A Pirate's Assessment
by: George Argyropoulos
What do we say to the Bounty event? I think everyone (on both sides) is glad to see the end of this one. As I have repeatedly stated, I love the idea and see a lot of potential, however, we have yet to reach either the potential or ( at least in my mind) the full fruition of the idea.
Let me preface by saying this - I got enough to get everything I wanted, and I used a lowly Pride fleet. Particularly after the points adjustments, this was doable for many that enjoy PvP. Were there issues? Yes. Was it fun? Mostly. BUT... Human nature tends to focus on the negative rather than the positive, which is partly what I'm going to do, but I do this not as a 'bash' but to illustrate the issues or concerns that have been shared with me in the hopes that they will be addressed in the next Bounty event. Seriously, the headings are going to sound awful, and some of the stuff will as well, however, please remember that these are issues that players have expressed to me, and repeatedly, in order to show up here and are their perceptions and reality. This doesn't necessarily make them right, but these are many of the issues the community has had, and they need to be addressed for the next Bounty to succeed.
So, these all can be seen several ways, and I certainly can see most of both, but the problem is not whether I can see both sides, but what the community feels. Perception is a person's reality. Whether I, this group, or that group see the color Orange, the color blind person sees it as Yellow, and that is their reality... so everyone take all of this in context, please. I won't argue both sides for the most part as I am merely expressing those views that were shared and heavily repeated with me.
Underhandedness is the first and most prolific complaint I received. In all honesty, I can make an argument for every one of these that I received, from either side of the line, but i digress... I've cut this down to two as these two issues were viewed as the most egregious and really set a tone in the community that was detrimental to everything else and colored the rest of the issues and event.
First on everyone's list is, of course, the Opt In button on the launch ship screen where the 'launch ship' button is. this was annoying, and after the first day, I believe, there was a splash screen to help prevent an accidental entry. Given how fast we click and muscle memory, I doubt that would stop many. I know that's how I got into Bounty before I had even decided, and I could swear I didn't have a splash screen after I clicked. I could be wrong.
Second on this list, and the more insidious one according to many, was blocking the use of the structure repair tokens to repair your dock. This issue was exacerbated by responses like this from CS leading many to believe it was an error that was corrected:
As time progressed, it became clear this was done intentionally. This is probably the only one on the list that I can't come up with a solid alternative reason. Even if it was a purely business decision, the fact that it was not expressed to the community before the start of the event, particularly since they had their own live show, makes this one rankle for the majority of players, and is a good segue into...
The whole Secured / Unsecured mechanic would be the next thing. I know that BP Professor, Jefe and I expressed concern about this early, and Jefe and I asked during the live show Kixeye did, but never got a reply. Personally, I think that this is a fish bowl dilemma wherein they, having worked on the thing closely, thought the answer was obvious and didn't want to waste their time on it and we, looking in, really were asking a legitimate question. Unfortunately, as the TFC show earlier that night had illustrated, it was anything but obvious to the community.
We also had a lot of confusion with regard to a successful defense during Bounty. While Laredo pointed out that there was nowhere in the overview that expressly stated that you would gain bounty for a successful defense, there also was nowhere in the overview wherein it was expressly stated that there would NOT be bounty won from a successful defense. Given that the other PvP interaction we have with regard to bases is the Medal system, you can easily see why players presumed that a defensive win would yield them something. Given how easy it is to exploit that however, it is also clear as to why this was not implemented in Bounty.
This topic, by far, was the biggest cause of complaints over the weekend. Even trying to get a simple list together in this post blew the hell up. The combination of the bugs concurrent with the silence we heard over the weekend was the single most frustrating thing reported to me about the event. I had started that thread on TFC to gather some more information but people were so incensed that the thread blew up entirely. That post is indicative of a great many things if one wanted to read through it and analyze it. The top bugs I have had reported were:
1. Prideful being permanently lost after a stun.
2. Losing 20 bounty for just engaging a base.
3. Bounty generation not accurate or consistent.
4. Guard fleet outside a base doesn't show on the map, nor did the 'shield' of the guard.
5. Getting incorrect, or NO bounty, from a base that showed bounty available.
6. Gate/trap blocking your ability to drive into a base.
These were the top bugs that kept coming up. While we should expect bugs in a new conceptual endeavor, the silence from the company over the weekend made these far worse than had there been open communication. I'm not entirely sure for the reasoning, but I hope that these, as well as the cold shoulder we got over the weekend, are looked at very carefully and addressed before Bounty #2.
Some of the mechanics were clear-cut, some... I struggled with. The idea of shortened bubble times I could follow, however, without counterbalancing the ability to keep your base flat, I'm not sure that the bubble times make much sense. Additionally, with as many people that used a clicking macro (which is NOT allowed by TOS) to stay logged into the game and not force a refresh so their base would begin to repair, this idea needs another look to see if it can be balanced in some way. Those using the clicking macro... 'annoyed' me. Hopefully Kix can come up with something that can sniff that out.
Other things like getting nothing for a successful base defense... while I understand that this mechanic can be exploited, something like a small 'ante' fee (20-50 Bounty) could be added to the secured total of the defender. Could this still be exploited? Of course, and very easily given another of the mechanics in the Bounty, but I'm not here to teach you guys how to break the game... I'm just saying that it should be something to look at before Bounty #2.
Of particular note that I have to give a shout out about... the concurrent repair queues. Yes, repair was problematic, but it was a cool feature. I'd like to see more of it. Wait, that's positive. That's for later... ummm... oh!
The Locator. Yes most of the time mine was blank or was showing me my own alliance members or my sister alliance. I know Kix is already looking into this but I would just like to add my preference: I'd love to see a randomized locator that used the entirety of the world you were in to generate targets. Will this be bulky? I'm not sure, but it would make me giddy.
Flat bases. I think this exploit was pretty clear. Between hitting a gaggle of flat bases and losing 20 Bounty each time just for the privilege of seeing a dead base... well, I think it's pretty clear how everyone feels about that.
The whole secured / unsecured thing and being able to club baby seals. This one is tough. It was clearly implemented to help with the flow of the currency, however, it does need another look. Perhaps if the attacker is higher in overall bounty, they still get the 20% but the baby seal only loses 5% and maybe gets a little longer of a bubble. This would help keep the baby seals' currency longer, help generate more currency for overall currency flow in the game and would still allow targets to populate regularly so players felt engaged.
Bandit Bases :
Honestly, I'm torn about these. While they did help to get me to a secured state one day, I'm not sure a PvE target has a place in a PvP competition. On the other hand, it does offer some semblance of participation for those that do not have any viable PvP fleet(s). Perhaps a limit to how many you could hit, or a block after you hit the middle checkpoint? I'm not sure, but I certainly don't think these should be available enough for people to get 10k in points, unless the prizes again include defensive options. Other than my own qualms, I have to be honest and say that I did not get a single complaint about these targets.
Bounty Uncertainty :
The amount of Bounty that was showing was generally close-ish to accurate, however, in order to get an accurate number you needed to do the 'Base Shuffle'. This was again an important item to note during redemption. Cue segue...
Redemption Issues :
Again we ran into the instability with the Bounty total and displays. What was worse is that when you first claimed something, you could use whatever was displayed rather than the 'correct' amount. I am still unsure why this issue was happening, but again, I hope that it gets looked at very closely before Bounty #2.
Overall Impression :
Just like PvP, it certainly wasn't for everyone, however, given the prizes and the implications of those prizes, it is clear to see why many considered this another raid and required participation. I would like to see this event again, however, next time with the prizes geared strictly to offensive PvP. Defender turrets and hulls really have implications in the passive realm of the game rather than being something just for aggressors in PvP. It is a distinction that should be acknowledged before endevouring down this path again.
That timer on the outside of the bases. Awesome. I want to see that implemented in the game itself. Can it be taken advantage of? Of course,but I'd like to see a live test for a week or two and see how the community feels after that.
The passive generation of Bounty is a great idea. Perhaps it can be balanced in such a way that it would work while in a bubble or some other way so that flat bases can't be exploited again. Though I struggle with how since I can see a way to exploit either path taken here.
The fact that the Kix live show hit over 20k means that many players were interested in this. In all honesty, if they run another, I may be tempted to join in again - this time on purpose.
Let's be honest, the event was full of issues that were compounded by the fact that Kix refused to break their silence - directly or indirectly, until after the weekend. That does not engender and good will with the community. Particularly this one. If they had been visible and accessible during the event, I think that the bugs and issues would have been far less frustrating and annoying. That said...
I actually enjoyed it for the most part. I liked hitting bases, and even though I was relegated to the one Pride fleet that I have built (that was glitched during the event) I had several bases to try (and die in) as well as having my base hit. Perhaps rather than changing the bubbles, they should lengthen the event time. I don't know. This thing is so complex that to come up with viable solutions would require more information than I have access to currently. Additionally, given the current state of the game with regard to chores (or the time sink factor), I don't know how well received this event would be if it were made into a monthly event. As I've said many times, I think this has great potential. The catch is if the company is willing to invest the time into it to slowly see a return rather than trying for an immediate one, and whether this will be implemented in such a way that we get a second monthly 'raid'. Quarterly might be palatable but monthly needs a 'This Warn You' sticker slapped on it.
So, final words: Fantastic concept, rocky start, a lot of potential, take care in final implementation.
Oh... and if any of this seems a little loopy, I may or may not have been loopy myself with a fever induced delirium whilst writing part, or all of this and refusing to take my medicine so I could 'think clearly'. I think it's time for my chicken noodle soup... Good night everyone.