Hoping to learn from other MMOs

Every MMO has done this, it’s Eve’s turn now.

Big nerf-hammer coming to Eve cap ships. I’m hoping, though likely futilely, that SC can avoid having to do stuff like this. Again, every MMO has done it, in like the history of all MMOs, but it would be really nice not to drop $1500 on a ship, only to find it drastically nerfed a year later because “oops, we over estimated”.

There will be a lot of nerfing and buffing of Star Citizen in the next 5 years.

They do not even have a finalized flight model yet, serious balancing of weapons will be an ongoing job.

One factor that should help control Cap Ships in Star Citizen is the real player crew requirements. I know there are lots of people out there thinking they’ll just be able to be the 1 PC in control of an NPC crew, and for small ships like the Retaliator that should be possible, but for larger ships like an Idris they have made pretty clear you won’t be able to effectively crew it with all NPCs.

The PC crew is actually an imbalancing factor, IMHO. The right group of guys with the right skill set will be able to dominate over casual players. Crews/teams that work together will be orders of magnitude better in SC than they are in Eve.

In Eve it’s “lock and shoot”, the only skill needed is in the pre-work, building and overall tactics. In SC, the entire game is built around player skill. If the average person is accurate in a turret 30% of the time and you staff your hammerhead with guys who are accurate 80% of the time, you will obliterate your competition and create the perception of imbalance.

It’s like in vanilla WoW raiding, the hard core folks used every possible edge they could (pots, foot, enchants, etc) and made the end-game content trivial. Blizz saw this and made the content harder to challenge them, making it the “base assumption” that every player is doing this, when 99.9% of the players weren’t. This is why, before BC launched, their data mining showed .0001% of all players even stepped foot inside AQ40 or Naxx, instances Blizz spent 45% of their effort working on. High skilled player created an perception of imbalance, the devs reacted and created a REAL imbalance.

SC is going to be unique in this, more than any other MMO out there, and I’m quite interested to see how CIG deals with it.

Star Citizen as it is already has a steep learning curve, it will be interesting to see how things evolve.

Fortunately on the flip side, there’s lots of places for vanilla players in the game if they balance it right.

But how do you balance it? That’s always been my question. I like to use 2 examples for this…

CIG is opening a field for the neighborhood to play football on. There are 3 NFL players who live in this neighborhood. Do you keep them out? If you let them play, they will dominate. I’m not talking PvP here, they’re nice guys, they’ll even take money to help one side or the other. Got some challenging content you’re having an issue with, a team you can’t beat? No problem, give me $50 and I’ll destroy them for you. How do you balance a football game for Tim, that slow guy from down the street, and some 300# 6x super bowl winning linebacker to play in the same game without artificially isolating them?

The other is DC comics. How do you create a game that has both Superman and Batman? The only possible answer is you tear Superman down, which is what DC has done in every game they’ve made. Superman can fly in space, turn back time, move the earth with his fists, while Batman has a belt. Any time they make a game, they simply don’t include Superman and everyone is “middling” powerful, all the same, artificially.

Again, I’m not talking about jerks and outliers here, those are self-correcting and easily identified. How do you handle a group of AF fighter pilots who want to play the game and simply dominate everything they do without hesitation or even trying very hard? They’re not flying around killing players and being jerks, they’re just trivially mowing down content and becoming super rich because they can, drastically impacting the economy.

Do you make the content harder for them, making it impossible for me? Do you artificially lock them away somewhere or simply don’t let them play? Do you let them run roughshod over the game and just deal with it? Do you “scale” based upon some nebulous “skill” that you can’t accurately measure? If you measure through victories, they’ll just swap losses to keep their numbers down, exactly like guys did in Anthem when they realized that enemies scaled based upon the level of your weapon, not your actual level. People will find a way around scaling systems, we’ve been doing it since those systems first appeared.

So I want to address a few things I have read so far in this thread.

First and foremost, CIG has NOT made it clear how crews will work at all. Even as recently as this past CitizenCon the specific question was posed to multiple devs, “Will we be able to solo run an Idris with an NPC crew?”
The answers ranged from “We will have to see how it plays out in the game” to “we have not begun to address crew requirements yet.” Not a single employee, or for that matter the owner and CEO himself, responded with “it cannot be done” or even so much as “that is not the plan”. So anything to the contrary is hearsay.

That said, based on the direction the team has been heading for the past year and the feedback they are getting, I would expect that you will not be able to solo pilot an Idris with a full NPC crew. With this caveat: you could NPC out everything but the bridge crew. Again, this is not fact or anything I have heard, only speculation based on conversations both directly and indirectly with CIG. But I think it is likely that you will be required to fill the bridge crew slots with players and NPCs for any other slots. Effectively making it so that you cannot solo an Idris.

And then there is the idea of balance. Keep in mind that CIG has always had the attitude that balance is about the numbers on a game object, not about balance between persons who use those objects. It has always been the case that there will be some pilots who are just better than others. there is no intention, nor do I believe there should be, to balance the game around the differences in skill.

So that means if the 300 pound super bowl champ wants to hire himself out to the locals then that is what he can do. There is no artificial balance that will be imposed for skill.

That is why I started telling people some time ago, if you are not a good pilot you have 2 options. Practice and get good or learn to make money in another way and plan to hire escorts often. There is no middle ground, either you can fly and defend yourself or you cannot.

None of us are supposed to be Superman in this game. It is not a story about heroes, it is the average Joe biography that we make up as we go. In many games the players are inflated compared to the NPCs to create a sense of the heroic. That is because the player’s character improves the more they play regardless of actual skill in those games.
But here it is skill and skill only (and a little bit how much you are willing to spend on gear)

So sure, there may be a Superman in the bunch because he is just that good at skill X. Be it flying or fighting or repairs or crafting or whatever. But the chances of someone being top 1% in more than 2 aspects of the game is slim. And skill does not define everything in the game.
Everyone will need a tow truck at some point. Everyone will need their ship hauled somewhere for them at some point. Everyone will need supplies or medical care or air support or ground support or whatever. There is enough to do in the game that everyone has a chance to find their niche. It started as pilots against pilots but that game died a long time ago and was reborn from the ashes as the new Star Citizen you see coming to life today. Ok not the best analogy since the game never really died but you get my point.

And remember NO single player, or group of players, or collection of orgs will be able to have any more influence on the economy than CIG wants them to have. At most they can have 10% effect, because that is the total population of players. CIG can always add in another NPC corporation with the resources to balance the economy. And if you think TZ is not already putting that back door in place with his design then you are severely mistaken.

The important thing is not what you can and cannot do with NPC assistance. It is all about your reputation with NPC factions and other players. If you make a name for yourself as the best repair work in the verse then people will hire you for repairs because they know your rep. Same for every profession in the game, including piloting a fighter or mining or hauling cargo or whatever you choose to focus on with your character.

I think dynamic scaling of mobs is the answer, with basic price fixing for rewards… so if you kill say 100 of one mob without dying then they scale up say 1% just to have some numbers. Say now you have killed 1000 of that mob and now they have a 10% bonus to their stats, you still get the same xp and money.

So now you die, have the mobs scale back again at the same rate, so in that example they would have a 9% bonus to stats. It seems simplistic and it is, but when we are talking PVE that is a lot easier than PVP which I don’t think you can balance at all when player skill is the determining factor.

Not likely.

CIG wants some content to be behind a skill wall. It gives pilots a reason to be hired, as well as numerous other professions. Otherwise skill doesn’t matter and that is NOT what they are shooting for at all.

I would disagree with that or maybe we have a different perspective on skill. The option I listed actually would help people improve their skill and assist in making content continually conform to the player for engagement. If content is super easy for one person, that content can adjust to give them a challenge, whereas another person may find that content hard enough.

As far as ‘world bosses’ and such, sure, I agree that those will probably be static from a stats standpoint and one time only as they said long ago. No reason not to be able to have static content and dynamic content in the same game.

We can disagree, that is ok :wink:
If this were a single path start here go there type of game then maybe.
But there will be tons of content at all levels so there is no need to dumb things down for those that cannot meet the skill requirements. Team up, get some org mates or find something else to do. There are options.

I do not come from the everyone gets a trophy generation, nor do I subscribe to that line of thinking.

Nor do I subscribe to that line of thinking… in real life. This is a game. I make a pretty distinct difference between the two “realities”.

To lock out content (and I believe that is what Macallen is alluding to in general) to even a portion of the population is counter productive. To what end does that benefit anyone?

The problem with the logic of “not everyone can be good at everything” is that you don’t have the be, there is only 1 thing you need to be good at to be hugely successful at SC…dogfight. Want to be a hauler? You better know how to dogfight. Explorer? Yup, dogfight. Doctor? Still dogfghting. No matter what you do, where you go, dogfighting will be an element of every aspect of play, which is why every ship has guns on it.

You don’t have to be a good hauler if you’re a good dogfighter, you don’t need to be a good anything but dogfighter and you will “win” SC. You’ll get the best loot, every area of the game will be available to you, other players will pay you to escort/protect them, etc, the entire game is yours, designed for your enjoyment.

And, if you’re not a good dogfighter then no matter what else you choose to do, you will lose to a good dogfighter. You decide to just haul safe stuff in safe areas and hire an escort? If your escort are not good dogfighters, then you lose, often. You’ll putter around the game in the safe areas and pray you don’t run across a good dogfighter because you’re playing in their game.

And Sim, when you said we had 2 options, you actually left one out. Option 3, play something else. In a game where only the elite get to enjoy the whole game, the non-elite go play Division 2 and the population distills down to just the elite, a la Eve Online. That’s the downside of creating a competitive open world game, the people who can’t compete, who have zero chance of competition, simply go play something else and the population plummets. If the game prevents competitors from negatively impacting each other then it is less likely, but CIG has made it clear that isn’t going to happen.

Again, this isn’t about PvP. There will be no dynamic scaling because there are no “numbers” on the players side, so any NPCs are going to be “balanced” to be effective for great dogfighters. If you suck at dogfighting, then there will literally be nowhere you can play that you’re not reminded of that fact. If you’re great at dogfighting, then the game is an open world for you. The forums will be filled with people bitching that the game is too easy, that NPC AI sucks, and it will constantly be ramped up to address that, because the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and every time they ramp up the difficulty, another wave of players will be disenfranchised and leave.

Then, 5 years down the road, the elites will simply walk away, like they did in Eve, bored because they “beat” the game, and CIG will be wondering what the hell happened. 2 million backers turns into 200k players who turns into 20k players.

I was listening to Jordan B. Peterson and he is a clinical psychologist and a professor, he said that if a big dog doesn’t let the little dog win 30% of the time, the little dog won’t play with him anymore. This is pretty much true across the board for animals that have play, which are mostly mammals.

It is a key concept of society as a whole and social interaction. People who can’t win at all won’t play, and as that population decreases, now that middle ground is the bottom, and then they leave, and so on and so forth. This has been studied.

Yup, studied over and over, and played out in competitive games since there have been games. It’s why corporate teams have rules for no-sandbagging. No one wants to play the softball team who has a member who’s husband is an MLB player, it’s just not fun.

Power creep is something every long standing MMO has to deal with as they put out new content. Some game developers actually prefer to give new things unbalanced stats to hype it up and reward players that decide to use/buy the content then balance/counter later; E.g. over powered classes from a new expansion pack for instance.

If you want to drop $1500 on anything in an artificial environment with arbitrary rules from the owners of said environment, that’s the risk you run. Just like if you happen to use it and it explodes that’s also your own fault, or if you happen to pay into a kick starter and not get what was promised, so on and so forth.

On a side note, most players in EVE don’t actually drop liquid cash to plex in and outright buy a titan + pilot. They grind it up through mining or ratting and build it themselves over the course of long term effort with many accounts.

I hear you, but isn’t that worse? I spend 3 years working my pilot up to get a Titan, 1000s of hours, watching how awesome it is. I get there…and now it sucks. Honestly I’d rather have thrown the cash, I can get that back.

That depends on if you value your journey over the end result. Also EVE isn’t really a good example here because even with a HAW nerf they are still very good at blowing really big things up and are a necessary part of null-sec power projection. They are also still very much a cool kids club membership item as very few (probably less than 1%) % players out of the game actually owns one. I know you see tons of videos with lots of them plastered everywhere but unless you’re in goonswarm you’re not going to see them that often (or use them.) Lastly there’s always hope that there will be another balancing pass in the future that makes them more relevant in sub capital warfare. Edit: OK last lastly If you don’t have the big boy toys you can’t play ball (be relevant) when the really big fights go down too.

One of the main problems with EVE is that the devs listen to a lot of the feedback that is often misguided with the purposes of making things harder on GSF the largest alliance in the game but what ends up happening is the changes only hurt the little groups in most cases. GSF is like the USA, and all the other little alliances and groups are 3rd world powers in Africa rife with pirates, warlords, spys, corruption, and exploitation.

What you describe at the bottom is precisely a concern I have in SC.

The most “expert”, hardcore players are often the most vociferous. They have spreadsheets, data, and information to back up their claims, while the rest of us just want to play, so the devs tend to listen to them more. They’re all armchair developers who know precisely how the game should work and know for a fact that the game will burn to the ground if they don’t get their way. CIG already listens to a lot of these folks, especially the streamers, so this is already a thing that is happening.

If they find the game too simple and CIG ramps it up, what chance does someone like me have as a sub-standard dogfighter?

Hmm well I say it’s a problem with EVE but it doesn’t really hurt GSF at all. That’s why I say it’s misguided, the little guys often just screw themselves by getting CCPlease to drop nerfs that while are “effective,” don’t really have an impact on GSF because of how large and apt the organization is at adapting to the new environment changes as an entity as apposed to the little guy and individual dealing with 3rd world nation space.

I find that Devs in most MMOs tend to listen to the folks that make the best argument, not necessarily that they have all the factual information to back it up, or are even experienced in what they are talking about. That or if something is suggested in mass, some devs will listen to them (eventually.) Lastly sometimes devs have an agenda themselves and listen to a player with their own opinions.

It’s easy to lose sight or touch with your player base and gaming experience, and that’s something that developers have to watch out for. If you’re concerned about it my suggestion is give feedback whenever possible, and if it’s not working just vote with your wallet by opting out. Devs are Human.

Sadly it’s too late to vote with my wallet, they have my money and it’s not coming back. I’ve provided my feedback but it’s not as loud as the “other side”. Again, who do they listen to, the 1 guy with a reasoned argument, or the streamer who has 1000 referrals and is free advertising for the game?