Author Topic: A cry for change  (Read 46311 times)

Offline Kira Wa Nai

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A cry for change
« on: January 16, 2017, 04:48:11 pm »
Before I begin, I want to apologize if this post comes off as somewhat rude - I tried my best to make it polite and level headed, but the russian definition of “polite and level headed” differs a lot from the american one and I am not really good at producing texts that fit the latter.

This post is a compilation of opinions of Polaris Company members written after the latest Spire playtest.

Short summary:
We are dissatisfied with the development and balance process of Skirmish mode.
In our opinion, the game has a lot of potential which isn’t harnessed by the dev team due to either lack of experience or conscious decision to ignore it.
We would like to ask for at least a promise of post-Alliance-release change in said process.

And now to the actual post.

Old players might remember who Polaris Company is - an old russian clan that played competitive and had mostly been incative for the past two and a half years. We love this game and, despite it becoming pretty stale and boring for us, still come back occasionally. We also love the Spire, and the news of it being changed managed to get many of our members to reset their two-year long offline timers. Having participated in the two “Tank Spire” playtests, we have become desperate enough to overcome our dislike of community interaction and write this plea.

This post is about the Skirmish mode (deathmatch in particular), its development and balance process and its future.

Skirmish mode is a competitive, cooperative PVP game with very high skill ceiling.
It also has a very steep learning curve, forcing new players into interaction with the older ones.

Therefore, it needs a few vital components to exist - a community, a competitive scene and a player-developer feedback loop to keep the game interesting.

Due to either inexperience or excessive focus on Alliance, only the community part has been somewhat nurtured by the dev team. The competitive scene was largely powered by the efforts of a few community contributors with occasional blessing by Keyvias and the player-developer feedback loop is nonexistent.

The last part is, in our opinion, the biggest problem.
GoIO is hard to balance, it is hard to introduce new things into it and it’s hard to change whatever is already in the game. Balancing such a game requires a complete, coherent vision regarding the following questions:
  • How is the game meant to be played?
  • By whom is the game meant to be played?
  • How long of a future do we see for this game?

Such vision is necessary to produce coherent, sensible changes to game mechanics, balance and content. It needs to be constantly discussed, criticized, and iterated upon - all as transparently as possible, to give the target audience whatever it desires.

This hasn’t been happening for the past four years and it isn’t happening now.
In our opinion, if it doesn’t start very soon, the game will die shortly after the initial Alliance euphoria is over.

What is happening right now feels, frankly, like a complete neglect of the game by its developers.
Such a vision doesn't seem to exist at all.

The key figure here is the person responsible for game balance.
To produce changes that actually make sense to be introduced into the game, this person has to closely interract with both casual and competitive communities, collect their feedback, openly propose and discuss changes, conduct playtests and only then make any decisions.

Right now, exactly none of this is happening.

Instead, this is:



Please, don’t take this personally, I’m just trying to showcase how far from the optimal design process the game currently is.

The Spire playtest is another illustration of disconnect between the dev team and the community.

A group of players has been pushing for a playtest of “Tank Spire”, giving the dev team exact changes that they wanted to see.
Instead, the test server had something insane. The changes on it just didn’t make sense. They accomplished exactly nothing to fix whatever problem Spire has, they weren’t even a direct implementation of community’s proposal. They looked absurd to anyone who actually plays the game and knows the ship.
Its primary defense mechanism was taken away with nothing of use given in return. Its firepower was taken away with nothing of use given in return. Its maneuverability was taken away with nothing of use given in return. Why would anyone who actually plays the game do that?

And the person responsible for the game balance wasn’t present at the playtest to hear the dissatisfaction. Instead, community managers were. They are great people and we love them, but it’s not a CM’s job to do the game balance! They aren’t nearly good enough at intricacies of game mechanics to do a good job of translating player’s post-test ramblings into coherent feedback!

Said person has given up on reading forums too, so the only way to reach him is to PM him on the rare occasion when he is in game.

This shouldn’t be happening. Nothing will be accomplished this way. The feedback is distorted, the decision process is nontransparent, and there appears to be no actual vision of the game’s future.

The only thing used to do the balancing right now is numbers. Arc angles. Damage numbers. HP and armor points. Speeds.

Map design is not being used. It is as powerful of a balancing tool as the numbers are. Map changes can influence the meta tremendously, promoting or discouraging certain playstyles, making certain mechanics and ships more viable, and doing everything you want from a balance tool. Instead, the maps are almost exactly the same as they have been four years ago.

New content is not being used. Introducing a mechanic or a ship is an extremely powerful tool to do balance. Alliance has an enormous amount of content, sitting ready to be ported into Skirmish. It’s potential to affect gameplay is not harnessed. Since release, the following content had been added:
  • Spire
  • Mobula
  • Lumberjack
  • Hades
  • Mine Launcher
  • Minotaur
  • Canyon Ambush
  • Labyrinth
  • Refinery
  • Rangefinder

Most of these were added in the first year and a half of game’s existence.
For the past two and a half years, the game has had very little new content to shake up the meta.
Please, Muse, do something. You have a passionate community that refuses to let the game die and gives you almost a carte blanche for changes.

Please, discuss how you see the Skirmish mode’s future. How you want it to be played. Whom you want to play it.

Post it for community to discuss and criticize. Listen to this feedback and make changes to it to make it match the community’s desires closer. Make this as transparent as possible.

Redo the balance process. Create a much closer interaction between the community representatives and the balance team. Turn the Hand of Balance into the Head of Balance and let the community hear his thoughts and plans. Conduct proper playtests with balance team present to hear and discuss the feedback. Utilize the currently unused map design and content addition.

We understand that the team is currently very busy with Alliance. We aren’t asking for you to start running like you are on fire and to immediately implement the changes described here.

But please, at least give us a promise that you will do this after Alliance is released. We love this game and really don’t want to see it die before we are done having fun in it.

P.S. If it wasn't obvious, the expected outcome of this post is a reply from Eric. Come out and play, we won’t bite you!

Offline Richard LeMoon

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2017, 05:38:40 pm »
This is a well-worded, reasonable post. Let's not drag it through salt and dirt if we can. Don't give into the anger. That way lies the dark side.

Offline Sciorpe

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2017, 05:48:59 pm »
I do agree with this article. I believe it shows the communities frustration in a non-hostile way.

Offline Dementio

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2017, 05:52:23 pm »
To be fair, we did get two new game modes you didn't mention: VIP and Skyball, which I personally find very bad because they are basically only Squid and Goldfish modes. Skyball actually getting it's set of maps, although they are just re-used objects form the original maps, it proves that if Muse wants to, they can build stuff. All that stuff in Alliance mode is also proof that Muse can do everything that the players actually requested for the last two years. But then again, the seemingly lack of interest in skirmish mode seems proof to me that Muse doesn't want to implement any of those requests, else they would have done it by now, right?

Offline Pwni

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2017, 05:57:07 pm »
as told by mr. Atruejedi about game balances, i believe that the devs should listen to the community instead of ignoring the people who know the game best. As for devs not playing the game, i think they should. ignoring the requests of the player base is not cool. NOT COOL.

Offline Baelfire Ender

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2017, 06:02:00 pm »
What with all I can say and have experienced in my one year of playing this game is just how little it's changed. I don't expect this game to own up to something like Overwatch where new content gets pushed every month. But as I write this, only two real things have happened since I started: Lochnagar change and Skyball.

I can understand that the team is VERY determined to make Alliance perfect for everyone who plays, will play, and has ever played. But there's one problem. 4 months into the game and I could see how flawed it was. It had flaws in a mode they had presumably deemed as good as it's ever gonna be, marked by their complete move to Alliance. Reason it's flawed?

The Hand of Balance doesn't play.

What with the numbers hardly changing to bring other guns into play; some ships being entirely useless on certain maps and only one ship could be used on others. It's not adding up.

Offline Atruejedi

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2017, 06:05:55 pm »
#InTheTrenches #BalanceToTheForce #NerfGreased #NerfBurst #RestoreLoch #ChangeCharged #HowAboutAHowitzer #AdaptTheMaps #SupersizeSpectate #SkyballOverhaul #AuditTheSpawns #LuckOfTheSpawn #BalloonLivesMatter #TankSpire

Even if you disagree with any of the ideas posted above... you do agree Skirmish needs love or Skirmish will die. A shot has already breezed across our bow: Blackwake is on the horizon and our beloved Skirmish might soon be sent to the murky depths. The fact that #AdaptTheMaps has been begging for simple adaptations and has been (largely) ignored for almost a year is incredible to me. We have 4 vs. 4 Water Hazard VIP... yet Muse makes us wait months and months and months for a 4 vs. 4 Water Hazard Death Match version? Muse has completely mis-prioritized what's important to their actual success, and our game, which we actually play, suffers daily for it. Honestly, at this point, I wish Muse would outsource development of Skirmish to another company. My vote goes for Coffee Stain. They could make GOI great... and not again, because Muse never allowed GOI to become great. And that's what's so frustrating. The community knows this game could be an astounding, popular, critical success if only it was given the attention it deserves...

Offline Delorum

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2017, 06:07:03 pm »
Just here to leave my +1

Were all pretty upset with the results of the tank spire testing...

Offline BobDoleReigns

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2017, 06:09:02 pm »
I'm just going to throw my thoughts on this out there... the bells are tolling and the Rydr approaches; as all of us know Blackwake (if you live under a rock http://store.steampowered.com/app/420290/) is essentially a month away and call me prophetic but I see a large majority of players leaving if for no other reason than because that game offers hope. I'm not saying now is the time for change for I fear it is too late, however Muse really needs to do something positive NOW (within the next week) or else they wont have a game to improve. You've screwed around for weeks, months, years riding on the games initial success and it has caught up with you. People have tried to help, people have offered suggestions (besides Jedi's email spams) but they've fallen of deaf ears. You have been focusing so completely on alliance (which is imo a complete turd, you'd have to pay me to play it) at the expense of skirmish I honestly don't know if you've become blind to your own folly.

Tldr; you made your bed get ready to sleep in it. I don't care about being constructive, you can shit in one and and shit in the other but at the end of the day all you've got is shitty hands.

Offline Neddie

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2017, 06:10:47 pm »
Many, most of you do not know who I am. I have no salutes. I've posted but a handful of times here. But I started playing Guns of Icarus Online in 2013.

I was absent from Guns of Icarus Online for three years. I bought it back in the sands of time, I backed the Kickstarter which has emerged as Alliance, and after a few months of regular play, I vanished. I did not return until late this past year, and I was shocked by what I saw. In the interim, there had been few substantive changes to the game, thus I had almost no learning curve and a very short adjustment period upon return. The primary differences were a lower hourly player count, general uncertainty about the survival of the game, and a weaker Muse presence. If one - precisely one - of the sixty people I knew in my first period with the game didn't notice me upon my reappearance, I would not be here today, but one did, and I rejoined the skirmish community.

We want Skirmish to succeed. We want Alliance to succeed. This is a niche where there is no real competition beyond the spectre of Blackwake, and Muse is fortunate to have one of the most dedicated, lasting core player communities I've ever seen, even in this metaphorical drought. Make use of us, reward our faith in you and our love of the game. Good development depends upon good engagement and good use of core players. From my own hobbyist experience, if you're going to make a game, you have to play it, and you have to listen to the people who play it.

Offline Byron Cavendish

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2017, 06:51:32 pm »
So here's the thing. I love this post. A lot of things you wrote and feel have also been said by myself and many, many others of the community over the years. I'm glad you posted it, because it validates the community's frustrations the more that people come forward.

However, it doesn't matter. It won't change a god dam thing. Trust me. Look at all the clans and personalities that have disappeared. They're gone because they gave up caring. Many I've talked to say they won't come back until Eric is gone. Muse, don't believe me? Go hit up captain roy, zuka, mad maverick, salous, members of cake, members of any of the old clans and ask them.

But you see, Muse has built up this defense, this lie in their heads, that population has gone down because of every human's natural desire to eventually move on, this boredom that they aren't responsible for. Listen to a few firesides, and you'll hear them say these dives are natural, that people just come and go. They have their heads completely buried in the sand, because they intentionally do not want to face the truth. And no one shows that better than Eric, leading by example, if you will. Quitting the forum, a balance director who refuses to read feedback or show up to tests to hear feedback. He is everything wrong with this company.

Unfortunately, your cry for help is pointless. Accept what Eric gives you, and be quiet, or quit the game. I'm not saying that to be rude, I'm saying it because they are the only two real options. Eric does not give a crap about your opinion or anyone's besides his own, he never will, and he answers to no one.

Offline FisherEx

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2017, 06:53:27 pm »
#BringChungToJusitice

Offline Helios.

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2017, 06:56:44 pm »
i think that i have a simple and really somewhat knitpick-y critique of neddie's post, and it is about a single word: AND in his final remark, as follows:

From my own hobbyist experience, if you're going to make a game, you have to play it, and you have to listen to the people who play it

i'm not sure you have to play it AND listen to the people who play it. theoretically there's an OR option to be considered. but i do think there isn't a third direction to go , and there's really few other options for making good solutions. you are going to either play the hell out of the game, and most of the passionate salty vets have, or listen to them.

i am going to suggest option two for the simple reason that there are a hell of a lot OF us still here. just look at the person-hours even a single of the competitive clans have put in. a single person simply cant compete with that. I'm not saying you don't care about your game, muse, i'm saying you mathematically cannot keep up.

the other thing ive suggested in teh past is that you seem to have forgotten that "perfect is the enemy of good" and that you are tryign too much to get it right ONCE after spending all thd time doing it (see ambush comes to shove update)

a awesome adage i heard from teh extra credit guys: fail faster, fail better. you need to take this to heart, and you cant spend another year doing it

Offline Huskarr

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2017, 07:11:07 pm »
I agree with all of the things that were said in this thread so far.

BTW Geek nothing wrong with any of what you said in your original post.

But I strongly feel that Muse should show a bigger presence in game. Muse should try and join vet lobbies and newer players alike. I feel that most of them have lost their touch with the game right now. And they have to regain it. Be it through feedback or through playing themselves.

Offline Aethelfrith

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Re: A cry for change
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2017, 07:13:27 pm »
Please, give us fully automatic flareguns. It would cure my cancer and give it to everyone else.

In all seriousness though, this game is fun, and would be absolutely astounding if its developers would show it a little more love. Please Muse, we're begging you.