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Olmeca_Gold

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  1. Perhaps out of financial necessity, but beta was launched too early. The game was a tech demo. Only construct building was at a beta level (by beta level, I mean at a level which might interest a person for periods as long to keep playing into the actual release). Other fields were too mechanically shallow such that there were no opportunities for any sort of PvP or exploration. It's still a fine tech demo. I hope it develops into something. If I designed this game with sufficient funds, I'd add the following and then consider it as a true beta state game where most of the job ahead is bug fixing; - Construct building has great potential. Give almost all jobs done by the avatar tools to constructs (mining, digging, etc). - Revamp industry so that one player or a few cannot obtain all the know-how, capabilities and resources to produce everything, so people specialize (skills alone aren't enough to ensure this, what's needed is game being deep enough so the ways to collect resources and build stuff differentiates). - Revamp consensual PvP with better commitment mechanics. - Revamp non-consensual PvP better cat/mouse mechanics, while balancing some of the frustrating mechanics (spy chars on ships etc.). - Revamp mining to provide value to hexes via replenish mechanics (or ore can go deeper and deeper but with a daily dig limit, etc). Introduce other things that makes hexes valuable. Then introduce atmospheric PvP. - Introduce asteroids and asteroid exploration mechanics in a way that can neither be monopolized by big groups nor is too common to be valuable. Introduce other things to do space PvP over. - Introduce exploration by valuable respawning loot, perhaps minigames. - Introduce NPCs. It seems like the server is offloading too much to the client to make NPCs possible in usual MMO numbers, but at least introduce a few ships roaming around between planets so people chase them and content arises. - After all this, wipe everything. At the current pace at least 3-5 years would be needed to achieve all this. Wish someone threw a decent amount of money at this game. I'll keep following.
  2. About a year ago I fell in love with DU's tech and the promise. Launched my organization (DIA) with the beta. I have grown it to a relevant proportion. I then left the game due to what's basically a lack of content. This devblog series does not rekindle my hopes for the game. Here is what I think about the game's current state and my open letter to NQ and response to the devblogs. Is DU a Tech Demo, a Beta, or a Full Launch? Dear NQ, A fundamental thing about why this game is losing so much momentum is you calling a tech demo a beta, then expecting players to actually play it like a fully launched game. From a game mechanics perspective, Dual Universe is a tech demo. The only sustainably enjoyable and interesting gameplay has been construct building. Most playstyles this game should have been featuring are out of balance, boring, or nonexistent. Player support is a nightmare. The game regularly experiences bugs and exploits most of which affect the universe and enjoyment of all players, not just the ones who interact with the bugs. From the your official perspective, DU is a beta, because you wanted to be able to charge the players for the game, yet make drastic changes to the game without angering the playerbase. But from the player perspective, DU is a fully launched game, because you are letting players accumulate wealth, experiences, organizational structures; and carry it over to the actual launch. Let me explain why this matters so much. Why Would People Play DU? Your failure to recognize the fact that this game isn't a beta for the player showcases a fundamental lack of appreciation on why people play single shard sandbox games. People do not and will not play DU for the immediate experiences of mining, building, industry, ship flying, or PvP. Your main problem isn't the immediate "gameplay loops" that the players are put into. These are not the primarily outstanding features of DU gameplay. There are much better games out there for each. I could play Star Citizen or Elite Dangerous if I was super into spaceship flying. I could play Satisfactory for a way better version of DU's experience of industry. Literally any game has better PvP than DU. [I exclude construct building from the above list of activities as it is pretty high level compared to games of similar nature, such as Minecraft. And guess what; it's your most time-invested and early-developed feature.] We are early adopters of this game, because we want to play a game which we don't just log in and do our favorite activities, but we also want a game in which doing these activities matter in the context of the greater sandbox universe. The ore I collect could fuel a war. The PvP I do could save or collapse an organization. The ship or LUA I designed can be adopted by thousands of players, ultimately be used to tremendous ends. The factories I build could be the backbone of my space empire. We are here waiting for this emergent content to emerge. We are want to get ahead, be relevant, be famous, be helpful in our different ways in this universe. We want to be a part of something greater. That's what a single shard sandbox is about. The fact that whatever you are doing matters in a greater scheme of things, is why we are playing this game. This is also why game changes, exploits, lack of support and lack of content matters so much. The Frustrations We cared about playing in the context of a greater, living universe. So we sucked up the broken mechanics and the lack of content, and started seriously investing our time in DU. This is because if we didn't, we'd have fallen behind. In other words, we had no choice but to treat this game as a full launch in our time investment decision, because otherwise we'd be punished with respect to why we are playing the game. You basically forced yourself into a position which you constantly frustrate players, because you gave them a tech demo but pushed them to play as if it was a full game. Let me elaborate on concrete examples. The vast majority of specific frustration cases in DU can be categorized into three. Firstly, there are game design changes that invalidate people's hours. The industry patch, screen updates, and every other perhaps much-needed change that would invalidate hundreds of hours of people's time. Now since the game is mechanically a tech demo, you want to be able to make drastic changes. But since people play it as a fully launched game, they commit their full selves and do become frustrated when major changes that are very much necessary invalidate hundreds of hours of their time. Secondly, there are bugs, exploits, and lack of support. People derived truckloads of money and benefits off them (e.g. the blueprint market bug, the initial T4-T5 bot ore purchases, old broken industry, and lots more). People who didn't get support fell behind (even in DIA we lost a warp beacon, and we didn't have DRM ownership of our factories due to the lack of support). These exploits and broken gameplay elements aren't things that you can shrug off when you fix them, because their repercussions in the DU universe (aka the illegitimate wealth people acquired, etc.) carry over even into the actual launch. And you didn't (in most cases couldn't) address that in most cases. You didn't remove the profits earned by the exploiters of the blueprint bot order fiasco, for example. When players earn billions off bugs and exploits, that makes the rest of us who has to do legitimate work to earn that income invalidated. That's game-breaking, because again, most of our enjoyment of DU derives from our activities in the context of the greater DU universe than just the activities themselves. Again, you launched a tech demo in which you didn't have the manpower to do cleanups (e.g. deleting the income) after exploits, and players playing it as a full game pay the price. Thirdly, there is the lack of content because the game is underdeveloped. The path from a tech demo to boredom is pretty self explanatory with this category of frustration. The truth is many players wouldn't have invested that much time and effort in trying to do things that matter in this sandbox, if the game reset once it's properly launched at an acceptable quality. And no, it obviously isn't enough to argue that "players knew that they were going into a beta" because you committed to not wiping the game, including designs. Because, again, people mainly play DU to matter and to be relevant in a universe, and you left them a choice of either falling behind of that goal, or playing a semi-working tech demo. Emergent Content The second big picture issue I see with your decisions is about your views and predictions of how emergent content emerges. Emergent content does not emerge unless the game creates the right conditions for it to emerge. The lack of conflict and content driving mechanics mostly made it impossible for it emerge in DU. [I am saying "mostly", because the one playstyle which is an exception to this is construct building. Great construct creations (although only in looks, not as much in functionality) are the only emergent content this game provides so far. And guess what, the content around this playstyle (ships, stations, expos) are the only thing NQ Twitter can mention daily.] For even a beta, DU should have emerged as many stories in war, piracy, theft, great empires, great trade deals, and so on. These are the kinds of things Eve players should be familiar with. The fact of the matter is that for any other single player experience, there is a better game. But for the emergent sandbox-wide content, DU could have been the best game. Meanwhile, we got JC's "puzzles" which were badly envisioned attempts to generate that content. They were one-time events generating one-time content. They were pretty exclusive in terms of the ratio of DU players engaging with it. They were probably a waste of your devtime. An elaborate "puzzle" is an example of how not to introduce emergent content to your sandbox. True sandbox content is typically unintended, unplanned. Here are some immediate choke points on the game design which makes it non-conducive to emergent content. Industry: All processes in DU leading up to construct building are fully vertically-integrateable solo (if not with a small organization). If you have 10 people, no reason to not to everything in-house. The game should have been designed from very early on in a way which deep specializations are needed to prevent self-sufficiency. Instead, your "gameplay loop" and "DU shouldn't feel like work" worries pushes you to introduce even more self-sufficiency (aka mining units). In a true sandbox people who don't want to mine would have other opportunities of value generation to buy the ore. Moreover, this is a bad case of "listening to players". Most players have no idea what makes an overall high quality sandbox. A builder will just want free materials to build. That doesn't mean that's a good implementation for a sandbox MMO. Trade: JC's allergy to API, ESI and such removes huge depth from trading for the sake of trading. Organization-Building: There is no value organizations can provide to members which they couldn't have gotten elsewhere. There is no service and value-generator members couldn't have gotten elsewhere unless they join. And inversely, there is no reason why members should pay "taxes" or invest in their organizations. Thus, there is no point in creating a deeply structured organization. Anything can be done better as 1 or 2 dedicated players, without all the hassle of people management. Consensual PvP: There is no structure in which players can find PvP. Solo PvP isn't even viable (at least to most who don't use remote controllers) when 2 players can man an L core that can one-shot your ship. It is a huge deal-breaker for a sandbox game if one can't hop on their ship and find daily PvP at their small time window. Frankly I don't see how you will be able to circumvent this problem in the next year or years. The devblog certainly does not provide an answer here. Organizational PvP: Can be summed up as "nothing to fight over". Even if you introduce territory warfare, huge mining and resource distributions revamps will ne required to make territories worth fighting over. Non-Consensual and Asymmetric PvP: Piracy is near-impossible because avoiding potential pirates is easy. There is no mechanical depth to generate a meaningful risk/reward space in which some players die to pirates, but not in a game-disabling fashion. Similarly, there are no asymmetric (big org vs. small org) opportunities for the same lack of depth. No PvE Content: You don't seem to have money for any. No Exploration Content: You don't seem to have interest for much. One can do construct and planet exploration, but it gets old pretty fast without any reward. Moreover, exploration gameplay was a very low hanging fruit to generate right at the beta launch. Just sprinkle some exclusive rewards in a manner which someone roaming regularly would find these rewards at least once half an hour (and this is how you botched shipwrecks). The Trajectory of the Game and DU as an Ecosystem Reading the devblog does not excite me about the future of the game and on whether you learned meaningful lessons. Emergent content will not emerge unless you begin thinking about Dual Universe as an ecosystem. In a single shard sandbox, playstyles and activities should be interconnected in an ecosystem of relations. Yes, you do seem to realize that there is a lack of content, conflict driving mechanics, and more "sand in the sandbox". You don't however, seem to appreciate the role this interconnectedness plays in generating content. For example, you want to implement space mining, but you don't think about the demand-side. Ore itself is only valuable if there is demand for it. The lack of PvP losses, the availability of ore in safe-zone players, in the market, and in people's long term stashes won't make ore worth fighting over. So you need new things with demand. And even when you meet this challenge, you have to solve the n+1 problem. For players, the optimized way of engaging with big-reward mechanics is creating consortiums and monopolies. Good conflict drivers involve inherent game designs against these. There is nothing for example, that yields advantages to smaller fleets of ships over larger fleets in DU PvP. This example illustrates how sandbox conflict drivers are supposed to be grounded on mindful and deep PvP mechanics, as well as meaningful balance of risk/reward to drive the conflict and the fun. It is unfortunately predictable that you will put some ore (or new items) to PvP space, and wait for people to sustainably fight over them, which won't happen. The nature of the reward and the nature of the PvP to obtain the reward are as much inherent to content emergence as the placement of the reward. I have a pessimist prediction, because any earlier game design decisions involving ore distribution to planets and hexes, territory scanning, bot orders, industry flows, etc; indicate a similar lack in conceiving Dual Universe as a single interconnected ecosystem. Earlier decisions could have easily generated a more meaningful distribution of value to territories (the most valuable hex is cleared in a day, which is also connected to mining mechanics), things to fight over (if we would have construct PvP on asteroids, there is no reason why we didn't have construct PvP on some planets), exploration (for example, it's not costly to add 10 valuable NPC ships with sub-par AI at a given time to orbits of planets), and so on. Similarly, some future plans show the same lack of appreciation to DU as an ecosystem; such as mining units which will predictably devalue mining by underestimating how much effort players (and botters/RMT'ers) would spend to create big passive income setups. Overall this all just feels like different teams at NQ are given different aspects of the game and they are all implementing their individual designs. There is no wider orchestration from upper level game designers and producers who truly can conceive DU as an ecosystem, and who can appreciate the interconnectedness different systems in the game should exhibit. JC looks like a person who has a great big picture vision, who wants his metaverse, but who does not have the necessary specific visions and approaches to sandbox/ecosystemic game design and development to get there. DU's Project Management and Finances As a final remark, it seems that most of this "lack of content" and the launch decisions could be due to high level decision-making for financial or technological reasons. Perhaps you heavily needed the subscription revenue. Or you needed players to truly commit to the game so you can test the tech. Even if so, the plan seems to have failed. The people who pitched the game to investors should have conducted better expectation management and better financial/business planning. I am speculating JC was put on the bench for related reasons. If so, then that's perhaps a good call depending on who replaces him. If this is the most you could deliver given the money you have, I don't see how using the same money better would have delivered a timely product. The game might have just needed more money and several years more of development to reach a workable design and launch track. If so, then the responsibility is with those who planned DU and NQ as a business and project model. That said, I hope the investors keep up with it, because I think the initial promise of the game (provided good future game design) is pretty sound. It might need two years more development and a bigger team though. I'll keep following how the game progresses and I hope it succeeds. I don't find the money I spent on it a waste as I already played hundreds of hours. o7 EDIT: Corrected some grammar and sentencing.
  3. Some people in this thread seem to just want a voxel building game where you can also sometimes get together in the same server with 50 other people to show off ships or for arranged fights. If DU was such a game then there would be no reason for NQ to bear the costs of a single shard seamless MMO.
  4. NQ managed to develop the Minecraft aspect of DU pretty well. The Factorio/Satisfactory and Kerbal Space Program aspects are semi-decent. They couldn't quite nail the Eve aspect. There is currently not enough content in the game to emerge fights, alliances, piracy, betrayals, etc., on a daily and sustainable basis. Even if there was, the PvP experience is inadequate. The game mechanics provide no reason to get "organized" and "civilized". In fact, players running organizations are behind of players who spend the same amount of hours to solo-play. Numerous features are missing to make the game barely playable. Making a complete list would have been a big effort on its own. Naturally we didn't have months of patience for a game launched in this state. I currently lost my apetite with DU. And yes, the "no wipes" promise pretty much launches the game. If they have 2 years of more funds to keep going, and the beta launch was more about early-testing whether the tech works with truly committing players; then launching the game this early might have been the right choice. Even then there are issues like people getting rich/ahead with bugs and NQ not having the manpower to police their game. If they have to launch by the end of 2021 the game will not be developed enough to be widely played.
  5. Covers most of the basics. One thing that would have been nicer is the "accountant" right which could check the log but not transfer/buy/sell. Many orgs will need people with the ability of merely checking the logs but without actually accessing the money itself.
  6. Firstly you quoted my entire message with your reply. The mission interface in the screenshots doesn't provide the volume/mass info. Nor the system seems proofed against making it impossible to complete the mission. Your reply to me has zero bearing on those 2 methods of abuse. Maybe you're only talking about the method of camping delivery stations in PvP space. Camping contract destinations would not arise meaningful gameplay for either side. It would be bullcrap. The UI doesn't provide the new player with the ability to discern whether the mission sends them to a planet (with a protected destination) through PvP zone, or to a space station (unprotected destination) in PvP zone. Even if it did, the new player wouldn't know how easy it is to camp these stations. Even in Eve it's viable to fulfill hauling contracts in 0 security space without getting locked out of the station. In DU mechanics it's super easy to lock people out. It's also not really super creative/meaningful from the pirate's perspective to spam these contracts, then sit around and wait for flies to come in so they can zap them. Your reasoning is at odds with how game development works in 2020. Every new player who gets scammed trying to fill one of these missions and quit would be a loss to the game. People don't have patience for bullcrap in 2020. I'm all for piracy but it should arise from situations where the game doesn't fail informing players of the PvP risks, and players would take them anyway because of the rewards. That would be the non-bullcrap, meaningful scenario for piracy and prey.
  7. Here are a bunch of ways people can abuse this system presented in the devblog: Method 1: Making it mechanically impossible to complete the mission. - Abuser issues the mission. Puts something of low value in it (e.g. 1 L of quarts). - Assigns a very high collateral and reward to it. - Innocent hauler accepts it. - Abuser scoops the mission container, kill its construct, or does whatever else it takes to mechanically make it impossible to finish the mission. - Mission fails, abuser gets the collateral in exchange of 1 L of quartz. Solution: Add "if something happens to the mission containers" rule to cases in which the mission is voided. Method 2: Camping the mission destinations. - The same steps as above. Except in the 4th step, the abuser(s) will select a PvP space construct as either origin or the destination. They will then camp it for both free kills and also the collateral money. Solution: Unfortunately I suggest an elimination of Space Stations in PvP space as mission origins or destinations. Method 3: Contracting extremely massive or high volume stuff. - The same steps as above. Except in the 4th step, the abuser(s) will issue the mission for impossibly heavy or large stuff. Solution: The mass/volume of the stuff should be not only revealed, but also sortable on the Job Forum for the contractor runner quality of life. Not only that, but hauling contents shouldn't be really be hidden from the mission runner. I am sure there are more abuses waiting to happen around this that I am missing. My 2 Cents: Taking contracts from Eve and calling them missions is highly misleading for both your existing players and for new players (even your shareholders). These aren't missions. If you call them missions post-beta, the new players will be disappointed when they begin doing them after they hear there are missions in DU and buying the game. Contracts are great to have in DU. They have greater potential than Eve as well. One thing that doesn't exist for example is a "kill" contract for a specific ship. That can be achieved in DU with modifications to the RDMS system plus adding the type to the contracts. Friendly Note: These are all very grave issues that are also easy to predict. For the love of god, please hire a designer with extensive knowledge of Eve history and mechanics to avoid issues arose in that game. You don't have to reinvent the wheel with each feature. You can even hire me as a remote feature consultant for 1000 euros a month :P.
  8. So we can at least transfer construct ownerships without both parties having to be present.
  9. We are getting tired of the only real content in the game being pretty vanity constructs which aren't functionally superior. The much-promoted space elevators are functionally inferior to element elevators. There is not much reason at all to hold and maintain space stations. Twitter, twitch, reddit and forums are all full with pretty looking ships that aren't being put to use for the lack of a greater purpose. We can't attack the much-advertised freeports and the big cities. There is no reason at all to get together, introduce bureaucracy, get organized. The only group of people who are constantly rewarded and marketed are those who are willing to put in hundreds of hours to make a few construct pretty. This game has no room for greatness for empire builders, pirates, mercenaries, warlords,, explorers, and most others who don't want to be patient architects. Just a look at the official twitter would confirm this. Sandboxes are grounded on ecosystems where there is a risk/reward balance. Rewards are positioned in a way that you get more if you risk more; and the risk is typically conflict with other players. NQ seem to be inexperienced with this kind of game design but they need to focus on ecosystem-building and now. They need to make hires with ecosystem-building as the greater purpose. Entire teams need to be allocated to this. This should be prioritized over less important quality of life things like mining bots, voxel editors and such. Even mechanical PvP improvements are inferior to a functioning ecosystem. The current early implementation of PvP would keep us playing it if only we had people to shoot at thanks to a well-functioning ecosystem which makes them take risks. The game needs rewards to fight over. Ore (especially high tier) should have been way sparser, more permanent in tiles, and we should have been able to fight over it (over tiles). Even if they introduced territory warfare today, there will be nothing to fight over with this implementation of mining. A meganode expires in a day, and that is the timeframe in which a hex is valuable. If asteroids will give us things to fight over, we need them today. But they need to be implemented in just the right window, so they are not too abundant which leads to zero conflict, and they are not too sparse which creates monopolies. We need things to discover, explore. The JC's "Ready Player One" approach to puzzles leads to bad implementation and waste of dev effort. The game doesn't need one major headline-making puzzle chased by only a minority of people. It needs puzzles, events, exploration rewards that are constantly respawning, that are inclusive to many players, and that don't expire; so people log in everyday and have something to do besides mining, factories and building. The rewards should be abundant and persistent enough for many others to participate. Even WoW in beta in 2003 managed to put some herbs here, some surface ore there, a treasure chest behind the waterfall to make people look for things on the map. There is no such activity in DU except mass territory scanning, which is mostly an unengaging afk activity. Wrecks didn't cut it. Again, NQ needs to get the sparse/abundant ratio right with these things. We also need things to shoot at besides consenting PvP'ers. New ways to get caught while doing valued work (eg hauling) needs to be introduced. NPCs would have been a great source for this as well. Just keep respawning a few NPCs between planetary routes and that would create content. The game has so many rewards to distribute in the aforementioned activities. Blueprints and quanta could have come from exploration activities instead of inorganic daily login rewards or the bot orders. Industry update failed to create the interaction and specialization it was supposed to create. People are mostly back to their gigafactories and t1 elements are again being sold at a loss. The update just made people go mine some meganode to raise initial capital, visit some planets for blueprints, and build some higher tier industry machines. In a functioning ecosystem such as Eve Online, trade comes from the scarcity and uneven distribution of source material (such as ore, blueprints); not from capital requirements to go into industry. We should have been forced to make machines to do proper mining (or even building) too. The nanosuit does too many jobs which could have been done by interesting constructs. Making dynamic constructs for underground mines or to build our static constructs would have been an entire area to excel at. There are plans for further mistakes such as taking contracts from Eve and misleadingly calling them "player-made missions". A "mission" implies there is a backstory, a unique purpose, some new experience and unraveling for people who go through it. "Put X amount of ore in my container Y" is a contract. It's a shallower activity. It might be an alternative way of making money. It's not a mission. It's not an "experience". Another mistake will be invalidating miner work and opening up great fields to RMT'ers by introducing passive income via mining bots. Meanwhile, everyday I see JC tweet another pretty-looking vanity design and say "possibilities are endless". And I ask myself if I should keep trusting this game's future. If he wanted a cooler-looking Minecraft then why spend so much money to design it as a single shard persistent universe at all?
  10. This is all very high developmental cost. In this thread I wanted to discuss ideas that would take weeks for NQ to develop, not months.
  11. I think there are 2 main lessons NQ needs to draw from .23. 1) How many of you are still working toward solving the Gold Star puzzle? Only a handful of people will chase events, wrecks and such just for the sake of doing it. Without sustainable, predictable, dependable rewards; any content is stillborn and waste of precious devtime. 2) If only 10% of players are supposed to engage with industry as JC aspires (a valid aspiration), then others need gameplay loops to engage with. There is only one loop of reliable moneymaking, and that's mining -> industry -> shipmaking. I like to be constructive, so in this thread I'd like to discuss what other ways NQ could easily create more such loops without allocating too much devtime. Here are some ideas (not necessarily all mine): Low Cost Exploration: Scatter reliable quanta rewards across planets/space to generate exploration gameplay. Here is a detailed version of this idea. Low Cost Asteroid Belts: Generate asteroids in PvP zone periodically (copy/paste Thades' belt asteroids if needed), insert high tier meganodes in them, add their coordinates to districts. Low Cost NPCs: Code really simple NPC ships (e.g. they just orbit planets or moons in PvP zone, or patrol between planets, and they attack back whoever targets them) reliably spawning around planets and moons. NQ can always iterate on these to make them less grindy, more engaging and interesting. No matter how many of us will complain about mining here, there are many who engage with it because it's rewarding. The game is in the immediate need of new gameplay loops that has rewards as reliable as mining. As mining and PvP shows, it's OK if the gameplay is released at a primitive state. Do you have any other ideas on how NQ can add new gameplay without costing them months of devtime?
  12. As a player who has put hundreds of hours to this game so of course I wouldn't want a wipe. But nothing else than a wipe would even the sandbox and take back the harms done at this point. Maybe the best solution is giving beta testers an offer they can't refuse (3 years of gametime?) in exchange of their hours, and wiping the game after beta.
  13. Ideally the exploration rewards would have its own usefulness and demand. But that's more of a long term proposal. I wanted to keep my proposal as something they can implement in 5 days.
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