My personal rant on the state of NS2

IdlerayIdleray Join Date: 2012-10-04 Member: 161464Members, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 154 Advanced user
edited September 2013 in NS2 General Discussion
TL;DR :

Game still suffers from

* performance issues for average users

* shortness of accessibility features and things that encourage people to play and discover the depth of gameplay, though this is being improved

*single player and co-op modes for a large segment of potential players who need a gentler learning curve


Reading the steam discussion groups actually crystallized for me why NS2 will - unfortunately, despite my most fervent wishes otherwise - stay small, the following 3 simple reasons

1. Performance - The average player with their average pc will load this game up, have it stall at the optimization screen for 5 minutes+, then wonder if it's crashed or frozen, and then either uninstall it right there or after they join a game only to find they have 40-60 fps that drops down to unplayable levels once the action gets intense.

RIght on the extreme other end of the spectrum we have WOW. A game that essentially bends time and space with its ability to run on the SHITTEST ASS SYSTEMS imaginable and still be fairly playable.



2. Accessibility - I have in mind a range of things when I say this word: basically everything that encourages the player to play and makes it easier for them to do so.

This is how I imagine it: at its core NS2 is a great game packed with some awesome moments. BUT, and this is a big BUT: there is a big wall separating the casual player from its juicy core. Performance is part of this wall but its such a huge stumbling block and presents itself so immediately that I listed it alone above.

The recent patch with its improved tutorial and the general trend in the past few updates have seen steady progress towards making NS more accessible, but it still lacks:

a. Persistence - Debated to death, I know, but the hard facts are there: giving people achievements and points and rankings and hats and whatever gamification gimmick that strokes the players ego/vanity WILL make people play your game more. Everyone has an ego. Everyone will respond positively to some kind of persistent proof of their achievements, EVEN (and especially) the ones who argue vocally that it makes the game less "pure" or "old-school"

The new skill rating is a promising first step but I'm seeing ALOT of work needed to get this aspect of the game up to snuff.

b. Alternate play systems - Starting with the simple idea of a chat lobby that allows players to organise their own PUGs, the possibilities are endless, and I look forward cautiously to the promised "Organised Play Systems". Here's one I've always envisioned for the game: Campaigns that are run in the same structure as real life tabletop gaming Campaigns: players participate in sanctioned matches where the results affect an over-arching "storyline" and give incentives for players to form social groups that are larger scale than clans. Heroic marine victories and terrifying Fade killing sprees alike are reported for players to narrate, discuss and enjoy.



3. Lack of single player or co-op - Finally, we need to admit the existence of the casual. The casual player is someone who is not that great at the game and probably has neither the time or motivation to compete with the best.

Here is the important thing: no player likes being stomped. Not many player want to be thrown in the deep end at first. The casual player is no exception. Now before you start dismissing this casual player, know that we are in the age of casual gaming. Know also that everyone is "casual" at something (or in fact most things) and good at a few certain things, and games are no exception. I play CIV5 on deity and at first i'd laugh at casuals who post on CIV forums complaining they can't win on Prince. But you know what? That individual probably beats me handily at some other game like COD or whatever. In the same vein 95% of the time when I play League of Legends I play co-op vs AI BECAUSE I LIKE WINNING AND I ADMIT I CANT WIN AGAINST ACTUAL HUMAN PLAYERS DONT JUDGE ME OK?

The bottom-line is there will always be a LARGE sub-set of NS2 purchasers who simply do not find appeal in the way the game is commonly played and find it unrewarding. Why? because they're not good enough at it. But who are you to judge them for that insignificant fact, and why shouldn't they get their money's worth of entertainment?


EDIT: bump got modded, so I'm just gonna keep it all in one post and rename this more fittingly to my personal rant.

I would also add my thoughts on the efforts expended by UWE on making NS2 an e-sport: To successfully launch an e-sport phenomenon like LOL or SC2, you need BOTH an audience and game balance. While I see frenetic effort directed towards the latter, it is the former that should precede: You first need a base number of players who care about the game to make an E-Sport, there's no point in polishing the game to become an E-sport when new players don't stick with it long enough to care, so my opinion is that having prize money and more PR for the game doesn't fundamentally address the issue that the average game experience for the new-comer is inconsistent and often not fun enough to warrant sticking around.

Post edited by Idleray on
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Comments

  • SewdiOSewdiO Join Date: 2013-08-28 Member: 187136Members Posts: 13
    I really hope this will be seen by UWE ! It's a very good explanation that really encapsulate the issues !
  • GlassesGlasses Join Date: 2010-01-11 Member: 70056Members, Reinforced - Diamond Posts: 29 Fully active user
    Idleray wrote: »
    TL;DR :

    Game still suffers from
    *single player and co-op modes for a large segment of potential players who need a gentler learning curve
    3. Lack of single player or co-op
    As much as many of us want it. It's just out of the question. UWE needs insane amount of money and people to do Single-player campaign.
    Although Co-op can be done but I think they relying on modders too much.
    Idleray wrote: »
    TL;DR :
    Finally, we need to admit the existence of the casual. The casual player is someone who is not that great at the game and probably has neither the time or motivation to compete with the best.
    BECAUSE I LIKE WINNING AND I ADMIT I CANT WIN AGAINST ACTUAL HUMAN PLAYERS DONT JUDGE ME OK?

    The bottom-line is there will always be a LARGE sub-set of NS2 purchasers who simply do not find appeal in the way the game is commonly played and find it unrewarding. Why? because they're not good enough at it. But who are you to judge them for that insignificant fact, and why shouldn't they get their money's worth of entertainment?
    I've seen too many of my favorites games being casualized so much that they all lost their depth and overall made it not fun to play.
    Idleray wrote: »
    TL;DR :
    I would also add my thoughts on the efforts expended by UWE on making NS2 an e-sport...
    When I watched European Open 2013 Grand Final and I had tiny tears. So many chairs were empty.
    UWE just need money to do extreme marketing job.
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  • casan0vaxcasan0vax Cloverfield, USA Join Date: 2012-11-04 Member: 166663Members, WC 2013 - Shadow Posts: 202
    The performance issues are just a hiccup. It's come a long way since beta, and I think the current iteration of performance problems (i.e. freezes, crashes, etc.) will be fixed in due time. I'm one of the fortunate ones who has seen a steady increase of FPS from build to build (especially 248 or 249, whichever one it was that was kind of ninja'd on us that boosted performance almost universally), and I can actually tell you, no BS, I've crashed from NS2 only twice since its launch in October 2012 (and one of those was because I was alt-tabbed, messing around with XSplit, Fraps, Chrome, iTunes, etc.). So, just so UWE knows, there do exist users, however minority they may be, that are enjoying great performance in NS2!

    As far as single-player/co-op is concerned, I have to respectfully disagree. First, logistically, it's not super feasible simply because of the small crew involved in the game's development. You yourself have said (and I agree with you here), the majority of people are still experiencing significant performance issues--I'm sure you can agree with me, that addressing stability must be the first priority before considering something like single player or co-op.

    Second, philosophically speaking, I feel that it goes against the foundation upon which it was created. NS2 and its predecessor were always multiplayer-centric games, and I believe they were created with that in mind. NS came out during the heyday of HL modding: CS, TFC, DOD, and the multiplayer-first (and usually, exclusive) philosophy was a major component of these games. None of them had single-player or cooperative game modes because they, like NS, were competitive in nature and online-based. They tried the whole single player thing when CS went mainstream with CS: Condition Zero, and that was more or less short-lived.

    Sure, UWE could decide to eventually implement some kind of features for the casual player, but I don't see it happening any time soon, if ever.

    Games like CS:GO and NS2 are remnants of a time since past in online gaming, a time that nostalgic nerds like me yearn for.
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  • NeokenNeoken Bruges, Belgium Join Date: 2004-03-20 Member: 27447Members, NS2 Playtester, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Silver, Subnautica Playtester Posts: 1,305 Advanced user
    - This has always been a MP game. Making a decent SP/Co-op game is something else entirely. It takes heaps of time to make something that is on par, and you need experience for that sort of thing as well. It's just not gonna happen. And not something that is needed too imo. Energy is best spent making the MP better.

    - The game is now also in a pretty decent state concerning accessibility. Tutorial, tip vids, sandbox, commander help, bots mode. We have stats tracking (with leveling actually) which should satisfy some of the persistence freaks at least, and server skill level indicators. Even the wiki is up to date now, imagine that.

    - As for perfomance, yes, this is probably still one of the major issues, but UWE knows that. It's being worked on.
    cryptWhiteWeaselMasterBat
  • RuntehRunteh Join Date: 2010-06-26 Member: 72163Members, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 1,883
    I don't think people understand what it means to build a company and make a game like this. For your information, it is almost a decade worth of work by a team that was initially 3/4 people.
  • JohnnySmash77JohnnySmash77 Join Date: 2009-07-07 Member: 68079Members Posts: 9
    Yeah things like balance changes, new maps, and new content do almost nothing to bring in new players. When a new player starts playing, all the maps and content are already new to them. Saying that UWE should work on new player retention rather than new content is surely an unpopular opinion, but it would make the game thrive so much more. Do we want the next update to be a bunch of random "Space Station Omega X Map" with new "Lerk Dive Attack" and "Poison Grenade", or do we want a regular 10,000 concurrent players online? To be honest, every game I've seen focus on new player retention ends up getting way more content, features, and awesomeness anyways.

    New players like CoD-like leveling systems (even with no gameplay-affecting stuff), balanced games so they don't get stomped, and a bunch of that other stuff that the OP talked about.
    Blainn
  • HivelordHivelord Join Date: 2003-06-21 Member: 17567Members, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 140 Fully active user
    edited September 2013
    Yeah things like balance changes, new maps, and new content do almost nothing to bring in new players. When a new player starts playing, all the maps and content are already new to them. Saying that UWE should work on new player retention rather than new content is surely an unpopular opinion, but it would make the game thrive so much more. Do we want the next update to be a bunch of random "Space Station Omega X Map" with new "Lerk Dive Attack" and "Poison Grenade", or do we want a regular 10,000 concurrent players online? To be honest, every game I've seen focus on new player retention ends up getting way more content, features, and awesomeness anyways.

    New players like CoD-like leveling systems (even with no gameplay-affecting stuff), balanced games so they don't get stomped, and a bunch of that other stuff that the OP talked about.

    This point doesn't just relate to new players. I've seen alot of pro NS1 veterans not bother with the game simply because of bad performance and instability. These same players who gave up because of performance aren't just going to turn around when new content comes out and say "oh look new maps, I'm going to go play again" when theres that lingering feeling that performance is still sub par.

    When UWE gets around to sorting out performance issues etc. they need to clearly communicate that the issues are fixed, so that players who were put off in the first place will know to come back.
    E t e r n o . n z
  • SteveRockSteveRock Join Date: 2012-10-01 Member: 161215Members, NS2 Developer, Subnautica Developer Posts: 486 Advanced user
    edited September 2013
    I think we do appreciate the value of accessibility, but we just haven't had the time & resources to give it much love. We've been making efforts to correct this recently.

    A single player campaign is out of the question. It's not just something you release as a content update to an existing game. But one idea we've been tossing around is an offline Challenge Mode. Think of these as practice drills to focus on specific skills. Things like... get across the map in less than 30s as a Skulk. Or, gather 100 TRes in under 3 minutes (with bots, or maybe as a two-player challenge). Or, take out as many lerks bots as you can in 30s. So basically, kind of like a single player campaign, but without any plot/theming/world-building/pacing/etc. Think COD spec ops, or Arkham Asylum challenge mode.

    And of course, we can totally slap on Steam achievements (we've avoided these before, because we didn't want them affecting the multiplayer game), which would give a bit more motivation to go through these. Experts should get them with no trouble, but they would be a good challenge for more casual players.
    Side1Bu2Rnz9angelousAurOn2
  • SanCoSanCo Join Date: 2012-08-18 Member: 155744Members Posts: 139
    Slap on steam achievement, doesnt hurt nobody. Just make sure they're team oriented and not something like, survive for 5 min.
  • SychoSycho Join Date: 2013-08-07 Member: 186642Members Posts: 32
    SteveRock wrote: »
    I think we do appreciate the value of accessibility, but we just haven't had the time & resources to give it much love. We've been making efforts to correct this recently.

    A single player campaign is out of the question. It's not just something you release as a content update to an existing game. But one idea we've been tossing around is an offline Challenge Mode. Think of these as practice drills to focus on specific skills. Things like... get across the map in less than 30s as a Skulk. Or, gather 100 TRes in under 3 minutes (with bots, or maybe as a two-player challenge). Or, take out as many lerks bots as you can in 30s. So basically, kind of like a single player campaign, but without any plot/theming/world-building/pacing/etc. Think COD spec ops, or Arkham Asylum challenge mode.

    And of course, we can totally slap on Steam achievements (we've avoided these before, because we didn't want them affecting the multiplayer game), which would give a bit more motivation to go through these. Experts should get them with no trouble, but they would be a good challenge for more casual players.


    How could you possibly think achievements would "affect the multiplayer game"?? Everything else you people do seems to "affect" it, why stop there?
    NarfwakAurOn2
  • BobRossTheBossBobRossTheBoss Join Date: 2012-12-31 Member: 176824Members Posts: 172 Fully active user
    One thing that is lacking from the tutorial is a basic overview of how to command. I've seen at least half a dozen newbies jump into the hive and spend 3 minutes without placing a cyst, and 5 more minutes trying to learn how to do it while I try to walk them through it as simply as I can.
  • RMJRMJ Join Date: 2012-08-09 Member: 155190Members Posts: 181 Advanced user
    This is actually quite true.

    There was a friend other not long ago, who wanted to play NS2 on my machine, so it got installed and such. He actually thought the game had frozen on the loading.

    The first time you load into one map one a server it takes FOREVER, then 2min after server changes to a new map, and your at it again.

    I hope they get the money and that something can be done.
  • MrPinkMrPink Join Date: 2002-05-28 Member: 678Members Posts: 1,635 Fully active user
    You can't have single player/coop AND NS2. They could either leave NS2 for dead and develop single player for a few years, or keep incrementally adding to the multiplayer.
    Get off my plane.
    Sycho
  • Know painKnow pain Join Date: 2012-09-04 Member: 157674Members Posts: 510 Fully active user
    Remove the evolve word in alien’s tech and replace it with the word upgrade, if abilities are going to act in the same way as marines.
    Hakuna Ma-ta-ta
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  • NarfwakNarfwak Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 5258Members, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, NS1 Playtester, Playtest Lead, Forum Moderators, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Gold, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow, Subnautica PT Lead, NS2 Community Developer Posts: 3,787 admin
    One thing that is lacking from the tutorial is a basic overview of how to command. I've seen at least half a dozen newbies jump into the hive and spend 3 minutes without placing a cyst, and 5 more minutes trying to learn how to do it while I try to walk them through it as simply as I can.
    There is a separate commander help system that gives some basic instructions to players who have this option enabled when they command games. It tells them how to place cysts, build armories, expand to res nodes, research tech, etc. It's not perfect and does require the player to pay attention a bit while already in a multiplayer environment but it's better than nothing.

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  • creamcream Join Date: 2011-05-14 Member: 98671Members Posts: 73
    Runteh wrote: »
    I don't think people understand what it means to build a company and make a game like this. For your information, it is almost a decade worth of work by a team that was initially 3/4 people.

    don't think you know who preordered the special edition immediately when they asked for $$$ back in 2009.

    a decade worth? exaggerate much? 2009 to now is only 4 years, not even half of the decade you're talking about. ns1 was different because it was free as long as you had hl1 and the community contributed a lot. how many "official" maps do you think there are in ns1? those shitty siege maps? even the people who made bots and waypoints so you wouldn't wind up getting stomped in public servers and quit immediately.

    for "a decade" to be even close, ns2 would have to be a direct port of ns1 to spark engine, which it is not. stop trying to guilt-trip people.
    NO EDITS.
    Sychotwiliteblue
  • RuntehRunteh Join Date: 2010-06-26 Member: 72163Members, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 1,883
    @cream It is at least 6 years actually, if you look at the date for the dynamic infestation video. It has taken a long time for UWE to build the business up to the state it is in now. Maybe a decade if you consider Charlie was probably trying to get the money together to actually start the business off. I can't speak for him, but I have heard that almost 10 years of work has gone in to creating this game.

    I'm not trying to guilt trip people, what would that achieve for me? You just get some threads on here where people throw out suggestions for new editions for the game and don't understand the technical challenges and time/money it takes to do these things.
  • Ghosthree3Ghosthree3 Join Date: 2010-02-13 Member: 70557Members, Reinforced - Supporter Posts: 3,432 Advanced user
    My only real problems with the current build,

    1. Gorges are still OP (like so OP it hurts me)
    2. Fades probably got a LITTLE bit too nerfed
    3. Gorges
    76561197996992409.png
  • ezekelezekel Join Date: 2012-11-29 Member: 173589Members, NS2 Map Tester Posts: 1,383 Advanced user
    win 100 matches as a marine
    win 100 matches as an alien
    win 100 matches as a commander

    those are achievements that wouldn't affect the flow of the game, not that they're needed :/
  • KamamuraKamamura Join Date: 2013-03-06 Member: 183736Members, Reinforced - Gold Posts: 669 Advanced user
    Gripes with the game (performance, stability and other obvious things aside):

    - basic skulk vs. marine combat went backward from better to worse in the last version by introducing the marine strafe jump
    - game does not remember alien evolution presets
    - bone shield for onos cannot be put to right button, so that both attack and defense would be readily available
    - alien vision contrast and color scheme (that yellow on grey mod looked considerably better)
    - 60 sec out of command chair no res (why, tell me, why? It's the most retarded change ever)
    - babbler nerf instead of redesign, solidifying it as a useless and redundant feature
    - flamers should be more useful in combat, the energy drain on alien should be higher if they want to keep damage down. It's a 25 res weapon!
    Each day, hundreds of enthusiastic new players rush to join the ranks of the TSF to protect the universe, our beloved and the values of our society from the alien menace.

    Glory to the TSF! Glory to Arstotzka ! Glory to the mods!
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  • asmallpandaasmallpanda Join Date: 2013-09-01 Member: 187582Members Posts: 5
    Kamamura wrote: »
    Gripes with the game (performance, stability and other obvious things aside):

    ......

    I would take your post and backtrack. it's great to hammer out the game balance! But the tech support section is really a basic building block. Players new and old, casual or hardcore - if you can't play the game you can't build a base of players. It was mentioned above, but it should be brought up again often.

    NS2 is obviously fun and new even just from the offline bot play. Bugs and tech support are just an inescapable foundation.
  • cpt000cpt000 Join Date: 2013-08-28 Member: 187152Members Posts: 104 Fully active user
    SanCo wrote: »
    But one idea we've been tossing around is an offline Challenge Mode. Think of these as practice drills to focus on specific skills. Things like... get across the map in less than 30s as a Skulk. Or, gather 100 TRes in under 3 minutes (with bots, or maybe as a two-player challenge). Or, take out as many lerks bots as you can in 30s. So basically, kind of like a single player campaign, but without any plot/theming/world-building/pacing/etc. Think COD spec ops, or Arkham Asylum challenge mode.

    I think this is a brilliant idea, especially for newer players.

    Skulks: have to ambush marines in small maze like map, with lots of vents/dark areas/blind spots. Could probably adapt summit combat map.

    Marines: gun range - stationary and moving targets. Shotgun range. CQB practice. Exo practice.
  • MMZ_TorakMMZ_Torak Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 3770Members Posts: 1,866 Advanced user
    Runteh wrote: »
    I don't think people understand what it means to build a company and make a game like this. For your information, it is almost a decade worth of work by a team that was initially 3/4 people.

    What was the other 25% of the team, sentient toasters?

    :P
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  • hub3rtu2hub3rtu2 Join Date: 2012-11-01 Member: 165478Members, Reinforced - Diamond Posts: 66 Advanced user
    I want a benchmark mode, where it would spawn two end-game teams just shooting, biting each other with lots of explosions and effects, camera going as fast as lerk.
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  • tuxatortuxator Join Date: 2010-01-07 Member: 69958Members, Reinforced - Gold Posts: 145 Fully active user
    edited September 2013
    Why do you need someone else to give you an arbitrary metric to tell you that you did a good job? If it isn't on your steam profile it isn't worth celebrating?

    because that's exactly how normal human beings (normal as in mentally sane) define themselves. We are coined by our environment. And the internet is, for most people, part of their environment. And of course you want to impress people that are part of the environment that you are part of. The degree to which we want to impress the people of a specific environment is related to how much time we spent in that environment/with the people that are part of that environment in causality to how much we like to be part of that environment/how much we care about that environment.

    And if someone decides for himself, that gaming is an important environment to him and he loves gaming, he'll of course try to impress other people that are part of that environment, and badges make it really easy to do that. You've an actual proof that you did something cool and you don't even have to get the Guiness Record team to your home for that!

    On topic:

    tutorials, yes. Dumbing down the game: no. Make a modification or a seperate type of game if you've to, but don't dumb the game down for everyone. S2 Games did that with Savage 2 and look what happened: Nobody plays it nowadays aside from a few die-hard fans. (why that game you ask? Because the meta-gameplay is the same as NS2's)
  • VetinariVetinari Join Date: 2013-07-23 Member: 186325Members, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Silver Posts: 3,452 Advanced user
    hub3rtu2 wrote: »
    I want a benchmark mode, where it would spawn two end-game teams just shooting, biting each other with lots of explosions and effects, camera going as fast as lerk.

    If we run that on a supercomputer from CERN or so maybe we can get 120 fps!
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  • tuxatortuxator Join Date: 2010-01-07 Member: 69958Members, Reinforced - Gold Posts: 145 Fully active user
    edited September 2013
    hub3rtu2 wrote: »
    I want a benchmark mode, where it would spawn two end-game teams just shooting, biting each other with lots of explosions and effects, camera going as fast as lerk.

    If we run that on a supercomputer from CERN or so maybe we can get 120 fps!

    In theory. BUT! Those supercomputers are mainly Linux or Unix driven, based upon my current experience our best bet is a segfault after ~2 to 5 minutes and 40 FPS. On the bright side, we won't get an out of memory exception! (or something to that effect)
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