include some minutia within my concept: If the level disparity is tuned high enough, you'll likely NEVER have to experience a manual ready-up like what I'm imagining. The vote could possess your screen akin to a crew recommendation and display the mean level for all ships. As well, if a vote is called and some AFK or stubborn pilot leaves a vote hanging, it could always default to a "yes" vote - fuck it. I was almost worried that an even number of ships would be kyrptonite to a vote system, but I figure the offending ship isn't a participant.


Just in case you missed it, I did edit a small portion of my post hoping to squeeze in another potential detail before your reply:
[...]moving ships from an "unready" bench to a "ready" pedestal like casting a card
« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 04:40:58 pm by Corporal Ravioli »

Offline Naoura

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2018, 05:29:55 pm »
An option that I heard of when discussing this with another player; adding an Average level/ Max level/ Min level to the match list options.

Most max level, 500o+ matches players don't even bother with the matchmaker at the best of times, and stick to the match list. Having that added to the match list might show lower levels that are using match list that they're out of their depth, and higher level players would see that they wouldn't face any form of challenge from it (Ideally). Or else would realize they don't want to get shacked up with a lower level crew.

It may be a patch job, but it's not an awful one.

Offline Cisco Kid

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2018, 01:06:14 am »
This entire conversation is hinged on the fact that there is enough players to begin with to allow any kind of segmenting of players based on experience level.    There is not enough players, hence there will be no seperation.  And if you announce somehow "hey novices, you are in a stacked lobby, look out!"  they will run for the hills.  As they always do.

On CA's stacking ships,  deplorable.  The CA's in the game sit on the ships with their friends answering basic questions like ammo types and what tool to use.  This does not enhance the new players experience nor is it a real help long term.  Anyone with half a brain could answer those questions.  I seriously dont understand what the CA's are doing in this game.  They are part of the problem.

Its time to face facts.  Vets love the opportunity to beat and stack.  Less stress.  Can play with weird builds with no competition.  And there is no way to prevent it.  And CA's  endorse and replicate it.  Hence,  dwindled player base until there's nothing but the same people.


Offline HamsterIV

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2018, 12:34:01 pm »
I agree Cisco Kid that the player population isn't large enough to split the community on skill level lines.

However the CA's are just normal players that volunteer to answer questions. They can crew with whoever they want. Also long time players attract other long term players. A CA can join a novice ship, but every time a novice leaves one of their vet friends join them. Are you expecting them to say "No my friends whose company I greatly enjoy, I am a CA and must use my gaming time to enrich the experience of these new players"?

Muse has tried several ways of preventing stacked games including removing the match list entirely forcing everyone through a numeric match maker and blocking players from switching sides from their "statistically balanced" teams. Vets hated it and eventually found a way around it thus creating even more stacked ships.

Offline nanoduckling

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2018, 02:32:42 pm »
The bottom line here is that there is no way to fix this problem without addressing the central issue of why novices lose (and they get disheartened because they are regularly defeated). Novices lose because Muse gives them the freedom to screw themselves.

Back when I played I sometimes had novices on my ship that followed my instructions, listened and learned. Under those conditions we have a decent shot at winning, even against experience opponents. Even when they lose they still take pride in going toe to toe against players with many more games than them, the game is still fun. When I've had the reverse, when novices wouldn't follow instructions, listen to advice or were generally assholes, defeat was all but assured. I was willing, although not to the degree that many CAs are, to put up with the awful experience this game frequently presented coaching novices, because of the positive experiences that went along with it. I can well understand why many folks are not so willing. Vets and CAs are not to blame for the teaching experience being an unstructured mess.

If you want novices to stand a chance against vets then they need vet captains, and those captains need total control over their ships. Sometimes you can get that by being a personable and friendly individual but if you want that to be a consistent experience then you are going to have to empower the folks you want to lead these novices. Otherwise it will be an unpleasant experience and rather than suffer through another extinguisher / spray / buff novice who wont listen the vets will team up with folks they know are reliable.

If you try to force vet players to babysit novices without giving them the ability to structure the environment, then all that will happen is the community will get even smaller. Vets leave all the time, I know plenty of old hands who no longer play, me for instance. If you try to force vets into leading novices more will leave unless something changes about that experience, and what is proposed here wont change enough. My suggestion, if the algorithm detects that a lobby is heavily stacked, it sends every player a message to that effect, and asks players if they would prefer to switch to a 'Structured Lobby'. If some threshold of players present agree then the lobby is algorithmically re-balanced distributing the players but with several important differences. (1) Captains can send any player on their ship to a spectator slot. (2) Pilot selects all load out options including kit for crew (3) If 3/4 pilots agree then one of the other pilots is demoted to crew and algorithmically replaced from those players present.

No solution which depends on splitting the community will work as the population is too low, and players are voting with their feet when it comes to coaching novices within the current framework so any solution dependent on people magically changing their attitude there is also doomed to failure.

Offline Daft Loon

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2018, 06:11:31 pm »
One small + easy step would be to use matchmaking ranks to eliminate the least balanced possibility from the post match shuffle, so many times a perfectly good strong ship + weak ship vs strong ship + weak ship match is followed by strong ship + strong ship vs weak ship + weak ship. Sometimes it just means 1/3 matches are unbalanced, sometimes people quit after the unbalanced match.

Offline Zetnus

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2018, 05:27:19 pm »
I thought I'll add my two cents:
1) The answer to segregating vets from new players is veteran lobbies (which are already part of the game). That would do the job reasonably well.  So why are there almost never vet lobbies?  Well, often the player count simply isn't there to fill them, but even when it is, we rarely see them, because they are effort to set up, tricky to fill, and you can't bring your lvl 28 friend along.  Vet lobbies need to be more aggressively encouraged by the game, and perhaps it should be possible to join even if are underleveled, provided someone invites you to crew. 
That is the simplest solution.  No fancy matchmaker tricks - just find more ways to encourage vet lobbies.
Also, consider doing something about smurfs.  It decieves new players and messes with lobby balance.

2)In defense of CAs: 
CAs are model players who are supposed to be friendly and helpful, to answer questions, and to act as am intermediary to mods and Muse.  They are NOT expected to jump ship and abandon their friends at the first sign of lobby imbalance.  I specifically cleared that point before agreeing to apply as a CA.  I do join novice ships and help teach whenever I can, but there are also times when I want to play with my friends.  That's the whole reason I got into the game in the first place - to play with friends, and if I can't do that then I don't need to play / don't need to be a CA.  I'll encourage the whole ship to swap for the balance of the lobby, but I'm just a player and I do want to crew with my friends when they are online. Expecting any more from CAs isn't realistic or sustainable.

Offline Corporal Ravioli

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Re: Making new players stay
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2018, 06:32:50 pm »
Going along with the whole "vet lobbies are difficult to start" bit Zetnus mentioned, It's most often the case where I'll see two lobbies with one experienced ship and three green ones each. It's difficult to get these experienced ships into the same lobby to fight each other because of the inherent risks of leaving a lobby to find another, so they just stay put and stomp the same people over and over. Because of this, I think that some way to requeue whole ships into more balanced lobbies after a match is a potential way to fix this. It - however - doesn't help much when you're also having a grand time bantering and playing against people on other ships just as much as the ones you're crewed with.