Gaining and retaining players - my two cents

.trixX..trixX. BudapestMembers Join Date: 2007-10-11 Member: 62605Posts: 862 Advanced user
First of all, I owe an apology to the devs for my rather rude outburst in the general discussions a few days ago (thread got closed, that's why I'm posting this here). Think of it as this: You buy a roadster and the manufacturer calls it back for maintenance, then a few weeks later they send you a family station wagon. Both have their virtues, but you payed for a roadster. Not only that, but the bloody station wagon now won't ignite half the time and you get stuck on the side of the road. I hope you see my point...
Anyhow, I'm genuinely sorry, please forget the first sentence I wrote there.

So about those two cents:
NS is the only multi game I've been playing with in recent years, and I'm quite attached to it emotionally ever since I installed the mod in 2006. It's challenging, requires creativity and teamwork, and also field skills. I can't name a game with as much sophistication as NS has. Of course this can be quite a big bite in the beginning because you have to learn a lot to appreciate it, and people are looking for "mindless" entertainment in games. At least that's what I perceive in the world.

What I've picked up from the recent upheaval is this: about a year ago UWE set out to make NS more popular, which is perfectly understandable. I myself sang odes of joy about it to my friends... and they didn't stick, no matter how much I helped them. This game is a typical first love at sight or eternal indifference. The changes it entailed were about making the game as rookie friendly as possible, which is in my opinion the pitfall of the current approach. I don't think decreasing the "frustration" (i think of it as challenge/difficulty) level of the game would make it more appealing to new players; they either get sucked in by the atmosphere or not. Nor do I think any person with a healthy mind would expect to be on the top of the scoreboard after playing their first few rounds in any multiplayer game. So I'm honestly baffled by the current approach.

1. Stop decreasing the difficulty
Heading down that direction will leave you on the ground between two seats: old players leave, new players are uninterested. The very reason you have your current playerbase is because of the challenging nature of the game. A perfect example is the recent healthbar. It made the game easier for everyone, but not more rookie friendly. Besides that, it removed the tactic of feigning a retreat with almost full HP to pull out marines, and also the requirement for a good comm to report lifeform health. The solution for that I see is a better training mode in the game (see later). The game is also 4 years old, even if you balanced it to perfection, there won't be as much media/review coverage for it to attract a significant number of players - don't be delusional, NS2 is an OLD game.

2. CDT & PDT
I'm probably lagging behind events, but I don't understand why the CDT was so drastically disassembled. UWE had control over the tasks and builds, and as far as I know the CDT developed it mostly free (again, as far as I know). They were embedded in the general community and knew about the most pressing issues of the game. Maybe it's crying over spilt milk, but I miss those days. Adding new features is a different thing altogether; I completely understand why UWE would follow it's own path regarding that (hostage to the community situation), but surely a balance could've been struck.

3. Playtesting
I'm running debian and despite my recurring attempts to help you guys to test the game, I haven't even got a reply about my application. And there were quite a few issues with linux, some of which I've solved on my own, but there was that infamous black screen bug when you released the intro video. I know it was due to a 3rd party lib, but please don't tell me that you've tested it properly on linux, because that would be a blatant lie. If you have testers, why not? If you don't have any, why don't you reply? And if the answer is that linux is not well supported, then why advertise it as such?

4. Single player
Yes, again. I know it has been mentioned quite a few times, but this could be your best shot at training rookies. You don't need a plot like mass effect, just some basic stuff to outline the universe and game mechanics of NS. Rookies would get a proper step-by-step introduction while being engaged by action, not just messing round in a boring sandbox. And by releasing a single player, you'll get media coverage in the reviews. You could bundle it with the multi, release it as an appetizer, whatever... but I think it's a darn good idea.

It may be a bit general, but I hope there is perspective to what I've outlined ;]
NO Cyril, when they're dead they're just hookers!
cooliticAurOn2Me9a

Comments

  • cooliticcoolitic Right behind youMembers Join Date: 2013-04-02 Member: 184609Posts: 1,684 Advanced user
    edited June 2016
    First of all, for a proper single player, that would most certainly have to be in NS3 and not NS2, due to the amount of development time. Expanding/improving the tutorial is an option however.

    And I cannot agree more on your comment on difficulty. Many people actually like challenging games and NS2 was built to be this way. UWE wants to help rookies? Do something about the learning curve without affecting the skill-ceiling and removing risk from gameplay.
    When life gives you lemons, throw it back and demand chocolate.


    .trixX.AurOn2Me9aexuvo
  • .trixX..trixX. BudapestMembers Join Date: 2007-10-11 Member: 62605Posts: 862 Advanced user
    coolitic wrote: »
    First of all, for a proper single player, that would most certainly have to be in NS3 and not NS2, due to the amount of development time. Expanding/improving the tutorial is an option however.

    True, I cannot even guess the amount of work required to put together a small single player that mimics multi experience to the degree that is a useful training tool. But because of the marketing considerations, those efforts would pay off better than current changes, methinks...
    NO Cyril, when they're dead they're just hookers!
  • _Grendel__Grendel_ Members Join Date: 2015-05-07 Member: 204238Posts: 87 Advanced user
    edited June 2016
    Most people usually rage quit after a few hours because they don't want to put the time in to learn a game that is so punishing, but that "punishment" is part of what makes the game so rewarding. An obvious solution would have been "the game that shall not be named" because it's fun as hell and could be a much friendlier intro into the ns2 universe, but that bridge has been nuked from orbit.

    Maybe a new mod could do something similar? Something to warm new people to some of the more basic mechanics of ns2 before dropping them in the deep end? Though the mod scene seems to have died and the new server menu....
    AurOn2cooliticMe9a
  • .trixX..trixX. BudapestMembers Join Date: 2007-10-11 Member: 62605Posts: 862 Advanced user
    edited June 2016
    _Grendel_ wrote: »
    Most people usually rage quit after a few hours because they don't want to put the time in to learn a game that is so punishing, but that "punishment" is part of what makes the game so rewarding.

    Exactly
    _Grendel_ wrote: »
    An obvious solution would have been "the game that shall not be named" because it's fun as hell and could be a much friendlier intro into the ns2 universe, but that bridge has been nuked from orbit.

    I'm actually quite happy that had never been realized because being a multi it would have divided the player base. I remember the dying days of NS1 when the majority of players were on co.

    A separate single player on the other hand could act as a trainer for rookies and a marketing tool.
    Post edited by .trixX. on
    NO Cyril, when they're dead they're just hookers!
    exuvo
  • AurOn2AurOn2 COOKIES! FREEDOM, AND BISCUITS! AustraliaMembers, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Forum staff Join Date: 2012-01-13 Member: 140224Posts: 2,130 mod
    edited June 2016
    *grabs the holy book of bughunting*
    Thou sayest the lord that you cannot ever hunt all the bugs,
    No game, update, shall be devoid of bugs,
    Especially on fucking linux.
    Amen.

    *puts holy book away*

    If you want to help out, start by finding bugs to squash, if there's ever anything, no matter how small, Hanging out on discord also helps. If you wanna be a PT, you gotta hang where the PT's hang. Learn the motions, y'know.

    Arch Distros are generally bugless though, FYI. ;3

    Edit:

    I don't think a single-player campaign would be good for retention at all. Maybe for a month, but then it'll fuzz away.
    One more thing
    .trixX. wrote: »
    The game is also 4 years old
    This is key. I think it's about time Natural selection started thinking about it's Third Game. FYI. NS2 hasn't aged well, at all. And the list of things that Everyone wants is.. uh.. Huge. UWE keeps trying to do things to improve playability, and the old buggers keep going NUUU. (sometimes for good reason).
    Does this remind anyone of anything? The last days of ns1 perhaps? If NS is going to keep going, it's going to need some big new stuff. Updated Art assets, Updated Engine, Less Crappy Mappy Editor.

    Just more stuff in general. A wise man once said... more is more.
    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
  • .trixX..trixX. BudapestMembers Join Date: 2007-10-11 Member: 62605Posts: 862 Advanced user
    I'm running chrooted play on linux for Fallout and Skyrim, Door Kickers and KerbalSP on native. None of them had any problems (srsly, *crossing my heart*).
    Arch can be as buggy as Debian or any other distro. I've been meddling with unix systems for 12 years now, and have been using it as my only OS (@home) for 2 years.

    If you put out a product which advertises itself as compatible with an OS, I don't think it's the job of the purchaser to seek out the problems, rather the other way around. I'd dare say they broke a kind of legal agreement when they broke the product that I've payed for.

    Single player would not be for player retention, only for training and an appetizer to new players. AND the most important, it would be considered a "new" game and could be used to put NS2 in the spotlight. To retain players, all they need to do is be considerate towards the community, and not push out major builds in the middle of a tournament., or change the philosophy behind the game (like decreasing difficulty).
    NO Cyril, when they're dead they're just hookers!
  • 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
    .trixX. wrote: »
    I'm running chrooted play on linux for Fallout and Skyrim, Door Kickers and KerbalSP on native. None of them had any problems (srsly, *crossing my heart*).

    Skyrim has some small problems even if they're not Linux related. :D
    "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."


    AurOn2exuvo
  • .trixX..trixX. BudapestMembers Join Date: 2007-10-11 Member: 62605Posts: 862 Advanced user
    Well, I haven't installed any mods, so... :D I installed the game like 7 months ago and put in around 30 hours of play, so I may not be that representative... but I never had a crash or twitch FUS RO DAH!
    NO Cyril, when they're dead they're just hookers!
  • 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
    .trixX. wrote: »
    Well, I haven't installed any mods, so... :D I installed the game like 7 months ago and put in around 30 hours of play, so I may not be that representative... but I never had a crash or twitch FUS RO DAH!

    Well, many people call the devs Bugthesda sooo.. But hey, I won't derail your thread any further.
    "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."


    AurOn2coolitic
  • AurOn2AurOn2 COOKIES! FREEDOM, AND BISCUITS! AustraliaMembers, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Forum staff Join Date: 2012-01-13 Member: 140224Posts: 2,130 mod
    edited June 2016
    .trixX. wrote: »
    If you put out a product which advertises itself as compatible with an OS, I don't think it's the job of the purchaser to seek out the problems, rather the other way around. I'd dare say they broke a kind of legal agreement when they broke the product that I've payed for.
    Sigh. If you have a problem, submit a bug report. Valve doesn't have an option for particular operating system version is unstable etc etc, so blame valve.

    Also, UWE isn't well manned enough to keep NS2 well patched + Do their new products (which, i might add, are necessary for their survival as a company)
    .trixX. wrote: »
    Single player would not be for player retention, only for training and an appetizer to new players. AND the most important, it would be considered a "new" game and could be used to put NS2 in the spotlight. To retain players, all they need to do is be considerate towards the community, and not push out major builds in the middle of a tournament., or change the philosophy behind the game (like decreasing difficulty).

    SIGH.
    Do you even know how long this would take? With The Potential Reward for EVERYONE being... Zero?
    Anyone who is going to join doesn't give a Poop that a multiplayer dedicated game has a singleplayer experience or not. Even if it was for training.

    Also. They don't have the manpower to Build a DECENT single-player experience. all we can expect now is patches on-top of the current pile of... Super fun, unique, Occasionally broken piece of... yeah.... well....

    Single player's not happening, stop it. Seriously.

    Excuse me, i need to vent elsewhere.
    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
  • .trixX..trixX. BudapestMembers Join Date: 2007-10-11 Member: 62605Posts: 862 Advanced user
    edited June 2016
    k96ayl0kq395.jpg

    So you're telling me, that they don't advertise it as being linux compatible?
    AurOn2 wrote: »
    Also, UWE isn't well manned enough to keep NS2 well patched + Do their new products (which, i might add, are necessary for their survival as a company)

    *SIGH* Why should I care about stuff like that? Half a year ago, I had a perfectly good game, then they broke it.
    AurOn2 wrote: »
    Do you even know how long this would take? With The Potential Reward for EVERYONE being... Zero?
    Anyone who is going to join doesn't give a Poop that a multiplayer dedicated game has a singleplayer experience or not. Even if it was for training.
    .trixX. wrote: »
    ... I cannot even guess the amount of work required to put together a small single player that mimics multi experience to the degree that is a useful training tool...

    *SIGH* I see you don't understand my point, nor read what I write.

    1. Create a simple, short single.
    2. Push it out on steam as a seperate game
    3. Get tons of reviews on gaming media sites
    4. Let players know there is a whole universe in multi
    5. Wait for players to buy the multi too

    No, I don't think it would be that simple, but don't paint it as bullshit. The single wouldn't be for the sake of single, but a marketing tool.


    NO Cyril, when they're dead they're just hookers!
  • AurOn2AurOn2 COOKIES! FREEDOM, AND BISCUITS! AustraliaMembers, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Forum staff Join Date: 2012-01-13 Member: 140224Posts: 2,130 mod
    edited June 2016
    AurOn2 wrote: »
    Valve doesn't have an option for particular operating system version is unstable etc etc, so blame valve.

    And you say i don't read....
    There is a button that says "it runs on linux".
    "runs" is respective.
    There is no button that says it runs well, nor does it advertise as such.

    Also, i'm not painting your Comments as 'bullshit', just that UWE has moved onto other, Not Ns2 projects, all we can expect are patches now, not engine fixes (which is where the problem lies) Or other such things which will solve our problem.
    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
    exuvo
  • 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
    AurOn2 wrote: »
    There is no button that says it runs well, nor does it advertise as such.

    Sorry to interrupt but when it says 'runs on Linux', it should run 'well'. That's a released game on Steam we're talking about. No alpha, beta or early access game.

    If it was working as you say, many customers would ask for a refund when the Steam says it is compatible but it actually isn't. Currently, the same issue appears with XP users. Still mentions the game can be played on XP but in reality, that's not possible.

    You can question the editor when you buy a game that used to be compatible with your OS, during the official release but after a couple of years, cannot be supported anymore due to recent patches that completely ignored it. The Store page in this case, should be edited.
    "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."


    coolitic.trixX.mock
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