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...


  1. Very well said !!From the poll's i have taken, 98% really think they don't care what we think ..All i do do is take up server space . Because they sure haven't earn any coin from me in at least 4 or 5 months .. The last i bought was 95 coins for $4.99.. An still have some of them

    1. Yep, they teased us with those deals, 5x 95 at 4.99 each. I bought 25.00 worth. Then they offered 70,, nope, and now I'm hesitant to buy the 105 at 9.99. They screwed up offering those deals, LOL
      I'm Ghostrider-HD on game.

  2. I missed the fangtooth and Had bad experience with the hunter. As being lvl 99 after one month i have been feeling falling back. I don't do Base hitting these times As i am fed up with getting res, base parts, ur and doing weekly. These changes, even to read, what the are up to, kill my enthusiasm for playing. Ive got a normal Job already and don't need a second one. These decisions might kill me as a daily Player and a low coiner... Wohnt get the fun back

  3. I agree. I admit, I dont get to worked up about changes, been playing a long time. But.. and I stress BUT... the change to FM was so fast, and with the pace of the overall game now... it gives one pause (as it does me) is it worth spending the money, if its got such a short life span. Or worse, to find out they changed or went back on what they said. Trust issues for sure. That is not the place most people will comfortably spend hard money. Junky, Sec 238

  4. as long as you have gridiron and monos you should be fine...After all that is the TOP garrison fleet according to kixeye ;)

    1. The Gridiron sucks for use as a tank in the targets. It really needed an accuracy buff for the antis more slots for them and the Duality. That is why most use a Zelos with Monos.

    2. I’m lol 106. I left the game for 6 months. I’ve recently come back and found I’m so far behind even the FM as it is now is impossible to do. Having to build fleets to do the weekly stops me building anything to do the raids. So I’m always in a position of having no chance of getting any raid prizes. So god help the newer players. the choice of taking tokens as a prize would help players catch up over a few weeks. But that’s not a choice. So the reasons for these changes do sit well kixeye.

    3. i am in the exact same boat however, for a player ur lvl i would advise getting a raid fleet done first and foremost. my personal rout was to build an ironclad as i could hit ddrac bases for base parts and DUB's for uranium with the same fleet and i only needed 1 hull built to do it. then i concentrated on a raid fleet that, with a bit of help from a friend could get me through a raid. after raid i built hunter shells in time for VXP and got them ranked. now i will slow equip them before next raid at which time i will worry about my FM fleet and be back on track

  5. I agree with the write up. I am glad you were able to articulate it so well. The "couching" they supply with the s**t sandwich, is and always has been frustrating and a bit obnoxious.

  6. you left off the extra 30 build days per month from the conq shipyard. net way in front.

    1. Not really. It is only a net gain if you play PvP. Additionally, it is a revenue generation idea by Kixeye. PvP offers a higher chance of people coining. Since most players are precluded from PvP due to the build times and requirements of PvE, the Conqueror yard is **not** a net gain of build time for the player, but a potential additional revenue stream for Kixeye.

    2. Yeah, not so much. My regular shipyard is not being held up by PvP fleet activity, nor has it been for months. Simply having that 2nd shipyard is not going to speed up my PvE fleet needs in any way, shape, or form, even if I ever get it built in the first place. It pretty much seems like everything Kix has been putting into the game, over the last few months especially, is simply a way to try to squeeze money out of us. Very manipulative.

    3. I agree on Fm part George,but personally i find new shipyard very helpfull, well i will be when its finished,sure its each players choice to engage into PvP or not but in my opinion PvP is the heart of this game-smashing bases was big thing in the beginning lol and i miss that,however i must admit lots of peeps dont understand deflections,special abilities stats,100% defense handicap etc.

    4. I didn't say it wasn't helpful, I said that assuming a net gain of 30 days of build time due to the Huggy's was fallacious. It really is only allowing people back into PvP which is a revenue stream, not a favor to us. ;)

    5. 3 months plus tokens is easily enough to get both pve fleets out fully built and refit.

  7. The "prizes" people were complaining about were the over-represented Generalist and PvP specific prizes... A lot of people have literally ZERO use for any of them...

    From the forum post, They're all still in there...

    Seriously speaking, The last FM Prize I actually put on a hull would have been Muddle... 13 pieces of useless crap after it before tokens...

  8. I know the term "money grab" gets used a lot RE: Kixeye changes. And I get accused of being part of the "tinfoil hat" crowd when I bring it up...but I would love to know how this is NOT a coin grab? I'm all in favor of the prize structure change, but no reset? No Ur? Fewer tokens? I would rather keep prize structure the same than have all the MONEY GRAB changes...

  9. Spot on, I just hope that the blinders and ear plugs are removed as the folks at game central can understand it.

  10. Well...... see you writing something like this, are from one site are fills good, ( I was say this for years) but from other site. It is a very bad, if you are start build rage and frustration to points, when you write it. But what I know lol?

    1. You mean being from TFC? Look, we try to keep a positive outlook on that page and show because we really do want to focus on helping and improving gameplay for the players. That does NOT mean we agree with everything. Our position there is 'Here are the cards we've been dealt, how can we help people given the hand?"

      We very frequently voice our disagreement and/or displeasure. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the more vociferous ones of the group in fact when it comes to that, but... that is not the point of the page. There are other pages and shows in which it is more fitting to express these things, such as the Crib, which is one reason I do both shows. They have distinctly different personalities and I am deft enough to adapt accordingly. I think...

  11. I honestly believe Kixeye is losing money hand over fist...They want to run people out of the game so they can justify closing it to the investors and they hope enough people go inactive before the close down to help ward off the inevitable class action lawsuit that will follow...Kixeye frequently does the old bait and switch routine and that is an illegal practice...Best thing to do is hold your wallet back from them,if you paid with a credit card contact them and file a charge back on all your transactions with them claiming fraud...Tell them why u are claiming fraud and that should at least get your money back..If not and your spending is within your states small claims bounds sue kixeye in small claims court..Make sure to have yourself prepared with what you have spent including all credit card records for it,and the reasons why you are suing for all the frauds/lies/bait and switch tactics and they are numerous from this company...If kixeye doesn't show up they will lose in court and you will be awarded a judgement against them...Be wise people and good luck in taking back from the company who took so much from this once robust and vibrant community...

    1. If that;s the case, the investors should put a few of us in charge for 6-12 months. I can practically guarantee in my hands I could double the player base and likely increase revenue by 20-33%, though, they may see a loss for the first 3 months. :shrug: Am I cocky? Yup. lol

  12. Good write up and glad to see you didn't 'forget' that open letter to SUXEYE. The reasons (along with many, many more) you just posted are why I have stopped supporting their nonsense with my $$. Saying that, by not spending a dime I am pretty much stagnant with what I can do/game progression, which is just wrong on so many levels, but again, it's SUXEYE we're talking about here. My question to you at this point is why do YOU, DB, continue to play this shit? You know my biggest complaint? Levels. I'm a level 98 and every point of that XP was earned legitimately, not through the ship build glitch or what ever. I've played games my whole life, from console/PC, to board games and RPG's where the player's LEVEL means something. You are REWARDED for progression in the game. BP offers NONE OF THIS from my perspective. What do I have to show for my time, effort and money spent since 2011? A shipyard full of useless hulls, a base full of tech that becomes 'obsolete' seemingly every month now and not an ounce of 'we give a damn' from SUXEYE. Fuck, they won't even refund me the $59 still sitting on my account that I didn't want to 'play down'. How's that after spending a few grand after 6 years of this shit? And you peeps wonder why I troll the pages and rant as I do.

    1. You know, I'm not entirely sure. Part of it is habit, part of it is likely addiction, part of it is probably slipping into a sunken cost fallacy and a good amount of it is the community, enjoyment of figuring things out and helping other players. It is a game that very quickly immerses you into a community that, for the most part, is pretty damn good. It's hard to ignore that aspect.

  13. Totally agree another slap in the face to get more coin and more seat time. Exactly what the game didn't need. If this were good for the player leave the targets the same and the points the same and make it a raid style store with prices the same.

  14. Well said. The game is becoming too consuming on this path, both in time needed and coin needed to stay current.

  15. I don't call this a rant maybe if you were just going off about things that don't matter.Kixeye is driving this game to its death. I am a level 115 been playing around 5 yrs and have seen some very good players leave the game because of the direction its going in and I think about following suit the more they mess it up.Kudos on saying it but I think you wasted your tme as kix doesn't care what the players think anyway.

  16. Well Said George, hit almost every nail right on the head. Lets hope someone is reading this who ca actually make some commonsense changes.