Progression and long term motivation

#1

Infinity: Battlescape is a great game. Already. There are some excellent reviews out there. Not everyone shares that opinion of course but generally, especially if they were looking for an experience like they get here, people are amazed.
What has been critiqued a bit though, also from people who loved it, is that the content in itself, what the game has to offer, is a bit limited. Long term motivation might drop for many people.

Same goes for me personally. I have no idea how much I played this. After a while, I regularly burn out after a certain patch … mainly due to missing long term goals that could motivate me to … yeah what it is pretty much “grind” a bit.

Here are some suggestions that came up and that came to my mind:

Stuff that is already (almost) there

Self betterment, getting better at the game, Team coordination and co-operative play can be a very long term motivator for many players. It has been for me in my youth and made me play a certain game for thousands of hours. Here, the developer doesn’t have to do much but maintain a consistent and fun game, it ties in a bit with being able to see your own stats as well. As long as the playerbase survives, this will be like a catalyst. I don’t know how much e-sports is a thing for smaller games nowadays, but with a good basis this could also add additional long term motivation.
As mentioned, this was for me personally the strongest motivator ever and no feature whatsoever has ever achieved what playing together towards a goal has achieved.

Ranks / Levels

Ranks are an addition and already planned for Battlescape, as can be seen from the Rank readout in the UI. Ranks could come with many benefits, I will detail those seperately as these benefits can be handed out in any way, not just trough ranking up.
Most games have a Rank/Level maximum/cap with “newer” games having an option to wipe your progress in exchange for something trivial like a small cosmetic and a different rank symbol. This addition can extend the beneficial nature of this feature for long term and intensive players. I personally never used it anywhere as the games I played as intensively were before this became a thing. Other games I have reached max cap often but at that point came back often for the fun of it and didn’t feel like I would ever reach max rank again and loosing all the progress wasn’t worth it.
(Could be called “Sellout to competitor” :wink: )

Stats and/or Leaderboards

Being able to see how long you played, how much you earned, how many kills you did … all of that … seing numbers tick up. It is small but don’t underestimate what a page full of numbers can do. To me this game me a little kick and was also fun to look at while relaxing between matches. Last game where I spend a bit of time looking into that was Overwatch.
Leaderboards are related but more special as it is more about showing off and comparing to others. Giving players a chance to be on top, even if they aren’t the best is also good. By having different leaderboards per server or per time period. There could also be events with seperate leaderboards or leaderboards that looked at things that aren’t just combined points or kills but specific tasks. Too many and they loose their impact though. Rather have temporary leaderboards that get whiped.
I would suggest a global all time one based on points (combined ingame actions), a daily one for the same and one that rotates and wipes every week for different things like PVP kills.
For servers I think it is sufficient to show some kind of stats in the team menu per match.

Unlocks

Pretty much lock certain features behind certain progression. Be it currency or rank. I would advise against locking capital ships behind such a thing, even if it is an option, it is totally different gameplay that many people would like.
What could be locked is the plethora of abilities that all the ships already have and that I guess there will be more. Certain ships could be locked like the bomber or cruiser and carrier.
Mines, Warp Jam, Ramming bonuses(?) … and of course all the weapons.
Edit: Another thing that could be unlocked is new missions or achievements.

Currency

If there is good use for currency, grinding for it may be a nice pastime. It might be dangerous to allow people to use persistent currency in a single match … but that could be one option. Powercreep can be a problem of course. The suggestion from below could help there though.

Loot

Different kind of items. One use. Better ammo. Weapons. Better equipment. Skins. All of that sounds like a lot of work to develop though.
Question is … would be a more procedural way of generating those be acceptable. Borderlands does this but of course they also have imense amount of art behind it, the procedural nature is a way to extend the arleady existing variety further.

I would like to hear the opinion of people on this. Would you mind if items would not necesarily have different models, effects and lore but just different names and stats?
Here is a question of only having sidegrades or also upgrades. What about the powercreep with upgrades? See section below.

Fighting the powercreep runaway effect, an Idea

The problem is following. Player play the game from the day it launches. They gain loot. They use it to upgrade their ship. It’s a PVP game. So with time people will have different gear depending how long and well they played, with new players eventually being totally outmatched.

My idea to solve this is artificial average power-creep compensation. Players that really like the addictive grind for new loot can do that and will be ahead of the curve. Yet. Every month or arbitrary time-frame players get free loot. They and new players get automatically lifted to the average of currently active players trough these freebies.
It needs some form of protection against crazy players that could break the system by pulling extremely far ahead of the average of active players. The average could be lifted up so such system breaking players never get ahead more then a fixed maximum amount. From their perspective, they seem to constantly increase in damage output for instance yet the free loot always keeps a fixed distance.
That solution could be problematic though, as such fast pace in progression could break other things, so maybe a limit to how much loot can be earned in a given time would also be ok.

This has limitations though, the same that normal loot would have. It also needs to keep in mind how that loot affects interactions with the gameworld, like collisions, aerodynamics, gravity and such stuff, stuff that does not scale with loot.

Positive is that, because it is progressing, mistakes that were made in the loot generation from the past will eventually be phased out as they become useless compared to new loot. This allows for successive patches to balance stuff gradually.

As there are some stats that interact with the gameworld more then others, some of the stats should be “Upgrades” while others should be “Sidegrades”. Sidegrades will have a fixed set of values that can have and that won’t change during the lifetime of the game. Upgrades will continuously increase with the lifetime of the game.

Suggested Stats:

Upgradeable Sidegradable
Shield Health Mass
Shield Recharge Thruster Power
Hull Health Warp Drive
Armor Scan Ranges and Heat Output
Weapon Damage Weapon Firerate
Weapon Range
Weapon Effects

I suggest collision damage to be procentual per shiptype and not fixed, that would solve any powercreep problems with ship health and shield. Same goes for installation module health.

Question now is if all that is worth it … Hard to guess.
As there are many more sidegrade stats then upgrade stats it is indeed questionable.

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#2

You’ve hit a large nail on the head for me here, and your suggestions are good. Long term goals that mean something (or give the illusion of reward) are key to the game surviving.

As Lomsor said, the feedback has been great, and I agree the core gameplay is very strong, but the wider player interaction needs to start getting bolted on pretty soon, even if it’s rough around the edges!

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#3

Thanks Sab1e.

A few suggestions that I came up last week dropped out of my head …

Missions and Achievements

The game currently has missions. As these are only relating to a single match, I’ll ignore them for this post.
Long term missions, or rather, things more aking to achievments, could be one more thing to add long term motivation. You can see things like these pop up everywhere lately. On the lower end they are simple checklists to tick off. On the higher end almost going into the direction of having to set up a “trickshot” just to make it work.

And a big one …

Overarching Campaings / Timed Events

This could be a big one. Al be it a bit artificial. When all the stats and stuff are in place … all that stuff could be gameified to create an overarching campaign.

Even though there are two factions in the game, I think lore wise, the player could be a free mercenary. Whatever the case is, connecting the different matches would create a long term motivation.

I envision a situation report screen showing the current state of the War. All the servers, no matter what region, influence the war. Specific matches are represented as dots on the screen or timeline. It doesn’t even need to be a classical map. Given that this will play in a single star system, it could be a campaign over years with battles being matches of reinforcements as the two megacorporations duke it out over a longer period of time where in-between the stations and installations are rebuild again.

What this allows is to make some matches more special then others. Preferably during peak times or times where you want a peak. Whoever wins that match and maybe even how they win it could influence the overarching war. Give special rewards too and bonus cash.
If you have resources you could tie in some lore with all of that, some lore provided by I-Novae that could eventually lead in one faction winning the war! Like for real. With real consequences for the game and introduction of a new faction many years after the current events. Like, that would be bold. We see how even the biggest games shut down their servers for a publicity stunt. Imagine Planetside 2 where one side atually wins after a year or two.

EndWar had some form of Campaign system. Sadly didn’t save the game. I loved that mode, but ques where measured in dozens of minutes. i only played like 4 matches in the “Overarching Campaign” mode of that game. Kind of a waste.

Real consequences. Sacrifice some Art to give the game more meaning.

I want to look a bit more into the “making it winnable”. The concept of “The Quest for Earth” also had such a thing. Finding Earth, would actually be something to work towards in the concept.
Wining the war, should really be something in Battlescape. There could be many ways how this could be done in practice. What is important is that it is communicated to the player … at 1.0 of the game and the stuff needs to be in then.
Several options. The faction that looses is gone … gone. No way to play it anymore.
Another option could be that the faction is reduced to “remenants”, kind of like the bots in Titanfall 2. The point is that it has to have an impact. You can also oversell it a bit, as most of the fun will come from the working together and less from a big change in the game later on.

This would have to be balanced of course. With progression handicaps fro the winning side. Especially important in the last weeks of the war. Winning the war should yield a big reward for the winning side. The side that is already behind should be offered an even bigger reward would they win. This should balance it out somewhat. Of course there would be only one shot to make it right … but even if it doesn’t go perfect or even if there were some unfair things in there, it wouldn’t ruin the fun of it, I think.
Also note, this is all detached from the normal matches and how they work.

CPL Tech as the “Pro Mercenary” Corporation

CPL Tech is currently dormant. It could be used as a long term. Special kind of faction … what I mean is following.

During normal play as Scoria or Havoc you earn items or currencies that you can’t actually use in those factions.

When you accumulated enough of that stuff and/or feel like it. You could play a round or a few hours as CPL Tech. They would be outnumbered and have faar less NPC as well as no default starting installations.

One Idea would be that the players would have to buy in a Carrier that would jump into the system and try to wrestle some stations away from the two main factions.

CPL could have advanced, all around better gear. Being outnumbered and having that gear be limited use would balance that. If a big group would organize and blow (use up) a lot of their grinded “special CPL currency and loot” they may even win a match, but it should be balanced as such that a few players could maybe take a single station and factory.
As a reward they could earn the credits from what the factory generates directly. They would risk their special ship and credits.
High Risk, High Reward special “hardcore” mode kind of thing.

Combined with the “Overarching Campaing” this would bring the “exterme hardcore” option of winning that and some players could choose to make that as their goal to win mathces in the grand campaign for the CPL. Even if it had this super big handicap.

It is good to have a fair game. It is also good to have challenges. This way you can have both.


Edit: Also. Don’t be afraid to do a progression wipe at 1.0. Can give something special to the ones that sicked with the game until then.

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