Let’s get serious about NS2: Combat…

bonagebonage Members, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2012-10-13 Member: 162230Posts: 119 Advanced user
Hi all,

I think it’s time we had a serious discussion about the imminent release of combat, what this game hopes to achieve and the implications it has for this community. I’m starting this thread because for reasons beyond me I care a lot about the NS franchise, and this is a conversation that needs to be had.
I will be splitting this up into 2 parts, so that it is easier to digest.

Part 1: NS2:Combat – Marketing, Goals & Presentation

Marketing

Let’s start at the top. We are 1 week out from Combat’s release, and it seems like there is absolutely no noise being made about this game – both to the internal ns2 community and the external wider gaming community.

On numerous occasions throughout reddit Q&A’s, the devs have stated that their only way to promote the game as an indie studio is through word of mouth:
Gisp says:
Just as UWE we have no marketing budget. So I have been hard at work over the past few months "collecting" press contacts, youtubers and streamers. To get free review copies, and in that way purely rely on WoM.

Alex says:
Our plan is to get going with some Let's Plays this month, get the game into the hands of the people who can spread the word, and hopefully build up from there!
Facebook, Twitter and other social media adverts will probably represent a big chunk of our spend, the rest is hard graft!
Expect to see a lot more of a push in the next few weeks, but obviously we're still going to be operating using an 'indie' budget and strategy.

Well, we’re at the 1 week before launch mark, and so far these are the only RECENT articles and play-throughs about the combat’s launch (that aren’t from internal sources like Faultline Games, UWE, or ISE) after digging through google and YouTube:

Unless there is a mammoth effort from these third party word of mouth contacts to promote the game and entice players to buy it, it appears combat is going to have a pretty soft launch.

Also concerning is the lack of Google AdWords campaigns, facebook boosts this close to launch. Perhaps these are scheduled to activate in this last week before launch – I can’t be sure without asking Faultline directly. These are really important tools for advertising the game and reaching new players. Even on an indie budget, these mechanisms can still be used to promote the game, and should be used. As a publisher, UWE needs to be helping out in this department.

Branding & Presentation

First impressions of games begin even before the game is bought. Let’s look at some of the current issues that could make potential customers turn away either before or after buying the game:

--The Website

Honestly, this looks like a blog/bad wordpress template with the current styling. I understand the decision of needing to separate from the UWE site as a studio, but how can the UWE site look the part and this one feels like a neglected child? 1 Week out from launch, this is not an initial impression you want to have, nor does it look good for the NS franchise. Indie or not, a game’s website needs to look the part. Clean, presentable, and inviting. Also, the random word generator under the Faultline Games logo on the front page isn’t very professional or funny (100% pure beef?).

--The forums

Very basic, very rudimentary. Low visibility on forum text, no forum avatars, etc. It’s using the same platform as the UWE forums, surely they can have the same features? This is one of the first places players will go to discuss the game and post bug reports.

--The name – NS2: Combat

The only difference between NS2 and NS2:Combat name wise is the addition of combat. A lot of care is going to have to be taken to differentiate it from NS2 from a nomenclature perspective. Is this game NS2? Is it a DLC? Is it an expansion pack? What differentiates it from NS2? These are the types of questions that are likely to flood in from people outside of the NS2 community when they do a quick steam library search.

--Combat on the UWE website

There is little mention of combat anywhere on the UWE website. In this link http://unknownworlds.com/games/ there is no mention of a games published section, so for any combat info, people have to click a separate game, NS2, and see combat related material on the blog posts on that page. That is very confusing for any new players who will not know the difference between NS2 and NS2:Combat.

To be continued: Part 2 is in the post below...
Captain of Hello/Hungry Together, AusNS2 Caster and AusNS2 Admin
AurOn2Maxx11_v2.0SebJektMCMLXXXIVPelargirMETROIDcooliticrantologySamusDroid2coughSantaClawsBeigeAlertRisingSuntallhotblondeBlrgGISPhalfofaheavencaperp
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Comments

  • AurOn2AurOn2 COOKIES! FREEDOM, AND BISCUITS! AustraliaMembers, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Forum staff Join Date: 2012-01-13 Member: 140224Posts: 2,130 mod
    Aww, you beat me to it.
    My main gripe is the "having to buy a game I technically already own" thing, How will this be addressed? Maybe a discount for anyone who already owns Ns2?
    Send me a private message if you need me to kill someone "help" with anything.

    The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.” - George Carlin.

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    d4rkAlf
  • SebSeb Melbourne, AUMembers, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, WC 2013 - Silver, Retired Community Developer Join Date: 2013-04-01 Member: 184576Posts: 515 mod
    Faultline is NDAing everything.
    As far as I know, they haven't NDA'd anything to do with the build that is currently floating around amongst the 'press'. How would those youtubers be publishing their NS2:Combat gameplay?

    I do agree with everything else in your post though.
  • Maxx11_v2.0Maxx11_v2.0 Members Join Date: 2012-11-18 Member: 172221Posts: 274
    edited October 2014
    sebb wrote: »
    Faultline is NDAing everything.
    As far as I know, they haven't NDA'd anything to do with the build that is currently floating around amongst the 'press'. How would those youtubers be publishing their NS2:Combat gameplay?

    I do agree with everything else in your post though.

    I actually meant it more figuratively than literally, especially in the context of press since I don't know how much limitation they may or may not currently have on disclosure. It was really just a figure of speech to get my point across. Hind sight, probably not the best way to phrase it, though there has been a lot of dodging done by people in the know, so it may not be completely irrational that NDA would pop into my head.
    SebJekt
  • Maxx11_v2.0Maxx11_v2.0 Members Join Date: 2012-11-18 Member: 172221Posts: 274
    I can't judge your approach to development. However, I believe that being driven not only by money, but passion for game making is going to produce something solid. That's why it's so heartbreaking that the game may crash and burn before it even has a chance to properly take off because of next to no exposure. I'll do my little part and tell my humble audience about Combat whenever I stream NS2, that might get you a sale or two, but that isn't going to get the job done. You have to go out there, make accounts on popular websites, produce trailers, screenshots, brag about the features, get the hype train rolling. Let people know about the amazing game you're making, you already have a foundation with the exposure NS2 got. Don't take the "keep it under wraps" approach UWE tends to have, it's not a good example, but even they try to produce hype.

    If you're going to take cues from UWE then look at the quality of the product they deliver, their dedication to polishing and supporting their games and the way they listen to community feedback. Don't mimic their marketing strategy. They won us over with their games, some of the stuff you're trying to mimic is actually the things the community lets them get away with (rather than praise) because they won us over years ago with their hard work, community interaction and a great unique product.
    ATF
  • PelargirPelargir Members, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, WC 2013 - Silver, Forum staff Join Date: 2013-07-02 Member: 185857Posts: 1,199 mod
    edited October 2014
    I'm gonna be honest here @acid_rain, I was not really a fan of the Combat mod on NS2 before your team has started to work on the standalone version. I was lucky enough to play this a few times in the past and all the work you did for the game still not convinces me. The point that @bonage has mentioned on this thread, well, I agree with all of them. But I also understand your reasons and your arguments that make so much sense in my opinion.

    My thoughts won't probably change after releasing your game. But, I admit, reading your feeling and your answer made me think that if I purchase your standalone in any moment, I will do it for supporting all your team and the huge job you did for trying to make an excellent game from your point of view. You truly deserve to be rewarded for that stuff and that will be the reason I would buy NS2: Combat. Not for the game itself because of many and many points already stated above but for everything you have transferred into your toy and to make sure you didn't work for anything + why not, supporting in this way any potential future games?
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us"

    "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results."


  • MCMLXXXIVMCMLXXXIV Members Join Date: 2010-04-14 Member: 71400Posts: 510 Advanced user
    edited October 2014
    These are sobering words... I do agree with everything you've said though.

    Up to this point we have really been too bad at our communication. I know we've said we're trying to improve on it but our efforts just haven't been up to scratch and it's a fair criticism.

    We've recently added a new team member to our roster, who I'm sure will introduce himself in the next couple of days, who is tasked with helping us promote the game at launch and to give us extra manpower to dedicate to setting up press coverage and interviews (GISP has been doing a great job at this but he is after all only one man with a 2,000-email-long list to get through!)

    We also recorded a video with Wasabi last week which I hope helps show some of the new features and allows us to talk through our development ethos a bit more (please excuse the quality, I'll try and upload a high-res one later).
  • IronHorseIronHorse Developer, QA Manager, Technical Support & contributorMembers, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Subnautica Playtester, Subnautica PT Lead, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2010-05-08 Member: 71669Posts: 8,194 admin
    You raise good questions, but there's one part I must pluck out and take issue with:
    bonage wrote: »
    given that games like CS:GO and Tribes Ascend require much lower entry specs.
    Why is *every* game engine (see a tech support forum for almost any game) always compared to one that's had over 10 years of existence, 16 years of development, refining, and optimization with a near unlimited budget by a multi hundred man team and tested across the largest player base in gaming?

    Especially if you know you're buying an indie game on an indie engine, having an expectation that high always strikes me as odd and unreasonable as there's no parallel to such behavior anywhere else in any other commercial product.

    No one is surprised that their newly purchased 2 cylinder vehicle can't tow a boat, for instance.
    /derail
    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/
    McGlaspie
  • philoglphilogl Members, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Silver, WC 2013 - Silver Join Date: 2012-10-24 Member: 163529Posts: 60 Fully active user
    IronHorse wrote: »
    No one is surprised that their newly purchased 2 cylinder vehicle can't tow a boat, for instance.

    Not sure if I agree with this analogy...this would imply that the ability to tow a boat was not a factor in your decision to buy said vehicle, whereas most gamers have a certain expectation of performance that that can't be defended with the usual "indie game lol" shield.

    Gamers are fickle and generally lack an understanding of how the back end of games actually work. Whether it is an indie game or not isn't a factor to them because triple A games have bred a generation of gamers who expect a certain level of performance. Big titles all run on the aforementioned game engines (Unreal, Source etc) and while it is admirable that UWE and Faultline have chosen to use their own indie engine, the fact remains that new comers will open the game, play at 40 frames per second for an hour and uninstall.
    halfofaheavencaperp
  • cooliticcoolitic Right behind youMembers Join Date: 2013-04-02 Member: 184609Posts: 1,684 Advanced user
    edited October 2014
    Agreed.

    As important as the game itself may be, unless you dont want people outside of the NS2 community to play it you need better marketing.
    When life gives you lemons, throw it back and demand chocolate.


  • MoFo1MoFo1 United StatesMembers Join Date: 2014-07-25 Member: 197612Posts: 729 Advanced user
    I certainly hope Combat is a success because the gameplay in that video looks fun as hell. I for one plan on buying at least 2 copies on release so I can try to start getting friends into it.

    I especially like how two of the biggest problem areas of NS2 are gone... No more waiting for commanders for the game to start, or relying on them to drop something you need... No more saving up resources for a lifeform/weapon then losing it all and going back to a basic marine/skulk...

    Plus weldable doors/vents/etc!!! Hell yeah! That was one of the things on the NS2 store page that grabbed my interest way back when, and I was so disappointed to find them nowhere in NS2... I absolutely love it when maps have doors and/or passages that can be opened and closed to make it dynamic and change how it plays.





  • GISPGISP Battle Gorge DenmarkMembers, Playtest Lead, Forum Moderators, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, Squad Five Gold, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Onos, WC 2013 - Gold, Subnautica Playtester, Forum staff Join Date: 2004-03-20 Member: 27460Posts: 1,232 mod
    edited October 2014
    Hi guys.
    I been a tad inactive here lately.

    I have spend the last month or so, working mon-sun with an average of 10 hours a day reaching out to youtubers, streamers and other people in the gaming media..
    100s of review sites, a billion potential youtube viewers(if every single channel i contacted covers the game) streamers and other gamerelated press.
    And many other odd jobs to promote Combat with no budget, with nothing but keys and time as my resources.
    On the side, i act as community manager on the FLG social media and website, and im the EU QA Lead.

    Its not an easy job, there have been alot of twists, turns and learning done along the way.
    From screaming at the Devs to have the press-kit ready, to being mean towards dishonest members of the gaming community http://www.reddit.com/r/Starcitizen_trades/comments/2jgzrt/wtt_for_mustang_omega_codes_or_under_50_ships/

    As my job finishes, the balls are in the air, and the pre/reviewers, youtubers and streamers is ultimately the ones who decide to cover the game or not. I cant (unfortuneatly) make em.
    Post edited by GISP on
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  • gimmicgimmic Members Join Date: 2013-03-02 Member: 183555Posts: 34
    edited October 2014
    You know, as someone who doesn't really play NS2 any more I started keeping tabs on NS2 Combat and looked forward to a more polished version of the mod I had played some in the past. This would have been a terrific opportunity to encourage those who had purchased NS2 to look at the game again with a fresh angle. Coupled with an NS2 steam sale, It could have bolstered NS2 sales and general community population. Hell, even offering it as an under 5$ 'add-on' even if technically not part of the same game core would have been a safer bet.

    Instead, it's going to fracture or insult the existing already small community, including players who could have been potentially reintroduced to NS2 as it is now.

    KCcPzHg.jpg
  • RoobubbaRoobubba Who you gonna call?Members, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2003-01-06 Member: 11930Posts: 3,191 Fully active user
    @acid_rain‌ I hope you guys will be offering a 4-pack. I will gladly buy it for my friends who stopped playing ns2, but I fear they won't buy it themselves.

    Word on pricing? It's academic for me, I shall support you guys anyway, but it would be nice to know.

    Roo
    For all your gorge busting needs.
    It is very strange how some1 who spend so much time makeing videos to help mans, can fall and take miror image of dark ages bourgeoisie, outdated set of belifs
    How True.
    gimmicCalego
  • MoFo1MoFo1 United StatesMembers Join Date: 2014-07-25 Member: 197612Posts: 729 Advanced user
    Roobubba wrote: »
    Word on pricing? It's academic for me, I shall support you guys anyway, but it would be nice to know.

    According to that little video that MCMLXXXIV posted it's apparently going to be $14.99

    RapGod
  • IronHorseIronHorse Developer, QA Manager, Technical Support & contributorMembers, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Subnautica Playtester, Subnautica PT Lead, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2010-05-08 Member: 71669Posts: 8,194 admin
    philogl wrote: »
    this would imply that the ability to tow a boat was not a factor in your decision to buy said vehicle, whereas most gamers have a certain expectation of performance that that can't be defended with the usual "indie game lol" shield.
    It doesn't, actually, quite the opposite.
    It implies the same degree of lack of knowledge about the product they are buying.

    You even recognize this right here:
    philogl wrote: »
    Gamers are fickle and generally lack an understanding of how the back end of games actually work. Whether it is an indie game or not isn't a factor to them because triple A games have bred a generation of gamers who expect a certain level of performance.
    And like the OP aptly pointed out, and like Acid_rain was proud to demonstrate to the public: you cannot miss the fact that the product is indie.

    *Shrug*
    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/
  • StrangerDangerStrangerDanger Members Join Date: 2014-04-02 Member: 195097Posts: 4
    I completely agree with the original post. Something to add though is that there is a demographic to go for when marketing and those are the people who liked Natural Selection 2 or Natural Selection. There are a lot of people out there that like the idea but either don't want to dedicate a lot of time or can't play still because of performance issues.

    A comment aimed at acid_rain now. As someone who is in the competitive community and hears about stuff like this, I still really do not even know the full extent of the changes. The post you just wrote is something that you should be throwing in peoples faces. To have people in NS2 community still now go, NS2: Combat standalone what? Or oh yea I heard of that but I heard it is not worth the "insert rumored price here" they are charging. The steam store page is still about two paragraphs long... You need to SELL it to us, improved performance from Natural Selection 2, tell us, no commander, tell us, all action personal player progression, tell us. Did you fix a long standing gripe for people from the combat mod?

    I was talking to someone who had played and I asked them oh what did they do about the stupid no rush thing, I always hated that the game was just play normal for 15 minutes then all in rush until you win. Oh they added a shield that can be repaired and a person health bar? I think that is a good solution. Welding, oh god welding stuff seriously 1 week away from launch and still people in the community have to dig for answers.
  • dePARAdePARA Members, Squad Five Blue Join Date: 2011-04-29 Member: 96321Posts: 1,351 Advanced user
    What happen @ releasedate?
    Im sure we see many NS2 players going to try Combat.

    This is great for Faultline but happen at a really bad time.
    We have less players right now than during the beta.
    Lets say 150 current active players going to try Combat (Wich is not that much). The result will be:Around 200 NS2 players next weekend. Less than 200 after the release.

    Combat killed NS1 and going to do the same with NS2.

    But thats only my point of view.
    image
    RisingSunATF
  • UncleCrunchUncleCrunch Mayonnaise landMembers, Reinforced - Onos Join Date: 2005-02-16 Member: 41365Posts: 1,543 Advanced user

    I fear Combat would kill NS (the concept) for good.

    One question: Is there anything that advertise NS (and the global concept) in Combat ?
    ChubbChubbs ???

    Reach me on NS2 forums in :
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  • acid_rainacid_rain NS2 NAPT Mascot Austin, TXForum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Subnautica Playtester Join Date: 2010-02-16 Member: 70588Posts: 216 mod
    We have something planned right at release just for NS2 players. Not only an in-game reward but, I'm working very hard at getting a video done that serves as a primer to NS2 players for Combat. The video will tell you everything that's different about the game compared to NS2. I can't guarantee it'll be there day one, but it's on my list of things to do right at/before launch.

    I completely ignored the fact that GISP has been busting his rump like crazy getting in touch with press. YouTube videos are going to start popping up like crazy, articles and other media will begin to show up and I can't wait to see them.

    I wholeheartedly believe that Combat is a breath of fresh air for the NS universe, and it can only bring good to our community. I've been in this community for well over ten years, and actively for over 6. I believe that Combat will not only captivate people who love NS2, but also people who have never heard of the game before, and that's exactly what we're aiming for.

  • Cannon_FodderAUSCannon_FodderAUS Brisbane, AUMembers, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2013-06-23 Member: 185664Posts: 877 Advanced user
    acid_rain wrote: »
    We have something planned right at release just for NS2 players. Not only an in-game reward but, I'm working very hard at getting a video done that serves as a primer to NS2 players for Combat. The video will tell you everything that's different about the game compared to NS2. I can't guarantee it'll be there day one, but it's on my list of things to do right at/before launch.

    I completely ignored the fact that GISP has been busting his rump like crazy getting in touch with press. YouTube videos are going to start popping up like crazy, articles and other media will begin to show up and I can't wait to see them.

    I wholeheartedly believe that Combat is a breath of fresh air for the NS universe, and it can only bring good to our community. I've been in this community for well over ten years, and actively for over 6. I believe that Combat will not only captivate people who love NS2, but also people who have never heard of the game before, and that's exactly what we're aiming for.

    @acid_rain‌ thanks for the long post above to tell us about the Combat journey. I actually didn't know there was a reddit page (should have checked your site). I will now go and register there to post Combat related things. I am very excited about this game.
    Cheers
    Author of a ePaper manual for NS2, now also a steam guide
    Co-wrote the Marine EXO Suit Protocol
  • BensonBenson Members, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2012-03-07 Member: 148303Posts: 1,296 Advanced user
    I think combat may affect NS2 player numbers somwhat, but dont think that it will kill the game.

    If anything, having a dedicated and expanded "casual mode" with a lot of similarities to the standard game can only make the players who only want combat happy, and give new players a gateway into the hard stuff.

    After all, once a player masters combat, who says they wont want more? We may very well end up with a slow influx of decent players into vanilla NS2
    If we are to be damned, let us be damned for what we really are. - Capt. Jean Luc Picard
    AurOn2Roobubbacoolitic
  • AurOn2AurOn2 COOKIES! FREEDOM, AND BISCUITS! AustraliaMembers, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Forum staff Join Date: 2012-01-13 Member: 140224Posts: 2,130 mod
    Adversely, it could also mean people who play ns2, start playing combat instead (especially if it has a larger playerbase)
    Send me a private message if you need me to kill someone "help" with anything.

    The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.” - George Carlin.

    Youtube Channel for Sydney Music
    Benson
  • acid_rainacid_rain NS2 NAPT Mascot Austin, TXForum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Subnautica Playtester Join Date: 2010-02-16 Member: 70588Posts: 216 mod
    AurOn2 wrote: »
    Adversely, it could also mean people who play ns2, start playing combat instead (especially if it has a larger playerbase)

    If that were the worst-case scenario, I would be happy with them sticking with something in the NS universe than to leave it all behind. That's my personal opinion though.
    Benson
  • MigeMige Members, Reinforced - Supporter Join Date: 2005-03-19 Member: 45796Posts: 166 Fully active user
    edited October 2014
    And the one big question, one million dollar :p. Can you make NS1 HD or NS Classic version (like DLC) and get best things from ns2 :) Who need infestion/powernode system (performance) and alien commander (more waiting and less field players) + exos when there is real heavy man who is waiting to devour
    Post edited by Mige on
    Aka Naatti also known Nade (Nde) from Saunamen. My rig: 6600k @ 4.5ghz, 3200mhz 16gb ram, r9 NANO & WIN 10 64 Pro <3 Freesync 
  • NeokenNeoken Bruges, BelgiumMembers, NS2 Playtester, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Silver, Subnautica Playtester Join Date: 2004-03-20 Member: 27447Posts: 1,305 Advanced user
    MCMLXXXIV wrote: »
    Woo!
    Please excuse me, I'm a little tired, but hopefully this explains the game better than we can...

    Always cool to see a somewhat popular youtuber advertise the game. But, that skulk movement, oh god.. :O) Thinking you should start the tutorial with just walljumping and move on from there :D
    IronHorse
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