Growing Pains (aka The Devs are not really Out To Lunch)

animaniactooanimaniactoo Posts: 484 Mover and Shaker
This is probably TL:DR for many people, but I think it’s worth following me through.

I’ve mentioned before that I work in PD. From a product development standpoint, I’ve put together what I believe is the logic behind a bunch of moves made over the past year and change. Ultimately, I believe that these moves addressed player concerns and were beneficial for addressing some core needs for the game to grow and continue.

To start, I think we have to begin at defining the problem: As the game aged, people were achieving levels that meant that matches are taking too long and taking up too much daily time for players. This was an issue that was only going to get worse over time.

These are the core things that have been done to solve it (so far):
• New characters who start dealing damage early and often and get you out of the match faster and on to the next, hopefully with useable health levels for your characters. If you look at who is in the Class of 2017, there are a lot of “get special tiles on the board fast” “double up effectiveness with unlocking extra abilities and active/passive combos on the same color” “passive ap gatherers” “passive damage dealers” “enemy ap/ability limiters”. A trend that was starting even before that, but I think really took over this past year.

• Get these characters into people’s hands FAST. Ahead of the usual pace.

• PVE scaling update to let players have more control over the amount of time they’re playing for the rewards they want (or are willing to accept as a trade-off).

• Limit node grinding ability and appeal.

• Potential PVP rework to make progression rewards achievable based only on your own effort, while still retaining defensive element for placement achievement/competition

—————————————————————

I think that 90% of the issues that we’ve had with the big picture come from lack of clarity (via lack of good communication to players) about this piece of it:

• Get these characters into people’s hands FAST. Ahead of the usual pace.

AND from a lack of foresight on the devs part about how damaging some of the moves intended to help were going to be for a lot of the player base because they were SO focused on this goal.

To make it happen, they had to raise the probability that people would draw those covers. So they introduced Vaulting. I think this was much more carefully thought out than most people have given the devs credit for. At one point, I found a list of all the vaulted characters that compared them to the still active. By FAR all of the vaulted characters had bigger drawbacks. Underpowered. Big powers that required a lot of AP to activate to the point that even things that helped to speed it along took forever to make happen. Did damage to your own character/team member for relatively little gain (I’m looking at you Sentry).

They split the legendary pack to make it easier to focus on building these newest characters and increased CP in rewards to make more draws possible and the costlier ones more worthwhile if that’s where you chose to focus (and where they really wanted you to focus on top of it).

And they added additional ways to get even more covers than you would normally get with Bonus Heroes which I think they saw partially as a way of alleviating vaulting for people who only need a couple of covers to finish someone out and make them more usable, but ALSO as a primary way to hurry up and build new characters.

Next, need to be able to level these characters and get them usable sooner. So available ISO-8 was increased in a variety of ways: DDQ rework, progression rewards, alliance bonus, shield rank bonus, and so on. 

HP similarly increased to the point that even at the end of last year, when I was finishing out my 3* tier and hadn’t done much if anything with my 4*s yet, I’d started being able to keep up with and exceed what I needed for any new roster spots. Heroes for Hire store became another avenue to get people those covers fast as they started to land in that excess territory as well.

I’ve come to the conclusion that while dilution is and was a real issue and while I think that the 3:1 draw rate is a better solution for the game longterm, vaulting was necessary to get us over that hump.

But – if I’m correct about everything (or most of) what I’ve laid out here, I wish the Devs had just been upfront and clear in the face of the months of pushback: “We’ve identified a major weakness in the game, and in order to help people build these newest characters as quickly as possible to address it, we need to limit the available characters. We hope to be able to reintroduce the vaulted characters in the future and ask you to please bear with us.” I think it would have gone over so much better than the “Rah rah rah, these changes are ALL great” and then (primarily) silence even as they continued to make moves to attempt to address players’ concerns. 

Comments

  • brollbroll Posts: 4,723 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited October 2017
    @animaniactoo I think you're probably right.

    I also think they've now somewhat moved past that and are dealing with the next problem (problems) 5* tier:
    • SCL based scaling roster solves the bookend problems of new players getting 5*s wrecked scaling and end game players having ridiculous scaling
    • They seem to be trying out multiple ideas for changes to 5* acquisition (more limited stores, paring older 5*s into them, possibly intentionally testing higher drop rates but claiming it's a bug)
    • Now they are trying out 5* required nodes and 5* boosts in PvE.
    • ? Coming soon SCL10 that actually awards 5*s ?
  • bluewolfbluewolf Posts: 4,070 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited October 2017
    You could be right about all this.  And you are correct about the impact.  But here's something else vaulting did:

    Vaulting allowed you to plan pretty precisely for your roster growth.  You were flooded with new characters, but once you got on top of it, you could just bonus or chase one hero at a time while keeping up with new characters, assuming you played enough.

    The surprise factor was basically gone. Ex:  the last unchamped vintage hero I have currently is Spider-Gwen, mostly because she has no feeder.  I have a cover on the vine and iso now, because she randomly came from a Heroic token.  Not bonus, just random.  The odds are pretty small, but that never would have happened without unvaulting.

    And the surprise "pain" of a cover leads to:  saving HP for roster slots.  Frantic iso raising.  Using CP. Maybe... $?

    Look, few game changes can be said to be caused by just one thing.  Or have just one result.  But I would guess that spending dropped a little when vaulting was in place.

    One other thing:  you are correct that the new characters speed up matches, and also added sorely needed new types of abilities (basically, passives and finding ways to build teams beyond "rainbow").  The old character design model (collect AP! Bam! Repeat.) was getting very stale, and I think would have led to declining interest if it continued.
  • animaniactooanimaniactoo Posts: 484 Mover and Shaker
    broll said:
    @animaniactoo I think you're probably right.

    I also think they've now somewhat moved past that and are dealing with the next problem (problems) 5* tier:
    • SCL based scaling roster solves the bookend problems of new players getting 5*s wrecked scaling and end game players having ridiculous scaling
    • They seem to be trying out multiple ideas for changes to 5* acquisition (more limited stores, paring older 5*s into them, possibly intentionally testing higher drop rates but claiming it's a bug)
    • Now they are trying out 5* required nodes and 5* boosts in PvE.
    • ? Coming soon SCL10 that actually awards 5*s ?
    Yeah, I agree that the 5* tier is the next space. I am sure it was always down the road, but I imagine it might have been sped up a bit by people having more of them rostered now (due to the speedup on rostering the new 4*s) and the debates I've seen about the value of being in 5* star land regardless of wrecking your scaling.
  • animaniactooanimaniactoo Posts: 484 Mover and Shaker

    bluewolf said:
    You could be right about all this.  And you are correct about the impact.  But here's something else vaulting did:

    Vaulting allowed you to plan pretty precisely for your roster growth.  You were flooded with new characters, but once you got on top of it, you could just bonus or chase one hero at a time while keeping up with new characters, assuming you played enough.

    The surprise factor was basically gone. Ex:  the last unchamped vintage hero I have currently is Spider-Gwen, mostly because she has no feeder.  I have a cover on the vine and iso now, because she randomly came from a Heroic token.  Not bonus, just random.  The odds are pretty small, but that never would have happened without unvaulting.

    And the surprise "pain" of a cover leads to:  saving HP for roster slots.  Frantic iso raising.  Using CP. Maybe... $?

    Look, few game changes can be said to be caused by just one thing.  Or have just one result.  But I would guess that spending dropped a little when vaulting was in place.

    One other thing:  you are correct that the new characters speed up matches, and also added sorely needed new types of abilities (basically, passives and finding ways to build teams beyond "rainbow").  The old character design model (collect AP! Bam! Repeat.) was getting very stale, and I think would have led to declining interest if it continued.
    Yeah, I went through about a 10 week period at the end of last year (basically all of October into early-mid December) where I was on this crazy hamster wheel of champing my 3* tier and I couldn't get off because every single time I'd just finished champing somebody and had half a second to breathe, I'd pull the 13th useable cover for somebody I had expiring covers on the vine for and then I had to hurry up and champ them.

    I am sure that throughout all of this they have looked for ways to exploit some of it, and get themselves paid and that's been a factor in decision making, but I'm sure at the same time that the overall health of the game has been the bigger factor. Including your point about the old character design model getting stale.

    I hope they will continue to update and rebalance the older characters and keep them useable/relevant... at least for their boost weeks. A lot of that comes from a very nerdy space of just wanting to be able to play with those characters, but I suspect I'm not alone there and I think that's an important factor for the devs to take into account as they move forward.
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