There's a tendency in new games to overcomplicate things by adding far too many ideas. This problem is made worse by "listening to community feedback" - if you put enough stock in what your players say, and you make it clear to them, they will get delusions of grandeur and think they're professional game designers. Of course, they're not, and you have to realize that they're fundamentally just players
. They have biases that you as a game designer do not - their ideas are often based on isolated experiences, perceived imbalances and so on. If you make the game good enough, they'll like it - whether or not it acknowledges the ideas they posted and explored.
A game with too many ideas will never be balanced. It will never perform well. It will not be possible for players to pick it up quickly, and the dedicated players who put in the time to learn everything will kill your community by being rude and entitled about everything
I want to suggest to the developers at UWE that they take some time to deconstruct this game (in a philosophical sense). Start with a clean slate, and start listing the most fundamental NS mechanics on it. Like this:
- Teeth and claws
- etc etc etc
Take a day or two and evaluate the state of the game from the bottom up (rather than from the top down). Eventually, you will get to ideas that are more complex (like clogs, the rules for bile bomb and so on). All of these ideas should:
- Solve a problem created in the design by the simpler, more fundamental ideas
- Be easy for players to understand
- Be able to "grow" with players as they develop the related skills
- Create interactions between players
Of course, I realize the irony in posting this and expecting someone to take it seriously. I also realize that this is something that is already done
. I just don't think it's being done enough. Builds 205 and 206 both introduced too many ideas that are not fundamental, without clearly indicating the problems they solve, some not scaling with player skill and so on. The more messy the design of this game gets, the more likely it is that some issues will never be resolved.
There are some experiments you can try, too:
- Try a 'minimal feature set' - take out all gorge buildings, all hive 2+ abilities, all robotics/advanced armory/proto lab tech, and just play the game. How are the simple traditional elements of NS working? The majority of what people see in this game will be rifle marines fighting skulks, and if that part of the game is riddled with problems you are building on a poor foundation.
- Try a feature set where the full alien tech tree is unlocked, and the marines have nothing but LMGs and arms lab upgrades. How far can marines go like this? Gradually add in the other marines mechanics as needed, and see which ones actually interact with the aliens in a way that is good for gameplay.
- Do the reverse - full marine tech, aliens are limited to skulks/gorges or something like that. See which of the less fundamental aliens mechanics interact well with the game at large.
- In all this, avoid adding 'stop gap' mechanics - any high-level mechanic that has been made to interact with several others for 'balance' purposes should be set aside
- Also try to avoid mechanics that do the same thing. Things like MACs and welders should be separate - the tradeoffs between them might be obvious and feel 'balanced', but that doesn't justify having both in the game. I've never seen a public build with welders but no MACs - trying things like that can help you to remove some of the bulk in this game that makes it difficult to maintain.
- Feel free to remove features that are not good for gameplay. Do not spend a great deal of time revising an idea that, at its core, does not fit this game.
Personally, I would love to see this done in the public builds. Perhaps someone could package LUA mods with a public release, and host "marine tech" servers, or "no tech" servers. I believe this would generate a great deal of useful feedback, so that you could proceed into designing the flashy, novel, high-tech parts of the game in a way that contributes positively to the game as one whole product.Thanks for reading!