Player retention and the future of NS2

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  • ZEROibisZEROibis Join Date: 2009-10-30 Member: 69176Members, Constellation Posts: 1,017 Advanced user
    SammyG wrote: »
    While the game is at a decent level for competitive and pub right now, it does get stale after a while. In my opinion modders are the only thing that are going to keep this game interesting for the masses and player retention. I think now that the updates have slowed down it should be easier for modders as they won't need to keep fixing their mods because of the game updates.

    We could see some major changes that are widely accepted by the competitive and public community or even just small changes but it is kind of up to the community now to keep things running.

    True although the larger problem was all the unaddressed issues with the workshop more than the frequent updates.

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  • LocklearLocklear [nexzil]kerrigan Join Date: 2012-05-01 Member: 151403Members, NS2 Playtester, NS2 Map Tester, WC 2013 - Shadow Posts: 1,337 Advanced user
    Bicsum wrote: »


    The rubberbanding has nothing to do with fps.

    Our combat server also has this rubberbanding / lag problem, which means that there must be something wrong with the mod, since vanilla ns2 runs just fine.

    @SamusDroid

    Every server I've played on has this issue. Seems to be Combat Mod specific. IBISGaming, [KCK]SoCal Combat.. EURO Servers.. I've tried any and all that I've seen populated. All of them get rubberbanding.
    "If great visuals brings players in, great gameplay gets them to stay." - Valve
  • SamusDroidSamusDroid Colorado Join Date: 2013-05-13 Member: 185219Members, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Gold, Subnautica Playtester, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Posts: 2,155 mod
    Must be just me then. I never notice it.
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  • It's Super Effective!It's Super Effective! Join Date: 2012-08-28 Member: 156625Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 518 Fully active user
    MoFo wrote: »
    The problem is they balanced the entire game around the competitive scene.

    The game is quite frankly beyond brutal to new players. Pretty much any player with experience can decimate a rookie regardless of skill level.

    I have a friend I bought NS2 for, but he quit after around 30 hours due to the vast skill gap between rookies and vets. I continually am trying to convince him to give it another try, but so far his memories of being so brutally stomped have kept him away. His usual response is along the lines of "I'm not really in the mood to be slaughtered today" and that's sad. I've never known him to quit a game just because it's hard...

    I think if pub games were balanced more around pub play, then new players might not be so brutally stomped. (and likewise vets wouldn't have such a huge impact on the outcome of each game)

    Maybe someone could make a "pub" mod for public games, leaving the core game for competitive players only. Basically the opposite of "promod" (noobmod! lol) Admins could even use the rookie tag for easy identification... Green = public mod. White = core game.

    I suggested something similar to this a while back, it was met with a lot of rejected opinion. With the base game being focused on pub play to keep fun and player retention high, and for the demographic few that do play competitive, have their set of (trimmed) rules that appeals to an intense 6 v 6 game. Your suggestion is basically the same thing, but a different approach. Either way, it would require a person or a team with the modding skills necessary to make this "pub focused" mod for NS2. Also they would have to upkeep it.

    As I have mentioned before, there is already some degree that this is already present in competitive NS2 play:

    - Certain maps are played and some are not, and some NSL maps were made available.
    - Forced Non-Close spawns
    - Playing 6 v 6 is in itself a "rule"

    This also brought up another issue, this "pub focused mod" would have to be kept up to date every time the core game changes it's build, otherwise it would "break".
    Cheers,
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  • cooliticcoolitic Right behind you Join Date: 2013-04-02 Member: 184609Members Posts: 1,684 Advanced user
    edited January 2014
    Personally, I didn't mind getting killed over and over again when I first started playing this game. However it's true noobs should at least have some kind of chance in the game. I suggest adding a real tutorial (player tutorial needs improvement, comm tutorial is a video which doesn't work well). Also maybe can have 2 separate gameplay modes. 1 that's balanced around newer players and another balanced around more skilled players. The former would have low skill floor and moderate skill ceiling, the latter would have moderate skill floor and high skill ceiling.

    EDIT: But I doubt anything is going to happen since devs aren't very focused on NS2 right now.
    When life gives you lemons, throw it back and demand chocolate.


  • joshhhjoshhh Milwaukee, WI Join Date: 2011-06-21 Member: 105717Members, NS2 Playtester, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow, Subnautica Playtester Posts: 1,437 Advanced user
    MoFo wrote: »
    joshhh wrote: »
    I have seen this argument so many times. How exactly would you balance the game around "pub" play? Do you balance the game for people with 5% accuracy? Do you give the skulk a 150 degree bite cone? I really don't get it. NS2 has always been a challenging game and the people who play it had the dedication to get past the clueless newbie phase. Aside from NS1 vets, most of the current comp players were pubs at one time. We all were bad and had to learn the game just like everyone else.

    The pub mod thing was just a wild idea thrown out there... It seems to me if games balanced around pub play can have competitive promods, then why can't a game balanced around competitive play have a pub mod...

    I'm not a modder or game designer though so I don't know how it would be done... It was just a thought. I love NS2 but it sucks seeing people quit due to the skill gap.


    I was never against the idea of having a pub mod. My question to you and everyone else wanting the game "balanced" around pub games is: What exactly does that entail? How does one balance the game around pubs? Do you give the lmg more spread? Do you give the skulk more hp? Do you start with 3 ips?

    I am genuinely curious on what people mean.
  • It's Super Effective!It's Super Effective! Join Date: 2012-08-28 Member: 156625Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 518 Fully active user
    edited January 2014
    As far as I understand, the individual developers of UWE that have no actual affect on "balance" are working on SN. (Conceptual, artwork, engine engineers, etc)

    Technically, anything regarding balance (if I am correct) is handled by Sewlek. It stands to reason that he isn't balancing out SN when it isn't even out.

    Having said that, should the community want to "balance" the game for "pub play", it would seem right to have to do it ourselves to have it done in a timely manner, because "balance" is perceived differently, and would need to be a more "group effort", and would obviously require actual knowledge to manipulate values into a mod.

    But, to play devil's advocate, say we make the perfect "pub play" balance mod for NS2, and it becomes adopted to vanilla, this still will NOT change the complexity of the core game (less we dumb it down further), and it will not change very skilled players from having an advantage.

    NS2 itself relies on an almost "miracle" amount of teamwork which seem to be ascent with the kind of "Get highest KD/points" games these days, especially with more players in 1 game.

    While it won't fix all of the "problems" of NS2, the only aspects that we can hope to achieve are increasing the "fun" factor, thus possibly increasing player retention for players who seek that, and longevity of the game.

    Towards @joshhh's point

    A public discussion would need to be opened where community can pour in their ideas, and have them sorted through. While not everyone's idea of "balance" would make it through, ultimately the guy who makes said mod would have to translate those concerns into a measurable value to change something.

    Also, would help to come to an understanding of what "fun" is for a new player playing NS2.

    I speculate that perhaps they want dog fights that are more forgiving?
    Perhaps it means less Damage output across the board or more Health?
    Perhaps reduced cost and time of items and research to allow for more experimentation?

    Obviously this shouldn't be so drastic as to have everything feel like a nerf gun, like how a level 0 LMG feels like shooting an onos.
    Cheers,
    It's Super Effective! | @ISEGaming | Twitch.tv/ISEGaming | Google+ | Steam | Super Effective Gamers Public Steam Group

    - NS2 NA Playtester
    - Creator of: NS2 Tactical Operations, Intel Update and In-Game Tutorials.
    twiliteblue_Necro_AurOn2
  • ZEROibisZEROibis Join Date: 2009-10-30 Member: 69176Members, Constellation Posts: 1,017 Advanced user
    SamusDroid wrote: »
    Must be just me then. I never notice it.

    You might be on at the right times. It does not occur all the time but it does happen. There is an error that gets spammed thousand of times per second in combat mod randomly. I first reported it months ago and you see complaints about it every once and a while. While that is not the only thing that causes lag, currently it is the most major issue combat mod has.

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  • TalesinTalesin Our own little well of hate Join Date: 2002-11-08 Member: 7710NS1 Playtester, Forum Moderators Posts: 6,952 mod
    joshhh wrote: »
    NS2 has always been a challenging game and the people who play it had the dedication to get past the clueless newbie phase. Aside from NS1 vets, most of the current comp players were pubs at one time. We all were bad and had to learn the game just like everyone else.
    This is the attitude that will lead to the player pool shrinking steadily, and the game fading out of play beyond (possibly) a very small core 'vet' pool who play with each other only, with zero chance of any newbies being able to join and enjoy a game, simply being slaughtered instantly seemingly on-spawn.

    Personally, I would shunt the 'competitive' scene from the game in a heartbeat, without a second thought or a tear, to make it appealing to a large player-base. Cut away a vast majority of the 'skill-based play', to sigificantly close that skill gap between the newbie and the 'pro'.
    A competitive scene is a draw for a game with an established base. NS1 had this, and the comp scene evolved based on gameplay centered around that pub-play environment. Unfortunately, NS2 has developed with a pure focus on that competitive side, to the absolute detriment of the public player. The competitive scene became parasitic, instead of symbiotic.

    Most of the responses I've seen have only reinforced this, with people growing insulting, defensive, and (for lack of a better phrase) xenophobic when any alterations that do not play to the established ego-stroking methods are suggested, or changes to be made that would prove a detriment to 'competitive' play, to make the game appealing to ALL players.
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  • BensonBenson Join Date: 2012-03-07 Member: 148303Members, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Posts: 1,296 Advanced user
    joshhh wrote: »
    MoFo wrote: »
    joshhh wrote: »
    I have seen this argument so many times. How exactly would you balance the game around "pub" play? Do you balance the game for people with 5% accuracy? Do you give the skulk a 150 degree bite cone? I really don't get it. NS2 has always been a challenging game and the people who play it had the dedication to get past the clueless newbie phase. Aside from NS1 vets, most of the current comp players were pubs at one time. We all were bad and had to learn the game just like everyone else.

    The pub mod thing was just a wild idea thrown out there... It seems to me if games balanced around pub play can have competitive promods, then why can't a game balanced around competitive play have a pub mod...

    I'm not a modder or game designer though so I don't know how it would be done... It was just a thought. I love NS2 but it sucks seeing people quit due to the skill gap.


    I was never against the idea of having a pub mod. My question to you and everyone else wanting the game "balanced" around pub games is: What exactly does that entail? How does one balance the game around pubs? Do you give the lmg more spread? Do you give the skulk more hp? Do you start with 3 ips?

    I am genuinely curious on what people mean.

    This is how I would do it, if I had time to learn how to mod. I dont think game mechanics need to change, only some numbers.

    Simple Public Balance Mod:

    a) Aliens larger (not slower)
    * Helps compensate for average/casual player aiming skill, players with good/better aim shouldn't notice much of a difference
    ** By larger I mean something like 10-15% larger model size

    b) Aliens more beefy (not slower)
    * Helps keep paper fade alive in larger games; i.e fade can take 3 meatshots and some change instead of 2 and some change
    ** Offset by larger model from previous

    c) Reduce marine jump frequency by increasing the time that diminishing returns on jumps last to 5 seconds (feels like its only 1 right now)
    * Rewards aliens who manage to get in close and reinforces importance of marine positioning, while still allowing marines a chance to dodge some damage

    d) Scaling primary structure (CC, Power, Hive, Eggs) HP and with player count
    * Stops 10 skulks from zergging the CC down in 5 seconds, and the same for marines with shotguns

    I feel that these changes would help increase the quality of Pub games, as well as reduce rage from new players as it would generally be easier to do damage, if not kill players, allowing everyone to contribute.

    Also, most of these changes wont affect high level players who join these servers as they don't have any issues stomping as it is.

    Disclaimer: Came up with this in like 10 min while at work, don't judge me if my logic is flawed :D
    If we are to be damned, let us be damned for what we really are. - Capt. Jean Luc Picard
  • soccerguy243soccerguy243 Join Date: 2012-12-22 Member: 175920Members, WC 2013 - Supporter Posts: 515 Advanced user
    I want more PvP... seems like I'm one of the few that has strategic vision and know defending res nodes is important while the rest of my team goes to the front line to battle. Then I'm the one stuck in the rebuild cycle.

    A pub mode would be more of a Tug of war style, focused on PvP but not as rewarding for kills like combat. Each base has 1 res node. As you gain control of tech points you get more res. I'm thinking this of a linear fashion but it doesn't have to be. This is would be akin to TF2 Capture point maps or even a King of the hill style map.

    Or the aliens start with 3 bases and its the marines objective to exterminate the Kharaa infestation.
  • jopejope usa Join Date: 2014-01-14 Member: 193100Members Posts: 1
    Bitey wrote: »
    [
    The worse part about the gameplay of Natural Selection 2 is how that the knowledge you need to truly be successful isn't conveyed in any form of video, tutorial, hint, or tutorial that's easy to find. The requirement for learning on your own is usually mandatory unless a person is luvku enough to have a skilled friend guide them along. While all those videos exist which explain the "How to use X" nothing really gives you the ground up knowledge you need to understand the fundamentals of Ns2's gamepace. How to push, how to work with teammates, how to communicate WITHOUT sounding raged/angry, and telling people how to SAFELY USE LIFEFORMS.

    I think if top tier players streamed more of their walkthroughs or just overall knowledge-based streaming it would benefit the community greatly. For instance I learned a lot from watching Coach Bitey's walkthrough on tram with his imagine teammates. In general people are less apt to ask for help from top players but would go to their twitch page and watched videos and then apply it to the game in a server.

  • IronHorseIronHorse Developer, QA Manager, Technical Support & contributor Join Date: 2010-05-08 Member: 71669Members, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Subnautica Playtester, Subnautica PT Lead, Pistachionauts Posts: 8,191 admin
    edited January 2014
    casan0vax wrote: »
    Understandably, UWE were eager to create their own engine and develop NS2 from the ground up but--even by their own admission--they weren't nearly experienced enough to tackle this at the time they did.
    I've always felt that it was the money, not the experience. They really did start with very very little, and the stories I've been told sound like they barely could scrape by in the beginning.

    I suppose one could say that lack of experience in making games made for poor judgement regarding their budget.. but i think that really considering their incredibly small budget and therefore staff size, its hard to say it was experience.. especially when considering the talent at hand like the one man who made the entire engine and all its tools. (Max)

    The size of their staff now - and therefore partly their workflow - seems to be enough that they are able to produce concepts, mechanics, and content multitudes faster than the alpha or even beta days of NS2 - when it needed that budget and staff the most.

    Given their budget and earnest beginnings, i'd say they did an outstanding job... but i can see how that's hard for many to factor in or consider, when it is competing on the front page of steam among other triple A titles on sale.

    Also, I do agree that competitive FPS games are a dying breed. The money is definitely in casual gaming.. or at a minimum in games that are forgiving and avoid feelings of losing or frustration. This unfortunately is often accomplished by cutting out skill based mechanics, or including severe handicaps (hello air support and supply crates) :-/

    Post edited by IronHorse on
    QUOTE (Techercizer @ Feb 3 2012, 10:47 AM) »
    Every time you ask for troubleshooting without providing system info, ATI adds a rendering bug for an upcoming game.

    When you feel you need to be rude or angry about a game, just read these links and remember what role you are playing:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect
    http://www.eldergame.com/2008/06/taming-the-forum-tiger/
    BicsumCannon_FodderAUScasan0vaxSupaFred
  • KanehKaneh Join Date: 2012-12-11 Member: 174783Members, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 95 Fully active user
    pub balance is achieved through a low skill cap and medium effectiveness cap weapon/tactic for both sides. GLs fit this mold but come way too late in the game.

    think the 'noob tube' in any other game. no real competitive player uses the auto-shotty in cs or sits there spamming grenades in Battlefield because its effectiveness is limited, but new players can always fall back to what is essentially spamming and feel like they have an impact on the game. anyone who wants to get good at the game can spend the time learning better weapons, but anyone who just wants to jump in once a week can still have an impact instead of dying to that 50/4 player over and over.
    _Necro_
  • Cannon_FodderAUSCannon_FodderAUS Brisbane, AU Join Date: 2013-06-23 Member: 185664Members, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 877 Advanced user
    @OnosFactory, I agree we are the "customers". But a modern game that is great and is remembered long after it has been shipped is one that has a great community that prolong the game experience. I see NS2 as such a game. The community is very dedicated, and unbelievably nice (take a look at diablo III's forums to compare). The player retention issue will always be there for a game of this type (it is full of depth that requires time to learn). This is indeed the age of mindless casual games.

    I know new players are the life blood of a game's longevity, and absolutely the devs should try to retain new players to further their game. But we who love playing this game have an interest too. If we want to continue playing this game, we need players (seen as there is no single player mode). I have seen incredible posts both on STEAM forums and also here where people are actively encouraged and have said they have been on pubs to coach rookies after sales. What other game have a community that does this?

    I own many of the AAA FPS titles, but I only play NS2 because I love the player interaction and team work needed to win. Yes, I rage when we lose due to superior skills, but no team work (these are actually the best games as it really show cases skill =\= win). As to a pub friendly mod, I think @Benson has some good ideas, they will make it easier for the newbies to feel they have contributed to something (oooo, i put some damage to that lifeform). Here are a few of my own ideas for a pub mod (I also endorse Benson's ideas):
    PS. I favor silent mechanics working in the background, instead of punishing players that are good.

    *scale respawn (alien and marine) to team k/d of the other team (ie. if aliens r stomping marines, let the losing side respawn faster (I know this doesn't help with spawn camping). But sitting in the respawn queue for 6 - 10 secs only to be killed 20 seconds later to sit at it again is harsh.

    *respawning marines have nanoshield active (this will slow spawn camping) - though also make base rushes harder to pull off.

    *silently tweak resource rate to team k/d (better k/d = slower resource) - this will prolong the inevitable stomp with arcs / jp / exo for a 1 hive alien.

    comments?
    Author of a ePaper manual for NS2, now also a steam guide
    Co-wrote the Marine EXO Suit Protocol
  • beyond.wudgebeyond.wudge Join Date: 2012-10-19 Member: 162731Members Posts: 139
    The average 'decent' NS2 player is a prick and often quite elitist. They treat new players really badly. They like being the 'top' of a very small community. They remind me of old school churchmen.

    Also, look at how many of you talk about UWE. Look at the lack of support they received in their reinforcement campaign. http://www.naturalselection2.com/reinforced/

    I'm sorry but many of you don't deserve this game.

  • Cannon_FodderAUSCannon_FodderAUS Brisbane, AU Join Date: 2013-06-23 Member: 185664Members, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 877 Advanced user
    @beyond.wudge, man where do you get there is a lack of support for the reinforcement campaign?? UWE wanted to raise $550k (post sale), and got about $200k. That is an awesome commitment from the fan base, when you consider there were about 4 000 contributions. That is an average of $50 each (after we have brought the game).

    I also reject your call that the average 'decent' NS2 player is a prick. I am sure they are out there, but in my 400hrs of playing, I haven't met too many that are down right rude to newbies. They stomp them yes, but I haven't seen many that insult people because they are green. There are times where I have seen vets tell the greenie off for trying to command with no idea or experience, but they are not personal attacks, just telling them please not to comm til they have had some experience.
    Author of a ePaper manual for NS2, now also a steam guide
    Co-wrote the Marine EXO Suit Protocol
    IronHorse
  • soccerguy243soccerguy243 Join Date: 2012-12-22 Member: 175920Members, WC 2013 - Supporter Posts: 515 Advanced user
    edited January 2014
    The average 'decent' NS2 player is a prick and often quite elitist. They treat new players really badly. They like being the 'top' of a very small community. They remind me of old school churchmen.
    Most noob players don't do the tutorial! How frustrating that is even for those trying to comm noobs. They don't even know what power node does... they lack the base fundamentals.

    Also, look at how many of you talk about UWE. Look at the lack of support they received in their reinforcement campaign. http://www.naturalselection2.com/reinforced/
    LACK or support? :-O they had 4,000 contributors! That's double the amount of average players since 2012! (http://steamcharts.com/app/4920#1y). That's also an average of $47 per contributor! Moreover UWE was even surprised how quickly the Onos level sold out! There were players asking for a tier between onos and insider or even more onos badges.

    I'm sorry but many of you don't deserve this game. How very elitist of you.

    see the red
    IronHorseDC_Darklingfrantixcoolitic
  • SamusDroidSamusDroid Colorado Join Date: 2013-05-13 Member: 185219Members, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Gold, Subnautica Playtester, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Posts: 2,155 mod
    ZEROibis wrote: »
    SamusDroid wrote: »
    Must be just me then. I never notice it.

    You might be on at the right times. It does not occur all the time but it does happen. There is an error that gets spammed thousand of times per second in combat mod randomly. I first reported it months ago and you see complaints about it every once and a while. While that is not the only thing that causes lag, currently it is the most major issue combat mod has.

    And this error...have you ever given a log?
    My mods --- Watermod collaboration with Feha
    For some reason, the instant you ask players to behave differently to be successful, they associate that with bad mapping. - KungFuDiscoMonkey
    Z5UIr2s.png
  • TalesinTalesin Our own little well of hate Join Date: 2002-11-08 Member: 7710NS1 Playtester, Forum Moderators Posts: 6,952 mod
    edited January 2014
    Bitey wrote: »
    MoFo wrote: »
    The problem is they balanced the entire game around the competitive scene.

    The game is quite frankly beyond brutal to new players. Pretty much any player with experience can decimate a rookie regardless of skill level.

    This exact line is what a rather large streamer said last night. There is a misconception between the public new audience, and where the games design path come from. He was slightly upset by having his nostalgic feeling of Natural Selection replaced by Natural Selection 2, and it not capturing what he perceived he was going to experience. This lead to him feeling frustrated, annoyed, and visibly upset (He had a webcam). In the end he ended up telling a follower base of 7,000 and a viewer count of 100 to not touch the game.
    I'm now curious as to who this was.

    IronHorse wrote:
    Also, I do agree that competitive FPS games are a dying breed. The money is definitely in casual gaming.. or at a minimum in games that are forgiving and avoid feelings of losing or frustration. This unfortunately is often accomplished by cutting out skill based mechanics, or including severe handicaps (hello air support and supply crates)
    I'd have to say that even the verbage used reveals one of the big problems we have. Competitive vs casual.

    Not pub-play. Casual. Inherently inferring images of Bejeweled/Candy Crush-playing iDrones whittling away five or ten minutes on a phone-game... rather than the main meat of ANY playerbase; the standard pub player who has no interest in becoming 'competitive', but wants to just jump in for a few fun rounds each evening. Someone who does play other games, and while modestly adept at NS2, isn't the 'that one guy' that the current NS direction has allowed (one person carrying a team single-handedly) and has no interest in investing the time it would require to do so.

    Calling those kinds of players 'casuals' only serves as a snub. Another mark of the defunct 'Veteran' program, and the stratification that has been ingrained so deeply that it has become a part of the game, with much hue and cry when any suggestion to change it to make the game more accessible to the pubber... and remove that frankly overwhelming divide ...is voiced.

    Raise the floor or lower the ceiling. The Vets are going to b***h either way, when they can't just solo pubstomp.
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    NS -=- ROOTS
    hakenspit
  • IronHorseIronHorse Developer, QA Manager, Technical Support & contributor Join Date: 2010-05-08 Member: 71669Members, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Subnautica Playtester, Subnautica PT Lead, Pistachionauts Posts: 8,191 admin
    edited January 2014
    @talesin
    I dont think anyone has given much hue or cry over suggestions to making the game more accessible to the pubber... I actually can't think of one topic other than armories restoring armor.
    I think people (those vets) have a problem with capping the skill ceiling, which is not to be confused with the skill floor, what you are referencing when you say making it more accessible. Lowering the ceiling IS what i mentioned: Cutting out skill based mechanics. Unless you mean that high skill ceiling games are inherently unfriendly to casuals, which i would disagree with by pointing out CS.

    And I also disagree that making a distinction about where the money is in video games is a snub.. your example of Bejeweled is great, Bejeweled has sold more than 50 million units across all major platforms and continues to sell another copy every 4.3 seconds, while their publisher, PopCap is worth over $100 million as a result (data from 4 years ago)

    That's not a hardcore, niche, twitchy competitive multiplayer FPS with a steep learning curve....... that's a game that's casual as can be and man does it makes money.
    Pointing this out doesn't mean its "Competitive vs casual" .. it's just pointing out where the money is and where gaming is going. (this is a player retention thread, afterall)


    p.s. i think you mean "Lower the floor or lower the ceiling", because raising the floor means making it more difficult to access/learn.
    QUOTE (Techercizer @ Feb 3 2012, 10:47 AM) »
    Every time you ask for troubleshooting without providing system info, ATI adds a rendering bug for an upcoming game.

    When you feel you need to be rude or angry about a game, just read these links and remember what role you are playing:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect
    http://www.eldergame.com/2008/06/taming-the-forum-tiger/
    coolitic
  • TalesinTalesin Our own little well of hate Join Date: 2002-11-08 Member: 7710NS1 Playtester, Forum Moderators Posts: 6,952 mod
    edited January 2014
    I may be mistaken, or our definitions may not coincide; in the interest of resolving that, I've heard/seen skill-floor defined as the baseline in-game potential effectiveness of a player with low(/zero) skill. The higher the skill floor is, the more effective they are/can be in a game. Using 'floor' as the starting point from a player who cannot aim and only contribute minimally. A rank newbie, who may or may not have played the tutorial.

    In this case, during an NS2 match at-current the 'floor' players can do precisely three things. Repair/build items, act as ablative scouts to get vision for the commander, and absorb two bites and a parasite that might otherwise go toward killing a higher-skill player. Possibly a fourth, kill random creep tumors during their ablative-scout duties.

    The skill ceiling is the maximum effectiveness that a very practiced player can attain, and is the peak performance possible in the game for a single player.

    Taken together, they form logical endpoints (not entry points, that's skill barrier, not floor or ceiling, and is a different topic entirely, defining the amount of practice required to reach an effective point, not the zero-practice effectiveness point) defining a range between which effectiveness of a player can be defined. A game with a low skill floor and a high skill ceiling will create an IMMENSE range of balance issues as it is very difficult to balance a game when a single player may have more effect on a game than six players on the enemy team. A game with a high skill floor and a low skill ceiling will appeal to a much larger player-base, while not rewarding the 'hardcore' with unlimited solo-play ego-stroking, and generally requires a reliance on the team to succeed, while still allowing the individual to excel and be more effective, just not to the point where they negate enemies entirely.

    As noted above, the 'noob tube' provides a raised skill floor (player effectiveness) with next to no skill barrier imposed by its use.
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  • IronHorseIronHorse Developer, QA Manager, Technical Support & contributor Join Date: 2010-05-08 Member: 71669Members, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Subnautica Playtester, Subnautica PT Lead, Pistachionauts Posts: 8,191 admin
    edited January 2014
    After much searching there appears to be two uses of skill floor in game design discussion.
    One is basically Skill Barrier, how i was using it, defining the amount of skill required to reach an effective point
    While the other is what you just defined.. which is a new definition to me.

    But your usage of it is basically inapplicable when it comes to speaking about accessibility because you can't measure or graph it - its always zero. There is no such thing as a "high" or "low" skill floor with this definition, according to the sources i found. A good explanation i found was:
    "While the Skill Ceiling quantifies "How much skill can be applied", a Skill Floor is the opposite. "How much skill can't be applied" doesn't make any sense, nor does any other opposite trying to measure a valuable"
    Which means that particular definition of the phrase is purely speaking about the mechanic's effectiveness at a zero skill level assumption... which does not help with measuring accessibility or skill gaps - and only assists with balancing?

    And we are speaking about accessibility and skill gaps right? I assumed so from this
    Talesin wrote: »
    Cut away a vast majority of the 'skill-based play', to sigificantly close that skill gap between the newbie and the 'pro'.
    There's only two ways to close that skill gap: Lower the skill ceiling (booo) or lower the skill barrier, which makes it easier to close that gap through learning or intuitive design.

    Band aid fixes such as handicaps (noob tubes or what you consider to be a high skill floor) are poor design imo, because they are unnecessary if the skill barrier and skill curve is addressed properly. Such handicaps often smell of being an afterthought, and are incredibly annoying typically due to the lack of skill involved. (again, i point to the noob tube or air support) I for one always hate it when randomness wins the game instead of skill.. and that's more often than not what occurs with such handicaps/ foo strategies /band aid solutions to skill gaps.
    "Good designers find ways to reward players for deviating from that "foo strategy", and present them with challenges, which while not requiring a substantial greater level of skill, does require a new tactic from the player."

    Again, i point to CS as a perfect example of a low skill barrier and a high skill ceiling.
    And it was almost entirely devoid of handicap solutions..*
    * i mean, you could say the auto shotty was the original noob tube in CS, but it had inherent and obvious tradeoffs based on map design and positioning that kept it from being a real solution compared to M4s and AK47s..even for new players. It never enjoyed the "low skill, high reward" that COD's noob tubes offered, being lobbed across the map - and thus was never really the go to weapon for new players. At most they played with it once or twice then abandoned it on a map like cs_assault
    Post edited by IronHorse on
    QUOTE (Techercizer @ Feb 3 2012, 10:47 AM) »
    Every time you ask for troubleshooting without providing system info, ATI adds a rendering bug for an upcoming game.

    When you feel you need to be rude or angry about a game, just read these links and remember what role you are playing:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect
    http://www.eldergame.com/2008/06/taming-the-forum-tiger/
  • TalesinTalesin Our own little well of hate Join Date: 2002-11-08 Member: 7710NS1 Playtester, Forum Moderators Posts: 6,952 mod
    edited January 2014
    Which is why you need to define a point arbitrarily. You define certain skill levels theoretically and use them to extrapolate downward. Or define a starting point for a given skillset (basic FPS player, able to move awkwardly and fire, hitting 10-20% of shots spray-and-pray?) and work from there. How many units should equate to an un-winnable engagement, regardless of skill?

    Again, I see no problem with lowering the skill ceiling. It's primarily being used at this point by solo players to dominate an entire enemy team non-stop. I saw this playing the other day when a SINGLE skulk locked down the entire Marine team after a pitched early-game rush. Then on the next round, the same player sprinted his way into the Hive, and kept all of the eggs dead while his team took res nodes across the map, before he eventually died. Result? Team crippled permanently. Round already lost. Then he came back with a shotgun.

    Never mind that the opposing team had five greens on it, and the single player apparently had MASSIVE amounts of time spent in the game. One player negated an entire team due to the floor/ceiling discrepancy. If that is possible, you are NOT going to have new players stick around. They'll have considered the $3 they bought the game for during the Winter sale, or the Humble Bundle a loss, and move on to another game, while the NS2 community shrinks and continues to grow even more anathematic to ANY kind of retention, other than convincing a friend who REALLY wants to play with you to stick it out for the two... three weeks of constant slaughter to even be slightly useful.

    CS had its growth periods (primarily pre-1.4) where it DID have a fairly low skill cap, which popularized it and allowed it to reach a critical nucleation point, at which time the growth toward a high skill cap game was sustainable simply due to the large and ongoing interest and player pool. Thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of players concurrent, along with a no-respawn, quickfire round setup meant that you never were STUCK on a team watching yourself be slaughtered helplessly. Over. And over. And over. And over. Or landed with a Commander who decided to recycle everything because GG N00BS. In two minutes, you might be on the team with that monster player, and pulling out a win (assuming scramble was enabled).
    NS2 doesn't have that playstyle (and SHOULDN'T, despite the moves made in that direction over the years). It is an invalid parallel to draw... similar to comparing chess to horseshoes, in my opinion.

    Yes, I've watched Extra Credits' take on balance as well. I would disagree with a number of the points they make, while they do present them well (and with cartoons, to entertain those that need them to follow along).


    There's a reason that I changed my sig to 'ROOTS' a few years back, in the face of many of the 'skill ceiling raising' changes being implemented that have landed NS(2) in the state it currently occupies. A feeling that the pursuit of the 'comp' scene was being detrimental, and that a return to the original, core gameplay of the 1.03 days was sorely needed.
    But there has been no room left for an actual RTS for quite some time now. Simply a vestigial upgrade system wedged and then hammered to fit into the new, shorter round times. No time for ambushing, or even setting up forward bases unless assaulting a hive. Just everyone SPRINT in and deathmatch. Because that's 'competitive'.
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  • DestherDesther Join Date: 2012-10-31 Member: 165195Members Posts: 518 Advanced user
    xDragon wrote: »
    NS2 suffers from massive complexity bloat, due too so many nuances turned features of an asymmetrical team based game. As amazing as it might sound, NS1 was arguably easier to learn than NS2 (talking gameplay here). NS2 does have a tutorial and other things to help you get past the first 10 minutes, but the 10 minutes to 10 hours level can be brutal, and is where NS2 really struggles. NS2 needed a real case of K.I.S.S back in beta, and its even worse now IMO.

    If none of this extra stuff was added then how would ns2 be different to ns1?
  • meatmachinemeatmachine South England Join Date: 2013-01-06 Member: 177858Members, NS2 Playtester, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Supporter Posts: 1,551 Advanced user
    Locklear wrote: »
    Combat Mod lags really badly on every server with insane rubberbanding.

    Yup, pretty much. And my point was that combat mod provides the RTS-free combat practice a lot of people need as a step up into the actual game. You can lose life forms without losing the game for your team, zomg.

    If UWE had supported combat mod as an official gamemode things would be looking different right now. We'd have a whooole bunch of combat servers fully populated, retaining players to the point where they feel they're ready to play a real game.
    Too weird to live, yet too rare to die
  • TalesinTalesin Our own little well of hate Join Date: 2002-11-08 Member: 7710NS1 Playtester, Forum Moderators Posts: 6,952 mod
    If UWE had supported combat mod as an official gamemode things would be looking different right now. We'd have a whooole bunch of combat servers fully populated, retaining players to the point where they feel they're ready to play a real game.
    I'm guessing that you weren't here back when Combat was an official game mode (during original NS) and was popularized to the point that it actually scavenged players and prevented full games from being started. It was originally meant as a 'filler' mode when not enough players were available for an actual game... the servers would temporarily degrade into Combat mode until 12 players joined up, then would switch back into normal 'full' NatSel on the next round.
    Unfortunately this split the player base between 'actual' NS, and people who had entered the game and preferred the no-strategy, 'hardcore FPS' twitch-shooter experience that Combat provided, allowing individuals to select/buy their own equipment rather than waiting on a tech tree or being reliant on a Commander to derp shirtgons plz for lorks on teh clorf.

    Mods happened, allowing Combat 24/7 (then being added as an option in a later patch, IIRC).
    Popularity was so great that the main game was redacted somewhat to incorporate more elements of Combat mode to add appeal to the main game and make transitioning over from the dumbed-down version easier. It didn't help.

    And now we've arrived at NS2. Which further has sacrificed that deliberate, methodical RTS side in favor of what used to be the fast-paced and bombastic Combat mode. The only bits that have really been retained are a rudimentary form of the tech tree, preventing individual advancement based upon personal performance alone.
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