I think this thread has gotten way off track with some poorly reasoned ideas of what makes a good game. None of the ideas present are new, but they keep cropping up.
IMO the engine/graphics/etc look just fine as is. Aesthetics > graphics every time anyways, and I think the entire package goes very well together. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. I would love actual volumetric clouds and oceans but the reality is that once people (myself included) have seen it once odds are they’ll rarely, if ever, stop and smell the roses, as this is a combat focused game. If this game were more an exploratory type game then yes this will take more priority.
As much as I would like the building blocks to an Infinity MMO, I think that getting this game in it’s extremely limited scope is the best way forward.
Looking at the discussion so far, I think there’s a general misconception that content = retention. This is not strictly true, in fact the opposite is often times the case. It may be true in some cases, but that’s besides the point. I will briefly summarize my thoughts on the matter.
Most games don’t rely on large amount of content to be maintain a player base. Case in point, CS:GO. That game has been around for years and it’s a running joke of how a re-skin of a gun is considered ‘content’, however the game is more or less the same content wise, and still maintains a large player base. Same with PS2, CoD, and other similar titles. Dota 2 or LoL are other prime examples. They release one or two new heroes a year, but it’s the same map, same objective. Content wise these games are severely lacking.
Now look at games such as E:D or Warframe, both of which I’ve played. I’m sure there are many others in the same boat. Warframe lives in more recent memory, so I’ll use this example first. In terms of content = retention, Warframe is caught in a vicious cycle, and has been for years, of players jumping on after a massive ‘content’ update, completing months/years worth of work in a handful of days or even hours at the most, then they all falloff, lurking until the next content update. The actual breadth of content is quite large (if a bit shallow) as the game has been out for 7 or 8 years now. E:D is in a similar boat, except they haven’t had a single meaningful content update for seemingly years now.
Now, E:D and Warframe and similar games such as SC all have decent player retention. But it’s not really due to the varied amount of content within them. For veteran players, esp. in Warframe’s case, it’s more of either a social experience or simply a way to wind down by doing the same mission loops over and over again.
This topic is very broad and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of it, but I’m going to move on to my next point. I’m not claiming to be an expert in this area anyways, this has just been my experience and observations.
If the devs start tacking on features in order to improve player retention, they will very quickly get into the same boat that E:D, Warframe, SC, and many other games are finding themselves in. Players will get used to the loop, and fall off when they’ve finished the latest patch. Furthermore, this game will inevitably be compared to much larger games that have already been well established in this genre.
Assuming that all your content ideas are added, what is this game compared to E:D/SC/NMS?
Especially considering the small dev team (literally only one full time person atm), this game will always be a far cry from even a 3 star game with a modest dev team will accomplish. You complain about lack of development, how much slower would it be if suddenly Flav had to make mining/exploring/clouds/oceans/trade/whathaveyou? It will always be behind larger companies and their games. Other games have much greater head-start ‘content’ wise, why would a new player spend his time in a feature lacking game when there’s another game in the same genre that’s been out for years and has way more stuff to do in it?
All things reasonably considered, the only way this particular game is to survive is to do one thing, and one thing well. That puts it in CS:GO realm, which compared to E:D, is much easier to do. Making this game a focused experience is the only hope this game actually has, and, all things considered, fantasies that say otherwise are extremely short sighted, no matter how well meaning.
Getting back on topic, which is fixing retention in for this game, instead of complaining about what this game doesn’t have content wise that will never happen and will ultimately spell doom for the project, let’s think of some mechanics that can keep players in.
IMO, retention is synonymous with progression. The reason, as I have argued earlier, is that if your idea of retention is content, most players will blow through it very quickly, and immediately fall off waiting for the next patch, if it even gets that far.
So I don’t want to harp on that old thread again, and instead explain my idea for some easily obtainable means to implement player progression. Players love the new and shiny, the problem is with making the new and shiny easily reproducible.
Of course, all of the following is built upon a reasonably polished game loop and experience. Also this idea relies on most weapons being roughly equal in power, more of side grades than strict upgrades, a la PS2, which does a decent enough job of this. At least when it is in regard to the game just starting. I believe this is the plan, but I want to make it clear.
My idea focuses on a progression system that’s similar to PS2’s in some ways. And I hope to stone two birds at once.
This idea isn’t earth-shatteringly unique or anything, but I hope to spur the discussion in the right direction.
Players earn “Tickets”, which are granted after earning a certain number of XP performing certain activities playing the game. Think of tickets as an alternative resource alongside credits. These tickets can be exchanged for weapons and ships.
See, there’s this ongoing discussion on what to do about players that aren’t into the fighter combat, but like playing with capital ships.
With the ticket system, players can pre-configure any ship of their choosing and be able to spawn it at the beginning of a match for free. The more tickets they have, the wider variety of weapons and more ships that they can unlock and equip. An entire economy can be built on pre-configuring ships. Add in skins and other goodies, and you have a decent incentive to keep players playing.
Arbitrary number time:
For example, let’s say that a new player starts with say 600 tickets. Any ship that you want to select for first spawn costs 500 tickets, so the player spends the 500 on unlocking the cruiser. 100 tickets left can go for some upgrades to systems or weapons. As the player gets more xp, and thus more tickets, more weapons and upgrades are added. Another 500 can be spent for a different ship, maybe 10,000 for the ability to spawn an additional ship, for a maximum of X number, within a certain time frame, maybe a higher amount of tickets to spawn the same type of ship.
There will be maintenance and balance issues, but honestly it shouldn’t be that hard.
Uber veteran players can have additional AI fleets thrown at their tricked out cruiser, requiring more team coordination to protect early assets. Weapons that are upgrades to starter weapons are credit-earned only, along with station nuking and orbital bombardment. Simple is good, and often times the best.
I can wax on about this idea, but I think the idea is fairly well presented. I’ll end this post for now, but I look forward to some more positive thinking and idea generation. There’s been enough negativity on this topic, and it’s not getting anybody anywhere.