Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Winter Is Here Captains

Winter State of Game



By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   




The Winter State of Game is out and it's a doozy! I'll go over it and throw in my thoughts here and there and everywhere. I'm going to combine the in-game SotG with the Forum posting and make some educated guesses in a few places. Ready? Let's go! (Kixeye release info is in Green so you can skim or skip it if you've read them all.)

Return of the 4 Month Raid Cycle :

 -  Return of the 4 Month Cycle: We're slowing down the pace in 2018 -- instead of four event cycles in the year, we're moving to 3. Garrison targets move exclusively to the FM cycle, with periodic updates through the year to keep things interesting and new Garrison prizes in each cycle’s raid. The 3 cycles are Siege from January - April, Assault from May - August, and Skirmish from September on.


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- In 2017 we took our 4 target types (Siege, Garrison, Assault, and Skirmish) and gave them their own 3 month raid cycle. As we progressed through each cycle, we learned that some target types are easier to transition into than others. Further, instead of creating another three month cycle where you did nothing but Garrison combat, we are moving Garrison into its own Forsaken Mission cycle. This means Garrison is now officially outside of the raid structure (more on this below). Finally, we’re expanding the length of each of the three remaining raid cycles to 4 months, similar to the pace we had in 2016.

Siege now runs from January to April, Assault now runs from May to August, and Skirmish is September on. The new Garrison cycle begins in March, and runs offset from the regular raid cycle to ease pressure on shipyards, every four months as well.

The basic structure remains the same: The hull, weapon, and special are earnable, then the flagship. After the flagship we then offer some optional escalations. Along the way we are re-introducing the concept of refittable TacMods, in the form of a specialized “battle bridge” structure on your hull called a “CIC” (Combat Information Center).

Each CIC promotes the styles of gameplay the hull is best at and allows you to create specialized fleets. Examples include the Forsaken (Auto) hull getting a series of defensive bonuses from its matched CIC (Impact CIC), whereas the Draconian (Skill) hull will get a series of utility bonuses from their matched CICs (Mercy and Capacitor CICs). CICs have limited ability to be used on other hulls, and there will be multiple CICs for each cycle hull. CICs are tuned for refitting, allowing you to shift your fleet specializations around as needed.

This is all made possible with our expanded cycle time of 4 months. We will be posting a hull lifecycle plan shortly as well as a longer explanation of CIC TacMods.

So there is a whole bunch going on here. Let's break it down.

Raids will now go back to a 4 month cycle. On its face, this seems fantastic as it will give us a little more time to build for the raids and possibly get some better value on the pain in the ass escalation items that seem to be the new norm. I'm still not a fan.

What we have to see though is how this plays out with regard to build times, target escalation, number of targets, seat time for the raid and above all else- how this is going to interact with the FM coming out of the raid cycle and going into its own cycle overlapping the raid cycle. I am a little concerned that there will be some increased pressure with regard to builds/refits given the escalation releases and the timing of the FM cycle changes, particularly with Kixeye admitting that there are cycles that are harder to transition into. The layout looks like this:

Siege : Jan-April
Assault : May-Aug
Skirmish : Sept-Dec
FM cycle changes: March, July, Nov (the release notes state Oct, but that isn't quarterly)

There is also an addition in there about a CIC (Combat Information Center). While it is named an 'information' center, the description is that of a Tactical Module. Given my concern about build and refit times, I am REALLY concerned about this one because the notes specifically reference that. To wit: CICs are tuned for refitting, allowing you to shift your fleet specializations around as needed. That makes me very leery, that said...

The CIC idea does sound like an interesting concept and may bring back a bit of the freedom we lost in build design adding some depth to our build options. Given the little hint of some of the names (Mercy and Capacitor CIC) it may be a very interesting add-on, however, I again lean back to build times. Players are already frustrated with build and refit times, particularly when fine-tuning. Adding yet another dimension to that is going to cause an issue. So long as this doesn't turn into a multi-faceted, overly complex system like the Voltron fleet did, and build times overall on the PvE side are addressed, this sound like it could be very interesting. I believe this is one of those things wherein it can be done very well and add some fun into the game, or it can be screwed and completely wreck the game. Honestly, I think I'd rather see this introduced on the PvP side first since players familiar with PvP are already familiar with 'odd' mechanics. We have the Prideful affect there already, the range stack of the Sloths, the stacking auras of the Voltron fleet, etc.  As I said, sounds cool, but I'd like to see this elsewhere before we start messing with FM and Raid fleets.

Of note here: "...and new Garrison prizes in each cycle’s raid.". Given the position of the FM in the game, I really, really hope that the prize costs associated with the FM prizes that will be offered in the raids are going to be low and very reasonable- and also available in the FM immediately thereafter. Considering that we will likely have the continuing limited item costs and 'regular' new items in the raid, the addition of FM items in the raids will add even more pressure onto players in an already time abridged format.




Garrison Becomes the FM Cycle :

There was a lot of feedback that a dedicated Garrison event cycle at the same time as weekly FM play was not fun (“Three months of nothing but mortars” as one player put it). We will remove the Garrison from the raid cycle and place Garrison on it’s own “FM cycle.” Garrison hulls and gear will remain available in the Event as prizes.

Garrison can be some of the most fun targets in Battle Pirates. The “mostly buildings, sometimes ships” gameplay works at most range and weapon types. But Garrison also suffers the most when the targets don’t change for months on end. So our solution is to spice up Garrison every four months and offer specialist hulls for new top targets.

The Garrison/FM cycle begins in March and updates every three months (March, July, October), offset from the regular Event cycle to reduce pressure on the shipyards. Just like with the regular raid cycle, we will be phasing out top targets and bringing in new ones throughout each cycle. During this new cycle we will offer one new T7 hull, weapon, special, and CIC battle bridge that is optimized toward these new top targets.

The goal is to promote more variety of Garrison gameplay and provide a set of T7 tools to attack them. Because of this, we’re committed to maintaining all three hulls (codenamed “Xavier, Ygritte, and Zaphod”) as viable throughout the year.

If you choose to invest in each new hull that comes through, you will find your ships optimized for the newest targets. The FM is about efficiency when you do it week after week, so our goal with Garrison in 2018 is to provide higher efficiency as the goal in the newest targets. In most targets the newest hulls will play the fastest. Your older T7 Garrison hulls will work as well, just not as efficiently.

Thanks to CICs, we expect smart players to find a way to mix and match their battle bridges to create surprising Garrison hybrid fleets. Since we are committed to all Garrison T7 hulls being viable throughout the year, this is an expected outcome of this new cycle!

Well... this is... interesting. I don't really recall "...a lot of feedback that a dedicated Garrison event cycle at the same time as weekly FM play was not fun", what I personally recall was that there was a large amount of Garrison TLCs following immediately on the heels of the Garrison raid concurrent with an early change to the FM. Perspectives vary I guess.

I'm not sure how I feel about this one exactly because I think much of how this will play out is going to rely heavily on the build times and the CIC thing. Given the timetable, unless build times actually come down for the top end hulls and items, I foresee problems. The FM/Garrison change is, on its face, going to necessitate an additional 2 fleet changes in the year versus the previous set-up, unless the CIC thing is going to achieve that through very quick refits. Side note:Use the full name for the hull. Zaphod Beeblebrox just sounds cool. Better than Ygritte. ;)

IF, big if, this allows for more subtle tuning of the FM from change-to-change, this has the potential to be very good for the game. IF, however, we see the huge swing in change like we just saw in the FM every 4 months... this is going to suck. That's as plain as I can make that.

I'm hoping this change doesn't add another feeling of 'raid time' to the game. I do like the fact that they are setting the cycle offset of the raid cycles, but again, I need to see how this plays out. It could mean that we can manage our shipyard time better, or, it could mean a LOT of stress on the available build time for our fleets. Given the overall reduced payouts of build tokens, I really hope it is the former rather than the latter which would exacerbate the token situation that currently has many a player pissed off. I am cautiously optimistic for now.

Edit: I guess I wasn't clear about why, even with my concerns, I was cautiously optimistic. It is because of this: There are three hulls that, at least by the notes, will be doled out over the three iterations. One is a Forsaken hull (auto), one a Draconian (skill) and I'm guessing the third is a Generalist. If the formatting idea remains the same, we should be able to just concentrate on one and focus on the CICs... at least that's the way the notes read. Since all we got was a tease, we have no idea how many of what we'll need as the quarter turns. I want more info.



Expeditions Embarking Soon!

- Expeditions Embarking Soon: Expeditions provide automated resource gathering. Choose an Expedition, assign a fleet, and fight a single battle to set the resource gathering in motion. How you do in the target determines how quickly you get the resources -- shoot for the best run you can get, just like in Blitz. Periodically your fleet will return to drop off resources and then leave to gather more without any further action from you. When your fleet is recalled or finishes its Expedition, it returns fully repaired.


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- When we sat down to look at reducing the amount of time you spend gaining advanced resources (Uranium, Titanium, and Base Parts), we realized that the best way to reward expert players was not to ask them to do the same combat many times, but to give many results from the same single combat. We also wanted to remove repair from being a limiting factor on resource gain. Basically, we wanted to find a way to create “Resource Blitz” without requiring coin.

Enter Expeditions. Select one of the three resources. Then select a fleet to go get that resource. Then fight a single battle for that resource. Based on how well you do, a cycle time will be set for you to get that resource. Without any further action, your fleet will automatically go back and forth, collecting that resource (off map) and returning it on schedule.

Your Expedition fleet will continue to do this automatically: leaving for a set amount of time based on your combat performance in the target and then returning with the resource. The fleet will continue gathering that resource until you recall the fleet or an overall resource timer ends.

When the fleet is recalled or the overall timer ends it is available immediately and fully repaired for your use.

Players may choose to unlock more than one slot for each Expedition resource, embarking multiple fleets to gather resources. However, there is a catch -- each time a fleet drops off resources, the total amount of resource per trip decreases.

The goal is to give all players a basic, easy-to-understand system for automatically gaining resources, and also to give those of you who want a little more strategy and complexity the option of managing multiple fleets at once.

Look for a video and write-up on the forums explaining Expeditions and the strategies behind automated resource gathering.

Well... this is interesting. This is where I am going to have to extrapolate and guess. There are several things alluded to in this release and we'll have to take it one at a time.

You apparently fight one battle to 'set' your gathering ability. It looks like they are flipping the script a little here and taking the blitz idea and molding it into something new that doesn't require coins. I like this. Much better than their previous idea of coin blitzing resources. The main 2 questions I have here is this: Given the issues with lag and memory leakage in the game, do you have the opportunity to retreat and re-do the reference battle, or are you stuck with a one-and-done? Are there going to be targets tuned for each meta hull-set? For example, the Fang and the Hunter? Do you have to repair the fleet before it embarks on the expedition?

On a very positive side- this goes on automatically and you aren't tied to your computer for hours doing chores. Hopefully this means you can get on and actually play the aspect of the game you want and be able to engage in the social aspect of the game more since you won't be concentrating on driving inanely complicated chore targets.

The next thing we see is that the fleet you choose to do this looks like it is going to be tied up on, essentially, a mining run. Do we have to stop the run to have access to the fleet if we need it for a TLC? (I'm assuming yes because of the mention of recalling the fleet.) Can we resume gathering if we need to stop at some point? How long is the 'Expedition'?

The unlocking of another slot is interesting. Do we really want both fleets tied up? Maybe. Are the 'reference' targets evenly balanced for both meta fleets? What is it going to cost to unlock the slot? Res or coin? This will be interesting and if coin will be even moreso to see what value we get for said coin.

"...each time a fleet drops off resources, the total amount of resource per trip decreases." This little tidbit is very interesting indeed. It sounds like they have incorporated diminishing returns on the resource gathering. I'm not sure exactly how that will play out, but I hope that it doesn't diminish to the point where you have the fleet out gathering a pittance making it a fruitless endeavor. If it gets low enough wherein doing the map targets is more productive, the whole concept goes out the window. It would seem much easier to have just designed targets that players could just auto for a reasonable amount of damage and either slow repair overnight or -gasp- coin reasonable repairs. The raid targets were supposed to be tuned down for the map... but never were.

The flip side of this is that it seems as though this reinforces the idea that we have to build both fleets in order to excel and enjoy all aspects of the game without suffering punitively. Something that Kixeye has vehemently denied in the past (ok, context: vehemently has been mostly on the forums through the old CM, a mod or two and very much by some very vociferous players). This addition seems to wholly contradict that position.

I look forward to the post and possibly the video, but I do have to elucidate a particular point - this is coming about to correct an issue that was Kixeye's own doing. I hope they keep that point in their minds as they balance and finish this new addition to the game and ensure that the players are not penalized in any way for an issue that they had no control over.



Lower Weapon Build Times :

-  Lower Weapon Build Times: Starting with this release we will be setting all pre-T6 weapons to a lower build time to allow you to finish your fleets much quicker. Further, T1-4 Research weapons have had their build times cut by a large amount to promote early-gameplay.


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- Earlier this year we established a new set of rules for weapon build times to bring back down total fleet build time. After watching how it performed, we’re reducing all pre-T6 and a few remaining T6 weapons to this new formula, resulting in many times being cut by half or more. This should shave many hours off most hull builds.

To promote newer players, we also cut build times to the bone for Research weapons, giving players in that area of the game a considerable leg-up to get to the mid-game quicker. Early game blueprints will use the new formula but not be so dramatically reduced.

I love this for the lower players, however, it is not nearly enough. I don't mean that in an accusatory or confrontational way, it's just that the game has progressed in such a way that new and very low players (and absolutely returning players) need to be brought to a point in the game where they can feel relevant in the game, have access to many aspects of the game, not feel useless or trapped and see the light at the end of the tunnel rather than have a feeling of hopelessness. Given the rest of the release, I was hoping to see a reduction game-wide with a heavy hand on the lower tech tree items, including hull build and repair time. Time will tell I guess. Perhaps Kixeye can start running old TLCs (NOT ramped up versions) for old chore fleets and/or offer them in TLOs for a reasonable price. Not $100 for an Ironclad or Cannoneer fleet but $5 or $10 for the fleet (since the builds are always sub-par and will require refitting et al).

I hope this was a quick overview and I hope it opens some discussion up prior to releases so that Kixeye can see what concerns the community has before these hit the game.




Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Quick and Dirty on the Dual Zelos FM Fleet

A Quick Look-See


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   



Again, an FM change. Again refits. But wait... there's MOAR! The Mono gets a change! What's that? Your speed-tuned fleet doesn't work now? Your Zelos is lagging behind? Let's go refit... O wait... there are escalation weapons in the FM this week for our Raid fleets... ***grumblegrumblegrumblegrumblegrumble***

Yea, it's been one of those weeks in Battle Pirates land again. I'm not sure how much more of this the community can take. On the one hand, if you refit for the 'old' 115, your fleet should be doing passably mediocre at least in this version, unless you had a speed-tuned Zelos... then you're going to be driving a bit to keep it ahead of those 'speed improved Monoliths'. Even with the heavy priority on penetrative damage on my fleet, they could pull out a couple 115s passably well. Given how many I needed, that wasn't acceptable so I, of course, started refitting (to the detriment of my Raid fleet).

Side Note :

Before I kick in on the 115 and the changes, I do want to take a minute and express my utter disappointment with the 89 target. It was excessive upon introduction and it remains excessive. This is a 'low' level target that players were relying upon in order to get themselves established or caught up in the FM. The fact that you can't pull these off with T2 tech or below is deplorable. At a BARE minimum, the Trident should be put into T1 so players have a fighting chance of climbing up out of the abysmal ranks of less-than-mediocrity. This is supposed to be a game. If you can't even see the possibility of parity on the horizon, why would you continue to engage? Just sayin'... that has GOT to be looked at.

Changes : 

Back to the 115 and the changes. The first thing that threw me for a bit of a loop was the changes to the Gridiron and Monolith blueprints. The removal of the horrendous speed up - slow down mechanic, I'm fairly confident, was universally rejoiced. It made sense. It made sense to get rid of it the minute we saw it in action when it was released. I'm not sure exactly why it took this long, but I am pretty happy about it finally coming about.

The other change however was not met with the same universal enthusiasm. A speed and turn buff were applied to the blueprints bringing them up to match the Zelos. The problem with this is that many players, including myself, fine tuned their builds so that they would either stack or trail precisely when driving. This threw everything off. To add to this dilemma, there was only 1 Zelos token available in the FM instead of a plurality of them as we were led to believe.

Add to this mix the release of the escalation weapons and we have yet another pressurized week in the game. I really enjoyed the raid as that pressure did not seem anywhere near the levels it had been in previous raids, nor the previous week in the game... or maybe the previous week just made me perceive it that way... either way, I enjoyed the hell out of the raid and then heaved an ample sigh when this all came out. Ah well... on to the good stuff!

Regularly Scheduled Program :

Many of you noted when the 115 first came out a few weeks ago, I mentioned something about an offset dual Zelos/Mono fleet. Originally the fleet was designed to mitigate the insane missile volleys from the fleets in the original 115 and to take advantage of both the stacking aura of the Zelos (primarily the accuracy buff) and the incorporation of a second duality CM into the fleet. Thankfully, the change to the 115 did nothing to mitigate the effectiveness of this design theory. In fact, I didn't have enough tokens for a second Zelos and needed the tokens from the FM, so I instead took the theory and applied it to the fleet I had on-hand first. It worked like a charm. This is the design of the fleet from the video of a no damage single Zelos run I posted up Wednesday when the 115 came out.

This is actually a better fleet to explain what I'm doing than if I just went to the final fleet build, so bear with me a moment. Let's start with the Zelos.


The Zelos lead has a bunch (maybe too many?) of gales. It also has a CM special to increase the range of the Phalanx, Gales and Duality. This is rather important because...


That extra range that I gave to the Zelos CMs comes into significant play because I have the Sprints on the Monoliths and they have no CM specials. This allows the Zelos to fire the gales well before the Sprint takes any shots at the UAVs. It also allows the more accurate Phalanx to fire before the Sprints as well. The extra bonus here? If the UAVs are missed by the gales, or they get in range between salvos, the Sprints can still take a poke at them! The CM ranges of this set up look like this:


Yes folks, you CAN do the 115 for no damage with this fleet. FLEET BUILD

The big gap in the CM ranges allows the gales to easily fire first at the UAVs thus giving you multiple chances to shoot the little buggers down. If you don't happen to get them with the Gales, when they get into range of the Sprints, they have a go as well.

That's the theory behind the basic mechanics I wanted to manipulate. A single Zelos and four monoliths performed very well in the 115 if you kept moving. The problem was the damn Arc missiles just were not getting shot down. Which meant that you had to drive the fleet like you stole it, like so:


While this is good, and I had a bunch of Monolith tokens, I was not at all pleased with having to drive my traditional mortar chuckers as if they were Icebreakers. In addition to that, given the severe memory leakage that is currently going on in the game, if I lagged at the wrong time, driving this way could get me too close to certain Coldsnaps that put a serious hurt out. Besides, I'm lazy and this is a chore. That has to be done repeatedly. A lot. There was a better way...

The Dual Offset Zelos :

This was the test mule I put out as quickly as possible this week:


THIS IS NOT THE FINAL BUILD, but, it did perform surprisingly well. The intended final build for the fleet can be found in the link at the end of the article. Currently I am not running ANY armor on the second Zelos.


Now that I knew the theory was sound I had to refit. Thankfully I had Mono tokens and I had my Zelos T2 tank I had built for an 88 NOOB article. I got some basic refits done and the second it came out, I had to try it. No armor, missing some CMs but... this was the result; Another perfect run:


Yessss.... oh yes... come over to the dark side... The interesting bit was that the Arcs were now countered. This made driving the target MUCH less stressful and I could -gasp- sort of enjoy running them- until about the third one. Then I very much did not want to run another. In fact, I didn't want to do anything in the game because looking at all the other things I had to do, well, I just decided to do something else. But I digress...

If you look at the build, you'll see the same thought process I mentioned above. The speed of all the hulls is tuned such that the lead Zelos should drive in front, giving it a hair more of a lead for the Gale and Phalanx CMs and keeping any enemy missiles firing at the Zelos instead of the Monos. The second Zelos is the slowest, but loaded with as much projectile speed and reload as possible for the Sprints to react and fire on any rockets. This also keeps both Zelos hulls in each other's fields so that they both get the accuracy buff of one another as well as being within the duality CM ranges.

Of note- I did refit my Monos so I could get damage up since I was running only 3 now. Again, the intended final fleet build is at the end of the article.

Ok, look, this isn't ideal. We really shouldn't have to run two tanks in order to pull off runs like this. We invested in these fleets in either time or coin and with the last two changes to the FM, it just doesn't seem like I've gotten the promised value from my Garrison raid fleet. Regardless, the offset dual Zelos fleet works amazingly well in these targets. Hope this helps!!

The build will eventually end up like this: OFFSET DUAL ZELOS BUILD








Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hunter's Call

Testing... Testing...


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   




The second raid of the set brought with it a new specialized target for the Hunter fleet. While I don't quite understand the need to change the targets on the second iteration instead of the third, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. This was a nice surprise given the previous week. I am not happy with regard to the option for the lower players or those that did not have full fleets as yet.

Let me make this clear as well, I am autoing the targets. This was the intent of the hull and honestly, it made the raid far more palatable for me this month.

The testing that was done last month by Thor-1SP  and myself panned out nicely for this target as well. The fleets we used were the ones I reviewed in this article. While it performed better last month, it still performed as designed in these targets as well. Do I wish it still pulled the same damage as it did last month with no crew? Of course. I'm just resigned to this cycle at this point.

Last month's run:



This month's initial maiden run:



What I found was that I could get the repair times down close to or to 1 coin repair per engagement, particularly running one of the rare crews. Some of the results were interesting and others reinforced my initial design path which is always a good reaffirmation to get.

CREWS


I tried to get a pic of a median repair. Some of these crews were consistent, some were a little erratic. I tried to run a minimum of about 5 engagements for each crew.


Control :


What can I say? This was pretty consistant damage on auto which is a testiment to both the target design and the build. I'm not sure how I feel about the #2 and #5 boats consistantly being hammered in these targets, but...While this is edging close to double last month's results, I'm resigned to this. Hopefully next month it stays somewhat around the same. If it gets too much higher I don't think it will be an acceptable total. This is an auto fleet. They did a fantastic job in design for this particular target. It provides a value for my investment in this hull and fleet. I would hate to see that marred in the last month. The no crew runs were pretty consistent and I think the high was 1 h. 5 min. damage.

Dragonslayers :



This was an interesting finding. A lot of people questioned the use of Strike Warheads in the build because of the loss of reload. I did not think the difference in reload time gained was enough to overcome the extra damage one would get with the Strike Warheads. With the addition of the ECM any difference should have been exacerbated. Instead the results were very much akin to running no crew. This crew also produced some erratic results, but not too bad. The high was in the same neighborhood as running no crew and the low was around 45 min. damage.

Sea Serpent :


The go-to crew of many using the Hunters. This crew is particularly useful in autoing the target as evade plays a much more significant role in that type of engagement rather than if you were driving. The results for the most part were consistent using this crew but there were a few outliers that went up close to 50 min. damage. The low was 32 min. damage.

Fearless Blitzers :


I used this crew in the hopes of changing the timing to mitigate some of the THORNs damage in the target. Surprisingly it worked a little. This was a crew whose results were a little erratic. The high was just under an hour damage and the low was 39 min. damage.

Demo Squad :


This is my favorite crew to run with the Hunter fleet on auto. I ran many hits on this trying to get a good feel on the damage range and found that about 4 out of 5 times it would end up under 30 min. damage per engagement. I had one single outlier of 42 min, but generally any time it went over 30 min. of damage it would hover around the 36 min. mark. I also took advantage of this crew in later testing for maximizing the potential of the Apex.

Grease Monkey :


The venerable Grease Monkey. This one was an erratic crew, as was to be expected. When one of the edge hulls (#2 or #5) got whacked good, it would throw off the driving pattern so that the end result varied widely based on the RNG hits of the engagement. As is typical, this crew is better used in conjunction with another rather than on it's own. I also took advantage of this crew in later testing for maximizing the potential of the Apex.

Steelheads :



I had tried this crew the first day and was getting mediocre results. I sort of brushed it off. A comment below made me a little curious and I tried it again tonight. (11/11) I was pleasantly surprised. While not exactly consistent, it did yield some very nice numbers for the most part. Much like Demo 4/5 were close with one outlier. 4/5 were between 34-38 minutes and I had one for 46 min. damage. Not bad at all, particularly on auto!


Maximize Potential :



One other aspect to take into consideration when trying to mitigate costs is the mechanics of the hulls and fleets with which we attack this target. The Apex Hunter has a much better repair coefficient than do the regular Hunters. You can run the campaign back-to-back until it is time for repairs. Using the Demo Squad you can get 6 engagements in before you need to come in for repairs. Using the Grease Monkey you only get 5. Now you can either repair this now, use a Grease Monkey to repair and then go back out with the Demo, or...



Once here you can pull the Hunter out by itself and repair. It works out to 2 coin and a little bit of wait time. You can leave the Hunters at half damage and run the target again. Using the Demo Squad, you can get 3 more hits in before you need to repair the Apex again. This works out to 2 coin for 3 targets. THIS is where I would use the Grease Monkey to further maximize potential.


Repair the Apex using the Grease Monkey, put it back in the fleet with the Demo, go out and hit 3 targets, come in and repair the Apex alone. This will net you 3 targets for essentially one coin repair and a little bit of wait time depending on the RNG over three engagements.

So that's it. This pirate is rather pleased with the options presented to us in the upper area of the raid. That said, I really REALLY wish there were better options for the lower level players. The A sets are horrid, particularly if you are using the Hunters. Those targets are clearly designed for Fangtooth fleets. I hope in next months targets there is a little bit of adjustment to take into consideration players that are running Hunters on less than a full tilt build. For fun, here is this same fleet attempting to auto an A set. The 81 and 83 went off without a hitch, but the 85... Hoo boy... Pay particular attention to the last hit and the absolute craziness therein. Good luck in the raid folks!!











Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Forsaken Mission - Where It All Begins

RIP WIP. RIP FM. RIP... ??


By: Some Pissed-Off Pirate
a/k/a Dragon_Bane     



I almost didn’t finish writing this. I wanted to have a cooler head on my shoulders before delving into this. Then I got to read Robyn’s profanity laced tirade (in my mind). Putting aside the sexy accent, I realized that, if that bonnie lass is that upset, I know bloody damn well that the people I’ve talked to, as well as myself, are not overreacting. I did wait to 'cool off' and took a look over my notes again and this came out of all that. Much is free form, well, ranting, so then...

Before anyone from Kixeye reads this, I would appreciate it if you pulled some numbers. Just a nice monthly log on chart from January 2016 through October 2017. I can only guess at the metrics, but I don’t have to guess at the player perceptions or opinions, and I may be referencing back that far at times, but I think even if I do not, it would elucidate some of the background issues I may reference.



Background and Context :

We really can't have this discussion without some context. As this game has progressed it has gotten more complicated as needs must. To that end, one has to have a starting point, a foundation point if you will, in which to keep the rest of the game referenced. This is a basic necessity in a game as complex as this one.

Rather than base my premises upon my own perceptions, let us instead rely on the company who actually owns, produces, and directs the game, Kixeye. 'Where would one begin?' you ask? How about this thread and flowchart linked right here. Now, putting aside the fact that I've been vociferously pushing the FM as the cornerstone of the game for over a year, Kixeye themselves have had this position for at least the last year.



See where it says START? The Forsaken Mission, at its core, is the epitome of accessibility to play the game of Battle Pirates. Period. It is the absolute cornerstone of the game. It might not be what people initially state when trying to explain their displeasure at the changes, but when you dig down to the basic concepts that players hold of the game, the Forsaken Mission is exactly that. It is the yardstick used to determine accessibility of this game to the players. We have articles, videos, forum threads, page threads and EVEN a Kixeye logic diagram that puts the Forsaken Mission as the absolute foundation of the entirety of the game.

It is also a fantastic miner's canary of the game. Discount the warning at your own peril.

Can you not understand WHY the community has lost their collective minds over this? Why players are quitting?

Put the damn data and metrics down and talk to your players. Clearly, whoever is deciphering the data is doing something wrong.

Let me reiterate this so it is clear because I don't think Kixeye is understanding this... the Forsaken Mission is the FUNDAMENTAL BASIS OF THE GAME. Whether you want that or not, you are pretty much stuck with it without a slow gradual phase out. That's how it is perceived and what is expected.



The FM Today : 

The absolute goal of the fm now is the tokens. At least that is the generic insta-answer I get from everyone. In the past, they were the goal of the end game player in order to get themselves ‘caught up’ on builds- and that used to mean pvp mainly. This was sort of the balancing act of the tokens. If you were getting into being an end-game player, they were a boon to catch up in your PvE stuff and was a fantastic way to get into PvP. It was a great transitional tool and helped infuse more PvP into the game at the end of the spectrum. It kept the PvP part of the game fresher. It wasn't enough to do either, however, it alleviated a bit of the 'gap' between players.This was balanced. Was.

What happened?

Kixeye decided to take into account the availability if the tokens in their determining of build times for PvE fleets. In other words, they negated the tokens through game design. What's worse is that they thought the community was too ignorant to understand what they did. To exacerbate that basic condescension, they doubled down and gave us lip service about listening to the community. The FM posting was the latest and most egregious example of this.

Now tokens have become a necessity in order to just try to stay afloat on PvE builds. This is an issue created by Kixeye purely through design. The build times for hulls never came down when we switched to a three month raid cycle. In fact, given the proliferation of flagships and escalation tech, both coming after the initial offering, cumulative build times have gone f’n coo-coo for cocoa puffs. A WAG is that the token value is something around 18% of what it initially was when all this is taken into consideration.

Let me repeat- this is an issue created directly by Kixeye and their choice of build times, and now with escalation, refit times. Rather than balance or correct this issue, they incorporated the FM tokens into their expectations of *PvE* builds further exacerbating the issue and then to top off the shit sandwich with some lovely diarrhea sauce, they reduce the availability of those same tokens, decrease their accessibility (timers on the chests) AND increase their cost. Look, I can usually logic my way on either side or an argument or position and have a self-made sounding board, but if I were arguing this in front of a panel of people, or a jury... I absolutely would not want to argue one of these sides because the position is patently untenable.

Side note: Why do I use cumulative? Because in the past, once you ‘figured your build’ you were generally done. You had a finished product. Now you generally don’t have a finished product until AFTER the raid cycle has ended. W.T.F.



Mini-Rant :

I've waited. And waited. I've heard you Kixeye! I've listened to your feedback, and I mean this in the nicest way possible:

Get your collective heads out of your collective asses. How many play-hours have you lost from last year? Compare Oct 2016 to Oct 2017. How many active players? How many daily log-ins? I'd LOVE to see the data you guys use. I can guarantee a different interpretation.

See?  I was hoping to see a response or some movement. Instead we have gotten silence and evasion. I hear that, that is your feedback to us. I don't have to look at any data. I don't need to go to a meeting to talk about it. I don't need to have many discussions so I can have another discussion and not even make a substantive comment with regard to the subject matter.



Additional Issues : 

Why now? Why this extreme of a change when the Garrison Raid is right around the corner? I could understand a tweak, but this... I don't even want to tell you how many coins and tokens I went through trying to adjust to the 'rebalance' to help the community mitigate the adjustments they had to do.

Why no transitional period this time? That was asinine. Why was the sprint held back until after the change? This is absolutely one of the worst things you did, yet, it isn't mentioned much. Why? Likely because the rest of this is such a clusterfuck that people can't get past the fundamental change in both the FM and it's apparent change of function in the game What that function is, no one knows because you won't communicate with us!!

I will acknowledge that there has been, in the past, some side of the mouth talking. The targets won’t change for a year really meant that the targets wouldn’t fundamentally change, BUT, they decided they could tweak them so long as they still confirmed to the standard deviations of the target type. Right?? Guess what? Not anymore. Now you get to hop into a target and have a Glee inspired mash-up of Garrison and Assault with an apparently huge side of 'we don't care'. Here is the problem guys, if your design failed for garrison, that’s YOUR fault, not mine. Git gud. Stop beating me over the head with a blackjack because you can't figure this out.



Good segue, the target itself. Assault in garrison? We play by the rules you decided to incorporate. It was a reciprocal arrangement. We built to those specifications and ideals, and then get smacked in the face with a hunk of monkey-poo with this change. For everyone's reference, all of this was well communicated and defined right in the forums for everyone, last year, y'know, when the game was in a pretty apparent upswing.

Nanny state or puzzle solver? It is an odd juxtaposition. On the one hand you insist on giving us targets to 'solve'. Sometimes puzzles within puzzles. Yet you also want to severely limit us with regard to what we can build and what we can use in certain targets. If that's the case, you MUST hold yourselves to those definitions and rules which you base these limitations on.

Why is the generalists still doing better than the hulls and fleets intended to do these f'n targets?!?!? This runs counter to what you keep pushing with regard to this entire game. What is the explanation for this?

Why am I playing a raid every single damn week now?!? Where is my half repair then?? Does anyone on the damn Kixeye team even understand the f'n theory behind WHY we have 1/2 repair time during raids??? (Here is a hint: Time constraint concurrent with pressure to complete concurrent with designed intended damage.)

This change fundamentally changes the role of the FM. This is unacceptable in the extreme. This would change the whole of the game in one way or another, or maybe cause irreparable harm.

88 to 89. This is the one that makes me scratch my head in the extreme. You have essentially locked out all the players that were struggling or trying to reach parity in the game. It is a requirement of R&D 3 ffs!! This issue should be self-explanatory.

We got the Icebreaker and Monolith TLCs... but where are the Zelos tokens? Why, if you are going to even pretend that you are giving us some sort of access to what we need, do you not release some way in which the players can adjust or build the number one CM hull in the game (and thanks to URF,apparently the number one option to do the f’n targets to boot!)??? Why are there no Zelos tokens in the raid???



Options :

Deep breaths... deep breaths...

The best correction is now impossible. We have idiots like me who blew all their tokens and likely too much gold trying to crack these abominations. Rolling it back will be impossible.

The Assault aspect of those targets needs to be removed and the the target must go back to being an actual Garrison target.

The FM should stay at about the same time requirement as before. I.e. about 7 targets to fully complete.


  • If you insist on leaving the 115 as it is, the points per 115 should be 500,000.
  • Add the 113 back in for 150,000 points.
  • Make the 103 75,000. 
  • Put the 88 back in for 30,000
  • Keep the 89 but make it 50,000.
  • Add a point cap to each prize pool. I do NOT want to see a prize show up in PP5 for 5 or 7 million points. That type of abuse will not be tolerated.
  • Get rid of the f’n timers on the chests. You've already reduced our tokens without reducing build times - again. There is no need for timers on the bloody chests.
  • The Trident needs to be in PP1 or PP2.
  • The Mono and Icebreaker need to be in PP2 or PP3.
An open server, or a closed server that players could share would have helped IMMENSELY. The implementation that Kixeye chose stressed an already taxed player base to a breaking point. I acknowledge the 113 was too easy, however, it also was bloody time consuming for many players. It was clear from your data that not everyone was pulling off 18 second repair runs like I was. DON'T USE PLAYERS LIKE ME FOR THE BASELINE. Use a damn median value here. Again, it is not a single item, it is the cumulative affect.

Here is the final warning about this abominable mess... 'fixing' this Forsaken Mission is not going to correct the problem that has compounded into this. This broke the player base. You have to acknowledge that and own it and start from THAT position when 'discussing' this again. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. You have ignored the player base for a year while alleging that you were listening. Your response time to player concerns, when they aren't ignored outright, is far too slow. This has come back to roost and I really hope that it doesn't kill the game.

-----------



Last minute edit.



Ok, so the official answer to all the players 'using older tech' (i.e. locked out) is, quite literally: "To complete these higher level targets you are going to want Tier 6 tech." Wut??

Are you kidding me?!? It's NOT higher level targets. You changed them. Period. You acknowledge locking players out fo the cornerstone of the game and your response is "To complete these higher level targets you are going to want Tier 6 tech." Do you WANT players to quit?!? You changed the targets fundamentally. If these players HAD T6 tech they'd likely be building it. If they could get it, they likely would be getting it.

Running TLCs is NOT going to help these players. This is WHY the f'n Punisher and Citadel are in the lower prize pools. Can you guys not even follow your OWN logic?!?

I don't want to do more chores to help you correct your own screw ups! That's asinine. Seriously, this reads : We screwed up but will fix it by giving you more tasks to do... to get the tech you need so you can refit your fleets so they can do the new target. Why didn't you just design the f'n target to fit the f'n meta for crying out loud?!?!?!? Talk about being obdurate in the extreme. Smh...

Friday, November 3, 2017

Letting the Cranky Roo out!!

My martini glass is always half full.  I drank what was left in it last night!!


Most people that know me in the game and on the various FB pages know that I try to see the positive side of change. I look for ways changes will help players in the long run. I am always willing to WAIT to see the said changes before I go off on any sort of tirade and even then, I can usually find a positive to balance any negatives. That is until the FM cockup.

My initial thoughts on the FM were that it was a positive change


Kix listened.....Players have long talked about the time it takes to get to the hallowed tokens. No more frustration when Kix would add 3 new prizes to T5 in the FM after a raid.  No more facing the daunting task of having to play catchup if God forbid you took a two week vacation and didn't do your FM while you were out enjoying a life away from the game.

Tokens help a player stay current and build raid fleets that let them progress even further. They are CRITICAL to staying current. If you do not get the tokens you are not going to have, the now required, TWO fleets for a raid.

Another positive, players could catch up in one week, claiming as many prizes as they could claim in the order that would help THEIR needs and not be stuck in a queue of having to clear items that they don't need. Wow, they could EVEN claim tokens after claiming just one prize if they were not caught up!! 

Players had 6 days to grind the FM and do this. No more stuck with 3 days or rushing to finish it if real life got in the way.

Yes, the token amounts were lower and we gave unanimous feedback to Kix and they compromised with adding chests that gave the potential for more bonus tokens. They also increased the time of the Structure and Research Tokens. Not the best solution but it was a start.

I was concerned, (as we all were) about the damage we were going to see and the time it would take to do the targets. Based on our initial math it was going to take more than twice the amount of targets to get to the same point.  But I was willing to wait and see what the targets were like.

So they loaded the FM changes  


Wait, wot???  The tokens have an expiration to redeem???  WTF!! There goes all the extra time to do the FM. 6 days to do the FM??....not so much.

Hmm, okay maybe these new targets won't be so bad. Let me take a peek at a target maybe this will be quicker than expected, even with the extra targets needed.

Challenge Accepted!!  Hold my Martini guys while I go try a new 115 target......

(Editor's note: At this point I can clearly hear a sexy Aussie accent filing the room up with expletives that even a sailor would appreciate!)

Errr... Houston we have a problem.

What goober thought it was a good idea to put "Assault Class Rhinos from Hell" in a Garrison target???  Kixeye I am looking at you.  YOU made the target classes. It is  right there on that handy dandy info screen on the target itself.

It says "Garrison".  Not "Garrison with a super-sized side order of Assault".

You  stated when you released the target types that the ships would be stationary or slow moving.  No where in that description (below) when you released the target types does it state that I will need a damn Assault class ship to kill Rhinos from Hell in a Garrison Target.








I expected to take more damage. I knew I was not going to do the FM for instant repair. I knew that there would be a learning curve. I did NOT expect to be blocked from completing the FM.

There is no learning curve when you take massive amounts of damage from a fleet of stupid over powered ships that do not belong in the FM targets.

When a tank with three...yes I said THREE Charged M armors, 4 x phalanx 4 anti missile and 96% Pen damage protection as well as 69% evade looses a quarter of its health and most of its armor charge from ONE set of ships then we have an issue.  There is nothing I can do to improve these numbers.  Oh, and by the way, the only reason I could get to that point was because I spent $$ on speeding up a Hunter build to clear my shipyard and I happened to have Zelos tokens in my inventory.  My original fleet that did the FM with no issues (unless operator error) disintegrated to ONE set of ships. You can be the best driver in the world but nothing is going to mitigate that damage.

Again, I am not going to use a second incorrect target type fleet to clear the ships in a basic chore target that should not eviscerate my top of the line FM fleet in targets that were not supposed to change until July 2018 (Your schedule of map target changes not mine).

Enough of the 115. Okay, so the 103 is the same.  I guess I could give up any sort of real life and grind them for 5 days to get my weekly done. Goodbye getting anything else done it the game if it takes 5 days to grind out the FM.

Surely the 89 cannot be that bad?  Whoah....a Gauntlet.  I guess that hoses anyone with a citadel fleet.  I guess that is why we keep seeing offers for monos and IceBreakers (which by the way were illegal builds and die in the targets as well but I digress).  The 88 was the bread and butter for lower levels.  Not any more. They are reduced to hitting even lower targets for more time and less points. But wait, those lower targets changed as well.  Hang on, why did the 82 and the other lower targets change?  You explicitly stated the only changes were the re-balance of the 88 and 113. Did someone load the incorrect targets??  Hellloooooo??? What happened here?

At this point I just give up. There are no positives to this change. If a player cannot do the FM they cannot get the tokens, they cannot progress and there is no longer any point in playing the game.

This is not a challenge to beat the targets and get the points down.  There is no way anyone can get their FM done in the short amount of time required to get the tokens unless they coin or they use multiple fleets. You monetized the FM. This is the ONE thing that you HAD to leave alone.

If the 78 pages (at the time of this rant) of complaints and the feedback from ALL the shows and ALL the pages is not enough to convince you of this monumental fail then go run a query of how many points players have. (Editor's note: Exclude the psychos trying to help the community that ran up points trying to figure out how to mitigate this cockup.)  Go run a query of how many bases have been scrapped in the 48 hours.  Go count the amount of posts all over the place from people at all levels that have quit.

These are not just casual players, a lot of these are coiners and some of them coin massively.  People are walking away.

I don't know how to make this any clearer. If you are losing revenue and players, forcing those that remain to coin is NOT a solution. All you do is alienate those that remain. You are driving more players away and on a much larger scale than ever before. The game cannot sustain itself if it continues to lose players.

Most of us are reasonable, if you tell us you are listening and will be making adjustments then most of us probably will wait and see what they are.    Don't just respond with "we are listening to your feedback".  That tells me and other players nothing and just infuriates us even more. FFS, stop listening and start talking. It is pretty dam obvious this is screwed up. Get on the forum and tell us what you are doing to fix it!!

Solution??


I know you cannot roll the code back at this point. I know the data has changed and would be an absolute nightmare to back out and return the original FM. I know we are committed to this format.

What you CAN do, is between this FM and next, adjust the targets.  Next week is the raid (if anyone even bothers) You have a little extra time. If you cannot put the 113 back into play then remove the ships from the 115 (or make them what they should be, an easy kill with a garrison fleet and have them deal low damage).

Return the lower targets to what they were before the change, just adjust the points like you have on the 103's.

I am not sure if you realize just how bad this is. You have just over a week to fix this.....If you do not respond accordingly and make adjustments you WILL lose the game. The ball is in your court.


Cranky Roo.





Monday, October 23, 2017

Sprinting Ahead

A Look at the New Countermeasure Weapon





With the uproar about the changes to the Forsaken Mission, a shining little diamond has been overlooked - the Sprint Countermeasure.

This has been exacerbated  a little because of the flavor text reference to the Trident. Likely because of this reference, most everyone has sort of shelved the Sprint as being a really heavy version of the Trident, discounting it without really looking it over much. This is a grave mistake.



I will grant you- it is a heavy piece of machinery. 550 tons to be exact, however, I think it might be a bit light for the power this thing houses. Yes, you read that right. The reason I say this is because my point of comparison is not the lowly Trident that was pulled out of obscurity during the preliminary testing of the Garrison raid targets. No, rather, my point of comparison is nothing less than the inestimable Phalanx IV, the stalwart and gold standard that we have in the game for 'one-shot' countermeasures. Why? I'm glad you asked....



The Sprint seems to have pulled most of the best parts from both the Trident and the Phal4 and is a devious piece of machinery. I'm actually rather worried about what is coming into the FM because of this blueprint and its apparent power. (I did sort of rant about the FM changes here already.) Let's peek under the hood...


  • With a base range of 60 it is a little shy of the Trident but well above the Phal4.
  • It has the projectile speed of the Trident, easily surpassing the Phal4.
  • While much heavier than the Trident, it is significantly lighter than the Phal4.
  • It has a better accuracy than either.
  • It has the quickest reload time, which plays a significant role in the grand scheme of things.


Given that last one, let's look at an aspect that we have to account for in order to gain a better picture of the averaged time it takes to get projectiles in the air. This really isn't something we've looked at much before so let's take a gander now:



Taking into account the Projectile Time (dividing cycle time by projectiles to get an idea of an averaged time/proj), it seems that you lose very little in terms of projectiles in the air versus the gain you get in terms of accuracy and increased range. The increased range is also very important (in conjunction with the projectile speed) in that it also negates, in practice, some of the time disparity against the Phal4 comparison in terms of practical cycle time. The Sprint also offers another interesting option that can make it even more powerful - it s affected by Subaquatic Propellant. Who wants to do the math?

So, that's the quick and dirty write up for my preliminary observations on the Sprint. Now what do you think of the Sprint Countermeasure?


Sunday, October 22, 2017

You're Doing WHAT With the FM?

A Practical Look at the Potential Changes


by: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   




This is a rant. Honestly, I don't really expect anyone to read through it, however, I DO hope someone at Kixeye is bored on the shitter long enough to ply through this. It's not polished, but, I think it needs to be said and needs to be said before this 'idea' is implemented to the detriment of the game.

Here's the thing. I was toying with the idea of writing a follow up to the We Need to Talk article. It seems many points there have still been ignored and more have come up and no one is really looking at the overall demand that is placed on the playing community. It's still percolating through my mind, however, reviewing the new Forsaken Mission changes... this has me worried and set aside any thought to a follow up to the former article... for now.

One of the things Kixeye likes to do is tell us when we are getting value. I don't know if it is hubris on their part, or that they think we really are that ignorant that we can't figure out value ourselves. What I can say is that this constant double-talk and salesmanship has made a great many players think of Kixeye and their 'press-releases' in the same vein as used car salesmen. This is not good.

I've said these things several times in the course of the last year:


  • The community as a whole is pretty damn sharp. Credit is due, not condescension.

  • A person's perspective IS their reality.


These two things alone should be high on the list of guiding principals when deciding to administer change to any meta in the game. From FM, to Raid, to Chores. What exactly are you asking of your players overall?? Clearly the company is aware of psychological tactics, so I am a little confused as to why they also don't apply some basic psychological principles to the overall experience. It should be a far more organic engagement of the players than the forced engagement we are seeing... at least in my opinion.




Barring that slight rant, let me get to the issue that is really not sitting well with me- and full disclosure- only two aspects of the proposed FM change is really bothering me personally. This is because I have the luxury of being caught up and having several fleets available that I can use to adapt to whatever change is looming over us in the days ahead. Many players are not in as a good position.

This is, once again, an issue wherein the whole must be looked at in order to appreciate what exactly the problem is. This does NOT improve my gaming experience. This is NOT going to help players get 'caught up'. The theory behind some of the intended changes do hold that potential, however, the execution is severely lacking if that was truly a guiding principle used for this design. Let's review...

Beginning next FM cycle, there will be the following changes:


  • The Prize Redemption has changed to a Raid-style Store set-up.
  • You have access to Tokens every week.
  • You must either be caught up or claim a prize from a Tier to be able to purchase a Token in that Tier.
  • Players can claim as many prizes as they choose if they have the points for them.
  • Tiers do NOT have fixed prices for the prizes therein.
  • There are no resets. The timer for the FM runs for 6 days 12 hours.
  • No Uranium.
  • 113 and 88 are being 'rebalanced' into the 115 and 89.


On the surface there are some glaring concerns, and this is where I'm going to be writing even more free form writing than I've done to this point. I'll try and not chase rabbits down holes too much.




Tokens :

The first thing that every player is frantically doing the math for is the tokens. I know some people are using last month as a basis of comparison while others are using a free floating example. To me, I use general historical practice, not exceptions here and there. In looking back, what the general practice seems to have mainly been, for players that were caught up was a 2 day token the first week, the full boat on only the second run of the second week and the third week would be the full boat for both runs.

19 to 27 days of tokens. That is our baseline. Under the new changes we will be able to claim a token in each tier after either claiming a single prize in that tier, or immediately if the tier is complete. While this is a good thing with respect to the week immediately following raid (to help with VXP weekend) the overall effect is not. In a three week cycle we are reduced to 15 days of tokens. To exacerbate the issue, our build times never came down with the switch to the 3 month raid cycle. Our 'value' is reduced in two ways, or, another way that the players look at it is that our cost to play has increased. That is a 21- 44% decrease in tokens.

 For a 4 week cycle, we have old values of 29- 39 days vs. 20. This is when it gets really bad. The decrease in tokens during a 4 week cycle is a whopping 45-49%!!

On top of that we get to outright lose half (50%) of our research and structure build tokens. This seems particularly heinous given the position many players are in with regard to these areas because of the OP10 drop and all the additional items in the Retrofit Lab.

And the last thing? That 'Expired' next to the Token in the picture Kixeye supplied. Do they have a separate timer that is shorter than the FM timer? Does it start when you start your FM or does it start when the FM starts? This is information that probably should be shared well before the FM changes are implemented.




Engagement/Time Commitment:

The next brilliant idea was to increase our required interaction time. In the past, you needed seven 113 targets in order to complete your FM. At 5 min 20 sec a run (I just grabbed the time it took from one of the vids) total actual engagement time to fully complete an FM was 37 min 20 sec., not counting search time.

Looking at the numbers now, we will need around 12 115s to accomplish the same in the new FM structure. That is going to be 64 minutes of total actual engagement time IF the 115 doesn't take any longer to run and IF you can run them for as little damage as you could run the 113s. I'm not wiling to take that bet. Which is a great segue into...




Target Changes :

I know, I know, people are going to say 'Why not wait until we see the targets?', or 'They might be easier.". Yea... remember please, the rest of the targets aren't getting 'rebalanced'. The 103, which will be the same target as we hate now, is a measly 70,000 points. Does anyone truly believe that the new 115 is going to be easier than the 113 (and 103) and dish out a whopping 275,000 points?? Really? Common sense dictates otherwise.

What really does worry me is the change to the 88. This is what was released for the 88 change that happened only 3 moths ago:

"We have decreased the difficulty in the level 82 & 88 FM targets based on data regarding
 these targets. You may notice some slight changes to these two templates. We've added some
 non-combat structures to aid with the pathing while on auto, and should not  affect damage 
output of this target. We've also locked the entry position of these  two targets to ensure a 
more consistent experience each time. Overall, the damage should be noticeably lower."


The data clearly showed issues with these targets, and, because of this intended change, the 88 became the  de facto target that got players into the FM solidly. We have videos and articles showing players how to engage into the FM and help them progress so that they don't get frustrated and quit. That's changing. So now we have a 'gift' to the low- and mid-level players that is being taken back. According to Thomas Hutchinson, in his 1765 History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, he had a specific term for this. Given it is currently considered a pejorative term, I'll let everyone choose or guess the term.

Oh, I almost forgot... no more Uranium in the FM? That makes sense. Force those players that rely on that small token of Uranium to build fleets with shipyard time they likely don't have in order to do more chores in order to get the item that was taken away from them to begin with. With 2 weeks notice. Hmmm...




Points Inflation :

In the past, you had a guarantee against point inflation with the hard cap of the tier point structure. Now we don't have the safety of even that, but instead we have an open-ended price structure that can easily be abused. Worst case? Maybe. Have you seen some of the pricing of limited items in recent raids lately?

Pricing has never been something players have been happy about in this game. Leaving this as an open-ended structure is something that makes me apprehensive. Not a feeling you want to engender in your customers. Even with this open-ended structure, we are still prize blocked from Tokens unless we grind out all the prizes in the first week so we have nothing but tokens in the latter weeks... IF nothing is added in the interim. Yea, can you tell I'm not at all sanguine about the prospects this provokes in my mind.



Transition :

As of right now, there is no transitionary period. It is scheduled as an absolute change on the map. Given the enormity of the change to the foundation of the game, this is a patent mistake. There should be some sort of transition time where both targets are on the map so that players have a chance to get used to both the targets as well as the new point structure. Changing both without giving your customer some sort of time to adapt to the multiples of changes is a guaranteed way to stress your customers. Do we really need any more of that in this game?


Monkey's Paw Wish :

I'm not sure if this is a running joke at Kixeye or if they think it's funny to couch this sort of change thusly:

"We have a few major changes to the Forsaken Missions (The FM) next week.  We have 
heard your feedback that you were not able to always redeem the prizes you wanted,
 since they were gated behind other prizes. To fix this we are changing the way you are
 awarded prizes in the FM. " 

Not sure "our" feedback ever said to make it more difficult, more time consuming, less rewarding and more frustrating. I'm not sure exactly how to take this sort of 'couching'. The particular aspect referenced is as old as the FM and has absolutely nothing to do with the changes made overall. I'm not sure what, in any way, that reference has to do with the entirety of the changes that are clearly not player friendly other than to try and sugar coat it for the unwary. I'm sorry, but I really do not like to be condescended to as though my mental faculties are deficient.




Clearly, there is more, but I'm tired, hungry and annoyed now. I think I got the main points of concern for most of what I'm hearing. There is more, but enough... for now. I wonder if my fleet is going to still be 'good' for a year as I was told...