A Practical Look at the Potential Changes
by: George Argyropoulos
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.
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.
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.
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. "
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...