Jump to content

Photo

Making A Free To Play Game: Avoiding The Pitfalls


  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1
SingleAction

SingleAction
  • 8 posts

Hello. I loved the original Warfare 1917, and was excited to hear about an online version of that. I believe it has a lot of potential, and could be a great game. I admit I have one concern, however, which I think a number of people have been expressing.

 

That the Free to Play elements mightn't be properly dealt with, and that it could become a frustrating Pay to Win game. I didn't notice any threads on this topic, so I thought I would start one.

 

There is a playlist of Extra Credits videos I recommend all developers working in the Free to Play market. They're short, interesting, and analyse what can make or break a F2P game, and why so many have fell flat (at the same time, they think there is great potential in the market): https://www.youtube....6gIe-7uD5rZG9ur



I'll additionally leave a few of my thoughts. At times the game feels fine, and others it feels strongly pay to win, where soldiers are like paper before the abilities and troops of paid players who have unlocked the best gear. Balance is critical to the success of a multiplayer competitive game, such as this one. And there are two ways you can balance this:

 

Equality: You try to keep all items equal, where even if you level up you shouldn't get "better" troops, just more options for deck building.

Rankings: Players with the high tier cards never really fight players with the low-tier cards, due to rankings. This second method is very theoretical, though, it's hard to make rankings that accurate. It also requires a LARGE player-base, as normally you just have to fight whoever is playing when you are playing. Even in the case of rankings, having too much of a power gap is unwise.

 

I don't mind either method, but it must be executed well.

 

 

Currently, the biggest problem with play to win, is that some ability cards seem to be much better, and getting the card packs to unlock those boxes is hard (you should let us buy some with silver). What's more, these abilities are so important to who wins, that it starts to become a flip of the coin as to whether you draw the cards you need to win. I've often had to waste points on cards I didn't need at all, in hopes I'd draw a useful one.

 

I recommend some kind of timed shuffle ability, that lets you replace your hand of cards.

 

 

 

I could mention other ideas and concerns, but this is enough for now. I'd like to say I'm optimistic, but I've seen far too many of these games fall short of their potential.


  • 0

#2
MW3ProPiper

MW3ProPiper
  • 806 posts

As for p2w, everything has or is going to have a downside, that's why there's beta and early access, to iron out balance flaws and to allow for a nice mixed and varied meta.


  • 0

#3
Con

Con
  • 4,110 posts

Thanks for the feedback. A lot what you've said is already in place. We've been doing this a long time. 

 

You can't really "pay" your way into unlocking items for units. You have to earn the XP in order to get there, which is only earned through play. 

 

Every competitive game has the same issues, we just need more players as you pointed out. The Early Access pool is very small compared to what we're hoping we end up with after release. Matchmaking will be the ultimate balancer.

 

 

P.S - you can burn cards by dragging them out and into a red box that appears.



#4
SingleAction

SingleAction
  • 8 posts

To be direct, many of these bugs and balance issues are alpha material, not beta. A number of them, players are no extra help to the testing, or even can't be relied on for testing.

 

Who would and should win in a fight, between two units? What if you add in these upgrades? What if this cover is involved? These elements are hard for players to test, and in the heat of battle they will often misunderstand the data or not take note of it. There are almost always other units involved, it's hard to notice when exactly which unit got to cover and how long they were under fire in the open, they can't repeat the test so as to consider random factors. Only glaring oddities will become clear. But even those will be ignored, if the players have a different opinion of which units SHOULD win. Typically, they think their build should win, it is natural--but it isn't conductive to getting feedback on balance.

Seemingly, there is some questionable balance between units, but it is hard to pin down. Sometimes units seem to be picked off very quickly from behind cover, while others sustain fire for close to a minute without losses. But any opinion is basically worthless, as we don't know what load-out our enemies are using to give accurate feedback (we can guess, but few people will guess accurately). The only effective way to accurately measure the strength of different units, is to set up a test map for it, then have the simulation run a hundred or thousand times to make up for random factors.

 

 

Currently, the optimal strategy is to go for maximum range. This forces your enemy to fight from the open, or take one-sided fire. Aggressive strategies that reduce range don't appear to stand up to this except for Assault Troops, as attacks require massed infantry. The game's style doesn't make massing troops particularly practical, except for the snow map. Massing troops and attacking isn't much worse for long-ranged builds, however. You can send one sniper and one MG team, and they'll mow down anything but the strongest defences, and require something like three teams of soldiers to counterattack.

 

But I can only guess at this from several hours of playing. What players are good for, is to determine which builds are the most successful via statistics. If the top players never use the Charge! ability in their deck, it goes to show they're no fools. With a proper analytics systems, you can determine exactly which builds of troops have what stats for kills, deaths, and damage to vehicles.

 

For minutiae, that can be invaluable. All the little factors that stack up, which can't easily be identified in a testing environment. But it seems as though there are many non-minor factors which still need testing.

 

 

 

One other example. Soldiers are frequently not advancing to grenade range, making grenades useless. It seems to be that if you're in cover, and you exit cover while in firing range of an enemy, the soldiers will just leave the safety of cover and not close to use grenades as would be hoped. Players aren't really necessary to find this bug, as it seems to be repeatable and occurs under a common circumstance, but I may be incorrect.

 

 

As for pay to win, there is the problem that a payer can get access to rare cards far more easily. I have seen players summon two heavy vehicles simultaneously due to cards, and have heard of a dreaded Riflemen Spam strategy. It takes a while to amass enough gold to buy packs of cards the traditional way, particularly since quests refresh slowly and the first win of the day gives silver instead of gold. And, really, time is money. If players feel weak in the game till they grind for better cards and troop builds, it will effect their experience.


  • 0

#5
SingleAction

SingleAction
  • 8 posts

Finally got to see the real power of vehicle spam. Four heavy vehicles inside of a minute.


  • 0

#6
SingleAction

SingleAction
  • 8 posts

After fighting some people with all the range bonuses on snipers, who also summoned about ten sniper teams in one match (along with plenty of other infantry), along with dozens of artillery items in quick succession, I give up. No one is willing to discuss what's going on, just get annoyed if you suggest anything isn't perfect.

 

The game will continue to claim to serve up a variety of equal options, while having all the ranged bonuses require the most EXP and silver, with Operations and support cards which are rare and powerful with superfluous drawbacks.

 

This is a true pity, as I really liked this game. But playing a broken match is a waste of my time, and when I eventually got all the ranged upgrades I'd just be doing the same to another poor sob.


Edited by SingleAction, 16 March 2017 - 06:41 AM.

  • 0

#7
Con

Con
  • 4,110 posts

Yep, we're aware range is a problem.

 

It's next on the list for examination. It doesn't feel good, it feels unfair and the negatives associated to it are weak and almost non-existent. 

 

In the meantime, here's all the other things we've been working on.
http://steamcommunit...11757695495058/